Madison Julius Cawein Poems >>
One Day And Another: A Lyrical Eclogue - Part I

LATE SPRING

   _The mottled moth at eventide
    Beats glimmering wings against the pane;
   The slow, sweet lily opens wide,
    White in the dusk like some dim stain;
   The garden dreams on every side
    And breathes faint scents of rain.
   Among the flowering stocks they stand:
    A crimson rose is in his hand._


1

_Outside her garden. He waits musing._

 Herein the dearness of her is;
 The thirty perfect days of June
 Made one, in maiden loveliness
 Were not more sweet to clasp and kiss,
 With love not more in tune.

 Ah me! I think she is too true,
 Too spiritual for life's rough way;
 For in her eyes her soul looks new--
 Two bluet blossoms, watchet-blue,
 Are not so pure as they.

 So good, so beautiful is she,
 So soft and white, so fond and fair,
 Sometimes my heart fears she may be
 Not long for me, and secretly
 A sister of the air.


2

_Dusk deepens. A whippoorwill calls._

 The whippoorwills are calling where
  The golden west is graying;
 "'Tis time," they say, "to meet him there--
  Why are you still delaying?

 "He waits you where the old beech throws
  Its gnarly shadow over
 Wood-violet and the bramble rose,
  Frail maiden-fern and clover.

 "Where elder and the sumach creep
  Above your garden's paling,
 Whereon at noon the lizards sleep
  Like lichens on the railing.

 "Come! ere the early rising moon's
 Gold floods the violet valleys;
 Where mists, like phantom picaroons
  Anchor their stealthy galleys.

 "Come! while the deepening amethyst
  Of dusk above is falling--
 'Tis time to tryst! 'tis time to tryst!"
  The whippoorwills are calling.

 They call you to these twilight ways
  With dewy odor dripping--
 Ah, girlhood, through the rosy haze
  Come like a moonbeam slipping.


3

_He enters her garden, speaking dreamily:_

 There is a fading inward of the day,
  And all the pansy heaven clasps one star;
 The dwindling acres eastward glimmer gray,
  While all the world to westward smoulders far.

 Now to your glass will you pass for the last time?
  Pass! humming some ballad, I know,--
 Here where I wait it is late and is past time--
  Late! and the moments are slow, are slow.

 There is a drawing downward of the night;
  The bridegroom Heaven bends down to kiss the moon;
 Above, the heights hang silver in her light;
  Below, the woods stretch purple, deep in June.

 There in the dew is it you hiding lawny?
  You, or a moth in the vines?--
 You!--by your hand, where the band twinkles tawny!
  You!--by your ring, like a glowworm, that shines!


4

_She approaches, laughing. She speaks,--_

 You'd given up hope?

HE

          Believe me.

SHE

 Why, is your love so poor?

HE

     I knew you'd not deceive me.

SHE

 As many a girl before,--
  Ah, dear, you will forgive me?

HE

    Say no more, sweet, say no more!

SHE

 Love trusts, and that's enough, my dear.
 Trust wins to trust; whereof, my dear,
 Love holds to love; and love, my dear,
  Is--well, that's all my lore.

HE

 Come, pay me or I'll scold you.--
  Give me the kiss you owe.--
 You fly when I'd enfold you?

SHE

  No! no! I say! now, no!
 How often have I told you,
  You must not treat me so?

HE

 More sweet the dusk for this is,
 For lips that meet in kisses.--
 Come! come! why run from blisses
  As from a mortal foe?


5

_She stands smiling at him. She speaks:_

 How many words in the asking!
 How easily I can grieve you!--
 My "no" in a "yes" was a-masking,
 Nor thought, dear, to deceive you.--
 A kiss?--the humming-bird happiness here
 In my heart consents.... But what are words,
 When the thought of two souls in speech accords?
 Affirmative, negative--what are they, dear?
 I wished to say "yes," but somehow said "no."
 The woman within me thought you would know
 Thought that your heart would hear.

_He speaks:_

 So many hopes in a wooing!--
 Therein you could not deceive me;
 Some things are sweeter for the pursuing--
 I knew what you meant, believe me.--
 Bunched bells of the blush pomegranate, to fix
 At your throat ... six drops of fire they are....
 Will you look where the moon and its following star
 Rise silvery over yon meadow ricks?
 While I hold--while I lean your head back, so--
 For I know it is "yes" though you whisper "no,"
 And my kisses, sweet, are six.


6

_Moths flutter around them. She speaks:_

 Look!--where the fiery
 Glow-worm in briery
 Banks of the moon-mellowed bowers
 Sparkles--how hazily
 Pinioned and arily
 Delicate, warily,
 Drowsily, lazily,
 Flutter the moths to the flowers.

 White as the dreamiest
 Bud of the creamiest
 Rose in the garden that dozes,
 See how they cling to them!
 Held in the heart of their
 Hearts like a part of their
 Perfume they swing to them
 Wings that are soft as the roses.

 Dim as the forming of
 Dew in the warming of
 Moonlight, they light on the petals;
 All is revealed to them;
 All--from the sunniest
 Tips to the honiest
 Heart, whence they yield to them
 Spice through the darkness that settles.

 So to our tremulous
 Souls come the emulous
 Spirits of love; through whose power
 All that is best in us,
 All that is beautiful,
 All that is dutiful,
 Is made confessed in us,
 Even as the scent of a flower.


7

_Taking her hand, he says:_

 What makes you beautiful?
 Answer, now, answer!--
 Is it that dutiful
 Souls are all beautiful?
 Is't that romance or
 Beauty of spirit,
 Which souls of merit
 Of heaven inherit?--
 Have you no answer?

_She roguishly:_

 What makes you lovable?
 Answer, dear, answer!--
 Is it not provable
 That man is lovable
 Just because chance or
 Nature makes woman
 Love him?--Her human
 Part's to illumine.--
 Have you no answer?


8

_Then, regarding him seriously, she continues:_

 Could I recall every joy that befell me
  There in the past with its anguish and bliss,
 Here in my heart it has whispered to tell me,
  Those were no joys like this.

 Were it not well if our love could forget them
  Veiling the _was_ with the dawn of the _is_?
 Dead with the past we should never regret them,
  Being no joys like this.

 When they were gone and the Present stood speechful,
  Ardent in word and in look and in kiss,
 What though we know that their eyes are beseechful,
  Those were no joys like this.

 Is it not well to have more of the spirit,
  Living for Futures where naught is amiss,
 Less of the flesh with the Past pining near it?
  Is there a joy like this?


9

_Leaving the garden for the lane. He, with lightness of heart._

 We will leave reason,
 Sweet, for a season;
 Reason were treason
 Now that the nether
 Spaces are clad, oh,
 In silvery shadow--
 We will be glad, oh,
 Glad as this weather!

_She, responding to his mood:_

 Heart unto heart, where the moonlight is slanted,
 Let us believe that our souls are enchanted:--
 I in the castle-keep; you are the airy
 Prince who comes seeking me; Love is the Fairy
 Bringing our hearts together.

HE

 Starlight in masses
 Over us passes;
 And in the grass is
 Many a flower:
 Now will you tell me
 How'd you enspell me?
 What once befell me
 There in your bower?

SHE

 Soul unto soul--in the moon's wizard glory,
 Let us believe we are parts in a story:--
 I am a poem; a poet you hear it
 Whispered in star and in flower; a Spirit,
 Love, puts my soul in your power.


10

_He, suddenly and very earnestly:_

 Perhaps we lived in the days
 Of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid;
 And loved, as the story says
 Did the Sultan's favorite one
 And the Persian Emperor's son,
 Ali ben Bekkar, he
 Of the Kisra dynasty.

 Do you know the story?--Well,
 You were Haroun's Sultana.
 When night on the palace fell,
 A slave through a secret door,--
 Low-arched on the Tigris' shore,--
 By a hidden winding stair
 Brought me to your bower there.

 Then there was laughter and mirth,
 And feasting and singing together,
 In a chamber of wonderful worth;
 In a chamber vaulted high
 On columns of ivory;
 Its dome, like the irised skies,
 Mooned over with peacock eyes;
 Its curtains and furniture,
 Damask and juniper.

 Ten slave girls--like unto blooms--
 Stand, holding tamarisk torches,
 Silk-clad from the Irak looms;
 Ten handmaidens serve the feast,
 Each girl like a star in the east;
 Ten lutanists, lutes a-tune,
 Wait, each like the Ramadan moon.

 For you in a stuff of Merv
 Blue-clad, unveiled and jewelled,
 No metaphor known may serve:
 Scarved deep with your raven hair,
 The jewels like fireflies there,
 Blossom and moon and star,
 The Lady Shemsennehar.

 The zone that girdles your waist
 Would ransom a Prince and Emeer;
 In your coronet's gold enchased,
 And your bracelet's twisted bar,
 Burn rubies of Istakhar;
 And pearls of the Jamshid race
 Hang looped on your bosom's lace.

 You stand like the letter I;
 Dawn-faced, with eyes that sparkle
 Black stars in a rosy sky;
 Mouth like a cloven peach,
 Sweet with your smiling speech;
 Cheeks that the blood presumes
 To make pomegranate blooms.

 With roses of Rocknabad,
 Hyacinths of Bokhara,--
 Creamily cool and clad
 In gauze,--girls scatter the floor
 From pillar to cedarn door.
 Then a poppy-bloom at each ear,
 Come the dancing girls of Kashmeer.

 Kohl in their eyes, down the room,--
 That opaline casting-bottles
 Have showered with rose perfume,--
 They glitter and drift and swoon
 To the dulcimer's languishing tune;
 In the liquid light like stars,
 And moons and nenuphars.

 Carbuncles, tragacanth-red,
 Smoulder in armlet and anklet;
 Gleaming on breast and on head
 Bangles of coins, that are angled,
 Tinkle; and veils, that are spangled,
 Flutter from coiffure and wrist
 Like a star-bewildered mist.

 Each dancing-girl is a flower
 Of the Tuba from vales of El Liwa.--
 How the bronzen censers glower!
 And scents of ambergris pour
 And myrrh brought of Lahore,
 And musk of Khoten! how good
 Is the scent of the sandal-wood!

 A lutanist smites her lute;
 Sings loves of Mejnoon and Leila--
 Her voice is a houri flute;--
 While the fragrant flambeaux wave
 Barbaric o'er free and slave,
 O'er fabrics and bezels of gems
 And roses in anadems.

 Sherbets in ewers of gold,
 Fruits in salvers carnelian;
 Flagons of grotesque mold,
 Made of a sapphire glass,
 Brimmed with wine of Shiraz;
 Shaddock and melon and grape
 On plate of an antique shape.

 Vases of frosted rose,
 Of limpid alabaster,
 Filled with the mountain snows;
 Goblets of mother-of-pearl,
 One filigree silver-swirl;
 Vessels of gold foamed up
 With spray of spar on the cup.

 Then a slave bursts in with a cry:
 "The eunuchs! the Khalif's eunuchs!--
 With scimitars bared draw nigh!
 Wesif and Afif and he,
 Chief of the hideous three,
 Mesrour!--the Sultan's seen
 'Mid a hundred weapons' sheen!"

 Did we part when we heard this? No!
 It seems that my soul remembers
 How I clasped you and kissed you, so.
 When they came they found us--dead
 On the flowers our blood dyed red;
 Our lips together, and
 The dagger in my hand.


11

_She, musingly:_

 How it was I cannot tell,
  For I know not where nor why;
 But perhaps we loved too well
  In some world that does not lie
 East or west of where we dwell,
  And beneath no mortal sky.

 Was it in the golden ages
  Or the iron?--I had heard,--
 In the prophecy of sages,--
  Haply, how had come a bird,
 Underneath whose wing were pages
  Of an unknown lover's word.

 I forget. You may remember
  How the earthquake shook our ships;
 How our city, one huge ember,
  Blazed within the thick eclipse.
 When you found me--deep December
  Sealed my icy eyes and lips.

 I forget. No one may say
  That such things can not be true:--
 Here a flower dies to-day,
  And to-morrow blooms anew....
 Death is silent.--Tell me, pray,
  Why men doubt what God can do?


12

_He, with conviction._

 As to that, nothing to tell,
  You being all my belief;
 Doubt may not enter or dwell
  Here where your image is chief;
 Here where your name is a spell,
  Potent in joy and in grief.

 Is it the glamor of spring
  Working in us so we seem
 Aye to have loved? that we cling
  Even to some fancy or dream,
 Rainbowing everything
  Here in our souls with its gleam?

 See! how the synod is met
  There of the heavens to preach us--
 Freed from the earth's oubliette,
  See how the blossoms beseech us--
 Were it not well to forget
  Winter and night as they teach us?

 Dew and a bud and a star,
  These,--like a beautiful thought,
 Over man's wisdom how far!--
  God for some purpose has wrought;
 And though they're that which they are,
  What are the thoughts they have brought?

 Stars and the moon; and they roll
  Over our way that is white.
 Here shall we end the long stroll?
  Here shall I kiss you good-night?
 Or, for a while, soul to soul,
  Linger and dream of delight?


13

_They enter the garden again.... She, somewhat pensively._

 Myths tell of walls and cities that arose
  To melody. But I would build with tone,
 Had I that harp, a world for us alone,
  A world of love, and joy, and deep repose.

 A land of lavender light, of blue-bell skies;
  Pale peaks that rise against the gold of eve;
 And on one height, the splendors never leave,
  Our castled home o'er which the wild swan flies.

 There, pitiless, the ruined hand of death
  Should never reach. No bud, no thing should fade;
 All should be perfect, pure, and unafraid;
  And life serener than an angel's breath.

 The days should move to music; wildly tame
  The nights should move to music and the stars;
 And morn and evening in their opal cars,
  Like heralds, banner God's eternal name.

 O world! O life! desired and to be!
  How shall we reach thee?--dark the way and dim.
 --Give me your hand, love, let us follow him,
  Love with the mystery and the melody.


14

_He, observing the various flowers around them:_

 Violets and anemones
  The surrendered hours
 Pour, as handsels, round the knees
 Of the Spring, who to the breeze
  Flings her myriad flowers.

 Like to coins the sumptuous day
  Strews with blossoms golden
 Every furlong of his way,--
 Like a Sultan gone to pray
  At a Kaaba olden.

 And the night, with spark on spark,
  Clad in dim attire,
 Dots with Stars the haloed dark,--
 As a priest around the Ark
  Lights his lamps of fire.

 These are but the cosmic strings
  To the harp of Beauty,
 To that instrument which sings
 In our souls of love that brings
  Peace and faith and duty.


15

_She, seriously:_

 Duty?--Comfort of the sinner
  And the saint!--when grief and trial
 Weigh us, and within our inner
  Selves,--responsive to love's viol,--
 Hope's soft voice grows thin and thinner,
  It is kin to self-denial.

 Self-denial!--through whose feeling
  We are gainer though we're loser;
 All the finer force revealing
  Of our natures. No accuser
 Is the conscience then, but healing
  Of the wound of which we're chooser.

 Some one said no flower knoweth
  Of the fragrance it revealeth;
 Song, its soul that overfloweth,
  Never nightingale's heart feeleth--
 Such the love the spirit groweth,
  Love unconscious if it healeth.


16

_He, after a pause, lightly:_

 An elf there is who stables the hot
 Red wasp that stings on the apricot;
 An elf who rowels his spiteful bay
 Like a mote on a ray, away, away;
 An elf who saddles the hornet lean
 To din i' the ear o' the swinging bean;
 Who straddles, with cap cocked all awry,
 The bottle-blue back o' the dragon-fly.

 And this is the elf who sips and sips
 From clover-horns whence the perfume drips;
 And, drunk with dew, in the glimmering gloam
 Awaits the wild-bee's coming home;
 In ambush lies, where none may see,
 And robs the caravan bumble-bee--
 Gold bags of honey the bees must pay
 To the bandit elf of the fairy way.

 Another ouphen the butterflies know,
 Who paints their wings with the hues that glow
 On blossoms.--Squeezing from tubes of dew
 Pansy colors of every hue
 On his bloom's pied pallet, he paints the wings
 Of the butterflies, moths, and other things.
 This is the elf that the hollyhocks hear,
 Who dangles a brilliant in each one's ear;
 Teases at noon the pane's green fly,
 And lights at night the glow-worm's eye.

 But the dearest elf, so the poets say,
 Is the elf who hides in an eye of gray;
 Who curls in a dimple and slips along
 The strings of a lute to a lover's song;
 Who smiles in her smile, and frowns in her frown,
 And dreams in the scent of her glove or gown;
 Hides and beckons as all may note
 In the bloom or the bow of a maiden's throat.


17

_She, standing among the flowers:_

 Soft through the trees the night wind sighs,
 And swoons and dies.
 Above, the stars hang wanly white;
 Here, through the dark,
 A drizzled gold, the fireflies
 Rain mimic stars in spark on spark.--
 'Tis time to part, to say good-night.
 Good-night.

 From fern to flower the night-moths cross
 At drowsy loss.
 The moon drifts veiled through clouds of white;
 And pearly pale,
 A silver blur, through beds of moss,
 Their tiny moons the glow-worms trail.--
 'Tis time to part, to say good-night.
 Good-night.


18

_He, at parting, as they proceed down the garden:_

 You say you cannot wed me, now
  That roses and the June are here?
 To your decision I must bow.--
  Ah, well! 'tis just as well, my dear:
 We'll swear again each old love vow,
  And wait another year.

 Another year of love with you!
  Of dreams and doubts, of sun and rain!
 When field and forest bloom anew,
  And locust clusters pelt the lane,
 When all the song-birds wed and woo,
  I'll not take "no" again.

 Oft shall I lie awake and mark
  The hours by no clanging clock,
 But in the dim and distant dark
  The crowing of some punctual cock;
 Then up as early as the lark
  To meet you by our rock.

 The rock where first we met at tryst;
  Where first I wooed and won your love--
 Remember how the moon and mist
  Made mystery of the heaven above
 As now to-night?--How first I kissed
  Your lips, you trembling like a dove?

 So, then, you cannot wed me now
  That roses and the June are here,
 That warmth and fragrance weigh each bough?
  And yet your reason is not clear.
 Ah, well! We'll swear anew each vow,
  And wait another year.