John Kenyon Poems >>
Moonlight

Not alway from the lessons of the schools,
 Taught evermore by those who trust them not,
 Though in fine phrase tricked out, or bodied forth
 In solid saw, spring forth the fairest fruits
 Of wisdom or of duty. Spirits there are
 Who, rather from the forms of outward nature-
 Those teachers who in our dull colleges
 Have never taken degree-rejoice to cull
 Their doctrine; nutriment to grosser sense,
  If alien, yet with finer essences
 
  Not unassimilate! Such win their lore
  Through many a sympathy, from "stones, and trees,
  And running brooks;" from every sound and thing;
  Yea, from far less; from films of sounds and things;
  The airiest shadow flitting o'er the mead;
  The last thin whisper of the evening breeze;
  The faintest hue that dies along the main.
  Such thoughts dost Thou, beloved Moon, shed forth
  For poets, which from them we gather up
  Not scant; and I have had them of my own,
  Gentle and fair, and, as I fain would deem,
  Not unpoetic quite, though never stamped
  With countermark of verse; I all unskilled
  Of measure, or the thoughts themselves too swift
  Or subtile for the workmanship of words
  And yet, though woven of thy most delicate rays,
  Or snatched, as might be, from quick-vanishing stars,
  Twinkling and gone, not thence, would I believe,
  Mere passing thoughts, but fitted to endure,
  For profit of the meditative mind,
  As yon sweet stars and Thou, fair Moon, endurest.
  For I have loved Thee from my childhood up
 
  Till now; from when, beneath far tropic skies,
  Forth guided by my ancient Afran nurse,
  Whose ebon face strange contrast made with Thine,
  I first observed Thee; and, observing, wondered
  If those, thy seeming features, nose and mouth,
  And steadfast eyes, were really such as ours,
  And asked of her, like wondering. Nor when
  To these fair isles conveyed, a growing school-boy,
  From forth our play-ground's narrow boundary,
  I spied thee, 'mid blue ether, in thy freedom
  Careering, even like the white-sailed ship
  That sped me hither; or if I beheld thee,
  When sultry summer-airs forbade to sleep,
  Slanting, at midnight, through th' uncurtained window,
  On the half-testered bed, uncurtained too,
  Our youngster couch; not then could I withhold
  To gaze upon Thee; pensive half-half glad,
  I scarce knew which nor wherefore, with a vague
  Unsatisfied delight. And as, in days
  Ere chivalry was gone, some youthful knight,
  Of high-born damsel, whom he ne'er might reach,
  Enamoured, worshipped still her peerless beauty,
  And dress'd his thoughts on hers, and thus imbibed
 
  Civility with love; not less, fair Idol,
  On thee I hung in thy remov