Like those Ambassadors of old, that went
To the far Orient land, with kingly gifts
Of Gold, so royal-rare and wondrous fine;
And Jewels--from which a subtle spirit looked--
To nestle richly between Beauty's breasts--
And crown her gorgeous brows with winking flame,
Or clothe her starrily as Queenly Night,
And found that land a garden where they grew,
Lavish, as all the dews were turn'd to gems;
So bring I thee, Sweet Lady of my love,
My gems which I have garner'd up, to find
How poor they are beside thy peerless wealth.
Th' Elysium where thy tender spirit dwells
Is written o'er with thoughts of beauty, thick
As starry mysteries written on the night.
They realm is rich in Memory's golden mines,
And flashing out with harvest-fields of Hope.
My Muse! that moveth swathed with holier light,
Throned on the regnant heights of Womanhood
In all thy summer beauty, warm as when
I looked out on the sunny side of Life,
And saw thee summering like a blooming Vine,
That reacheth globes of wine in at the lattice
By the ripe armful, with ambrosial smile.
The flying Cares but touch thy Life's fair face,
Lightly as swimming shadows dusk the Lake.
Come sit thee down, dear, by my side, Tonight;
The world shut out, our little world shut in!
Where we are happy as the Bird whose nest
Is heaven'd in the heart of purple Hills,
Or region'd in the palmy top of life,
Where sleep is dark and lusty as leaves in June:
Now shut thine eyes, and see a pageant bloom
Upon the dark--a Vision sweeping by.
I was a dweller amid shadows grim:
Till FREEDOM touched my yearning eyes, and lo!
Life in a shining circle, rounding rose,
As heaven on heaven goes up the jewell'd night.
New floods of passionate life swirl'd at my heart,
Like Ocean-surges rolling round the world:
And FREEDOM was my glittering Bride. For me
She walked the world as a Divinity,
Sang like a Spirit in Life's darken'd ways,
I' the Rainbow reached forth girdling arms of love,
To clasp the Unapparent to the Earth--
Turn'd common things to beauty: as the sun
Doth kindle glory in the grass and dust--
Went forth flame-plumed, in Chariot sublime,
And rode the winds, like him who walks the worlds
When the roused Storm-God strode his War-Horse, Ocean,
That sloughs the foam with flying mane of fire!
And when the fresh Morn flower'd like a Rose,
Birds sang of her, and all their happy hearts
Rang out in music, Leaves clapped faery hands,
The Flowers for joy stood tearful in her glory,
And World went singing, unto World, of FREEDOM.
And I would blazon her melodious name,
Sing some wild paean should touch the world to tears,
Or chariot it to battle in her Cause:
For O! her softest breath, that might not stir
The summer gossamer tremulous on its throne,
Makes the crown'd Tyrants start with realmless looks!
I would have given the lustre of my life
To add one jewel to her Diadem!
And then thou cam'st, and Love grew lord of all.
Look how the Sun puts out the eyes of fire!
So when Love's royal glance my lattice lit,
The fires of FREEDOM whiten'd on my hearth.
The sleeping Beauty in my heart's charm'd Palace
Woke at Love's kiss. My life was set aflush,
As Roses redden when the Spring moves by,
And the green buds peer out like eyes, to see
The delicate Spirit whose sweet presence stirr'd them.
How my heart ripen'd in its flooding spring;
As when the sap runs up the tingling trees,
Till all the sunny life laughs out in leaves,
And lifts its fluttering wings! So my heart felt
With such brave shoots of glory bursting up,
As it had flower'd for Immortality.
The heights of Being came out from their cloud,
As the cliffs kindle when the Morning comes
Swimming the utmost Sea in ruddy haste,
With foam of glory; and the ruby light,
Like mellow wine, runs down remotest hills.
Thou cam'st, my sparkling Bird of Paradise!
With a soft murmuring as of winnowing wings
That fold the nest so Dove-like tenderly!
With brows that parted lovely waves of hair,
And took the gazer's eye like some white Grace!
Eyes, loving large! Lips Houri-like, that light
A soul to glory with their kiss of fire:
And cheeks fresh misted with the bloom of Morn.
And thou didst move, a Splendor 'mid Life's shadows,
Making a Rembrandt Picture. So the Stars
In all their glory pass the shrinking Dark.
O, I was stirr'd as though a Spirit went by;
Or I had met some awful Loveliness,
That haunts the realm of Dreams, or duskly floats
Across the wondering solitudes of Thought.
So Love was lord of all. I touch my lyre,
And love o'erflows my heart, and floods my hand.
Love makes all dear delights so soothly sweet,
Life pants heart-stifled with its luscious load,
Like young Earth clasped in June's voluptuous arms,
Faint with her fragrance, flooded up in flowers.
Love's life divine, and Beauty is its smile.
O Love will make the killing crown of thorn
Burst into blossom on the Martyr's brow!
Upon Love's bosom Earth floats like an Ark
Safely through all the Deluge of the dark.
Love rays us round as glory swathes a star,
And, from the mystic touch of lips and palms,
Steams rosy warmth enough t'illume a world:
And Spirit-eyes, from out the purpling glooms,
Mark how we feed this human Altar-flame,
How speeds this ripening into Deity!
What glittering robes for immortality
Trail starry radiance through our night of Earth!
And in our home thy presence maketh Love
A Mortal, who hath died to rise again,
Immortal, in its nobler life with thee.
O Love! sublime me unto loftier things;
Roll up my Orb from Passion's misting Deep,
To climb the heights of Thought's eternal Vast;
And though it shine not 'mid the Suns of Song,
To set a world sweet-murmuring in its light,
Like Memnon at the radiant touch of Dawn,
I know each Star hath its own perfect place
In heaven, though it may have no name on Earth.
I hope my hope, and dream my dream that life
With me shall yet ring out melodious, 'twixt
The silences of heaven and the grave.
O Labor! blind and feeling for the day!
Might I go forth to peer with eagle ken
Into the blessed land of promise, where
The Future like a fruitfuller Summer sits
Ripening Her Eden silently, to bear
The crowning flower of consummated Life--
Where Freedom's Song-Birds fly, to build their nests,
And warm to life their brood of darling dreams:
Then see thy dark face lighten at my news,
And hearten thee to lift up grander brows
With light o'erflowing like a shining Sea.
I see a shape behind a mist, that burns
I' the flushing distance of some unseen Goal;
That grows with gazing on, like Lover's beauty.
With beckoning smiles the Glory draws me on;
One hand points up, one holds a glittering crown,
For me to climb and wear with lordlier growth,
And airy Voices call me, bid me leap
In Victory's Car as it goes bickering by.
And Thou, dear Wife! with exultation lit,
Wilt weep proud tears t' enrich my wine of joy--
A costlier cup than ever Anthony's Queen
Magnificent! drank in her voluptuous vein!