BLACK CAT POEMS
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A Legend of Lucciole
Rosa Vertner Jeffrey
On a night long ago,
When the midsummer's glow
Italia's land was enchanting,
Down her deep Tuscan blue
Eros silently flew,
The heart of the hushed midnight haunting.
Subtle sprite! lo, he stole
Through the senses and soul,
Where lovers in rapture were meeting;
Where the same tale was told,--
Always sweet, never old,
Never worn with its endless repeating.
Then the night's fragrant airs
And the white marble stairs,
Flushed red with the roses down-falling,
From bosoms of snow
Unto lovers below,
With lute or with mandolin calling.
Every bloom held a kiss
Or some message of bliss,
Wafted down where the mandolins murmur;
As through June's golden gate,
Where the honey-bees wait,
Comes drifting a promise of summer.
Tender sighs, burning vows
Stirred the green ilex-boughs
And acanthus coils, thrilling and warming
The pale moonlit hours,
And to wake the night flowers
Love's amorous whispers were swarming.
Quoth bright Eros--who came
With his arrows of flame,
The shield of the white moonlight cleaving,
And in every love-note
On the night-winds afloat
A sparkle of amber-light leaving--
"In this sun-cradled clime,
Where the cycles of time
Are less warm than the passions I cherish,
Every love-word that springs
From the heart shall take wings,
Not one spark of my fire shall perish."
Thus, 'neath Cupid's weird spells,
Through campanian dells,
Lo! the beautiful Lucciole,--
Out of dark scented glooms,
Where the night-jasmine blooms,
Or adown the white moonlight,--sailed slowly.
"Go, wander abroad,"
Cried the rosy-winged god;
"Let the bulbul thrill songs to your glory,
Where her mystical scrolls
Starry midnight unrolls,
Go!--illumine your wondrous story."
Then they flashed through the air,
From high palaces there,
To cottage and hamlet most lowly,--
Through each garden and grove
Flashed these breathings of love,
These mysterious lucciole.
Every kiss folded up
In the rose's red cup
Leapt to life with its passionate yearning;
From the lily's white bells
And the jasmine cells
Love's whispers rose, winged and burning.
And now, as of old,
While hearts die or grow cold,
Grim Time, in his merciless robbing,
Never steals from the night
Love's soft pulses of light
Through the charmed heart of Italy throbbing.
And in climes of the sun
Where great rhymers have spun
Golden legends, heroic or holy,
Fond lovers still tell
Where the mandolins swell
This tale of the lucciole.
poems by Rosa Vertner Jeffrey