Madison Cawein.

The Cup of Comus: Fact and Fancy





THE WIND WITCH


The wind that met her in the park,
Came hurrying to my side
It ran to me, it leapt to me,
And nowhere would abide.


It whispered in my ear a word,
So sweet a word, I swear,
It smelt of honey and the kiss
It'd stolen from her hair.


Then shouted me the flowery way
Whereon she walked with dreams,
And bade me wait and watch her pass
Among the glooms and gleams.


It ran to meet her as she came
And clasped her to its breast;
It kissed her throat, her chin, her mouth,
And laughed its merriest.


Then to my side it leapt again,
And took me by surprise:
The kiss it'd stolen from her lips
It blew into my eyes.


Since then, it seems, I have grown blind
To every face but hers:
It haunts me sleeping or awake,
And is become my curse.


The spell, that kiss has laid on me,
Shall hold my eyes the same,
Until I give it back again
To lips from which it came.

OLD GHOSTS


Clove-spicy pinks and phlox that fill the sense
With drowsy indolence;
And in the evening skies
Interior splendor, pregnant with surprise,
As if in some new wise
The full moon soon would rise.


Hung with the crimson aigrets of its seeds
The purple monkshood bleeds;
The dewy crickets chirr,
And everywhere are lights of lavender;
And scents of musk and myrrh
To guide the foot of her.


She passes like a misty glimmer on
To where the rose blooms wan,
A twilight moth in flight,
As in the west its streak of chrysolite
The dusk erases quite,
And ushers in the night.


And now another shadow passes slow,
With firefly light a-glow:
The scent of a cigar,
And two who kiss beneath the evening-star,
Where, in a moonbeam bar,
A whippoorwill cries afar.


Again the tale is told, that has been told
So often here of old:
Ghosts of dead lovers they?
Or memories only of some perished day?
Old ghosts, no time shall lay,
That haunt the place alway.

THE NAME ON THE TREE


I saw a name carved on a tree "Julia";
A simpler name there could not be Julia:
But seeing it I seemed to see
A Devon garden, pleasantly
About a parsonage, the bee
Made drowsy-sweet; where rosemary
And pink and phlox and peony
Bowed down to one
Whom Herrick made to bloom in Poetry.


A moment there I saw her stand, Julia;
A gillyflower in her hand, Julia:
And then, kind-faced and big and bland,
As raised by some magician's wand,
Herrick himself passed by, sun-tanned,
And smiling; and the quiet land
Seemed to take on and understand
A dream long dreamed,
And for the lives of two some gladness planned.


And then I seemed to hear a sigh, "Julia!"
And someone softly walking nigh, Julia:
The leaves shook; and a butterfly
Trailed past; and through the sleepy sky
A bird flew, crying strange its cry
Then suddenly before my eye
Two lovers strolled They knew not why
I looked amazed,
But I had seen old ghosts of long dead loves go by.

THE HAUNTED GARDEN


There a tattered marigold
And dead asters manifold,
Showed him where the garden old
Of time bloomed:
Briar and thistle overgrew
Corners where the rose once blew,
Where the phlox of every hue
Lay entombed.


Here a coreopsis flower
Pushed its disc above a bower,
Where once poured a starry shower,
Bronze and gold:
And a twisted hollyhock,
And the remnant of a stock,
Struggled up, 'mid burr and dock,
Through the mold.


Flower-pots, with mossy cloak,
Strewed a place beneath an oak,
Where the garden-bench lay broke
By the tree:
And he thought of her, who here
Sat with him but yesteryear;
Her, whose presence now seemed near
Stealthily.


And the garden seemed to look
For her coming.
Petals shook
On the spot where, with her book,
Oft she sat.
Suddenly there blew a wind:
And across the garden blind,
Like a black thought in a mind,
Stole a cat.


Lean as hunger; like the shade
Of a dream; a ghost unlaid;
Through the weeds its way it made,
Gaunt and old:
Once 't was hers. He looked to see
If she followed to the tree.
Then recalled how long since she
Had been mold.

THE CLOSED DOOR


Shut it out of the heart this grief,
O Love, with the years grown old and hoary!
And let in joy that life is brief,
And give God thanks for the end of the story.
The bond of the flesh is transitory,
And beauty goes with the lapse of years
The brow's white rose and the hair's dark glory
God be thanked for the severing shears!


Over the past, Heart, waste no tears!
Over the past, and all its madness,
Its wine and wormwood, hopes and fears,
That never were worth a moment's sadness.
Here she lies who was part o' its gladness,
Wife and mistress, and shared its woe,
The good of life as well as its badness,
Look on her face and see if you know.


Is this the face? yea, ask it slow!
The hair, the form, that we used to cherish?
Where is the glory of long-ago?
The beauty we said would never perish.
Like a dream we dream, or a thought we nourish,
Nothing of earth immortal is:
This is the end however we flourish
All that is fair must come to this.

THE LONG ROOM


He found the long room as it was of old,
Glimmering with sunset's gold;
That made the tapestries seem full of eyes
Strange with a wild surmise:
Glaring upon a Psyche where she shone
Carven of stainless stone,
Holding a crystal heart where many a sun
Seemed starrily bound in one:
And near her, grim in rigid metal, stood
An old knight in a wood,
Groping his way: the bony wreck, that was
His steed, at weary pause.
And over these a canvas one mad mesh
Of Chrysoprase tints of flesh
And breasts Bohemian cups, whose glory gleamed
For one who, brutish, seemed
A hideous Troll, unto whose lustful arms
She yielded glad her charms.


Then he remembered all her shame; and knew
The thing that he must do:
These were but records of his life: the whole
Portrayed to him his soul.
So, drawing forth the slim Bithynian phial,
He drained it with a smile.
And 'twixt the Knight and Psyche fell and died;
The arras, evil-eyed,
Glared grimly at him where all night he lay,
And where a stealthy ray
Pointed her to himher, that nymph above,
Who gave the Troll her love.

IN PEARL AND GOLD


When pearl and gold, o'er deeps of musk,
The moon curves, silvering the dusk,
As in a garden, dreaming,
A lily slips its dewy husk
A firefly in its gleaming,
I of my garden am a guest;
My garden, that, in beauty dressed
Of simple shrubs and oldtime flowers,
Chats with me of the perished hours,
When she companioned me in life,
Living remote from care and strife.


It says to me: "How sad and slow
The hours of daylight come and go,
Until the Night walks here again
With moon and starlight in her train,
And she and I with perfumed words
Of winds and waters, dreaming birds,
And flowers and crickets and the moon,
For hour on hour, in soul commune. "
And you, and you,
Sit here and listen in the dew
For her, the love, you used to know,
Who often walked here, long ago,
Long ago;
The young, sweet love you used to know
Long ago
Whom oft I watched with violet eye,
Or eye of dew, as she passed by:
As she passed by.


And I reply, with half a sigh:
"You knew her too as well as I,
That young sweet love of long-ago!
That young sweet love, who walked here slow.
Oh, speak no more of the days gone by,
Dear days gone by,
Lest I lay me down on your heart and die!"

MOON FAIRIES


The moon, a circle of gold,
O'er the crowded housetops rolled,
And peeped in an attic, where,
'Mid sordid things and bare,
A sick child lay and gazed
At a road to the far-away,
A road he followed, mazed,
That grew from a moonbeam-ray,


A road of light that led
From the foot of his garret-bed
Out of that room of hate,
Where Poverty slept by his mate,
Sickness out of the street,
Into a wonderland,
Where a voice called, far and sweet,
"Come, follow our Fairy band!"


A purple shadow, sprinkled
With golden star-dust, twinkled
Suddenly into the room
Out of the winter gloom:
And it wore a face to him
Of a dream he'd dreamed: a form
Of Joy, whose face was dim,
Yet bright with a magic charm.


And the shadow seemed to trail,
Sounds that were green and frail:
Dew-dripples; notes that fell
Like drops in a ferny dell;
A whispered lisp and stir,
Like winds among the leaves,
Blent with a cricket-chirr,
And coo of a dove that grieves.


And the Elfin bore on its back
A little faery pack
Of forest scents: of loam
And mossy sounds of foam;
And of its contents breathed
As might a clod of ground
Feeling a bud unsheathed
There in its womb profound.


And the shadow smiled and gazed
At the child; then softly raised
Its arms and seemed to grow
To a tree in the attic low:
And from its glimmering hands
Shook emerald seeds of dreams,
From which grew fairy bands,
Like firefly motes and gleams.


The child had seen them before
In his dreams of Fairy lore:
The Elves, each with a light
To guide his feet a-right,
Out of this world to a world
Where Magic built him towers,
And Fable old, unfurled,
flags like wonderful flowers.


And the child, who knew this, smiled,
And rose, a different child:
No more he knew of pain,
Or fear of heart and brain.
At Poverty there that slept
He never even glanced,
But into the moon-road stept,
And out of the garret danced.


Out of the earthly gloom,
Out of the sordid room,
Out, on a moonbeam ray!
Now at last to play
There with comrades found!
Children of the moon,
There on faery ground,
Where none would find him soon!

HAEC OLIM MEMINISSE


Febrile perfumes as of faded roses
In the old house speak of love to-day,
Love long past; and where the soft day closes,
Down the west gleams, golden-red, a ray.


Pointing where departed splendor perished,
And the path that night shall walk, and hang,
On blue boughs of heaven, gold, long cherished
Fruit Hesperian, that the ancients sang.


And to him, who sits there dreaming, musing,
At the window in the twilight wan,
Like old scent of roses interfusing,
Comes a vision of a day that's gone.


And he sees Youth, walking brave but dimly
'Mid the roses, in the afterglow;
And beside him, like a star seen slimly,
Love, who used to meet him long-ago.


And again he seems to hear the flowers
Whispering faintly of what no one knows
Of the dreams they dreamed there for long hours,
Youth and Love, between their hearts a rose.


Youth is dead; and Love, oh, where departed!
Like the last streak of the dying day,
Somewhere yonder, in a world uncharted,
Calling him, with memories, away.

THE MAGIC PURSE


What is the gold of mortal-kind
To that men find
Deep in the poet's mind!
That magic purse
Of Dreams from which
God builds His universe!
That makes life rich
With many a vision;
Taking the soul from out its prison
Of facts with the precision
A wildflower dons
When Spring comes knocking at the door
Of Earth across the windy lawns;
Calling to Joy to rise and dance before
Her happy feet:
Or with the beat
And bright exactness of a star,
Hanging its punctual point afar,
When Night comes tripping over Heaven's floor,
Leaving a gate ajar.
That leads the Heart from all its aching
Far above where day is breaking;
Out of the doubts, the agonies,
The strife and sin, to join with these
Hope and Beauty and Joy that build
Their golden walls
Of sunset where, with spirits filled,
A Presence calls,
And points a land
Where Love walks, silent; hand in hand
With the Spirit of God, and leads Man right
Out of the darkness into the light.

THE CHILD AT THE GATE


The sunset was a sleepy gold,
And stars were in the skies
When down a weedy lane he strolled
In vague and thoughtless wise.


And then he saw it, near a wood,
An old house, gabled brown,
Like some old woman, in a hood,
Looking toward the town.


A child stood at its broken gate,
Singing a childish song,
And weeping softly as if Fate
Had done her child's heart wrong.


He spoke to her: "Now tell me, dear,
Why do you sing and weep?"
But she she did not seem to hear,
But stared as if asleep.


Then suddenly she turned and fled
As if with soul of fear.
He followed; but the house looked dead,
And empty many a year.


The light was wan: the dying day
Grew ghostly suddenly:
And from the house he turned away,
Wrapped in its mystery.

* * * *

They told him no one dwelt there now:
It was a haunted place.
And then it came to him, somehow,
The memory of a face.


That child's like hers, whose name was Joy
For whom his heart was fain:
The face of her whom, when a boy,
He played with in that lane.

THE LOST DREAM


The black night showed its hungry teeth,
And gnawed with sleet at roof and pane;
Beneath the door I heard it breathe
A beast that growled in vain.


The hunter wind stalked up and down,
And crashed his ice-spears through each tree;
Before his rage, in tattered gown,
I saw the maid moon flee.


There stole a footstep to my door;
A voice cried in my room and there!
A shadow cowled and gaunt and hoar,
Death, leaned above my chair.


He beckoned me; he bade me rise,
And follow through the madman night;
Into my heart's core pierced his eyes,
And lifted me with might.


I rose; I made no more delay;
And followed where his eyes compelled;
And through the darkness, far away,
They lit me and enspelled.


Until we reached an ancient wood,
That flung its twisted arms around,
As if in anguish that it stood
On dark, unhallowed ground.


And then I saw it cold and blind
The dream, that had my heart to share,
That fell, before its feet could find
Its home, and perished there.

WITCHCRAFT


This world is made a witchcraft place
With gazing on a woman's face.


Now 'tis her smile, whose sorcery
Turns all my thoughts to melody.


Now 'tis her frown, that comes and goes,
That makes my day a page of prose.


And now her laugh, or but a word,
That in my heart frees wild a bird.


Some day, perhaps, a kiss of hers,
Will lift from my dumb life the curse


Of longing, inarticulate,
That keeps me sad and celibate.

TRANSPOSED SEASONS


The gentian and the bluebell so
Can change my calendar,
I know not how the year may go,
Or what the seasons are:
The months, in some mysterious wise,
Take their expression from her eyes.


The gentian speaks to memory
Of autumns long since gone,
When her blue eyes smiled up at me,
And heaven was flushed with dawn:
'T was autumn then and leaves were sere,
But in my heart 't was spring o' the year.


The bluebell says a message too
Of springs long passed away,
When in my eyes her eyes of blue
Gazed and 't was close of day:
Spring spread around her fragrant chart,
But it was autumn in my heart.

THE OLD DREAMER


Come, let's climb into our attic,
In our house that's old and gray!
Life, you're old and I'm rheumatic,
And it's close of day.


Lay aside your rags and tatters,
Shirt and shoes so soiled with clay!
They're no use now. Nothing matters
It is close of day.


Let's to bed. It's cold. No fire.
And no lamp to make a ray.
Where's our servant, young Desire?
Gone at close of day.


Oft she served us with fine glances,
Helped us out at work and play:
She is gone now; better chances;
And it's close of day.


Where is Hope, who flaunted scarlet?
Hope, who led us oft astray?
Has she proved herself a harlot
At the close of day?


What's become of Dream and Vision?
Friends we thought were here to stay?
Has life clapped the two in prison
At the close of day?


They are gone; and how we miss them!
They who made our garret gay.
How we used to hug and kiss them!
But 'tis close of day.


Where's friend Love now? Who supposes?
Has he flung himself away?
Left us for a wreath of roses
At the close of day?


And where's Song? the soul elected
Has he quit us too for aye?
Was it poverty he suspected
Near the close of day?


How our attic rang their laughter!
How it echoed laugh and lay!
None may take their place hereafter?
It is close of day.


We have done the best we could do.
Let us kneel awhile and pray.
Now, no matter what we would do,
It is close of day.


Let's to bed then! It's December.
Long enough since it was May!
Let's forget it, and remember
Now 'tis close of day.

A LAST WORD


Oh, for some cup of consummating might,
Filled with life's kind conclusion, lost in night!
A wine of darkness, that with death shall cure
This sickness called existence! Oh to find
Surcease of sorrow! quiet for the mind,
An end of thought in something dark and sure!
Mandrake and hellebore, or poison pure!
Some drug of death, wherein there are no dreams!
No more, no more, with patience, to endure
The wrongs of life, the hate of men, it seems;
Or wealth's authority, tyranny of time,
And lamentations and the boasts of man!
To hear no more the wild complaints of toil,
And struggling merit, that, unknown, must starve:
To see no more life's disregard for Art!
Oh God! to know no longer anything!
Nor good, nor evil, or what either means!
Nor hear the changing tides of customs roll
On the dark shores of Time! No more to hear
The stream of Life that furies on the shoals
Of hard necessity! No more to see
The unavailing battle waged of Need
Against adversity! Merely to lie, at last,
Pulseless and still, at peace beneath the sod!
To think and dream no more! no more to hope!
At rest at last! at last at peace and rest,
Clasped by some kind tree's gnarled arm of root
Bearing me upward in its large embrace
To gentler things and fairer clouds and winds,
And stars and sun and moon! To undergo
The change the great trees know when Spring comes in
With shoutings and rejoicings of the rain,
To swiftly rise an atom in a host,
The myriad army of the leaves; and stand
A handsbreadth nearer Heaven and what is God!
To pulse in sap that beats unfevered in
The life we call inanimate the heart
Of some great tree. And so, unconsciously,
As sleeps a child, clasped in its mother's arm,
Be taken back, in amplitudes of grace,
To Nature's heart, and so be lost in her.

THE SHADOW


A shadow glided down the way
Where sunset groped among the trees,
And all the woodland bower, asway
With trouble of the evening breeze.


A shape, it moved with head held down;
I knew it not, yet seemed to know
Its form, its carriage of a clown,
Its raiment of the long-ago.


It never turned or spoke a word,
But fixed its gaze on something far,
As if within its heart it heard
The summons of the evening star.


I turned to it and tried to speak;
To ask it of the thing it saw,
Or heard, beyond Earth's outmost peak
The dream, the splendor, and the awe.


What beauty or what terror there
Still bade its purpose to ascend
Above the sunset's sombre glare,
The twilight and the long day's end.


It looked at me but said no word:
Then suddenly I saw the truth:
This was the call that once I heard
And failed to follow in my youth.


Now well I saw that this was I
My own dead self who walked with me,
Who died in that dark hour gone by
With all the dreams that used to be.

ON THE ROAD


Let us bid the world good-by,
Now while sun and cloud's above us,
While we've nothing to deny,
Nothing but our selves to love us:
Let us fancy, I and you,
All the dreams we dreamed came true.


We have gone but half the road,
Rugged road of root and bowlder;
Made the best of Life's dark load,
Cares, that helped us to grow older:
We, my dear, have done our best
Let us stop awhile and rest.


Let us, by this halfway stile,
Put away the world's desire,
And sit down, a little while,
With our hearts, and light a fire:
Sing the songs that once we sung
In the days when we were young.


Haply they will bring again,
From the Lands of Song and Story,
To our sides the elfin train
Of the dreams we dreamed of glory,
That are one now with the crew
Of the deeds we did not do.


Here upon the road of Life
Let us rest us; take our pleasure:
Free from care and safe from strife,
Count again our only treasure
Love, that helped us on our way,
Our companion night and day.

RECONCILIATION


Listen, dearest! you must love me more,
More than you did before!
Hark, what a beating here of wings!
Never at rest,
Dear, in your breast!
Is it your heart with its flutterings,
Making a music, love, for us both?
Or merely a moth, a velvet-winged moth,
Which out of the garden's fragrance swings,
Weaving a spell,
That holds the rose and the moon in thrall?
I love you more than I can tell;
And no recall
How long ago
Our quarrel and all!
You say, you know,
A perfect pearl grows out of well,
A little friction; tiny grain
Of sand or shell
So love grew out of that moment's pain,
The heart's disdain
Since then I have thought of no one but you,
And how your heart would beat on mine,
Like light on dew.
And I thought how foolish to fret and pine!
Better to claim the fault all mine!
To go to you and tell you that:
And how stale and flat
All life without you was, and vain!
And when I came, you turned and smiled,
Like a darling child,
And I knew from your look that, in your heart,
You had followed the self-same train
Of thought that made me yours again.


Dearest! no more!
We shall never part!
So. Turn your face as you did before.


I smooth your brow
And kiss you. Now
Tell me true
Did you miss me, dear, as I missed you?





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