A VALENTINE, '98.1

NOW on the land the woods are green;

A wild bird’s note

Shrills till the air trembles between

His beak and throat.

And up through blue and gold and black

The shivering sound

Rushes; no echo murmurs back

From sky or ground.

In the loud agony of song

The moon is still;

The wind drops down the shore along;

Night hath her will.

The bird becomes a dancing flame

In leaf and bower.

The forest trembles; loves reclaim

Their own still hour.

The dawn is here, and on the sands

Where sun first flames,

I gather lilies from all lands

Of sad sweet names.

The Lesbian lily is of white

Stained through with blood,

Swayed with the stream, a wayward light

Upon the flood.

The Spartan lily is of blue,

With green leaves fresh;

Apollo glints his crimson through

The azure mesh.

The English lily is of white,

All white and clean;

There plays a tender flame of light

Her flowers between.

The English lily is a bloom

Too cold and sweet;

One might say — in the twilight gloom

A maiden’s feet. {120B}

Silent and slim and delicate

The flower shall spring,

Till there be born immaculate

A fair new thing.

Tall is the mother-lily, still

By faint winds swayed;

Tender and pure, without a will —

An English maid.

No tree of poison, at whose feet

All men lie dead;

No well of death, whose waters sweet

Are tinged with red.

No hideous impassioned queen

For whom love dies;

No warm imperious Messaline

That slew with sighs.

Fiercer desires may cast away

All things most good;

A people may forget to-day

Their motherhood.

She will remain, unshaken yet

By storm and sun;

She will remain, when years forget

That fierier one.

A race of clean strong men shall spring

From her pure life.

Men shall be happy; bards shall sing

The English wife.

And thou, forget thou that my mouth

Has ever clung

To flame of hell; that of the south

The songs I sung.

Forget that I have trampled flowers,

And worn the crown

Of thorns of roses in the hours

So long dropped drown.

Forget, O white-faced maid, that I

Have dallied long

In classic bowers and mystery

Of classic song. {121A}

Eros and Aphrodite now

I can forget,

Placing upon thy maiden brow

Love’s coronet.

Wake from the innocent dear sleep

Of childhood’s life:

An English maiden must not weep

To be a wife.

So shall our love bridge space, and bring

The tender breath

Of sun and moon and stars that sing

To gladden Death.

I see your cheek grow pale and cold,

Then flush above.

Kiss me; I know that I behold

The birth of Love.

 

2. Nothing more; be it well remembered! — A.C.

 

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