Late Loved--Well Loved

He stood beside her in the dawn--
And she his Dawn and she his Spring.
From her bright palm she fed her fawn,
Her swift eyes chased the swallow's wing;
Her restless lips, smile-haunted, cast
Shrill silver calls to hound and dove;
Her young locks wove them with the blast.
To the flushed azure shrine above
The light boughs o'er her golden head
Tossed emerald arm and blossom palm;
The perfume of their prayer was spread
On the sweet wind in breath of balm.

"Dawn of my heart," he said, "O child,
Knit they pure eyes a space with mine:
O crystal child eyes, undefiled,
Let fair love leap from mine to thine!"
"The Dawn is young," she, smiling, said,
"Too young for Love's dear joy and woe;
Too young to crown her careless head
With his ripe roses. Let me go
Unquestioned for a longer space;
Perchance when day is at the flood
In thy true palm I'll gladly place
Love's flower in its rounding bud.
But now the day is all too young,
The Dawn and I are playmates still."
She slipped the blossomed boughs among,
He strode beyond the violet hill.

Again they stand--Imperial Noon
Lays her red sceptre on the earth--
Where golden hangings make a gloom,
And far-off lutes sing dreamy mirth.
The peacocks cry to lily cloud
From the white gloss of balustrade;
Tall urns of gold the gloom make proud;
Tall statues whitely strike the shade
And pulse in the dim quivering light
Until, most Galatea-wise,
Each looks from base of malachite
With mystic life in limbs and eyes.

Her robe--a golden wave that rose,
And burst, and clung as water clings
To her long curves--about her flows.
Each jewel on her white breast sings
Its silent song of sun and fire.
No wheeling swallows smite the skies
And upward draw the faint desire,
Weaving its mystery in her eyes.
In the white kisses of the lips
Of her long fingers lies a rose:
Snow-pale beside her curving lips,
Red by her snowy breast it glows.

"Noon of my soul," said he, "behold
The day is ripe, the rose full blown!
Love stands in panoply of gold,
To Jovian height and strength now grown;
No infant he--a king he stands,
And pleads with thee for love again!"
"Ah, yes!" she said, "in all known lands
He kings it--lord of subtlest pain!
The moon is full, the rose of fair--
Too fair! 'tis neither white nor red!
I know the rose that love should wear
Must redden as the heart hath bled!
The moon is mellow bright, and I
Am happy in its perfect glow.
The slanting sun the rose may dye,
But for the sweet noon--let me go."

She parted--shimmering thro' the shade,
Bent the fair splendour of her head.
"Would the rich noon were past," he said;
"Would the pale rose were flushed to red!"

Again. The noon is past and Night
Binds on his brow the blood-red Mars;
Down dusky vineyards dies the fight,
And blazing hamlets slay the stars.
Shriek the shrill shells; the heated throats
Of thundrous cannon burst; and high
Scales the fierce joy of bugle notes
The flame-dimmed splendours of the sky.
He, dying, lies beside his blade,
Clear smiling as a warrior blest
With victory smiles; thro' sinister shade
Gleams the White Cross upon her breast.

"Soul of my soul, or is it night
Or is it dawn, or is it day?
I see no more nor dark nor light,
I hear no more the distant fray."
"'Tis Dawn," she whispers, "Dawn at last,
Bright flushed with love's immortal glow.
For me as thee all earth is past!
Late loved--well loved--now let us go!"

1870

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