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- A Lover's Diary, Volume 1. - 4/6 -

In thee is all my art; from thee I draw The substance of my dreams, the waking plan Of practised thought; I can no measure scan, But thou work'st in me like eternal law.

If I were rich in goodly title deeds Of broad estate, won from posterity; If from decaying Time I snatched a see Richer than prelates pray for with their beads;

If some should bring before me frankincense, And make a pleasant fire to greet mine eyes; If there were given me for recompense

Gifts fairer than a seraph could devise: I would, my sovereign, kneel to thee and say, "It all is thine; thou showedst me the way."


But is it so that I must never kiss Thee on the brow, or smooth thy silken hair? Never close down thine eyelids with Love's prayer, Or fold my arms about my new-found bliss?

Must I unto the courses of my age Worship afar, lest haply I profane The temple that is now my holy fane, For which my song is given as a gage?

Shall I who cry to all, "Come not within The bounds where I my lady have enshrined; I am her cavalier"; shall I not win

One dear caress, the rich exchequer find Of thy soft cheek? If thou command, my lips Shall find surcease but at thy fingertips.


Why do I love thee? Shall my answer run: Because that thou hast beauty, noble place, Because of some sweet glamour in thy face, And eyes that shame the clear light of the sun?

Shall I exclaim upon thy snow-white hands, Challenge the world to show a gentler mien, Call down the seraphs to attest, the sheen Upon thy brow is borrowed from their lands?

Shall I trace out a map of all thy worth, Parcel thy virtues, say, "For this and this I learned to love her; here new charms had birth;

I in this territory caught a bliss"? Shall I make inventory of thy grace, And crowd the total into common space?


Nay, lady, though I love thee, I make pause Before thy question, and know naught to say; Art cannot teach me to define the way, Love led me, nor e'en register Love's cause.

It can but blazon in this verse of mine What love does for me; what from Love it gains; What is its quickening; but it refrains From divination where thy merits shine.

Canst thou, indeed, not tell what wrought in thee To bring me as a captive to thy feet? Canst thou not say, "'Twas this that made decree

Of conquest; here thy soul with mine did meet?" Or is it that both stand amazed before The shrine where thou hast blessed and I adore?


O mystic wings, upbear me lightly now, Beyond life's faithful labour to a seat Where I can feel the end of things complete, Where no hot breath of ill can scorch the brow.

O mystic wings of Art, about thee Truth Makes atmosphere of purity and power; 'Tis man's breath kills the spring's soft-petaled flower--

Ye give a refuge for the heart of youth.

Ye give a value for all loss in age, When feebled eyes search for forgotten springs; Ye fan the breeze that turns the moulded page,

And carry back the soul to ardent things. Poor payment can I give, but here engage I thee to be Love's airy equipage.


Was it thy face I saw when, as a child, Night after night I watched one quiet star Shine 'tween my curtain and the window-bar Until I slept, and made my sleep more mild?

Was it thy influence outreaching then To me, o'er untrod years, o'er varying days, To give me courage, as from phase to phase Of youth's desires I passed to deeds of men?

Was it because the star was hid awhile, That I in blindness wandered from my path; That I wooed Folly with her mumming smile,

And sought for Lethe in a cup of wrath? Another hand touched mine with sadness there, And saved me till I saw thy face appear.


A woman's hand. Lo, I am thankful now That with its touch I have walked all my days; Rising from fateful and forbidden ways, To find a woman's hand upon my brow;

Soft as a pad of rose-leaves, and as pure As upraised palms of angels, seen in dreams: And soothed by it, to stand as it beseems A man who strives to conquer and endure.

A woman's hand!--there is no better thing Of all things human; it is half divine; It hath been more to this lame life of mine,

When faith was weakness, and despair was king. Man more than all men, Thou wast glad to bless A woman's sacrifice and tenderness.


One face I see by thine whene'er I hold Converse with things that are or things that were; Whene'er I seek life's hidden folds to stir, And watch the inner to the outer rolled.

Dost thou not know her, O beloved one? Hast thou not felt her sunshine on thy face? In me hast thou not learned some signs to trace Of that dear soul who calleth me her son?

Such as I was that in thy countenance Found favour, from her it was gathered most. To my mad youth her gentle surveillance

Was like a watch-fire on a rock-bound coast. She drew about me motherhood, and thou Hast with Love's holy chrism touched my brow.


A Lover's Diary, Volume 1. - 4/6

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