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- The White Bees - 2/11 -


How will they fare in a world so bleak? Where is the hidden honey they seek? What is the sweetness they toil to store In the desolate day, where no blossoms gleam? Forgetfulness and a dream!

V

But now the fretful wind awakes; I hear him girding at the trees; He strikes the bending boughs, and shakes The quiet clusters of the bees To powdery drift; He tosses them away, He drives them like spray; He makes them veer and shift Around his blustering path. In clouds blindly whirling, In rings madly swirling, Full of crazy wrath, So furious and fast they fly They blur the earth and blot the sky In wild, white mirk. They fill the air with frozen wings And tiny, angry, icy stings; They blind the eyes, and choke the breath, They dance a maddening dance of death Around their work, Sweeping the cover from the hill, Heaping the hollows deeper still, Effacing every line and mark, And swarming, storming in the dark Through the long night; Until, at dawn, the wind lies down, Weary of fight. The last torn cloud, with trailing gown, Passes the open gates of light; And the white bees are lost in flight.

VI

Look how the landscape glitters wide and still, Bright with a pure surprise! The day begins with joy, and all past ill, Buried in white oblivion, lies Beneath the snowdrifts under crystal skies. New hope, new love, new life, new cheer, Flow in the sunrise beam,-- The gladness of Apollo when he sees, Upon the bosom of the wintry year, The honey-harvest of his wild white bees, Forgetfulness and a dream!

III

LEGEND

Listen, my beloved, while the silver morning, like a tranquil vision, Fills the world around us and our hearts with peace; Quiet is the close of Aristaeus' legend, happy is the ending-- Listen while I tell you how he found release.

Many months he wandered far away in sadness, desolately thinking Only of the vanished joys he could not find; Till the great Apollo, pitying his shepherd, loosed him from the burden Of a dark, reluctant, backward-looking mind.

Then he saw around him all the changeful beauty of the changing seasons, In the world-wide regions where his journey lay; Birds that sang to cheer him, flowers that bloomed beside him, stars that shone to guide him,-- Traveller's joy was plenty all along the way!

Everywhere he journeyed strangers made him welcome, listened while he taught them Secret lore of field and forest he had learned: How to train the vines and make the olives fruit- ful; how to guard the sheepfolds; How to stay the fever when the dog-star burned.

Friendliness and blessing followed in his foot- steps; richer were the harvests, Happier the dwellings, wheresoe'er he came; Little children loved him, and he left behind him, in the hour of parting, Memories of kindness and a god-like name.

So he travelled onward, desolate no longer, patient in his seeking, Reaping all the wayside comfort of his quest; Till at last in Thracia, high upon Mount Haemus, far from human dwelling, Weary Aristaeus laid him down to rest.

Then the honey-makers, clad in downy whiteness, fluttered soft around him, Wrapt him in a dreamful slumber pure and deep. This is life, beloved: first a sheltered garden, then a troubled journey, Joy and pain of seeking,--and at last we sleep!

NEW YEAR'S EVE

I

The other night I had a dream, most clear And comforting, complete In every line, a crystal sphere, And full of intimate and secret cheer. Therefore I will repeat That vision, dearest heart, to you, As of a thing not feigned, but very true, Yes, true as ever in my life befell; And you, perhaps, can tell Whether my dream was really sad or sweet.

II

The shadows flecked the elm-embowered street I knew so well, long, long ago; And on the pillared porch where Marguerite Had sat with me, the moonlight lay like snow. But she, my comrade and my friend of youth, Most gaily wise, Most innocently loved,-- She of the blue-grey eyes That ever smiled and ever spoke the truth,-- From that familiar dwelling, where she moved Like mirth incarnate in the years before, Had gone into the hidden house of Death. I thought the garden wore White mourning for her blessed innocence, And the syringa's breath Came from the corner by the fence, Where she had made her rustic seat, With fragrance passionate, intense, As if it breathed a sigh for Marguerite. My heart was heavy with a sense Of something good forever gone. I sought Vainly for some consoling thought, Some comfortable word that I could say To the sad father, whom I visited again For the first time since she had gone away. The bell rang shrill and lonely,--then The door was opened, and I sent my name To him,--but ah! 't was Marguerite who came! There in the dear old dusky room she stood Beneath the lamp, just as she used to stand, In tender mocking mood. "You did not ask for me," she said, "And so I will not let you take my hand; "But I must hear what secret talk you planned "With father. Come, my friend, be good, "And tell me your affairs of state: "Why you have stayed away and made me wait "So long. Sit down beside me here,-- "And, do you know, it seemed a year "Since we have talked together,--why so late?"

Amazed, incredulous, confused with joy I hardly dared to show, And stammering like a boy, I took the place she showed me at her side; And then the talk flowed on with brimming tide Through the still night, While she with influence light Controlled it, as the moon the flood. She knew where I had been, what I had done, What work was planned, and what begun; My troubles, failures, fears she understood, And touched them with a heart so kind, That every care was melted from my mind, And every hope grew bright, And life seemed moving on to happy ends. (Ah, what self-beggared fool was he That said a woman cannot be The very best of friends?) Then there were memories of old times, Recalled with many a gentle jest; And at the last she brought the book of rhymes We made together, trying to translate The Songs of Heine (hers were always best). "Now come," she said, "To-night we will collaborate "Again; I'll put you to the test. "Here's one I never found the way to do,-- "The simplest are the hardest ones, you know,-- "I give this song to you." And then she read:


The White Bees - 2/11

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