I am the singer who of late put by
The verse azulean and the chant profane,
Across whose nights a rossignol would cry
And prove himself a lark at morn again.
Lord was I of my garden-place of dreams,
Of heaping roses and swan-haunted brakes;
Lord of the doves; lord of the silver streams,
Of gondolas and lilies on the lakes.
And very eighteenth century; both old
And very modern; bold, cosmopolite;
Like Hugo daring, like Verlaine half-told,
And thirsting for illusions infinite.
From childhood it was sorrow that I knew;
My youth-was ever youth my own indeed?-
Its roses still their perfume round me strew,
Their perfume of a melancholy seed-
A rainless colt my instinct galloped free,
My youth bestrode a colt without a rein;
Intoxicate I went, a belted blade with me;
If I fell not-'twas God who did sustain.
Within my garden stood a statue fair,
Of marble seeming, yet of flesh and bone;
A gentle spirit was incarnate there
Of sensitive and sentimental tone.
So timid of the world, it fain would hide
And from its walls of silence issue not,
Save when the Spring released upon its tide
The hour of melody it had begot-
The hour of sunset and of hidden kiss;
The hour of gloaming twilight and retreat;
The hour of madrigal, the hour of bliss,
Of 'I adore thee' and 'Alas' too sweet.
And 'mid the gamut of the flute, perchance,
Would come a ripple of crystal mysteries,
Recalling Pan and his glad Grecian dance
With the intoning of old Latin keys,
With such a sweep, and ardor so intense,
That on the statue suddenly were born
The muscled goat-thighs shaggy and immense,
And o the brow the satyr's pair of horn.
As Gongora's Galatea, so in fine
The fair marquise of Verlaine captured me;
And so unto the passion half divine
Was joined a human sensuality;
All longing and all ardor, the mere sense
And natural vigor; and without a sign
Of stage effect or literature's pretence-
If there is ever a soul sincere-'tis mine.
The ivory tower awakened my desire;
I longed to enclose myself in selfish bliss,
Yet hungered after space, my thirst on fire
For heaven, from out the shades of my abyss.
As with the sponge the salt sea saturates
Below the oozing wave, so was my heart,-
Tender and soft,-bedrenched with bitter fates
That world and flesh and devil here impart.
But through the grace of God my conscience
Elected unto good its better part;
If there were hardness left in any sense
It melted soft beneath the touch of Art.
My intellect was freed from baser thought,
My soul was bathed in the Castalian flood,
My heart a pilgrim went, and so I caught
The harmony from out the sacred wood.
Oh, sacred wood! Oh, rumor, that profound
Stirs from the sacred woodland's heart divine!
Oh, plenteous fountain in whose power is wound
And overcome our destiny malign!
Grove of ideals, where the real halts,
Where flesh is flame alive, and Psyche floats;
The while the satyr makes his old assaults,
Loose Philomel her azure drunken throats.
Fantastic pearl and music amorous
Adown the green and flowering laurel tops;
Hypsipyle stealthily the rose doth buss;
And the faun's mouth the tender stalking crops.
There were the god pursues the flying maid,
Where springs the reed of Pan from out the mire,
The Life eternal hath its furrows laid,
And wakens the All-Father's mystic choir.
The soul that enters there disrobed should go
A-tremble with desire and longing pure
Over the wounding spine and thorn below,
So should it dream, be stirred, and sing secure.
Life, Light and Truth, as in a triple flame
Produce the inner radiance infinite;
Art, pure as Christ, is heartened to exclaim;
I am indeed the Life, the Truth, the Light!
The Life is mystery; the Light is blind;
The Truth beyond our reach both daunts and fades;
The sheer perfection nowhere do we find;
The ideal sleeps, a secret, in the shades.
Therefore to be sincere is to be strong.
Bare as it is, what glimmer hath the star;
The water tells the fountain's soul in song
And voice of crystal flowing out afar.
Such my intent was,-of my spirit pure
To make a star, a fountain music-drawn,
With horror of the thing called literature-
And mad with madness of the gloam and dawn.
Of the blue twilight, such as gives the world
Which the celestial ecstasies inspires,
The haze and minor chord,-let flutes be heard!
Aurora, daughter of the Sun,-sound, lyres!
Let pass the stone if any use the sling;
Let pass, should hands of violence point the dart.
The stone from out the sling is for the waves a thing;
Hate's arrow of the idle wind is part.
Virtue is with the tranquil and the braves;
The fire interior burneth well and high;
Triumphant over rancor and the grave,
Toward Bethlehem-the caravan goes by!