To A Beautiful Woman
SURELY, dame Nature made you in some dream
Of old-world women--Chriemhild, or bright
Aslauga, or Boadicea fierce and fair,
Or Berengaria as she rose, her lips
Yet ruddy from the poison that anoints
Her memory still, the queen of queenly wives.
I marvel, who will crown you wife, you grand
And goodly creature! who will mount supreme
The empty chariot of your maiden heart,
Curb the strong will that leaps and foams and chafes
Still masterless, and guide you safely home
Unto the golden gate, where quiet sits
Grave Matronhood, with gracious, loving eyes.
What eyes you have, you wild gazelle o' the plain,
You fierce hind of the forest! now they flash,
Now glow, now in their own dark down-dropt shade
Conceal themselves a moment, as some thought,
Too brief to be a feeling, flits across
The April cloudland of your careless soul--
There--that light laugh--and 't is full sun--full day.
Would I could paint you, line by line, ere Time
Touches the gorgeous picture! your ripe mouth,
Your white arched throat, your stature like to Saul's
Among his brethren, yet so fitly framed
In such harmonious symmetry, we say
As of a cedar among common trees
Never 'How tall!' but only 'O how fair!'
Who made you fair? moulded you in the shape
That poets dream of; sent you forth to men
His caligraph inscribed on every curve
Of your brave form?
Is it written on your soul?
--I know not.
Woman, upon whom is laid
Heaven's own sign-manual, Beauty, mock heaven not!
Reverence thy loveliness--the outward type
Of things we understand not, nor behold
But as in a glass, darkly; wear it thou
With awful gladness, grave humility,
That not contemns, nor boasts, nor is ashamed,
But lifts its face up prayerfully to heaven,--
'Thou who hast made me, make me worthy Thee!'