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> CELIA THAXTER
Silke Lance
post May 27, 2004, 02:29 AM
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POEMS BY CELIA THAXTER,1835-1894






ALONE

The lilies clustered fair and tall;
I stood outside the garden wall;
I saw her light robe glimmering through
The fragrant evening's dusk and dew.

She stopped above the lilies pale;
Up the clear east the moon did sail;
I saw her bend her lovely head
O'er her rich roses blushing red.

Her slender hand the flowers caressed,
Her touch the unconscious blossoms blessed;
The rose against her perfumed palm
Leaned its soft cheek in blissful calm.

I would have given my soul to be
That rose she touched so tenderly!
I stood alone, outside the gate,
And knew that life was desolate.









IMPRISONED


Lightly she lifts the large, pure, luminous shell,
Poises it in her strong and shapely hand.
“Listen,” she says, “it has a tale to tell,
Spoken in language you may understand.”

Smiling, she holds it at my dreaming ear:
The old, delicious murmur of the sea
Steals like enchantment through me, and I hear
Voices like echoes of eternity.

She stirs it softly. Lo, another speech!
In one of its dim chambers, shut from sight,
Is sealed the water that has kissed the beach
Where the far Indian Ocean leaps in light.

Those laughing ripples, hidden evermore
In utter darkness, plaintively repeat
Their lapsing on the glowing tropic shore
In melancholy whispers low and sweet.

O prisoned wave that may not see the sun!
O voice that never may he comforted!
You cannot break the web that fate has spun;
Out of your world are light and gladness fled.

The red dawn nevermore shall tremble far
Across the leagues of radiant brine to you
You shall not sing to greet the evening star,
Nor dance exulting under heaven’s clear blue.

Inexorably woven is the weft
That shrouds from you all joy but memory;
Only this tender, low lament is left
Of all the sumptuous splendor of the sea









THE PIMPERNEL

She walks beside the silent shore,
The tide is high, the breeze is still;
No ripple breaks the ocean-floor,
The sunshine sleeps upon the hill.

The turf is warm beneath her feet,
Bordering the beach of stone and shell,
And thick about her path the sweet
Red blossoms of the pimpernel.

“O sleep not yet, my flower!” she cries,
“Nor prophesy of storm to come;
Tell me that under steadfast skies
Fair winds shall bring my lover home.”

She stoops to gather flower and shell,
She sits, and, smiling, studies each
She hears the full tide rise and swell
And whisper softly on the beach.

Waking she dreams a golden dream,
Remembering with what still delight,
To watch the sunset’s fading gleam,
Here by the waves they stood last night.

She leans on that encircling arm,
Divinely strong with power to draw
Her nature, as the moon doth charm
The swaying sea with heavenly law.

All lost in bliss the moments glide,
She feels his whisper, his caress;
The murmur of the mustering tide
Brings her no presage of distress.

What breaks her dream? She lifts her eyes,
Reluctant to destroy the spell;
The color from her bright cheek dies, —
Close folded is the pimpernel!

With rapid glance she scans the sky:
Rises a sudden wind, and grows,
And charged with storm the cloud-heaps lie.
Well may the scarlet blossoms close!

A touch, and bliss is turned to bale!
Life only keeps the sense of pain;
The world holds naught save one white sail
Flying before the wind and rain.

Broken upon the wheel of fear
She wears the storm-vexed hour away;
And now in gold and fire draws near
The sunset of her troubled day.

But to her sky is yet denied
The sun that lights the world for her:
She sweeps the rose-flushed ocean wide
With eager eyes that quick tears blur.

And lonely, lonely all the space
Stretches, with never sign of sail,
And sadder grows her wistful face,
And all the sunset splendors fail.

And cold and pale, in still despair,
With heavier grief than tongue can tell,
She sinks, — upon her lips a prayer,
Her cheek against the pimpernel.

Wee blossoms wet with showery tears
On her shut eyes their droplets shed,
Only the wakened waves she hears
That singing drown his rapid tread.

"Sweet, I am here !" Joy’s gates swing wide,
And heaven is theirs, and all is well,
And left beside the ebbing tide
Forgotten is the pimpernel.










REGRET

Softly Death touched her and she passed away
Out of this glad, bright world she made more fair,
Sweet as the apple-blossoms, when in May
The orchards flush, of summer grown aware.

All that fresh delicate beauty gone from sight,
That gentle, gracious presence felt no more!
How must the house be emptied of delight,
What shadows on the threshold she passed o’er!

She loved me. Surely I was grateful, yet
I could not give her back all she gave me, —
Ever I think of it with vain regret,
Musing upon a summer by the sea;

Remembering troops of merry girls who pressed
About me, — clinging arms and tender eyes,
And love, like scent of roses. With the rest
She came to fill my heart with new surprise.

The day I left them all and sailed away,
While o’er the calm sea, ‘neath the soft gray sky
They waved farewell, she followed me, to say
Yet once again her wistful, sweet “good by.”

At the boat’s bow she drooped; her light green dress
Swept o’er the skiff in many a graceful fold,
Her glowing face, bright with a mute caress,
Crowned with her lovely hair of shadowy gold:

And tears she dropped into the crystal brine
For me, unworthy, as we slowly swung
Free of the mooring. Her last look was mine,
Seeking me still the motley crowd among.

O tender memory of the dead I hold
So precious through the fret and change of years
Were I to live till Time itself grew old,
The sad sea would be sadder for those tears.






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