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Poem by Eleanor Farjeon

King Laurin's Garden

(A Styrian Peasant-Girl Dreams at her Wheel)

King Laurin has a garden of roses
Where warm sweet odours do idly flow
Wave upon wave through the charmèd air ...
It is sin to wish for the garden of roses
In the heart of wild mountains where no men go.

Laurin is king of a rosy garden.
The lure of the roses is rare, O rare!
They tremble and brighten and throb and glow ...
I may not think of King Laurin's garden.
A danger, they tell me, for maids is there.

There are four high gates to the garden of roses,
For the treasure of bloom a golden guard,
A precious cup for the rose-wine red.
O the golden gates of the garden of roses!
They are bright and beautiful, tall and barred.

There is no strong wall round the rosy garden;
From gate to gate runs a woven thread,
Yellow and silken and fine, for ward.
Who snaps the ward of the rosy garden
With his hand and his foot shall he pay, 'tis said.

Laurin who rules the garden of roses
Is an elf-king, therefore he has no soul.
(The good priest shudders at Laurin's name.)
Poor soulless elf of the garden of roses!
Shall I pray for King Laurin at Vesper-toll?

They say no prayers in the rosy garden
Where life is the flash of a fragrant flame
Like the heart of a flower on fire: the whole
Of forbidden sweet is the rosy garden
I may not think of and feel no shame.

For in King Laurin's garden of roses
Waking thought shall be stilled asleep,
And the still heart dream itself half-awake ...
O the soft, soft dreams of the garden of roses!
They creep ... (I look not) ... but they steal and creep.

Laurin the king of the rosy garden
Has a magic girdle that none can break.
It makes the pulse of his life to leap
With twelve men's strength. In the rosy garden
He is feared and feared for the girdle's sake.

Laurin the king of the garden of roses
Has a magic crown where strange birds so sing
That resistance and doubt by their song once kissed
Melt into trance. In the garden of roses
He is loved and loved for his crowned bird-ring.

Laurin the king of the rosy garden
Has a magic cloak the colour of mist,
And he goes invisibly wandering
Far from the bourne of the rosy garden
Like a cloud of pearl and of amethyst.

He seeks a bride for his garden of roses,
For the soulless spirit a human girl ...
(The priest bids me wear my cross and pray) ...
He will bear her back to his garden of roses
In the mist of his magic grey-and-pearl.

Kunhild was borne to the rosy garden,
The sister of Dietrich of Bern, one day.
A fair green mead and a cloud's dim swirl,
And Kunhild awoke in the rosy garden ...
But she stood by a linden-tree first, they say.

 * * * * *

King Laurin has a garden of roses
Full of warm odours ... I'll sit and spin
As my Mother bids me ... O wine-red glow
Of half-waked dreams in the garden of roses ...
Spin, wheel!... fine thread, bright like silk, and thin.

A grey mist steals from the rosy garden
In the heart of wild mountains where no men go ...
To think of the garden they say is sin
I'll dream no more of King Laurin's garden ...
See! in our meadow green lindens grow....

Eleanor Farjeon

Eleanor Farjeon's other poems:
  1. Sonnets. 1. Man Cannot Be a Sophist to His Heart
  2. Sonnets. 9. Love Needs not Two the Render It Complete
  3. Sonnets. 10. What is this anguish then that always stands
  4. Two Choruses from Merlin in Broceliande
  5. Wild Hyacinth

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