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Poem by Edward Dowden

In the Garden


Past the towns clamour is a garden full
Of loneness and old greenery; at noon
When birds are hushed, save one dim cushats croon,
A ripend silence hangs beneath the cool
Great branches; basking roses dream and drop
A petal, and dream still; and summers boon
Of mellow grasses, to be levelled soon
By a dew-drenchèd scythe, will hardly stop
At the uprunning mounds of chestnut trees.
Still let me muse in this rich haunt by day,
And know all night in dusky placidness
It lies beneath the summer, while great ease
Broods in the leaves, and every light winds stress
Lifts a faint odour down the verdurous way.


Here I am slave of visions. When noon heat
Strikes the red walls, and their environd air
Lies steepd in sun; when not a creature dare
Affront the fervour, from my dim retreat
Where woof of leaves embowers a beechen seat,
With chin on palm, and wide-set eyes I stare,
Beyond the liquid quiver and the glare,
Upon fair shapes that move on silent feet.
Those Three strait-robed, and speechless as they pass,
Come often, touch the lute, nor heed me more
Than birds or shadows heed; that naked child
Is dove-like Psyche slumbering in deep grass;
Sleep, sleep,--he heeds thee not, you Sylvan wild
Munching the russet apple to its core.


The grass around my limbs is deep and sweet;
Yonder the house has lost its shadow wholly,
The blinds are dropped, and softly now and slowly
The day flows in and floats; a calm retreat
Of tempered light where fair things fair things meet;
White busts and marble Dian make it holy,
Within a niche hangs Dürers Melancholy
Brooding; and, should you enter, there will greet
Your sense with vague allurement effluence faint
Of one magnolia bloom; fair fingers draw
From the piano Chopins heart-complaint;
Alone, white-robed she sits; a fierce macaw
On the verandah, proud of plume and paint,
Screams, insolent despot, showing beak and claw.


That was the thrushs last good-night, I thought,
And heard the soft descent of summer rain
In the drooped garden leaves; but hush! again
The perfect iterance,--freer than unsought
Odours of violets dim in woodland ways,
Deeper than coilèd waters laid a-dream
Below mossed ledges of a shadowy stream,
And faultless as blown roses in June days.
Full-throated singer! art thou thus anew
Voiceful to hear how round thyself alone
The enrichèd silence drops for thy delight
More soft than snow, more sweet than honey-dew?
Now cease: the last faint western streak is gone,
Stir not the blissful quiet of the night.


Queen-moon of this enchanted summer night,
One virgin slave companioning thee,--I lie
Vacant to thy possession as this sky
Conquered and calmed by thy rejoicing might;
Swim down through my hearts deep, thou dewy bright
Wanderer of heaven, till thought must faint and die,
And I am made all thine inseparably,
Resolved into the dream of thy delight.
Ah no! the place is common for her feet,
Not here, not here,--beyond the amber mist,
And breadths of dusky pine, and shining lawn,
And unstirred lake, and gleaming belts of wheat,
She comes upon her Latmos, and has kissed
The sidelong face of blind Endymion.


If any sense in mortal dust remains
When mine has been refined from flower to flower,
Won from the sun all colours, drunk the shower
And delicate winy dews, and gained the gains
Which elves who sleep in airy bells, a-swing
Through half a summer day, for love bestow,
Then in some warm old garden let me grow
To such a perfect, lush, ambrosian thing
As this. Upon a southward-facing wall
I bask, and feel my juices dimly fed
And mellowing, while my bloom comes golden grey:
Keep the wasps from me! but before I fall
Pluck me, white fingers, and oer two ripe-red
Girl lips O let me richly swoon away!


If while I sit flatterd by this warm sun
Death came to me, and kissed my mouth and brow,
And eyelids which the warm light hovers through,
I should not count it strange. Being half won
By hours that with a tender sadness run,
Who would not softly lean to lips which woo
In the Earths grave speech? Nor could it aught undo
Of Natures calm observances begun
Still to be here the idle autumn day.
Pale leaves would circle down, and lie unstirrd
Whereer they fell; the tired wind hither call
Her gentle fellows; shining beetles stray
Up their green courts; and only yon shy bird
A little bolder grow ere evenfall.


This is the years despair: some wind last night
Utterd too soon the irrevocable word,
And the leaves heard it, and the low clouds heard;
So a wan morning dawned of sterile light;
Flowers drooped, or showed a startled face and white;
The cattle cowered, and one disconsolate bird
Chirped a weak note; last came this mist and blurred
The hills, and fed upon the fields like blight.
Ah, why so swift despair! There yet will be
Warm noons, the honeyd leavings of the year,
Hours of rich musing, ripest autumns core,
And late-heaped fruit, and falling hedge-berry,
Blossoms in cottage-crofts, and yet, once more,
A song, not less than Junes, fervent and clear.

Edward Dowden

Edward Dowden's other poems:
  1. In the Galleries
  2. On the Heights
  3. The Wanderer
  4. A Childs Noonday Sleep
  5. In the Cathedral

Poems of the other poets with the same name:

  • Thomas Hardy In the Garden ("We waited for the sun")
  • Ella Wilcox In the Garden ("One moment alone in the garden")

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