Isabella Valancy Crawford

Late Loved - Well Loved

He stood beside her in the dawn
  (And she his Dawn and she his Spring),
From her bright palm she fed her fawn,
  Her swift eyes chased the swallow's wing:
Her restless lips, smile-haunted, cast
  Shrill silver calls to hound and dove:
Her young locks wove them with the blast.
  To the flush'd, azure shrine above,
The light boughs o'er her golden head
  Toss'd em'rald arm and blossom palm.
The perfume of their prayer was spread
  On the sweet wind in breath of balm.

"Dawn of my heart," he said, "O child,
  Knit thy pure eyes a space with mine:
O chrystal, child eyes, undefiled,
  Let fair love leap from mine to thine!"
"The Dawn is young," she smiled and said,
  "Too young for Love's dear joy and woe;
Too young to crown her careless head
  With his ripe roses. Let me go--
Unquestion'd for a longer space,
  Perchance, when day is at the flood,
In thy true palm I'll gladly place
  Love's flower in its rounding bud.
But now the day is all too young,
The Dawn and I are playmates still."
She slipped the blossomed boughs among,
  He strode beyond the violet hill.

Again they stand (Imperial noon
  Lays her red sceptre on the earth),
Where golden hangings make a gloom,
  And far off lutes sing dreamy mirth.
The peacocks cry to lily cloud,
  From the white gloss of balustrade:
Tall urns of gold the gloom make proud,
  Tall statues whitely strike the shade,
And pulse in the dim quivering light
  Until, most Galatea-wise--
Each looks from base of malachite
  With mystic life in limbs and eyes.

Her robe, (a golden wave that rose,
  And burst, and clung as water clings
To her long curves) about her flows.
  Each jewel on her white breast sings
Its silent song of sun and fire.
  No wheeling swallows smite the skies
And upward draw the faint desire,
  Weaving its myst'ry in her eyes.
In the white kisses of the tips
  Of her long fingers lies a rose,
Snow-pale beside her curving lips,
  Red by her snowy breast it glows.

"Noon of my soul," he says, "behold!
  The day is ripe, the rose full blown,
Love stands in panoply of gold,
  To Jovian height and strength now grown,
No infant he, a king he stands,
  And pleads with thee for love again."
"Ah, yes!" she says, "in known lands,
  He kings it--lord of subtlest pain;
The moon is full, the rose is fair--
  Too fair! 'tis neither white nor red:
"I know the rose that love should wear,
  Must redden as the heart had bled!
The moon is mellow bright, and I
  Am happy in its perfect glow.
The slanting sun the rose may dye--
  But for the sweet noon--let me go."
She parted--shimm'ring thro' the shade,
  Bent the fair splendour of her head:
"Would the rich noon were past," he said,
  Would the pale rose were flush'd to red!"

Again. The noon is past and night
  Binds on his brow the blood red Mars--
Down dusky vineyards dies the fight,
  And blazing hamlets slay the stars.
Shriek the shrill shells: the heated throats
  Of thunderous cannon burst--and high
Scales the fierce joy of bugle notes:
  The flame-dimm'd splendours of the sky.
He, dying, lies beside his blade:
  Clear smiling as a warrior blest
With victory smiles, thro' sinister shade
  Gleams the White Cross upon her breast.

"Soul of my soul, or is it night
  Or is it dawn or is it day?
I see no more nor dark nor light,
  I hear no more the distant fray."
"'Tis Dawn," she whispers: "Dawn at last!
  Bright flush'd with love's immortal glow
For me as thee, all earth is past!
  Late loved--well loved, now let us go!"

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