Madison Julius Cawein


Demeter sad! the wells of sorrow lay
Eternal gushing in thy lonely path.

Methinks I see her now - an awful shape
Tall o'er a dragon team in frenzied search
From Argive plains unto the jeweled shores
Of the remotest Ind, where Usha's hand
Tinged her grief-cloven brow with kindly touch,
And Savitar wheeled genial thro' the skies
O'er palmy regions of the faneless Brahm.

In melancholy search I see her roam
O'er the steep peaks of Himalayas keen
With the unmellowed frosts of Boreal storms,
Then back again with that wild mother woe
Writ in the anguished fire of her eyes, -
Back where old Atlas groans 'neath weight of worlds,
And the Cimmerian twilight glooms the soul.
Deep was her sleep in Persia's haunted vales,
Where many a languid Philomela moaned
The bursting sorrow of a bursting soul.
I see her nigh Ionia's swelling seas
Cull from the sands a labyrinthine shell,
And hark the mystery of its eery voice
Float from the hollow windings of its curl,
Then cast it far into the weedy sea
To view the salt-spray flash, like one soft plume
Dropped from the wings of Eros, 'gainst the flame
Of Helios' car down-sloping toward his bath.
I see her beg a coral flute of red
From a tailed Triton; and on Ithakan rocks
High seated at the starry death of day,
When Selene rose from off her salty couch
To smile a glory on her face of sorrow,
Pipe forth sad airs that made the Sirens weep
In their green caves beneath the sodden sands,
And hoar Poseidon clear his wrinkled front
And still his surgy clamors to a sigh.

This do I see, and more; ah! yes, far more:
I see her, 'mid the lonely groves of Crete,
The wild hinds fright from the o'ervaulted green
Of thickest boscage, tangling their close covert,
With horror of her torches and her wail,
"Persephone! Persephone!" till the pines
Of rugged Dicte shuddered thro' their cones,
And Echo shrieked down in her deepest chasms
A wild reply unto her wild complaint;
As wild as when she voiced those maidens' woe,
Athenian tribute to stern Minos, king,
When coiling grim the Minotaur they saw
Far in his endless labyrinth of stone.

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