― 54 ―

Once More.


I HAD not thought again to be
A dreamer of such dreams as these.
The springtime is no more for me;
My summer died beyond the seas.
From what untimely source begin
These stirrings of the life within?

I had not thought again to taste
The bitter sweet, the joyous pain.
I dreamed that I had trodden waste,
Beyond the power of sun or rain,
The soil that grew the passion fruit;—
Then, whence this blossom underfoot?

I had not thought again to see
Beyond the homely pale of truth;—
The lights and shapes of witchery,
That glorify the skies of youth,
I only know as perished things;—
Whence, then, this flash of angel wings?

  ― 55 ―
How spend the day, yet save the hours?
I had my day; the hours are fled.
How eat the fruit, yet hold the flowers?
I ate the fruit; the flowers are dead.
Oh, what divine or fiendish art
Hath twined fresh tendrils round my heart?

I said, 'tis good to be alone,
No alien hand to urge or check.
I said, my spirit is my own,
To loose or bind, to save or wreck.
I trod on Love, called Reason lord;—
Lo, whence this subtle silken cord?

Oh, who shall tell if this be strength
Re-risen, or ghost of old defect?
The truth of manhood come at length,
Or weakness born of purpose wrecked?
I only know it is the whole
Arch-craving of a hungry soul.

I only know that all the hordes
Of buried hopes and jealousies
Are risen again and crossing swords,
And that 'twas but an armistice,
A breathing time 'twixt strife and strife,
Which I had deemed a peace for life.

  ― 56 ―
Oh! who can tell where duty lies—
To urge, repress, advance, or stay?
To grasp at Good in Beauty's guise,
Or brush the pretty lure away,
Ere doubtful war of hopes and fears
Consume the hoarded strength of years?