Phantasmagoria and Other Poems/Beatrice
In her eyes is the living light
Of a wanderer to earth
From a far celestial height:
Summers five are all the span—
Summers five since Time began
To veil in mists of human night
A shining angel-birth.
Does an angel look from her eyes?
Will she suddenly spring away,
And soar to her home in the skies?
Beatrice! Blessing and blessed to be!
Beatrice! Still as I gaze on thee,
Visions of two sweet maids arise,
Whose life was of yesterday:
Of a Beatrice pale and stern,
With the lips of a dumb despair,
With the innocent eyes that yearn—
Yearn for the young sweet hours of life,
Far from sorrow and far from strife,
For the happy summers that never return,
When the world seemed good and fair:
Of a Beatrice glorious, bright—
Of a sainted, ethereal maid,
Whose blue eyes are deep fountains of light,
Cheering the poet that broodeth apart,
Filling with gladness his desolate heart,
Like the moon when she shines thro' a cloudless night
On a world of silence and shade.
And the visions waver and faint,
And the visions vanish away
That my fancy delighted to paint—
She is here at my side, a living child,
With the glowing cheek and the tresses wild,
Nor death-pale martyr, nor radiant saint,
Yet stainless and bright as they.
For I think, if a grim wild beast
Were to come from his charnel-cave,
From his jungle-home in the East—
Stealthily creeping with bated breath,
Stealthily creeping with eyes of death—
He would all forget his dream of the feast,
And crouch at her feet a slave.
She would twine her hand in his mane,
She would prattle in silvery tone
Like the tinkle of summer rain—
Questioning him with her laughing eyes,
Questioning him with a glad surprise,
Till she caught from those fierce eyes again
The love that lit her own.
And be sure, if a savage heart,
In a mask of human guise,
Were to come on her here apart—
Bound for a dark and deadly deed,
Hurrying past with pitiless speed—
He would suddenly falter and guiltily start
At the glance of her pure blue eyes.
Nay, be sure, if an angel fair,
A bright seraph undefiled,
Were to stoop from the trackless air,
Fain would she linger in glad amaze—
Lovingly linger to ponder and gaze,
With a sister's love and a sister's care,
On the happy, innocent child.