Poems, now first collected/The Rose and the Jasmine
THE ROSE AND THE JASMINE
Now dies the rippling murmur of the strings
That followed long, half-striving to retake,
The burden of the lover's ended song.
Silence! but we who listened linger yet,
Two of the soul's near portals still unclosed—
Sight and the sense of odor. At our feet,
Beneath the open jalousies, is spread
A copse of leaf and bloom, a knotted wild
Of foliage and purple flowering vines,
With here a dagger-plant to pierce them through,
And there a lone papaya lifting high
Its golden-gourded cresset. Night's high noon
Is luminous; that swooning silvery hour
When the concentrate spirit of the South
Grows visible—so rare, and yet so filled
With tremulous pulsation that it seems
All light and fragrance and ethereal dew.
Two vases—carved from some dark, precious wood,
The red-grained heart of olden trees that cling
To yonder mountain—in the moonlight cast
Their scrolls' deep shadows on the glassy floor.
A proud exotic Rose, brought from the North,
Is set within the one; the other bears
A double Jasmine for its counter-charm.
Here on their thrones, in equal high estate,
The rivals bloom; and both have drunk the dew,
Tending their beauty in the midnight air,
Until their sovereign odors meet and blend,
As voices blend that whisper melody,
Now each distinct, now mingled both in one:
I, like a star, against the woven gloom
Of tresses on Dolores' brow shall rest.
And I one happy, happy night shall bloom
Twined in the border of her silken vest.
Throughout our isle the guardian winds deprive
Of all their sweets a hundred common flowers,
To feed my heart with fragrance! Lone they live,
And drop their petals far from trellised bowers.
Within the garden-plot whence I was borne
No rifled sisterhood became less fine;
My wealth made not the violet forlorn,
And near me climbed the fearless eglantine.
Who feels my breath recalls the orange court,
The terraced walks that jut upon the sea,
The water in the moonlit bay amort,
The midnight given to longing and to me.
Who scents my blossoms dreams of bordered meads
Deep down the hollow of some vale far north,
Where Cuthbert with the fair-haired Hilda pleads,
And overhead the stars of June come forth.
Me with full hands enamored Manuel
Gathers for dark-browed Inez at his side,
And both to love are quickened by my spell,
And chide the day that doth their joys divide.
Nay, but all climes, all tender sunlit lands
From whose high places spring the palm or pine,
Desire my gifts to grace the wedded bands,
And every home for me has placed a shrine.
Fold up thy heart, proud virgin, ay, and blush
With all the crimson tremors thou canst vaunt!
My yearning waves of passion onward rush,
And long the lover's wistful memory haunt.
Pale temptress, the night's revel be thine own,
Till love shall pall and rapture have its fill!
The morn's fresh light still finds me on a throne
Where care is not, nor blissful pains that kill.
Sweet, sweet my breath, oh, sweet beyond compare!
Rare, rare the splendors of my regal crown!
Choose which thou wilt, bold lover, yet beware
Lest to a luckless choice thou bendest down!