The strange flowers’ perfume turns to singing,
Heard afar over moonlit seas:
The Siren’s song, grown faint in winging,
Falls in scent on the cedar trees.
As waifs blown out of the sunset, flying,
Purple, and rosy, and grey, the birds
Brighten the air with their wings; their crying
Wakens a moment the weary herds.
Butterflies flit from the fairy garden,
Living blossoms of flying flowers;
Never the nights with winter harden,
Nor moons wax keen in this land of ours.
Great fruits, fragrant, green and golden,
Gleam in the green, and droop and fall;
Blossom, and bud, and flower unfolden,
Swing, and cling to the garden wall.
Deep in the woods as twilight darkens,
Glades are red with the scented fire;
Far in the dells the white maid hearkens,
Song and sigh of the heart’s desire.
Ah, and as moonlight fades in morning,
Maiden’s song in the matin grey,
Faints as the first bird’s note, a warning,
Wakes and wails to the new-born day.
The waking song and the dying measure
Meet, and the waxing and waning light
Meet, and faint with the hours of pleasure,
The rose of the sea and the sky is white.
Why from the dreamy meadows,
More fair than any dream,
Why seek ye for the shadows
Beyond the ocean stream?
Through straits of storm and peril,
Through firths unsailed before,
Why make you for the sterile,
The dark Kimmerian shore?
There no bright streams are flowing,
There day and night are one,
No harvest time, no sowing,
No sight of any sun;
No sound of song or tabor,
No dance shall greet you there;
No noise of mortal labour
Breaks on the blind chill air.
Are ours not happy places,
Where gods with mortals trod?
Saw not our sires the faces
Of many a present god?
Nay, now no god comes hither,
In shape that men may see;
They fare we know not whither,
We know not what they be.
Yea, though the sunset lingers
Far in your fairy glades,
Though yours the sweetest singers,
Though yours the kindest maids,
Yet here be the true shadows,
Here in the doubtful light;
Amid the dreamy meadows
No shadow haunts the night.
We seek a city splendid,
With light beyond the sun;
Or lands where dreams are ended,
And works and days are done.
Fair white bird, what song art thou singing
In wintry weather of lands o’er sea?
Dear white bird, what way art thou winging,
Where no grass grows, and no green tree?
I looked at the far-off fields and grey,
There grew no tree but the cypress tree,
That bears sad fruits with the flowers of May,
And whoso looks on it, woe is he.