How strange is love, O my lover!
With what enchantment and power
Does it not come upon mortals,
Learned or heedless!
How far away and unreal,
Faint as blue isles in a sunset
Haze-golden, all else of life seems,
Since I have known thee!
How to say I love you:
What, if I but live it,
Were the use in that, love?
Only, every moment
Of this waking lifetime
Let me be your lover
And your friend!
Ah, but then, as sure as
Blossom breaks from bud-sheath, 10
When along the hillside
Golden speech should flower
From the soul so cherished,
And the mouth your kisses 15
Filled with fire.
Hark, love, to the tambourines
Of the minstrels in the street,
And one voice that throbs and soars
Clear above the clashing time!
Some Egyptian royal love-lilt,
Some Sidonian refrain,
Vows of Paphos or of Tyre,
Mount against the silver sun.
Pleading, piercing, yet serene,
Vagrant in a foreign town, 10
From what passion was it born,
In what lost land over sea?
Over the roofs the honey-coloured moon,
With purple shadows on the silver grass,
And the warm south-wind on the curving sea,
While we two, lovers past all turmoil now,
Watch from the window the white sails come in,
Bearing what unknown ventures safe to port!
So falls the hour of twilight and of love
With wizardry to loose the hearts of men,
And there is nothing more in this great world
Than thou and I, and the blue dome of dusk. 10
In the quiet garden world,
Gold sunlight and shadow leaves
Flicker on the wall.
And the wind, a moment since,
With rose-petals strewed the path 5
And the open door.
Now the moon-white butterflies
Float across the liquid air,
Glad as in a dream;
And, across thy lover’s heart,
Visions of one scarlet mouth
With its maddening smile.
Soft was the wind in the beech-trees;
Low was the surf on the shore;
In the blue dusk one planet
Like a great sea-pharos shone.