Comrades, return; the midnight
lamp shall gleam
As in old nights; the chaplets woven then—
Withered, perhaps, by time—may grace us yet;
The laurel faded is the laurel still,
And some of us are heroes to ourselves.
And amber wine shall flow; the blue smoke wreathe
In droll disputes, with metaphysics mixed;
Or float as lightly as the quick-spun verse,
Threading the circle round from thought to thought,
Sparkling and fresh as is the airy web
Spread on the hedge at morn in silver dew.
The scent of roses you remember well;
In the green vases they shall bloom again.
And me—do you remember? I remain
Unchanged, I think; though one I saw like me
Some years ago, with hair that was not white;
And she was with you then, as brave a soul
As souls can be whom Fate has not approached.
But seek and find me now, unchanged or changed,
Mirthful in tears, and in my laughter sad.
Blind in these stony streets, dumb in
What can I do but dream of other days?
Whose is the love I had, and have not now?
If it be Nature’s, let her answer me.
It wanders by the blue, monotonous sea,
Where rushes grow, or follows all the sweep
Of shallow summer brooks and umber pools.
Or does it linger in those hidden paths
Where starlike blossoms blow among dead leaves,
And dark groves murmur over darker shrubs,
Birds with their fledgelings sleep, and pale moths flit?
With sunset’s crimson flags perhaps it goes,
And reappears with yellow Jupiter,
Riding the West beside the crescent moon.
Comes it with sunrise, when the sunrise floats
From Night’s bold towers, vast in the East, and gray
Till tower and wall flash into fiery clouds,
Moving along the verge, stately and slow,
Ordered by the old music of the spheres?
Perchance it trembles in October’s oaks;
Or, twining with the brilliant, berried vine,
Would hide the tender, melancholy elm.
Well might it rest within those solemn woods
Where sunlight never falls—whose tops are green
With airs from heaven,—its balmy mists and rains,—
While underneath black, mossy, mammoth rocks
Keep silence with the waste of blighted boughs.
If winter riots with the wreathing snow,
And ocean, tossing all his threatening plumes,
And winds, that tear the hollow, murky sky,
Can this, my love, which dwells no more with me,
Find dwelling there,—like some storm-driven bird,
That knows not whence it flew, nor where to fly,
Between the world of sea and world of cloud,
At last drops dead in the remorseless deep?