The town of Ys, that, unafraid,
Cursed God’s good bells for the noise they made,
Cursed them well and pulled them down
From every belfry in the town!
For that sin of pride and that pride of sin,
Deathly and soft, a Doom stole in.
It sucked through the stone, it stole through the
It rose in the hall, silent and fleet;
Soundless it swept through the market-place
Folding the town in a chill embrace;
No ruth it knew, it heard no call,
Sinner and saint it gathered them all,
Gathered them all, while over them
The bells they had cursed tolled requiem.
Do you hear the bell? When the full moon rides
It rings o’er the town that the deep sea hides!
Years are the seedlings which we careless sow
In Time’s bare garden. Dead they seem to be—
Dead years! We sigh and cover them with mould,
But though the vagrant wind blow hot, blow cold,
No hint of life beneath the dust we see;
Then comes the magic hour when we are old,
And lo! they stir and blossom wondrously.
Strange spectral blooms in spectral plots aglow!
Here a great rose and here a ragged tare;
And here pale, scentless blossoms without name,
Robbed to enrich this poppy formed of flame;
Here springs some hearts’ease, scattered unaware;
Here, hawthorn-bloom to show the way Love came;
Here, asphodel, to image Love’s despair!
When I am old and master of the spell
To raise these garden ghosts of memory,
My feet will turn aside from common ways,
Where common flowers mark the common days,
To one green plot; and there I know will be
Fairest of all (O perfect beyond praise!)
The year you gave, beloved, your rosemary.
How shall I know? Shall I hear Love pass
In the wind that sighs through the poplar tree?
Shall I follow his passing over the grass
By the prisoned scents which his footsteps free?
Shall I wake one day to a sky all blue
And meet with Spring in a crowded street?
Shall I open a door and, looking through,
Find, on a sudden, the world more sweet?
How shall I know?—last night I lay
Counting the hours’ dreary sum
With naught in my heart save a wild dismay
And a fear that whispered, “Love is come!”
Last night I dreamed
No dream of joy or sorrow,
Yet, when I woke, I wept,
Knowing the brightness of some far to-morrow
Had darkened while I slept!
I may not lift him in my arms. His face I may
Are angel hands more tender than a mother’s hands may be?
And does he smile to hear the song an angel stole from me?