For thee the wild grape glistens,
On sunny knoll and tree,
The slim papaya ripens
Its yellow fruit for thee.
For thee the duck, on glassy stream,
The prairie-fowl shall die,
My rifle for thy feast shall bring
The wild swan from the sky.
The forest’s leaping panther,
Fierce, beautiful, and fleet,
Shall yield his spotted hide to be
A carpet for thy feet.
I know, for thou hast told me,
Thy maiden love of flowers;
Ah, those that deck thy gardens
Are pale compared with ours.
When our wide woods and mighty lawns
Bloom to the April skies,
The earth has no more gorgeous sight
To show to human eyes.
In meadows red with blossoms,
All summer long, the bee
Murmurs, and loads his yellow thighs,
For thee, my love, and me.
Or wouldst thou gaze at tokens
Of ages long ago—
Our old oaks stream with mosses,
And sprout with mistletoe;
And mighty vines, like serpents, climb
The giant sycamore;
And trunks, o’erthrown for centuries,
Cumber the forest floor;
And in the great savanna,
The solitary mound,
Built by the elder world, o’erlooks
The loneliness around.
Come, thou hast not forgotten
Thy pledge and promise quite,
With many blushes murmured,
Beneath the evening light.
Come, the young violets crowd my door,
Thy earliest look to win,
And at my silent window-sill
The jessamine peeps in.
All day the red-bird warbles,
Upon the mulberry near,
And the night-sparrow trills her song,
All night, with none to hear.
Gone are the glorious Greeks of old,
Glorious in mien and mind;
Their bones are mingled with the mould,
Their dust is on the wind;
The forms they hewed from living stone
Survive the waste of years, alone,
And, scattered with their ashes, show
What greatness perished long ago.
Yet fresh the myrtles there—the springs
Gush brightly as of yore;
Flowers blossom from the dust of kings,
As many an age before.
There nature moulds as nobly now,
As e’er of old, the human brow;
And copies still the martial form
That braved Plataea’s battle storm.
Boy! thy first looks were taught to seek
Their heaven in Hellas’ skies:
Her airs have tinged thy dusky cheek,
Her sunshine lit thine eyes;
Thine ears have drunk the woodland strains
Heard by old poets, and thy veins
Swell with the blood of demigods,
That slumber in thy country’s sods.
Now is thy nation free—though late—
Thy elder brethren broke—
Broke, ere thy spirit felt its weight,
The intolerable yoke.
And Greece, decayed, dethroned, doth see
Her youth renewed in such as thee:
A shoot of that old vine that made
The nations silent in its shade.