by George Sterling (1869–1926)
Keep ye her brow with starshine crost
And bind with ghostly light her hair,
O powers benign, lest I accost
Song’s peaceless angel unaware!
One eve her whisper came to earth,
As eastward woke a thorny star,
To tell me of her kingdom’s worth
And what her liberations are:
She hath the Edens in her gift
And songs of sovereignties unborn;
In realms agone her turrets lift,
Wrought from the purples of the morn.
Where swings to foam the dusky sea,
She waits with sapphires in her hand
Whose light shall make thy spirit be
Lost in a still, enchanted land.
Musing, she hears the subtle tunes
From chords where faery fingers stray—
A rain of pearl from crumbling moons
Less clear and delicate than they.
The strain we lost and could not find
Think we her haunted heart forgets?
She weaves it with a troubled wind
And twilight music that regrets.
Often she stands, unseen, aloof,
To watch beside an ocean’s brink
The gorgeous, evanescent woof
Cast from the loom of suns that sink.
Often, in eyries of the West,
She waits a lover from afar—
Frailties of blossom on her breast
And o’er her brow the evening star.
She stands to greet him unaware,
Who cannot find her if he seek:
A sigh, a scent of heavenly hair—
And oh, her breath is on his cheek!
Sterling, George. The House of Orchids and Other Poems. (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1911).
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