Hesperian

By George Sterling

Strange, when the blood runs wild to-day in me,
    That I but dream of the faces now so far
On the heart's horizon, near, so near, to the sea,
    And setting dimly, star by fugitive star!

Now, if ever, are days when the mounting bliss
    Should flood the limbs and wet with rapture the eyes:
Strange, that I dream of only a tragic kiss,
    And a moon gone down forever on the skies.

April bends to her poppies dropped in flight.
    O mother-month of Nature giving the breast,
With the land a pure and emerald breadth of light,
    And ocean voices echoing out of the West!

The romping wind had a sort of boyishness,
    Fled to tease the stranding cloud on the hill.
Never a ripple moves the water cress
    In the stream, and the million-chorded pine is slill.

Winter stars are gone with the winter rains,
    And almond petals long since gone from the bough.
Birds begin to nest in the willow lanes.
    It is faun weather again in Carmel now.

A cloud far lost on the high, eventless blue
    And a vine whose little clarions have scent
For sound, awaken the memory of you—
    Mist and myrrh in a dream unhappy blent.

How many mutinous years ago to-day
    Did I watch you first as you wandered over the sands?
How many pitiless miles of dust away
    Do you wander now, and in what shadowy lands?

Well 1 remember how soon it was we stood,
    When the morning wind had gathered the night's last tear,
And watched the clouds brim over the western wood,
    And "There," you said, "are the snows of yesteryear."

Glad am I now that t was too glad to muse
    On the snows that haunt the farther dreams of man,
But took the kiss that the Fates of to-day refuse,
    And ran where you said an unseen dryad ran.

Dream you, silver dryad that once you were,
    Of the wind and the sands and the sunset far away,
Of the silence fallen, that only a kiss could stir,
    And the wild, golden wood-days, ever with yesterday?

Well I remember foamless reaches of sea,
    Undulant, living, with shimmer of pale-blue silk;
Gazing now where the winged foam leaps free,
    I remember your eyes, like agates bathed in milk.

Beauty's paths—was there one that we did not take,
    Whether it wound by mosses of the aea
Or led our feet to valleys of sage and brake,
    Where blue-jays tumbled, slim, in the buckeye tree?

Morning girdled half of a world in gold,
    Gathered up in earth's melodious hours.
April walked with buds too many to hold,
    Till weary bees seemed taking their time with the flowers.

Leaves, owl-brown, of a mottled sycamore
    Stirred or slumbered on drowsy river-sand.
Over the stream we watched a falcon soar,
    White o' the breast, as you were white o' the hand.

Clouds of spring crept over a far-off hill,
    Lingering as a broken wind grew less,
And a shadow lay like a hush made visible
    Where the redwood dreamed in an emerald loneliness.

Over the tawny meadowland at noon
    Hiving blackbirds surged and sank in their flight.
Under the northern shadow of the dune,
    Sands were clean as the moon of day was white.

Ocean shells with tint of an autumn leaf
    Lay where desolate beaches bade us roam;
And we saw the edge of the wave well over the reef,
    Willow-green, till it broke to musiv and foam.

Sounding sapphire and billows of choral jade,
    Deep and wild your song on the lucent air,
As we watched the golden reefs of sunset fade,
    Ere our galleons of dream could founder there.

Mournful, mute, for the world's new loveliness.
    Sad and glad with the beauty of Time and love,
We told it all in a wondering caress—
    Heedless of Time and the jealous stars above.

Mute or not, of your mouth I had its word,
    Softer than ear may know or a tongue impart;
And a heart-whole even-song of a hidden bird
    Rose in the hush to make reply for my heart.

Paths of peace that we shall not trace again,
    Where the Mariposa lily shone and waned.
And Fremont's flower blazed trail for the cyclamen!
    O lily cup, and cup of our passion drained!

O ghost of fire where the wind ran grey in the grass!
    Wild lilac bloom and audible rapture of bees!
Branches bent for the feet of Love to pass!
    Voice of Love so low in the veiling trees!

Rapture grown too deaf to hearken or heed!
    Lips that cried in a music unsuppressed!
Beauty given beyond all bearing or need!
    Pansy-bronze of your eyes, and apple-bloom of your breast!

O far away! do you never harken in sleep
    As I, to an ocean-echo mingled with deram,
From shore and reef of an indiscernible Deep—
    A music set to a memory supreme?

Was it worth our pain, our desolation of loss?
    Was it best that our lips be given to other lips?
Far on the blue the sails, ephemeral, cross.
    Over the West the star, immutable, slips.

Here by the beauty and terror of the sea,
    On a dune between the sapphire and the pines,
I have mused on all that your beauty meant to me
    And a final beauty that love at last divines.

I have watched for an hour the wave's deliberate grace.
    I shall sit and dream of an old regret, I know,
And the touch of things inviolate In your face,
    Till the granite facets take the afterglow.

Can it be that the thorns that we found at last so sharp
    Saved for us then our irretrievable rose,
Tho the storm that took an ocean for its harp
    Died at last on the far, foreshadowing snows?

Somehow, dumbly, out of this dark of things,
    Heart and soul find words of a wiser tongue,
Somehow, blindly, take a splendor of wings,
    Made of the dreams we dreamt when we were young.

Never a worthless flower the seasons find,
    Nor utter night, tho shadows fall as they must.
Fresh on the brow is an ever-living wind
    From a Sea of change whose foam is blossoming dust.

Surf-walls eternally builded, eternally overthrown,
    Deep in the heart we find your vision and song.
Paths apart, that we took at last alone,
    Led you not to the greater hills ere long?

O wine we drank, whose very dregs were delight!
    I have seen your scarlet over a setting sun.
Flower of flesh and flower of an April night!
    Far in the moon your loveliness is one.

Fates that mix with beauty of sun and moon
    Love that seemed awhile the heart of a star,
Would I yearn for its joy if it had not died so soon?
    Would I dream of its grace if it had not fled so far?

Bibliography Entry