By George Sterling

Maiden! to whom our Fates assign
    The tale of mortal years,
What joyance on thy lips divine
    And at thy heart what tears!

Musest thou girt with memories
    Of ancient wars and woes—
The tale of quest on lonely seas
    For far Romance's rose?

Are thine but Joy's untroubled hours—
    Days fashioned gentlewise?
(So soft the winds that stir thy flow'rs,
    So blue thy distant skies!)

For as the birds of Tempe glad,
    Called by the dawn from sleep,
Are thine exultant chords, or sad
    As twilight on the deep.

Thine is the dusk where Love hath knelt
    To cry his holy pain;
The flower of all that Grief hath felt
    Hath found in thee its fane.

Can light and hue, imperfect, limn,
    Can world of man confess
The vision radiant or dim
    Of thy dear loveliness?

I dream thy tresses float as gold
    Spun to a mist of light;
I deem thy voice as sorrow told
    In music to the night.

Softer than Hebe's to allure
    Gleam thine immortal eyes,
Great with fair memories, and pure
    As dews in Paradise.

Thy lips seem harmonies unheard,
    Portals to perfect sound.
That shrine, but render not, that word
    The soul hath never found.

Can Art a fairer pathway trace
    Than that thy chosen share,
Or we forget thy regnant face,
    Who hold the gods less fair?

So long as Beauty's reign endure
    Art thou her voice to me;
And all I note of high and pure
    Seem shadows cast by thee—

All marvels delicate or bright—
    To sense but scarce confest:
Foam, fragrance, latencies of light
    That make a gem's unrest;

Mist, and the tiny dawns that hide
    About the opal-stone,
Or sunset Edens that abide
    Till day and dusk are flown.

Thou gleam'st, an unrecorded star,
    (Happy their eyes that see!)
From domes of moonlight built afar
    In Fancy's empery.

Thy flight is ever at the verge
    Of Art's horizon-line;
Remote, where dream and beauty merge,
    Thy wings irradiant shine.

I may not vaunt thy mystic grace,
    Nor thy communion tell,
Unseen as Sleep's approaching face,
    Unheard as her farewell—

Who from the beautiful hast wrought
    A vision on the mind
Too fair for Hope to leave unsought
    Or human heart to find.

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