To Vera (Blank Verse)

By George Sterling


Ere yet our Fates had given thee my soul
And me thyself for worship, O my Sweet!
I caught from all the voices of the world,—
From all its beauty, and the sorrow set
In that great heart forever, some surmise
And vast foreshadowing of this our love:
The rose had somehow kinship with thy mouth,
And dew and dawn were mingled in thine eyes,
I heard, before it ever rang, thy voice,
Final and faint, like ghostly echoes flown
From languorous deaths of music, and the foam
That morning kissed along the golden sea
Was promise of thy body and its snows.
And now it seems such things could never be,
Wert thou not as I find thee, beautiful,
Yet somewise touched by grief as by a wand
Wielded by One who knows thy deeper soul.

The ways that thou didst walk were not as mine,
Nor worthy I to tread them. Yet thy star,
Whenas I followed lanthorns of the marsh,
Waited below the horizon, white and young,
With purest winds to feed its lyric ray,
Inviolate. And now, past seasons seem
Strange as the midnight of an alien world,
And now I find a purifying fane
Whose marble has been quarried from the moon,
Whose silver lamp enfolds a vestal flame,
Whose lilies are perpetual. But not
As flowers are perfect, knowing naught of pain,
Art thou, my Lady, dweller in thy shrine;
For swords of loneliness do pierce thy heart,
And winds of banishment do sweep its strings,
And hungers make thee terrible. Ah yet
That thou and I were gathered to one fire
Whose altar-coals were our insatiate lips!
Would that the years stood back from us, and Time
Were but a sea about our passion's pearl!
Then were my heart made manifest, and thou
In shadow-lands of trust wouldst cleave to me,
Who from all times and worlds have reached thy breast.

But tho this love be sadly sweet as thoughts
That follow Music to the realms of Grief
And wander there in exile, yet the joy
O'erruns the sorrow, and my spirit hears
A low foremoaning as of phantom harps,
Touched on a summer island, where our feet
Shall stray on whiter sands and warmer foam.
For shadows shall make way for us, and we
Follow the sunset, till the weary keel
Rests in a haven hidden from the world.
For not in lands of hate our mirth must be,
But rather where the frond age for the palm
Whispers to twilight lovers, and the bream
Of wide Hesperian flow'rs bewitches night.

And tho I dream a dream the blindfold Fates
Shall yet annul, still were this love of ours
A thing of immortality; and we
Have stood as on insuperable peaks,
Not all of Heaven nor wholly of this earth,
And heard immortal quirings, and the rush
Of wings that passed on covenants unknown.
Henceforth this life shall never seem the same,
But thro' the arras of its circumstance
Whispers shall reach us, and the sunset's rose
Shall seem to shut in gardens mystical
Whose paths we cannot wander in the flesh.
And Love, altho he cry with lips that thirst,
Shall be our guide, and with transmuting hand
Reveal how mystery beleaguers us,
And how this life is greater than we deem;
Till seraph-voices hidden in our breasts
Shall join their song to his, eternalized,
And in one music weld our pain and joy.

Poor human hearts, that crave from chance and change
More than the Changeless grants mortality!
How keen thy hunger—and the food is far!
How great thy thirst—and here the desert burns!
And Beauty maddens, but her dewy steps
Are in celestial meadows; and the stream
That mirrors Love debars the feet of Love;
We dream of what they do in Paradise,
Then wake to lonely evenings of the world.
Yet these our hearts that once know love—how more
They find than have the loveless! Timeless things
New heavens are held above us, and new lands
With wilder hues and voices break our rest.
Infinity bends over us with lips
That seem about to cry the mighty clue
To all that Love has questioned in his pain,
And more than mortals are we mysteries.
Yea! tho Love slay us utterly, O trust!
For he has made us as the peaceless gods
And set unto our mouths a dreadful wine.
Redeeming us from brutehood. Tho thine eyes
Look forth and see but darkness, yet the day
Abides, and new horizons shall give birth
To suns whose light shall bless and not destroy:
The hands of Morning beat upon her bars.

But whether Love in this or other lives
Grant me without futility thy heart,
Yet now I know what magnitudes are his
In dower, and eternity seems mine,
In which to seek thy face on all the stars
And wait thee in the light of moons to be.
Turn then its marvel on me, that it set
Its flawless counterpart within my soul,
That yet must sleep, and waken, and go forth
To find that lure on planets unconceived. . . .
Thou turnest, and its flame is at my heart—
So may mine eyes, full-visioned, close in death,
O thou the secret of all loveliaess!

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