Midsummer Vigil


Night smiles on me with her stars,
Mystic, pure, enchanted, lone.
Light, that only heaven discloses,
Is in heaven that no cloud mars;
Here, through murmuring darkness blown,
Comes the scent of unseen roses.

Now the world is all asleep;
Drowsy man dull rest is taking.
I with whispering trees apart
My deserted vigil keep.
Light leaves in the light wind shaking
Echo back my beating heart.

And the garden’s perfumes thrill me
Like a touch or whispered name:
Heliotrope and lavender
Slumber–odoured lilies, fill me
With their breath, like subtlest flame;
Vague desire and yearning stir.

Shadowy elms above me, crowned
With mysterious foliage, dim
Mid the stars, against the skies,
Hidden lawn and alley bound,
Full of voices, full of dream,
Fragrant breathings and long sighs.

Wishes, that with eager tongues
Strive among the soft–blown boughs,
Each an amorous messenger;
Dreams, that glide in noiseless throngs;
Wingèd flight of earnest vows;
Listening with hushed breath I hear.

This intoxicating sweetness
That the perfumed air exhales,
Stir of thoughts and dear desires,
Joys that faint with their own fleetness,
Passion that for utterance fails;
Whither burns it? where aspires?

‘Tis for her, whose worshipped hand
Holds my heart, for life, for death.
Ah, could she, could she but come
Hither, where Love’s witching wand
Holds the midnight’s thoughtful breath,
While the stars are glittering dumb!

Come, that into that sweet ear
I might pour what until now
Never heart brought tongue to tell,
Mistress ne’er had bliss to hear,
Lover with his hundredth vow
Vainly sought to syllable.

Pale with transport when I take
‘Twixt my hands her face, and look
Deep into her brimming eyes,
Passionately fain to speak,
How my trembling murmurs mock
Those unuttered ecstacies!

And when cheek to cheek is prest,
And the pulse of her pure being
Throbs from her veins into mine,
Love in torment from my breast
Cries athirst for language, freeing
In sweet speech his pangs divine.

How should language, weak and vain,
Bear the burden of such joy?
How should words the meaning reach
Of that charm’s ecstatic pain;
Charm which words would but destroy
Of devotion beyond speech?

But to–night, dear, Love is kind,
And those jealous bonds that mesh
The heart’s tongue–tied truth sets free.
Undivided, unconfined
By those walls of human flesh,
Look, my heart is bared to thee!

Seeing, thou shalt want not eyes;
Hearing, thou shalt need not ears;
Purged, our spirits shall burn through
Tedious day’s necessities.
O to cast off doubts and fears!
To touch truth, and feel it true!

Thou my tender thought shalt find
Ever, like a quick–eyed slave,
Watching for thy wish unspoken;
In my inmost treasury shrined
Looks and tones thy spirit gave,
Faith’s for ever cherished token!

Come, O come, where’er thou art!
Ere this rich hour past reprieve
In the garish daylight die,
Hear me, Sweet, and my heart’s heart,
My soul’s soul, believe, receive,
Poured into a single sigh!

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