Behind the Arras: A Book of the Unseen

by Bliss Carman


 

Fancy Fool


 

CORNEL, cornel, green and white,
Spreading on the forest floor,
Whither went my lost delight
Through the silent door?"

"Mortal, mortal, overfond,

5

How come you at all to know
There be any joys beyond
Blisses here and now?"

"Cornel, cornel, white and cool,
Many a mortal, I've heard tell,

10

Who is only Fancy's fool
Knows that secret well."

"Mortal, mortal, what would you
With that beauty once was yours?
Perishable is the dew,

15

And the dust endures."

"Cornel, cornel, pierce me not
With your sweet, reserved disdain!
Whisper me of things forgot
That shall be again."

20


"Mortal, we are kinsmen, led
By a hope beyond our reach.
Know you not the word unsaid
Is the flower of speech?"

All the snowy blossoms faded,

25

While the scarlet berries grew;
And all summer they evaded
Anything they knew.

"Cornel, cornel, green and red
Flooring for the forest wide,

30

Whither down the ways of dread
Went my starry-eyed?"

"Mortal, mortal, is there found
Any fruitage half so fair
In the dim world underground

35

As there grows in air?"

"Wilding cornel, you can guess
Nothing of eternal pain,
Growing there in quietness
In the sun and rain."

40


"Mortal, where your heart would be
Not a wanderer may go,
But he shares the dark with me
Underneath the snow."

And the scarlet berries scattered

45
With the coming on of fall;
Not to one of them it mattered
Anything at all.