From the Book of Valentines

by Bliss Carman




Teach me, of little worth, O Fame, 
The golden word that shall proclaim
Yvonhoé Ferraro's name.

I would that I might rest me now, 
As once I rested long ago,


In the dim purple summer night,
On scented linen cool and white,

Lulled by the murmur of the sea
And thy soft breath, Yvanhoé.

What cared we for the world or time,

Though like a far-off fitful chime,

We heard the mournful anchored bell
Above the sunken reef foretell

That time should pass and pleasure be
No more for us, Yvanhoé!


We saw the crimson sun go down
Across the harbour and the town,

Dyeing the roofs and spars with gold;
But all his magic, ages old,

Was not so wonderful to me

As thy gold hair, Yvanhoé.

Between the window and the road 
The tall red poppies burned and glowed;

They moved and flickered like a flame,
As the low sea-wind went and came;


But redder and more warm than they,
Was thy red mouth, Yvanhoé.

I think the stars above the hill 
Upon the brink of time stood still;

And the great breath of life that blows

The coal-bright sun, the flame-bright rose,

Entered the room and kindled thee
As in a forge, Yvanhoé— 

Prospered the ruddy fire, and fanned
Thy beauty to a rosy brand,


Till all the odorous purple dark
Reeled, and thy soul became a spark

In the great draught of Destiny
Which men call love, Yvanhoé.

The untold ardour of the earth

That knows no sorrow, fear nor dearth,

Before the pent-up moment passed,
Was glad of all its will at last— 

And more, if such a thing could be—
In thy long kiss, Yvanhoé.


For years my life was bright and glad,
Because of the great joy we had;

Until I heard the wind repeat
Thy name behind me in the street,

Like a lost lyric of the sea,

"Yvanhoé, Yvanhoé."

But now the day has no desire;
The scarlet poppies have no fire;

There is no magic in the sun
Nor anything he shines upon;


Only the muttering of the sea,
Since thou art dead, Yvanhoé.

Now God on high, be mine the blame, 
If time destroy or men defame 
Yvanhoé Ferrara's name.