The Iceberg and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

TAORMINA


 

A LITTLE tumbled city on the height,
    Basking above the cactus and the sea!
What pale, frail ghosts of memory come to-night
    And call back the forgotten years to me!
       Taormina, Taormina,
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       And the month of the almond blossom.

In an old book I find a withered flower,
    And withered dreams awake to their old fire.
How far have danced your feet since that fair hour
    That brought us to the land of heart’s desire!

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       Taormina, Taormina,
       Oh, the scent of the almond blossom.

The grey-white monastery-garden wall
    O’erpeers the white crag, and the flung vines upclamber
In the white sun, and cling and seem to fall,—

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    Brave bougainvilleas, purple and smoky amber.
       Taormina, Taormina,
       And the month of the almond blossom.

You caught your breath, as hand in hand we stood
    To watch the luminous peak of Aetna there

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Soaring above the cloudy solitude,
    Enmeshed in the opaline Sicilian air.
       Taormina, Taormina,
       Oh, the scent of the almond blossom.

We babbled of Battos and brown Corydon,—

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    Of Amaryllis coiling her dark locks,—
Of the sad-hearted satyr grieving on
    The tomb of Helice among the rocks
        O’erhung with the almond blossom,—

Of how the goat-boy wrenched apart the vines

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    That veiled the slim-limbed Chloe at her bath,
And followed her fleet-foot flight among the pines
    And caught her close, and kissed away her wrath.
       Taormina, Taormina,
       And the month of the almond blossom.
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And then—you turned impetuously to me!
    We saw the blue hyacinths at our feet; and came
To the battlements, and looked down upon the sea—
    And the sea was a blue flame!
                
               *      *      *      *      *      *

The blue flame dies. The ghosts come back to me.

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       Taormina, Taormina,
       Oh, the scent of the almond blossom.