Orion, and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts




BREATHER of honeyed breath upon my face!
    Teller of balmy tales! Weaver of dreams!
    Sweet conjurer of palpitating gleams
And peopled shadows trooping into place
                     In purple streams                                                         
Between the drooped lid and the drowsy eye!
    Moth-winged seducer, dusky-soft and brown,
Of bubble gifts and bodiless minstrelsy
    Lavish enough! Of rest the restful crown !
At whose behest are closed the lips that sigh,                                  
    And weary heads lie down.

Thee, Nodding Spirit! Magic Comforter!
    Thee, with faint mouth half speechless, I invoke,
    And straight uplooms through the dead centuries’ smoke
The agéd Druid in his robe of fur,                                                   
                     Beneath the oak
Where hang uncut the paly mistletoes.
    The mistletoe dissolves to Indian willow,
Glassing its red stems in the stream that flows
    Through the broad interval; a lazy billow                                     

Flung from my oar lifts the long grass that grows
    To be the Naiad’s pillow.
The startled meadow-hen floats off, to sink
    Into remoter shades and ferny glooms;
    The great bees drone about the thick pea-blooms;                      
The linkéd bubblings of the bobolink,
                     With warm perfumes
From the broad-flowered wild parsnip, drown my brain;
    The grakles bicker in the alder boughs;
The grasshoppers pipe out their thin refrain                                    
    That with intenser heat the noon endows:
Then thy weft weakens, and I wake again
    Out of my dreamful drowse.

Ah! fetch thy poppy-baths, juices exprest
    In fervid sunshine, where the Javan palm                                     
    Stirs scarce awakened from its odorous calm
By the enervate wind, that sinks to rest
                     Amid the balm
And sultry silence, murmuring, half asleep,
    Cool fragments of the ocean’s foamy roar,                                 
And of the surge’s mighty sobs that keep
    Forever yearning up the golden shore,
Mingled with song of Nereids that leap
    Where the curled crests downpour.

Who sips thy wine may float in Baić’ skies,                               
    Or flushed Maggiore’s ripples, mindless made
    Of storming troubles hard to be allayed.
Who eats thy berries, for his ears and eyes
                     May vineyard shade
Melt with soft Tuscan, glow with arms and lips                               
    Cream-white and crimson, making mock at reason.
Thy balm on brows by care uneaten drips;
    I have thy favors, but I fear thy treason.
Fain would I hold thee by the dusk wing-tips
    Against a grievous season.