SOFT rosy twilight skies of early spring,
Where trembles the resplendent evening star
Above a shadowy world new blossoming,
That breathes forth dewy fragrance nigh and far;
Mysterious whisperings as ’twixt branch and breeze,
Faint rustlings, murmurs, interrupted notes
Of flute-voiced birds—dear God! what mean all these?
A strange ažrial message subtly floats
From the Spring Spirit to the maiden’s breast:
She gazes forth with languid, dreamful eyes
On the expectant earth, the glowing west.
Upon her heart hath gained the new unrest,
The piercing thrill of some divine surprise,
While one supreme star holds the boundless skies.
Who loves, believes.—Within a silken room
A faltering sylph uplifts her flickering torch
Above a sleeping god’s ambrosial bloom:
Blissful, she heeds not the hot drops that scorch
The immortal flesh. Ah! darkness of the tomb
Makes itself felt: she hears swift wings rush by,
And knows henceforth the outraged majesty
Of love hath plunged her into loveless gloom.—
The loyal maid reads o’er the fable wise,
And dreams and wonders, for she would not raise
The veil from those celestial mysteries,
Despite all taunts of envious tongues’ dispraise:
Far rather quench the torch, smite blind her eyes,
Than sacred love profane with worldly gaze.
Music and silver chimes and sunlit air
Freighted with scent of honeyed orange-flower;
Glad, friendly, festal faces everywhere.
She, rapt from all in this unearthly hour,
With cloudlike, cast-back veil and faint-flushed cheek,
In bridal beauty moves as in a trance
Alone with him, and fears to breathe, to speak,
Lest the rare, subtle spell dissolve perchance.
But he upon that floral head looks down,
Noting the misty eyes, the grave, sweet brow—
Doubts if her bliss be perfect as his own,
And dedicates anew with inward vow
His soul unto her service, to repay
Richly the sacrifice she yields this day.