Prothalamion

I.—FIRST LOVE.

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.

II.—PSYCHE.

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.

III.—MARRIAGE-BELLS.

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.

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