Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HERITAGE, by THERESA VIRGINIA BEARD

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

HERITAGE, by            
First Line: Thou art fairer than the lilies that grow beside the pool
Last Line: Of the little wind-blown flower that in my garden grew.
Subject(s): Ancestors & Ancestry; Heritage; Heredity


Thou art fairer than the lilies that grow beside the pool,
As dew upon the lilies on my breast thy lips are cool;
Thy breath hath caught the fragrance of the winds that love to stir
Beneath the budding branches of my bed of lavender.

Like the nectarines that ripened upon the southern wall
Thy rosy cheeks how sweet they are, how softly round and small;
And thine eyes are like the flower whose name I do not know
That in the shady corner of my garden used to grow.


Oh! they broke into my garden, they brought no holy priest,
No sacrament they offered me, they made no marriage feast;
Yet the Wedding Guest of Cana beside me must have been,
Or whence this living water in the red wine-cup of sin?

I have eaten the wild honey stored by the wandering bees,
Have crushed my fallen roses and breathed attar from the lees,
Found a shade-tree in the desert and in the midnight hills
Have drunk reviving liquor from life's old forbidden stills.


For they drove me from my garden; an exile past recall,
A goodly heritage I found beyond that garden wall.
Heir of an ancient line am I, as old as history,
The exiles of the Ages leave their legacies to me.

Mine is the alabaster box whose costly spikenard poured
Upon the weary feet of Him whom Mary owned her Lord.
Its treasured secrets are mine own; its mystic seal I keep;
I break it, empty it in song, -- to hush a child to sleep.


Here is the seed Eve took with her when weeping she was sent
From the Garden of the Rivers in endless banishment.
This stain upon the cover is a sign upon it laid
By an unremembered woman, the far mysterious maid

Of the country East of Eden, -- Cain's dark kiss upon her fell.
And this vial, once was Hagar's, filled with tears of Ishmael.
Here is a song of Bathsheba's, the lowly Hittite's bride,
She sang it to King David's son, the nameless one, who died.


These are the words the Master spake, memorial of her,
The wasteful one of Magdala who spilled her precious myrrh.
Here are withered berries perfumed with the Passion-Flower's breath,
And saving drops distilled from the poison-plants of Death.

Ah! at last, at last, thou'rt sleeping; thy Mother too would rest;
And should neither of us waken, it may be it were best.
Thou art fairer than the lilies, -- thine eyes have caught the blue
Of the little wind-blown flower that in my garden grew.

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