Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, YSOLTE, by GEORGE FREDERICK CAMERON



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YSOLTE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Well, I am young and the world is wide
Last Line: It is well!
Subject(s): Desire; Love; Single People; Youth; Bachelors; Unmarried People


Well, I am young and the world is wide,
And I have gold enough and to spare,
And I could buy, if I would, a bride
To give me, perchance, a son and heir;
But single my heart is, and I will abide
As single, and float on my own gulf-tide
Of desire, now here, now there,
Wherever my silver shallop may ride
And my sails of silver bear,—
Until I drift on the unknown shore,
And beach my boat to roam no more.

How easily men are caught with chaff!
An ankle, an eye, or a light-lipt laugh,
And down they go on their knees.
Was I caught myself? Oh, not by half!
No, thank you, if you please.
I will be caught? No, thank you, again!
I sound myself on all these things,
And find I am not like the most of men
To be led in leading strings.
No painted, or pretty, or perilous girl
Shall put my soul in pain;
No ruby lips o'er teeth of pearl,
Gazelle-like eye, or wind-kist curl
Shall break my heart in twain.

Oh, I do laugh to see men cringe
Before some delicate, dainty doll,—
Some mass of foolishness, fuss, and fringe,
Some delicate—nothing at all.
To see men fawn and flatter and lie—
At the feet of these dolls, I mean,—and swear
That they for sake of them would die;
They might die did they dare:
For men in love are fools—or nigh,
Though cap nor bells they wear.
To see them, knowing so well man's mind,
And knowing so well that woman's power
Is that of beauty, but of an hour;
And knowing well of womankind,—
To see them and hear—oh, I do laugh!
Why are they crows to be caught with chaff.

Oh, I do weep to see men creep
Through mire, and dirt, and deadly shame,
To drag the gold from its æon-sleep
Or to snatch a kiss from Fame.
Can place or power avail to keep
Star-clear a tarnished name?
Well, what of this? But this, no more:
For dunces we need not rake the schools;
For the most of men—'twas said before—
Are arrant fools—are arrant fools.

And now that my say is said of men,
I leave them alone, and nothing loth;
Let them sink to themselves, if they will, again,—
To their love and life—I leave them to both.
For I am young and the world is wide,
And I have gold enough and to spare,
And I could buy, if I would, a bride
To give me, perchance, a son and heir;
But single my heart is, and I will abide
As single, and float on my own gulf-tide
Of desire, now here, now there,—
Wherever my shallop of silver may ride
And my sails of silver bear,—
Until I drift on the unknown shore
And beach my bark to launch no more!

It seems as if a change
Had come across the earth,—
A something sweet and strange:
Gone is the gloom and gone the dearth
Of sunshine and soft air and mirth,—
I feel as if again a boy;
Departed is my old annoy,
And all is life and peace and joy
Befitting second birth.
I have been born again;
And in my new-found mood
I say that beasts and birds and men,
All things that are or that have been,
Are good—are very good.

But will it, can it last—
This life that is so sweet?—
Where all the past is past
And buried 'neath my feet?
Can it be as a shadow cast—
Not real, but a cheat?
I think not. It is said,
When one is born anew
That all the former life is fled
And that then present true.

Is't substance, or a sham?
I know the stars shine brighter
Than they before had shone:
The air is warm and calm:
I know my heart is lighter,—
Its heaviness is gone:
I do not lean on broken reed,—
This is a newer life indeed.

There is a stranger in the place,
A stranger who no doubt looks down,
Scorn on his lip and ashy face,
Upon the God-made country clown.
And he is stopping there in town:
And he has seen the one I love:
And he will love her—that I know,
A voice within me tells me so.

But, sooth, I swear by the stars above,
By the tides at my feet that ebb and flow,
Whatever may come, whatever may go,
He shall not harm my harmless dove.

I swear he shall not harm her! still,
Her lord shall be her own sweet will.
And if her own sweet will shall put
My love aside, I shall but say—
This trampling true love 'neath her foot
For false, is only woman's way.

His face is lined and worn, although
'Tis fashioned fairly and might pass—
A female mirror flatters so—
At muster in a lady's glass:
But his hand is as a lady's fair,
His foot is as his hand is—small;
So should you take them all in all
They would be quite a pretty pair.

The prowling fox has found his prey,—
An easy prey, an easy prize:
So easy that some people say
It was a willing sacrifice.
But I say neither yea nor nay,
Not having other people's eyes.

He angled and she took the bait.
Perchance he used a noble line
And golden hook,—at any rate
He has no reason to repine:
If I have reason, "Such is fate!"
I say, or—"Such is fate of mine!"

They are together much of late,
They passed me by to-day:
I was standing there at my gate:
He nodded a cloudy brow—not ill,
She shot me a smile as they rode away
To the house beyond the hill:
I would hate him could I hate,—
If I learn to hate, I will.

Oh, that we had not met to part
As we are parted now,—
The stain of anger on each heart,
Of anger on each brow!

Would that the love which shone so bright
Had killed me with its blaze;
Ere I had seen it robed in night,
And robb'd of all its rays!

Would that the hours so fleet and fair
Had never come to me!—
Ere I had known that once they were,
That they no more can be.

Would I had slept the dreamless sleep,
Ere I had come to know
That Love may sow in joy, yet reap
A harvest wild with woe!

Would love had faded ere my birth
Or blossomed on my tomb:
Nor ever mocked my youth with mirth,
To curse my age with gloom!

And oh, that we had never met
And dreamed a dream of bliss,
To wake again to cold regret,
To wake again to—this!

Where often I have found relief,
I went to seek for peace to-day,—
A temporal balm for temporal grief:
Amid fair Nature's solitudes,
Within the ivy-fretted woods,
I found it in a novel way.

Upon the moss beside a spring
Whose limpid waves go spattering
Adown the ancient rocks and gray,
As often I had lain I lay
When to my hand came wandering—
The wind had tossed it there in play—
A vagrant scroll bound by a ring,
A golden circlet old and thin.

I seized it, and half jestingly
Spake to it, opening, "Let me see
What omen may be here for me!
And this is what I read therein:—

What though, my brother, to-day be drear
And dark and sad?
To-morrow, to-morrow will soon be here—
Perchance to make thee glad.

Sorrow and heaviness—these are things
That come to men:
They come to the commons, they come to kings,
They come to go again.

Why should a season of bitterness bear
Thee down to dust?
To-day may be foul yet to-morrow be fair;
Trust in to-morrow—trust!

And if to-morrow be darker yet
With pain and ill,
Though the heart be dry and the eyelids wet,
Trust in to-morrow still!

It was enough,—a hopeful song!
Had some good genius sent it here,
Borne on the kindly winds along
Inscribed with promise of good cheer
For some dear future day or year?
I may be right, or may be wrong;
But thus I will interpret what
The day and accident have brought:
Perhaps there is a generous Fate,
A generous Fate! but time will tell
If all be ill or all be well,—
And, for the present—I can wait.

Though she be false as coquette's kiss,
From this sweet mood I must not stir
In which Love, as interpreter,
Reads all the auguries for bliss;
But bring myself to chime with this,—
'Tis well, if all be well with her.

Now hear the end of all the play!—
I hold her fair and firm and true
To eyesight and to soul-sight, too:
She is the sweetest piece of clay
God ever sculptured into form!
And who on earth shall say me nay,
If to the wide, wild world I say,
Until life's storms forever stay,
I shall defend her from all storm!

I hear along the air a wedding bell;
Say, heart of mine! how is it?
It is well!





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