Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ENCHANTMENTS, by ALICE CARY



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ENCHANTMENTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All in the may-time's merriest weather
Last Line: And o for their artless and homely content!
Subject(s): Love


ALL in the May-time's merriest weather
Rode two travelers, bride and groom;
Breast and breast went their mules together,
Fetlock deep through the daisy bloom.
Roses peeped at them out of the hedges,
White flowers leaned to them down from the thorn,
And up from the furrows with sunlit edges
Crowded with children that sowed in the corn.

Cheek o'er cheek, and with red so tender
Rippling bright through the gypsy brown,
Just to see how a lady's splendor
Shone the heads of the daffodils down.
Ah, but the wonder grows and lingers,
Ah, but their fields look low and lorn,
Just to think how her jeweled fingers
Shamed the seeds of their yellow corn!

O, it was sweet, so sweet to be idle!
Each little sower with fate fell wroth;
O, but to ride with a spangled bridle!
O for a saddle with scarlet cloth!
Waving corn—each stalk in tassel;
Home, with its thatch and its turf-lit room—
What was this by the side of a castle?
What was that to a tossing plume?

Winds through the violets' misty covering
Now kissed the white ones and now the blue,
Sang the redbreast over them hovering
All as the world were but just made new.
And on and on through the golden weather,
Fear at the faintest and hope at the best,
Went the true lovers riding together,
Out of the East-land and into the West.

Father and mother in tears abiding,
Bridemaids all with their favors dressed,
Back and backward the daisies sliding,
Dove-throat, Black-foot, breast and breast.
Yet hath the bridemaid joy of her pining,
And grief sits light on the mother's brow;
Under her cloud is a silver lining,—
The lowly child is a lady now.

But for the sowers, the eyes held shady
Either the sun-brown arm or hand;
Darkly they follow the lord and lady
With jealous hatred of house and land.
Fine—it was all so fine to be idle;
Dull and weary the work-day doom;
O, but to ride with a spangled bridle!
O for a cap with a tossing plume!

Nearer the castle, the bells fell ringing,
And strong men and maidens to work and wait,
Cried, "God's grace on the bride's home-bringing,"
And master, mistress, rode through the gate.
Five select ladies—maids of the chamber—
One sewed her silken seams, one kept her rings,
One for the pearl combs, one for the amber,
And one for her green fan of peacock wings.

And sweetly and long they abode in their castle,
And daughters and sons to their love were born;
But doves at the dew-fall homeward nestle,
To lodge in the rafters they left at morn;
And memory, holding true and tender,
As pleasures faded and years increased,
Oft bore the lady from all her splendor
Out of the West-land into the East;

And far from the couch where sleep so slowly
Came to her eyes through the purples grand,
Left her to lodge in the bed so lowly,
Smoothed by the mother's dear, dear hand.
But after all the ado to assemble
The sunrise pictures to brighten the set,
One there was thrilled her heart to a tremble,
Half made of envy and half of regret.

Ah, was it this that in playful sporting,
And not as lamenting her maiden years,
Often she brought from the time of the courting,
When hopes are the sweeter for little fears,
That one day of the days so pleasant,
When, while she mused of her lord, as it fell,
Rode from the castle the groom with his present,
Dear little Dove-throat, beloved so well?

Or altar, in splendor of lilies and laces,
Long-tressed bridemaids, or priest close shorn?
Or ride through the daisies, or green field spaces,
Gay with children that sowed in the corn?
Ye who have left the noontide behind you,
And whom dull shadows begin to oppress,
Say, ere the night-time falleth to blind you,
Which was the picture—pray, do you guess?

All in the castle was sweet with contentment,
For Fortune, in granting all favors but one,
Threw over the distance a cruel enchantment
That darkened the love-light and darkened the sun.
Of alms and of pleasures the life-long bestowers,
The lord and the lady had just one lament:
O for the lives of the brown little sowers!
And O for their artless and homely content!





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