Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, QUEEN BATH, by HENRY CHAPPELL



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QUEEN BATH, by            
First Line: Shrine of the healing waters, peerless bath
Last Line: To be the beauteous city of a dream.
Subject(s): Courts & Courtiers; Death; Love; Royal Court Life; Royalty; Kings; Queens; Dead, The


SHRINE of the healing waters, peerless Bath,
Gem in meet setting of the mighty hills,
Whose rugged breasts, by many a devious path,
Pour in beneficence thy God-blest rills.

Majestic city, thy time-hallowed walls
Are fraught with memories of thy mighty dead;
Art, letters, arms, each marble pale recalls—
The fire of genius, all diversely spread.

Herein, the mighty Roman hand hath wrought
An inner shrine, and carved with cunning steel
Palatial baths, for those who healing sought,
And they who feared the ills they did not feel.

Here are the wonders of Italia's art
Epitomized, discovered to the eye.
Wrest from confusion's self, a noble part
Stands here to speak of ancient symmetry.

Cornice and column, adamantine wall,
Altars and friezes, while from sacred place
The mortal Gorgon's eyes upon us fall
From out the writhing serpent's chill embrace.

Despite Time's wasting passage, still it bears
Weird beauty, half barbaric, all its own,
As when the sculptor in the far off years
Tortured a soul-less block to living stone.

Amid the ruins of Minerva's sway,
Still would I linger, tho' my feeble pen
Ill limns the grandeur I would fain convey,
Wrought by the conquerors of a world of men.

High over all the stately Abbey keeps
Its steadfast watch, and marks the stream of Time
Resistless flow towards the sombre deeps,
Mourning each fleeting hour with solemn chime.

Lovely in every aspect to my heart,
Oh! City of the west, I hail thee Queen,
Whose every smile and frown but form a part
Of sovereign dignity and charm serene.

I love thy beauty when the ardent Sun
Has kissed each verdant blade from off the steep;
And drowsily the tributaries run
Which lend old Avon strength to reach the deep.

I love thee when the Frost King's icy breath
Sends fast the tears of Autumn fluttering down,
Wresting from Flora's brow her glowing wreath
And strewing every glade with sombre brown;

When as a bride, by Nature's hand new drest,
A fleecy whiteness all thy form enshrouds,
The Sun-God's jewels flaming on thy breast
Gleam thro' the bridal veil of pearly clouds.

When the bright maidens winging down the sweep,
Touch with their fairy fingers bud and stem.
Waking the drowsy blossoms from their sleep,
And all the woodland choir to welcome them.

Gnarled stately boles hear low the wooing call,
And spread, responsive to the message kind,
O'er boughs made bare and black by wintry squall
Their glossy emerald pennons to the wind.

But best I love thee, when from wooded height
I hear the chastened tone of Sabbath bells
And watch the herald shadows' silent flight
From dusky cohorts hidden in the dells.

Shrouding each pinnacle and reverent tower,
Which in mute majesty avows the rod,
Praising with voiceless eloquence the power
And infinite Omnipotence of God.

Pale Dian, rising o'er the eastern height,
Silvers the Castle's lone illusive wall
Peeping, all shyly forth, the eyes of Night
Gleam with a calm soft radiance over all.

And thus I leave thee, bathed in ghostly light,
Asleep, at peace, beneath the witching beam,
Seeming within the soft embrace of Night
To be the beauteous City of a dream.





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