Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A MOOD IN ITALY, by EDMUND WILLIAM GOSSE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A MOOD IN ITALY, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Under the fluted / velvet datura's
Last Line: This the crown!
Subject(s): Italy; Italians

UNDER the fluted
Velvet datura's
Trumpets of perfume
Virginal white,
Long I waited,
Leaning my elbows
Hard on the marble
Over the lake,
Dreamily questioning
What is the mystery,
What is the secret
Issue of life?
Years pass over us,
Years glide by with us, --
Years like the sandalo
Scoring the blue;
Faint white wake of it,
Noiseless oars of it,
Woundless waters
Melting behind.
What is the worth of it?
What the meaning?
What the issue
When life is done?

So, for ages,
The world has questioned,
So the philosopher,
So the saint;
Bells from the bell-tower,
Pink through the chestnuts,
Song from the orchard,
Prayer from the shrine.
Priest and peasant,
Lover and martyr,
Monk in his rock-cell,
King on his throne,
Ever repeating,
Ever resuming,
Ever comparing,
But all -- in vain!
The sandalo passes;
Their rich September
Fainting in perfume, --
Their withering March, --
If it bless them or ban them,
Ripen or rot them,
Leaves them silent
Without reply.

Frail and hurrying
Child of darkness,
Spun for a moment
In sparkling blue,
With night behind me,
And night before me,
And blind as the sage is,
And dark as the fool, --
Can I, -- Presuming,
Where all before me
Have failed, have fall'n
By Sphinx devour'd, --
Can I in this moment
Garner a harvest
Where no man hath gathered
One sheaf from time?
Vain is the effort!
Better in silence
Breathe the datura's
Ineffable breath, --
Take, in patience,
The delicate pleasure
That flowers and waters
And clouds procure.

Nay, but a glimmer,
Faint as a sparkle
Caught from the mirror
Of wind-touch'd wave,
Flashes within me;
Wakens a feeling
Scarce articulate,
Finer than thought;
Hints that the secret
Pulses of being
Aim at no wonder
Beyond themselves;
That light and odour,
Stillness and movement,
The bell that summons,
But not the prayer,
Hope in its progress,
But not fruition,
The oar that impels us,
But not the port, --
Life in living,
The urgent instinct, --
These are the intimate
Issues of life!

Give me the wisdom
To glide, and gliding
Take the happiness,
Take the pain;
Know myself to be
Less than a petal
Floating in fragrance
Down to the lake.
Weakness of mortals!
Impotent butterflies
Beat their tremulous
Radiant vans,
Dream of morrows
Beyond to-morrow,
Probe for honey
In honeyless blooms.
Moment by moment
Ah! to be telling
Ever the pulses
Of perilous time;
This is your answer,
Martyr and lover!
This is the guerdon,
This the crown!

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