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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

RHAPSODY OF PEONIES, by                    
First Line: All my world is glad today
Last Line: Ambrosial feast, the peony!
Alternate Author Name(s): Pippen, Sally Macon Garland
Subject(s): Peonies

All my world is glad today
Since I saw the peonies sway
In a garden, row on row,
Snow-white spheres, and globes aglow
With the rose and red that flood
Sunset skies and lovers' blood.

All my heart in thankfulness,
All my heart and none the less
Take, Miss Mary Angeline—
Ecstasy is mounting wine
From your garden's offerings
To my being's inmost springs.

Hurrying through quiet streets I go,
How could any passer know
This tumultuous soul of me
Drinking depths deliciously
Of the beauty, radiant, rare,
In blossoms old-time gardens bear!

I take my place within the bank,
Where I, a member of the rank
Of women earning daily bread,
And by a moderate clerkship fed,
Yet struggle towards that farther goal
Of nourishment to feed the soul.

I add and type with each machine
And serve with look and way serene,
Though all the while subconscious me
Is reveling with the peony,
Though all the while the real me
Is craving, dreaming—peony!

Ah! eyelids close and nostrils thrill
To envision you, to drink their fill
Of perfume. Prone on sod I'd lie
Within your ranks, and gladly die
To all but beauty and perfume
Of you, God-given peony bloom.

Fragrance fills me—O to lose
All but this! O to bemuse
Being in fragrance! Now know I
Something kin to those who lie
In opium's arms—I'd nothing know
But scent of peonies! Lying so,

Buried in a mass of flowers,
Petals raining perfumed showers,
What to me were village street
When the world my soul would meet?
White, you'd give me Alpine snow,
All the Matterhorn I'd know.

Red, you bring the world of love,
Fairy dreams before me move
At your rich, compelling heart
Bidding my life-currents start.
All is possible to me,
Castles, prince of high degree.

Proud orb of rose, you rightly reign
Wherever royal courtiers train.
The hunt, the ball, the throne-room shows
You queening it, transcendent rose.
And all is mine, from you to me,
O, matchless flower of peony!

You've lifted, made me—nevermore
Can life be as it was before
Your lavish loveliness befell
My hungry spirit.—Mark this well—
Creations are you half-divine
Of Heaven, and Mary Angeline.

O, body bread! O, food of soul!
Bank clerking, and that farther goal,
"Man shall not live by bread alone!"
O, earthly bread too oft of stone!
O, food for man's divinity,
Ambrosial feast, the peony!

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