Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PASTORAL OF THE ORCHARD, by ELINOR SWEETMAN



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PASTORAL OF THE ORCHARD, by            
First Line: How looked your love, sweet shepherd, yestereven
Last Line: In the orchard by the shore!
Variant Title(s): The Orchard By The Shore: A Pastoral
Subject(s): Orchards


COLIN

HOW looked your love, sweet Shepherd, yestereven,
When under apple-boughs ye stole a tryst,
While Hesper held the glowing gates of heaven
Ere colder stars besprent its amethyst?
Ah! happy one, how looked those lids ye kissed,
And seemed her blush of half its rose bereaven
By wan green glimmer and by meadow mist,
From grassy floor, with leaves enshadowed o'er,
Dim filtering through the seven-score trees and seven
Of the orchard by the shore?

SHEPHERD

Colin, the grass was grey and wet the sod
O'er which I heard her velvet footfall come;
But heaven, where yet no pallid crescent rode,
Flowered in fire behind the bloomless plum;
There stirred no wing nor wind, the wood was dumb,
Only blown roses shook their leaves abroad
On stems more tender than an infant's thumb --
Soft leaves, soft hued, and curled like Cupid's lip;
And each dim tree shed sweetness over me,
From honey-dews that breathless boughs let slip
In the orchard by the sea.

COLIN

Yea, Shepherd, I have seen how blossoms fold,
And waded deep, where deep an orchard grows;
But what of her whose sweet ye leave untold,
Whose step fell softer than a south-wind blows?
What of her beauty? -- saw ye not unrolled
O'er little ears and throat a twine of gold?
And wore her lip the blown or budded rose?
O did she reach through balmy pear and peach,
White arms for greeting -- did ye heaven hold
In the orchard by the beach?

SHEPHERD

Nay, Colin, but I heard through walls of laurel
A tide impassioned brimming silent spaces,
Guessed its soft weight, and knew its hoarded coral
Given and withdrawn to shyer farther places;
Methought each wave shook loose in long embraces
Wild trees and tangle over shells auroral,
And never wave but held all heaven's faces,
And seemed to sweep a mirrored moon asleep,
To break and blanch among the wet wood-sorrel,
In the orchard by the deep.

COLIN

O Shepherd, leave to speak of ocean-brede,
And crescents gliding o'er the cold sea-floor;
All men may watch a risen tide recede,
And scarlet secrets of the deep explore.
Were not your nymph's fair face and footstep more
Than foam and flake within a garden weed?
More sweet than hymning seas her sweet love-lore?
Her hair, her hand, more soft than feathers fanned
From sleeping doves, by small winds newly freed
In the orchard by the strand?

SHEPHERD

O dull of soul and senseless! get thee gone!
What though the lyre of him who loves be strung
To deep of heaven and deep of sea -- alone
The deep of love is ever more unsung!
Such music lieth hush upon the tongue.
No, by the gods! not thou, nor anyone
Shall force these stammering lips to do it wrong,
Nor babble o'er from common door to door
What I, by favour of my gods, have known
In the orchard by the shore!





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