Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BLANCHE LISLE: 1. REVERIES, by AUGUSTA DAVIES WEBSTER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

BLANCHE LISLE: 1. REVERIES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The gold-barred shadows slumber on the grass
Last Line: "would I could go with thee."
Alternate Author Name(s): Home, Cecil; Webster, Mrs. Julia Augusta

THE gold-barred shadows slumber on the grass,
Unstirred by breathing of the languid day,
Seldom and slow the lazy cloudlets pass,
Flecking the blue sky with their silvered grey,
And faintly floating on to fade away.
The noontide hush has come: with closed beak
Sits the small minstrel voiceless on the spray,
Silence, so silent that it seems to speak,
Broods in that strange, weird stillness laughter dares not break.

For there is voice in silence when it rests
Upon the quiet earth like a rapt sleep,
A speechless voice that brings to many breasts
The feeling of a mystic presence deep
With unshaped thoughts, and wordless hopes that keep
No hold save in the shrine of such repose,
When the lulled mind holds all life's turmoils cheap
As myths that pass, how it scarce recks or knows,
But wandering through high dreams to greater stature grows.

Such silence shadows now the lonely glade:
The gossip grasshopper has not a word,
The early morning's whispering wind is laid,
No breath awakes the broad trees ancient-yeared,
On sleeping slopes the light oats droop unstirred,
The sluggish river sweeps unmurmuring by;
The one dull sound that through the hush is heard,
Of tedious booming bees that homeward fly,
But makes the unmarred stillness brood more heavily.

Far back the old red house seems all asleep,
No hum of being stirring through its walls,
It frowns like some enchanted ancient keep
Where drowsiness on whoso enters falls,
And with the might of sloth its captives thralls;
Two cedar giants, glooming at each side,
Throw dull dark shadows on the dull dark walls;
In front the sombre ilex branches wide,
And massive, mournful yews the light of heaven hide.

She gazes at it, resting in the shade
Of a wide-branching many-belted oak--
Its huge-zoned trunk with thick green moss enlaid--
Tracing the coilings of the slow blue smoke
With dreamy wistful eye of discontent,
Such as the vague complaint may best express
Of a young spirit in its yearnings pent,
Too curbed for joy, too care-free for distress,
Wearied of all things, most of its own weariness.

Thus wearied gazed she on the silent hall,
Wherein the heavy months like years crept by
Ever unchanged, each listless day like all;
So had she grown to youth from infancy,
No other thing of youth or brightness nigh,
Her guides the spinster aunt demure and sage,
Counting her knitting with a time-dimmed eye,
And the sick uncle querulous with age,
Studious of pedigrees and dull heraldic page.

And cloistered thus she grew to girlhood's grace
Mid calm home joys, yet, as her soul outspread,
She tired of the old legends of her race,
Tired of a life that seemed spent with the dead,
Looked into coming time with a vague dread
That all her morrows should be yesterdays,
Each morrow, like the long day that had fled,
Waking and dying in the selfsame ways,
Like long-repeated melody's too tedious phrase.

And something of this thought spake in her now
As she lay pensive 'neath the leafy screen:
The shadow rested on her cheek and brow,
But little flecks of sunshine slipped between
The close-pressed boughs, and glittered golden sheen
On the soft bronzing of her loosened hair,
And kissed the dimpled chin upraised to lean
On the supporting hand so small and fair,
Kissed the soft smiling lips that had some droop of care.

Slowly the thin smoke-haze rose in the air,
She watched its lazy wreathings pensively,
As if some magic power rested there
To shape the outlines of her destiny;
Then sudden starting with an almost cry--
"Same, still the same, the same until one dies!"--
Bent languidly her head from gazing high,
Dropped long dark lashes over hazel eyes,
And let her thoughts in words half sung, half murmured rise.

"Oh, weary moments, weary hours and days,
Oh, weary years, pass me more quickly by,
I am all weary with your long delays,
I have not lived, yet half would wish to die.

"Oh, weary life, hast thou aught other birth,
Than in the mystic shadowings of a dream?
Is any real being in this earth,
Or do ourselves and all things only seem?

"Life! I am sick to very death of thee,
Of thee, if that indeed I feel thy glow,
If I am not, as sometimes seems to me,
A misty phantom in a phantom show.

"All things are dreary, to what end is youth?
I that am young yet feel so tired and old;
Oh, languid life, and hast thou not in truth
In all thy dross one little grain of gold!

"All things are dreary, all things are a dream,
Oh, life, if thou art nought but troubled sleep,
Fade quickly by from me and cease to seem,
Or art thou earnest, give me life more deep."

Abrupt she ceased her low complaining strain,
Her own impatient fancies to reprove.
"Ah, weak! to let such longings wild and vain
The knowledge of life's good from me remove,
Ungrateful too to those who give me love;
What if the glories of our line long gone,
Have made them hold our name and state above
Their present, and more love to be alone,
Than let less grandsired friends approach our fancied throne,

"Shall I for this give way to weak despair
What that my aunt's rare words be something dry,
And something vexing be her over care,
What that, still practising preached industry,
She holds day sent her knitting pins to ply?
She is so good, so simple, so true-souled!
If tedious grow my uncle's heraldry,
His changing temper range from hot to cold,
No nobler truer heart beat in his sires of old.

"And I were all ungrateful not to prize
Those who have rested all their love on me."
Thus self upbraiding lightly did she rise,
Moved from the shadow of the broad-armed tree,
With smooth proud step not from some languor free,
And passing by the river strolled along,
Watching it calmly sweeping to the sea
Its onward even current broad and strong,
And gave it greeting soft in a remembered song:

"Smooth, glimmering stream, with sweeping'glide,
Passing away from me,
Why gleams such bright smile on thy tide?"--
"I hasten to the sea.

"Green forest-trees woo me to stay,
Low whispering to me,
Love-chiding flowerets gem my way--
I pass on to the sea.

"And one dear bud has azure gleam,
Blue, like the sea, its eye,
It sighs, 'Forget me not, sweet stream'--
I grieve, but I pass by.

"Gladly on to the deep blue sea,
It calls to me to come,
The trees and flowers speak not to me,
Like the voice that calls me home.

"Onward with steady flow I glide,
On to my home in the sea."--
"Well may thy smile be bright, clear tide,
Would I could go with thee."

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