Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878


The Mystic Summer

by Bayard Taylor

'T is not the dropping of the flower,
The blush of fruit upon the tree,
Though Summer ripens, hour by hour,
The garden's sweet maternity:

'T is not that birds have ceased to build,
And wait their brood with tender care;
That corn is golden in the field,
And clover balm is in the air; --

Not these the season's splendor bring,
And crowd with life the happy year,
Nor yet, where yonder fountains sing,
The blaze of sunshine, hot and clear.

In thy full womb, O Summer! lies
A secret hope, a joy unsung,
Held in the hush of these calm skies,
And trembling on the forest's tongue.

The lands of harvest throb anew
In shining pulses, far away;
The Night distils a dearer dew,
And sweeter eyelids has the Day.

And not in vain the peony burns,
In bursting globes, her crimson fire,
Her incense-dropping ivory urns
The lily lifts in many a spire:

And not in vain the tulips clash
In revelry the cups they hold
Of fiery wine, until they dash
With ruby streaks the splendid gold!

Send down your roots the mystic charm
That warms and flushes all your flowers,
And with the summer's touch disarm
The thraldom of the under powers,

Until, in caverns, buried deep,
Strange fragrance reach the diamond's home,
And murmurs of the garden sweep
The houses of the frighted gnome!

For, piercing through their black repose,
And shooting up beyond the sun,
I see that Tree of Life, which rose
Before the eyes of Solomon:

Its boughs, that, in the light of God,
Their bright, innumerous leaves display, --
Whose hum of life is borne abroad
By winds that shake the dead away.

And, trembling on a branch afar,
The topmost nursling of the skies,
I see my bud, the fairest star
That ever dawned for watching eyes.

Unnoticed on the boundless tree,
Its fragrant promise fills the air;
Its little bell expands, for me,
A tent of silver, lily-fair.

All life to that one centre tends;
All joy and beauty thence outflow;
Her sweetest gffts the summer spends,
To teach that sweeter bud to blow.

So, compassed by the vision's gleam,
In trembling hope, from day to day,
As in some bright, bewildering dream,
The mystic summer wanes away.


The Poet's Journal
Copyright 1863
Ticknor and Fields, Boston