Bayard Taylor image

Bayard Taylor

Jan. 11, 1825 - Dec 19, 1878


The Vineyard-Saint

by Bayard Taylor

She, pacing down the vineyard walks,
Put back the branches, one by one,
Stripped the dry foliage from the stalks,
And gave their bunches to the sun.

On fairer hill-sides, looking south,
The vines were brown with cankerous rust,
The earth was hot with summer drouth,
And all the grapes were dim with dust.

Yet here some blessed influence rained
From kinder skies, the season through;
On every bunch the bloom remained,
And every leaf was washed in dew.

I saw her blue eyes, clear and calm;
I saw the aureole of her hair;
I heard her chant some unknown psalm,
In triumph half, and half in prayer.

Hail, maiden of the vines! I cried:
Hail, Oread of the purple hill!
For vineyard fauns too fair a bride,
For me thy cup of welcome fill!

Unlatch the wicket; let me in,
And, sharing, make thy toil more dear:
No riper vintage holds the bin
Than that our feet shall trample here.

Beneath thy beauty's light I glow,
As in the sun those grapes of thine:
Touch thou my heart with love, and lo!
The foaming must is turned to wine!

She, pausing, stayed her careful task,
And, lifting eyes of steady ray,
Blew, as a wind the mountain's mask
Of mist, my cloudy words away.

No troubled flush o'erran her cheek;
But when her quiet lips did stir,
My heart knelt down to hear her speak,
And mine the blush I sought in her.

O, not for me, she said, the vow
So bghtly breathed, to break erelong;
The vintage-garland on the brow;
The revels of the dancing throng!

To maiden love I shut my heart,
Yet none the less a stainless bride;
I work alone, I dwell apart,
Because my work is sanctified.

A virgin hand must tend the vine,
By virgin feet the vat be trod,
Whose consecrated gush of wine
Becomes the blessed blood of God!

No sinful purple here shall stain,
Nor juice profane these grapes afford;
But reverent lips their sweetness drain
Around the Table of the Lord.

The cup I fill, of chaster gold,
Upon the lighted altar stands;
There, when the gates of heaven unfold,
The priest exalts it in his hands.

The censer yields adoring breath,
The awful anthem sinks and dies,
While God, who suffered life and death,
Renews His ancient sacrifice.

O sacred garden of the vine!
And blessed she, ordained to press
God's chosen vintage, for the wine
Of pardon and of holiness!


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