Frank Dempster Sherman



by Frank Dempster Sherman

Pretext: C.S.

Give me my happy poet's book
And let me find a sylvan nook,
Far from the noisy world apart,
And near enough to Nature's heart
To hear it throb and feel it thrill,
Yet wonder why 't is all so still:

There, thick with leaves, the branches spread
Their canopy of green o'erhead,
Through which in sudden wind-torn rifts
The sun its dusty copper sifts;
And there a dreamy brook runs by, --
A slender strip of twilight sky,
Starred with its ripples, and its moon
A lily lying in a swoon
Upon its bosom, wan and white
As that pale wanderer of night.

Birds in the arching boughs above
Fluting their melodies of love;
Bees in the distance humming where
The blossom's honey scents the air;
And, where the wild-flowers cluster, hosts
Of Psyches hovering like ghosts
Around the fragrant, curtained glooms,
Clouding the air with winged blooms.

There with my book, a flagon filled
With wine of song the poet spilled
From cups of love's sweet overflow
In happy riot, long ago, --
With Herrick, from whose well-tuned lute
First grew the lyric bud and fruit, --
There, in the shifting sun and shade,
In fancy I shall see that maid
To whom his songs, -- each one of them.
Clean cut and finished as a gem, --
He sang, until her every grace
Found in his limpid verse a place,
That she with him might live as long
As man is moved by love and song!

Oh, that we, too, who touch the string
To-day and set it quivering,
Whose hearts have caught one little spark
Of rhyme in this prosaic dark,
Unto our verses might but give
That subtile touch to make them live,
Like Herrick's, after we are gone!
That all our lines might linger on
The lips of those who later shall
Love lyric brief and madrigal;
And immortality for us
In melody be vouchsafed thus!


Lyrics For A Lute
Copyright 1890
Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company