New York Nocturnes and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts


A Nocturne of Consecration


I talked about you, Dear, the other night,
Having myself alone with my delight.
Alone with dreams and memories of you,
All the divine-houred summer stillness through
I talked of life, of love the always new,
Of tears, and joy,—yet only talked of you.

To the sweet air
That breathed upon my face
The spirit of lilies in a leafy place,
Your breath’s caress, the lingering of your hair,

I said—"In all your wandering through the dusk,
Your waitings on the marriages of flowers
Through the long, intimate hours
When soul and sense, desire and love confer,
You must have known the best that God has made.
What do your know of Her?"

Said the sweet air—
"Since I have touched her lips,
Bringing the consecration of her kiss,
Half passion and half prayer,

And all for you,
My various lore has suffered an eclipse.
I have forgot all else of sweet I knew."

To the wise earth,
Kind, and companionable, and dewy cool,

Fair beyond words to tell, as you are fair,
And cunning past compare
To leash all heaven in a windless pool,
I said—"The mysteries of death and birth
Are in your care.
You love, and sleep; you drain life to the lees;
And wonderful things you know.
Angels have visited you, and at your knees
Learned what I learn forever at her eyes,
The pain that still enhances Paradise.
You in your breast felt her first pulses stir;
And you have thrilled to the light touch of her feet,
Blindingly sweet.
Now make me wise with some new word of Her."

Said the wise earth—

"She is not all my child.
But the wild spirit that rules her heart-beats wild
Is of diviner birth
And kin to the unknown light beyond my ken.
All I can give to Her have I not given?
Strength to be glad, to suffer, and to know;
The sorcery that subdues the souls of men;
The beauty that is as the shadow of heaven;
The hunger of love
And unspeakable joy thereof.
And these are dear to Her because of you.
You need no word of mine to make you wise
Who worship at her eyes
And find there life and love forever new!"

To the white stars,

Eternal and all-seeing,
In their wide home beyond the wells of being,
I said—"There is a little cloud that mars
The mystical perfection of her kiss.
Mine, mine, She is,
As far as lip to lip, and heart to heart,
And spirit to spirit when lips and hands must part,
Can make her mine. But there is more than this,—
More, more of Her to know.
For still her soul escapes me unaware,
To dwell in secret where I may not go.
Take, and uplift me. Make me wholly Hers."

Said the white stars, the heavenly ministers,—
"This life is brief, but it is only one.
Before to-morrow’s sun

For one or both of you it may be done.
This love of yours is only just begun.
Will all the ecstasy that may be won
Before this life its little course has run
At all suffice
The love that agonizes in your eyes?
Therefore be wise.
Content you with the wonder of love that lies
Between her lips and underneath her eyes.
If more you should surprise,
What would be left to hope from Paradise?
In other worlds expect another joy
Of Her, which blundering fate shall not annoy,
Nor time nor change destroy."

So, Dear, I talked the long, divine night through,

And felt you in the chrismal balms of dew.
The thing then learned
Has ever since within my bosom burned—
One life is not enough for love of you.