Robert Crawford (1868-1930)
Toward the Close
Her maiden dreams were redolent of love,
Warm-bosomed as she breathed the passionate air
Of old romance, and did in fancy move
'Mong the gay knights who died for ladies fair;
Until she heard the thunder of the press,
And so became a lover; her heart rang
The note of love's alarm, his tenderness,
When in the onset all the tourney sang.
And she was one of the dead ladies who,
In beauty's blazon, to his misty bower
With Launcelot, when the Queen was gone, withdrew
Under the shadow of the tourney tower;
And, lilting to him through the gloaming, made
His heart a lyre whereon her passion played.
She was so dear, so fair. Her memory stays,
Even her dying robs me not of this,
That I have walked with her in mortal ways
Whose tender beauty now immortal is.
There are sweet flowers that bloom in ways forlorn
And sad sweet eyes whose beauty is a flower
Blown in the night to which there is no morn,
Dream-born and dying in its dewy bower;
And she was such a flower, her sweet eyes such;
The secret hours that only the heart knows
Thrill with the glamour of her tone and touch
Like music that is sweetest at the close,
Falling to death as falls the fairest thing
Beyond the power of love's recovering.
Toward the Close
Time grows upon us until we exhaust
Hope's possibilities, and then we die
Who thus of life each make a holocaust
Till all we have in nature is put by.
No one survives himself, and none can so
Reclaim the sentiment of youth that he
Would like a fallen leaf re-budded grow
On the bare bough of joy's mortality.
Oh! in what charms may death himself reveal
When the life-instinct turns at last to him
For supreme succour, for the power to heal
That sickness of our days when all grows dim!
More fragrant then than roses, sweeter far,
The airs that come from the old darkness are.
There is a breath at midnight that comes in
Sad as a sigh, for then the day is dead
And the young morrow doth his course begin,
Sowing new dreams in many a dreamer's head.
And there are two have waked in one dark bed
Just as the last stroke fades in lonely air,
And having whispered, half-awake, have sped
With silent feet into sleep's poppied lair.
She with the morning wakes, but he is gone;
Her tears and kisses are of no avail--
Perchance it was his good-bye murmured on
The midnight in death's visionary dale.
Ah, woe! she thought 'twas in sleep's fairyland
When in the dark he pressed her warm, soft hand.
The Sonnet in Australasia