Hugh Cuthbert

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Garden Sonnets

I. Before

All the world was Eden once, you know,
And Paradise was ours everywhere;
No jealous hedge joy's limits to declare,
No sullen wall our Garden-bounds to show;
No thorns did then beneath the roses grow,
And winter's blast was as a dream-love's kiss--
A lightsome rapture; every task a bliss
Sweet-laden as the air where lilies blow.
For I was all of Eden to you then,
And you were all of Paradise to me,
And each in other all the world were we,
Till, drenched in golden love-light, we again
Love-lavish, flung its spell o'er everything,
And Nature's self lay 'witched within the ring.

II. And After

Where all was Eden, all is Eden-less.
The Garden vanished--earth and sea and sky,
The sunbeams, flowers--even as you and I
All sundered stand in stricken loneliness;
The tangled Paradise a wilderness
Of ordered isolations! The great soul,
Which made of all things one harmonious whole,
Shredded to serve the fragments which caress
The separate being they curse! Nought but the Gate
Remains--fronting our Life as day by day
It seeks the happiness it cast away
To snatch a venomed knowledge. Alas! stern fate--
To find its own discarded innocence
Become a flaming sword to drive it thence.

The Statue of Sorrow

"Come, build me a statue all of snow!"
Said the Medici, prince and patron of Art,
And Michael Angelo, aflame at heart
With noble shame to cast his visions so,
In fleeting form for pride's caprices, low:
His Muse all mutinous humbled to her part,
And bade a Seraph from the snow out-start.
He came--and perished in the noon-day glow.

Great world! proud patron of th' aspiring mind--
Dispenser of rewards--thou holdest still
In thrall, alas! the genius of mankind.
Exact full toll, but not that he fulfil
His soul in vanities; nay, rather find
Best worth in workers who transcend thy will.