James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Illileo - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Illileo, the moonlight seemed lost across the vales--
The stars but strewed the azure as an armor's scattered scales;
The airs of night were quiet as the breath of silken sails,
And all your words were sweeter than the notes of nightingales.

Illileo Legardi, in the garden there alone,
With your figure carved of fervor, as the Psyche carved of stone,
There came to me no murmur of the fountain's undertone
So mystically, musically mellow as your own.

You whispered low, Illileo-- so low the leaves were mute,
And the echoes faltered breathless in your voice's vain pursuit;
And there died the distant dalliance of the serenader's lute:
And I held you in my bosom as the husk may hold the fruit.

Illileo, I listened. I believed you. In my bliss,
What were all the worlds above me since I found you thus in this--?
Let them reeling reach to win me-- even Heaven I would miss,
Grasping earthward--! I would cling here, though I clung by just a kiss.

And blossoms should grow odorless-- and lilies all aghast--
And I said the stars should slacken in their paces through the vast,
Ere yet my loyalty should fail enduring to the last--.
So vowed I. It is written. It is changeless as the past.

IIlileo Legardi, in the shade your palace throws
Like a cowl about the singer at your gilded porticos,
A moan goes with the music that may vex the high repose
Of a heart that fades and crumbles as the crimson of a rose.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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