Robert Browning

(1812-1889 / London / England)

Song from 'Paracelsus'


HEAP cassia, sandal-buds and stripes
   Of labdanum, and aloe-balls,
Smear'd with dull nard an Indian wipes
   From out her hair: such balsam falls
   Down sea-side mountain pedestals,
From tree-tops where tired winds are fain,
Spent with the vast and howling main,
To treasure half their island-gain.

And strew faint sweetness from some old
   Egyptian's fine worm-eaten shroud
Which breaks to dust when once unroll'd;
   Or shredded perfume, like a cloud
   From closet long to quiet vow'd,
With moth'd and dropping arras hung,
Mouldering her lute and books among,
As when a queen, long dead, was young.

Submitted: Saturday, January 04, 2003

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