Emma Lazarus

(22 July 1849 – 19 November 1887 / New York City / United States)

The Garden Of Adonis

(The Garden of Life in Spenser's 'Faerie Queene.')
IT is no fabled garden in the skies,
But bloometh here— this is no world of death;
And nothing that once liveth, ever dies,
And naught that breathes can ever cease to breathe,
And naught that bloometh ever withereth.
The gods can ne'er take back their gifts from men,
They gave us life,— they cannot take again.

Who hath known Death, and who hath seen his face?
On what high mountain have ye met with him?
Within what lowest valley is there trace
Of his feared footsteps? in what forest dim,
In what great city, in what lonely ways?
Nay, there is no such god, but one called Change,
And all he does is beautiful and strange.

It is but Change that lays our darlings low,
And, though we doubt and fear, forsakes them not.
Where red lips smiled do sweetest roses blow,
And star-flowers bloom above the lovely spot
Where gleamed the eyes, with blue forget-me-not.
And through the grasses runs the same wave there
We knew of old within the golden hair.

Dig in the earth— ye shall not surely find
Death or death's semblance; only roots of flowers,
And all fair, goodly things there live enshrined,
With the foundations of the glad green bowers,
Through which the sunshine comes in golden showers.
And all the blossoms that this earth enwreathe,
Are for assurance that there is no death.

O mother, raise thy tear-bathed lids again:
Thy child died not, he only liveth more—
His soul is in the sunshine and the rain,
His life is in the waters and the shore,
He is around thee all the wide world o'er;
The daisy thou hast plucked smiles back at thee,
Because it doth again its mother see.

What noble deed that ever lived, is dead,
Or yet hath lost its power to inspire
Courage in hearts that sicken, and to shed
New faith and hope when hands and footsteps tire,
And make sad, downcast eyes look upward higher?
Yea, all men see and know it, whence it came;
It purifies them like a burning flame.

And dreams? What dreams were ever lost and gone,
But wandering in strange lands we found again?
When least we think of these dear birdlings flown,
We find that bright and fresh they still remain.
The garden of all life is round us then;
And he is blind who doth not know and see,
And praise the gods for immortality.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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