James Bayard Taylor (11 January 1825 – 19 December 1878 / Chester County, Pennsylvania)
The Return Of The Goddess
Not as in youth, with steps outspeeding morn,
And cheeks all bright from rapture of the way,
But in strange mood, half cheerful, half forlorn,
She comes to me to-day.
Does she forget the trysts we used to keep,
When dead leaves rustled on autumnal ground?
Or the lone garret, whence she banished sleep
With threats of silver sound?
Does she forget how shone the happy eyes
When they beheld her?--how the eager tongue
Plied its swift oar through wave-like harmonies,
To reach her where she sung?
How at her sacred feet I cast me down?
How she upraised me to her bosom fair,
And from her garland shred the first light crown
That ever pressed my hair?
Though dust is on the leaves, her breath will bring
Their freshness back: why lingers she so long?
The pulseless air is waiting for her wing,
Dumb with unuttered song.
If tender doubt delay her on the road,
Oh let her haste, to find that doubt belied!
If shame for love unworthily bestowed,
That shame shall melt in pride.
If she but smile, the crystal calm will break
In music, sweeter than it ever gave,
As when a breeze breathes o'er some sleeping lake
And laughs in every wave.
The ripples of awakened song shall die
Kissing her feet, and woo her not in vain,
Until, as once, upon her breast I lie,
Pardoned and loved again.
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