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Fitz-Greene Halleck

(1790-1867 / the United States)

Woman


LADY, although we have not met,
And may not meet, beneath the sky;
And whether thine are eyes of jet,
Gray, or dark blue, or violet,
Or hazel—heaven knows, not I;

Whether around thy cheek of rose
A maiden's glowing locks are curled,
And to some thousand kneeling beaux,
Thy frown is cold as winter's snows,
Thy smile is worth a world;

Or whether, past youth's joyous strife,
The calm of thought is on thy brow,
And thou art in thy noon of life,
Loving, and loved, a happy wife,
And happier mother now,

I know not—but whate'er thou art,
Whoe'er thou art, were mine the spell,
To call Fate's joys, or blunt his dart,
There should not be one hand or heart
But served or wished thee well.

For thou art Woman—with that word
Life's dearest hopes and memories come,
Truth, Beauty, Love—in her adored,
And earth's lost Paradise restored
In the green bower of home.

What is man's love? His vows are broke
Even while his parting kiss is warm,—
But woman's love all change will mock,
And, like the ivy round the oak,
Cling closest in the storm.

And well the Poet at her shrine
May bend, and worship while he wooes;
To him she is a thing divine,
The inspiration of his line,
His loved one, and his Muse.

If to his song the echo rings
Of Fame—'tis Woman's voice he hears;
If ever from his lyre's proud strings
Flow sounds, like rush of angel wings,
'Tis that she listens while he sings,
With blended smiles and tears:

Smiles,—tears,—whose blest and blessing power,
Like sun and dew o'er summer's tree,
Alone keeps green through Time's long hour,
That frailer thing than leaf or flower,
A Poet's immortality.

Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

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