True love's regale is incomplete,
'Till bitter leaven make it sweet;
Accept not then our tale amiss,
That jealousy was part of bliss;
But rather note a mercy here,
That fact was thus outrun by fear;
And so, before the harder bout,
When sin must be encountered too,
A woman's heart already knew
The way to conquer doubt
'When sleep was in the summer air,
And stars looked down on Paradise,
And palms and cedars answered fair
The visionary night-wind's sighs,
And murmuring prayer:
When every flower was in its hood
(By clasps of diamond dew retained),
Or sunk to elude Phalcena's brood,
Down slumber's breast with shadows veined,
The citron, stephanote, and rose,
Pomegranate, hoya, calycanth,
And yet unwanted amaranth,
Were sweetness in repose:
When rivulets were loth to creep,
Except unto the pillow moss,
And distant lake, encurtained deep,
Was but a silver thread across
The eyes of sleep:
When nightingales, in the sycamore,
Sang low and soft, as an echo dreaming;
And slept the moon upon heaven's shore—
The tidal shore of heaven, beaming
With lazuled ore:
When new-born earth was fain to lean
In Summer's arms, recovering
The unaccustomed toil of Spring,
Why slept not Eve, their Queen?
Upon a smooth fern-mantled stone
She sat, and watched the wicket-gate,
Not timid in her woman's throne,
Nor lonely in her sinless state,
Though all alone;
For having spread her simple board
With grapes, and peaches, milk, and flowers,
She strewed sweet mastic o'er the sward,
And waited through the bridal hours
Step of her lord.
Such innocence around her breathed,
And freshness of young nature's play,
The sensitive plant shrank not away,
And cactus' swords were sheathed.
The vision of her beauty fell,
Like music on a moonlit place,
Or trembles of a silver bell,
Or memories of a sacred face,
Too dear to tell:
The grace that wandered free of laws,
The look that lit the heart's confession,
Had never dreamed how fair it was;
Nor guessed that purity's expression
Is beauty's cause:
No more that unenquiring heart
Perused the sweet home of her breast,
Than turtle-doves unline their nest
To scan the outer part
Although, in all that garden fair,
Whate'er delight abode, or grew,
Flowers, and trees, and balmy air,
Fountains, and birds, and heaven blue
In her their various charms had met,
And grown more varied by combining,
As budded plants do give and get,
Each inmate doubling while resigning
His several debt:
And yet she nursed one joy, above
Her thousand charms, nor bora of them,
But blooming on a single stem—
Her true faith in her love.
And though, before she heard his foot,
The moon had climbed the homestead palm,
Flinging to her the shadowed fruit,
And tree-frogs ceased to break the calm,
And birds were mute,
With sudden transport ever new,
She blushed, and sprang from forth the bower,
Her eyes, as bright as moon-lit dew,
Her bosom glad as snow-veiled flower,
When sun shines through;
He, with a natural dignity
Untaught self-consciousness by harm,
Sustained her with his manly arm,
And smiled upon her glee.
Next day, when early evening shone
Along the walks of Paradise,
Strewing with gold the hills, her throne,
Embarrassing the winds with spice
(Too rich a loan),
Fair Eve was in her bower of ease,
A cool arcade of fruit and flowers,
From North and East enclasped by trees,
But open to the Western showers,
And Southern breeze.
Here followed she her gardening trade,
Her favourites' simple needs attending,
And singing soft, above them bending,
A song herself had made.
In evening's calm, she walked between
The tints and shades of rich delight,
While overhead came, arching green,
Many a shrub and parasite,
To crown their Queen;
There laughed the joy of the rose, among
Myrtle and Iris, heaven's eye,
Magnole, with cups of moonlight hung,
And Fuchsia's sunny chandlery,
And coral tongue;
And where the shy brook fluttered through,
Nepenthe held her chalice leaf
(Undrained as yet by human grief),
And broad Nymphaea grew.
But where the path bent towards the wood,
Across it hung a sombre screen,
The deadly night-shade, leaden-hued;
And there behind it, darkly seen,
A Being stood:
The form, if any form it had,
Was likest to a nightly vision
In mantle of amazement clad,
A terror-sense, without precision,
Of something bad.
A tremble chilled the forest shade,
A roving lion turned and fled,
The birds cowered home in hush of dread;
But Eve was not afraid.
She stood before him, sweetly bold,
To keep him from her garden shrine,
With hair that fell, a shower of gold,
Around her figure's snowy line
And rosy mould:
He (with a re-awakened sense
Of goodness, long for ever lost,
And angel beauty's pure defence)
Shrank back, unable to accost
But envy soon scoffed down his shame;
And with a smile, designed for fawning,
But like hell's daybreak sickly dawning,
His crafty accents came.
'Sweet ignorance, 'tis sad and hard
To break thy fond confiding spell;
And my soft heart hath such regard
For thine, that I will never tell
What may be spared.'
He turned aside, o'erwhelmed with pain,
And drew a sigh of deep compassion:
She trembled, flushed, and gazed again,
And prayed him quick, in woman's fashion,
To speak it plain:
'Then, if thou must be taught to grieve,
And scorn the guile thou hast adored—
The man who calls himself thy lord,
Where goes he, every eve?'
'Nay, then,' she cried, 'if that be all,
I care not what thou hast to say;
The guile that lurks therein is small—
My husband but retires to pray,
At evening call.'
'To pray? Oh yes, and on his knees
May-hap to find a lovely being:
Devotions so devout as these
Are best at night, with no one seeing,
Among the trees.'
She blushed as deep as modesty,
Then glancing back as bright as cride,
'What woman can he find,' she cried,
'In all the world, but me?'
He laughed with a superior sneer,
Enough to shake e'en woman's faith;
'Wilt thou believe me, simple dear,
If I am able now,' he saith,
'To show her here?'
She cried aloud with gladsome heart,
'Be that the test whereon to try thee;
Nature and heaven shall take my part:
Come, show this rival; I defy thee
And all thy art.'
A mirror, held in readiness,
He set upright before her feet—
'Now can thy simple charms compete
With beauty such as this?'
A lovelier sight therein she saw
Than ever yet had charmed her eyes,
A fairer picture, void of flaw,
Than any, even Paradise
Itself, could draw;
A woman's form of perfect grace,
In shadowy softness delicate;
Though flushed by sunset's rich embrace,
A white rose could not imitate
Her innocent face:
Then, through the deepening glance of fear,
The shaft of doubt came quivering,
The sorrow-shaft—a sigh its wing,
And for its barb a tear.
'Ah me!' she cried, 'too true it is!
A simple homely thing, like Eve,
Hath not a chance to rival this,
But must resign herself to grieve
O'er by-gone bliss.
'Till now it was enough for me
To be what God our Father made;
Oh, Adam, I was proud to be
(As I have felt, and thou hast said)
A part of thee.
'No marvel that my lord can spare
His true and heaven-appointed bride.
And yet affection might have tried
To fancy me as fair.'
The Tempter, glorying in his wile,
Hath ta'en his mirror and withdrawn;
Again the flowers look up and smile,
And brightens off from air and lawn
The taint of guile.
But smiles come not again to Eve,
Nor brightens off her dark reflection:
Her garland-crown she hath ceased to weave,
And, plucking, maketh no selection;
Only to grieve.
She feels a dewy radiance steep
The languid petals of her eyes,
And hath another sad surprise,
To know the way to weep,
The tears were still in woman's eyes,
When morn awoke on Paradise;
And still her sense of shame forbade
To tell her grievance, or upbraid;
Nor knew she which was dearer cost,
To seek him, or to shun him most
Then Adam, willing to believe
A heart by casual fancy moved
Would soon come back, at voice she loved,
Addressed his song to Eve.
'Come fairest, while the morn is fair,
And dews are bright as yon clear eyes;
Calm down this tide of troubled hair,
Forget with me all other sighs
Than summer air.
'Like me, the woodland shadows roam
At light (their fairer comrade's) side;
And peace and joy salute our home;
And lo, the sun in all his pride—
My sunshine, come!
'The fawns and birds, that know our call,
Are waiting for our presence—see,
They wait my presence, love; and thee,
The most desired of all.
'The trees, which thought it grievous thing
To weep their own sweet leaves away,
Untaught as yet how soon the Spring
Upon their nestled heads should lay
Her callow wing—
'The trees, whereat we smiled again,
To see them, in their growing wonder,
Suppose their buds were verdant rain,
Until the gay winds rustled under
Their feathered train,
'Lo, now they stand in braver mien,
And, claiming stronger shadow-right,
Make prisoner of the intrusive light,
And strew the winds with green.
'Of all the flowers that bow the head,
Or gaze erect on sun and sky,
Not one there is, declines to sned,
Or standeth up, to qualify
'Of all that blossom one by one,
Or join their lips in loving cluster,
Not one hath now resolved alone,
Or taken counsel, that his lustre
Shall be unshown.
'So let thy soul a blossom be,
To breathe the fragrance of its praise,
And lift itself, in early days,
To Him who fosters thee.
'Of all the founts, bedropped with light,
Or silver-tress'd with shade of trees,
Not one there is, but sprinkles bright
It's plume of freshness on the breeze,
And jewelled flight:
'Of all that hush among the moss,
Or babble to the lily-vases,
Not one there is but purls across
A gush of the delight, that causes
It's limpid gloss.
'So let thy heart a fountain be,
To rise in sparkling joy, and fall
In dimpled melody—and all
For love of home, and me.'
The only fount her heart became
Rose quick with sighs, and fell in tears;
While pink upon her white cheek came,
(Like apple-blossom among pear's)
The tinge of shame.
Her husband, pierced with new alarm,
Bent nigh to ask of her distresses,
Enclasping her with sheltering arm,
Unwinding by discreet caresses,
The thread of harm.
Then she, with sobs of slow relief
(For silence is the jail of care)
Confessed, for him to heal or share,
The first of human grief.
'I cannot look on thee, and think
That thou has ceased to hold me dear;
I cannot break the loosened link:
When thou, my only one, art near,
How can I shrink?
'So it were better, love—I mean,
My lord, it is more wise and right—
That I, as one whose day hath been,
Should keep my pain from pleasure's sight,
And dwell unseen.
'And—though it break my heart to say—
However sad my loneliness,
I fear thou wouldst rejoice in this—
To have me far away.
'I know not how it is with man,
Perhaps his nature is to change,
On finding consort fairer than—
But oh, I cannot so arrange
My nature's plan!
'And haply thou hast never thought
To vex, or make me feel forsaken;
But, since to thee the thing was nought,
Supposed 'twould be as gaily taken,
As lightly brought.
'Yet, is it strange that I repine,
And feel abased in lonely woe,
To lose thy love—or e'en to know
That half of it is mine?
'For whom have I on earth but thee,
What heart to love, or home to bless?
Albeit I was wrong, I see,
To think my husband took no less
Delight in me.
'But even now, if thou wilt stay,
Or try at least no more to wander,
And let me love thee, day by day,
Till time, or habit, make thee fonder
(If so it may)—
'Thou shalt have one more truly bent,
In homely wise, on serving thee,
Than any stranger e'er can be;
And Eve shall seem content.'
Not loud she wept—but hope could hear;
Sweet hope, who in his lifelong race
Made terms, to win the goal from fear,
That each alternate step should trace
A smile and tear.
But Adam, lost in wide amaze,
Regarded her with troubled glances,
Misdoubting 'neath her steady gaze,
Himself to be in strange romances,
And dreamy haze:
Then questioning in hurried voice,
And scarcely waiting her replies,
He spoke, and showed the true surprise
That made her soul rejoice.
She told him what the Tempter said,
And what her frightened self had seen,
(That form in loveliness arrayed,
With modest face, and graceful mien)
And how displayed.
Then well-content to show his bride
The worldly knowledge he possessed,
(That world whereof was none beside)
He laid his hand upon his breast,
And thus replied:—
'Wife, mirror'd here too deep to see,
'A little way down yonder path,
'And I will show the form which hath
'Enchanted thee, and me.'
Kadisha is a streamlet fair,
Which hurries down the pebbled way,
As one who hath small time to spare,
So far to go, so much to say
To summer air;
Sometimes the wavelets wimple in
O'erlapping tiers of crystal shelves,
And little circles dimple in,
As if the waters quaffed themselves,
The while they spin:
Thence in a clear pool, overbent
With lotus-tree and tamarind flower,
Empearled, and lulled in golden bower,
Kadisha sleeps content.
Their steps awoke the quiet dell;
The first of men was smiling gay;
Still trembled Eve beneath the spell,
The mystery of that passion-sway
She could not quell.
As they approached the silver strand,
He plucked a moss-rose budding sweetly,
And wreathing bright her tresses' band,
Therein he set the blossom featly,
And took her hand:
He led her past the maiden-hair,
Forget-me-not, and meadow-sweet,
Until the margin held her feet,
Like water-lilies fain
'Behold,' he cried, 'on yonder wave,
The only one with whom I stray,
The only image still I have,
Too often, even while I pray
To Him who gave.
The form she saw was long unknown,
Except as that beheld yestreen;
Till viewing, not that form alone,
But his, with hands enclasped between,
She guessed her own.
And, Bending O'er in Sweet Surprise,
Perused, With Simple Child's Delight,
the Flowing Hair, and Forehead White,
and Soft Inquiring Eyes.
Then, blushing to a fairer tint
Than waves might ever hope to catch,
'I see,' she cried, 'a lovely print;
But surely I can never match
This lily glint!
'So pure, so innocent, and bright,
So charming free, without endeavour,
So fancy-touched with pensive light I
I think that I could gaze for ever,
With new delight
'And now that rose-bud in my hair,
Perhaps it should be placed above—
And yet, I will not change it, love,
Since mou hast set it there.
'Vain Eve, why glory thus in Eve?
What matter Tor thy form or face?
Thy beauty is, if love believe
Thee worthy of that treasured place
Thou ne'er shalt leave.
'Oh, husband; mine and mine alone,
Take back my faith that dared to wander;
Forgive my joy to have thee shown
Not transient, as thine image yonder,
But all my own.
'And, love, if this be vain of me,
This pleasure, and the pride I take;
Tis only for thy dearer sake,
To be so fair to thee.'
No more she said; but smiling fell,
And lost her sorrow on his breast;
Her love-bright eyes upon him dwell,
Like troubled waters laid at rest
In comfort's well:
Tis nothing more, an' if she weep,
Than joy she cannot else reveal;
As onyx-gems of Pison keep
A tear-vein, where the sun may steal
Throughout their deep.
May every Adam's fairer part
Thus, only thus, a rival find—
The image of herself, enshrined
Within the faithful heart!
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem