John Boyle O'Reilly
Love's Sacrifice - Poem by John Boyle O'Reilly
LOVE'S Herald flew o'er all the fields of Greece,
Love's altar waits for sacrifice!'
And all folk answered, like a wave of peace,
With treasured offerings and gifts of price.
Toward high Olympus every white road filled
With pilgrims streaming to the blest abode;
Each bore rich tribute, some for joys fulfilled,
And some for blisses lingering on the road.
The pious peasant drives his laden car;
The fisher youth bears treasure from the sea;
A wife brings honey for the sweets that are;
A maid brings roses for the sweets to be.
Here strides the soldier with his wreathed sword,
No more to glitter in his country's wars;
There walks the poet with his mystic word,
And smiles at Eros' mild recruit from Mars.
But midst these bearers of propitious gifts,
Behold where two, a youth and maiden, stand:
She bears no boon; his arm no burden lifts,
Save her dear fingers pressed within his hand.
Their touch ignites the soft delicious fire,
Whose rays the very altar-flames eclipse;
Their eyes are on each other—sweet desire
And yearning passion tremble on their lips.
So fair—so strong! Ah, Love! what errant wiles
Have brought these two so poor and so unblest?
But see! Instead of anger, Cupid smiles;
And lo! he crowns their sacrifice as best!
Their hands are empty, but their hearts are
Their gifts so rare for all the host suffice:
Before the altar is their life-wine spilled—
The love they long for is their sacrifice.
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