Muriel Stuart

(1889-1967 / England)

White Magic - Poem by Muriel Stuart

Is it not a wonderful thing to be able to force an astonished plant to bear rare flowers which are foreign to it. . . and to obtain a marvelous result from sap which, left to itself, would have produced corollas without beauty? -VIRGIL.

I stood forlorn and pale,
Pressed by the cold sand, pinched by the thin grass,
Last of my race and frail
Who reigned in beauty once, when beauty was,
Before the rich earth beckoned to the sea,
Took his salt lips to taste,
And spread this gradual waste-
This ruin of lower, this doom of grass and tree.
Each Spring could scarcely lift
My brows from the sand drift
To fill my lips with April as she went,
Or force my weariness
To its sad, summer dress:
On the harsh beach, I heard the grey sea rise,
The ragged grass made ceaseless, dim lament,
And day and night scarce changed the mournful skies.

Foot on the sand, a shadow on the sea!
A face leaned over me.
Across each wasted limb
Passed healingly a warm, great, god-like hand.
I was drawn up to him,
From my frail feet fell the last grains of sand.
Then haste and darkness stooped and made me theirs;
Deep handed me to deep; . . .
I faded then as names fade from men's prayers,--
As a sigh at last made friends with sleep.

But the same hand that bore me from the sea,
Waking me tenderly,
Bound me to a rough stranger of my race,--
Me weary and pale to him, and him to me.
I turned my piteous face
Aside ashamed; I struggled to be free.
I slept, I dreamed, I woke to that embrace! . . .

Sweet tides stole through my veins,
Strange fires and thrills and pains;
To my cold lips the bloom crept back once more
I glowed as a bride glows;
I watched the day with delicate hands restore
My kinship with the rose.
About my throat my hair went like a flame,
My brows were wreathed, in purple I was dressed,
I bore my bride's name,
A great star burned my breast.
No longer bound, I leaned the same sweet way
Towards her lover. Now astonished I
Who was a beggar stand obediently
Beside Cophetua.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 12, 2010

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