Ina Coolbrith

(1841 – 1928 / Nauvoo, Illinois)

With A Wreath Of Laurel - Poem by Ina Coolbrith

O WINDS, that ripple the long grass!
O winds, that kiss the jeweled sea!
Grow still and lingering as you pass
About this laurel tree.

Great Shasta knew you in the cloud
That turbans his white brow; the sweet,
Cool rivers; and the woods that bowed
Before your pinions fleet.

With meadow scents your breath is rife;
With red - wood odors, and with pine:
Now pause and thrill with twofold life,
Each spicy leaf I twine.

The laurel grows upon the hill
That looks across the western sea.
O winds, within the boughs be still,
O sun, shine tenderly,

And birds, sing soft about your nests:
I twine a wreath for other lands;
A grave! nor wife nor child has blest
With touch of loving hands.

Where eyes are closed, divine and young,
Dusked in a night no morn may break,
And hushed the poet lips that sung,
The songs none else may wake:

Unfelt the venomed arrow-thrust,
Unheard the lips that hiss disgrace,
While the sad heart is dust, and dust
The beautiful, sad face!

For him I pluck the laurel crown!
It ripened in the western breeze,
Where Saucelito's hills look down
Upon the golden seas;

And sunlight lingered in its leaves
From dawn, until the scarce dimmed sky
Changed to the light of stars; and waves
Sang to it constantly.

I weave, and strive to weave a tone,
A touch, that, somehow, when it lies
Upon his sacred dust, alone,
Beneath the English skies,

The sunshine of the arch it knew,
The calm that wrapt its native hill,
The love that wreathed its glossy hue,
May breathe around it still!

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 16, 2017

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