Years Ago - Poem by Victor Daley
The old dead flowers of bygone summers,
The old sweet songs that are no more sung,
The rose-red dawns that were welcome comers
When you and I and the world were young,
Are lost, O love, to the light for ever,
And seen no more of the moon or sun,
For seas divide, and the seasons sever,
And twain are we that of old were one.
O fair lost love, when the ship went sailing
Across the seas in the years agone,
And seaward-set were the eyes unquailing,
And landward-looking the faces wan,
My heart went back as a dove goes homeward
With wings aweary to seek its nest,
While fierce sea-eagles are flying foamward
And storm-winds whiten the surge's crest;
And far inland for a farewell pardon
Flew on and on, while the ship went South,
The rose was red in the red-rose garden,
And red the rose of your laughing mouth.
But no word came on the wind in token
Of love that lasts till the end; and so
My heart returned to me bruised and broken,
From you, my love, of the long ago.
The green fields seemed in the distance growing
To silken squares on a weaver's loom,
As oversea came the land-wind blowing
The faint sweet scent of the clover bloom.
A rarer odour to me it carried,
In subtle delicate way to tell
Of you, ere you and the world were married,
The lilac-odour you loved so well.
Again, I saw you beneath the blooms of
Those lilac-trees in the garden old.
Ah me! each tree is a mark for tombs of
Dead dreams and memories still and cold.
And Death comes there with his breath scent-laden,
And gathering gently the blossoms shed
(In guise of Autumn, the brown-browed maiden)
With your and my dead buries his dead.
O, fairer far than the fair ideal
Of him who imaged the foam-born Queen
In foam-white marble, a dream made real,
To me were you in those years, I ween.
Your lips were redder than night-shade berries
That burn in borders of hedgerowed lanes,
And sweeter far than the sweet wild cherries
The June sun flushes with crimson stains.
And gray your eyes as a gray dove's wings were,
A gray soft-shadowing deeps profound,
Where thoughts that reached to the heart of things were,
And love lay dreaming though seeming drowned.
Twin-tulip-breasted like her the tread of
Whose feet made music in Paphos fair,
The world to me was not worth a thread of
Your brown, ambrosial, braided hair.
Mayhap you loved me at one time truly,
And I was jealous, and you were proud;
But mine the love of the king in Thule,
Till death; and yours, sleeps well in shroud.
So night came down like a sombre raven,
And southward ever the ship was borne,
Till glad green fields and lessening haven
Grew faint and faded like ghosts at morn.
As fields of Heaven eternal blooming,
Those flowerful fields of my mother-land
In midnight visions are still perfuming
All wild waste places and seas of sand.
And still in seasons of storm and thunder,
In strange lands under your land and mine,
And though our ways have been wide asunder,
In calm and tempest and shade and shine
Your face I see as I saw the last time,
As one borne space-ward on wings of light,
With eyes turned back to a sight of past time,
Beholds for ever that self-same sight.
But scorn has died on your lips, and through you
Shines out star-bright an immortal grace,
As though God then to His heaven drew you,
And sent an angel to take your place.
I plucked one rose from the tree you cherished,
My heart's blood ebbing has kept it red,
And all my hopes with its scent have perished;
Why mourn them now, are the dead not dead?
And yet, God knows, as this rose I kiss, you
May feel the kisses across the sea;
And soul to soul for the larger issue
Your soul may stand with the soul of me,
Unknown to you, for the strings of Being
Are not so easily snapped or torn;
And we may journey with eyes unseeing
On paths that meet in the years unborn.
Farewell, dear heart. Warm sighs may sever
Ripe lips of love like a rose-leaf curled,
But you remain unto me for ever
The one fair woman in all the world.
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