Fragment from an Unfinished Poem

Oh, balm, and dew, and fragrance of those nights

Of Southern splendor ’neath a Southern sky!

The soft star-closes to the golden days

I dreamed away, in that far, tropic clime,

Wherein Love’s blossom budded, bloomed and died!

How many arrows from Time’s quiver fell

Around us, love, unheeded! while we roamed

Through fruited avenues of odorous limes,

Of citron and banana—where the air

Seemed swooning with its weight of rifled sweets.

Or down the spectral glen, where the black stream

Over the jagged gashes of gray rock

Whirled shriekingly—and the close air seemed filled

With viewless phantoms of accursed things.

We, wandering, found a weird magnificence

Even amid its horrors; for we clothed

Each dim surrounding object, with the hues

Of our own worship—and the things that else

Had seemed most darksome and unlovely, were,

By our great love, transfigured to divine,

Rose-shadowed, in the dreamy silences,

What long, long hours we paced the orient vale,

Robed in its Eden-splendor of rich bloom!

The amber moon hung low i’ the mid-heaven;

Long, crimson blossoms of pomegranate boughs

Swung, censor-like, above us; and we saw,

Afar in the dim south, the long, sharp line

Of castellated rocks, keen-piercing through

The silver-veined tissues of the night:

We caught blue glimpses of the hills beyond;

And like a diamond set in the cleft heart

Of an emerald, the tiny lake shone out,

Its clear, unshadowed crystal mirroring

A sky aflame with stars. We heard the low,

Soft plashing of the waves against the shores;

And caught snow-gleamings of an odorous weight

Of milk-white lilies, stirred by the slow tide.

From Poetry of the Pacific: Selections and Original Poems from the Poets of the Pacific States, edited by May Wentworth (Pacific Publishing Company, San Francisco, 1867)