Charles Mair

Address to a Maid

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If those twin gardens of delight,
Thine eyes, were ever in my sight,
I would no pink or roses seek,
Save those which bloom upon thy cheek.
I would no pleasant perfume breathe
Save that which parts thy snowy teeth,
Or in sweet warblings e'er rejoice.
Save when I listen to thy voice.
Than in the citadel of love
I would no other dwelling have.
For neighbours, then, the jewelled pair,
Who part each night thy long, loose hair,
Or other twain who sit upon
Thy swelling breast as on a throne,
Or those two, wand'rers since their birth,
Who set small seals about the earth.
I would no other seasons find
Than the reversal of thy mind.
Thus, thy delight and joy would be
Enough of summer warmth for me;
And thy displeasure next would hold
A season short of wintry cold.
No other food would I beseech
Than such as thy smooth chin could reach,
Or what I otherwise might sip
About it suburbs, on a lip,
Or cheek, or, higher, where the snow
In stainless white the brow doth show.
No other sickness should I feel
Than what thy queenly touch could heal,
Or any weariness or pain
That thou couldst not remove again.
Thus all delights would meet in thee,
And I should live, and live to be,
(Whilst dwelling in thy many graces)
A scorner of those paltry places
Which cumber pleasant spots of earth,
And wis not of the wondrous birth
Of love, or of the keen degrees
Of love's wan languor and disease.

Why laugh, my love, all love to scorn,
And, like a stalk of fruitless corn,
Nor yield nor fill one golden ear
With promise for the Future's wear?
Why hide those eyes? Enough that night
Finds each, like some starved eremite,
Shut in with coffin-lids of snow,
Which chill the fateful forms below.
Why hide them? hey their lustre win
From fairer fields and floods within,
And whatsoever thence is ta'en
Those eyes, my love, must give again.

Why turn, O love, why turn away,
Like sunshine from an April day?
The past is dreary, dumb and cold,
And love and youth are growing old.
The past doth wear no weather-locks,
Bestirs no fields, and feeds no flocks.
The past is like a hidden grot,
For years unseen, and so forgot
Till stumbled on- and then are found
Some relics. When no longer sound,
Or form of thine is heard or seen,
Thou art the past, and then I ween
Thou art forgotten, too, and, lo!
Art buried, though thou think'st not so.

Why look so haughty and so proud,
As time himself to thee have bowed,
And cringed and craved with humble air
Permission to preserve thee fair?
Times cares no whit for thy delight
In beauty, or in beauty's might.
Thou canst not coax him with thine eyes,
Or bluff him with asperities!
Thou canst not hold him in thy fee,
A vassal to thy sovereignty;
For Time his obligation pays
With silv'ry nights and golden days,
Till all are quit at last, and paid
In full by mattock, trench and spade.

This Time shall come with finger cold
And wrinkle up thy smooth-set mould;
Shall com like hoar-frost in the night,
Shall come like darkness in the light,
And blind thy sombre eyes with tears,
And darken thought with sullen fears,
And, taking thee within in arms,
Shall husk thy body of its charms,
And, for a garment, clothe thee in
A frosty snood and wrinkled skin,
And for the music of thy voice
Shall give thee groans, and for thy choice
A stick, or crutch, to pick thy way
Adown some autumn's golden day.

Then, being mortal, be not proud,
And-love confessed, and love allowed-
I'll shield thee with my soul and give
Thee kiss for kiss, and, as I live,
Use the deep wonder of thine eyes
As daily food. And thy sweet sighs
Shall melt into the warmth of mine,
And my pale breath shall meet with thine,
And my lips cling to thee, and sleep
Shall part us not. Not any deep
Or the wan, waney light of dreams,
Or utter space, or height, or gleams
Of wasteful lightning, or the blore
Of storms, or any misty shore
Of sightless sea, or wealth, or fame,
Or any voice that calls thy name,
Or pestilence, or pois'nous breath
Of calumny -not even death,
Or the cold, far-averted eyes
And angry mouths of deities,
Or the cold unseen feet which press
Earth's sullen graves shall dispossess
In hell beneath or heaven above,
My soul of thee, O love!

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Charles Mair