Saturday, April 16, 2011

Anacreontic by Henry Howard Brownell

Sleeping Beauty, 1881
by Richard Eisermann

by Henry Howard Brownell

Eros, graceless Wanton! thou
Wast mine earliest playfellow.
Well I knew thee, roguish Elf!
When an infant like thyself.
And thou still must needs abide
Clinging wilful to my side.

Every other frolic mate
Long has grown to man’s estate—
Other childish sports have past,
Other toys aside are cast—
One alone could yet remain;
’Tis the vainest of the vain!

Still this fond and foolish heart
Must enact a childish part,
And in Beauty’s Presence still
Feel its wonted boyish thrill.
Chide thee—shun thee as I may,
Thou hast ever had thy way;
Many a subtle snare hast laid—
Many a wanton trick hast played.
E’en at Learning’s council sage,
Thou hast perched upon the page,
(Latin could not mar thy glee,
Greek was never Greek to thee,)
And when Wisdom should prevail,
Told me many a roguish tale,
Many a scene of vanished Love—
Dicte’s cave and Ida’s grove,
And the mountain fringed with fir,
And the paths beloved of Her,
Who the sleeping hunter eyed
Couched on Latmos’ shaggy side.
Of each old enchanted spot—
Tyrian mead—Egerian grot—
Each dim haunt, remembered yet,
Where mortal with Immortal met—
Darksome glen and sunny glade—
And all the pranks that Sylvan played.

One kind turn I owe thee—one
Kindly office thou hast done.
Ne’er shall I forget the hour,
When thy soft-persuading power
Led my footsteps, roving wide,
To the Sleeping Beauty’s side.
Wearied, like a child from play,
Lightly slumbering, there she lay.
Half a crime though it might seem
To disturb so sweet a dream—
Yet, with tender, reverent soul,
Softly to her side I stole,
And the only means did take
Such a slumber e’er should wake.

Like a half-awakened child,
Gently then she moved and smiled:
With a soft and wondering glance—
Such as Gyneth wore, perchance,
When she oped her lovely eyes
From the sleep of centuries.

from War-Lyrics and Other Poems (1866)

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