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Passion-flowers

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Julia's Poetry: Passion-Flowers
Salutatory

I.
TO THE POETS

Brother and sister poets dear
Ye of the high, impassioned few,
A pilgrim waits your tender grace,
A wand'ring minstrel would sing with you.

I have not sat at the heaven-spread board,
N'or worn the fillet of glossy bays:
I have but hearkened your song without,
And gone, refreshed on weary ways.

I was born 'neath a clouded star
More in shadow than light have grown;
Living souls are not like trees
That strongest and stateliest shoot alone.

Comfort me as a child of Art
That Sorrow from her mother stole,
And sent, to cross the threshold of life,
Orphaned in heart, and beggared in soul.

I have sung to lowly hearts
Of their own music, only deeper;
I have flung through the dusty road
Shining seeds for the unknown reaper.

I have piped at cottage doors
My sweetest measures, merry and sad,
Cheating Toil from his grinding task,
Setting the dancing rustics mad.

Kindly though their greetings were,
They were far from my race or kin;
But I passed the loftier porch,
Fearing not to be let in.

Better to sit at humble hearths,
Where simple souls confide their all,
Than stand and knock at the groined gate,
To crave a hearing in the hall.

Oh ! ye wing'd ones shall I stand
A moment in your shining ranks?
Will ye pass me the golden cup?
Only tears can give you thanks.

Without gracious ears to hear,
Languidly flows the tide of song
Waters, unhelped of bank or brake,
Slowly, sluggishly creep along.

We must measure from mankind
Know in them our fancies true;
Echo gives us each high-strained sharp,
Teaches us tune the harp anew.

Ere this mystery of Life
Solving, scatter its form to air,
Let me feel that I have lived
In the music of a prayer,

In the joy of generous thought,
Quickening, enkindling soul from soul
In the rapture of deeper Faith
Spreading its solemn, sweet control.

Brothers and sisters! kind indeed --
Ye have heard the untutored strain;
Through your helpful cherishing,
I may take heart to sing again--

Sing and strike, at high command,
And keep sacred silence too;
Not too greedy of men's praise,
When I know I am one of you.

If the headsman of our tribe,
(The stern Reviewer, friends, I mean,)
Bring me bound in the market-place,
Then, like mournful Anne Boleyn,

I will stretch my slender neck,
Passive, in the public view;
Tell him with a plaintive smile,
That his task is easy to do.


II.
TO MY MASTER

Thou who so dear a mediation wert
Between the heavens and my mortality,
Give ear to these faint murmurs of the heart,
Which, upward tending, take their tone from thee.
Follow where'er the wayward numbers run,
And if on my deserving, not my need,
Some boon should wait, vouchsafe this only meed,
Modest, but glorious - say, 'Thou hast well done.'

I've wrought alone - my pleasure was my task :
As I walk onward to Eternity,
It were a trivial thing to stand and ask
That my faint footsteps should remembered be;
Of all Earth's crownings, I would never one
But thine approving hand upon my head,
Dear as the sacred laurels of the dead,
And that high, measured praise, 'Thou hast well done.'
 

III.
TO FRIENDS AND FOES

Ye fleeting blossoms of my life,
The promise of diviner fruit,
Forgive, if I enrich with you
The cypress garland of my lute.

Too closely are ye linked with me,
Too much in mine your being blends,
That I in song should cast you off,
And sing myself, and not my friends.

Some of you tread this vernal earth,
And some in mystic soul-land move;
In these, I hold all holy truth,
In those, affair to heav'nly love.

And ye who, rankling in my path,
Have torn my feet, and pierced my side,
Holding the eager pilgrim back
To suffer wounded love and pride;

Forgive if I, whom Nature made
Vengeful in none of my desires,
Have in my harmless chaplet bound
Your sharp and bitter forms, ye briars!

Forgive as I forgive, and own
As feels the heart, so falls the lot;
My flowers of life were loving friends;
My thorns were those who loved me.