One is a slow and melancholy maid;
I know riot if she cometh from the skies
Or from the sleepy gulfs, but she will rise
Often before me in the twilight shade,
Holding a bunch of poppies and a blade
Of springing wheat: prostrate my body lies
Before her on the turf, the while she ties
A fillet of the weed about my head;
And in the gaps of sleep I seem to hear
A gentle rustle like the stir of corn,
And words like odours thronging to my ear:
“Lie still, beloved–still until the morn;
Lie still with me upon this rolling sphere–
Still till the judgment; thou art faint and worn.”
The other meets me in the public throng;
Her hair streams backward from her loose attire;
She hath a trumpet and an eye of fire;
She points me downward, steadily and long:–
“There is thy grave–arise, my son, be strong!
Hands are upon thy crown–awake, aspire
To immortality; heed not the lyre
Of the Enchantress, nor her poppy-song,
But in the stillness of the summer calm
Tremble for what is Godlike in thy being.
Listen a while, and thou shall hear the psalm
Of victory sung by creatures past thy seeing;
And from far battle-fields there comes the neighing
Of dreadful onset, though the air is balm.”
Maid with the poppies, must I let thee go?
Alas, I may not; thou art likewise dear!
I am but human, and thou hast a tear
When she hath nought but splendour, and the glow
Of a wild energy that mocks the flow
Of the poor sympathies which keep us here:
Lay past thy poppies, and come twice as near,
And I will teach thee, and thou too shalt grow;
And thou shalt walk with me in open day
Through the rough thoroughfares with quiet grace;
And the wild-visaged maid shall lead the way,
Timing her footsteps to a gentler pace
As her great orbs turn ever on thy face,
Drinking in draughts of loving help alway.
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