Eight Harvard Poets/The New Platonist

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THE NEW PLATONIST


Circa 1640


OUR loves as flowers fall to dust;
The noblest singing hath an end;
No man to his own soul may trust.
Nor to the kind arms of his friend;
Yet have I glimpsed by lonely tree,
Bright baths of immortality.

My faultless teachers bid me fare
The cypress path of blood and tears,
Treading the thorny wold to where
The painful Cross of Christ appears;
'Twas on another, sunnier hill
I met you first, my miracle.

The painted windows bum and flame
Up through the music-haunted air;
These were my gods — and then you came
With flowers crowned and sun-kissed hair,
Making this northern river seem
Some laughter-girdled Grecian stream.

When the fierce foreman of our race
Marshals his lords of lust and pride,
You spring within a moment's space,
Full-armed and smiling to my side;
O golden heart! The love you gave me
Alone has saved and yet will save me.

Perchance we have no perfect city
Beyond the wrack of these our wars,
Till Death alone in sacred pity
Wash with long sleep our wounds and scars;
So much the more I praise in measure
The generous gods for you, my treasure.