Mandragora/The Book

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For works with similar titles, see The Book.

THE BOOK

I MOVED from the sun-warmed garden-seat,
  Where the damask-rose petals covered the
     ground,
And all the people with quiet feet
   Followed the mass-bell's holy sound.

I left the terrace; I wandered away,
   Past larkspur and lilies and monk's-hood tall,
To where the lake in its reed-bed lay,
   On the sunset-side of the castle wall.

With a thousand years in its human sigh
   The vesper murmur came to me
Of the people's patient piety;
   Then my heart stopped. What did I see?

I saw her — I saw what the moonlit spell
   Summoned by my dark heathen book,
Night by night had brought! Too well
   I saw her. Too well I knew her look.

O lost one — lost one — from days long dead,
   When love gave all and died when it gave!
O head thrown back! O arms outspread!
   O passion stronger than the grave!

When the people returned on quiet feet
   From following the mass-bell's holy sound,

They found me still on that sun-warmed seat,
   With the damask-rose petals strewn on the
     ground.

But they did not know that their voices took
   A tone like the wind in a sepulchre;
They did not know that a heathen book
   Had made me a monk for evermore!


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.


The author died in 1963, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 50 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.