The Morning Glory (Whitman)

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When the peach ripens to a rosy bloom,
When purple grapes glow through the leafy gloom
Of trellised vines, bright wonder, thou dost come,
Cool as a star dropt from the night's azure dome,
To light the early morning, that doth break
More softly beautiful for thy sweet sake.

Thy fleeting glory to my fancy seems
Like the strange flowers we gather in our dreams;
Hovering so lightly o'er the slender stem,
Wearing so meekly the proud diadem
Of penciled rays, that gave the name you bear
Unblamed amid the flowers, from year to year.

The tawny lily, flecked with jetty studs,
Pard-like, and dropping through long, pendant buds
Her purple anthers;—nor the poppy, bowed
In languid sleep, enfolding in a cloud
Of drowsy odors her too fervid heart,
Pierced by the day-god's barbed and burning dart;—
Nor the swart sunflower, her dark brows enrolled
With their broad carcanets of living gold—
A captive princess—following the car
Of her proud conqueror;—nor that sweet star,
The evening primrose, pallid with strange dreams
Born of the wan moon's melancholy beams;
Nor any flower that doth its tendrils twine
Around my memory, hath a charm like thine.
Child of the morning, passionless and fair
As some ethereal creature of the air,
Waiting not for the bright lord of the hours
To weary of thy bloom in sultry bowers;
Nor like the summer rose, that one by one,
Yields her fair, fragrant petals to the sun,
Faint with the envenomed sweetness of his smile,
That doth to lingering death her race beguile,
But, as some spirit of the air doth fade
Into the light from its own essence rayed,
So, Glory of the morning! fair and cold,
Soon in thy circling halo dost thou fold
Thy virgin bloom, and from our vision hide
That form too fair, on earth, unsullied to abide.*

*"The disk of the Convolvulus, after remaining expanded for a few hours, gathers itself up within the five star-like rays that intersect the corolla until it is entirely concealed from sight."—St. Pierre


This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.