Verse > Anthologies > The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse > 214. Old and New
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Nicholson & Lee, eds.  The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse. 1917.
  
214. Old and New
By Edmund Gosse  (b. 1849)
  
I. B.C.

COME, Hesper, and ye Gods of mountain waters,
  Come, nymphs and Dryades,
Come, silken choir of soft Pierian daughters,
  And girls of lakes and seas,
Evoë! and evoë Io! crying,        5
  Fill all the earth and air;
Evoë! till the quivering words, replying,
  Shout back the echo there!
 
All day in soundless swoon or heavy slumber,
  We lay among the flowers,       10
But now the stars break forth in countless number
  To watch the dewy hours;
And now Iacchus, beautiful and glowing,
  Adown the hill-side comes,
Mid tabrets shaken high, and trumpets blowing,       15
  And resonance of drums.
 
The leopard-skin is round his smooth white shoulders,
  The vine-branch round his hair,
Those eyes that rouse desire in maid-beholders
  Are glittering, glowworm-fair;       20
Crowned king of all the provinces of pleasure,
  Lord of a wide domain,
He comes, and brings delight that knows no measure,
  A full Saturnian reign.
 
Take me, too, Maenads, to your fox-skin chorus,       25
  Rose-lipped like volute-shells,
For I would follow where your host canorous
  Roars down the forest-dells;
The sacred frenzy rends my throat and bosom!
  I shout, and whirl where He,       30
Our Vine-God, tosses like some pale blood-blossom
  Swept on a stormy sea.
 
Around his car, with streaming hair, and frantic,
  The Maenads and wild gods
And shaggy fauns and wood-girls corybantic       35
  Toss high the ivy-rods;
Brown limbs with white limbs madly intertwining
  Whirl in a fiery dance,
Till, when at length Orion is declining,
  We glide into a trance.       40
 
The satyr’s heart is faintly, faintly beating,
  The choir of nymphs is mute;
Iacchus up the western slope is fleeting,
  Uncheered by horn or flute;
Hushed, hushed are all the shouting and the singing,       45
  The frenzy, the delight,
Since out into the cold grey air upspringing,
  The morning-star shines bright.
 
II. A.D.

Not with a choir of angels without number,
  And noise of lutes and lyres,       50
But gently, with the woven veil of slumber
  Across Thine awful fires,
We yearn to watch Thy face, serene and tender,
  Melt, smiling, calm and sweet,
Where round the print of thorns, in thornlike splendour,       55
  Transcendent glories meet.
 
We have no hopes if Thou art close beside us,
  And no profane despairs,
Since all we need is Thy great hand to guide us,
  Thy heart to take our cares;       60
For us is no to-day, to-night, to-morrow,
  No past time nor to be,
We have no joy but Thee, there is no sorrow,
  No life to live but Thee.
 
The cross, like pilgrim-warriors, we follow,       65
  Led by our eastern star;
The wild crane greets us, and the wandering swallow
  Bound southward for Shinar;
All night that single star shines bright above us;
  We go with weary feet,       70
But in the end we know are they who love us,
  Whose pure embrace is sweet.
 
Most sweet of all, when dark the way and moonless,
  To feel a touch, a breath,
And know our weary spirits are not tuneless,       75
  Our unseen goal not Death;
To know that Thou, in all Thy old sweet fashion,
  Art near us to sustain!
We praise Thee, Lord, by all Thy tears and passion,
  By all Thy cross and pain!       80
 
For when this night of toil and tears is over,
  Across the hills of spice,
Thyself wilt meet us, glowing like a lover
  Before Love’s Paradise;
There are the saints, with palms and hymns and roses,       85
  And better still than all,
The long, long day of bliss that never closes,
  Thy marriage festival!

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