Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
To a Moth That Drinketh of the Ripe October
 
Emily Pfeiffer (1841–90)
 
 
I
A MOTH belated, sun and zephyrkist,
Trembling about a pale arbutus bell,
Probing to wildering depths its honey’d cell,—
A noonday thief, a downy sensualist!
Not vainly, sprite, thou drawest careless breath,        5
Strikest ambrosia from the cool-cupp’d flowers,
And flutterest through the soft, uncounted hours,
To drop at last in unawaited death;
’T is something to be glad! and those fine thrills,
Which move thee, to my lip have drawn the smile        10
Wherewith we look on joy. Drink! drown thine ills,
If ill have any part in thee; erewhile
May the pent force—thy bounded life, set free,
Fill larger sphere with equal ecstasy.
 
II
With what fine organs art thou dower’d, frail elf!
        15
Thy harp is pitch’d too high for dull annoy,
Thy life a love-feast, and a silent joy,
As mute and rapt as Passion’s silent self.
I turn from thee, and see the swallow sweep
Like a wing’d will, and the keen-scented hound        20
That snuffs with rapture at the tainted ground,—
All things that freely course, that swim or leap,—
Then, hearing glad voiced creatures men call dumb,
I feel my heart, oft sinking ’neath the weight
Of Nature’s sorrow, lighten at the sum        25
Of Nature’s joy; its half unfolded fate
Breathes hope—for all but those beneath the ban
Of the inquisitor and tyrant, man.
 

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