Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
105. From “Zophiël”
 
Palace of the Gnomes
 
By Maria Gowen Brooks (“Maria del Occidente”)
 
 
HIGH towered the palace and its massive pile,
  Made dubious if of nature or of art,
So wild and so uncouth; yet, all the while,
  Shaped to strange grace in every varying part.
 
And groves adorned it, green in hue, and bright        5
  As icicles about a laurel-tree;
And danced about their twigs a wondrous light;
  Whence came that light so far beneath the sea?
 
Zophiël looked up to know, and to his view
  The vault scarce seemed less vast than that of day;        10
No rocky roof was seen, a tender blue
  Appeared, as of the sky, and clouds about it play;
 
And, in the midst, an orb looked as ’t were meant
  To shame the sun; it mimicked him so well.
But ah! no quickening, grateful warmth it sent;        15
  Cold as the rock beneath, the paly radiance fell.
 
Within, from thousand lamps the lustre strays,
  Reflected back from gems about the wall;
And from twelve dolphin shapes a fountain plays,
  Just in the centre of the spacious hall:        20
 
But whether in the sunbeam formed to sport,
  These shapes once lived in suppleness and pride,
And then, to decorate this wondrous court,
  Were stolen from the waves and petrified,
 
Or, moulded by some imitative Gnome,        25
  And scaled all o’er with gems, they were but stone,
Casting their showers and rainbows ’neath the dome,
  To man or angel’s eye might not be known.
 
No snowy fleece in these sad realms was found,
  Nor silken ball, by maiden loved so well;        30
But ranged in lightest garniture around,
  In seemly folds a shining tapestry fell.
 
And fibres of asbestos, bleached in fire,
  And all with pearls and sparkling gems o’er-flecked,
Of that strange court composed the rich attire,        35
  And such the cold, fair form of sad Tahathyam decked.
 
Of marble white the table they surround,
  And reddest coral decked each curious couch,
Which softly yielding to their forms was found,
  And of a surface smooth and wooing to the touch.        40
 
Of sunny gold and silver, like the moon,
  Here was no lack; but if the veins of earth,
Torn open by man’s weaker race, so soon
  Supplied the alluring hoard, or here had birth
 
That baffling, maddening, fascinating art,        45
  Half told by Sprite most mischievous, that he
Might laugh to see men toil, then not impart,
  The guests left unenquired:—’t is still a mystery.
 
Here were no flowers, but a sweet odor breathed,
  Of amber pure, a glistening coronal,        50
Of various-colored gems, each brow enwreathed,
  In form of garland, for the festival.
 

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