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.
 
1668. Caravans
 
By Josephine Preston Peabody
 
 
WHAT bring ye me, O camels, across the southern desert,
The wan and parching desert, pale beneath the dusk?
Ye great slow-moving ones, faithful as care is faithful,
Uncouth as dreams may be, sluggish as far-off ships,—
        What bring ye me, O camels?        5
 
“We bring thee gold like sunshine, saving that it warms not;
And rarest purple bring we, as dark as all the garnered
Bloom of many grape-vines; and spices subtly mingled
For a lasting savor: the precious nard and aloes;
The bitter-sweet of myrrh, like a sorrow having wings;        10
Ghostly breath of lilies bruised—how white they were!—
And the captive life of many a far rose-garden.
Jewels bring we hither, surely stars once fallen,
Torn again from darkness: the sunlit frost of topaz,
Moon-fire pent in opals, pearls that even the sea loves.        15
Webs of marvel bring we, broideries that have drunken
Deep of all life-color from a thousand lives,—
Each the royal cere-cloth of a century.
We come! What wouldst thou more?”
 
All this dust, these ashes, have ye brought so far?        20
All these days, these years, have I waited in the sun?
I would have had the wingëd Mirage of yonder desert.
 

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