Though cribbed and gyved, thou canst within thy
Unfold a wondrous wealth of worlds unseen,
And flood the soul’s abyss with moon-light sheen,
As well as darken passions’ gilded halls ;
Thy fourteen outlets are so many falls
From which gush out the prisoned joy, or
The silvery cascades, or the billows green,
And either a sea of bliss or grief recalls.
Thou goddess of the gems of Fancy’s deep,
Though few thy facets, they reflect the whole
Of inner-self in multi-shaded hues ;
Thou art the couch of dreams that never sleep ;
Thou art the phoenix of the poet’s soul,
As well the crystal palace of his muse.
The Brass Bed
I love thy color and thy symmetry ;
I love the art that wrought thy glittering arms.
Thy canopy, thy satin portieres too ;
I love the silks and feathers on thy breast—
The cushions and the pillows and the quilts :
I love thine every part.
Yet still more do I love to rest in thee—
To dream of art’s perfection in thy frame ;
Of paths as smooth, as shining as thy limbs ;
Of scenes as exquisite as thy coils ;
Of nooks as warm as thine hospitable bosom,
As cool and as refreshing as thy veinless naked arms,
I dream of all beneath thy soothing mantle.
But O, I love my dreams much more than thee,
And one sad soul much more than all my dreams.
If thou hadst but an eye to see,
To look upon the guest that lay upon thy floor
Beneath thy silken ceiling !
O, hadst thou but an ear to hear
The plaintive chirpings of this swallow-soul.
Couldst thou but feel her forehead
Moistened with the sweat of hope and pain.
For forty moons she lay within thine arms,
Rubbing her erstwhile rosy cheeks
Against the ulcers of Ayoub of yore.
Couldst thou but see, O Bed of Brass,
Couldst thou but hear, couldst thou but feel,—
Of what use all thy showy stuff—
Thy glittering brass, the filigree of art,
Thy floor of down and feather cushions all,
Thy snow-white mantles, satin tapestries?
Beauty and Pain!
Death will not come with thee, O Pain!
Life will not come with thee, O Beauty!
The fires of hell are but a taper’s flame compared to this.
Thy guest, O Bed of Brass,
Looks on thee with a yearning glance,
And vet her soul, bearing the torch of Pain,
Is searching all the worlds for Death.