from Clarel [The Recluse]

Ere yet they win that verge and line,
Reveal the stranger. Name him—Vine.
His home to tell—kin, tribe, estate—
Would naught avail. Alighting grow,
As on the tree the mistletoe, ⁠
All gifts unique. In seeds of fate
Borne on the winds these emigrate
And graft the stock.
                  Vine's manner shy
A clog, a hindrance might imply; ⁠
A lack of parlor-wont. But grace
Which is in substance deep and grain
May, peradventure, well pass by
The polish of veneer. No trace
Of passion's soil or lucre's stain, ⁠
Though life was now half ferried o'er.
If use he served not, but forbore--
Such indolence might still but pine
In dearth of rich incentive high:
Apollo slave in Mammon's mine? ⁠
Better Admetus' shepherd lie.
  A charm of subtle virtue shed
A personal influence coveted,
Whose source was difficult to tell
As ever was that perfumed spell ⁠
Of Paradise-flowers invisible
Which angels round Cecilia bred.
   A saint then do we here unfold?
Nay, the ripe flush, Venetian mould
Evinced no nature saintly fine, ⁠
But blood like swart Vesuvian wine.
What cooled the current? Under cheer
Of opulent softness, reigned austere
Control of self. Flesh, but scarce pride,
Was curbed: desire was mortified; ⁠
But less indeed by moral sway
Than doubt if happiness thro' clay
Be reachable. No sackclothed man;
Howbeit, in sort Carthusian
Tho' born a Sybarite. And yet ⁠
Not beauty might he all forget,
The beauty of the world, and charm:
He prized it tho' it scarce might warm.
Like to the nunnery's denizen
His virgin soul communed with men ⁠
But thro' the wicket. Was it clear
This coyness bordered not on fear—
Fear or an apprehensive sense?
Not wholly seemed it diffidence
Recluse. Nor less did strangely wind ⁠
Ambiguous elfishness behind
All that: an Ariel unknown.
It seemed his very speech in tone
Betrayed disuse. Thronged streets astir
To Vine but ampler cloisters were. ⁠
Cloisters? No monk he was, allow;
But gleamed the richer for the shade
About him, as in sombre glade
Of Virgil's wood the Sibyl's Golden Bough.

From Clarel: A Poem and Pilgrimage in the Holy Land. This poem is in the public domain.