Endymion

Oscar Wilde - 1854-1900

(for music)

The apple trees are hung with gold,
    And birds are loud in Arcady,
The sheep lie bleating in the fold,
The wild goat runs across the wold,
But yesterday his love he told,
    I know he will come back to me.
O rising moon! O Lady moon!
    Be you my lover’s sentinel,
    You cannot choose but know him well,
For he is shod with purple shoon,
You cannot choose but know my love,
    For he a shepherd’s crook doth bear,
And he is soft as any dove,
    And brown and curly is his hair.

The turtle now has ceased to call
    Upon her crimson-footed groom,
They grey wolf prowls about the stall,
The lily’s singing seneschal
Sleeps in the lily-bell, and all
    The violet hills are lost in gloom.
O risen moon! O holy moon!
    Stand on the tope of Helice,
And if my own true love you see,
Ah! if you see the purple shoon,
The hazel crook, the lad’s brown hair,
    The goat-skin wrapped about his arm,
Tell him that I am waiting where
    The rushlight glimmers in the Farm.

The falling dew is cold and chill,
    And no bird sings in Arcady,
The little fauns have left the hill,
Even the tired daffodil
Has closed its gilded doors, and still
    My lover comes not back to me.
False moon! False moon! O waning moon!
    Where is my own true lover gone,
    Where are the lips vermilion,
The shepherd’s crook, the purple shoon?
Why spread that silver pavilion,
    Why wear that veil of drifting mist?
Ah! thou hast young Endymion,
    Thou hast the lips that should be kissed!

More by Oscar Wilde

Magdalen Walks

The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
   And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
   The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,
   The odour of leaves, and of grass, and of newly upturned earth,
   The birds are singing for joy of the Spring's glad birth,
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
   And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
   And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
   Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
   And the gloom of the wych-elm's hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
   Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
   And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

To Milton

Milton! I think thy spirit hath passed away
    From these white cliffs, and high embattled towers;
    This gorgeous fiery-coloured world of ours
Seems fallen into ashes dull and grey,
And the age changed unto a mimic play
    Wherein we waste our else too-crowded hours:
    For all our pomp and pageantry and powers
We are but fit to delve the common clay,
Seeing this little isle on which we stand,
    This England, this sea-lion of the sea,
    By ignorant demagogues is held in fee,
Who love her not: Dear God! is this the land
    Which bare a triple empire in her hand
    When Cromwell spake the word Democracy!

Requiescat

Tread lightly, she is near
    Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
    The daisies grow.

All her bright golden hair
    Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
    Fallen to dust.

Lily-like, white as snow,
    She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
    Sweetly she grew.

Coffin-board, heavy stone,
    Lie on her breast,
I vex my heart alone
    She is at rest.

Peace, Peace, she cannot hear
    Lyre or sonnet,
All my life’s buried here,
    Heap earth upon it.