To Rhea

Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes,
Not with flatteries, but truths,
Which tarnish not, but purify
To light which dims the morning's eye.
I have come from the spring-woods,
From the fragrant solitudes;
Listen what the poplar tree,
And murmuring waters counselled me.

If with love thy heart has burned,
If thy love is unreturned,
Hide thy grief within thy breast,
Though it tear thee unexpressed.
For, when love has once departed
From the eyes of the false-hearted,
And one by one has torn off quite
The bandages of purple light,
Though thou weft the loveliest
Form the Soul had ever drest,
Thou shalt seem in each reply
A vixen to his altered eye;
Thy softest pleadings seem too bold,
Thy praying lute shall seem to scold.
Though thou kept the straightest road,
Yet thou errest far and broad.

But thou shalt do as do the gods
In their cloudless periods:
For of this lore be thou sure,
Though thou forget, the gods secure
Forget never their command,
But make the statute of this land:
As they lead, so follow all,
Ever have done, ever shall.
Warning to the blind and deaf,
'Tis written on the iron leaf,
Who drinks of Cupid's nectar cup
Loveth downward and not up;
Therefore who loves, of gods or men,
Shall not by the same be loved again;
His sweetheart's idolatry
Falls in turn a new degree.

When a god is once beguiled
By beauty of a mortal child,
And by her radiant youth delighted,
He is not fooled, but warily knoweth,
His love shall never be requited;
And thus the wise Immortal doeth.
'Tis his study and delight
To bless that creature, day and night,
From all evils to defend her,
In her lap to pour all splendor,
To ransack earth for riches rare,
And fetch her stars to deck her hair;
He mixes music with her thoughts,
And saddens her with heavenly doubts;
All grace, all good his great heart knows,
Profuse in love the king bestows,
Saying, Hearken, Earth! Sea! Air!
This monument of my despair
Build I to the All-Good, All-Fair.
Not for a private good,
But I from my beatitude,
Albeit scorned as none was scorned,
Adorn her as was none adorned.
I make this maiden an ensample
To nature through her kingdoms ample,
Whereby to model newer races,
Statelier forms, and fairer faces,
To carry man to new degrees
Of power, and of comeliness.
These presents be the hostages
Which I pawn for my release;
See to thyself, O universe!
Thou art better and not worse. —
And the god having given all,
Is freed forever from his thrall.

This poem is in the public domain