Nay, Hylas, I have come

by Frances Fuller Victor

"Nay, Hylas, I have come

To where life's landscape takes a western slope,

And breezes from the occidental shores

Sigh thro' the thinning locks around my brow,

And on my cheeks fan flickering summer fires.

Oh, winged feet of Time, forget your flight,

And let me dream of those rose-scented bowers

That lapped my soul in youth's enchanted East!

It needs no demon-essence of Hasheesh

To flash that sunrise glory in my eyes!—

It needs no Flora to bring back those flowers—

No gay Apollo to sound liquid reeds—

No muse to consecrate the hills and streams—

No God or oracle within those groves

To render sacred all the emerald glooms:

For here dwelt such bright angels as attend

The innocent ways of youth's unsullied feet;

And all the beautiful band of sinless hopes,

Twining their crowns of pearl-white amaranth;

And rosy, dream-draped, sapphire-eyed desires

Whose twin-born deities were Truth and Faith

Having their altars over all the land.

Beauty held court within its vales by day,

And Love made concert with the nightingales

In singing 'mong the myrtles, starry eves."

"You are inspired, Zobedia, your eyes

Look not upon the present summer world,

But see some mystery beyond the close

Of this pale blue horizon."

"Erewhile I wandered from this happy land.

Crowned with its roses, wearing in my eyes

Reflections of its shining glorious heaven,

And bearing on my breast and in my hands

Its violets, and lilies white and sweet,—

Following the music floating in the air

Made by the fall of founts, the voice of streams

And murmur of the winds among the trees,

I strayed in reveries of soft delight

Beyond the bounds of this delicious East.

"But oh, the splendors of that newer clime!

It was as if those oriental dreams

In which my soul was steeped to fervidness,

Were here transmuted to their golden real

With added glories for each shape or hue.

The stately trees wore coronals of flowers

That swung their censers in the mid-day sun:

The pines and palms of my delightful east

Chaunted their wild songs nearer to the stars;

Even the roses had more exquisite hues,

And for one blossom I had left behind

I found a bower in this fragrant land.

Bright birds, no larger than the costly gems

The river bedded in their golden sands,

Sparkle like prismal rain-drops 'mong the leaves;

And others sang, or flashed their plumage gay

Like rainbow fragments on my dazzled eyes.

The sky had warmer teints: I could not tell

Whether the heavens lent color to the flowers,

Or but reflected that which glowed in them.

The gales that blew from off the cloud-lost hills,

Struck from the clambering vines Eolian songs,

That mingled with the splashing noise of founts,

In music such as stirs to passionate thought:

This peerless land was thronged with souls like mine,

Straying from East to South, impelled unseen,

And lost, like mine, in its enchanted vales:—

Souls that conversed apart in pairs, or sang

Low breeze-like airs, more tender than sweet words;

Save here and there a wanderer like myself,

Dreaming alone, and dropping silent tears,

Scarce knowing why, upon the little group

Of Eastern flowers we had not yet resigned:—

'Till one came softly smiling in my eyes,

And dried their tears with radiance from his own.

"At last it came—I knew not how it came—

But a tornado swept this sunny South,

And when I woke once more, I stood alone.

My senses sickened at the dismal waste,

And caring not, now all things bright were dead,

That a volcano rolled its burning tide

In fiery rivers far athwart the land,

I turned my feet to aimless wanderings.

The equatorial sun poured scorching beams,

On my defenceless head. The burning winds

Seemed drying up the blood within my veins.

The straggling flowers that had outlived the storm

Won but a feeble, half-contemptuous smile;

And if a bird attempted a brief song,

I closed my ears lest it should burst my brain.

After much wandering I came at last

To cooler skies and a less stifling air;

And finally to this more temperate clime.

Where every beauty is of milder type—

Where the simoon nor tempest ever come,

And I can soothe the fever of my soul

In the bland breezes blowing from the West."