Loves serene, uncarnate Graces!
Born of pure dreams in lonely places,
Where the black untrodden earth
Rejects the dancing sunshine's mirth,
And slow leaves, dropping through the wood,
Stir to sound the solitude.
Through what tranquil, odorous airs,
Undisturbed by sighs or prayers,
Paler than pale alabaster
Wrought to life by some old master,
Did ye into vision rise,
And nocturnal moths surprise?
Clustered in undraperied whiteness,
Pierced by stars to lucent brightness,
Cooler than a baby's lips,
Pure as dew that nightly drips,
Utterly intact and calm,
Cold to summer's rapturous balm,
So divine that in ye lingers
A shuddering dread of mortal fingers,
Though their tips be pink and fine,
Under the caress ye pine,
Blackened with the passion-fever
That your cool bells shun forever.
Sweetest souls of beauty-lovers,
Above your cups the gold bee hovers,
In sequestered maze and awe,
Repelled by instinct's sacred law;
Knowing well no sweetness lies
In your frosted chalices.
Never bird, nor bee, nor moth,
Inebriate with sunny sloth,
Dare intrude on hallowed ground,
Cease thyself, vain rhythmic sound!