Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
106. The Respite
 
By Maria Gowen Brooks (“Maria del Occidente”)
 
 
THE BANQUET-CUPS, of many a hue and shape,
  Bossed o’er with gems, were beautiful to view;
But, for the madness of the vaunted grape,
  Their only draught was a pure limpid dew,
 
To Spirits sweet; but these half-mortal lips        5
  Longed for the streams that once on earth they quaffed;
And, half in shame, Tahathyam coldly sips
  And craves excuses for the temperate draught.
 
“Man tastes,” he said, “the grape’s sweet blood that streams
  To steep his heart when pained; when sorrowing he        10
In wild delirium drowns the sense, and dreams
  Of bliss arise, to cheat his misery.”
 
Nor with their dews were any mingling sweets
  Save those, to mortal lip, of poison fell;
No murmuring bee was heard in these retreats,        15
  The mineral clod alone supplied their hydromel.
 
The Spirits while they sat, in social guise,
  Pledging each goblet with an answering kiss,
Marked many a Gnome conceal his bursting sighs;
  And thought death happier than a life like this.        20
 
But they had music; at one ample side
  Of the vast area of that sparkling hall,
Fringed round with gems that all the rest outvied,
  In form of canopy, was seen to fall
 
The stony tapestry, over what at first        25
  An altar to some deity appeared;
But it had cost full many a year to adjust
  The limpid crystal tubes that ’neath upreared
 
Their different gleaming lengths; and so complete
  Their wondrous rangement, that a tuneful Gnome        30
Drew from them sounds more varied, clear, and sweet,
  Than ever yet had rung in any earthly dome.
 
Loud, shrilly, liquid, soft,—at that quick touch
  Such modulation wooed his angel ears
That Zophiël wondered, started from his couch,        35
  And thought upon the music of the spheres.
 

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