Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1620. The Spirit of the Wheat
By Edward A. U. Valentine
SUCH times as windy moods do stir
  The foamless billows of the wheat,
I glimpse the floating limbs of her
  In instant visions melting sweet.
A milky shoulder’s dip and gleam,        5
  Or arms that clasp upon the air,
An upturned face’s rosy dream,
  Half blinded by the sunlit hair.
A haunting mermaid mid the swell
  And rapture of that summer sea;        10
A siren of elusive spell,
  Born of the womb of mystery,—
That, airy-limbed, swims fancy free,
  Glad in the summer’s perfect prime,
Full-veined with life’s felicity        15
  And faith that knows no winter-time.
At eve, when firefly lustre burns
  On that green flood like mirrored stars,
Against the hush her faint voice yearns,
  Breathed to a light harp’s happy bars.        20
Till sinks at last in sunset slow
  Midsummer’s long, luxurious day,
And amber-red the ripe waves glow,
  Ah, then it is she slips away!
For with the blighting dog-star’s blaze,        25
  The reapers wade within the wheat,
And as they work in harvest ways,
  What amorous sights their vision cheat!
For lo, upon some eddying wash
  Or hollow of the wind-swept grain,        30
Her wafted fingers foam-like flash,
  Her laughing body drifts amain.
It is the sylph’s divine farewell;
  A sighing ebbs along the wheat;
Borne onward by a golden swell,        35
  She fades into the wrinkling heat.


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