Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
579. Song of the Palm
By Tracy Robinson

WILD is its nature, as it were a token,
    Born of the sunshine, and the stars, and sea;
Grand as a passion felt but never spoken,
    Lonely and proud and free.
For when the Maker set its crown of beauty,        5
    And for its home ordained the torrid ring,
Assigning unto each its place and duty,
    He made the Palm a King.
So when in reverie I look and listen,
    Half dream-like floats, within my passive mind,        10
Why in the sun its branches gleam and glisten,
    And harp-wise beat the wind;
Why, when the sea-waves, heralding their tidings,
    Come roaring on the shore with crests of down,
In grave acceptance of their sad confidings,        15
    It bows its stately crown;
Why, in the death-like calms of night and morning,
    Its quivering spears of green are never still,
But ever tremble, as at solemn warning
    A human heart may thrill;        20
And also why it stands in lonely places,
    By the red desert or the sad sea shore,
Or haunts the jungle, or the mountain graces
    Where eagles proudly soar!
It is a sense of kingly isolation,        25
    Of royal beauty and enchanting grace,
Proclaiming from the earliest creation
    The power and pride of race,
That has almost imbued it with a spirit,
    And made it sentient, although still a tree,        30
With dim perception that it might inherit
    An immortality.
The lines of kinship thus so near converging,
    It is not strange, O heart of mine, that I,
While stars were shining and old ocean surging,        35
    Should intercept a sigh.
It fell a-sighing when the faint wind, dying,
    Had kissed the tropic night a fond adieu—
The starry cross on her warm bosom lying,
    Within the southern view.        40
And when the crescent moon, the west descending,
    Drew o’er her face the curtain of the sea,
In the rapt silence, eager senses lending,
    Low came the sigh to me.
God of my life! how can I ever render        45
    The full sweet meaning sadly thus conveyed
The full sad meaning, heart-breakingly tender,
    That through the cadence strayed.

When the wild North-wind by the sun enchanted,
    Seeks the fair South, as lover beauty’s shrine,        50
It bears the moaning of the sorrow-haunted,
    Gloomy, storm-beaten Pine.
The waves of ocean catch the miserere,
    Far wafted seaward from the wintry main,
They roll it on o’er reaches vast and dreary        55
    With infinite refrain,
Until on coral shores, where endless Summer
    Waves golden banners round her queenly throne,
The Palm enfolds the weary spirit roamer
    With low responsive moan.        60
The sea-grape hears it, and the lush banana,
    In the sweet indolence of their repose;
The frangipanni, like a crowned Sultana,
    The passion flower, and rose;
And the fierce tiger in his darksome lair,        65
    Deep hid away beneath the bamboo-tree;
All the wild habitants of earth and air,
    And of the sleeping sea.
It throws a spell of silence so enthralling,
    So breathless and intense and mystical,        70
Not the deep hush of skies when stars are falling
    Can fill the soul so full.
A death in life! A calm so deep and brooding
    It floods the heart with an ecstatic pain,
Brimming with joy, yet fearfully foreboding        75
    The dreadful hurricane.
Fail love, fly happiness, yield all things mortal!
    Fate, with the living, hath my small lot cast
To dwell beside thee, Palm! Beyond death’s portal,
    Guard well my sleep at last.        80
For I do love thee with a lover’s passion.
    Morn, noon, and night thou art forever grand,—
Type of a glory God alone may fashion
    Within the Summer Land.
Sigh not, O Palm! Dread not the final hour;        85
    For oft I ’ve seen within thy gracious shade,
Amid rose-garlands fair, from Love’s own bower,
    Lithe, dusky forms displayed,
Clad with the magic of their beauty only;
    And it were strange if Paradise should be        90
Despoiled and made forever sad and lonely,
    Bereft of these and thee!


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