Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. III. Sorrow and Consolation
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume III. Sorrow and Consolation.  1904.
I. Disappointment in Love
“Alas! how light a cause”
Thomas Moore (1779–1852)
From “The Light of the Harem”

ALAS! how light a cause may move
Dissension between hearts that love!
Hearts that the world in vain has tried,
And sorrow but more closely tied;
That stood the storm when waves were rough,        5
Yet in a sunny hour fall off,
Like ships that have gone down at sea,
When heaven was all tranquillity!
A something light as air,—a look,
  A word unkind or wrongly taken,—        10
O, love that tempests never shook,
  A breath, a touch like this has shaken!
And ruder words will soon rush in
To spread the breach that words begin;
And eyes forget the gentle ray        15
They wore in courtship’s smiling day;
And voices lose the tone that shed
A tenderness round all they said;
Till fast declining, one by one,
The sweetnesses of love are gone,        20
And hearts, so lately mingled, seem
Like broken clouds,—or like the stream,
That smiling left the mountain’s brow,
  As though its waters ne’er could sever,
Yet, ere it reach the plain below,        25
  Breaks into floods that part forever.
O you, that have the charge of Love,
  Keep him in rosy bondage bound,
As in the Fields of Bliss above
  He sits, with flowerets fettered round;—        30
Loose not a tie that round him clings,
Nor ever let him use his wings;
For even an hour, a minute’s flight
Will rob the plumes of half their light.
Like that celestial bird,—whose nest        35
  Is found beneath far Eastern skies,—
Whose wings, though radiant when at rest,
  Lose all their glory when he flies!

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