Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1861–1889
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889
 
The Maid of St. Helena
By Charles Henry Phelps (1853–1933)
 
[Born in Stockton, Cal., 1853. Died, 1933. Californian Verses. 1882.]

ACROSS the long, vine-covered land
She gazed, with lifted, shading hand.
 
Behind were hillsides, purple, brown;
Before were vineyards sloping down;
 
While northward rose, through golden mist,        5
St. Helen’s mount of amethyst.
 
But forest, vine, and mountain height
Were less divinely benedight
 
Than she who so serenely stood
To gaze on mountain, vine, and wood.        10
 
Her presence breathed in sweet excess
The fragrance of rare loveliness—
 
A simple beauty in her face,
And in her form a simple grace.
 
She was so perfect and so fair,        15
So like a vision, and so rare,
 
The air that touched her seemed to me
To thrill with trembling ecstasy.
 
Spell-bound, for fear she might not stay,
I stood afar in sweet dismay.        20
 
At last, she sang some olden song.
I did not know its tale of wrong;
 
I only knew the oriole’s note
Grew garrulous within its throat—
 
It seemed so shameful birds should sing        25
To silence so divine a thing.
 
She faded, singing, from my sight,
A dream of beauty and delight:
 
And I, with unconsenting will,
Retraced my footsteps down the hill.        30
 
 
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