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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Charmian
By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)
 
      O DAUGHTER of the sun,
  Who gave the keys of passion unto thee?
      Who taught the powerful sorcery
Wherein my soul, too willing to be won,
      Still feebly struggles to be free.        5
        But more than half undone?
      Within the mirror of thine eyes,
  Full of the sleep of warm Egyptian skies,—
  The sleep of lightning, bound in airy spell,
  And deadlier, because invisible,—        10
      I see the reflex of a feeling
      Which was not till I looked on thee;
      A power, involved in mystery,
That shrinks, affrighted, from its own revealing.
 
      Thou sitt’st in stately indolence,        15
  Too calm to feel a breath of passion start
      The listless fibres of thy sense,
      The fiery slumber of thy heart.
  Thine eyes are wells of darkness, by the veil
      Of languid lids half-sealed; the pale        20
        And bloodless olive of thy face,
      And the full, silent lips that wear
        A ripe serenity of grace,
  Are dark beneath the shadow of thy hair.
  Not from the brow of templed Athor beams        25
  Such tropic warmth along the path of dreams;
  Not from the lips of hornèd Isis flows
        Such sweetness of repose!
  For thou art Passion’s self, a goddess too,
      And aught but worship never knew;        30
      And thus thy glances, calm and sure,
  Look for accustomed homage, and betray
      No effort to assert thy sway:
      Thou deem’st my fealty secure.
 
      O Sorceress! those looks unseal        35
  The undisturbèd mysteries that press
  Too deep in nature for the heart to feel
      Their terror and their loveliness.
      Thine eyes are torches that illume
    On secret shrines their unforeboded fires,        40
  And fill the vaults of silence and of gloom
    With the unresisting life of new desires.
      I follow where their arrowy ray
  Pierces the veil I would not tear away,
  And with a dread, delicious awe behold        45
      Another gate of life unfold,
      Like the rapt neophyte who sees
  Some march of grand Osirian mysteries.
      The startled chambers I explore,
      And every entrance open lies,        50
  Forced by the magic thrill that runs before
        Thy slowly lifted eyes.
    I tremble to the centre of my being
  Thus to confess the spirit’s poise o’erthrown,
    And all its guiding virtues blown        55
  Like leaves before the whirlwind’s fury fleeing.
 
  But see! one memory rises in my soul,
      And beaming steadily and clear,
  Scatters the lurid thunder-clouds that roll
      Through Passion’s sultry atmosphere.        60
      An alchemy more potent borrow
  For thy dark eyes, enticing Sorceress!
  For on the casket of a sacred Sorrow
        Their shafts fall powerless.
  Nay, frown not, Athor, from thy mystic shrine:        65
    Strong Goddess of Desire, I will not be
  One of the myriad slaves thou callest thine,
    To cast my manhood’s crown of royalty
    Before thy dangerous beauty: I am free!
 
 
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