Athanasia

ATHANASIA(12)

by: Oscar(2309) Wilde

O that gaunt House of Art(12) which lacks for naught
Of all the great things men have saved from Time,
The withered body of a girl(12) was brought
Dead ere the world’s glad youth had touched its prime,
And seen by lonely Arabs lying hid
In the dim womb of some black pyramid.

But when they had unloosed the linen band
Which swathed the Egypt(42)ian’s body,–lo! was found
Closed in the wasted hollow of her hand
A little seed, which sown in English(5) ground
Did wondrous snow(77) of starr(84)y blossom(36)s bear(129)
And spread rich(17) odours through our spring(17)-tide air.

With such strange arts this flower did allure(14)
That all forgotten was the asphodel,
And the brown bee, the lily(6727)‘s paramour(35),
Forsook the cup where he was wont to dwell,
For not a thing of earth it seemed to be,
But stolen from some heavenly(183) Arcady.

In vain the sad narcissus, wan and white
At its own beauty(13), hung across the stream,
The purple dragon-fly had no delight(8)
With its gold dust to make his wings a-gleam,
Ah! no delight the jasmine(2988)-bloom to kiss,
Or brush the rain(34)pearl(451)s from the eucharis(103).

For love(127) of it the passion(34)ate nightingale(9)
Forgot the hills of Thrace(25), the cruel(13) king(2418),
And the pale dove(20) no longer cared to sail
Through the wet woods(20) at time of blossoming,
But round this flower of Egypt(173) sought to float,
With silver(16)ed wing and amethyst(93)ine throat.

While the hot sun blaze(296)d in his tower of blue(16)
A cooling wind crept from the land of snow(6)s,
And the warm south with tender tears of dew
Drenched its white leaves when Hesperos up-rose(1678)
Amid those sea-green meadow(367)s of the sky(119)
On which the scarlet(829) bars of sunset lie.

But when o’er wastes of lily-haunted field
The tired birds had stayed their amor(126)ous tune,
And broad and glittering like an argent shield
High in the sapphire(159) heaven(12)s hung the moon,
Did no strange dream(20) or evil memory(14) make
Each tremulous petal of its blossoms shake?

Ah no! to this bright(20) flower a thousand years
Seemed but the lingering of a summer(1759)‘s day(7),
It never knew the tide of cankering fears
Which turn a boy(26)‘s gold hair to withered grey(234),
The dread desire(73) of death it never(137) knew,
Or how all folk that they were born must rue(36).

For we to death with pipe and dan(100)cing go,
Now would we pass the ivory(368) gate again,
As some sad river(1223) wearied of its flow
Through the dull plain(18)s, the haunts of common(5) men,
Leaps love(12)r-like into the terrible sea!
And counts it gain to die so glorious(7)ly.

We mar(9) our lord(9)ly strength in barren strife
With the world’s legion(22)s led by clamorous care,
It never feels decay but gathers life(6)
From the pure sunlight(6) and the supreme(18) air,
We live ben(329)eath Tim(74)e’s wasting sovereign(8)ty,
It is the child of all eternity(97).