THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE - Mary Elizabeth Frye Poems


Poems » mary elizabeth frye » the triumph of love



Dearest, and yet more dear than I can tell
    In these poor halting rhymes, when, word by word,
    You spell the passion that your beauty stirred
Swiftly to flame, and holds me as a spell,
You will not think he writeth "ill" or "well",
    Nor question make of the fond truths averred,
    But Love, of that, by Love's self charactered,
        A perfect understanding shall impel.
            Therefore do I seek comfort in this wise:
                That though my song have neither grace, nor wit,
            Yet, of your tenderness, there shall arise
                A lasting beauty in each line that's writ;
            For it shall find a meaning in your eyes,
                And hungry-hearted love shall perfect it.


Brave words we mouthed at parting, though your lips
    Trembled a little palely as we kissed:
I said: "Dear love, grey Time that ever strips
    The glory from the rose shall go unmissed,
        And nought shall change; our love shall be as fair
            And proudly joyous as when first we met."
        You said: "Mine own, true love knows no despair,
            And we have loved, and we can never forget."
                I held you closely, whispering, "Dearest one,
                    Take heart of God, for love is in God's keeping--"
                And then 'twas time, and I must needs be gone,
                    And once we kissed, though both of us were weeping.
                        "Sweetheart--" you sobbed, but I had fled heart-broken,
                        And Love's last words, for love, were left unspoken.


These are the secret dreams of passionate youth:
    To be so wise, that the dim after years
    Shall hold no wisdom new, nor any fears,
For wisdom makes of fear a thing uncouth:
        In the clear eye of Truth to be most pure,
            To battle nobly with Joy's shining spears,
            Know Sorrow to the uttermost of tears,
        And Pain, and Passion's scourge, and Love's sweet lure.
                Aye, this, in sum: to touch serenity,
                    Ascending to it by a hundred ways,
                And Beauty's swift untiring ministry.
                        So, Love may gather when the shadows hover,
                    Proudly, a perfect dream of perfect days,
                        To fashion yet another perfect lover.


Because, one night my soul reached out and found
    Yours, in the dim and visionary maze
    Of dreams, and Love upon the starry ways:
Because, when, with heart bleeding and eyes bound,
I stumbled to your feet, you raised and crowned
    My sorrowing with tears and tender praise:
    Because, sometimes men dream of perfect days,
With Death's encircling arms about them wound:
        Because of this, because of all of this,
            Am I for ever dreaming of sweet hours,
        As flowers dream anight of the wind's kiss:
                For ever fashioning to Love's demands
            This passionate joy, this wonder that is ours,
                I that have yearned for the least touch of your hands.


Wherefore, I make this song for you to sing,
    Building of dreams and broken harmonies,
    And shaping it to wondrous ecstasies,
And even though it be a little thing:
        That so, may hurt be healed, or joy receive
            The benediction of a God-like bliss,
                And none of all our heart-beats beat amiss:
        That so, we may arise purer and cleave
                Unto the body of a deathless host,
                    And with new wisdom make more beautiful
                    The soul's desire: that so, the intimate rule
                Of beauty may unto the uttermost,
                        Yield us, of passion, this all-perfect praise,
                        Ere the dark shadows fall upon our days.


The years have dowered you with heavenly grace,
    And beauty fairer than is mortal's due,
As though the gods had dreamt of some proud race
    In fashioning the wonder that is you,
        Compact of universal loveliness,
            And one swift cast into the broken night
        Set you amongst us thus, that Love might bless
            Himself and you for this thrice blessed sight.
                But no! Not ever thus! -- Although you held
                    Ten years agone, the promise of this noon,
                And he, that knew you then, this hour had spelled:
                    As who, far gazing on the frail new moon,
                        Glimpses, all suddenly, the shadowed whole,
                        About the silvern arc an aureole.


O how I love you, love you! -- Who shall say
    It is not love but that most pitiful thing
    Misnamed of love: for such sweet passioning
Have men ere now deserved immortal clay.
        I love the glory of your womanhood,
            And the slow passion of my smouldering verse
            To sudden and swift flame your beauty stirs:
        But now the shadow of this quietude
                Beats on the broken doors of misery:
                    Nor song nor laughter shall there any more
                    Rise from the heart of dream: these things are o'er:
                All but Love's guerdon of humility,
                        And the lorn echo, in my heart, of things
                        Beyond all utterance, that the twilight brings.


The sparrows cease their chirping in the eaves,
    Deepens the hush, as the grey shadows fall,
    And the white moon's ray creeps upon the wall
With tender tracery of windy leaves:
Away upon the plain a dimness heaves,
    For Night's old wizardry compelleth all:
    Along remembered paths, the old stars crawl,
And o'er remembered love, the lover grieves.
        What shall I think on dear, when the proud heart
            Lies humbled in the dust of vain despair?--
        How play this part that is all sorrow's part,
                Who never knew that love should come to this?--
            Who dreamed a dream most beautiful and fair,
                Remembering pain of that last pitiful kiss!--


The sky is not more multitudinous
    With hope, wanting the moon, than hungry Love,
That with insatiate longing, clamorous,
    Filleth the stabbing gloom with dreams thereof,
        Against the time, when, like the risen moon
            Flooding the heavens with her pure pale tide
        And yielding loveliness a lovelier boon,
            Love, by fulfilment, shall be glorified.
                For, when, like to the moon, thou shalt attain
                    The zenith of my heart's high altitude,
                I shall forget the fever and the pain,
                    Forget the bitter and the sorrowful mood,
                        And in the heart of all-compassionate Time,
                        Kindle a flame that shall outlast all rhyme.


Have I not loved you since the world began?
    Aye: for your beauty and your gentleness
    My lonely heart did suddenly possess,
With that unquiet, that sweet thrill which ran
        And stirred to music the first lover's heart;
            That makes a miracle of gladness wake
            Again in blossom upon heath and brake,
        Shaming each time, anew, man's careful art.
                And so the wandering years shall bring to me
                    You, whom I loved and lost: as the rich pride
                    Of leaf and flower to the heart of spring
                Returneth in its time continually:
                        Wherefore I shall not grieve; but patient-eyed
                        Await again Love's re-awakening.


It is the woman's soul of you I love,
    With love beyond the perishing flesh of us,
    Knowing that in swift moments perilous,
More than all passion known, here or above,
        Such dream of beauty were of power enow,
    To quell the spirit fiercely mutinous,
    For love imperiously fashions thus,
        And gathers seven-fold strength into a vow.
            And so I shape my way unto the heart
                Of all things pure and good, as to your feet,
            Humble,--nay, proud, for sorrow's counterpart
                    Of this our love, that only your quick tears,
                Fallen from pity, but by love made sweet,
                    May heal beyond the passion of the years.


They know the impenetrable and dark ways
    Of the world's sorrow, who have seen like me
        The shadowed eyes of Beauty bound with pain,
        Beauty that with the seasons comes again,
Yielding her meed of light, of gladsome praise:
    And bud, nor blossom, nor the billowing sea,
        Nor the slow fires of the starry train,
Hold the quick spells each owned in other days.
            But you, O Love, have broken through the gloom,
                Bringing the healing touch of Love's own art,
                    And I am risen on celestial wings,
            Out of the horror of this ageless tomb,
                Unto the holy beauty of your heart,
                    And glory of unutterable things.


Linger, a little, where the gentle moon
    Disposes to a sweet melancholy,
    And gazing on the far unquiet sea
Of nameless silence, where the glittering noon
Of worlds unnumbered yields a marvellous boon
    Of beauty to earth's shadowed canopy,
    Ponder awhile upon this mystery:
Here are no fevered changes, late or soon,
        Nor hate, nor lust, nor all-exacting pride:
            Only the passion of a perfect plan
        Controls infinity: and these abide
            Beyond the sorrows of our mortal span:
                While we, a wanton hour yield and pass,
                Tumultuously, like shadows on the grass.


O love, my love, if only life could be
    Less burdened with the burden of vain tears,
    That through the far off silence of the years,
Have welled in sorrowing eyes continually,
And love for love's true sake make ministry
    To sorrow's needs despite a thousand fears,
    Then louder than a thousand chanticleers,
Might Love, each morn, declare this constancy!
        For then would Love not be this pitiful thing
            Of wanton sighs and endless moaning blent,
        But clothed with beauty of eternal spring,
                Should build all time, beyond Doubt's purpurate gleams,
            Of praise and prayer a perfect argument:
                And there were then the dreaming of great dreams.


Go look upon the mountains in the haze
    Of a November morning: how they throw
    To Heaven the mighty bulwarks of their woe,
Above the pitiful and wandering ways
Of dull mortality: come, tell their praise!
        How steadfast are they, and how great of heart,
        That with such wondrous patience play the part
Beyond the passion of our numbered days!
            We that are here today are gone tomorrow,
                Yet hide our faces for a nameless dread,
            And make wild moaning for a ceaseless sorrow,
                    Knowing nor how, nor why, these things should be:
                And till the end, endure uncomforted,
                    Fretting the heart of peace impatiently.


O dear my heart, I would not have you do
    This thing of all the things that love demands:
    Love has no need of this, nor understands
These half-desires that pierce us through and through.
Think what a lovely dream we hold in lieu
    Of the fond traffic of sweet amorous lands,
    How mutely borne our pain, and how held hands
Beneath the moon and smiled, and bravely too!
        For, where have nested the white birds of Fate
            No sorrowing is, nor the grim fear of death:
        For, there, the longings fierce, insatiate,
                Of men are stilled, and the dim hours pass
            As in an ecstasy with hushèd breath,
                And, there, no shadows sweep along the grass.


Men peer beyond the wisdom of the wise
    In vain pursuit, and an all-mastering urge
    Impels them forward from life's dizzy verge
To pierce the incommunicable skies,
        Which are the veil before their vanities,
            Until upon them falls the white-hot scourge
            That sears the brain: thenceforward, like the surge,
        Blindly, they beat upon their memories.
                Love, this were wisdom, ere the heart be spent,
                    In love's sweet prime all Beauty to adore:
                Life were too brief for pain and languishment,
                        And Beauty's largesse shall all things amend.
                    Therefore, being wise, I'll love you more and more
                        Until of Love and Beauty there be end.


Sometimes, I linger, where the roses shed
    Their faded fragrance on the evening air,
    And flowers that were once most sweet, most fair,
Fall pale and withered on their pitiless bed:
Nor take I thought, in grief, that they lie dead,
    O'ermuch, o'erlong, knowing their beauty rare
    Lives perfectly in Love's most secret care,
More beauteous yet, and I am comforted ....
        And even though you be so far away,
            And all our sweet companioned ecstasies
        A memory of pain, the far-flung sway
            Of your most dear enchantment fills mine eyes
                With dreams more exquisite than memories,
                Which love's fulfilment shall immortalise.


Rejoice this day, for this day love is near,
    And sunlight gleaming slantwise on the grass,
    And hope and beauty of all things that pass
Yet come again with the returning year:
        They may not die, these things that once were ours;
            And love, not less, that liveth in the mind:
            Therefore all ills forget, all griefs that bind,
        And all unwisdom of unhappy hours:
                Remembering only the great gift of bliss
                    Love brought to us one shining summer morn,
                When on my lips you placed that shy sweet kiss:
                        Wherefore we sing all time with passionate praise,
                    Despite of pity and pain and tears forlorn,
                        This loveliness and glory of our days.


How many golden hours have we won
    From that grey leaden-fisted miser Time,
Rich with the suns, the odorous moons that spun,
    Across this perfect passion of our prime?
        Love makes no count! -- Sufficient unto each
            Unmortal moment is the bliss thereof;
       Tis grief that yearneth every way to reach
            Remembered rapture by remembered love.
                Love takes no count! -- Forget the tale, fond lover,
                    Today, the hours are freighted with pure gold;
                And when the golden days of love are over,
                    And naught remains but as a story told,
                        With benediction of that grace sublime,
                        Life shall unfold love's page a second time.


Silence, for sweet fulfilment: nay, but see,
    There, on the margent of the westering tide,
    Day pauses, now, upon his wearied stride,
And leans to Night's embrace impatiently.
Silence, for deep fulfilment: now shall be
    Content. O hush! let not your murmurous pride
    Revel against desire: let all things bide:
The hour is peace, and perfect harmony.
        There is no stir upon the land or ocean,
            The world is very quiet from this hill:
                No whisper here of the great town that strives,
        Roars in its highways, 'neath us, its commotion
                Shaking the souls of many thousand lives.
            But mount! From here, the world is very still.


I thought, God being so very far away,
    Farther than I upon this little height,
    He cannot see nor know our piteous plight,
Nor how we strive, nor how we fall astray,
But sets the sun and moon upon their way,
    And lights the stars, and dreams that all is right
    As I, even I, in this still shadow of night,
Might dream that down below no city lay.
        Then cried I in mine anguish, "Lord, not so,
            But thus: as I, even I, though from the call
                Of love be so remote, yet am all-wise,
        So in proportion doth Thy knowledge go,
                As God to man, and from the all-seeing skies
            Knoweth all things, Thy love o'ershadowing all."


Somewhere, the shadow sweeps upon its way
    That shall our day engulf in darkest night:
    Somewhere, the shadow of a dead delight
Creeps on our wondrous dreams of yesterday:
        Somewhere, a glory fades into the gloom
            Of nothingness: somewhere, new glories rise:
            Between the shadowed and the burning skies
        Man waits the hour of his passionate doom.
                Love, when the shadows close upon our dreams
                    And hungry Night leans low upon Desire,
                        We that have passioned sweetly for this thing
                Shall know no fear, knowing proud Death that seems
                    So fierce, shall pale before the undying fire
                        Of love made holy by our suffering.


Who that has lived, and loved, and seen fair things,
    And striven with darkness beating into day,
With spears dream-pointed, and climbed with wings
    Above the tumult of the lesser way,
        Shall speak thereafter slightingly of God?
            They that have known this brief infinity
        Are one with the immortals. They have trod
            The floors of Heaven in Heavenly company,
                Intoxicate with blessed harmonies.
                    So we, the proud inheritors of love,
                Grown God-like in unmortal ecstasies,
                    Dream, God-like, of a day that love shall prove
                        Magnificently, in the after years,
                        Beyond the mortal touch of time or tears.