It Should Have Been a Garden

It should have been a garden to the earth.

The citrus trees and the loitering bees,

and the milding sun through the perfumed leaves;

the greening hills with their stony crops,

and the soft-stepping streams through the cypress copse –

these should have been the bearers of a novel birth

of innocence and virtue, of art and mirth.

And these music women and these dark strong men,

and the wild laughing children that they bear –

they should have risen to vanquish care,

and to gather together in vital repose

amongst the vineyards and the citrus groves.

It should have been a paradise anon

and a second Eden ’neath the sun.

Where was there wanted some essential station?

Not gift of God, fate, destiny, nor nature;

not bread of land, nor fire of sun to nurture

that within them; their women lacked

not pride nor beauty, their men not tact

nor courage, nor that sweet and holy vision

that best graces the creator’s passion.

It should have been a garden to the world.

Philosophies should have fallen like limes

ripe from the heavy branch, and poetry climbed

in dizzy measured dance to the very sky,

as though to snatch a moonstone, and draw it nigh –

a shimmering pure adornment, encharmed with sunfire gold,

to wreath life with the heavens, and to make it bold.

But while the trees bore their fruit, the towns bore none,

and men went full in belly and empty of soul.

Wanting not for fat, nor for the heat of coal,

man grew heavy and chill. Beauty without

killed beauty within; rain and plenty bred famine and drought;

and the hills thrummed full of the insects’ drone

but not a voice rose up to a human song.

Were men so entangled then with chance?

Must fortune mock her children so?

Must idleness wear and so corrode

the inner man, that the outer, entranced

by things and their mere display, fritters off his chance,

and is evicted from the gardens of his right,

to thenceforth wander, forlorn in his own sight?

Oh, rove though he might, he never shall girth

sufficient of the world to unsling his burden,

nor to pass his life from the shade of corruption.

Not the garden he wants, but the spirit fecund;

and as he craves the first he must fail the second.

Try though he will, he sow salt in worth.

But he could have been a garden to the earth.

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