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.