The Thorn Tree
The night is sad with silver and the day is glad with gold,
And the woodland silence listens to a legend never old,
Of the Lady of the Fountain, whom the faery people know,
With her limbs of samite whiteness and her hair of golden glow,
Whom the boyish South Wind seeks for and the girlish-stepping Rain;
Whom the sleepy leaves still whisper men shall never see again:
She whose Vivien charms were mistress of the magic Merlin knew,
That could change the dew to glowworms and the glowworms into dew.
There's a thorn tree in the forest, and the faeries know the tree,
With its branches gnarled and wrinkled as a face with sorcery;
But the Maytime brings it clusters of a rainy fragrant white,
Like the bloom-bright brows of beauty or a hand of lifted light.
And all day the silence whispers to the sun-ray of the morn
How the bloom is lovely Vivien and how Merlin is the thorn:
How she won the doting wizard with her naked loveliness
Till he told her daemon secrets that must make his magic less.
How she charmed him and enchanted in the thorn-tree's thorns to lie
Forever with his passion that should never dim or die:
And with wicked laughter looking on this thing which she had done,
Like a visible aroma lingered sparkling in the sun:
How she stooped to kiss the pathos of an elf-lock of his beard,
In a mockery of parting and mock pity of his weird:
But her magic had forgotten that "who bends to give a kiss
Will but bring the curse upon them of the person whose it is":
So the silence tells the secret.—And at night the faeries see
How the tossing bloom is Vivien, who is struggling to be free,
In the thorny arms of Merlin, who forever is the tree.
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