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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Between the Lights

By Maurice Francis Egan (1852–1924)

IN the cool, soft, fragrant summer grass,

’Mid trembling stalks of white-tipped clover,

I lie and dream, as the shadows pass

From twilight’s gates the cloud-bridge over.

On the other side, dim other side,

Lie starlight, gloom, and the night’s chill wind,

Calm eve comes forth, like a timid bride,

And with shaded eyes looks on mankind;—

She looks at me, as I lounge and dream;

She builds in the sky for my delight

High-towered castles that glow and gleam

Redder than snow-crests in North fires bright.

She shows me Ceres, mid corn-flowers blue,

And Pluto’s bride on her throne below,

And Helen fair, to her lord untrue,

Anguished and wailing in deathless woe;

Gold arabesques on a jasper ground,

Gray cameo-faces, cold and grand,

Puck and Peas-blossom hovering round,

Oberon and his glittering band.

She changes her aspect, opal eye—

Shows me a plain near the walls of Troy,

Where shepherds sheep in low shrubs leave

In haste, to gaze on a bright-haired boy:

The boy is Paris, he cometh out,

Out of the city, strong-limbed and fair.

Live I in future or past? I doubt

Am I Greek shepherd or gay trouvère—

Who lieth, dreaming perhaps of her,

Œnone weeping for him, forlorn?

Who strives with the plaintive lute to stir

Some love in a Norman heart of scorn?

Out of a balcon of hues that glow,

There leans a lady against the sky;

Her robe is bordered with pearls, I know,

Pearls on her neck with her pearl-skin vie.

There stands a lover in gay slashed hose,

With a bright plumed hat and purple cloak;

He calls her “lily” and “damask rose”;

Even in cloudland they wear love’s yoke.

Bold knights ride forward on prancing steeds,

King Arthur’s court, with Sir Launcelot—

Presto! ’Tis Syrinx among the reeds:

Apollo seeks her, but finds her not.

I am so idle in summer grass,

I cannot think for scent of clover;

No moral I find in clouds that pass,

I only know that sunset’s over.