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


By James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)

[Born in Cambridge, Mass., 1819. Died there, 1891. From Poetical Works. Collective Edition. 1885.]

I SAW the twinkle of white feet,

I saw the flash of robes descending;

Before her ran an influence fleet,

That bowed my heart like barley bending.

As, in bare fields, the searching bees

Pilot to blooms beyond our finding,

It led me on, by sweet degrees

Joy’s simple honey-cells unbinding.

Those Graces were that seemed grim Fates;

With nearer love the sky leaned o’er me;

The long-sought Secret’s golden gates

On musical hinges swung before me.

I saw the brimmed bowl in her grasp

Thrilling with godhood; like a lover

I sprang the proffered life to clasp;—

The beaker fell; the luck was over.

The Earth has drunk the vintage up;

What boots it patch the goblet’s splinters?

Can Summer fill the icy cup,

Whose treacherous crystal is but Winter’s?

O spendthrift haste! await the Gods;

Their nectar crowns the lips of Patience;

Haste scatters on unthankful sods

The immortal gift in vain libations.

Coy Hebe flies from those that woo,

And shuns the hands would seize upon her;

Follow thy life, and she will sue

To pour for thee the cup of honor.