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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

Schumann’s Sonata in A Minor

By Celia Laighton Thaxter (1835–1894)

THE QUIET room, the flowers, the perfumed calm,

The slender crystal vase, where all aflame

The scarlet poppies stand erect and tall,

Color that burns as if no frost could tame,

The shaded lamplight glowing over all,

The summer night a dream of warmth and balm.

Outbreaks at once the golden melody,

“With passionate expression!” Ah, from whence

Comes the enchantment of this potent spell,

This charm that takes us captive, soul and sense?

The sacred power of music, who shall tell,

Who find the secret of its mastery?

Lo, in the keen vibration of the air

Pierced by the sweetness of the violin,

Shaken by thrilling chords and searching notes

That flood the ivory keys, the flowers begin

To tremble; ’tis as if some spirit floats

And breathes upon their beauty unaware.

The stately poppies, proud in stillness, stand

In silken splendor of superb attire:

Stricken with arrows of melodious sound,

Their loosened petals fall like flakes of fire;

With waves of music overwhelmed and drowned,

Solemnly drop their flames on either hand.

So the rich moment dies, and what is left?

Only a memory sweet, to shut between

Some poem’s silent leaves, to find again,

Perhaps, when winter blasts are howling keen,

And summer’s loveliness is spoiled and slain,

And all the world of light and bloom bereft.

But winter cannot rob the music so!

Nor time nor fate its subtle power destroy

To bring again the summer’s dear caress,

To wake the heart to youth’s unreasoning joy,—

Sound, color, perfume, love, to warm and bless,

And airs of balm from Paradise that blow.