Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  715. Song from ‘Paracelsus’

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

Robert Browning. 1812–1889

715. Song from ‘Paracelsus’

HEAP cassia, sandal-buds and stripes 
  Of labdanum, and aloe-balls, 
Smear’d with dull nard an Indian wipes 
  From out her hair: such balsam falls 
  Down sea-side mountain pedestals,         5
From tree-tops where tired winds are fain, 
Spent with the vast and howling main, 
To treasure half their island-gain. 
And strew faint sweetness from some old 
  Egyptian’s fine worm-eaten shroud  10
Which breaks to dust when once unroll’d; 
  Or shredded perfume, like a cloud 
  From closet long to quiet vow’d, 
With moth’d and dropping arras hung, 
Mouldering her lute and books among,  15
As when a queen, long dead, was young.