The Secret Lover by Zora Cross

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Nunlike as lone Heloise,
Mid the summer hum of bees,
By Love's questing eyes unseen,
Lily read in linnet green.

All her book was brown with age;
White dreams bloomed on every page.
Fairy wine too sweet to sip
From the wild words seemed to drip.

Like the phantom of a wood
Sitting in a leafy hood,
Lost in holy loveliness,
Lily read, in her green dress:

"Ladye, ladye, laughter dwells,
Hushed as little blossom bells,
All along the leaves you turn;
Turn your eyes, lest mine should burn!"

But the nunlike Lily reads,
Nor her secret lover heeds,
Singing softly in her ear
Forest songs of a green fear.

Richer grows the tale and rare
Of a ladye wondrous fair --
She enchanted on a day
Lost a million years away --

"Barley bread he brought her in,
Set it in a wooden bin.
Wine they drank; and when they sang
Spring from winter slumber sprang."

So she read and turned the leaf --
"Ladye, ladye, bride of grief,
Look at me!" She only said
"Poetry is holy bread."

"Ladye, ladye, I am here."
From the book in elfin fear
Out her secret lover leapt.
Nunlike Lily sighed and wept.

From his lips she sipped the bliss
Of a red enchanted kiss.
Love, who sought her, sought in vain;
Lily dreamed away again.

Like a leafy dryad now
Underneath a rose-red bough --
Comely April, madcap May --
Lily reads the livelong day.

Bleating lambs the valley fill:
Black kids plunge along the hill.
Root, nor weed, nor herb nor flower
Charm her from her story bower.

Love, with many a longing look,
Sighs upon her open book.
"Ladye," wooes her wild book lover
Safe between each rosy cover.

Her he feeds on spicy things
To the murmurous lisp of wings
Floating in a stilly tune
Underneath an olden moon.

Flowery lanes of a lost day
Twenty thousand worlds away,
Stars above the balconies,
June joy under lilac-trees --

These she knows and something more,
Strolling by a fairy shore.
Leafy altars, sleepy kine
Glimmer through the woodland vine.

Dulcet songs of ladies fair.
Barons bold without a care.
Baskets of lush loveliness --
These are in each leaf's caress.

And for ever, skylark clear,
Through the laughter of the year,
"Ladye, ladye, ladye sweet!"
Sings that lover at her feet.

"Lily, turn and look at me,
Lily made for poesy!
Lily, in my eyes behold
That which never may grow old!"

"Ladye, ladye, ladye dear.
Do not heed him, do not hear!
What can mortal lover give
When immortal you may live?

"Spicy heights of autumn call;
Climb across my wizard wall.
Ladye, ladye, by my spell
In my secret garden dweII."

Lily listens like a maid
Under charm of faery laid;
Lily would give Love her hand
At his earnest, quick command;

But her phantom lover wooes.
"Ladye, ladye!". . . . Will she choose
Crying love with human eyes
Or her ghost of Paradise?

First published in The Bulletin, 5 November 1925

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on November 5, 2014 7:57 AM.

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