The Great War

from The Poems of Robert W. Sterling, an electronic edition

In Hendecasyllables
Dying Lilies

O CHASTE queens of a fairy flow'ry kingdom,

Beauteous progeny of the kindly sunshine

And soft show'rs, ever In my heart the fragrance

From you stealing awakes a dreamy vision

Of things beautiful, olden, and eternal:

Passing beautiful!--harmonies so dulcet

That they give to me viewless happy pinions,

On which soaring up into lofty temples,

I drink Truth in a world of airy fancy.

Once you liv'd in a fairy flow'ry kingdom,

Lov'd, and ruling it, innocently happy;

Now more beautiful in the hour of old age

You still breathe ev'ry perfume of the woodland,

Drooping gracefully, like the last repining

Of some sage who has help'd the weary people,

And whose message at ending is the sweetest.

Untaught wisdom! (in all the fields of Eden

No more lovely an emblem of Creation!)

Your souls, dying, appear to sigh the knowledge,

Heav'n-born, forth to the hearts of all around you,

Breathing sympathy, calmness, and achievement.

Queens, farewell! In an age when 'all the laughter's

With pain fraught', when a wrinkled, angry brow shows

Discontent ev'rywhere among my fellows,

Sure 'tis good to devote a fleeting half-hour,

O'er you musing upon the joys eternal . . .

And I hope in an after age to see you

Still more joyfully grace the Heav'nly Gardens!

June, 1911.