A FANTASIA by Arlo Bates

Kinder am Waldteich
NOT all the sensuousness of melting sound
Can move our being as sweet fragrancies
Steal with insinuations delicate
Into the mind. The lute's low melody,
Plaintive as love; the organ's reverent tone;
The horn's inspiring blast; the wild appeal
Of hautboys sentient of all life's deep pain;
The eager clamor of the drum's fierce beat;
Touch, thrill, or rouse, yet leave us still ourselves.

But who has breathed the scent of violets
And not that moment been some lover glad
That to his love is clasped in heavenly kiss;
Who smelled the earth new turned, and not a space
Been the blithe husbandman robust and free;
Who drunk the perfume of the ripening grape
Like wine, nor straightway felt himself a god?

All memories, or sad or piercing sweet,
Come on the wings of fragrance; all desire
Wakes at its bidding with resistless stress;
Old dreams are in its keeping; youth and love
Wait on its will, and not the thoughts which serve
Their sweet behests move with more subtile law,
Swifter or more mysteriously.
The sea
Sends its compelling message on the wind
In scent of brine, and who may say it nay.
The woods their odors balsamic breathe out
As slow swung censers all the minster fill
With fume of incense, and who strays therein
Forgets the world and fame and love and gold.
The sudden breath of some old fragrance long
Remembered, our lost youth gives back again;
And only by this mystic alchemy
Is the past from its ashes recreate.

What song of siren, over the hushed waves
Persuasive wooing to the yearning ear
Of mariners long storm-tossed, wins his sense
Like wafts of perfume from some isle of spice,
Seductive telling of groves dimly lit
With green light filtered through dark cassia boughs,
And honeyed hushes 'twixt the birds' low lays?
Of more delights than sense can speak they hint;
And weary wanderings on the bitter brine,
The toilsome oar, the stinging wind, the wave
Insatiate hounding down its cowering prey,
Are all forgotten in that luring spell.

What ecstasy of sense is like to that
One breathes in walking through the bosky way
Of the fresh woods in June? Odor of pines,
The heavy sweetness which the barberry pours,
And the divine aroma of the bloom
Of wild grapes matted o'er some rustic wall,
Or eglantine, mingling its spicy smell
With that of luscious honeysuckle horns.
What vague romances old flit through the brain
When on the air rich scents are shaken out
From Orient stuffs wrought with dull gold and silks
Dim with a hundred hues. All the fair time
Of great Alraschid seems to live again,
And dreams are real. Was not that sound the note
Of flutes contending with the nightingale?
Did not a signal taper's welcome spark
A moment from the loved one's lattice gleam?

Something there is more sublimate in scent
Than in aught else of which our earthly sense
Has cognizance. It trembles on the line
Which marks where spirit doth with matter blend.
Angels might talk with fragrancies for speech
As we with sounds; and truth so deep and high
Words cannot compass it, might be outbreathed
In perfumes, had we gift to understand.
Here an uncomprehended mystery,
There may be worlds where, its deep secret guessed,
It is the key which shall make all things plain!