Treasures of Aromatic Literature(Authors)- Josephine Preston Peabody

Josephine Preston Peabody - Wikipedia,

The Prophet
Josephine Preston Peabody
ALL day long he kept the sheep:—
  Far and early, from the crowd,
On the hills from steep to steep,
  Where the silence cried aloud;
  And the shadow of the cloud        5
Wrapt him in a noonday sleep.
Where he dipped the water’s cool,
  Filling boyish hands from thence,
Something breathed across the pool
  Stir of sweet enlightenments;        10
  And he drank, with thirsty sense,
Till his heart was brimmed and full.
Still, the hovering Voice unshed,
  And the Vision unbeheld,
And the mute sky overhead,        15
  And his longing, still withheld!
  —Even when the two tears welled,
Salt, upon that lonely bread.
Vaguely blessèd in the leaves,
  Dim-companioned in the sun,        20
Eager mornings, wistful eyes,
  Very hunger drew him on;
  And To-morrow ever shone
With the glow the sunset weaves.
Even so, to that young heart,        25
  Words and hands and Men were dear;
And the stir of lane and mart
  After daylong vigil here.
  Sunset called, and he drew near,
Still to find his path apart.        30
When the Bell, with gentle tongue,
  Called the herd-bells home again,
Through the purple shades he swung,
  Down the mountain, through the glen;
  Towards the sound of fellow-men,—        35
Even from the light that clung.
Dimly too, as cloud on cloud,
  Came that silent flock of his:
Thronging whiteness, in a crowd,
  After homing twos and threes;        40
  With the longing memories
Of all white things dreamed and vowed.
Through the fragrances, alone,
  By the sudden-silent brook,
From the open world unknown,        45
  To the close of speech and book;
  There to find the foreign look
In the faces of his own.
Sharing was beyond his skill;
  Shyly yet, he made essay:        50
Sought to dip, and share, and fill
  Heart’s-desire, from day to day.
  But their eyes, some foreign way,
Looked at him; and he was still.
Last, he reached his arms to sleep,        55
  Where the Vision waited, dim,
Still beyond some deep-on-deep.
  And the darkness folded him,
  Eager heart and weary limb.—
All day long, he kept the sheep.        60

278. The Cedars
By Josephine Preston Peabody
ALL down the years the fragrance came,
The mingled fragrance, with a flame,
Of cedars breathing in the sun,
The cedar-trees of Lebanon.
O thirst of song in bitter air,        5
And hope, wing-hurt from iron care,
What balm of myrrh and honey, won
From far-off trees of Lebanon!
Not from these eyelids yet have I
Ever beheld that early sky.        10
Why do they call me through the sun?—
Even the trees of Lebanon?

    UMB Mother of all music, let me rest
    On thy great heart while summer days pass by;
    While all the heat up-quivers, let me lie
    Close gathered to the fragrance of thy breast.
    Let not the pipe of birds from some high nest
    Give voice unto a thought of melody,
    Nor dreaming clouds afloat along the sky
    Meet any wind of promise from the west.
    Save for that grassy breath that never mars
    The peace, but seems a musing of thine own,
    Keep thy dear silence. So, embraced, alone,
    Forgetful of relentless prison-bars,
    My soul shall hear all songs, unsung, unknown,
    Uprising with the breath of all the stars.

New Bloom

I heard the lilies growing in the night
When none did hark;
I knew they made a glimmer, dimly white
In the cool dreaming dark.
Nothing the garden knew,—
So soft they grew,—
Until they stood new-risen in the light,
For all to mark.

I heard the dreams still-growing in the night;
Nor was there one
That I saw clear, or, seeing, named aright;
But when the night was done,
The fragrances to be,
Awakened me:
I saw their faces leaning glad and white
Towards thee, their sun.


Hush , they were here. I caught the gleam
Of white arms interlacing,
Like tangled lilies, tracing
A garland on a careless stream;
And through the swaying tendrils there
Came startled air,
Stirred to a dance, the wood with joyance gracing.

The young birds ceased the day-long lilt
To watch them so enringing,
Like snow-flakes all a-winging.
The eager, bending branches spilt
A sunlight on their locks, leaf-wound.
And was the sound
I heard, a breath of laughter or of singing?

Sure they were here: for see the grass
Athrill where they danced thither.
But whither fled they, — whither?
Who wist this thing should come to pass?
A step, — a sudden fluttering,
As birds take wing, —
Then but the fragrance of wild grapes blown hither!

The Fir-Tree

The winds have blown more bitter
Each darkening day of fall;
High over all the house-tops
The stars are far and small
I wonder, will my fir-tree
Be green in spite of all?

O grief is colder—colder
Than wind from any part;
And tears of grief are bitter tears,
And doubt’s a sorer smart!
But I promised to my fir-tree
To keep the fragrant heart.

Myrrh-Bearers - Poem by Josephine Preston Peabody

Three women crept at break of day
A-grope along the shadowy way
Where Joseph's tomb and garden lay.

With blanch of woe each face was white,
As the gray Orient's waxing light
Brought back upon their awe-struck sight

The sixth-day scene of anguish. Fast
The starkly standing cross they passed,
And, breathless, neared the gate at last.

Each on her throbbing bosom bore
A burden of such fragrant store
As never there had lain before.

Spices, the purest, richest, best,
That e'er the musky East possessed,
From Ind to Araby-the-Blest,

Had they with sorrow-riven hearts
Searched all Jerusalem's costliest marts
In quest of,--nards whose pungent arts

Should the dead sepulchre imbue
With vital odors through and through:
'T was all their love had leave to do!

Christ did not need their gifts; and yet
Did either Mary once regret
Her offering? Did Salome fret

Over the unused aloes? Nay!
They counted not as waste, that day,
What they had brought their Lord. The way

Home seemed the path to heaven. They bare,
Thenceforth, about the robes they ware
The clinging perfume everywhere.

So, ministering as erst did these,
Go women forth by twos and threes
(Unmindful of their morning ease),

Through tragic darkness, murk and dim,
Where'er they see the faintest rim,
Of promise,--all for sake of him

Who rose from Joseph's tomb. They hold
It just such joy as those of old,
To tell the tale the Marys told.

Myrrh-bearers still,--at home, abroad,
What paths have holy women trod,
Burdened with votive gifts for God,--

Rare gifts whose chiefest worth was priced
By this one thought, that all sufficed:
Their spices had been bruised for Christ! 

Old Broideries

[ To C. H. B. ]

Out of the carven chest of treasured things
That holds them dark and breathless, like a tomb,
I lift these scriptured songs of many a loom
That labors now no longer, — nay, nor sings.
And, one by one, their soft unfolding brings
Along the air some touch of ghostly bloom;
The tacit reminiscence of perfume, —
The uncomplaining dust of mouldered springs.
Whether it be from hues, once richly bled
Of rooted flowers, some magic takes the sense,
Or if it be that meek aroma, wed
To flush and sheen and shadow, shaken thence,
Or clinging touch of aging silken thread,
They hold me with a tongueless eloquence.

I marvel how the broiderers could find
So sweet the summer shapes that never fade,
Though some mere passing race of man and maid
Have paled, and wasted, and gone down the wind!
Yet here the toilful art of one could bind
No dream with tenderer woven light and shade,
Than sovran bloom and fruitage, rare arrayed,
Or listless tendrils idly intertwined.
Ah, bitter-sweet! For caged care to slake
Its thirst with joyance of the weed that grows,
The whim of leaf and leaf, and petal-flake,
Whatever way the breath of April blows.
And poor, wise, withered hands with skill to make
The red, unhuman gladness of the rose!

There is a certain damask here, moon-pale,
With the wan iris of a snow on snow,
Or petal against petal cheek ablow.
It wears its glories bride-like, under veil;
But shadowed, half, the blanched folds exhale
Sweet confidence of color; and there grow —
Entwined and severed by the gloom and glow —
Dim vines to muse upon till fancy fail.
I wonder: was it woven in a dream,
When, for a space, one dreamer had his fill
Of perfectness, — all white desires supreme
That lure and mock the thwarted human will?
The worker's dumb. The web lives on, agleam,
Untroubled as a lily, and as still.
Ah, nameless maker at whose heart I guess
Through the surviving fabric! You were one
With potter and with poet, — you that spun
And you that stitched, unsung for it; no less
A part and pulse of all the want and stress
Of effort without end till time be done, —
The lift of longing wings unto the Sun,
Forever beckoned by far loveliness.
O wistful soul of all men, heart I hear
Close beating for the heart that understands,
Kin I deny so often, — now read clear
Across the foreign years and far-off lands,
Let me but touch and greet you, near and dear,
Cherishing these, with hands that love your hands!