What Might Have Been

What might have been, what might have been!
Is there a sadder word than this?
Are any serpent's teeth more keen
Than memories of what we miss?

The wreaths we might have worn, if but
Our feet had found the fields of May,
Instead of jolting down the rut
Of traffic on life's hard high-way!

The love we might have known, if we
Had turned this way instead of that;
The lips we might have kissed, which he
For whom they parted, pouted at!

The joys we might, when blood was young,
Have garnered in a goodly sheaf;
The summer songs we might have sung,
While still our life was but in leaf!

What might have been, what might have been!
Sad thought, when age before us lowers,
And dark is the December scene,
And fallen even autumn's flowers.
-By John Addington Symonds

The Passing Stranger

Of all the mysteries wherethrough we move, This is the most mysterious that a face, Seen peradventure in some distant place, Whither we can return no more to prove The world-old sanctities of human love, Shall haunt our waking thoughts, and gathering grace Incorporate itself with every phase Whereby the soul aspires to God above. Thus are we wedded through that face to her.

Or him who bears it; nay, one fleeting glance, Fraught with a tale too deep for utterance, Even as a pebble cast into the sea, Will on the deep waves of our spirit stir Ripples that run through all eternity.

Soul cries to soul, as star to sundered star Calls through the void of intermediate night; And as each tiniest spark of stellar light Includes a world where moving myriads are, Thus every glance seen once and felt afar Symbols an universe: the spirit's might Leaps through the gazing eyes, with infinite Pulsations that no lapse of years can mar. He therefore dwells within me still; and I Within him dwell; though neither clasp of hand Nor interchange of converse made us one: And it shall surely be that when we die, In God shall both see clear and understand What soul to soul spake, sun to brother sun.
-By John Addington Symonds

Hymn to Aphrodite

Glittering-throned, undying Aphrodite, Wile-weaving daughter of high Zeus, I pray thee, Tame not my soul with heavy woe, dread mistress, Nay, nor with anguish!

But hither come, if ever erst of old time Thou didst incline, and listenedst to my crying, And from thy father's palace down descending, Camest with golden

Chariot yoked: thee fair swift-flying sparrows Over dark earth with multitudinous fluttering, Pinion on pinion, through middle ether Down from heaven hurried.

Quickly they came like light, and thou, blest lady, Smiling with clear undying eyes didst ask me What was the woe that troubled me, and wherefore I had cried to thee:

What thing I longed for to appease my frantic Soul: and Whom now must I persuade, thou askedst, Whom must entangle to thy love, and who now, Sappho, hath wronged thee?

Yea, for if now he shun, he soon shall chase thee; Yea, if he take not gifts, he soon shall give them; Yea, if he love not, soon shall he begin to Love thee, unwilling.

Come to me now too, and from tyrannous sorrow Free me, and all things that my soul desires to Have done, do for me, queen, and let thyself too Be my great ally!

To a Maiden

Peer of gods he seemeth to me, the blissful Man who sits and gazes at thee before him, Close beside thee sits, and in silence hears thee Silverly speaking, Laughing love's low laughter. Oh this, this only Stirs the troubled heart in my breast to tremble! For should I but see thee a little moment, Straight is my voice hushed; Yea, my tongue is broken, and through and through me 'Neath the flesh impalpable fire runs tingling; Nothing see mine eyes, and a noise of roaring Waves in my ear sounds; Sweat runs down in rivers, a tremor seizes All my limbs, and paler than grass in autumn, Caught by pains of menacing death, I falter, Lost in the love-trance.

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