I saw thee once - only once - years ago:I must not say how many - but not many.It was a July midnight; and from outA full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,With quietude and sultriness and slumber,Upon the upturn'd faces of a thousandRoses that grew in an enchanted garden,Where no wind dared stir, unless on tiptoe -Fell on the upturn'd faces of these rosesThat gave out, in return for the love-light,Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death -Fell on the upturn'd faces of these rosesThat smiled and died in the parterre, enchantedBy thee and by the poetry of thy presence.Clad all in white, upon a violet bankI saw thee half reclining; while the moonFell upon the upturn'd faces of the roses,And on thine own, upturn'd - alas, in sorrow!Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight -Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)That bade me pause before that garden-gate,To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?No footsteps stirred: the hated world all slept,Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven! - oh, G**!How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)Save only thee and me. I paused - I looked -And in an instant all things disappeared.(Ah, bear in mind the garden was enchanted!)The pearly lustre of the moon went out:The mossy banks and the meandering paths,The happy flowers and the repining trees,Were seen no more: the very roses' odorsDied in the arms of the adoring airs.All - all expired save thee - save less than thou:Save only divine light in thine eyes -Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.I saw but them - they were the world to me.I saw but them - saw only them for hours -Saw only them until the moon went down.What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwrittenUpon those crystalline, celestial spheres!How dark a wo! yet how sublime a hope!How silently serene a sea of pride!How daring an ambition! yet how deep -How fathomless a capacity for love!But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing treesDidst glide away. Only thine eyes remained.They would not go - they never yet have gone.Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,They have not left me (as my hopes have) since.They follow me - they lead me through the years.They are my ministers - yet I their slave.Their office is to illumine and enkindle -My duty, to be saved by their bright fire,And purified in their electric fire,And sanctified in their elysian fire.They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope,)And are far up in Heaven - the stars I kneel toIn the sad, silent watches of my night;While even in the meridian glare of dayI see them still - two sweetly scintillantVenuses, unextinguished by the sun!
Edgar Allan Poe