Alfred Bruce Douglas

The Garden of Death

There is an isle in an unfurrowed sea
That I wot of, whereon the whole year round
The apple—blossoms and the rosebuds be
In early blooming ; and a many sound
Of ten—stringed lute, and most mellifluous breath
Of silver flute, and mellow half—heard horn,
Making unmeasured music. Thither Death
Coming like Love, takes all things in the morn
Of tenderest life, and being a delicate god,
In his own garden takes each delicate thing
Unstained, unmellowed, immature, untrod,
Tremulous betwixt the summer and the spring:
The rosebud ere it come to be a rose,
The blossom ere it win to be a fruit,
The virginal snowdrop, and the dove that knows
Only one dove for lover ; all the loot
Of young soft things, and all the harvesting
Of unripe flowers. Never comes the moon
To matron fulness, here no child—bearing
Vexes desire, and the sun knows no noon.
But all the happy dwellers of that place
Are reckless children gotten on Delight
By Beauty that is thrall to Death ; no grace,
No natural sweet they lack, a chrysolite
Of perfect beauty each. No wisdom comes
To mar their early folly, no false laws
Man—made for man, no mouthing prudence numbs
Their green unthought, or gives their licence pause ;
Young animals, young flowers, they live and grow,
And die before their sweet emblossomed breath
Has learnt to sigh save like a lover’s. Oh!
How sweet is Youth, how delicate is Death!

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