“ Arbor eris certe . . . mea.”

WAS it not well, Apollo, for revenge
Of thine, my stronghold should imprison me?
Surely thou art content. No dream of thine
For mockery, because I loved thee not,
Could have matched bitterness with this, this spell
That holds me fast in answer to my prayer.
For had my sire Peneus taken thought
To put upon me some enchanted shape
Of river-waters, that had been glad life !
I would have fled, for very joy of flight,
Down the cool dusk of Tempe with the days,
Singing and singing to the reeds that sing,
Free as I was of old, and yet more free
From such as thou.... I would have laughed aloud
With all the laughing leaves, yet loitered not,
Ever apace with time that never stays,
Forever wingèd with a glad escape.
None should have followed save the breathless wind,
As some slim hound that follows to the chase.
I would have pricked the darkness like a star,
Holding forth silver hands of welcoming
To the poor sweetness of the meadow weeds;
The river-lilies should have stirred from sleep,
Fain to set sail like little wingèd ships
Against the anchoring root that held them fast.
I would have called unto the untamed things
That love the shadows: “ Come, four-footed ones,
Come hither, hither ! Drink ye, — be at peace :
Daphne, who hunts ye not, would pledge ye love
In this cool gift.” ... I would have fed the roots
Of growing things, — of wistful trees that lean
Unto the water, even as I, — as I
That am not Daphne, but a thirsty tree.
Ay me, for rain!
When did I think to stand
Blinded with twilight, reaching out vague hands
Through small, thick shadows, — listening with all leaves,
Soft breathing in the sky, in wait for her,
My lady Moon ? Hath she forgotten me ?
Since nevermore I serve her in the day
At chase, before she leave her pleasuring
To measure us the night. When will she come ?
Even at the close of such a fevered day,
But happy then, I lingered through the woods,
Weary with hunting; and I laid me down
Under the shelter of a little tree,
And left it without thanks. I did not know
It was my sister made me welcome there.
Ay me, for rain !... I had not ever thought
To look so long upon a careless cloud
Grazing on light, in pastures of the sky;
I had not thought to tremble, when it came,
For joy of all the bounty of glad rain,
Thrilling my leaves to laughter, as the hands
Of a minstrel thrill the harp-strings, that the breath
Of a new life awakes them, and they sing, —
Sing, and give back the joy in rain of song.
Yea, thou art lord of singers, Apollo. Yet
Think not I bend. For Song is lord of thee,
Song, that is thrall not to the deathless gods,
But bloweth ever as the uncagèd wind, —
Strong shaper of the Earth, and measurer
Even of thy strength, Apollo! Yea, I know;
Song, the first-breath, that bloweth through us all,
Encompasseth the universe and thee, —
Even Olympus also. Am not I
A little part of all this life of the Earth?
Have I not heard the dim and secret thing
Our Mother whispers, even in her sleep ?
Once I had given no heed: now, being held fast,
With sad roots ever seeking in the dark,
And leaves at parley with the nights and days,
I feel her heart abeat, and, being her own,
I know. Then crown thy lyre, if thou wilt so,
With my unwilling leaves. And let them be
Symbol, to men, of triumph; nay, but hear;
To thee, memorial that I whisper now:
The eternal thing thou shalt not overtake,
Token of Daphne whom thou couldst not thrall,
And Song that hath the sovereignty, — not thou!
Josephine Preston Peabody.