A Poem by John Milton Hay
There was never a castle seen
So fair as mine in Spain:
It stands embowered in green,
Crowning the gentle slope
Of a hill by the Xenil’s shore
And at eve its shade flaunts o’er
The storied Vega plain,
And its towers are hid in the mists of Hope;
And I toil through years of pain
Its glimmering gates to gain.
In visions wild and sweet
Sometimes its courts I greet:
Sometimes in joy its shining halls
I tread with favoured feet;
But never my eyes in the light of day
Were blest with its ivied walls,
Where the marble white and the granite gray
Turn gold alike when the sunbeams play,
When the soft day dimly falls.
I know in its dusky rooms
Are treasures rich and rare;
The spoil of Eastern looms,
And whatever of bright and fair
Painters divine have caught and won
From the vault of Italy’s air:
White gods in Phidian stone
People the haunted glooms;
And the song of immortal singers
Like a fragrant memory lingers,
I know, in the echoing rooms.
But nothing of these, my soul!
Nor castle, nor treasures, nor skies,
Nor the waves of the river that roil
With a cadence faint and sweet
In peace by its marble feet –
Nothing of these is the goal
For which my whole heart sighs.
‘Tis the pearl gives worth to the shell –
The pearl I would die to gain;
For there does my lady dwell,
My love that I love so well –
The Queen whose gracious reign
Makes glad my castle in Spain.
Her face so pure and fair
Sheds light in the shady places,
And the spell of her girlish graces
Holds charmed the happy air.
A breath of purity
For ever before her flies,
And ill things cease to be
In the glance of her honest eyes.
Around her pathway flutter,
Where her dear feet wander free
In youth’s pure majesty,
The wings of the vague desires;
But the thought that love would utter
In reverence expires.
Not yet! not yet shall I see
That face which shines like a star
O’er my storm-swept life afar,
Transfigured with love for me.
Toiling, forgetting, and learning
With labour and vigils and prayers,
Pure heart and resolute will,
At last I shall climb the hill
And breathe the enchanted airs
Where the light of my life is burning
Most lovely and fair and free,
Where alone in her youth and beauty
And bound by her fate’s sweet duty,
Unconscious she waits for me.