To Idleness

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Sweet Idleness, you linger at the door
To lead me down through meadows cool with shade—
Down to the brook, over whose pebbly floor
The fishes, unafraid,
Swim softly, careless of our airy world.
I hear you ever singing, calling ever,
Bidding me sever
The chain so close about my spirit curled.
Why do I toil and pore
When you are at the door?
Surely Time's slave am I, and you will shun me;
Surely the delvers of the dark have won me
If here I stay when you are fled away.

O Idleness, where sleep your votaries ?
In what enchanted garden of pure bliss
Float their dim dreams on lotus-laden wings?
What joy of musical imaginings
Lulls them in banishment?
Ah, call them back to earth, that weary is!
Ah, call them back, with sleepy-eyed Content
Close in their flowery train,
And bid them soothe a world whose joys are spent,
Who prays for peace in vain !
Tell them to twine their wreaths round yonder brow,
Whence lovely hopes flamed skyward once, where now
Greed showers his ashes gray.
Bedew those eyes until they shine once more;
For exiled youth unbar the rusted door,
And save a soul to-day.

Oh, will you linger with the butterflies,
And man's high love despise?
I know one fit for your sweet wooing—
Ah, save him from the beckoning death!
Too swiftly Beauty's quest pursuing,
Soon must he fall, and fail of breath.
The dull world speeds him on—oh, haste!
With roses bind him, bear him far,
Sing him sweet songs, weave visions chaste,
Till he is strong to seek his star!

Ah, we have sinned and grievous is our shame !
You we have banished, and reviled your name,
Till men dig deep in shadows, rubbing o'er
Their earthy store;
And maids pink-petalled like the morn,
For you and love and dalliance born,
Toil clamorous in the dark, and smile no more.
Do you hear the noise? Ah, no! for you are flown.
Now you will follow
The flight of song through fields with daisies sown.
The sport of thrush and swallow
Rhymes with your joy, and I must brood alone.

© Harriet Monroe