Poppy Song

David Park Barnitz

O poppy-buds, that in the golden air
Wave heavy hanging censers of delight,
Give me an anodyne for my despair;
     O crimson poppy-blooms, O golden blight,
O careless drunken heavy poppy-flowers,
Make that the day for me be as the night.
     Give me to lie down in your drowsy bowers,
That having breathed of your rich perfume,
My soul may have all-rest through all the hours;
     So shall I lie within my little room,
While the poor tyrants of the world go by,
Restfully shrouded in your velvet gloom,
     Beneath the wide face of the cloudless sky.

     —Even so, when thou shalt eat of us,
Even so, thy life shall be a sleep,
Empty of all things fierce and piteous;
     Even as a sailor on the tossing deep
Hears vaguely the vain tumult on the shore,
Shouts of the fighters, songs of them that reap.
     Life is all vanity, a loathed sore,
A scatter'd dust, a vain and soiled heap.
Thou shalt have golden rest forevermore.

     O poppy-flowers, golden, sleepy, sweet,
O yellow tawny fading blooms of gold,
Give unto me your holy fruit to eat;
     Make me forget all things above the mould;
Make me forget that dolorous vow that sears,
Not to be lesser than the great of old;
     Make me forget the heavy old dead years,
And all that lives from out the writhing past,
Old struggles, dead ambitions, buried tears;
     And that white face that I shall see the last.

     —Sweet is forgetfulness, most sweet to lie,
Sunken from sorrow, in our pleasant vale,
Where but the sun shines, and the clouds go by;
     Even as to them that through deep waters sail
The toiling shore fades and becomes a sky,
And evermore behind the billows fail.
     Sweet to forget the death-like things that were,
Green pastures where the clouds sail by on high,
Dead sundawns over pathless prairies fair,
     And suns long sunk beneath the wall of the sky.

     Under the sun my spirit lies alone,
Drunken with slumber and mild exstasy
     Sleep, sweet sleep, long unto mine eyes unknown.
Drops on me as ripe fruit drops from a tree;
My dim eyes see the valley poppy-strown;
     The clouds fade and the gold sun over me,
And the world's murmur sounds within my lair
Like the far tossing of some infinite sea;
     Within the heavy slumber-laden air
All fades, all fades, and grows afar afar,
Leaving my soul alone, empty of care,
     Even as happy long-dead bodies are.
Even so I slumber in my tireless close,
While the whole world fades like a fading star,
     Dies like the perfume of a dying rose.

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