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Iris Poems

Table of Contents

  1. White Iris by Bliss Carman
  2. Iris by C.E.D. Phelps
  3. Iris by Hilda Conkling

  1. White Iris

    by Bliss Carman

    White Iris was a princess
    In a kingdom long ago,
    Mysterious as moonlight
    And silent as the snow.

    She drew the world in wonder
    And swayed it with desire,
    Ere Babylon was builded
    Or a stone laid in Tyre.

    Yet here within my garden
    Her loveliness appears,
    Undimmed by any sorrow
    Of all the tragic years.

    How kind that earth should treasure
    So beautiful a thing—
    All mystical enchantment,
    To stir our hearts in spring!

  2. Iris

    by C.E.D. Phelps

    Thou knowest not the parching
    Of summer's cruel drought;
    Thou seest not the marching
    Of snows in winter rout;
    But thine the emerald sod is,
    And flowery cups that brim,
    O amaranthine goddess,
    Beneath the rainbow rim!

    For thee dusk sun-rays pencil
    The slopings of the wold,
    For thee fair lilies stencil
    The ancient cloth of gold.
    Of Tynan hue thy bodice,
    Thy crown the dewdrops trim,
    O amaranthine goddess,
    Beneath the rainbow rim!

    The breezes all pursue thee,
    Moved by thy virgin pride.
    Great Pan himself doth woo thee,
    And seek thee for his bride.
    The spot where thou hast trod is
    A jewel cast to him,
    O amaranthine goddess,
    Beneath the rainbow rim!

  3. Iris

    by Hilda Conklings

    Whiter than snow, sharp whiteness,
    With fanning leaves, small and straight
    Like herself,
    With head to the sky
    And violet eyes wide-open,
    Iris comes murmering a song
    As trees do,
    And leans upon the wind.
    Later she droops her head,
    For the dark
    Has caught her . . .

  4. Iris

    by Bliss Carman

    Thou art a golden iris
    Under a purple wall,
    Whereon the burning sunlight
    And greening shadows fall.

    What Summer night’s enchantment
    Took up the garden mould,
    And with the falling star-dust
    Refined it to such gold?

    What wonder of white magic
    Bidding thy soul aspire,
    Filled that luxurious body
    With languor and with fire?

    Wert thou not once a beauty
    In Persia or Japan,
    For whom, by toiling seaway
    Or dusty caravan,

    Of old some lordly lover
    Brought countless treasure home
    Of gems and silk and attar,
    To pleasure thee therefrom?

    Pale amber from the Baltic,
    Soft rugs of Indian ply,
    Stuffs from the looms of Bagdad
    Stained with the Tyrian dye.

    Were thy hands bright with henna,
    Thy lashes black with kohl,
    Thy voice like silver water
    Out of an earthen bowl?

    Or was thy only tent-cloth
    The blue Astartean night,
    Thy soul to beauty given,
    Thy body to delight?

    Wert thou not well desired,
    And was not life a boon,
    When Tanis held in Sidon
    Her Mysteries of the Moon?

    There in her groves of ilex
    The nightingales made ring
    With the mad lyric chorus
    Of youth and love and Spring,

    Wert thou not glad to worship
    With some blond Paphian boy,
    Illumined by new knowledge
    And intimate with joy?

    And did not the Allmother
    Smile in the hushed dim light,
    Hearing thy stifled laughter
    Disturb her holy rite?

    Ah, well thou must have served her
    In wise and gracious ways,
    With more than vestal fervour,
    A loved one all thy days!

    And dost thou, then, revisit
    Our borders at her will,
    Child of the sultry rapture,
    Waif of the Orient still?

    Because thy love was fearless
    And fond and strong and free,
    Art thou not her last witness
    To our apostasy?

    Just at the height of summer,
    The joy-days of the year,
    She bids, for our reproval,
    Thy radiance appear.

    Oh, Iris, let thy spirit
    Enkindle our gross clay,
    Bring back the lost earth-passion
    For beauty to our day!

    To-night, when down the marshes
    The lilac half-lights fade,
    And on the rosy shore-line
    No earthly spell is laid,

    I would be thy new lover,
    With the dark life renewed
    By our great mother Tanis
    And thy solicitude.

    Feel slowly change this vesture
    Of mortal flesh and bone,
    Transformed by her soft witch-work
    To one more like thine own.

    Become but as the rain-wind
    (Who am but dust indeed),
    To slake thy velvet ardour
    And soothe thy darling need.

    To dream and waken with thee
    Under the night’s blue sail,
    As the wild odours freshen,
    Till the white stars grow pale.

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