James B. Kenyon

"From Out of the Shadows, 1886, and In Realms of Gold, 1887. As a sonneteer Mr. Kenyon takes a high place among contemporary American poets." (Sharp)

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The Traveller

When in the dark we slowly drift away
O'er unknown seas, and busy thoughts at last
Are quieted, and all the cares are past
That, bandit-like, infest the realms of day--
To what pale country does the spirit stray?
Within what wan-lit land, what region vast,
Does this strange traveller journey far and fast,
Till in the east the day breaks cold and gray?
Ah, tell me, when we slumber, whither goes,
And whence at waking comes, the silent guest,
Whose face no man hath seen, whom no man knows--
The dim familiar of each human breast?
Behold, at length, when day indeed shall close,
Will this uneasy traveller, too, have rest?

Romeo to Juliet

Love, touch my mouth with kisses as with fire;
Lean hard against my breast, that I may feel
From thy warm heart its influence subtly steal
Through all my veins; with overmuch desire
My spirit fainteth, and my lips suspire
Swiftly with heavy breathings; round me reel
The shadows of the dark, and downward wheel
The dim, far stars from heaven; draw me nigher
Unto thy bosom, love, for all my sense
Of earth and time fleets from me. . . Dayward flows
The stream of night, and into yon immense
Blue void the slow moon fails; hold me more close,
Lest from thine arms my spirit hasten hence
Going that viewless way no mortal knows.

Cleopatra to Anthony

Go from me now; I will no longer feel
Your burning kisses on my fevered lips;
You shall not hold one moment e'en the tips
Of my shut fingers, though you cry and kneel.
My face aches, and my tired senses reel;
Through all my veins a drowsy poison slips;
My sight grows dim with gradual eclipse,
For slumber on mine eyes has set his seal.
Get hence; I will no more to-night; the bars
Of love are placed against you now: go while
I hate you not, my Roman; the sick stars
Wax faint and pallid in the dawn's red smile,
Look! I am quenched in sleep, as nenuphars
Are quenched in the broad bosom of the Nile.

A Sea Grave

Yea, rock him gently in thine arms, O Deep!
No nobler heart was ever hushed to rest
Upon the chill, soft pillow of thy breast--
No truer eyes didst thou e'er kiss to sleep.
While o'er his couch the wrathful billows leap,
And mighty winds roar from the darkened west,
Still may his head on thy cool weeds be pressed,
Far down where thou dost endless silence keep.
Oh, when, slow moving through thy spaces dim
Some scaly monster seeks its coral cave,
And pausing o'er the sleeper, stares with grim
Dull eyes a moment downwards through the wave,
Then let thy pale green shadows curtain him,
And swaying sea-flowers hide his lonely grave.


Blown through the gusty spaces of the night,
The pale clouds fleet like ghosts along the sky;
A fitful wind goes moaning feebly by,
And the faint moon, poised o'er the craggy height,
Dies in its own uncertain, misty light.
Within the hills the water-springs are dry;
The herbs are withered; and the sand-wastes lie
Dim, wide, and lonely to the weary sight.
Behold! her awful vigil she will keep
Through the wan night as through the burning day;
Though all the world should sleep she will not sleep,
But watch, wild-eyed and fierce, to scare away,
As round and round, with hoarse, low cries they creep,
From her dead sons the hungry beasts of prey.

My Love Is Like the Vastness of the Sea

My love is like the vastness of the sea,
As deep as life, as high as heaven is high,
And pure as an unclouded summer sky,
And as enduring as eternity.
My love is that which was, and is to be,
Which knows no change, and which can never die;
Which all the wealth of Ophir could not buy,
Yet free to one as light and air is free.
O Love, thou putt'st to shame the nightingale;
Thy lips, like bees, are fraught with hydromel;
Than lilies are thy bosom is more pale;
Thy words are sweeter than a silver bell:
Yet time from thee thy beauties shall estrange:
But this my Love can never suffer change.


Lo! in the valley, Love the galingale
Bends to the blast beside the river-shore,
And autumn pipes forever more and more,
While summer's slender voices faint and fail.
Lo! now the liveried leaf grows sere and pale--
A phantom of the glory gone before--
And in the woodland walks we knew of yore
Long since the songster ceased his tuneful tale.
Love, let us love; life's summer waneth soon;
Brief is the splendour of its fervent day:
For every blood-red rose of balmy June
Hath burst a tender bud of early May.
I unto thee would consecrate a boon;
O shall we love, or shall we still delay?

(Text from American Sonnets)