Bayard Taylor (1825-1878)

"From Poetical Works (Complete Edition). Bayard Taylor was not a sonneteer, though a deservedly eminent poet." (Sharp)

return to sonnet central return to 19th century Americans

The Poet's House

Where should the Poet's house and household be?
Beneath what skies, in what untroubled air
Sings he for very joy of songs so fair
That in their steadfast laws he most is free?
In woods remote, where darkly tree on tree
Let fall their curtained shadows, to ensnare
His dreams, or hid in Fancy's happiest lair,--
Some laughing island of the stormless sea?
Ah, never such to him their welcome gave!
But, flattered by the gods in finer scorn,
He drifts upon the world's unresting wave,
As drifts a sea-flower, by the tempest torn
From sheltered porches of the coral cave
Where it expands, of calm and silence born.

In Absence

Absence from thee is something worse than death;
For, to the heart that slumbers in the shroud,
What are the mourners' tears and clamours loud,
The open grave, the dismal cypress wreath?
The quiet body misses not its breath;
The pain that shivers through the weeping crowd
Is idle homage to the visage proud
That changeth not for all Affliction saith.
But to be thus from thee so far away,
Is as though I, in seeming death, might be
Conscious of all that passed about my clay;
As though I saw my doleful obsequy,
Mourned my own loss, rebelled against decay,
And felt thy tear-drops trickling over me.

From the North

Once more without you! Sighing, dear, once more,
For all the sweet, accustomed ministries
Of wife and mother; not as when the seas
That parted us my tender message bore
From the gray olives of the Cretan shore
To those that hide the broken Phidian frieze
Of our Athenian home,--but far degrees,
Wide plains, great forests, part us now. My door
Looks on the rushing Neva, cold and clear:
The swelling domes in hovering splendour lie
Like golden bubbles, eager to be gone;
But the chill crystal of the atmosphere
Withholds them, and along the northern sky
The amber midnight smiles in dreams of dawn.