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The Pearl

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Pearl that the Prince full well might prize,So surely set in shining gold!No pearl of Orient with her vies;To prove her peerless I make bold:So round, so radiant to mine eyes,smooth she seemed, so small to hold,Among all jewels judges wiseWould count her best an hundred fold.Alas! I lost my pearl of old!I pine with heart-pain unforgot;Down through my arbour grass it rolled,My own pearl, precious, without spot.

Since in that spot it slipped from meI wait, and wish, and oft complain;Once it would bid my sorrow flee,And my fair fortune turn again;It wounds my heart now ceaselessly,And burns my breast with bitter pain.Yet never so sweet a song may beAs, this still hour, steals through my brain,While verity I muse in vainHow clay should her bright beauty clot;O Earth! a brave gem thou dost stain,My own pearl, precious, without spot!

Needs must that spot with spices spread,Where such wealth falleth to decay;Fair flowers, golden and blue and red,Shine in the sunlight day by day;Nor flower nor fruit have witherèdOn turf wherein such treasure lay;The blade grows where the grain lies dead,Else were no ripe wheat stored away;Of good come good things, so we say,Then surely such seed faileth not,But spices spring in sweet arrayFrom my pearl, precious, without spot.

Once, to that spot of which I rhyme,I entered, in the arbour green,In August, the high summer-timeWhen corn is cut with sickles keen;Upon the mound where my pearl fell,Tall, shadowing herbs grew bright and sheen,Gilliflower, ginger and gromwell,With peonies powdered all between.As it was lovely to be seen,So sweet the fragrance there, I wot,Worthy her dwelling who hath beenMy own pearl, precious, without spot.

Upon that spot my hands I crossedIn prayer, for cold at my heart caught,And sudden sorrow surged and tossed,Though reason reconcilement sought.I mourned my pearl, dear beyond cost,And strange fears with my fancy fought;My will in wretchedness was lost,And yet Christ comforted my thought.Such odours to my sense were brought,I fell upon that flowery plot,Sleeping,—a sleep with dreams inwroughtOf my pearl, precious, without spot.


From the spot my spirit springs into space,The while my body sleeping lies;My ghost is gone in God's good grace,Adventuring mid mysteries;I know not what might be the place,But I looked where tall cliffs cleave the skies,Toward a forest I turned my face,Where ranks of radiant rocks arise.A man might scarce believe his eyes,Such gleaming glory was from them sent;No woven web may men deviseOf half such wondrous beauties blent.

In beauty shone each fair hillsideWith crystal cliffs in shining row,While bright woods everywhere abide,Their boles as blue as indigo;Like silver clear the leaves spread wide,That on each spray thick-quivering grow;If a flash of light across them glideWith shimmering sheen they gleam and glow;The gravel on the ground belowSeemed precious pearls of Orient;The sunbeams did but darkling showSo gloriously those beauties blent....