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Arnold Klein

I look upon her briar locks, now swinging free,
And think they are a net that Love himself has cast:
A struggling man, enmeshed, soon yields to what must be;
How vain it is to fight against what holds me fast!
And when she lifts her clear and azure eyes
I wonder if the heavens can outshine those two:
The sun must set, and night immerse the skies,
While these are ever radiant and ever blue.
And still with every glance their virtues shine anew;
Whereupon my errant thoughts, as we confer,
Inwardly discoursing with impatience cry
“Why am not I
Alone with her alone, as I so wish I were,
And reaching for those careless tresses with my hand
Caress each strand,
And make those eyes, which overcast the cope,
My looking glass and my kaleidoscope?”

I look upon her cheek, of cream and eider down,
And on her lip, the pink of roses moist with dew,
And think the master well deserved his crown
Who harmonized this portrait, artless hue by hue.
And still my thoughts keep up their undertone:
“Consider how electric it would be to brush
That ivory cheek – how wonderful to crush
That same soft subtle under lip beneath your own!
But when you hearken to her words alone,
How well-disposed they are and erudite,
How free from triviality, pretence and guile;
But should she smile,
That passes through her reasonings like light thru light.”
So do my thoughts about her lips descant,
And I must grant
That there is nothing precious I possess
I would not give to hear her lips say “Yes.”

I look upon her throat, so slender, live and warm,
Ascending from her supple shoulders and her breast,
Such that no better, nor for grace nor form,
Could be discovered, how so long the quest.
And then my thoughts, reflecting on these charms,
Insinuate: “Consider what delight and bliss
Would he attain who had that same throat in his arms,
And measured it from chin to collar, kiss by kiss.”
They pause and urge: “Then, too, consider this:
If her outward bearing takes a form so rare,
How much much lovelier is hid from view?
They reason true
Who from the planets of the upper air
Surmise that Paradise awaits above.
So reasons love;
And beauties that appear without do but entice
Our thought to seek a higher Paradise.”

I look upon her arms, so tapering and long,
Her well-shaped hands, and all the subtle ways
Of her graceful fingers, lithe and strong,
Each worthy of the cittern on whose strings she plays.
And then my thoughts say to me: “Come once safe home
Within those arms, and know just once their grace,
And so much pleasure would be yours, no poem
Could express the hundredth part of that embrace.
And see how clear a line her other members trace;
To trace it with one’s hand, what risks would one not brave?
And yet beware, for so much do her ways convene,
But misdemean,
And she becomes as proud, punctilious and grave
As she was gentle, accueillante and debonair;
But such a share
Has beauty in her virtue, virtue’s overborne,
And she enamors even those she means to scorn.

Like unto a peacock she moves serenely,
Above herself directly, like the lady crane;
Fitting and elegant and poised and queenly
Are all the actions of her grace and train.
“If you would see this proven past all doubt,”
(So say my thoughts) “Then try to keep your eyes
From gazing at her only when all round about
Stand beautiful ladies, gracious, too, and wise:
As every star’s fire fades and dies
Before the splendor of the rising sun,
So these others’ lights are blinded, too;
Yes, and were she minded to,
Her beauty and her love could be as one to one.
For nothing but virtue does her form discover,
And so the lover
Who would be deserving of this nonpareil
Must think as high as she and bear himself as well.”

Song, thou mayest say thy piece securely,
For comest forth thou dost as doth a maid, demurely,
Who knows her fresh body and free mind will draw
Plentiful compliment, but not universal awe –
For that belongs only to my Lady, surely.