Ere The Golden Bowl Is Broken

 Anna Hempstead Branch (1875—1937)


He gathered for His own delight
The sparkling waters of my soul.
A thousand creatures, bubbling bright—
He set me in a golden bowl.

From the deep cisterns of the earth
He bade me up—the shining daughter—
And I am exquisite with mirth,
A brightening and a sunlit water.

The wild, the free, the radiant one,
A happy bubble I did glide.
I poised my sweetness to the sun
And there I sleeked my silver side.

Sometimes I lifted up my head
And globed the moonlight with my hands,
Or thin as flying wings I spread
Angelic wildness through the sands.

Then, woven into webs of light,
I breathed, I sighed, I laughed aloud,
And lifting up my pinions bright
I shone in Heaven, a bird-white cloud.

Then did I dance above the mead,
And through the crystal fields would run,
And from my scarlet splendors breed
The golden thunders of the sun.

Beneath the whitening stars I flew
And floated moon-like on the breeze,
Or my frail heart was piercéd through
With sharp sweet flowers of the trees.

Of giant crags I bear the scars,
And I have swept along the gale,
Such multitudes as are the stars,
My myriad faces rapt and pale.

As savage creatures strong and free
Make wild the jungle of the wood,
The starry powers that sport in me
Habit my silver solitude.

From out my smallness, soft as dew,
That utter fastness, stern and deep,
Terrible meanings look at you
Like visions from the eyes of sleep.

I cannot leap—I cannot run—
I only glimmer, soft and mild,
A limpid water in the sun,
A sparkling and a sunlit child.

What stranger ways shall yet be mine
When I am spilled, you cannot see.
But now you laugh to watch me shine,
And smooth the hidden stars in me.

Lightly you stroke my silver wing—
The folded carrier of my soul.
A soft, a shy, a silent thing,
A water in a golden bowl!

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