The Old Garden

by Arthur Stringer

Arthur Stringer


Where the dim paths wind and creep
Down past dark and ghostly lands
Lost this many a year in sleep,
Still an ivied sun-dial stands.

Still about the moss-greened urns
Fall the rose-leaves ghostly white;
Still the sunset flames and burns
In the basin's ghostly light

Still the Satyr by its rim
Holds the marble reed he bore,
And the brazen dolphins swim
On the fountain's broken floor.

Still afar some evening bell
Creeps and fails, and sounds and dies,
Where the ghostly shadows dwell
Here beneath the quiet skies

Here within the lichened walls
Sleeps a land forever old,
Where untroubled twilight falls
On the casements touched with gold.

Here the quiet hours flow,
And the years take languid breath,
Where the grasses only know
Dusk and Silence, Sleep and Death.


Yet in some remembered June
When the bird-notes ceased to ring
Down the echoing afternoon,
Here a woman used to sing.

Once where still the roses climb
Round her casements framed with green,
Wrapt in thought, O many a time
From her window she would lean,

And when sun and birds were gone,
With her cheek still in her hand,
Gazed across this shadowy lawn,
To a dim-grown valley land,

Where a white road twined and curled
Through black hills that barred the West,
And the unknown outer world
Filled her with a strange unrest.

Here she wandered, brooding-eyed,
Down each pathway fringed with box,
Where the hyacinths still hide,
Where still flame the hollyhocks.

And across the whispering grass
Where the ring-doves murmured low,
Oft her singing heart would pass
In that lyric Long Ago.

Here tuberose and poppy red
Saw her pause with lingering feet, —
On the sun-dial lean her head,
Crying out that life was sweet, —

Asking Time, if Spring by Spring,
When she walked no longer there
Other roses still could swing,
Other blossoms scent the air? —

" Weeping that she needs must leave
Warmth and beauty, for the grave —
Hush, what ghostly Voices grieve
Where the regal lilies wave?


Still it sleeps, this lonely place
Given o'er to dusk and dreams;
But her sad and tender face
Never from the casement gleams.

Still the ivied dial shows
In its old-time wash of light
Noonday open like a rose,
Though a shadow mark its flight.

Still the blossoms cling and bloom
Deep about her window-square,
Still the sunlight floods the room,
Still the tuberose scents the air;

Still it waits, her garden old,
Still the waning sunlight burns
On the casements tinged with gold,
On the green and muffled urns.

Still along the tangled walks,
Though she knows them not again,
Wait the patient rows of phlox,
Pipes the Satyr in the rain.

Though she comes no more to dream
Here where she and Youth were one,
Faint and ghostly voices seem,
Still to frighten back the sun.


Can it be that in some gray
Twilight She shall swing the gate? —
Where in eager disarray
Still her asters brood and wait?

Where her wiser poppy knows,
And her valiant violets
Look and wonder, and the rose
Round her darkened window frets?

And these things that temporal seem,
Rapture, Music, Loveliness,
Beauty frail, and passing Gleam,
Shall outlive the hearts they press?

Since, we trust, each glory strange,
Each vague hope Regret once gave,
Shall outlive all death and change,
As earth's love outlasts the grave!

Last updated September 07, 2017