Luna Through a Lorgnette.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


I TO-NIGHT was at a party
Given by the fair Astarte.
Star-like eyes danced twinkling round me;
Cold they left me, as they found me.
One bright vision, one face only,
Made me happy and yet lonely.
It was hers to whom is given
Rule by night,—the queen of heaven.
“Ah, how fair she is!” I muttered,
Like a night-moth as I fluttered
Round her light, but dared not enter
That intensely radiant centre,
Whence she filled the clouds about her,
Whence she lit the very outer
Darkness, and the ocean hoary
With her floods of golden glory.

Some one, then, as I stood gazing,
Filled too full of her for praising,
Of the old time vaguely dreaming,
When she took a mortal seeming;
When the shepherd sprang to meet her,
And be felt a kiss, ah, sweeter
Than e’er lips of mortal maiden
Gave her lover passion-laden,—
Some one with a sneer ascetic
Broke in on my dream poetic.
“I see more,” he said, “than you, sir;
Would you like a nearer view, sir? “
And with that, politely handing
A lorgnette, he left me standing,
In her face directly gazing;
And I saw a sight amazing.
Ah, these dreadful magnifiers
Kill the life of our desires.
Shall I tell you what I saw then?
All of you around me draw then.

Can she be as once I thought her,—
Phœbus’ sister, Jove’s fair daughter?
Whom the night-flowers turn to gaze on,
Whom the sleeping streams emblazon:
Lover’s planet, lamp of heaven,
Goddess to whom power is given
Over tides and rolling oceans,
Over all the heart’s emotions!

Ah, farewell, my boyish fancies!
Farewell, all my young romances!
As that orb that shone Elysian
On my young poetic vision,
As that crescent boat which lightly
Tilted o’er the cloud-rack nightly,
I again can see her never,
Though I use my best endeavor.
On me once her charms she sprinkled,
Now her face is old and wrinkled.
As Diana chaste and tender,
Can I now as once defend her?
She is full of histories olden
Wrapped up in her bosom golden.
Sorceress of strange beguiling,
Thousands perished by her smiling,—
Girls kept waking, old men saddened,
Lovers lost, and poets maddened.
Now the well-armed eye of Science
Bids her magic spells defiance;
Moonstruck brains by moonlight haunted
Telescopes have disenchanted.

Talk not of the brow of Dian.
Gentle bards, you may rely on
What I’ve seen to-night; ‘t is clearly
Known the moon’s constructed queerly,
Full of wrinkles, warts, and freckles,
Gilded cracks and spots and speckles;
As if in wandering through the void,
Her face were marked with varioloid.
Then her cheeks and eyes so hollow,
That I’m sure the bright Apollo
Ne’er would know her for his sister,
Nor Endymion have kissed her.

Nay, good Moon, I’m loath to slander
Thy mysterious beauty yonder;
Rather as I gaze upon thee,
Truer lines be written on thee.
Take away your telescope, sir;
Let me still, as ever, hope, sir.
Ill does it become a lover
All the bare truth to discover.
Reach me, friends, a brimming beaker;
Wine shall make my vision weaker.
Songs of olden days come sing me,
Charms that cheat the senses bring me.
Nay, I have a sweet suspicion
It was a distorted vision.
What I saw that looked so queerly,
Was exaggeration merely.
Things remote by law of nature
Should be kept within their stature.
Telescopic eyes are clever
Things to own; but use them never!

So, fair Moon, again I’m dreaming
On thy face above me beaming!
Orb of beauty, mid star-clusters
Hanging heavy with thy lustres;
Saturated with the sun-fire,
Which thou turnest into moon-fire,
Raying from thy fields and mountains,
Silvering earth’s rejoicing fountains,
Crystal vase with light o’er-brimming;
Eye of night with love-tears swimming;
Heaven’s left heart, in music beating
Through the cloud robes round thee fleeting;
Cheering all within, without thee,
Even the wind-chased mists about thee,—
Though I mocked thy face mysterious,
I have grown more sage and serious.

Cold astronomers may show thee
Rough in feature, fair I know thee!
At thy critics thou art laughing,
Spite of all their photographing,
In their rigid prose detailing
Every spot and every failing.
I will be thy enamored poet,
Though my friends may smile to know it;
For my dreams do scorn alliance
With these prying thieves of science.

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