Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  From “Sospiri Di Roma.” III. The White Peacock

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

William Sharp 1855–1905

From “Sospiri Di Roma.” III. The White Peacock


HERE where the sunlight

Floodeth the garden,

Where the pomegranate

Reareth its glory

Of gorgeous blossom;

Where the oleanders

Dream through the noontides;

And, like surf o’ the sea

Round cliffs of basalt,

The thick magnolias

In billowy masses

Front the sombre green of the ilexes:

Here where the heat lies

Pale blue in the hollows,

Where blue are the shadows

On the fronds of the cactus,

Where pale blue the gleaming

Of fir and cypress,

With the cones upon them

Amber or glowing

With virgin gold:

Here where the honey-flower

Makes the heat fragrant,

As though from the gardens

Of Gulistân,

Where the bulbul singeth

Though a mist of roses,

A breath were borne:

Here where the dream-flowers,

The cream-white poppies

Silently waver,

And where the Scirocco,

Faint in the hollows,

Foldeth his soft white wings in the sunlight,

And lieth sleeping

Deep in the heart of

A sea of white violets:

Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty

Moveth in silence, and dreamlike, and slowly,

White as a snow-drift in mountain valleys

When softly upon it the gold light lingers:

White as the foam o’ the sea that is driven

O’er billows of azure agleam with sun-yellow:

Cream-white and soft as the breasts of a girl,

Moves the White Peacock, as though through the noon-tide

A dream of the moonlight were real for a moment.

Dim on the beautiful fan that he spreadeth,

Foldeth and spreadeth abroad in the sunlight,

Dim on the cream-white are blue adumbrations,

Shadows so pale in their delicate blueness

That visions they seem as of vanishing violets,

The fragrant white violets veinéd with azure,

Pale, pale as the breath of blue smoke in far woodlands.

Here, as the breath, as the soul of this beauty,

White as a cloud through the heats of the noontide

Moves the White Peacock.