A Contrast [poem by Menie Parkes]

[Editor: This poem by Menie Parkes was published in Poems (1867).]

A Contrast.

Fire in her cheek, fire on her brow —
The radiant fire of beauty;
It hurt you with its glittering glow,
From dazzling comb to glancing shoe-tie.

Which glittered most, her dress or soul?
And which was most inhuman,
The clanging of her cymbal wit,
Or her garish robe? and she a woman!

The darting eye, the flickering lip,
The dimples changing quiver;
Th’ emphatic rise of finger-tip,
Where diamonds sparkle ever.

The shrill bell-laugh, the rushing step,
This loveliness in motion;
You’d rest — as soon as rest with her —
Upon the fickle breast of ocean.

The meek, bowed head, the quiet eye,
The cheek where pale blush-roses dwell,
The low words, softening through a sigh,
That gentle judgments tell.

The smile just parting those full lips,
Not daring gild the thoughtful eyes;
And all the quiet, daily work
That ’twixt her sleepings lies.

The folded flow of soft, grey robes,
The soft-brown, rounded head,
And the peaceful grace of motion where
Her noiseless footsteps tread.

The gravity of holiness
That rests upon her low white brow,
As though the seal of God did press
Upon it, even now.

Oh, beautiful beyond compare!
Sweet as an open midnight flower!
We quit the brilliant beauty there,
To own thy spirit’s power.



Source:
Menie Parkes, Poems, F. Cunninghame, Sydney, [1867], pages 99-100

[Editor: Corrected “gushing” to “rushing”, with regard to the “Errata” corrections.]

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