paradise

by Augustus Watters

They tell me of enchanted lands
        Where Summer reigneth ever;
Where skies divine forever shine,
        And Boreas rages never.
Where gondoliers, on silver streams,
        ‘Neath halloed arches glide,
And mirth and music flood the night
        As moonlight floods the tide.

And still I read of mystic realms
        Beyond the shore of time,
Where streets are paved with pearly gems,
        And harps forever chime.
Where sexless angels ever sing,
        In adoration deep,
And through the starry corridors
        Eternal anthems sweep.

But ah! no cloudy palaces,
        Nor Rome, nor Galilee,
Can thrill me like an Essex brook
        Or Jersey cherry-tree.
And every wilding rose whose breath
        Makes glad a Summer brake
With me hath greater power to charm
        Than Moses’ brazen snake.

On fair Passaic’s placid breast,
        That ripples toward the sea,
I’d rather glide at eventide
        Than on the Thames or Dee;
For there, in boyhood’s happy hour,
        I plunged beneath the spray,
And in the Summer’s golden light
        Washed all my sins away.

In that delightful blossom-time
        There seemed nor grief nor pain,
And ever as the Spring returns
        I think ’tis heaven again.
And though no castled crags are seen,
        Nor lordly pageants rare,
What fabled land could ever match
        Youth’s castles in the air!

The sorrow of the whip-poor-will,
        When lilies drink the dew,
To me is sweeter psalmody
        Than David ever knew.
And when the maple-trees are robed
        In Autumn’s tender mist,
Their jeweled crowns are lovelier
        Than walls of amethyst.

And when at noon the knightly elms
        Beat back the fervid heat,
And laugh to see the babies play
        About their royal feet,
I think no holy nimbus
        A Rembrandt ever paints
So sacred as the tangled gold
        Of Newark’s little saints.

When I, beneath some daisied roof,
        Unto my bed shall cling,
Methinks each Summer I shall wake
        To hear the robins sing.
And when the roguish mocking-bird
        Begins his serenade,
Old father time himself might laugh
        And fling away his blade.

Yea, though I wend from land to land,
        Or mid the planets roam,
No fairy isle, nor shining orb,
        Can be to me like home.
For that alone is paradise
        To which the heart doth cling,
And there alone, though tempests rage,
        Doth reign eternal Spring.

Image: Peter B. McCord via Newark Public Library
Image: Peter B. McCord via Newark Public Library

“Paradise” is from The New Age of Reason, published by Watters in 1893.

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