Sunday, January 29, 2012

THE DILEMMA ~ A Poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes


by: Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

OW, by the blessed Paphian queen,

Who heaves the breast of sweet sixteen;

By every name I cut on bark

Before my morning star grew dark;

By Hymen's torch, by Cupid's dart,

By all that thrills the beating heart;

The bright black eye, the melting blue,--

I cannot choose between the two.

I had a vision in my dreams;--

I saw a row of twenty beams;

From every beam a rope was hung,

In every rope a lover swung;

I asked the hue of every eye

That bade each luckless lover die;

Ten shadowy lips said, heavenly blue,

And ten accused the darker hue.

I asked a matron which she deemed

With fairest light of beauty beamed;

She answered, some thought both were fair,--

Give her blue eyes and golden hair.

I might have liked her judgment well,

But, as she spoke, she rung the bell,

And all her girls, nor small nor few,

Came marching in, -- their eyes were blue.

I asked a maiden; back she flung

The locks that round her forehead hung,

And turned her eye, a glorious one,

Bright as a diamond in the sun,

On me, until beneath its rays

I felt as if my hair would blaze;

She liked all eyes but eyes of green;

She looked at me; what could she mean?

Ah! many lids Love lurks between,

Nor heeds the coloring of his screen;

And when his random arrows fly,

The victim falls, but knows not why.

Gaze not upon his shield of jet,

The shaft upon the string is set;

Look not beneath his azure veil,

Though every limb were cased in mail.

Well, both might make a martyr break

The chain that bound him to the stake;

And both, with but a single ray,

Can melt our very hearts away;

And both, when balanced, hardly seem

To stir the scales, or rock the beam;

But that is dearest, all the while,

That wears for us the sweetest smile.

Lisa Ekanger Your Preferred Realtor!

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