A Dream

Last night I looked into a dream; ’twas drawn
On the black midnight of a velvet sleep,
And set in woeful thoughts; and there I saw
A thin, pale Cupid, with bare, ragged wings
Like skeletons of leaves, in autumn left,
That sift the frosty air. One hand was shut,
And in its little hold of ivory
Fastened a May-morn zephyr, frozen straight,
Made deadly with a hornet’s rugged sting,
Gilt with the influence of an adverse star.
Such was his weapon, and he traced with it,
Upon the waters of my thoughts, these words:
“I am the death of flowers, and nightingales,
And small-lipped babes, that give their souls to summer
To make a perfumed day with: I shall come,
A death no larger than a sigh to thee,
Upon a sunset hour.”—And so he passed
Into the place where faded rainbows are,
Dying along the distance of my mind;
As down the sea Europa’s hair-pearls fell
When, through the Cretan waves, the curly bull
Dashed, tugging at a stormy plough, whose share
Was of the northern hurricane—

[Kelsall, 1851]