Tabb’s Poetry XVI

Peach Bloom

A dream in fragrant silence wrought,
A blossoming of petaled thought,
A passion of these April days—
The blush of nature now betrays.

An April Bloom

Whence art thou? From what chrysalis
   Of silence hast thou come?
What thought in thee finds utterance
   Of dateless ages dumb—
Outspeeding in the distance far
The herald glances of a star
      As yet unseen?

Wast thou, ere thine awakening here,
   In other realms a-bloom?
Or swathed in seamless cerements
   Of immemorial gloom,
Till now, as Nature’s pulses move,
Thou blossomest, a breath of Love,
   Her lips between? 


For this the fruit, for this the seed,
   For this the parent tree;
The least to man, the most to God—
   A fragrant mystery
Where Love, with Beauty glorified,
   Forgets Utility.
Cherry Bloom

Frailest, and first to stand
Upon the border-land
   From darkness shriven,
In livery of Death
Thou utterest the breath
   And light of Heaven.

Though profitless thou seem
As doth a Poet’s dream,
   Apart from thee
Nor limb nor laboring root
May load with ripened fruit
   The parent tree. 


Knew not the Sun, sweet Violet,
   The while he gleaned the snow,
That thou in darkness sepulchred,
   Wast slumbering below?
Or spun a splendor of surprise
Around him to behold thee rise?

Saw not the Star, sweet Violet,
   What time a drop of dew
Let fall his image from the sky
   Into thy deeper blue?
Nor waxed he tremulous and dim
When rival Dawn supplanted him?

And dreamest thou, sweet Violet,
   That I, the vanished Star,
The Dewdrop, and the morning Sun,
   Thy closest kinsmen are—
So near that, waking or asleep,
We each and all thine image keep?

John B. Tabb



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“Peach Bloom”: Lyrics, p. 103; Poetry, p. 326. February 1896.

“An April Bloom”: Lyrics, p. 102; Poetry, p. 16. 1897. A chrysalis is a cocoon; cerements are waxed cloths, especially those in which corpses are wrapped.

“Blossom”: Poems, p. 63; Poetry, p. 7. December 1892.

“Cherry Bloom”: Lyrics, p. 1; Poetry, p. 25. March 1895. To be shriven is to be absolved, forgiven, or cleansed; the first nor in the tenth line should be understood as neither.

“Brotherhood”: Poems, p. 31; Poetry, p. 4. 1894.

A convert to the Catholic faith, Rev. John Banister Tabb (1845-1909) was a priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, and Professor of English at St. Charles’ College, Ellicott City, Maryland. Poems selected, arranged, and annotated by E.L. Core.
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