873. The Great Breath

George William Russell ('A. E.'). b. 1853

ITS edges foam'd with amethyst and rose,
Withers once more the old blue flower of day:
There where the ether like a diamond glows,
        Its petals fade away.

A shadowy tumult stirs the dusky air;
Sparkle the delicate dews, the distant snows;
The great deep thrills--for through it everywhere
        The breath of Beauty blows.

I saw how all the trembling ages past,
Moulded to her by deep and deeper breath,
Near'd to the hour when Beauty breathes her last
        And knows herself in death.

The Oxford Book of English Verse, HTML edition