Ina Coolbrith

With a Wreath of Laurel

O winds, that ripple the long grass!
O winds, that kiss the jeweled sea!
Grow still and lingering as you pass,
About this laurel-tree!

Great Shasta knew you in the cloud
That turbans his white brow; the sweet,
Cool rivers; and the woods that bowed
Before your pinions fleet.

With meadow scents your breath is rife;
With redwood odors, and with pine:
Now pause and thrill with twofold life
Each spicy leaf I twine.

The laurel grows upon the hill
That looks across the western sea.
O winds, within the boughs be still,
O sun, shine tenderly,

And bird, sing soft about your nest:
I twine a wreath for other lands,—
A grave!  nor wife nor child hath blest
With touch of loving hands.

Where eyes are closed, divine and young,
Dusked in a night no morn may break,
And hushed the poet lips that sung,
The songs none else may wake;

Unfelt the venomed arrow-thrust,
Unheard the lips that hiss disgrace
While the sad heart is dust, and dust
The beautiful, sad face!

For him I pluck the laurel crown!
It ripened in the western breeze,
Where Saucelito's hills look down
Upon the golden seas;

And sunlight lingered in its leaves
From dawn until the scarce dimmed sky
Changed to the light of stars; and waves
Sang to it constantly.

I weave, and strive to weave a tone,
A touch that, somehow, when it lies
Upon his sacred dust, alone,
Beneath the English skies,

The sunshine of the arch it knew,
The calm that wrapt its native hill,
The love that wreathed its glossy hue,
May breathe around it still!