Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The Rose Was Sweeter Wearing than the Crown

Thou Art the Pearl
by Willa Cather 

I read of knights who laid their armour down,
 And left the tourney's prize for other hands,
And clad them in a pilgrim's sober gown,
 To seek a holy cup in desert lands.
For them no more the torch of victory;
 For them lone vigils and the starlight pale,
So they in dreams the Blessed Cup may see --
 Thou art the Grail! 

 An Eastern king once smelled a rose in sleep,
 And on the morrow laid his scepter down.
His heir his titles and his lands might keep,--
 The rose was sweeter wearing than the crown.
Nor cared he that its life was but an hour,
 A breath that from the crimson summer blows,
Who gladly paid a kingdom for a flower --
 Thou art the Rose! 

A merchant man, who knew the worth of things,
 Beheld a pearl more priceless than a star;
And straight returning, all he hath he brings
And goes upon his way, ah, richer far!
Laughter of merchants in the market-place,
 Nor taunting gibe nor scornful lips that curl,
Can ever cloud the rapture on his face --
 Thou art the Pearl!