The Bottle

Of green and hexagonal glass,
With sharp, fluted sides —
Vaguely transparent these walls,
Wherein motionless hides
A simple so potent it can
To oblivion lull
The weary, the racked, the bereaved,
The miserable.

Flowers in silent desire
Their life-breath exhale —
Self-heal, hellebore, aconite,
Chamomile, dwale:
Sharing the same gentle heavens,
The sun's heat and light,
And, in the dust at their roots,
The same shallow night.

Each its own livelihood hath,
Shape, pattern, hue;
Age on to age unto these
Keeping steadfastly true;
And, musing amid them, there moves
A stranger, named Man,
Who of their ichor distils
What virtue he can;

Plucks them ere seed-time to blazon
His house with their radiant dyes;
Prisons their attar in wax;
Candies their petals; denies
Them freedom to breed in their wont;
Buds, fecundates, grafts them at will;
And with cunningest leechcraft compels
Their good to his ill.

Intrigue fantastic as this
Where shall we find?
Mute in their beauty they serve him,
Body and mind.
And one — but a weed in his wheat —
Is the poppy — frail, pallid, whose juice
With its saplike and opiate fume
Strange dreams will induce

Of wonder and horror. And none
Can silence the soul,
Wearied of self and of life,
Earth's darkness and dole,
More secretly, deeply. But finally? —
Waste not thy breath;
The words that are scrawled on this phial
Have for synonym, death —

Wicket out into the dark
That swings but one way;
Infinite hush in an ocean of silence
Aeons away —
Thou forsaken! — even thou! —
The dread good-bye;
The abandoned, the thronged, the watched, the unshared —
Awaiting me — I!
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