I Loved Thee, Atthis, In The Long Ago
I loved thee, Atthis, in the long ago,
When the great oleanders were in flower
In the broad herded meadows full of sun.
And we would often at the fall of dusk
Wander together by the silver stream,
When the soft grass-heads were all wet with dew
And purple-miste d in the fading light.
And joy I knew and sorrow at thy voice,
And the superb magnificence of love,—
The loneliness that saddens solitude,
And the sweet speech that makes it durable,—
The bitter longing and the keen desire,
The sweet companionshi p through quiet days
In the slow ample beauty of the world,
And the unutterable glad release
Within the temple of the holy night.
O Atthis, how I loved thee long ago
In that fair perished summer by the sea!
LORD of the grass and hill,
Lord of the rain,
White Overlord of will,
Master of pain,
I who am dust and air
Blown through the halls of death,
Like a pale ghost of prayer,—
I am thy breath.
Lord of the blade and leaf,
Lord of the bloom,
Sheer Overlord of grief,
Master of doom,
Lonely as wind or snow,
Through the vague world and dim,
Vagrant and glad I go;
I am thy whim.
Lord of the storm and lull,
Lord of the sea,
I am thy broken gull,
Blown far alee.
Lord of the harvest dew,
Lord of the dawn,
Star of the paling blue
Darkling and gone,
Lost on the mountain height
Where the first winds are stirred,
Out of the wells of night
I am thy word.
Lord of the haunted hush,
Where raptures throng,
I am thy hermit thrush,
Ending no song.
Lord of the frost and cold,
Lord of the North,
When the red sun grows old
And day goes forth,
I shall put off this girth,—
Go glad and free,
Earth to my mother earth,
Spirit to thee.
Lord of my heart’s elation,
Spirit of things unseen,
Be thou my aspiration
Consuming and serene!
Bear up, bear out, bear onward
This mortal soul alone,
To selfhood or oblivion,
Incredibly thine own,—
As the foamheads are loosened
And blown along the sea,
Or sink and merge forever
In that which bids them be.
I, too, must climb in wonder,
Uplift at thy command,—
Be one with my frail fellows
Beneath the wind’s strong hand,
A fleet and shadowy column
Of dust or mountain rain,
To walk the earth a moment
And be dissolved again.
Be thou my exaltation
Or fortitude of mien,
Lord of the world’s elation
Thou breath of things unseen!
A Threnody for Robert Louis Stevenson
COLD, the dull cold! What ails the sun,
And takes the heart out of the day?
What makes the morning look so mean,
The Common so forlorn and gray?
The wintry city's granite heart
Beats on in iron mockery,
And like the roaming mountain rains,
I hear the thresh of feet go by.
It is the lonely human surf
Surging through alleys chill with grime,
The muttering churning ceaseless floe
Adrift out of the North of time.
Fades, it all fades! I only see
The poster with its reds and blues
Bidding the heart stand still to take
Its desolating stab of news.
That intimate and magic name:
' Dead in Samoa.' . . . Cry your cries,
O city of the golden dome,
Under the gray Atlantic skies!
But I have wander-biddings now.
Far down the latitudes of sun,
An island mountain of the sea,
Piercing the green and rosy zone,
Goes up into the wondrous day.
And there the brown-limbed island men
Are bearing up for burial,
Within the sun's departing ken,
The master of the roving kind.
And there where time will set no mark
For his irrevocable rest,
Under the spacious melting dark,
With all the nomad tented stars
About him, they have laid him down
Above the crumbling of the sea,
Beyond the turmoil of renown.
O all you hearts about the world
In whom the truant gipsy blood,
Under the frost of this pale time,
Sleeps like the daring sap and flood
That dream of April and reprieve!
You whom the haunted vision drives,
Incredulous of home and ease,
Perfection's lovers all your lives!
You whom the wander-spirit loves
To lead by some forgotten clue
For ever vanishing beyond
Horizon brinks for ever new;
The road, unmarked, ordained, whereby
Your brothers of the field and air
Before you, faithful, blind, and glad,
Emerged from chaos pair by pair;
The road whereby you too must come,
In the unvexed and fabled years
Into the country of your dream,
With all your knowledge in arrears!
You who can never quite forget
Your glimpse of Beauty as she passed,
The well-head where her knee was pressed,
The dew wherein her foot was cast;
O you who bid the paint and clay
Be glorious when you are dead,
And fit the plangent words in rhyme
Where the dark secret lurks unsaid;
You brethren of the light-heart guild,
The mystic fellowcraft of joy,
Who tarry for the news of truth,
And listen for some vast ahoy
Blown in from sea, who crowd the wharves
With eager eyes that wait the ship
Whose foreign tongue may fill the world
With wondrous tales from lip to lip;
Our restless loved adventurer,
On secret orders come to him,
Has slipped his cable, cleared the reef,
And melted on the white sea-rim.
O granite hills, go down in blue!
And like green clouds in opal calms,
You anchored islands of the main,
Float up your loom of feathery palms!
For deep within your dales, where lies
A valiant earthling stark and dumb,
This savage undiscerning heart
Is with the silent chiefs who come
To mourn their kin and bear him gifts,—
Who kiss his hand, and take their place,
This last night he receives his friends,
The journey-wonder on his face.
He 'was not born for age.' Ah no,
For everlasting youth is his!
Part of the lyric of the earth
With spring and leaf and blade he is.
'Twill nevermore be April now
But there will lurk a thought of him
At the street corners, gay with flowers
From rainy valleys purple-dim.
O chiefs, you do not mourn alone!
In that stern North where mystery broods,
Our mother grief has many sons
Bred in those iron solitudes.
It does not help them, to have laid
Their coil of lightning under seas;
They are as impotent as you
To mend the loosened wrists and knees.
And yet how many a harvest night,
When the great luminous meteors flare
Along the trenches of the dusk,
The men who dwell beneath the Bear,
Seeing those vagrants of the sky
Float through the deep beyond their hark,
Like Arabs through the wastes of air,—
A flash, a dream, from dark to dark,—
Must feel the solemn large surmise:
By a dim, vast and perilous way
We sweep through undetermined time,
Illumining this quench of clay,
A moment staunched, then forth again.
Ah, not alone you climb the steep
To set your loving burden down
Against the mighty knees of sleep.
With you we hold the sombre faith
Where creeds are sown like rain at sea;
And leave the loveliest child of earth
To slumber where he longed to be.
His fathers lit the dangerous coast
To steer the daring merchant home;
His courage lights the darkling port
Where every sea-worn sail must come.
And since he was the type of all
That strain in us which still must fare,
The fleeting migrant of a day,
Heart-high, outbound for otherwhere,
Now therefore, where the passing ships
Hang on the edges of the noon,
And Northern liners trail their smoke
Across the rising yellow moon,
Bound for his home, with shuddering screw
That beats its strength out into speed,
Until the pacing watch descries
On the sea-line a scarlet seed
Smoulder and kindle and set fire
To the dark selvedge of the night,
The deep blue tapestry of stars,
Then sheet the dome in pearly light,
There in perpetual tides of day,
Where men may praise him and deplore,
The place of his lone grave shall be
A seamark set for evermore,
High on a peak adrift with mist,
And round whose bases, far beneath
The snow-white wheeling tropic birds,
The emerald dragon breaks his teeth.
Phi Beta Kappa Poem
SIR, friends, and scholars, we are here to serve
A high occasion. Our New England wears
All her unrivalled beauty as of old;
And June, with scent of bayberry and rose
And song of orioles— as she only comes
By Massachusetts Bay —is here once more,
Companioning our fête of fellowship.
The open trails, South, West, and North, lead back
From populous cities or from lonely plains,
Ranch, pulpit, office, factory, desk, or mill,
To this fair tribunal of ambitious youth,
The shadowy town beside the placid Charles,
Where Harvard waits us through the passing years,
Conserving and administering still
Her savor for the gladdening of the race.
Yearly, of all the sons she has sent forth,
And men her admiration would adopt,
She summons whom she will back to her side
As if to ask, 'How fares my cause of truth
In the great world beyond these studious walls?'
Here, from their store of life experience,
They must make answer as grace is given them,
And their plain creed, in verity, declare.
Among the many, there is sometimes called
One who, like Arnold's scholar gypsy poor,
Is but a seeker on the dusky way,
'Still waiting for the spark from heaven to fall.'
He must bethink him first of other days,
And that old scholar of the seraphic smile,
As we recall him in this very place
With all the sweetest culture of his age,
His gentle courtesy and friendliness,
A chivalry of soul now strangely rare,
And that ironic wit which made him, too,
The unflinching critic and most dreaded foe
Of all things mean, unlovely, and untrue.
What Mr. Norton said, with that slow smile,
Has put the fear of God in many a heart,
Even while his hand encouraged eager youth.
From such enheartening who would not dare speak—
Seeing no truth can be too small to serve,
And no word worthless that is born of love?
Within the noisy workshop of the world,
Where still the strife is upward out of gloom,
Men doubt the value of high teaching —cry,
'What use is learning? Man must have his will!
The élan of life alone is paramount!
Away with old traditions! We are free!'
So folly mocks at truth in Freedom's name.
Pale Anarchy leads on, with furious shriek,
Her envious horde of reckless malcontents
And mad destroyers of the Commonwealth,
While Privilege with indifference grows corrupt,
Till the Republic stands in jeopardy
From following false idols and ideals,
Though sane men cry for honesty once more,
Order and duty and self-sacrifice.
Our world and all it holds of good for us
Our fathers and unselfish mothers made,
With noble passion and enduring toil,
Strenuous, frugal, reverent, and elate,
Caring above all else to guard and save
The ampler life of the intelligence
And the fine honor of a scrupulous code —
Ideals of manhood touched with the divine.
For this they founded these great schools we serve,
Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Dartmouth, Yale,
Amherst and Williams, trusting to our hands
The heritage of all they held most high,
Possessions of the spirit and the mind,
Investments in the provinces of joy.
Vast provinces are these! And fortunate they
Who at their will may go adventuring there,
Exploring all the boundaries of Truth,
Learning the roads that run through Beauty's realm,
Sighting the pinnacles where Good meets God,
Encompassed by the eternal unknown sea!
Even for a little to o'erlook those lands,
The kingdoms of Religion, Science, Art,
Is to be made forever happier
With blameless memories that shall bring content
And inspiration for all after days.
And fortunate they whom destiny allows
To rest within those provinces and serve
The dominion of ideals all their lives.
For whoso will, putting dull greed aside,
And holding fond allegiance to the best,
May dwell there and find fortitude and joy.
In the free fellowship of kindred minds,
One band of scholar gypsies I have known,
Whose purpose all unworldly was to find
An answer to the riddle of the Earth —
A key that should unlock the book of life
And secrets of its sorceries reveal.
This, they discovered, had long since been found
And laid aside forgotten and unused.
Our dark young poet who from Dartmouth came
Was told the secret by his gypsy bride,
Who had it from a master over seas,
And he it was first hinted to the band
The magic of that universal lore,
Before the great Mysteriarch summoned him.
It was the doctrine of the threefold life,
The beginning of the end of all their doubt.
In that Victorian age it has become
So much the fashion now to half despise,
Within the shadow of Cathedral walls
They had been schooled, and heard the mellow chimes
For Lenten litanies and daily prayers,
With a mild, eloquent, beloved voice
Exhorting to all virtue and that peace
Surpassing understanding —casting there
That 'last enchantment of the Middle Age,'
The spell of Oxford and her ritual.
So duteous youth was trained, until there grew
Restive outreaching in men's thought to find
Some certitude beyond the dusk of faith.
They cried on mysticism to be gone,
Mazed in the shadowy princedom of the soul.
Then as old creeds fell round them into dust,
They reached through science to belief in law,
Made reason paramount in man, and guessed
At reigning mind within the universe.
Piecing the fragments of a fair design
With reverent patience and courageous skill,
They saw the world from chaos step by step,
Under far-seeing guidance and restraint,
Emerge to order and to symmetry,
As logical and sure as music's own.
With Spencer, Darwin, Tyndall, and the rest,
Our band saw roads of knowledge open wide
Through the uncharted province of the truth,
As on they fared through that unfolding world.
Yet there they found no rest-house for the heart,
No wells sufficient for the spirit's thirst,
No shade nor glory for the senses starved. . . .
Turning— they fled by moonlit trails to seek
The magic principality of Art,
Where loveliness, not learning, rules supreme.
They stood intoxicated with delight before
The poised unanxious splendor of the Greek;
They mused upon the Gothic minsters gray,
Where mystic spirit took on mighty form,
Until their prayers to lovely churches turned —
(Like a remembrance of the Middle Age
They rose where Ralph or Bertram dreamed in stone);
Entranced they trod a painters' paradise,
Where color wasted by the Scituate shore
Between the changing marshes and the sea;
They heard the golden voice of poesie
Lulling the senses with its last caress
In Tennysonion accents pure and fine;
And all their laurels were for Beauty's brow,
Though toiling Reason went ungarlanded.
Then poisonous weeds of artifice sprang up,
Defiling Nature at her sacred source;
And there the questing World-soul could not stay,
Onward must journey with the changing time,
To come to this uncouth rebellious age,
Where not an ancient creed nor courtesy
Is underided, and each demagogue
Cries some new nostrum for the cure of ills.
To-day the unreasoning iconoclast
Would scoff at science and abolish art,
To let untutored impulse rule the world.
Let learning perish, and the race returns
To that first anarchy from which we came,
When spirit moved upon the deep and laid
The primal chaos under cosmic law.
And even now, in all our wilful might,
The satiated being cannot bide,
But to that austere country turns again,
The little province of the saints of God,
Where lofty peaks rise upward to the stars
From the gray twilight of Gethsemane,
And spirit dares to climb with wounded feet
Where justice, peace, and loving kindness are.
What says the lore of human power we hold
Through all these striving and tumultuous days?
'Why not accept each several bloom of good,
Without discarding good already gained,
As one might weed a garden overgrown —
Save the new shoots, yet not destroy the old?
Only the fool would root up his whole patch
Of fragrant flowers, to plant the newer seed.'
Ah, softly, brothers! Have we not the key,
Whose first fine luminous use Plotinus gave,
Teaching that ecstasy must lead the man?
Three things, we see, men in this life require,
(As they are needed in the universe):
First of all spirit, energy, or love,
The soul and mainspring of created things;
Next wisdom, knowledge, culture, discipline,
To guide impetuous spirit to its goal;
And lastly strength, the sound apt instrument,
Adjusted and controlled to lawful needs.
The next world-teacher must be one whose word
Shall reaffirm the primacy of soul,
Hold scholarship in her high guiding place,
And recognize the body's equal right
To culture such as it has never known,
In power and beauty serving soul and mind.
Inheritors of this divine ideal,
With courage to be fine as well as strong,
Shall know what common manhood may become,
Regain the gladness of the sons of morn,
The radiance of immortality.
Out of heroic wanderings of the past,
And all the wayward gropings of our time,
Unswerved by doubt, unconquered by despair,
The messengers of such a hope must go;
As one who hears far off before the dawn,
On some lone trail among the darkling hills,
The hermit thrushes in the paling dusk,
And at the omen lifts his eyes to see
Above him, with its silent shafts of light,
The sunrise kindling all the peaks with fire.
Above The Gaspereau
To H. E. C.
THERE are sunflowers too in my garden on top of the hill,
Where now in the early September the sun has his will—
The slow autumn sun that goes leisurely, taking his fill
Of life in the orchards and fir-woods so moveless and still;
As if, should they stir, they might break some illusion and spill
The germ of their long summer musing on top of the hill.
The crowds of black spruces in tiers from the valley below,
Ranged round their sky-roofed coliseum, mount row after row.
How often there, rank above rank, they have watched for the slow
Silver-lanterned processions of twilight—the moon's come and go!
How often, as if they expected some bugle to blow,
Announcing a bringer of news they were breathless to know,
They have hushed every leaf,—to hear only the murmurous flow
Of the small mountain river sent up from the valley below!
How still through the sweet summer sun, through the soft summer rain,
They have stood there awaiting the summons should bid them attain
The freedom of knowledge, the last touch of truth to explain
The great golden gist of their brooding, the marvellous train
Of thought they have followed so far, been so strong to sustain,—
The white gospel of sun and the long revelations of rain!
Then the orchards that dot, all in order, the green valley floor,
Every tree with its boughs weighed to earth, like a tent from whose door
Not a lodger looks forth,—yet the signs are there gay and galore,
The great ropes of red fruitage and russet, crisp snow to the core.
Can the dark-eyed Romany here have deserted of yore
Their camp at the coming of frost? Will they seek it no more?
Who dwells in St. Eulalie's village? Who knows the fine lore
Of the tribes of the apple-trees there on the green valley floor?
Who, indeed? From the blue mountain gorge to the dikes by the sea,
Goes that stilly wanderer, small Gaspereau; who but he
Should give the last hint of perfection, the touch that sets free
From the taut string of silence the whisper of beauties to be!
The very sun seems to have tarried, turned back a degree,
To lengthen out noon for the apple folk here by the sea.
What is it? Who comes? What's abroad on the blue mountain side?
A hush has been laid on the leaves and will not be defied.
Is the great Scarlet Hunter at last setting out on his ride
From the North with deliverance now? Were the lights we descried
Last night in the heavens his camp-fire seen far and wide,
The white signal of peace for whose coming the ages have cried?
'Expectancy lingers; fulfilment postponed,' I replied,
When soul said uneasily,'Who is it haunts your hillside?'
All the while not a word from my sunflowers here on the hill.
And to-night when the stars over Blomidon flower and fill
The blue Northern garden of heaven, so pale and so still,
From the lordly king-aster Aldebaran there by the sill
Of the East, where the moonlight will enter, not one will fulfil
A lordlier lot than my sunflowers here on the hill.
So much for mere fact, mere impression. So much I portray
Of the atmosphere, colour, illusion of one autumn day
In the little Acadian valley above the Grand Pré;
Just the quiet of orchards and firs, where the sun had full sway,
And the river went trolling his soft wander-song to the bay,
While roseberry, aster, and sagaban tangled his way.
Be you their interpreter, reasoner; tell what they say,
These children of silence whose patient regard I portray.
You Londoner, walking in Bishopsgate, strolling the Strand,
Some morning in autumn afford, at a fruit-dealer's stand,
The leisure to look at his apples there ruddy and tanned.
Then ask, when he's smiling to serve you, if choice can command
A Gravenstein grown oversea on Canadian land.
(And just for the whim's sake, for once, you'll have no other brand!)
How teach you to tell them? Pick one, and with that in your hand,
Bethink you a while as you turn again into the Strand.
'What if,' you will say,—so smooth in your hand it will lie,
So round and so firm, of so rich a red to the eye,
Like a dash of Fortuny, a tinge of some Indian dye,
While you turn it and toss, mark the bloom, ere you taste it and try—
'Now what if this grew where the same bright pavilion of sky
Is stretched o'er the valley and hillside he bids me descry,
The windless valley of peace, where the seasons go by,
And the river goes down through the orchards where long shadows lie!'
There's the fruit in your hand, in your ears is the roar of the street,
The pulse of an empire keeping its volume and beat,
Its sure come and go day and night, while we sleep or we eat.
Taste the apple, bite in to the juice—how abundant and sweet!
As sound as your own English heart, and wholesome as wheat,—
There grow no such apples as that in your Bishopsgate Street.
Or perhaps in St. Helen's Place, when your business is done
And the ledgers put by, you will think of the hundred and one
Commissions and errands to do; but what under the sun
Was that, so important? Ah, yes! the new books overrun
The old shelves. It is high time to order a new set begun.
Then off to the joiner's. You enter, to see his plane run
With a long high shriek through the lumber he's working upon.
Then he turns from his shavings to query what you would have done.
But homeward 'tis you who make question. That song of the blade!
And the sharp sweet cry of the wood, what an answer it made!
What stories the joiner must hear, as he plies his clean trade,
Of all the wild life of the forest where long shadows wade
The untrodden moss, and the firs send a journeying shade
So slow through the valley so far from the song of his blade.
Come back to my orchards a moment. They're waiting for you.
How still are the little gray leaves where the pippins peep through!
The boughs where the ribstons hang red are half breaking in two.
Above them September in magical soft Northern blue
Has woven the spell of her silence, like frost or like dew,
Yet warm as a poppy's red dream. When All Saints shall renew
The beauty of summer a while, will their dreaming come true?
Ah, not of my Grand Pré they dream, nor your London and you!
Their life is their own, and the surge of it. All through the spring
They pushed forth their buds, and the rainbirds at twilight would sing.
They put forth their bloom, and the world was as fairy a thing
As a Japanese garden. Then midsummer came with the zing
And the clack of the locust; then fruit time and coolness, to bring
This aftermath deep underfoot with its velvety spring.
And they all the while with the fatherly, motherly care,
Taking sap from the strength of the ground, taking sun from the air,
Taking chance of the frost and the worm, taking courage to dare,
Have given their life that the life might be goodly and fair
In their kind for the seasons to come, with good witness to bear
How the sturdy old race of the apples could give and not spare.
To-morrow the harvest begins. We shall rifle them there
Of the beautiful fruit of their bodies, the crown of their care.
How lovingly then shall the picker set hand to the bough!—
Bid it yield, ere the seed come to earth or the graft to the plough,
Not only sweet life for its kind, as the instincts allow,
That savour and shape may survive generations from now,
But life to its kin who can say, 'I am stronger than thou,'—
Fulfilling a lordlier law than the law of the bough.
I heard before dawn, with planets beginning to quail,—
'Whoso hath life, let him give, that my purpose prevail;
Whoso hath none, let him take, that his strength may be hale.
Behold, I have reckoned the tally, I keep the full tale.
Whoso hath love, let him give, lest his spirit grow stale;
Whoso hath none, let him die; he shall wither and fail.
Behold, I will plenish the loss at the turn of the scale.
He hath law to himself, who hath love; ye shall hope and not quail.'
Then the sun arose, and my sunflowers here on the hill,
Like good little Catholics, turned to the East to fulfil
Their daily observance, receiving his peace and his will,—
The lord of their light who alone bids the darkness be nil,
The lord of their love who alone bids the life in them thrill;
Undismayed and serene, they awaited him here on the hill.
Ah, the patience of earth! Look down at the dark pointed firs;
They are carved out of blackness; one pattern recurs and recurs.
They crowd all the gullies and hillsides, the gashes and spurs,
As silent as death. What an image! How nature avers
The goodness of calm with that taciturn beauty of hers!
As silent as sleep. Yet the life in them climbs and stirs.
They too have received the great law, know that haste but defers
The perfection of time,—the initiate gospeller firs.
So year after year, slow ring upon ring, they have grown,
Putting infinite long-loving care into leafage and cone,
By the old ancient craft of the earth they have pondered and known
In the dead of the hot summer noons, as still as a stone.
Not for them the gay fruit of the thorn, nor the high scarlet roan,
Nor the plots of the deep orchard land where the apples are grown.
In winter the wind, all huddled and shuddering, came
To warm his old bones by the fires of sunset aflame
Behind the black house of the firs. When the moose-birds grew tame
In the lumberers' camps in the woods, what marvellous fame
His talk and the ice of his touch would spread and proclaim,
Of the berg and the floe and the lands without nation or name,
Where the earth and the sky, night and noon, north and south are the same,
The white and awful Nirvana of cold whence he came!
Then April, some twilight picked out with a great yellow star,
Returning, like Hylas long lost and come back with his jar
Of sweet living water at last, having wandered so far,
Leads the heart out of doors, and the eye to the point of a spar,
At whose base in the half-melted snow the first Mayflowers are,—
And there the first robin is pealing below the great star.
So soon, over-soon, the full summer. Within those dark boughs,
Deliberate and far, a faltering reed-note will rouse
The shy transports of earth, till the wood-creatures hear where they house,
And grow bold as the tremble-eared rabbits that nibble and mouse.
While up through the pasture-lot, startling the sheep as they browse,
Where kingbirds and warblers are piercing the heat's golden drowse,
Some girl, whom the sun has made tawny, the wind had to blowse,
Will come there to gentle her lover beneath those dark boughs.
Then out of the hush, when the grasses are frosty and old,
Will the chickadee's tiny alarm against winter be rolled;
And soon, when the ledges and ponds are bitten with cold,
The honk of the geese, that wander-cry stirring and bold,
Will sound through the night, where those hardy mariners hold
The uncharted course through the dark, as it was from of old.
Ah, the life of the woods, how they share and partake of it all,
These evergreens, silent as Indians, solemn and tall!
From the goldenwing's first far-heard awakening call,
The serene flute of the thrush in his high beech hall,
And the pipe of the frog, to the bannered approach of the fall,
And the sullen wind, when snow arrives on a squall,
Trooping in all night from the North with news would appal
Any outposts but these; with a zest they partake of it all.
Lo, out of the hush they seem to mount and aspire!
From basement to tip they have builded, with heed to go higher,
One circlet of branches a year with their lift of green spire.
Nay, rather they seem to repose, having done with desire,
Awaiting the frost, with the fruit scarlet-bright on the brier,
Each purpose fulfilled, each ardour that bade them aspire.
Then hate be afar from the bite of the axe that shall fell
These keepers of solitude, makers of quiet, who dwell
On the Slopes of the North. And clean be the hand that shall quel
The tread of the sap that was wont to go mounting so well,
Round on round with the sun in a spiral, slow cell after cell,
As a bellringer climbs in a turret. That resinous smell
From the eighth angel's hand might have risen with the incense to swell
His offering in heaven, when the half-hour's silence befell.
Behold, as the prayers of the saints that went up to God's knees
In John's Revelation, the silence and patience of these
Our brothers of orchard and hill, the unhurrying trees,
To better the burden of earth till the dark suns freeze,
Shall go out to the stars with the sound of Acadian seas,
And the scent of the wood-flowers blowing about their great knees.
To-night when Altair and Alshain are ruling the West,
Whence Boötes is driving his dogs to long hunting addressed;
With Alioth sheer over Blomidon standing at rest;
When Algol is leading the Pleiades over the crest
Of the magical East, and the South puts Alpherat to test
With Menkar just risen; will come, like a sigh from Earth's breast,
The first sob of the tide turning home,—one distraught in his quest
For ever, and calling for ever the wind in the west.
And to-night there will answer the ghost of a sigh on the hill,
So small you would say, Is it wind, or the frost with a will
Walking down through the woods, and to-morrow shall show us his skill
In yellows and reds? So noiseless, it hardly will thrill
The timorous aspens, which tremble when all else is still;
Yet the orchards will know, and the firs be aware on the hill.
'O Night, I am old, I endure. Since my being began,
When out of the dark thy aurora spread up like a fan,
I have founded the lands and the islands; the hills are my plan.
I have covered the pits of the earth with my bridge of one span.
From the Horn to Dunedin unbroken my long rollers ran,
From Pentland and Fastnet and Foyle to Bras d'Or and Manan,
To dredge and upbuild for the creatures of tribe and of clan.
Lo, now who shall end the contriving my fingers began?'
Then the little wind that blows from the great star-drift
Will answer: 'Thou tide in the least of the planets I lift,
Consider the journeys of light. Are thy journeyings swift?
Thy sands are as smoke to the star-banks I huddle and shift.
Peace! I have seeds of the grasses to scatter and sift.
I have freighting to do for the weed and the frail thistle drift.
'O ye apples and firs, great and small are as one in the end.
Because ye had life to the full, and spared not to spend;
Because ye had love of your kind, to cherish and fend;
Held hard the good instinct to thrive, cleaving close to life's trend;
Nor questioned where impulse had origin,—purpose might tend;
Now, beauty is yours, and the freedom whose promptings transcend
Attainment for ever, in death with new being to blend.
O ye orchards and woods, death is naught, love is all in the end.'
Ah, friend of mine over the sea, shall we not discern,
In the life of our brother the beech and our sister the fern,
As St. Francis would call them (his Minorites, too, would we learn!)
In death but a door to new being no creature may spurn,
But must enter for beauty's completion,—pass up in his turn
To the last round of joy, yours and mine, whence to think and discern?
Who shall say 'the last round'? Have I passed by the exit of soul?
From behind the tall door that swings outward, replies no patrol
To our restless Qui vive? when is paid each implacable toll.
Not a fin of the tribes shall return, having cleared the great shoal;
Not a wing of the migrants come back from below the dark knoll;
Yet the zest of the flight and the swimming who fails to extol?
Saith the Riddle, 'The parts are all plain; ye may guess at the whole.'
I guess, 'Immortality, knowledge, survival of Soul.'
To-night, with the orchards below and the firs on the hill
Asleep in the long solemn moonlight and taking no ill,
A hand will open the sluice of the great sea-mill,—
Start the gear and the belts of the tide. Then a murmur will fill
The hollows of midnight with sound, when all else is still,
And stray through the dream of the sunflowers here on the hill.