Under The April Moon
OH, well the world is dreaming
Under the April moon,
Her soul in love with beauty,
Her senses all a-swoon!
Pure hangs the silver crescent
Above the twilight wood,
And pure the silver music
Wakes from the marshy flood.
O Earth, with all thy transport,
How comes it life should seem
A shadow in the moonlight,
A murmur in a dream?
IN the wondrous star-sown night,
In the first sweet warmth of spring,
I lie awake and listen
To hear the glad earth sing.
I hear the brook in the wood
Murmuring, as it goes,
The song of the happy journey
Only the wise heart knows.
I hear the trilling note
Of the tree-frog under the hill,
And the clear and watery treble
Of his brother, silvery shrill.
And then I wander away
Through the mighty forest of Sleep,
To follow the fairy music
To the shore of an endless deep.
An April Morning
ONCE more in misted April
The world is growing green.
Along the winding river
The plumey willows lean.
Beyond the sweeping meadows
The looming mountains rise,
Like battlements of dreamland
Against the brooding skies.
In every wooded valley
The buds are breaking through,
As though the heart of all things
No languor ever knew.
The golden-wings and bluebirds
Call to their heavenly choirs.
The pines are blued and drifted
With smoke of brushwood fires.
And in my sister's garden
Where little breezes run,
The golden daffodillies
Are blowing in the sun.
WHEN you hear the white-throat pealing
From a tree-top far away,
And the hills are touched with purple
At the borders of the day;
When the redwing sounds his whistle
At the coming on of spring,
And the joyous April pipers
Make the alder marshes ring;
When the wild new breath of being
Whispers to the World once more,
And before the shrine of beauty
Every spirit must adore;
When long thoughts come back with twilight,
And a tender deepened mood
Shows the eyes of the beloved
Like hepaticas in the wood;
Ah, remember, when to nothing
Save to love your heart gives heed,
And spring takes you to her bosom,—
So it was with Golden Weed!
The Soul Of April
OVER the wintry threshold
Who comes with joy to-day,
So frail, yet so enduring,
To triumph o'er dismay?
Ah, quick her tears are springing,
And quickly they are dried,
For sorrow walks before her,
But gladness walks beside.
She comes with gusts of laughter,—
The music as of rills;
With tenderness-and sweetness, —
The wisdom of the hills.
Her hands are strong to comfort,
Her heart is quick to heed.
She knows the signs of sadness,
She knows the voice of need.
There is no living creature,
However poor or small,
But she will know its trouble,
And hasten to its call.
Oh, well they fare forever,
By mighty dreams possessed,
Whose hearts have lain a moment
On that eternal breast.
In Early May
O MY dear, the world to-day
Is more lovely than a dream!
Magic hints from far away
Haunt the woodland, and the stream
Murmurs in his rocky bed
Things that never can be said.
Starry dogwood is in flower,
Gleaming through the mystic woods.
It is beauty's perfect hour
In the wild spring solitudes.
Now the orchards in full blow
Shed their petals white as snow.
All the air is honey-sweet
With the lilacs white and red,
Where the blossoming branches meet
In an arbor overhead.
And the laden cherry trees
Murmur with the hum of bees.
All the earth is fairy green,
And the sunlight filmy gold,
Full of ecstasies unseen,
Full of mysteries untold.
Who would not be out-of-door,
Now the spring is here once more!
I HEAR you, Brother, I hear you,
Down in the alder swamp,
Springing your woodland whistle
To herald the April pomp!
First of the moving vanguard,
In front of the spring you come,
Where flooded waters sparkle
And streams in the twilight hum.
You sound the note of the chorus
By meadow and woodland pond,
Till, one after one up-piping,
A myriad throats respond.
I see you, Brother, I see you,
With scarlet under your wing,
Flash through the ruddy maples,
Leading the pageant of spring.
Earth has put off her raiment
Wintry and worn and old,
For the robe of a fair young sibyl,
Dancing in green and gold.
I heed you, Brother. To-morrow
I, too, in the great employ,
Will shed my old coat of sorrow
For a brand-new garment of joy.
When April winds arrive
And the soft rains are here,
Some morning by the roadside
These gipsy folk appear.
We never see their coming,
However sharp our eyes;
Each year as if by magic
They take us by surprise.
Along the ragged woodside
And by the green spring-run,
Their small white heads are nodding
And twinkling in the sun.
They crowd across the meadow
In innocence and mirth,
As if there were no sorrow
In all the lovely earth.
So frail, so unregarded,—
And yet about them clings
That exquisite perfection,
The soul of common things!
Think you the springing pastures
Their starry vigil kept,
To hear along the midnight
Some message, while we slept?
How else should spring requicken
Such glory in the sod?
I guess that trail of beauty
Is where the angel trod.
Threnody For A Poet
Not in the ancient abbey,
Nor in the city ground,
Not in the lonely mountains,
Nor in the blue profound,
Lay him to rest when his time is come
And the smiling mortal lips are dumb;
But here in the decent quiet
Under the whispering pines,
Where the dogwood breaks in blossom
And the peaceful sunlight shines,
Where wild birds sing and ferns unfold,
When spring comes back in her green and gold.
And when that mortal likeness
Has been dissolved by fire,
Say not above the ashes,
'Here ends a man's desire.'
For every year when the bluebirds sing,
He shall be part of the lyric spring.
Then dreamful-hearted lovers
Shall hear in wind and rain
The cadence of his music,
The rhythm of his refrain,
For he was a blade of the April sod
That bowed and blew with the whisper of God.
A Fireside Vision
ONCE I walked the world enchanted
Through the scented woods of spring,
Hand in hand with Love, in rapture
Just to hear a bluebird sing.
Now the lonely winds of autumn
Moan about my gusty eaves,
As I sit beside the fire
Listening to the flying leaves.
As the dying embers settle
And the twilight falls apace,
Through the gloom I see a vision
Full of ardor, full of grace.
When the Architect of Beauty
Breathed the lyric soul in man,
Lo, the being that he fashioned
Was of such a mould and plan!
Bravely through the deepening shadows
Moves that figure half divine,
With its tenderness of bearing,
With its dignity of line.
Eyes more wonderful than evening.
With the new moon on the hill,
Mouth with traces of God's humor
In its corners lurking still.
Ah, she smiles, in recollection;
Lays a hand upon my brow;
Rests this head upon Love's bosom!
Surely it is April now!
The Deserted Pasture
I love the stony pasture
That no one else will have.
The old gray rocks so friendly seem,
So durable and brave.
In tranquil contemplation
It watches through the year,
Seeing the frosty stars arise,
The slender moons appear.
Its music is the rain-wind,
Its choristers the birds,
And there are secrets in its heart
Too wonderful for words.
It keeps the bright-eyed creatures
That play about its walls,
Though long ago its milking herds
Were banished from their stalls.
Only the children come there,
For buttercups in May,
Or nuts in autumn, where it lies
Dreaming the hours away.
Long since its strength was given
To making good increase,
And now its soul is turned again
To beauty and to peace.
There in the early springtime
The violets are blue,
And adder-tongues in coats of gold
Are garmented anew.
There bayberry and aster
Are crowded on its floors,
When marching summer halts to praise
The Lord of Out-of-doors.
And there October passes
In gorgeous livery, -
In purple ash, and crimson oak,
And golden tulip tree.
And when the winds of winter
Their bugle blasts begin,
The snowy hosts of heaven arrive
To pitch their tents therein.
Over the hills of April
With soft winds hand in hand,
Impassionate and dreamy-eyed,
Spring leads her saraband.
Her garments float and gather
And swirl along the plain,
Her headgear is the golden sun,
Her cloak the silver rain.
With colour and with music,
With perfumes and with pomp,
By meadowland and upland,
Through pasture, wood, and swamp,
With promise and enchantment
Leading her mystic mime,
She comes to lure the world anew
With joy as old as time.
Quick lifts the marshy chorus
To transport, trill on trill;
There's not a rod of stony ground
Unanswering on the hill.
The brooks and little rivers
Dance down their wild ravines,
And children in the city squares
Keep time, to tambourines.
The blue bird in the orchard
Is lyrical for her,
The starling with his meadow pipe
Sets all the wood astir,
The hooded white spring-beauties
Are curtsying in the breeze,
The blue hepaticas are out
Under the chestnut trees.
The maple buds make glamour
Vibernum waves its bloom,
The daffodils and tulips
Are risen from the tomb.
The lances of narcissus
Have pierced the wintry mold;
The commonplace seems paradise
To veils of greening gold.
O hark, hear thou the summons,
Put every grief away,
When all the motley masques of earth
Are glad upon a day.
Alack, that any mortal
Should less than gladness bring
Into the choral joy that sounds
The saraband of spring!
We are as mendicants who wait
Along the roadside in the sun.
Tatters of yesterday and shreds
Of morrow clothe us every one.
And some are dotards, who believe
And glory in the days of old;
While some are dreamers, harping still
Upon an unknown age of gold.
Hopeless or witless! Not one heeds,
As lavish Time comes down the way
And tosses in the suppliant hat
One great new-minted gold To-day.
Ungrateful heart and grudging thanks,
His beggar's wisdom only sees
Housing and bread and beer enough;
He knows no other things than these.
O foolish ones, put by your care!
Where wants are many, joys are few;
And at the wilding springs of peace,
God keeps an open house for you.
But that some Fortunatus' gift
Is lying there within his hand,
More costly than a pot of pearls,
His dullness does not understand.
And so his creature heart is filled;
His shrunken self goes starved away.
Let him wear brand-new garments still,
Who has a threadbare soul, I say.
But there be others, happier few,
The vagabondish sons of God,
Who know the by-ways and the flowers,
And care not how the world may plod.
They idle down the traffic lands,
And loiter through the woods with spring;
To them the glory of the earth
Is but to hear a bluebird sing.
They too receive each one his Day;
But their wise heart knows many things
Beyond the sating of desire,
Above the dignity of kings.
One I remember kept his coin,
And laughing flipped it in the air;
But when two strolling pipe-players
Came by, he tossed it to the pair.
Spendthrift of joy, his childish heart
Danced to their wild outlandish bars;
Then supperless he laid him down
That night, and slept beneath the stars.
A. M. M.
BEHOLD her sitting in the sun
This lovely April morn,
As eager with the breath of life
As daffodils new-born!
A priestess of the toiling earth,
Yet kindred to the spheres,
A touch of the eternal spring
Is over all her years.
No fashion frets her dignity,
A fold of lace about her throat
Falls from her whitening hair.
A seraph visiting the earth
Might wear that fearless guise,
The heartening regard of such
How comes she by preëminence,
Desired, beloved, revered?
Heroic living gained those heights
Through ills she never feared.
A spirit kindly as the dew
And daring as a flame,
With a distinguished, reckless wit
No eighty years could tame.
A mother of the Spartan strain,
She held self-rule and sway,
And single-handed braved the world
And bore the prize away.
No task too humble for her skill,
No worthy way too long;
She filled her work with ecstasy
And crowned it with a song.
The treasures she most dearly prized
Were of the rarest kind —
A gentle fortitude of soul
And honesty of mind.
To feed, to clothe, to teach, to cheer,
To guard and guide and save —
These were her fine accomplishments,
To these her best she gave.
With ringing word and instant cure
She draws from far and near
The gay, the witty, the forlorn,
Priest, artist, beggar, seer.
Unhesitant and sure they come,
Hearing the human call,
As of a mighty motherhood
That understands them all.
Ungrudging, without grief, she lives
Each charged potential hour,
Holding her loftiness of aim
With agelessness of power.
Immortal friendship, great with years!
She shames the faltering,
And heartens every struggling hope,
Like hyacinths in spring!
LET me have a scarlet maple
For the grave-tree at my head,
With the quiet sun behind it,
In the years when I am dead.
Let me have it for a signal,
Where the long winds stream and stream,
Clear across the dim blue distance,
Like at horn blown in at dream;
Scarlet when the April vanguard
Bugles up the laggard Spring,
Scarlet when the bannered Autumn
Marches by unwavering.
It will comfort me with honey
When the shining rifts and showers
Sweep across the purple valley
And bring back the forest flowers.
It will be my leafy cabin,
Large enough when June returns
And I hear the golden thrushes
Flute and hesitate by turns.
And in fall, some yellow morning,
When the stealthy frost has come,
Leaf by leaf it will befriend me
As with comrades going home.
Let me have the Silent Valley
And the hill that fronts the east,
So that I can watch the morning
Redden and the stars released.
Leave me in the Great Lone Country,
For I shall not be afraid
With the shy moose and the beaver
There within my scarlet shade.
I would sleep, but not too soundly,
Where the sunning partridge drums,
Till the crickets hush before him
When the Scarlet Hunter comes.
That will be in warm September,
In the stillness of the year,
When the river-blue is deepest
And the other world is near.
When the apples burn their reddest
And the corn is in the sheaves,
I shall stir and waken lightly
At a footfall in the leaves.
It will be the Scarlet Hunter
Come to tell me time is done;
On the idle hills for ever
There will stand the idle sun.
There the wind will stay to whisper
Many wonders to the reeds;
But I shall not fear to follow
Where my Scarlet Hunter leads.
I shall know him in the darkling
Murmur of the river bars,
While his feet are on the mountains
Treading out the smouldering stars.
I shall know him, in the sunshine
Sleeping in my scarlet tree,
Long before he halts beside it
Stooping down to summon me.
Then fear not, my friends, to leave me
In the boding autumn vast;
There are many things to think of
When the roving days are past.
Leave me by the scarlet maple,
When the journeying shadows fail,
Waiting till the Scarlet Hunter
Pass upon the endless trail.
The Nancy's Pride
ON the long slow heave of a lazy sea,
To the flap of an idle sail,
The Nancy's Pride went out on the tide;
And the skipper stood by the rail.
All down, all down by the sleepy town,
With the hollyhocks a-row
In the little poppy gardens,
The sea had her in tow.
They let her slip by the breathing rip,
Where the bell is never still,
And over the sounding harbour bar,
And under the harbour hill.
She melted into the dreaming noon,
Out of the drowsy land,
In sight of a flag of goldy hair,
To the kiss of a girlish hand.
For the lass who hailed the lad who sailed,
Was —who but his April bride?
And of all the fleet of Grand Latite,
Her pride was the Nancy's Pride.
So the little vessel faded down
With her creaking boom a-swing,
Till a wind from the deep came up with a creep,
And caught her wing and wing.
She made for the lost horizon line,
Where the clouds a-castled lay,
While the boil and seethe of the open sea
Hung on her frothing way.
She lifted her hull like a breasting gull
Where the rolling valleys be,
And dipped where the shining porpoises
Put ploughshares through the sea.
A fading sail on the far sea-line,
About the turn of the tide,
As she made for the Banks on her maiden cruise
Was the last of the Nancy's Pride.
To-day a boy with goldy hair,
In a garden of Grand Latite,
From his mother's knee looks out to sea
For the coming of the fleet.
They all may home on a sleepy tide,
To the flap of the idle sail;
But it's never again the Nancy's Pride
That answers a human hail.
They all may home on a sleepy tide
To the sag of an idle sheet;
But it's never again the Nancy's Pride
That draws men down the street.
On the Banks to-night a fearsome sight
The fishermen behold,
Keeping the ghost-watch in the moon
When the small hours are cold.
When the light wind veers,and the white fog clears,
They see by the after rail
An unknown schooner creeping up
With mildewed spar and sail.
Her crew lean forth by the rotting shrouds,
With the Judgment in their face;
And to their mates' 'God save you!'
Have never a word of grace.
Then into the gray they sheer away,
On the awful polar tide;
And the sailors know they have seen the wraith
Of the missing Nancy's Pride.
A More Ancient Mariner
The swarthy bee is a buccaneer,
A burly velveted rover,
Who loves the booming wind in his ear
As he sails the seas of clover.
A waif of the goblin pirate crew,
With not a soul to deplore him,
He steers for the open verge of blue
With the filmy world before him.
His flimsy sails abroad on the wind
Are shivered with fairy thunder;
On a line that sings to the light of his wings
He makes for the lands of wonder.
He harries the ports of Hollyhocks,
And levies on poor Sweetbriar;
He drinks the whitest wine of Phlox,
And the Rose is his desire.
He hangs in the Willows a night and a day;
He rifles the Buckwheat patches;
Then battens his store of pelf galore
Under the taughtest hatches.
He woos the Poppy and weds the Peach,
And then like a tramp abandons each
For the gorgeous Canada Lily.
There's not a soul in the garden world
But wishes the day were shorter,
When Mariner B. puts out to sea
With the wind in the proper quarter.
Or, so they say! But I have my doubts;
For the flowers are only human,
And the valor and gold of a vagrant bold
Were always dear to woman.
He dares to boast, along the coast,
The beauty of Highland Heather,-
How he and she, with night on the sea,
Lay out on the hills together.
He pilfers every port of the wind,
From April to golden autumn;
But the theiving ways of his mortal days
Are those his mother taught him.
His morals are mixed, but his will is fixed;
He prospers after his kind,
And follows an instinct compass-sure,
The philosophers call blind.
And that is why, when he comes to die,
He'll have an earlier sentence
Than someone I know who thinks just so,
And then leaves room for repentance.
He never could box the compass round;
He doesn't know port from starboard;
But he knows the gates of the Sundown Straits,
Where the choicest goods are harbored.
He never could see the Rule of Three,
But he knows the rule of thumb
Better than Euclid's, better than yours,
Or the teachers' yet to come.
He knows the smell of the hydromel
As if two and two were five;
And hides it away for a year and a day
In his own hexagonal hive.
Out in the day, hap-hazard, alone,
Booms the old vagrant hummer,
With only his whim to pilot him
Throught the splendid vast of summer.
He steers and steers on the slant of the gale,
Like the fiend or Vanderdecken;
And there's never an unknown course to sail
But his crazy log can reckon.
He drones along with his rough sea-song
And the throat of a salty tar,
This devil-may-care, till he makes his lair
By the light of a yellow star.
He looks like a gentleman, lives like a lord,
And makes like a Trojan hero;
Then loafs all winter upon his hoard,
With the mercury at zero.
In A Copy Of Browning
BROWNING, old fellow,
Your leaves grow yellow,
Beginning to mellow
As seasons pass.
Your cover is wrinkled,
And stained and sprinkled,
And warped and crinkled
From sleep on the grass.
Is it a wine stain,
Or only a pine stain,
That makes such a fine stain
On your dull blue,—
Got as we numbered
The clouds that lumbered
Southward and slumbered
When day was through?
What is the dear mark
There like an earmark,
Only a tear mark
A woman let fall?—
As bending over
She bade me discover,
'Who plays the lover,
He loses all!'
With you for teacher
We learned love's feature
In every creature
That roves or grieves;
When winds were brawling,
Or bird-folk calling,
Or leaf-folk falling,
About our eaves.
No law must straiten
The ways they wait in,
Whose spirits greaten
And hearts aspire.
The world may dwindle,
And summer brindle,
So love but kindle
The soul to fire.
Here many a red line,
Or pencilled headline,
Shows love could wed line
To golden sense;
And something better
Than wisdom's fetter
Has made your letter
Dense to the dense.
No April robin,
Nor clacking bobbin,
Can make of Dobbin
But Nature's pleading
To man's unheeding,
Your subtile reading
Made clear to us.
You made us farers
And equal sharers
With homespun wearers
In home-made joys;
You made us princes
No plea convinces
That spirit winces
At dust and noise.
When Fate was nagging,
And days were dragging,
And fancy lagging,
You gave it scope,—
When eaves were drippy,
And pavements slippy,—
From Lippo Lippi
To Evelyn Hope.
When winter's arrow
Pierced to the marrow,
And thought was narrow,
You gave it room;
We guessed the warder
On Roland's border,
And helped to order
The Bishop's Tomb.
When winds were harshish,
And ways were marshish,
We found with Karshish
Escape at need;
Were bold with Waring
In far seafaring,
And strong in sharing
Ben Ezra's creed.
We felt the menace
Of lovers pen us,
Afloat in Venice
And little mattered
The rain that pattered,
While Blougram chattered
And we too waited
With heart elated
And breathing bated,
For Pippa's song;
Saw Satan hover,
With wings to cover
Long thoughts were started,
When youth departed
From the half-hearted
For, saith your fable,
Great Love is able
To slip the cable
And take the tide.
Or truth compels us
Till nothing else is
Of worth at all.
Del Sarto's vision
Is our own mission,
And art's ambition
Is God's own call.
Through all the seasons,
You gave us reasons
For splendid treasons
To doubt and fear;
Bade no foot falter,
Though weaklings palter,
And friendships alter
From year to year.
Since first I sought you,
Found you and bought you,
Hugged you and brought you
Home from Cornhill,
While some upbraid you,
And some parade you,
Nine years have made you
My master still.
We are the vagabonds of time,
And rove the yellow autumn days,
When all the roads are gray with rime
And all the valleys blue with haze.
We came unlooked for as the wind
Trooping across the April hills,
When the brown waking earth had dreams
Of summer in the Wander Kills.
How far afield we joyed to fare,
With June in every blade and tree!
Now with the sea-wind in our hair
We turn our faces to the sea.
We go unheeded as the stream
That wanders by the hill-wood side,
Till the great marshes take his hand
And lead him to the roving tide.
The roving tide, the sleeping hills,
These are the borders of that zone
Where they may fare as fancy wills
Whom wisdom smiles and calls her own.
It is a country of the sun,
Full of forgotten yesterdays,
When Time takes Summer in his care,
And fills the distance of her gaze.
It stretches from the open sea
To the blue mountains and beyond;
The world is Vagabondia
To him who is a vagabond.
In the beginning God made man
Out of the wandering dust, men say;
And in the end his life shall be
A wandering wind and blown away.
We are the vagabonds of time,
Willing to let the world go by,
With joy supreme, with heart sublime,
And valor in the kindling eye.
We have forgotten where we slept,
And guess not where we sleep to-night,
Whether among the lonely hills
In the pale streamers' ghostly light
We shall lie down and hear the frost
Walk in the dead leaves restlessly,
Or somewhere on the iron coast
Learn the oblivion of the sea.
It matters not. And yet I dream
Of dreams fulfilled and rest somewhere
Before this restless heart is stilled
And all its fancies blown to air.
Had I my will! . . . The sun burns down
And something plucks my garment's hem:
The robins in their faded brown
Would lure me to the south with them.
'Tis time for vagabonds to make
The nearest inn. Far on I hear
The voices of the Northern hills
Gather the vagrants of the year.
Brave heart, my soul! Let longings be!
We have another day to wend.
For dark or waylay what care we
Who have the lords of time to friend?
And if we tarry or make haste,
The wayside sleep can hold no fear.
Shall fate unpoise, or whim perturb,
The calm-begirt in dawn austere?
There is a tavern, I have heard,
Not far, and frugal, kept by One
Who knows the children of the Word,
And welcomes each when day is done.
Some say the house is lonely set
In Northern night, and snowdrifts keep
The silent door; the hearth is cold,
And all my fellows gone to sleep….
Had I my will! I hear the sea
Thunder a welcome on the shore;
I know where lies the hostelry
And who should open me the door.
A Creature Catechism
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the sea?
LORD, said a flying fish,
Below the foundations of storm
We feel the primal wish
Of the earth take form.
Through the dim green water-fire
We see the red sun loom,
And the quake of a new desire
Takes hold on us down in the gloom.
No more can the filmy drift
Nor draughty currents buoy
Our whim to its bent, nor lift
Our heart to the height of its joy.
When sheering down to the Line
Come polar tides from the North,
Thy silver folk of the brine
Must glimmer and forth.
Down in the crumbling mill
We are the type of thy will
To the tribes of the sea.
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the air
Lord, said a butterfly,
Out of a creeping thing,
For days in the dust put by,
The spread of a wing
Emerges with pulvil of gold
On a tissue of green and blue,
And there is thy purpose of old
Unspoiled and fashioned anew.
Ephemera, ravellings of sky
And shreds of the Northern light,
We age in a heart-beat and die
Under the eaves of night.
What if the small breath quail,
Or cease at a touch of the frost?
Not a tremor of joy shall fail,
Nor a pulse be lost.
This fluttering life, never still,
Survives to oblivion’s despair.
We are the type of thy will
To the tribes of the air.
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the field?
Lord, said a maple seed,
Though well we are wrapped and bound,
We are the first to give heed,
When thy bugles give sound.
We banner thy House of the Hills
With green and vermilion and gold,
When the floor of April thrills
With the myriad stir of the mould,
And her hosts for migration prepare.
We too have the veined twin-wings,
Vans for the journey of air.
With the urge of a thousand springs
Pent for a germ in our side,
We perish of joy, being dumb,
That our race may be and abide
For aeons to come.
When rivulet answers to rill
In snow-blue valleys unsealed,
We are the type of thy will
To the tribes of the field.
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the ground?
Lord, when the time is ripe,
Said a frog through the quiet rain,
We take up the silver pipe
For the pageant again.
When the melting wind of the South
Is over meadow and pond,
We draw the breath of thy mouth,
Reviving the ancient bond.
Then must we fife and declare
The unquenchable joy of earth,—
Testify hearts still dare,
Signalize beauty’s worth.
Then must we rouse and blow
On the magic reed once more,
Till the glad earth-children know
Not a thing to deplore.
When rises the marshy trill
To the soft spring night’s profound,
We are the type of thy will
To the tribes of the ground.
Soul, what art thou in the tribes of the earth?
Lord, said an artist born,
We leave the city behind
For the hills of open morn,
For fear of our kind.
Our brother they nailed to a tree
For sedition; they bully and curse
All those whom love makes free.
Yet the very winds disperse
Rapture of birds and brooks,
Colours of sea and cloud,—
Beauty not learned of books,
Truth that is never loud.
We model our joy into clay,
Or help it with line and hue,
Or hark for its breath in stray
Wild chords and new.
For to-morrow can only fulfil
Dreams which to-day have birth;
We are the type of thy will
To the tribes of the earth.
Make me over, Mother April,
When the sap beings to stir!
When thy flowery hand delivers
All the mountain-prisoned rivers,
And thy great heart beats and quivers
To revive the days that were,
Make me over, Mother April,
When the sap begins to stir!
Take my dust and all my dreaming,
Count my heart-beats one by one,
Send them where the winters perish;
Then some golden noon recherish
And restore them in the sun,
Flower and scent and dust and dreaming,
With their heart-beats every one!
Set me in the urge and tide-drift
Of the streaming hosts a-wing!
Breast of scarlet, throat of yellow,
Raucous challenge, wooings mellow -
Every migrant is my fellow,
Making northward with the spring.
Loose me in the urge and tide-drift
Of the streaming hosts a-wing!
Shrilling pipe or fluting whistle,
In the valleys come again;
Fife of frog and call of tree-toad,
All my brothers, five or three-toed,
With their revel no more vetoed,
Making music in the rain;
Shrilling pipe or fluting whistle,
In the valleys come again.
Make me of thy seed to-morrow,
When the sap begins to stir!
Tawny light-foot, sleepy bruin,
Bright-eyes in the orchard ruin,
Gnarl the good life goes askew in,
Whiskey-jack, or tanager, -
Make me anything to-morrow,
When the sap begins to stir!
Make me even (How do I know?)
Like my friend the gargoyle there;
It may be the heart within him
Swells that doltish hands should pin him
Fixed forever in mid-air.
Make me even sport for swallows,
Like the soaring gargoyle there!
Give me the old clue to follow,
Through the labyrinth of night!
Clod of clay with heart of fire,
Things that burrow and aspire,
With the vanishing desire,
For the perishing delight, -
Only the old clue to follow,
Through the labyrinth of night!
Make me over, Mother April,
When the sap begins to stir!
Fashion me from swamp or meadow,
Garden plot or ferny shadow,
Hyacinth or humble burr!
Make me over, Mother April,
When the sap begins to stir!
Let me hear the far, low summons,
When the silver winds return;
Rills that run and streams that stammer,
Goldenwing with his loud hammer,
Icy brooks that brawl and clamor,
Where the Indian willows burn;
Let me hearken to the calling,
When the silver winds return,
Till recurring and recurring,
Long since wandered and come back,
Like a whim of Grieg's or Gounod's,
This same self, bird, bud, or Bluenose,
Some day I may capture (Who knows?)
Just the one last joy I lack,
Waking to the far new summons,
When the old spring winds come back.
For I have no choice of being,
When the sap begins to climb, -
Strong insistence, sweet intrusion,
Vasts and verges of illusion, -
So I win, to time's confusion,
The one perfect pearl of time,
Joy and joy and joy forever,
Till the sap forgets to climb!
Make me over in the morning
From the rag-bag of the world!
Scraps of dream and duds of daring,
Home-brought stuff from far sea-faring,
Faded colors once so flaring,
Shreds of banners long since furled!
Hues of ash and glints of glory,
In the rag-bag of the world!
Let me taste the old immortal
Indolence of life once more;
Not recalling nor foreseeing,
Let the great slow joys of being
Well my heart through as of yore!
Let me taste the old immortal
Indolence of life once more!
Give me the old drink for rapture,
The delirium to drain,
All my fellows drank in plenty
At the Three Score Inns and Twenty
From the mountains to the main!
Give me the old drink for rapture,
The delirium to drain!
Only make me over, April,
When the sap begins to stir!
Make me man or make me woman,
Make me oaf or ape or human,
Cup of flower or cone of fir;
Make me anything but neuter
When the sap begins to stir!
At The Making Of Man
First all the host of Raphael
In liveries of gold,
Lifted the chorus on whose rhythm
The spinning spheres are rolled,–
The Seraphs of the morning calm
Whose hearts are never cold.
He shall be born a spirit,
Part of the soul that yearns,
The core of vital gladness
That suffers and discerns,
The stir that breaks the budding sheath
When the green spring returns,–
The gist of power and patience
Hid in the plasmic clay,
The calm behind the senses,
The passionate essay
To make his wise and lovely dream
Immortal on a day.
The soft Aprilian ardours
That warm the waiting loam
Shall whisper in his pulses
To bid him overcome,
And he shall learn the wonder-cry
Beneath the azure dome.
And though all-dying nature
Should teach him to deplore,
The ruddy fires of autumn
Shall lure him but the more
To pass from joy to stronger joy,
As through an open door.
He shall have hope and honour,
Proud trust and courage stark,
To hold him to his purpose
Through the unlighted dark,
And love that sees the moon's full orb
In the first silver arc.
And he shall live by kindness
And the heart's certitude,
Which moves without misgiving
In ways not understood,
Sure only of the vast event,–
The large and simple good.
Then Gabriel's host in silver gear
And vesture twilight blue,
The spirits of immortal mind,
The warders of the true,
Took up the theme that gives the world
He shall be born to reason,
And have the primal need
To understand and follow
Wherever truth may lead,–
To grow in wisdom like a tree
Unfolding from a seed.
A watcher by the sheepfolds,
With wonder in his eyes,
He shall behold the seasons,
And mark the planets rise,
Till all the marching firmament
Shall rouse his vast surmise.
Beyond the sweep of vision,
Or utmost reach of sound,
This cunning fire-maker,
This tiller of the ground,
Shall learn the secrets of the suns
And fathom the profound.
For he must prove all being,
Sane, beauteous, benign,
And at the heart of nature
Discover the divine,–
Himself the type and symbol
Of the eternal trine.
He shall perceive the kindling
Of knowledge, far and dim,
As of the fire that brightens
Below the dark sea-rim,
When ray by ray the splendid sun
Floats to the world's wide brim.
And out of primal instinct,
The lore of lair and den,
He shall emerge to question
How, wherefore, whence, and when,
Till the last frontier of the truth
Shall lie within his ken.
Then Michael's scarlet-suited host
Took up the word and sang;
As though a trumpet had been loosed
In heaven, the arches rang;
For these were they who feel the thrill
Of beauty like a pang.
He shall be framed and balanced
For loveliness and power,
Lithe as the supple creatures,
And coloured as a flower,
Sustained by the all-feeding earth,
Nurtured by wind and shower,
To stand within the vortex
Where surging forces play,
A poised and pliant figure
Immutable as they,
Till time and space and energy
Surrender to his sway.
He shall be free to journey
Over the teeming earth,
An insatiable seeker,
A wanderer from his birth,
Clothed in the fragile veil of sense,
With fortitude for girth.
His hands shall have dominion
Of all created things,
To fashion in the likeness
Of his imaginings,
To make his will and thought survive
Unto a thousand springs.
The world shall be his province,
The princedom of his skill;
The tides shall wear his harness,
The winds obey his will;
Till neither flood, nor fire, nor frost,
Shall work to do him ill.
A creature fit to carry
The pure creative fire,
Whatever truth inform him,
Whatever good inspire,
He shall make lovely in all things
To the end of his desire.
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.
Behind The Arras
I like the old house tolerably well,
Where I must dwell
Like a familiar gnome;
And yet I never shall feel quite at home.
I love to roam.
Day after day I loiter and explore
From door to door;
So many treasures lure
The curious mind. What histories obscure
They must immure!
I hardly know which room I care for best;
This fronting west,
With the strange hills in view,
Where the great sun goes,—where I may go too,
When my lease is through,—
Or this one for the morning and the east,
Where a man may feast
His eyes on looming sails,
And be the first to catch their foreign hails
Or spy their bales
Then the pale summer twilights towards the pole!
It thrills my soul
With wonder and delight,
When gold-green shadows walk the world at night,
So still, so bright.
There at the window many a time of year,
Strange faces peer,
Solemn though not unkind,
Their wits in search of something left behind
Time out of mind;
As if they once had lived here, and stole back
To the window crack
For a peep which seems to say,
'Good fortune, brother, in your house of clay!'
And then, 'Good day!'
I hear their footsteps on the gravel walk,
Their scraps of talk,
And hurrying after, reach
Only the crazy sea-drone of the beach
In endless speech.
And often when the autumn noons are still,
By swale and hill
I see their gipsy signs,
Trespassing somewhere on my border lines;
With what designs?
I forth afoot; but when I reach the place,
Hardly a trace,
Save the soft purple haze
Of smouldering camp-fires, any hint betrays
Who went these ways.
Or tatters of pale aster blue, descried
By the roadside,
Reveal whither they fled;
Or the swamp maples, here and there a shred
Of Indian red.
But most of all, the marvellous tapestry
Where such strange things are rife,
Fancies of beasts and flowers, and love and strife,
Woven to the life;
Degraded shapes and splendid seraph forms,
And teeming swarms
Of creatures gauzy dim
That cloud the dusk, and painted fish that swim,
At the weaver's whim;
And wonderful birds that wheel and hang in the air;
And beings with hair,
And moving eyes in the face,
And white bone teeth and hideous grins, who race
From place to place;
They build great temples to their John-a-nod,
And fume and plod
To deck themselves with gold,
And paint themselves like chattels to be sold,
Then turn to mould.
Sometimes they seem almost as real as I;
I hear them sigh;
I see them bow with grief,
Or dance for joy like any aspen leaf;
But that is brief.
They have mad wars and phantom marriages;
Nor seem to guess
There are dimensions still,
Beyond thought's reach, though not beyond love's will,
For soul to fill.
And some I call my friends, and make believe
Their spirits grieve,
Brood, and rejoice with mine;
I talk to them in phrases quaint and fine
Over the wine;
I tell them all my secrets; touch their hands;
Perhaps. How hard he tries
To speak! And yet those glorious mild eyes,
His best replies!
I even have my cronies, one or two,
My cherished few.
But ah, they do not stay!
For the sun fades them and they pass away,
As I grow gray.
Yet while they last how actual they seem!
Their faces beam;
I give them all their names,
Bertram and Gilbert, Louis, Frank and James,
Each with his aims;
One thinks he is a poet, and writes verse
His friends rehearse;
Another is full of law;
A third sees pictures which his hand can draw
Without a flaw.
Strangest of all, they never rest. Day long
They shift and throng,
Moved by invisible will,
Like a great breath which puffs across my sill,
And then is still;
It shakes my lovely manikins on the wall;
Squall after squall,
Gust upon crowding gust,
It sweeps them willy nilly like blown dust
With glory or lust.
It is the world-ghost, the time-spirit, come
None knows wherefrom,
The viewless draughty tide
And wash of being. I hear it yaw and glide,
And then subside,
Along these ghostly corridors and halls
Like faint footfalls;
The hangings stir in the air;
And when I start and challenge, 'Who goes there?'
It answers, 'Where?'
The wail and sob and moan of the sea's dirge,
Its plangor and surge;
The awful biting sough
Of drifted snows along some arctic bluff,
That veer and luff,
And have the vacant boding human cry,
As they go by;—
Is it a banished soul
Dredging the dark like a distracted mole
Under a knoll?
Like some invisible henchman old and gray,
Day after day
I hear it come and go,
With stealthy swift unmeaning to and fro,
Ceaseless and daft and terrible and blind,
Like a lost mind.
I often chill with fear
When I bethink me, What if it should peer
At my shoulder here!
Perchance he drives the merry-go-rou nd whose track
Is the zodiac;
His name is No-man's-fri end;
And his gabbling parrot-talk has neither trend,
Beginning, nor end.
A prince of madness too, I'd cry, 'A rat!'
And lunge thereat,—
Let out at one swift thrust
The cunning arch-delusio n of the dust
I so mistrust,
But that I fear I should disclose a face
Wearing the trace
Of my own human guise,
Piteous, unharmful, loving, sad, and wise
With the speaking eyes.
I would the house were rid of his grim pranks,
Moaning from banks
Of pine trees in the moon,
Startling the silence like a demoniac loon
At dead of noon.
Or whispering his fool-talk to the leaves
About my eaves.
And yet how can I know
'T is not a happy Ariel masking so
In mocking woe?
Then with a little broken laugh I say,
The curtain where he grinned
(My feverish sight thought) like a sin unsinned,
'Only the wind!'
Yet often too he steals so softly by.
With half a sigh,
I deem he must be mild,
Fair as a woman, gentle as a child,
And forest wild.
Passing the door where an old wind-harp swings,
With its five strings,
Contrived long years ago
By my first predecessor bent to show
His handcraft so,
He lay his fingers on the aeolian wire,
As a core of fire
Is laid upon the blast
To kindle and glow and fill the purple vast
Of dark at last.
Weird wise, and low, piercing and keen and glad,
Or dim and sad
As a forgotten strain
Born when the broken legions of the rain
Swept through the plain—
He plays, like some dread veiled mysteriarch,
Lighting the dark,
Bidding the spring grow warm,
The gendering merge and loosing of spirit in form,
Peace out of storm.
For music is the sacrament of love;
He broods above
The virgin silence, till
She yields for rapture shuddering, yearning still
To his sweet will.
I hear him sing, 'Your harp is like a mesh,
Woven of flesh
And spread within the shoal
Of life, where runs the tide-race of the soul
In my control.
'Though my wild way may ruin what it bends,
It makes amends
To the frail downy clocks,
Telling their seed a secret that unlocks
The granite rocks.
'The womb of silence to the crave of sound
Is heaven unfound,
Till I, to soothe and slake
Being's most utter and imperious ache,
Bid rhythm awake.
'If with such agonies of bliss, my kin,
I enter in
Your prison house of sense,
With what a joyous freed intelligence
I shall go hence.'
I need no more to guess the weaver's name,
Nor ask his aim,
Who hung each hall and room
With swarthy-ting ed vermilion upon gloom;
I know that loom.
Give me a little space and time enough,
From ravelings rough
I could revive, reweave,
A fabric of beauty art might well believe
Were past retrieve.
O men and women in that rich design,
Dew-tenuous and free,
A tone of the infinite wind-themes of the sea,
Borne in to me,
Reveals how you were woven to the might
Of shadow and light.
You are the dream of One
Who loves to haunt and yet appears to shun
My door in the sun;
As the white roving sea tern fleck and skim
The morning's rim;
Or the dark thrushes clear
Their flutes of music leisurely and sheer,
Then hush to hear.
I know him when the last red brands of day
And when the vernal showers
Bring back the heart to all my valley flowers
In the soft hours.
O hand of mine and brain of mine, be yours,
While time endures,
To acquiesce and learn!
For what we best may dare and drudge and yearn,
Let soul discern.
So, fellows, we shall reach the gusty gate,
Early or late,
And part without remorse,
A cadence dying down unto its source
In music's course;
You to the perfect rhythms of flowers and birds,
Colors and words,
The heart-beats of the earth,
To be remoulded always of one worth
From birth to birth;
I to the broken rhythm of thought and man,
The sweep and span
Of memory and hope
About the orbit where they still must grope
For wider scope,
To be through thousand springs restored, renewed,
With love imbrued,
With increments of will
Made strong, perceiving unattainment still
From each new skill.
Always the flawless beauty, always the chord
Of the Overword,
Dominant, pleading, sure,
No truth too small to save and make endure.
No good too poor!
And since no mortal can at last disdain
That sweet refrain,
But lets go strife and care,
Borne like a strain of bird notes on the air,
The wind knows where;
Some quiet April evening soft and strange,
When comes the change
No spirit can deplore,
I shall be one with all I was before,
In death once more.
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.