Sonnet Xxxi. Life And Death. 3.
IF death be final, what is life, with all
Its lavish promises, its thwarted aims,
Its lost ideals, its dishonored claims,
Its uncompleted growth? A prison wall,
Whose heartless stones but echo back our call;
An epitaph recording but our names;
A puppet-stage where joys and griefs and shames
Furnish a demon jester's carnival;
A plan without a purpose or a form;
A footless temple; an unfinished tale.
And men like madrepores through calm and storm
Toil, die to build a branch of fossil frail,
And add from all their dreams, thoughts, acts, belief,
A few more inches to a coral-reef.
Sonnet Xxxvi. Life And Death. 8.
NOT for a rapture unalloyed I ask.
Not for a recompense for all I miss.
A banquet of the gods in heavenly bliss,
A realm in whose warm sunshine I may bask,
Life without discipline or earnest task
Could ill repay the unfinished work of this.
Nay — e'en to clasp some long-lost Beatrice
In bowers of paradise — the mortal mask
Dropped from her face now glorified and bright.
But I would fain take up what here I left
All crude and incomplete; would toil and strive
To regain the power of which I am bereft
By slow decay and death, with fuller light
To aid the larger life that may survive.
Sonnet Xxx. Life And Death. 2.
OR endless sleep 't will be, — and that is rest,
Freedom forever from life's weary cares —
Or else a life beyond the climbing stairs
And dizzy pinnacles of thought expressed
In symbols such as in our mortal breast
Are framed by time and space; — life that upbears
The soul by a law untried amid these snares
Of sense that make it a too willing guest.
So sleep or waking were a boon divine.
Yet why this inextinguishable thirst,
This hope, this faith that to existence cling?
Nay e'en the poor dark chrysalis some fine
Ethereal creature prisons, till it burst
Into the unknown, air on golden wing.
Sonnet Xxxiii. Life And Death. 5.
YET in all facts of sense life stands revealed;
And from a thousand symbols hope may take
Its charter to escape the Stygian lake,
And find existence in an ampler field.
The streams by winter's icy breath congealed
Flow when the voices of the spring awake.
The electric current lives when tempests break
The wires. The chemic energies unsealed
By sudden change, in other forms survive.
The senses cheat us where the mind corrects
Their partial verdict. More than all, the heart —
The heart cold science counts not, is alive —
Of the undivided soul that vital part
Her microscopic eye in vain dissects.
Sonnet Xxxii. Life And Death. 4.
IF at one door stands life to cheat our trust,
And at another, death, to mock because
We thought life's promise good; if all that was
And is and should be ends in fume and dust —
Then let us live for joy alone — the rust
Of ease encase our minds — the grader laws
Of souls be set aside. Let no man pause
To weigh between his virtue and his lust.
From first to last life baffles all our hopes
Of aught but present bliss. Death waits to mock
Our haste to indorse a visionary bond.
Let pleasure dance us down earth's sunny slopes,
And crown our heads with roses, ere the shock
Of thunder falls. There is no life beyond?
Sonnet Xxxiv. Life And Death. 6.
So, heralded by Reason, Faith may tread
The darkened vale, the dolorous paths of night,
In the great thought secure that life and light
Flow from the Soul of all, who, with the dead
As with the living, is the fountain-head.
And though our loved and lost are snatched from sight,
Some unseen power will guide them in their flight,
And to some unknown home their steps are led.
Yet has no seer, by sacred visions fired,
Disclosed their state to those they leave behind;
No holy prophet, saint or sage inspired —
Save in the magic lantern of the mind —
Seen in ecstatic trance those realms desired:
And all the oracles are dumb and blind.
Sonnet Xxix. Life And Death. 1.
O SOLEMN portal, veiled in mist and cloud,
Where all who have lived throng in, an endless line,
Forbid to tell by backward look or sign
What destiny awaits the advancing crowd;
Bourne crossed but once with no return allowed;
Dumb, spectral gate, terrestrial yet divine,
Beyond whose arch all powers and fates combine,
Pledged to divulge no secrets of the shroud.
Close, close behind we step, and strive to catch
Some whisper in the dark, some glimmering light;
Through circling whirls of thought intent to snatch
A drifting hope — a faith that grows to sight;
And yet assured, whatever may befall,
That must be somehow best that comes to all.
Sonnet Xxxv. Life And Death. 7.
THE wish behind the thought is the soul's star
Of faith, and out of earth we build our heaven.
Life to each unschooled child of time has given
A fairy wand with which he thinks to unbar
The dark gate to a region vast and far,
Where all is gained at length for which he has striven —
All loss requited — all offences shriven —
All toil o'erpassed — effaced each battle-scar.
But ah! what heaven of rest could countervail
The ever widening thought — the endless stress
Of action whereinto the heart is born?
What sphere so blessèd it could overbless
With sweets the soul, when all such gifts must fail,
If from its chosen work that soul were torn?
Survival Of The Fittest
'NAUGHT but the fittest lives,' I hear
Ring on the northern breeze of thought:
'To Nature's heart the strong are dear,
The weak must pass unloved, unsought.'
And yet in undertones a voice
Is heard that says, 'O child of earth,
Your mind's best work, your heart's best choice
Shall stand with God for what they are worth.'
Time's buildings are not all of stone.
With frailest fibres Nature spins
Her living webs from zone to zone,
And what is lost she daily wins.
I fain would think, amid the strife
Between realities and forms,
Slight gifts may claim perennial life
'Mid slow decay and sudden storms.
This tuft of silver hairs I loose
From open windows to the breeze,
Some bird of spring perchance may use
To build her nest in yonder trees.
These pictures painted with an art
Surpassed by younger sight and skill,
May pass into some friendly heart,
Some room with Nature's smiles may fill.
These leaves of light and earnest rhyme
Dropped on the windy world, though long
Neglected now, some future time
May weave into its nest of song.
O BOON and curse in one — this ceaseless need
Of looking still behind us and before!
Gift to the soul of eyes that cannot read
Life's open book of cabalistic lore; —
Eyes that discern a light and joy divine
Twinkling beyond the twilight clouds afar,
Yet know not if it be the countersign
Of moods and thoughts, or some eternal star.
What taunt of destiny still stimulates
Yet baffles all desire, or wise or fond,
To pierce the veil ne'er lifted by the fates
Between the life that ends and life beyond?
We sit before the doors of death, and dream
That when they ope to let our brothers in,
We catch, before they close, some flitting gleam
Of glory where their after-lives begin.
And with the light a transient burst of song
Comes from within the gates that shut again
Upon our dead. Then we, the proud, the strong,
Sit crushed and lonely in our wordless pain.
Weeping, we knock against the bars, and call,
'Speak — speak, O love, for we are left alone!'
We hear our voices echo against the wall,
And dream it is a spirit's answering tone.
'Come back, or answer us!'
In vain we cry.
Naught is so near as death, so far away
As life beyond. They only know who die:
And we who live can only guess and pray.
If 't were indeed a voice not born within —
Some sure authentic sign from unknown realms —
Some note that heart and reason both could win —
Some carol like yon oriole in the elms;
Though but a vague and broken music caught,
Heard in the darkness, and then heard no more —
Sinking in sudden silence — while in thought
We piece the strains outside the muffled door
That leads into the light and perfect joy
Of the full concert — then 't were bliss indeed
No present griefs could darken or destroy;
Somewhere life's mystery we should learn to read.
Somewhere we then might drop the ripened seed
Of life, to grow again beyond the sky —
Nor deem the human soul a withering weed
Born but to bloom a summer time and die.
As once I sat upon the shore
There came to me a fairy boat,
A bark I never saw before,
Whose coming I had failed to note,
Wrapped in my studies conning rules of life by rote.
The stern was fashioned like a heart;
The curving sides like Cupid's bow.
And from the mast, which like a dart
Was winged above and barbed below,
A pennon like an airy stream of blood did flow.
Upon the prow on either side
Was carved a snowy Paphian dove.
Between, reflected in the tide
An arching swan's neck rose above
The deck o'erspread with broidered tapestries of love.
Against the mast the idle sail
Flapped like a lace-edged valentine.
It seemed a canvas all too frail,
Should winds arouse the sleeping brine.
A toy the boat appeared, for sport in weather fine.
And so I stepped, in idle mood,
Aboard the bark — when suddenly
A breeze sprang up: and while I stood
Uncertain, thinking I was free
To make retreat, the vessel bore me out to sea.
Silent and swift away from land
It cut the waves. No pilot steered.
No voice of captain gave command.
Yet to and fro it tacked and veered.
All day it flew. At eve a distant land appeared.
An island in the restless seas,
With rosy cliffs, and gold and green
Of dappled fields, and tropic trees,
With trailing vines and flowers between,
Across the purple waves through amber skies was seen.
And music floating from afar
I heard, of voice and instrument
As the sun sank, and star by star
Throbbed in the living firmament;
And all kind fates seemed pledged to cheer me as I went.
Till in a deep and shadowy bay
The little argosy, self-furled,
Self-anchored, in the silence lay,
And landed me upon a world
By other stars and a moons endiamonded, impearled.
A region to my student's nooks
Unknown — where first I leaned to see
That love is never conned from books,
Nor passion taught by fantasy —
But in the living, beating heart alone can be.
For on that shore a maiden stood,
Who smiled with sympathetic glance,
And when I pressed her hand, and wooed,
Turned not her truthful eyes askance,
And proved my voyage was no idle sport of chance.
Ah, from this island if I veer
Into the seas of worldly strife,
Give me the bark that brought me here,
Where now the tried and faithful wife
Year after year renews the lover's lease of life.
A Word To Philosophers
COLD philosophers, so apt
With your formulas exacting,
In your problems so enwrapt,
And your theories distracting;
Webs of metaphysic doubt
On your wheels forever spinning,
Turning Nature inside out
From its end to its beginning;
Drawing forth from matter raw
Protoplasmic threads, to fashion
What Creation never saw —
Mind apart from faith or passion;
Faculties that know no wants
But a logical position —
Fed on facts of pure cognition; —
Like Arachne's is your task,
By Minerva's wisdom baffled.
Defter weavers we must ask;
Tissues less obscurely ravelled.
Larger vision you must find
Ere your evolution-plummets
Sound the abysses of the mind,
Or your measure reach its summits.
Not from matter crude and coarse
Comes this delicate creation.
Twinned with it a finer force
Rules it to its destination.
All beliefs, affections, deeds
Feed its depths as streams a river,
Every purpose holds the seeds
Of a fruit that grows forever.
Souls outsoar your schoolmen's wit,
In a loftier heaven wheeling.
Lights ideal o'er them flit.
Every thought is wing'd with feeling.
Conscience born of heavenly light
Mingles with their lofty yearning;
Phantasy and humor bright
Cheer their toilsome path of learning.
Poesy with dreamy eyes
Lures them into fairy splendor,
Music's magic harmonies
Thrill with touches deep and tender.
Love, that shapes their mental moods,
Offers now its warm oblations,
Now the heart's dark solitudes
Glow with solemn adorations.
Vain your biologic strife,
Your asserting, your denying;
Ygdrasil the Tree of Life
Flouts your narrow classifying.
Every living leaf and bud
On its mighty branches growing,
Palpitates with will and blood
Past primordial foreknowing.
Your dissecting-knives can show
Less than half these wondrous natures,
In these beating hearts there glow
Flames that scorch your nomenclatures, —
Lights that make your axioms fine
Fade like stars when day is breaking; —
Splendors, hopes, and powers divine,
New born with each day's awaking.
Raise your scientific lore,
Grant us larger definitions;
Souls are surely something more
Than mere bundles of cognitions.
Take the sum — the mighty whole —
Man, this sovereign Protean creature,
Follow the all-embracing soul,
If you can, through form and feature.
Whence it came in vain you guess,
Where it goes you cannot measure,
And its depths are fathomless;
And exhaustless flows its treasure.
And its essence holds the world
In abeyance and solution,
For the gods themselves are furled
In its mystic involution.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
OUT of the cloud that dimmed his sunset light,
Into the unknown firmament withdrawn
Beyond the mists and shadows of the night,
We mourn the friend and teacher who has gone.
As in the days of old when Plato freed
The Athenian youths into a heavenlier sphere,
Long will the age with reverence hear and heed
The sweet deep music of our poet-seer.
For to his eye all objects and events
Spoke a symbolic language; and his mind
Pierced with the poet's vision through the dense
Dull surface to the larger truth behind.
And yet no solitary mystic trained
To spin a metaphysic web was he;
But open-eyed to all that life contained,
And the broad earth, of living harmony.
Nature adopted him from boyhood's hour.
The pines, the elms, the willows knew him well.
The lonely streams where blushed the cardinal-flower,
And where the shy Rhodora's petals fell.
And well his mother's lore he loved and learned;
His master-hand her crudest stuff refined.
All that she gave he back to her returned
Woven with figures of the shaping mind.
It seemed as if the hill-tops where he met
The sunrise still the livery put on
Of nobler days, and never could forget
The Syrian splendors of the poet's dawn.
And books to him unfolded all their store;
What soul was in them he had eyes to see.
And past and present turned up golden ore,
Transmuted by his mind's fine alchemy.
He drew his circles of so wide a sweep
That they encompassed every sect and creed.
Beneath the thought which seemed to others deep
His swifter spirit dived with brilliant speed.
His keen, clear intuition knit the threads
Of truths disjoined in one symmetric whole;
And barren wayside weeds and scattered shreds
Of facts found mystic meanings in his soul.
He dared to ope the windows to the breeze
Of Nature, when sectarians shuddering frowned,
While through the close air of their cloistered ease
The leaves of creeds fell fluttering to the ground;
Yet lived to see harsh theologians change
From blind mistrust to love the truth he taught;
And shallow wits grow dumb beneath his range
Of brilliant apothegm and daring thought.
Choice words and images like Shakspeare's best
Dropped from his lips and waited on his pen.
His voice in tuneful eloquence expressed
The manliest minds of Plutarch's noblest men.
For him our Western world its keen, dry lore
Recorded with a stenographic hand,
While the far Orient climes for tribute bore
The scriptures old of many a pagan land.
He saw the Soul whose breath all being breathes; —
The Life that glows in atoms and in suns;
The Law that binds; the Beauty that enwreathes;
The Ideal that all mortal wit outruns.
Yet close to earth and common duties bound,
Pledged to all true and gracious tasks he stood.
His presence made a sunshine all around,
His daily life a bond of brotherhood.
He needed not to worship at a shrine
Purer than private hours might well approve.
His missal was illumed with thoughts divine,
His rosary strung with kindly deeds of love.
Yet love and justice were at one with him;
And on the base oppressor's brow the stain
And brand were laid, not in derision grim,
But sad and fateful as the mark of Cain.
Thus, true as needle to the polar star,
He espoused the righteous cause, rebuked the wrong,
And flashed chivalric 'gainst a nation's bar
Of precedent, though fixed and sanctioned long.
Poet and sage! thy lofty muse demands
An insight deeper than the times attain.
Across the stagnant pools and drifting sands
Of thought I see thee like a sacred fane
Rise sunlit in the broad expanse of time;
And young and old shall greet from far thy light,
And pilgrims turn from many an old-world clime
To hail thy star-like dome of stainless white.
The wise will know thee, and the good will love.
The age to come will feel thy impress given
In all that lifts the race a step above
Itself, and stamps it with the seal of heaven.
Ormuzd And Ahriman. Part Ii
A CHORUS OF HUMAN SPIRITS IN THE MIST.
FAR in the shuddering spaces of the North
We live. We saw a Shape
Of terror rise and spread and issue forth;
And we would fain escape
The anger of his frown. We know him not,
Nor whether it be he
Who claims our homage, for the shadows blot
The sun we may not see.
We lift our prayers on heavy wings to one
Who dwells beyond the sun;
Whose lightnings are decrees of life or doom;
Whose laws are veiled in gloom.
Thick clouds and darkness are about thy throne
Where thou dost reign alone.
And we amid the mists and shadows grope,
With faint bewildered hope.
We fear thy awful judgments, and thy curse
Upon thy Universe.
For we are told it is a fearful thing,
O thou Almighty King,
To fall into thy hands. O spare the rod —
Thou art a jealous God!
O save us by the blood of him who died,
That sin might not divide
Our guilty souls from heaven and Christ and Thee.
And yet we dread to see
Thy face. How can the trembling fugitive
Behold thy face and live!
VOICE BEHIND THE MIST.
Fear not, for ye shall live if ye receive
The life divine, obedient to the law
Of truth and good. So shall there be no frown
Upon his face who wills the good of all.
CHOIR OF ANGELS IN THE DISTANCE.
God who made the tempest's wingèd terror
And the smile of morn,
Who art bringing truth from sin and error,
Love from hate and scorn;
Lo, thy presence glows through all thy creatures,
Passion-stained or fair;
Saint and sinner bear the selfsame features
Thy bright angels wear.
Human frailty all alike inherit,
Yet our souls are free.
Giver of all good, it is no merit
That we turn to thee.
Thou alone art pure in thy perfection.
We thy children shine
But as our soiled garments take reflection
From thy light divine.
Thou art reaching forth thine arms forever,
Struggling souls to free.
Leading man by every good endeavor
Back to heaven and thee!
CHORUS OF PLANETARY SPIRITS.
The presence that awed us and chilled us
Dissolves in the dews of the morning.
The darkness has vanished around us,
And shrunk to the shadows that color
The cloud flakes of gold and of purple:
So vanish the thoughts that obscured us,
The doubt and the dread of the evil
That stained the starred robe of Creation.
And we hear but one music pervading
The planets and suns that are shining —
The spirits that pine in the darkness
Or float in the joy of the morning.
Have we wronged thee, O monarch of shadows?
Have we named thee the Demon of spirits?
We know that the good and the evil
Each mortal and angel inherits —
The evil and good that are twisted
As fibres of brass and of gold —
To the All-seeing Eye have a meaning
We know not — too vast to be told;
But the wise and the merciful Father,
Though they stray in the desert and wold,
Will lift up his lambs to his bosom,
And gather them into his fold.
Yet the guilt and the crime that have triumphed,
Though shining in purple and gold,
Shall bring their own sure retribution,
As the prophets of ages have told.
For Justice is sure in the order
That rules through the heavens of old.
VOICE OF A PROPHET.
Aye, though no tyrant's stern decree enforce
The law, yet Justice still must hold its course;
Sure as the power that draws the falling stone,
Sure as the electric thrill from zone to zone,
The ocean's tides, the round of day and night,
The burning tropic sun, the winter's blight —
So follows, though long years have hid the seed,
The fatal fruitage of the evil deed.
VOICE OF A PHILOSOPHER.
Yet not, we must believe,
Like man's infirm opinion
And incomplete tribunals
God's larger judgments stand.
He sees the Past and Present;
He knows the strong temptations;
The nets where lie entangled
The creatures of his hand.
He knows the deep enigmas
No mortal mind has solved.
The armed and banded legions,
That bind earth's captives down,
Hold no divine commission
To pass the final sentence.
Heaven holds its perfect balance,
And smiles above their frown.
SONG OF HOPEFUL SPIRITS.
Praise, praise ye the prophets, the sages
Who lived and who died for the ages;
The grand and magnificent dreamers;
The heroes, the mighty redeemers;
The martyrs, reformers and leaders;
The voices of mystical Vedas;
The bibles of races long shrouded
Who left us their wisdom unclouded;
The truth that is old as their mountains,
But fresh as the rills from their fountains.
And praise ye the poets whose pages
Give solace and joy to the ages;
Who have seen in their marvellous trances
Of thought and of rhythmical fancies,
The manhood of Man in all errors;
The triumph of hope over terrors;
The great human heart ever pleading
Its kindred divine, though misleading,
Fate held it aloof from the heaven
That to spirits untempted was given.
The creeds of the past that have bound us,
With visions of terror around us
Like dungeons of stone that have crumbled,
Beneath us lie shattered and humbled.
The tyranny mitred and crested,
Flattered and crowned and detested;
The blindness that trod upon Science;
The bigotry Ignorance cherished;
The armed and the sainted alliance
Of conscience and hate — they have perished,
Have melted like mists in the splendor
Of life and of beauty supernal —
Of love ever watchful and tender,
Of law ever one and eternal.
SONG OF A WISE SPIRIT.
The light of central suns o'erflows
The unknown bounds of time and space.
The shadows are but passing shows
And clouds upon Creation's face.
From out the chaos and the slime,
From out the whirling winds of fire,
From years of ignorance and crime,
From centuries of wild desire,
The shaping laws of truth and love
Shall lift the savage from the clod;
Shall till the field and grid the grove
With homes of man and domes of God.
And Love and Science, side by side,
With starry lamps of heavenly flame,
Shall light the darkness far and wide;
The wandering outcast shall reclaim;
Shall bury in forgotten graves
Blind Superstition's tyrant brood;
Shall break the fetters of the slaves;
Shall bind the world in brotherhood;
Shall huff all despots from the throne,
And lift the saviors of the race;
And law and liberty alone
From sea to sea the lands embrace.
HYMN OF A DEVOUT SPIRIT.
The time shall come when men no more
Shall deem the sin that taints the earth
A demon-spell — a monstrous birth —
A curse forever to endure; —
Shall see that from one common root
Must spring the better and the worse;
And seek to cure, before they curse,
The tree that drops its wormy fruit.
For God must love, though man should hate
The vine whose mildew blights its grapes;
Shall he not clothe with fairer shapes
The lives deformed by earthly fate?
O praise him not that on a throne
Of glory unapproached he sits,
For deem a slavish fear befits
The child a father calls his own.
But praise him that in every thrill
Of life his breath is in our lungs,
And moves our hearts and tunes our tongues,
Howe'er rebellious to his will.
Praise him that all alike drink in
A portion of the life divine,
A light whose struggling soul-beams shine
Through all the blinding mists of sin.
For sooner shall the embracing day,
The air that folds us in its arms,
The morning sun that cheers and warms,
Held back their service, and decay,
Ere God, who wraps the Universe
With love, shall let the souls he made
Fall from his omnipresent aid
O'ershadowed by a human curse.
SONG OF AN EVOLUTIONIST.
All in its turn is good
And suited to its time;
Fire-mist and cosmic flood,
Ice, rock, and ocean slime;
Savage and Druid stern,
Faith typed in legends wild.
The mills of God still turn;
Order is Discord's child.
Ever from worse to better
Breaks Nature through her fetter —
The spirit through the letter.
One vast divine endeavor,
One purpose still pursued —
Upward and onward ever —
All in its turn is good.
Up from the centre striving
Through countless change on change,
Through shapes uncouth and strange —
The weakest doomed to perish —
The strongest still surviving;
Purpose divine in all.
Whether they rise or fall
Pledged to maintain and cherish
Types higher still and higher,
To struggle and aspire.
One vast divine endeavor
Upward and onward ever —
Through fish and bird and beast —
Power that hath never ceased —
Through darkness and through light —
Through ape and troglodyte,
Till best with best unite;
Through melancholy wastes
Of unknown time and space —
A power that never hastes,
And never slackens pace
Until the human face,
Until the human form
Beautiful, and swift and warm,
Awaits the crowning hour,
And blooms — a spirit-flower —
Upward and onward ever
One primal plan pursued.
All in its turn is good.
SONG OF AN OLD POET.
I sang of Eden and Creation's morn;
Of fiend and angel, triumph and despair.
I caught the world's old music in the air —
The strains that from a people's creed were born.
I soared with seraphs, walked with lords of doom;
Basked in the sun and groped in utter dark.
I lit the olden legends with a spark
Whose radiance but revealed eternal gloom.
I stood enveloped in a cloud o'ercharged
With thunder; and the blind mad bolts that flew
Were heaven's decrees. They spared alone the few
Whose hearts by grace supernal were enlarged.
Upon imagination's star-lit wings
I flew beyond the steadfast earth's supports,
And stood within Jehovah's shining courts,
And heard what seemed the murmur of the springs,
The streams of living and eternal youth.
Was it a dream? Hath God another Word
Than that between the Cherubim we heard
When Israel served the Lord with zeal and truth?
Are those but earthborn shadows that we saw
Thronging the spaces of the heavens and hells?
Is there a newer prophet-voice that tells
The trumpet-tidings of a grander law?
The lurid words above the fatal door —
The door itself — the circles of despair
Are fast dissolving in serener air.
They were but dreams. They can return no more.
No more the vengeance of a demon-god;
No more the lost souls whirling in black drifts
Of endless pain. The wind of morning lifts
The fog where once our groping footsteps trod.
I looked, and lo! the Abyss was all ablaze
With light of heaven, and not abysmal fire;
And fain would tune to other chords my lyre;
And fain would sing the alternate nights and days —
The days and nights that are the wings of Time;
The love that melts away the eternal chains;
The judgments only of remedial pains;
The hidden innocence in guilt and crime.
The sunlight on the illumined tracts of earth
Sprang from the darkness, pale and undiscerned.
And the great creeds the world hath slowly learned
Are truths evolved from forms of ruder birth.
The tides of life, divine and human, swell
And flood the desert shore, the stagnant pool.
And sage and poet know, where God hath rule
There is no cloud in heaven — no doom in hell.
FULL CHORUS OF THE PLANETARY SPIRITS.
Hear ye, O brothers, the voices around that are swelling in chorus?
Nearer and sweeter they rise and fall through the nebulous light:
Voices of sages and prophets — while under our footsteps and o'er us
Roll in their orbits the worlds whose circles we tracked through the night.
Melting away in the morning, we follow their pathways no longer,
Knowing the hand that has guided will bear them forever along;
Bear them forever, and shape them to destinies fairer and stronger
Than when the joyous archangels hailed their creation with song.
Not with a light that is waning — not with the curse of a dooming,
They shall accomplish their cycles through ages of fire and of cloud:
Ever from their chaos to order unfolding, progressing, and blooming,
Till with the wisdom and beauty of ages on ages endowed.
Out of the regions of discord, out of the kingdoms of evil,
God in the races to come shall abolish the reign of despair.
Who shall confront his decrees with the phantoms of demon and devil?
Who shall unhallow the joy of his light and the health of his air?
Lo! on the day-star itself there are spots that, coming and going,
Send through the spaces mysterious thrillings like omens of blight.
And the great planets afar are convulsed, as when winter comes blowing
Over the shuddering oceans and islands of tropical light.
Shadows are shadows; and all that is made is illumined and shaded, —
Bound by the laws of its being — heaven and earth in its breath.
He who hath made us will lift us, though stained and deformed and degraded —
Lift us and love us, though drowned in the surges of darkness and death.
Ariel And Caliban
Before PROSPERO'S cell. Moonlight.
So — Prospero is gone — and I am free —
Free, free at last. His latest charge have I
Performed with duteous care; have sent the breeze
To blow behind the ship whose rounded sails
Now bear him homeward; and I am alone.
Yet I, who pined for freedom — I, who served
This lordly mind, not of my own free choice,
Though somewhat out of gratitude, — for he
By his strong sorcery did release me once
From durance horrible, — now, since the touch
And sympathy of human souls have warmed
My cold electric blood, and I have known
How sweet it were to love and be beloved
Within the circle of the elements
Whose soulless life is death to human hearts, —
I, here alone, now grieve to be alone,
No longer linked with mortal loves and cares.
For as I flit about the ocean caves,
Or thread the mazes of the whispering pines,
Or in the flower-bells dream long sunny days,
Or run upon the crested waves, or flash
At no one's bidding, but in wild caprice,
A trailing meteor or a thunderbolt, —
Or sing along the breeze that hath no sense
Or soul of hearing, melodies I framed
For Prospero and his child, — I have no will
To work as once, when serving earned this boon
Of liberty, long sought, now tame and cheap.
For what to me are all these air-fed sprites
I marshalled, by his potent art constrained?
Their bloodless cold companionship can give
No joy to me, now half estranged from them.
There's Caliban, 't is true — a human beast —
Uncouth enough to laugh at — not so vile
Perhaps as he appears — rather misshaped
And thwarted in his growth. And yet he seems
In this fair Isle, where noble souls have lived,
Like a dull worm that trails its slime along
The full heart of a rose; and now at last
Free from the foot of Prospero, all the more
Slave to himself, crawls feeding where he lists.
Enter CALIBAN in the distance.
Lo, here he creeps, and looks as if he meant
To enter his old master's cell. But no!
I'll enter first, and there assume the voice
Of Prospero. He some sport at least shall yield.
Ah, sometimes I must be a merry sprite,
If only to beguile these lonesome hours.
[Vanishes into the cell.
So — so — the island's mine now. I may make
My dwelling where I choose. Methinks this cell
Might serve; though somewhat I suspect
Its walls are steeped in magic. And besides,
Too well my bones remember how that lord
Let fly his spirits at me. How he cramped
My limbs! The devil-fish o'ertake his ship!
He's far away — and I can curse him now,
And no more aches shall follow. As for him,
Yon drunken fellow — and his mate — good Lord,
How I was fooled to gulp his bragging lies!
The man in the moon, forsooth! And yet he bore
Brave liquor, though it set my wits agog.
Would there were more of it. Well, I'll make my bed
E'en here, where Prosper slept. King of the isle —
King Caliban! But I've no subjects yet,
Save beasts of the wood, and even over them
I lack those strong old charms of Sycorax.
[Enters the cell.
Halt there! What man art thou? Slave — Caliban!
Ah, ah! 'T is Prospero back again — Ah me!
How dar'st thou here intrude upon my rest?
Nay now — I cannot tell — I thought thee gone —
I saw thee go.
Think'st thou I cannot leap
Across the seas? Think'st thou I cannot ride
Upon the wind? Know'st thou not Prosper's might?
Do not torment me! Alas, alas, I thought
His book and stuff were buried — he at sea!
Ah, here's a coil — here's slavery again.
I'll run, before the cramp gets to my legs.
Good riddance! He'll not venture here again.
This grot is sacred to remembered forms
'T were base ingratitude could I forget.
Their names make fragrant all the place. They fill
The void of life within me more and more,
And draw me closer to all human-kind.
Much have ye taught me. Thou, O Prospero,
Whom all too grudgingly I served, dost seem
Now not a master, but a gracious friend.
And she — Miranda, peerless in her bloom
Of maidenhood — had I but human been,
What tenderer germs — but no — too late, too late
Those virtues, graces — this proud intellect
That made a sport of magic, and renounced
The sceptre of Wonderland as though it were
The bauble of a child. Too late I see
The topmost glory of the Duke, who shone
Grandest abjuring supernatural gifts —
Most godlike in forgiving his base foes.
(Pauses in deep thought.)
There is no life worth living but that life
I missed, the sympathetic interchange
Of mind with mind and heart with heart. This world
Of air and fire and water, where I dwell,
Is but a realm of phantasms — spectral flames
Like the pale streamers of the frozen North;
Is less than half of life — motion without
Life's warm reality — a trance, a dream.
Nay, even this slave — this son of Sycorax
Hath something human in him. Might I now
But find some passage to his heart, but breathe
Into his sluggish brain some finer breath,
But lift him to companionship of thought —
'T were worth the trial. At least I'll follow him
And wind about him with an airy song.
He's fond of music, for whene'er I sing
He listens open-mouthed. He's not so bad
But some ethereal trap may snare him yet.
I, a spirit of the air,
Now may wander anywhere
All about the enchanted Isle.
But no more the master's smile
Greets me as his door I pass;
I shall hear no more, alas!
Hear no more the magic word
Of the seer who was my lord —
Nevermore my flying feet
Bring him music strange and sweet,
Run for him upon the wind,
While the cloven air behind
Meets with roar and thunder-crack
In the lightning of my track —
Enter CALIBAN, listening.
This might be one of them. Full oft I hear
Their music in the air. And yet he lies,
And is a devil of Prospero's, for he hints
That Prosper's gone: and yet I heard his voice.
And yet that voice might be a mimicry.
Good Moon, assist me. Tell me, friendly Moon,
Is Prospero gone? Tell me, good Man i' the Moon,
He will not pinch me again.
Nay, doubt not, friend.
Now Setebos preserve my bones!
What voice art thou? For nothing can I see
But stars, and moonlight twinklings in the woods,
And black broad shadows of the trembling trees,
And here and there a fluttering zigzag bat.
I hover in the moonbeam overhead.
I think I've heard thee sing and talk before.
Did Prosper leave thee here to govern us,
And sing us into pitfalls with thy lies
And lying songs? And yet how sweet thou singest!
Come, show thyself — I think thou 'rt not a fiend.
I'll show myself anon. But do not fear.
Prosper is gone. A lonely spirit am I
Seeking companionship. I'd talk with thee.
Good — an' thou talkest sense, and wilt not bite
Or hunt me — nor dost bid me bring thee logs.
I have no need of fuel, nor of food
Nor dwelling, nay, not even of bodily shape.
Yet I can take a shape if so I choose.
Then prythee do. I fain would see thee, friend.
I like it not, this talking to the air.
I'll humor thee if I can be thy friend.
What shape shall I assume?
Why, any shape
But Prospero's — and I'll shake thee by the hand,
And swear thou art as merry a fellow as e'er
I have sat cracking nuts with — in my dreams —
For wide awake I ne'er encountered such.
Nay, this seems like a dream. Perchance it is —
And I asleep, and babbling in my sleep —
And Prospero still lord of all the Isle.
Nay, all is real. I tell thee he has gone.
Follow me now to yonder cave, where laps
The sleepy sea upon the pebbled shore,
Smoothing the flickering wrinkles of the moon,
Who steeps her golden column in the brine.
There will I meet thee in a human garb.
Where'er you please, so I but see your face.
You are no Jack-o'lantern, I believe.
I know thee not, but something tells me true
That I may trust thee. Sing then. I will follow.
[Exeunt, ARIEL singing.
Down the deep hollow —
Down to the moonlit waves,
Down where the ocean caves
The full tides swallow.
From the curse, from the blight,
From the thraldom of night,
From the dark to the light,
From the slave to the man
We will lift Caliban.
Farewell, Hecate! Rise, Apollo!
Follow, follow, follow!
In a cave by the sea. CALIBAN, and ARIEL as a forester, seated.
So then it seems thou 'rt one of these who served
This wizard lord — and he a duke disguised —
One of his tricksy spirits. I like not this.
Why did'st thou serve him?
He delivered me
From torture by his magic. I was bound
By gratitude as well as by his spells
To wait upon him. Oft unwillingly
I served him. But at last I loved him well;
Knew his soul's greatness, honored what he prized,
Which yet was but his minister — his art;
Felt in my airy veins a blood-warm beat,
Till through them double color seemed to run,
Like moonlight mingled with the rosy dawn.
If he was noble, why did he enslave me?
I never did him wrong, till he by force
Took from me this mine island — pent me up
In a vile prison — made me toil and drudge
All day, and when I lagged, beset me sore
With pinches and with terrors of his art.
Thou nam'st not all he did. Was he not kind?
Taught thee to speak and reason — treated thee,
At worst, as he would treat a faithful dog,
(For little more thou wast at first,) till thou
Did'st bite the hand that stroked and fed thee, yea,
And would'st have wrought dishonor on his child.
I know not. I was never taught to curb
My passions, and I lived a lonely life.
I wronged him? Yet my punishment was hard.
I might have served him, yet not been a slave.
It turned all love to hate to be his slave.
He did not treat me as he treated thee.
I was his servant too. But I perceived
There was a nearer tie 'twixt him and me,
For which I learned to love him. Let that pass.
What now behooves thee is to summon up
Thy human heart long styed in ignorance
And fear and hate; and since thou call'st thyself
Lord of this island, learn to be a lord
In nobler style, and with a human love
Of all things good. 'T were little gain for thee
To have thy freedom, if thou 'rt still enslaved
To baser powers within thee. What thou hadst
Ere Prospero came, is thine to enjoy and own.
But own thyself — the man within the beast;
For man thou art, and of the same stuff framed
As his who owned thee — and better than it seemed
Thou wert, perchance, to one whose will enslaved
All human and all elemental power
His magic could enforce, to overpay
For a few brief years the dukedom he had lost.
Learn now to prize thy freedom in a field
Where thou may'st work for good and not for harm.
Curse not, but bless. If I do chance to talk
Above thy head, I'll dwarf my thought to thine;
Or meet thee again when thou upon my words
Hast pondered…. Now, by Apollo's shaft, I think
The moon-calf is asleep! I'll vanish then.
What, is he gone! Or is it another dream?
It is my fate, I think, still to be duped
With visions and with shows. Perhaps now he
Was the man in the moon — Perhaps we'll meet again.
He may have said the truth. And yet, somehow,
I dropped asleep as when I hear the wind
Sing in the pines, or listen to the fall
Of streams in drowsy summer afternoons.
I do begin to love this spirit — albeit
He spoke in praise of Prosper. Prosper? — well —
It may be that I knew him not — who knows?
I am glad he has sailed away though. Setebos!
What — sunrise! Did I sleep so long? In faith
I know it, for I'm hungry. I will dig
Some mussels from the sand, and pick some fruits.
I'm not a cub, it seems — said he not so? —
But made for better things; no slave — a man
Fit to be talked with, and not called vile names —
Made of the same stuff with that Prospero —
Ah ha! good stuff, do you see? — the very same —
Only a little soiled. We'll see — we'll see.
(Ariel sings in the distance. )
The golden sun the clouds hath kissed
And fires the hilltops grim and old.
And down the valley melts the mist
And turns the earth to gold.
The lordly soul is lord of all.
The heart that loves its human-kind,
Where'er its warming sunbeams fall,
Leaves night and death behind.
Fine sprite, I hear you: think I love you too.
I'll follow you — though what you said to me
Is hard to understand. I'll hear you talk
Again; but first of all must eat and drink.
Made of the same stuff with that Prospero?
No beast — no slave! well — this is something new.
A pine grove By the sea. ARIEL as a forester.
Free, free at last! Yet bound by a chain whose links
Are the heart's memories. Free to roam unchecked,
Untasked. Free as these glancing dancing waves,
This summer wind. But by an inward need
Of action, and by late-born sympathies
With human life, bound not the less to serve; —
Though for the present I must waste my art
Upon this son of Sycorax. Yet I have seen
A kindlier sight flash in his brutish eyes,
And in his harsh voice heard a tenderer tone.
I think he almost loves me. But alas,
What room for human fellowship, what hope
To evolve the obstructed and distorted germ
Of manhood here, in idle solitude
Haunted by soulless elves and sprites — a land
By human hearts and human intellects
Untenanted? Around us Nature smiles
In indolent repose — too beautiful,
Too soft — a land of dull lethargic ease,
Steeped in the oblivion of the sleepy South.
(Pauses in thought. )
I know another island — where the North
Blows with a fresher wind; — where pulses bound
Electric to assured results of thought.
Its fertile plains, its rocky coasts and hills
Are peopled with a vigorous race. Its ports,
Forests of masts; its fields by labor tilled;
Its growing towns and cities from afar
Flash in the morning of a crystal sky,
And stud its winding streams like jewels strung
On silver threads: — a people brave and strong,
Yet peaceful, and advancing in all arts,
Science and culture, by wise freedom nursed.
Oft in my master's errands flying north
I have seen it far across the wrinkling waves,
Facing the sunrise like a golden cloud,
And heard the humming of its alien marts.
And thither we might sail — I and this slave
That was — not long a slave when he has known
Contact with men of a superior mould
In bonds of law and human brotherhood.
(Who has been approaching unperceived).
Good brother Ariel, you are lost in thought.
I know 't is about something wise and good.
Come — don't be glum. A penny for your thoughts.
How like you this fair island, Caliban?
Oh, well enough — not having known a better.
And yet 't is lonely here — a prison still,
Although our jailer's gone. And I would fain
See some new faces — not Italian dukes
Or jesters — I have had enough of them —
But like your own, whene'er you let yourself
Be seen, and condescend to talk with me.
What think you of a voyage from this shore
To another island? — better far than this,
I needs must think; a place where men have built
Great cities, tilled broad fields, and sail huge ships —
A home for you and me more fit than this;
For I'm becoming human very fast,
While you will need ere long some earthlier friend.
Well — on the whole I'm tired of this dull life,
And don't object to see some other lands:
But how do you propose to sail away
Without a ship?
We'll see. Trust me for that.
One task the more my magic shall achieve.
We'll build a boat. Your toil shall not be great.
Yet your old task you must resume awhile,
And bring me a few logs.
For you, good Ariel. But for Prospero —
Thank Heaven, I've carried my last load for him!
(They retire, talking together. )
Sunset. ARIEL and CALIBAN in a sailboat are leaving the island.
I have built me a magical ship;
Its sails of the air were wrought.
From the land of symbol and dream we slip
To the land of deed and thought:
To a clime where the north and south
Have mingled their noble seed;
And the glance of the eye and the word of the mouth
Are one with the honest deed.
We sail, away, away!
To a land where the brain of man
Works magic as strange as this;
And the heart of the future builds a plan
As deep as the soul's abyss.
We need not the tide nor the gale,
Nor the sun nor the moon with their beams,
For our boat has a magical rudder and sail
That were wrought in the island of dreams.
Away, away, away!
(Voices, echoing from the island. )
In the island of dreams we stay.
We echo your parting lay.
Speed on by night and day!
Speed on! away, away!
(CALIBAN sleeps. )
Sleep on! We leave the past. The night enshrouds
The enchanted isle. And wake thou when the sun
Shines on another clime — and shines in thee
With the new light which thou hast never seen.
Pardon, great Poet, should I seem to mar
One mystery of thy supernatural tale;
Or with unreverent eye to scan the star
Whose splendor makes his satellites so pale!
If in my play and privacy of thought,
Led by thy light, I lingered for a while
Amid the scenes thy master-hand had wrought,
And, hovering over thy deserted isle,
Dared to invoke thy sprites without command
To come unmarshalled by thy mystic wand —
If on the margin of thy immortal page
I scrawled a sketch unfit to grace thy stage,
'T was but the joy of dwelling there with thee
Near that enchanted sea.
'T was but the wondering question of a child,
To know what may have chanced beyond the wild
Fantastic dream, from which too soon he woke
To common daylight and life's weary yoke.
Pardon I crave once more, O mighty seer!
I bow before thee here
With reverent love and awe,
And say — 'I only sported with his thought,
While in its golden meshes gladly caught,
I dreamed and fancied. He awoke and saw!'