Sonnet Lvi. Music And Poetry. 2.
YET words though weak are all that poets own
Wherewith their muse translates that kindred muse
Of Harmony, whose subtle forms and hues
Float in the unlanguaged poesy of Tone.
And so no true-souled artist stands alone;
But all are brothers, though one hand may use
A magic wand the others must refuse,
And painters need no sculptor's Parian stone.
If Art is long, yet is her province wide.
While all for truth and beauty live and dare,
One sacred temple covers all her sons.
Music and Poesy stand side by side.
Through every member one blood-current runs:
One aim, one work, one destiny they share.
AH, happy time! when music bound in one
Two kindred souls that ne'er were out of tune:
When in the porch, beneath the summer moon,
Our supper o'er, our school-boy lessons done,
While other lads were at some boisterous fun,
We trilled our Tara's Hall or Bonnie Doon:
Or in some fire-lit wintry afternoon,
Our flutes, you first, I second, bravely won
Their winding path through many a tough duet;
Nor cared for plaudits louder than the praise
Mother or sisters, in those simple days,
Well pleased, bestowed: ah, sweeter than we met
In after-life, from critics pledged to raise
Art's standard high as dome or minaret.
Sonnet Lv. Music And Poetry. 1.
SING, poets, as ye list, of fields, of flowers,
Of changing seasons with their brilliant round
Of keen delights, or themes still more profound —
Where soul through sense transmutes this world of ours.
There is a life intense beyond your powers
Of utterance, which the ear alone has found
In the aerial fields of rhythmic sound —
The inviolate pathways and air-woven bowers
Built by entwining melodies and chords.
Ah, could I find some correspondent sign
Matching such wondrous art with fitting words!
But vain the task. Within his hallowed shrine
Apollo veils his face. No muse records
In human speech such mysteries divine.
One day in the bluest of summer weather,
Sketching under a whispering oak,
I heard five bobolinks laughing together
Over some ornithological joke.
What the fun was I couldn't discover.
Language of birds is a riddle on earth.
What could they find in whiteweed and clover
To split their sides with such musical mirth?
Was it some prank of the prodigal summer,
Face in the cloud or voice in the breeze,
Querulous catbird, woodpecker drummer,
Cawing of crows high over the trees?
Was it soame chipmunk's chatter, or weasel
Under the stone-wall stealthy and sly?
Or was the joke about me at my easel,
Trying to catch the tints of the sky?
Still they flew tipsily, shaking all over,
Bubbling with jollity, brimful of glee,
While I sat listening deep in the clover,
Wondering what their jargon could be.
'Twas but the voice of a morning the brightest
That ever dawned over yon shadowy hills;
'Twas but the song of all joy that is lightest,-
Sunshine breaking in laughter and trills.
Vain to conjecture the words they are singing;
Only by tones can we follow the tune
In the full heart of the summer fields ringing,
Ringing the rhythmical gladness of June!
IN the fragrant bright June morning, Rosamond, the queen of girls,
Down the marble doorsteps loiters, radiant with her sunny curls;
O'er the green sward through the garden passes to the river's brink —
Throws away an old bouquet, and wonders if 't will float or sink.
Then returning through the garden, round and round the lawn she goes,
Singing, as she cuts fresh roses, she herself her world's fair rose;
In her dainty morning-robe and straw hat shading half her face —
Picturesque in form and feature, lovely in her youth and grace;
In her hand a little dagger, sharp and glittering in the sun,
Rifling hearts of thorny bushes, cutting roses one by one,
Pink and white and blood-red crimson — some in bud and some full-blown,
There through lawn and grove and garden sings she to herself alone;
Softly sings in broken snatches some old song of Spain or France,
As she holds her roses off at full arm's length, with sidelong glance,
Shifting groups of forms and colors; for a painter's eye hath she,
And all beauty pleaseth her, so artist-like and fancy-free.
Now she enters her boudoir and sets her roses in a vase.
There for seven days and nights their bloom and fragrance fill the place.
When the petals droop and fade, she'll bear them to the river's brink;
Singing, throw them on the waves, and wonder if they'll float or sink.
Will she bear away to-night a bunch of lovers' rose-hearts, pray?
Set them in her vase a week — then throw them with her flowers away?
ALL day within me, sweet and clear
The song you sang is ringing.
At night in my half-dreaming ear
I hear you singing, singing.
Ere thought takes up its homespun thread
When early morn is breaking,
Sweet snatches hover round my bed
And cheer me when awaking.
The sunrise brings the melody
I only half remember,
And summer seems to smile for me,
Although it is December.
Through drifting snow, through dropping rain,
Through gusts of wind, it haunts me.
The tantalizing old refrain
Perplexes, yet enchants me.
The mystic chords that bore along
Your voice so calmly splendid,
In glimmering fragments with the song
Are joined and vaguely blended.
I touch my instrument and grope
Along the keys' confusion,
And dally with the chords in hopes
To catch the sweet illusion.
In vain of that consummate hour
I court the full completeness,
The perfume of the hidden flower,
The perfect bloom and sweetness.
Of strains that were too rich to last
A baffled memory lingers.
The theme, the air, the chords have passed;
They mock my voice and fingers.
They steal away as sunset fires
Lose one by one their flashes,
And cheat the eye with smouldering pyres
And banks of gray cloud-ashes.
And yet I know the old alloy
That dims and disentrances
The golden visions and the joy
Of hope's resplendent fancies
Can never touch that festal hour
In soul and sense recorded,
Though scattered rose leaves from your bower
Alone my search rewarded.
The unconnected strains alone
Survive to bring you nearer,
As when our queen of song and tone
Made vassals of each hearer.
Yet through the night and through the day
The notes and chords are ringing.
Their echo will not pass away —
I hear you singing — singing.
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.
Frederick Henry Hedge D. D. On His 80th Birthday, Dec. 12, 1885
WHAT lapse or accident of time
Can dull that soul's sonorous chime
Which owns the priceless heritage —
Youth's summer warmth in wintry age?
The gods can grant no rarer boon
Than heart with mind in genial tune,
Through a long life's vicissitudes
Unjarred by chances and by moods;
A soul elastic and unworn
Whose eve retains the smile of morn;
And all the poesy of youth
Is wedded to the soul of truth.
So have I seen the Alpine glow
On hoary pinnacles of snow,
While many a younger wilderness
Of woods beneath lay colorless
And darkling in the twilight sky,
Touched by no sunset alchemy.
For some there are whose youth is old
Long ere their youthful blood grows cold;
And some in age so young that time,
Deceived, still sees them in their prime.
No form or face that prophesied
A strength to after years denied —
No spirit lost in aims that seem
The cloud-land of a worldly dream —
No head discrowned — no incomplete
And slackened course to-day we greet
In him whose fourscore years have spanned
The gulfs of fact and wonder-land; —
Who brought the seeds of Europe's lore
To fertilize our western shore;—
By pastoral care, by voice and pen
Toiling to serve his fellow-men;
Who early stood in freedom's van,
And with forecasting eye outran
The cloudy creeds that long obscured
The light to later days assured.
What claim of youth by word or deed
Can e'er dislodge or supersede
The royal right to place and fame
Earned by long years of earnest aim,
Of learning deep, of vision wide,
Of wisdom to fit speech allied;
While all along their downward trend
Youth's earlier lights his steps attend?
Still in the gloaming of his day
Lingers the glow that mocks decay.
Friend, poet, scholar, teacher, sage!
Unshadowed by the mists of age,
Long may the generous faith and thought,
The lights from the ideal caught,
That guided and inspired his youth,
Shine clearer toward the perfect truth.
And like some minster tower whose grand
Melodious bells ring o'er the land,
His voice be heard when daylight fails
Across the darkened hills and vales;
And ere night's pall be o'er him cast,
His mellowest music be his last.
COME, we 'll light the parlor fire;
Winter sets in sharp and rough.
Wood is dear, but coal's provided,
For three months, I think, enough.
Bring one hod of Lackawanna,
One of Sidney's softer kind,
Mix them well — clap on the blower,
Let the grate outroar the wind.
See — they are coming — the guests I expected,
Not a man's party, o'er punch and cigars;
Sexes must blend in the friends I've selected,
Moonlight must mellow the glittering stars.
Soon will it kindle, the blithe conversation,
Spirits to spirits responsively fit;
Men with their logic and grave moderation,
Women with sentiment, gossip and wit.
Now the softly flaming Sidney
Mixes with the anthracite;
Quickens all its slow-paced ardor
With a fluttering glow and light;
While their heat and radiance blended
Flash in gleams of red and blue,
Filling all the room with sunshine,
Gaily sparkling up the flue.
Lonely was Adam till Eve came to cheer him —
Came to commingle her warmth with his light.
Man is a fossil till woman comes near him,
A rose on his brier — a moon to his night.
Then when the tenderer feminine color
Rims the hard stalk with its delicate gleams,
All his best life growing sweeter and fuller
Wakes in the glow of those holier beams.
Hard and soft in cordial union
Now have fused, like molten wax.
Each a temper gives and borrows —
Each the half the other lacks.
Should they lose their flames and smoulder
With a dull and sullen light,
Stir them up — the sparking Sidney
Soon will start the anthracite.
What — have my guests then exhausted their topics?
Why is this lull in the murmur of tongues?
Where is that breath from the flowery tropics?
Lead to the piano our empress of songs!
Music shall stir us to harmonies hidden,
Flooding to rapture like beakers of wine.
Stories shall move us to laughter unbidden;
Laughter like music is something divine.
Ah, 't is midnight! Are you going?
Parties will break up so soon.
Count not hours so swiftly flowing,
Heed not the high wintry moon.
One more song before we sever,
And the cinders turn to white;
One old story, good as ever!
No? Too late? Ah, well — good night!
Now they have gone with the pale dying embers.
Here in my parlor, still cosy and warm
With the glow of the hearth, how my fancy remembers
Each guest of the evening — each talent and charm; —
The slow-burning fervors of masculine reason,
The swift-glancing flame of the feminine heart; —
And I vow that no fire shall be lit at this season,
But coal of each sex shall contribute its part.
WHEN Nature had made all her birds,
With no more cares to think on,
She gave a rippling laugh, and out
There flew a Bobolinkon.
She laughed again; out flew a mate;
A breeze of Eden bore them
Across the fields of Paradise,
The sunrise reddening o’er them.
Incarnate sport and holiday,
They flew and sang forever;
Their souls through June were all in tune,
Their wings were weary never.
Their tribe, still drunk with air and light,
And perfume of the meadow,
Go reeling up and down the sky,
In sunshine and in shadow.
One springs from out the dew-wet grass;
Another follows after;
The morn is thrilling with their songs
And peals of fairy laughter.
From out the marshes and the brook,
They set the tall reeds swinging,
And meet and frolic in the air,
Half prattling and half singing.
When morning winds sweep meadowlands
In green and russet billows,
And toss the lonely elm-tree’s boughs,
And silver all the willows,
I see you buffeting the breeze,
Or with its motion swaying,
Your notes half drowned against the wind,
Or down the current playing.
When far away o’er grassy flats,
Where the thick wood commences,
The white-sleeved mowers look like specks
Beyond the zigzag fences,
And noon is hot, and barn-roofs gleam
White in the pale blue distance,
I hear the saucy minstrels still
In chattering persistence.
When Eve her domes of opal fire
Piles round the blue horizon,
Or thunder rolls from hill to hill
A Kyrie Eleison,
Still merriest of the merry birds,
Your sparkle is unfading,—
Pied harlequins of June,—no end
Of song and masquerading.
What cadences of bubbling mirth,
Too quick for bar and rhythm!
What ecstasies, too full to keep
Coherent measure with them!
O could I share, without champagne
Or muscadel, your frolic,
The glad delirium of your joy,
Your fun unapostolic,
Your drunken jargon through the fields,
Your bobolinkish gabble,
Your fine Anacreontic glee,
Your tipsy reveller’s babble!
Nay, let me not profane such joy
With similes of folly;
No wine of earth could waken songs
So delicately jolly!
O boundless self-contentment, voiced
In flying air-born bubbles!
O joy that mocks our sad unrest,
And drowns our earth-born troubles!
Hope springs with you: I dread no more
Despondency and dullness;
For Good Supreme can never fail
That gives such perfect fullness.
The life that floods the happy fields
With song and light and color
Will shape our lives to richer states,
And heap our measures fuller.
Ormuzd And Ahriman. The Overture.
HAD I, instead of unsonorous words,
The skill that moves in rapturous melodies,
And modulations of entrancing chords
Through mystic mazes of all harmonies —
The bounding pulses of an overture
Whose grand orchestral movement might allure
The listener's soul through chaos and through night,
And seeming dissonance to concord and to light —
I might allow some harsh Titanic strains
To wrestle with Apollo and with Jove;
And let the war-cries on barbaric plains
Clash through the chords of wisdom and of love.
For still the harmonies should sing and soar
Above the discord and the battle's roar;
E'en as the evolving art and course of time,
Amid the wrecks in wild confusion hurled,
Move with impartial rhythm and cosmic rhyme
Along the eternal order of the world.
Then would I bid my lyric band express
In music the old earth's long toil and stress:
How the dumb iron centuries have foretold
The coming of the future age of gold:
How, ere the morning stars together sang,
Divine completeness out of chaos sprang
Through shapeless germs of lower forms that climb
By slow vast æons of a dateless time:
Till, through the impulse of the primal plan
They reach their flowering in the soul of man.
All swift-contending fugues — all wild escapes
Of passion — long-drawn wail and sudden blast —
Weird, winding serpent-chords, their writhing shapes
Shot through with arrowy melodies that fast
Pursue them, or that fall and lose themselves
In changing forms, as in some land of elves;
The shadows and the lights
Of joyous mornings, and of sorrowing nights —
Strange tones of crude half-truth — the good within
The mysteries of evil and of sin,
Should weave the prelude of a symphony
Whose music voiced the world's vast harmony;
And only to the ears
Of spirits listening from serener spheres
Of thought, the differing tones should blend and twine
Into the semblance of a work divine;
Where, not in strife but peace, should meet
What single were but incomplete.
I would unloose the soul beneath the wings
Of every instrument;
I would enlist the deep-complaining strings
Of doubt and discontent;
The low sad mutterings and entangled tunes
Of viols and bassoons; —
Shy horns with diffident tones —
The insolent trombones —
The reedy notes
From mellow throats
Of oboë and of clarionet —
Their pure and pastoral singing met
By clash of bacchanal cymbals, and a rout
Of tipsy satyrs dancing all about: —
Carols of love and hope checked by the blare
Of trumpet-cries of anger and despair: —
All differing mingling voices of the deep —
All startling blasts, all airs that lull to sleep;
The mountain cataract that whirls and spins
And bursts in spray asunder :—
Swift puttering rains of flutes and violins, —
The tymbal's muffled thunder:
Æolian breathings wild and soft,
Notes that sink or soar aloft —
Soar or sink with harp-strings pulsing under :—
Ravishing melodies that stream
Through chords entrancing as a dream
Out of a realm of wonder.
Or else, from off the full and large-leaved score
Into the willing instruments I'd pour
A noise of battle in the air unseen;
Of ghostly squadrons sending tremors strange
Of trouble and disastrous change
From beyond their cloudy screen;
Low rumbling thunders — drops of bloody rain —
Earthquake and storm — presentiment of pain —
Strange sobbings in the air
Hushed by degrees in fading semitones
And softened sighs and moans,
As when a mother by the cradle stills
At night her weeping child, ere morn peeps o'er the hills,
And all the world again is bright and fair.
While, with receding feet,
Far off is heard the beat
Of mournful marches of the muffled drums;
And nearer now and nearer,
Sweeter still and clearer,
The bird-like flute-notes leap into the air,
While the great human-heavenly music comes
Emerging from the dark with bursts of song
And hope and victory delayed too long.
So should my music fill its perfect round
With dewy sunrise, and with peace profound.
Ah, what are all the discords of all time
But stumbling steps of one persistent life
That struggles up through mists to heights sublime
Forefelt through all creation's lingering strife: —
The deathless motion of one undertone,
Whose deep vibrations thrill from God to God alone!
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!'
Ormuzd And Ahriman. Part I
CHORUS OF PLANETARY SPIRITS.
YE interstellar spaces, serene and still and clear.
Above, below, around!
Ye gray unmeasured breadths of ether, — sphere on sphere!
We listen, but no sound
Rings from your depths profound.
But ever along and all across the morning bars
Fast-flashing meteors run —
The trailing wrecks of fierce and fiery-bearded stars,
Scattered and lost and won
Back to their parent sun.
Through rifts of bronzing clouds the tides of morning glow
And swell and mount apace.
We watch and wait if haply we at last may know
Some record we may trace
Upon the orbs of space.
Above, below, around we track our planets' flight;
Their paths and destinies
Are intertwined with ours. Remote or near, their light
Or darkness to our eyes
A mystic picture lies.
Close to the morn a small and sparkling star-world dances,
Bathed in the flaming mist;
Flashing and quivering like a million moving lances
Of gold and amethyst
By slanting sunrise kissed.
A fairy realm of rapid and unimpeded sprites,
That fly and leap and dart;
All fierce and tropic fervors, all swift and warm delights
Bound and flash and start
In every fiery heart.
Deep in the dawn floats up a star of dewy fire —
So pure it seems new-born;
As though the soul of morn
Were pulsing through its heart in dim, divine desire
Of poesy and love; — the star of morn and eve —
Whose crystal sphere is shining
With joys beyond divining —
Passion that never tortures, and hopes that ne'er deceive.
There swims the pale, green Earth, half drowned and thunder-rifted,
Steeped in a sea of rain. Above the watery waste
Of God's primeval flood, all other land effaced —
One peak alone uplifted.
The baffled lightnings play around its crags and chasms;
So far away they flash, I hear no thunder-spasms.
But now the scowling clouds are drifting from its spaces,
And leave it to the wind and coming day's embraces.
Beyond, a planet rolls with darkly lurid sides,
Flooded and seamed and stained by drenching Stygian tides;
Deep gorges, up whose black and slimy slopes there peep
All monstrous Saurian growths that run or fly or creep;
And, in and out the holes and caverns clogged with mud,
Crawl through their giant ferns to suck each other's blood.
I see them battling there in fog and oozy water,
Symbols of savage lust, deformity, and slaughter.
I see an orb above that spins with rapid motion,
Vaster and raster growing —
Belted with sulphurous clouds; and through the rents an ocean
Boiling and plunging up on a crust of fiery shore.
And now I hear far off the elemental roar,
And the red fire-winds blowing:
A low, dull, steady moan a million miles away,
Of whirling hurricanes that rage all night, all day.
No life of man or beast, were life engendered there,
Could bide those flaming winds, that white metallic glare.
But yonder, studded round with lamps of moonlight tender,
And arched from pole to pole with rings of rainbow splendor,
A world rolls far apart; as though in haughty scorning
Of all the alien light of his diminished morning.
SEVENTH AND EIGHTH SPIRITS.
Cold, cold and dark — and farther still
We dimly see the icy spheres
Like spectre worlds, who yet fulfil,
Through slow dull centuries of years,
Their circuit round the distant sun who winds them at his will.
Round and round one central orb
The wheeling planets move,
And some reflect and some absorb
The floods of light and love.
The rolling globe of molten stones,
The spinning watery waste,
The forests whirled through tropic zones
By circling moons embraced —
We watch their element strife;
We wait, that we may see
Some record of their inner life,
Where all is mystery.
A pause. The Spirits approach the Earth. The Sun rises over the Continent of Asia.
Look, brothers, look! The quivering sunrise tinges
Our nearest orb of Earth. The forest fringes
Redden with joy; and all about the sun,
That gilds the boundless east, the cloud-banks dun
Flame into gold; and with a crimson kiss
Wake the green world to beauty and to bliss.
See how she glows with sweet responsive smile!
Hark, how the waves of air lap round her!
As though she were some green, embowered isle,
And the fond ocean had just found her,
In Time's primeval morn of unrecorded calms
Hidden away with all her lilies and her palms;
And flattering at her feet, had smoothed his angry mane,
And moving round her kissed her o'er and o'er again.
And now, behold, our wings are rapid as our thought;
And nearer yet have brought
Our feet, until we hover above the Asian lands
Beyond the desert sands.
There, girt about by mountain peaks that cleave the skies,
A blooming valley lies:
A pathway, sloping down from visionary heights
Through shades and dappled lights,
Lost in a garden widerness of tropic trees
And flowers and birds and bees.
Far off I smell the rose, the amaranth, the spice,
The breath of Paradise.
Far off I hear the singing through hidden groves and vales
Of Eden's nightingales;
And, sliding down through pines and moss and rocky walls,
The murmuring waterfalls.
And lo, two radiant forms that seem akin to us,
Walk, calm and beauteous,
Crowed with the light of thought and mutual love, whose blisses
Are sealed with rapturous kisses.
Ah, beautiful green Earth! ah, happy, happy pair!
Can there be aught so fair,
O brothers, in yon vast unpeopled worlds afar,
As these bright beings are!
CHORUS OF SPIRITS.
The stars in the heavens are singing
Response to the wonderful story;
Joy, joy to the race that is springing
To cover the earth with its glory!
The race that enfolds in its bosom
A birthright divine and immortal;
As the fruit is enwrapped in the blossom,
As the garden is hid by the portal!
(A change to a minor key.)
Sin and weakness, misery and pain,
Cloud their sunlit birth;
And the sons of Heaven alone remain
Gods unmixed with earth.
Light and darkness are the twins of fate;
Through all realms that bear a mortal date,
Hold alternate sway.
Through the universe the lords of life
Never at peace can be.
Good and evil in a ceaseless strife
Fight for victory.
I hear in the spaces below
A discord of voices that flow
In muttering tones through the air.
But where are they hidden — where?
There are trailings of gloom through the spaces,
And far-darting cones that eclipse
The splendor of planets whose faces
Are dimmed by their darkening traces,
And frozen by alien lips;
And the dream of a swift-coming change
Foretokens a destiny strange.
And what is yon Shadow that creeps
On the marge of her crystalline deeps?
On the field and the river and grove,
On the borders of hope and of rest;
On the Eden of wedlock and love;
On the labor contentment hath blessed?
That crawls like a serpent of mist
Through the vales and the gardens of peace,
With a blight upon all it hath kissed,
And a shade that shall never decrease?
That maddens the wings of desire,
And saddens the ardors of joy —
Winged like a phantom of fire —
Armed like a fiend to destroy!
Before me there flitted a vision —
A vision of dawn and Creation,
Of faith and of doubt and division,
Of mystical fruit and temptation:
A garden of lilies and roses,
Ah, sweeter than dreams ever fashioned;
Hopes in whose splendor reposes
A love that was pure and impassioned.
But alas for the sons and the daughters
Of man, in the morning of nations!
Alas for their rivers of waters!
Alas for their fruitless oblations!
The curse and the blight and the sentence
Have fallen too swift for repentance.
I see it, I feel it — O brother!
It shadows one half of their garden.
O Earth! O improvident Mother!
Where left'st thou thy angel, thy warden?
Is it theirs, or the guilt of another?
Must they die without hope of a pardon?
What is it they suffer, O brother,
In the red, rosy light of their garden?
Ye Angels — ye heavenly Powers
Whose wisdom is higher than ours —
From the blight, from the terror defend them —
Help, help! In their Eden befriend them.
THE ANGEL RAPHAEL.
Beyond the imagined limits of such space
As ye can guess, I passed, yet heard your cry.
For ye are brother spirits. And I come,
Swifter than light, to shield you from the dread
Of earth-born shadows, and the ghostly folds
Of seeming evil curtaining round your worlds.
Yet can I bring no amulet to guard
One peaceful breast from sorrow; for yourselves
Are girt about, as I, by that divine,
Exhaustless Love, whose pledge your souls contain.
Ah, not for ourselves — but our brothers
We plead, in their dawn overglooming,
For the death is not theirs, but anothers.
Help, help! from the doom that is coming;
For they stand all alone and unguided;
No Past with its lesson upholds them;
Their life from their race is divided;
A childhood unconscious enfolds them.
Is it sin — is it death that has shrouded
Their souls, or a taint in their nature?
Is there hope for a future unclouded?
Tell — tell us — angelical teacher!
Yon earth, which claimed your closer vigilance,
And seems so near to you in time and space,
Is far away. Your present is its past.
To spirits, worlds and æons are condensed
Into a moment's feeling or a thought.
While ye were singing as ye watched those orbs,
They grew and grew from incandescent globes
Girdled with thunder, wreathed with sulphurous steam —
Or from the slime where rude gigantic forms
Of crocodile or bat plunged through the dense
And flowerless wilds of cane, or flapped like dreams
Of darkness through the foul mephitic air.
These shapes gave way to forests, rocks, and seas,
And shapely forms of beast and bird and man —
The last result of wonder-working Time —
Man — the tall crowning flower and fruit of all —
And the vast complex tissues he hath wrought
Of life and laws and government and arts.
All this ye knew not; tranced in choral song,
Your music was the oblivion of all time.
Have we not seen the approaching doom of Earth?
The vision ye have had of joy and doom
Flashing and glooming o'er two little lives,
Is truth half-typed in legend, such as fed
The people of the ancient days, distilled
From crude primordial growths of time, when sin
Saw the fierce flaming sword of conscience shake
Its terror through the groves of Paradise,
Grasped by Jehovah's red right hand in wrath.
Was it a dream? We saw that red right hand.
The events and thoughts that passed in olden time
Dawn on your senses with the beams of light
That left long, long ago those distant worlds,
And flash from out the past like present truths.
It was a poet's dream ye saw. It held
A truth. 'Tis yours to unfold the mythic form,
And guess the meaning of the ancient tale.
We mark thy words; we know that thou art wise
And good; and yet we hover in a mist
Of doubt. Help us! Our sight is weak and dim.
Know then that men and Angels can conceive
Through symbols only, the eternal truths.
Through all creation streams this dual ray —
The marriage of the spirit with the form —
The correspondence of the universe
With souls through sense; and that the deepest thought
And firmest faith are nurtured and sustained
By the great visible universe of time
And space — the alphabet whose mystic forms
Present all inner lessons to the soul —
And thus the unseen by the seen is known.
Yea, even the blank and sterile voids that span
The dead unpalpitating space 'twixt star
And star, shall speak, as light hath spoken once.
And hark! Even now the unfathomable deeps
Begin to stir. I hear a far off sound
Of shuddering wings, beyond the hurrying clouds,
Beyond the stars — now nearer, nearer still!
(Confusedly, in a minor key.)
Behind us shines the Light of lights.
We are the Shadows, we the nights,
That blot the pure expanse of time.
And yet we weave the destined rhyme
Of creatures with the Increate —
Of God and man, free will and fate;
The warp and woof of heavens and hells;
The noiseless round of death and birth;
The eternal protoplasmic spells
Binding the sons of God to earth; —
The ceaseless web of mystery
That has been, and shall ever be.
Far off we seem to hear a chorus strange,
Rising and falling through the gathering gloom.
And now the congregated clouds appear
To take the semblance of a Shape, that bends
This way — as when a whirling ocean-spout
Drinks, as it moves along, the light of heaven.
Spirit — if Spirit or Presence
Thou art, or the gloom of a symbol —
Approach, if thou canst, to interpret
Thy name and thy work and thy essence.
( A pause. )
Behold, the Shadow spreads and towers apace,
Like a dense cloud that rolls along the sea
Landward, then shrouds the winding shore, the fields,
The network of rite gray autumnal woods,
And the low cottage roofs of upland farms;
What seemed a vapor with a ragged fringe
Changes to wings, that sweep from north to south.
And round about the mass whose cloudy dome
Should be a head, I see the lambent flames
Of distant lightnings play. And now a voice
Of winds and waves and crumbling thunder tones
Commingled, muttering unintelligible things,
Approaches us. The air grows strangely chill
And nebulous. Daylight hath backward stepped.
The morning sun is blotted with eclipse.
CHORUS OF THE SPIRITS.
Like the pale stricken leaves of the Autumn
When Winter swoops downward to whirl them
Afar from the nooks of the woodlands,
And up through the clouds of the twilight,
We shudder! We hear a wind roaring
And booming below in the darkness;
A voice whose low thunder is mingled
With waves of the sibilant ocean.
The clouds that were pearly and golden
Are steeped in a blackening crimson.
The spell of a magical presence
Is nearing us out of the darkness.
What is it? No shape we distinguish —
No voice — but a sound that is muffled,
Muffled and stifled in thunder.
We are troubled. Oh, help us, strong Angel!
A Form gathers out of the darkness,
Awful and dim and abysmal!
Fear not the gloomy Phantasm. Speak to him.
If he will answer, ye may learn of him
What human books of dead theology
Have seldom taught, or poets, though they sang
Of Eden and the primal curse of man.
Spirit, or phantom — darkening earth and sky,
And creeping through the soul in grim despair —
What art thou? Speak! whose shadow darkens thus
The eye of morn?
I am not what I seem.
Art thou that fallen Angel who seduced
From their allegiance the bright hosts of heaven
And men, and reignest now the lord of doom?
I am not what I seem to finite minds; —
No fallen Angel — for I never fell,
Though priest and poet feign me exiled and doomed;
But ever was and ever shall be thus —
Nor worse nor better than the Eternal planned.
I am the Retribution, not the Curse.
I am the shadow and reverse of God;
The type of mixed and interrupted good;
The clod of sense without whose earthly base
You spirit-flowers can never grow and bloom.
We dread to ask — what need have we of thee?
I am that stern necessity of fate —
Creation's temperament — the mass and mould
Of circumstance, through which eternal law
Works in its own mysterious way its will.
Art thou not Evil — Sin abstract and pure?
There were no shadows till the worlds were made;
No evil and no sin till finite souls,
Imperfect thence, conditioned in free-will,
Took form, projected by eternal law
Through co-existent realms of time and space.
Thy words are dark. We dimly catch their sense.
Naught evil, though it were the Prince of evil,
Hath being in itself. For God alone
Existeth in Himself, and Good, which lives
As sunshine lives, born of the Parent Sun.
I am the finite shadow of that Sun,
Opposite, not opposing, only seen
Upon the nether side.
Art happy then?
Nor happy I nor wretched. I but do
My work, as finite fate and law prescribe.
Didst thou not tempt the woman and the man
Of Eden, and beguile them to their doom?
No personal will am I, no influence bad
Or good. I symbolize the wild and deep
And unregenerated wastes of life,
Dark with transmitted tendencies of race
And blind mischance; all crude mistakes of will —
Proclivity unbalanced by due weight
Of favoring circumstance; all passion blown
By wandering winds; all surplusage of force
Piled up for use, but slipping from its base
Of law and order; all undisciplined
And ignorant mutiny against the wise
Restraint of rules by centuries old indorsed,
And proved the best so long it needs no proof; —
All quality o'erstrained until it cracks —
Yet but a surface crack; the Eternal Eye
Sees underneath the soul's sphere, as above,
And knows the deep foundations of the world
Will not be jarred or loosened by the stress
Of sun and wind and rain upon the crust
Of upper soil. Nay, let the earthquake split
The mountains into steep and splintered chasms —
Down deeper than the shock the adamant
Of ages stands, symbol no less divine
Of the eternal Law than heaven above.
Shall we then doubt the sacred books — the faith
That Satan was of old the foe of God?
Nations have planned their demons as they planned
Their gods. Say, rather, God and Satan mixed, —
A hybrid of perplexed theology, —
Stood at the centre of the universe;
Ormuzd and Ahriman, in ceaseless war —
A double spirit through whose nerves and veins
Throbbed the vast pulses of his feverish moods
Of blight and benediction. Did the Jew
Or Pagan, save the few of finer mould,
Own an unchanging God, or one self-willed,
Who, like themselves, was moved to wrath, revenge
And jealousy, to petty strifes and bars
Of sect and clan — the reflex of their thought?
What if it were revealed to holy men,
By faith, that God had formed a spirit vast
Who fell, rebelled, tempted the race to death?
Whether a foe who rode upon the wind,
Or one within, leagued with some sweet, strong drift
Of natural desire, tainted yet sweet?
Alas, did ever human eyes transcend
And pierce beyond the hemisphere of tints
That overarched their thought and hope, yet seemed
A heaven of truth? As man is so his God.
So too his spirit of evil. Evil fixed
He saw, eternal and abstract, whose tree
Thrust down its grappling tap-roots in the heart,
And poisoned where it grew; its blighting shade
By no sweet wandering winds of heaven caressed,
No raindrops from the pitiless clouds. No birds
Of song and summer in its branches built
Their little nests of love. No hermit sought
The shivering rustle of its chilly shade.
Accursed of God it stood — accursed and drear
It stood apart — a thing by God and man
Hated or pitied as a pestilence
O'er-passing cure. So hate not me. For I
Am but the picture mortal eyes behold
Shadowing the dread results of broken laws
Designed by eternal wisdom for the good
Of man, though typed as Darkness, Pain, and Fire.
Must not the eternal Justice punish man
And spirits — now and in the great To-Be?
What sinner can escape his burning wrath?
The soul of man is man's own heaven or hell.
God's love and justice will no curse on men
Or spirits, who condemn themselves, and hide
Their faces in the murky fogs of sense
And lawless passion, and the hate and feud
Born of all dense inwoven ignorance.
Man loves or fears the shadow of himself.
God shines behind him. Let him turn and see.
Yet stay — speak, speak once more! Tell us what fate
Awaits the human race — now on this earth
Teeming with life — and in the great Hereafter!
The phantom-lips are dumb: nor could they answer.
The book of fate is known to One alone.
And thou — thou, sovereign Angel, knowest not?
He alone knows whose being contains the all.
Cease questioning. Have faith. Love reigns supreme.