Sonnet Liv. Idle Hours.
YE idle hours of summer, not in vain,
To one by Nature's beauty fed, ye pass —
Though sending through the mental camera glass
No philosophic lesson to the brain,
But only pictures fair of shaded lane,
Of dappled cows knee-deep in meadow grass;
Bright hill-tops with their sloping forest mass,
Or barn-roofs glimmering gray across the plain.
Earth, air, and water, and the sacred skies
Have something still to tell, not less, I ween,
Than famous books the learned sages prize,
Weighted with thought abstract and logic keen,
Where Concord pores with metaphysic eyes
O'er vasty deeps of the unknown and unseen.
THOSE times are gone, that circle thinned away,
And we who live, now scattered far and wide,
Each in our separate centres fixed abide,
Round which new interests now revolve and play
In separate loves and duties day by day.
Yet, by the records of old loves allied,
We clasp each other's hands beneath the tide
Of time, and cling together as we may.
Even so beneath the sea the throbbing wires
That bind the sundered continents in one,
In space-annihilating pulses thrill
With swift-winged words and purpose and desires.
Our earlier visions haunt our memories still,
And age grows young in friendship's quickening sun.
Sonnet Li. The Human Flower. 1.
IN the old void of unrecorded time,
In long, slow æons of the voiceless past,
A seed from out the weltering fire-mist cast
Took root — a struggling plant that from its prime
Through rudiments uncouth, through rock and slime,
Grew, changing form and issue — and clinging fast,
Stretched its aspiring tendrils — till at last
Shaped like a spirit it began to climb
Beyond its rugged stem with leaf and bud
Still burgeoning to greet the sunlit air
That clothed its regal top with love and power,
And compassed it as with a heavenly flood —
Until it burst in bloom beyond compare,
The world's consummate, peerless human flower.
The Pines And The Sea
Beyond the low marsh-meadows and the beach,
Seen through the hoary trunks of windy pines,
The long blue level of the ocean shines.
The distant surf, with hoarse, complaining speech,
Out from its sandy barrier seems to reach;
And while the sun behind the woods declines,
The moaning sea with sighing boughs combines,
And waves and pines make answer, each to each.
O melancholy soul, whom far and near,
In life, faith, hope, the same sad undertone
Pursues from thought to thought! thou needs must hear
An old refrain, too much, too long thine own:
'Tis thy mortality infects thine ear;
The mournful strain was in thyself alone.
Sonnet Xxi. The Pines And The Sea.
BEYOND the low marsh-meadows and the beach,
Seen through the hoary trunks of windy pines,
The long blue level of the ocean shines.
The distant surf, with hoarse, complaining speech,
Out from its sandy barrier seems to reach;
And while the sun behind the woods declines,
The moaning sea with sighing boughs combines,
And waves and pines make answer, each to each.
O melancholy soul, whom far and near,
In life, faith, hope, the same sad undertone
Pursues from thought to thought! thou needs must hear
An old refrain, too much, too long thine own:
'T is thy mortality infects thine ear;
The mournful strain was in thyself alone.
Sonnet Lii. The Human Flower. 2.
SHALL that bright flower the countless ages toiled
And travailed to bring forth — shall that rare rose,
Whose bloom and fragrance earth and heaven unclose
Their treasuries to enrich, by death be foiled?
Its matchless splendor trampled down and spoiled?
Shall that Celestial Love — who watched its throes
Through centuries of long struggles and of woes,
And freed it from the old Serpent round it coiled;
Who tended it, and reared its glorious head
Above the brambles and the poisonous marsh,
And shielded it when zones were cased in ice —
Leave it to perish when the summons harsh
Of death is rung, — or, ere its leaves are shed,
Transplant it to his realm of Paradise?
At The Grave Of Keats
To G. W. C.
LONG, long ago, in the sweet Roman spring
Through the bright morning air we slowly strolled,
And in the blue heaven heard the skylarks sing
Above the ruins old —
Beyond the Forum's crumbling grass-grown piles,
Through high-walled lanes o'erhung with blossoms white
That opened on the far Campagna's miles
Of verdure and of light;
Till by the grave of Keats we stood, and found
A rose some loyal hand had planted there.
Making more sacred still that hallowed ground,
And that enchanted air.
A single rose, whose fading petals drooped,
And seemed to wait for us to gather them.
So, kneeling on the humble mound, we stooped
And plucked it from its stem.
One rose, and nothing more. We shared its leaves
Between us, as we shared the thoughts of one
Called from the fields before his unripe sheaves
Could feel the harvest sun.
That rose's fragrance is forever fled
For us, dear friend — but not the poet's lay.
He is the rose — deathless among the dead —
Whose perfume lives to-day.
Thought is deeper than all speech,
Feeling deeper than all thought:
Souls to souls never can teach
What unto themselves was taught.
We are spirits clad in veils;
Man by man was never seen;
All our deep communing fails
To remove the shadowy screen.
Heart to heart was never known;
Mind with mind did never meet;
We are columns left alone
Of a temple once complete.
Like the stars that gem the sky,
Far apart though seeming near,
In our light we scattered lie;
All is thus but starlight here.
What is social company
But a babbling summer stream?
What our wise philosophy
But the glancing of a dream?
Only when the Sun of Love
Melts the scattered stars of thought,
Only when we live above
What the dim-eyed world hath taught,
Only when our souls are fed
By the Fount which gave them birth,
And by inspiration led
Which they never drew from earth,
We, like parted drops of rain,
Swelling till they meet and run,
Shall all be absorbed again,
Melting, flowing, into one.
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.
Night And The Soul
I went to bed with Shakespeare's flowing numbers
Within me chiming,
As I sank slowly to my pleasant slumbers,
My thoughts with his were rhyming.
Out of the window I saw the moonlight shadows
Go creeping slow;
The sheeted roofs of snow- the broad white meadows
Lay silently below.
A few keen stars were kindly winking through
The frost-dimmed panes,
And dreaming Chanticleer woke up and crew
Far o'er the desolate plains.
But soon into the void abyss of sleep
My mind did swoon;
I saw no more the broad house-shadows creep
Beneath the silent moon.
I woke; the morning sun was mounting slowly
O'er the live earth:-
Say, fancy, why the shade of melancholy
Which then in me took birth?
Why does the night give to the spirit wings,
Which day denies?
Ah, why this tyranny of outward things
When brightest shine the skies?
My soul is like the flower that blooms by night,
And droops by day;
Yet may its fruit expand, though in the light
Night-blossoms drop away.
The visions thus in dreamy stillness cherished,
Like dreams may fly;
But day's great acts, o'er thoughts that nightly perished,
may ripen, not to die!
Across the sea the swift sad message darts
And beats with sudden pang against our hearts.
Under the elm-trees in his homestead old
The Laureate of our land lies dead and cold;
Wept by the love of friends, and crowned with fame;
Revered by youth and age, his well-known name
Caught in fast-circling whispers, sad and low,
In streets where noisy crowds move too and fro —
'Can it be true that he is dead — is dead?'
Life seemed to love that noble, silvery head,
And youth still lingered in the kindly eyes
Now closed, alas, to all beneath the skies!
No more across the fields by Charles's stream
Those eyes shall see their well-loved landscape gleam.
No more the treasured books upon his shelves
Suggest the visions rarer than themselves.
No friends around his hospitable fire
Hear the last touches of his graceful lyre.
The coming spring will flush with purple bloom
His lilacs, and waft in their sweet perfume;
His roses unregarded drop away;
Unheard the oriole's warble through the day;
Unmarked the bees' low hum from flower to flower,
The dial's shade, the sunshine and the shower.
Yet from the garden of his thoughts and deeds
Still will his poems fly like winged seeds.
And far and wide, through city, plain and hill,
Borne to a thousand firesides, bloom and fill
The people's hearts, and touch to issues fine
Of aspiration human and divine.
No more the scarlet maples flash and burn
Their beacon-fires from hilltop and from plain;
The meadow-grasses and the woodland fern
In the bleak woods lie withered once again.
The trees stand bare, and bare each stony scar
Upon the cliffs; half frozen glide the rills;
The steel-blue river like a scimitar
Lies cold and curved between the dusky hills.
Over the upland farm I take my walk,
And miss the flaunting flocks of golden-rod;
Each autumn flower a dry and leafless stalk,
Each Mossy field a track of frozen sod.
I hear no more the bobin's summer song
Through the gray network of the wintry woods;
Only the cawing crows that all day long
Clamor about the windy solitudes.
Like agate stones upon earth's frozen breast,
The little pools of ice lie round and still;
While sullen clouds shut downward east and west
In marble ridges stretched from hill to hill.
Come once again, O southern wind,-once more
Come with they wet wings flapping at my pane;
Ere snow-drifts pile their mounds about my door,
One parting dream of summer bring again.
Ah, no! I hear the windows rattle fast;
I see the first flakes of the gathering snow,
That dance and whirl before the northern blast.
No countermand the march of days can know.
December drops no weak, relenting tear,
By our fond summer sympathies ensnared;
Nor from the perfect circle of the year
Can even winter's crystal gems be spared.
Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
I STARTED on a lonely road.
A few companions with me went.
Some fell behind, some forward strode,
But all on one high purpose bent:
To live for Nature, finding truth
In beauty, and the shrines of art;
To consecrate our joyous youth
To aims outside the common mart.
The way was steep, though pleasure crowned
Our toil with every step we took.
The morning air was spiced around
From many a pine and cedar nook.
I turned aside and lingered long
To pluck a rose, to hear a bird,
To muse, while listening to the song
Of brooks through leafy coverts heard;
To live in thoughts that brought no fame
Or guerdon from the thoughtless crowd;
To toll for ends that could not claim
The world's applauses coarse and loud;
Then onward pressed. But far before
I saw my comrades on the heights.
They no divided homage bore
To Beauty's myriad sounds and sights.
In blithe self-confidence they wrought.
Some strove for fame and fame's reward.
They pleased the public's facile thought;
Then paused and stretched them on the sward.
And still though oft I bind my sheaf
In fields my comrades have not known;
Though Art is long and life is brief,
And youth has now forever flown,
I would not lose the raptures sweet,
Nor scorn the toil of earlier years;
Still would I climb with eager feet,
Though towering height on height appears —
And up the mountain road I see
A younger throng with voices loud,
Who side by side press on with me,
Till I am lost amid the crowd.
THE morning sun has pierced the mist,
And beach and cliff and ocean kissed.
Blue as the lapis-lazuli
The sea reflects the azure sky.
In the salt healthy breeze I stand
Upon the solid floor of sand.
Along the untrodden shore are seen
Fresh tufts of weed maroon and green,
And ruffled kelp and stranded sticks
And shells and stones and sea-moss mix.
The low black rocks, forever wet,
Lie tangled in their pulpy net.
The shy sand-pipers fly and light —
And swallows circle out of sight.
Out where the sky the horizon meets
Glide glimmering sails in scattered fleets.
Old Ocean smiles as though amid
His leagues of brine no treachery hid.
And safe upon the sandy marge,
By stranded boat and floating barge,
Gay children leap and laugh and run,
Browned by the salt air and the sun.
Now thickening twilight presses down
Upon the harbor and the town,
And all around a misty pall
Of dull gray cloud hangs over all.
The huddling fishing-sloops lie safe,
While far away the breakers chafe.
And now the landsman's straining eye
Mingles the gray sea with the sky.
Far out upon the darkening deep
The white ghosts of the ocean leap.
Boone Island's light, a lonely star,
Is flashing o'er the waves afar.
Up the broad beach the sea rolls in
In never-ending foam and din;
And all along the craggy shore
Resounds one long continuous roar.
We turn away, and hail each gleam
Where lamps from cottage windows stream.
For sad and solemn is the moan
Of ocean when the day has flown,
And, borne on dusky wings, the night
Wraps in a shroud the dying light.
The Old Apple-Woman
A Broadway Lyric
SHE sits by the side of a turbulent stream
That rushes and rolls forever
Up and down like a weary dream
In the trance of a burning fever.
Up and down through the long Broadway
It flows with its tiresome paces —
Down and up through the noisy day,
A river of feet and of faces.
Seldom a drop of that river's spray
Touches her withered features;
Yet still she sits there day by day
In the throng of her fellow-creatures.
Apples and cakes and candy to sell,
Daily before her lying.
The ragged newsboys know her well —
The rich never think of buying.
Year in, year out, in her dingy shawl
The wind and the rain she weathers,
Patient and mute at her little stall;
But few are the coppers she gathers.
Still eddies the crowd intent on gain.
Each for himself is striving
With selfish heart and seething brain —
An endless hurry and driving.
The loud carts rattle in thunder and dust;
Gay Fashion sweeps by in its coaches.
With a vacant stare she mumbles her crust,
She is past complaints and reproaches.
Still new faces and still new feet —
The same yet changing forever;
They jostle along through the weary street,
The waves of the human river.
Withered and dry like a leafless bush
That clings to the bank of a torrent,
Year in, year out, in the whirl and the rush,
She sits, of the city's current.
The shrubs of the garden will blossom again
Though far from the flowing river;
But the spring returns to her in vain —
Its bloom has nothing to give her.
Yet in her heart there buds the hope
Of a Father's love and pity;
For her the clouded skies shall ope,
And the gates of a heavenly city.
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.
SOME summer mornings — when you've taken tea
Too late the night before — perhaps you'll see,
If at some Berkshire farmhouse far away
You chance to wake while yet the sky is gray,
A glory, to your landscape-painter men
Unknown, yet worthy of a poet's pen.
Look from your window. Long gray banks of cloud
The fields, the hills, the distant view enshroud.
Faint stars still glimmer in the heavens above.
Below dim shapes of fog o'er stream and grove
Hang wreathing, shifting in the sluggish breeze.
Are yonder shadows mist or mist-clad trees?
For what is cloud and what is land no eye
(Sleepy at least like yours) can yet descry.
And now the rushing streams, by day unheard,
You hear, and now the twitter of a bird,
And now another, till at last the hills
And woods are all alive with fugues and trills.
The sheep begin to bleat, the cows to low;
Three hoarse, young roosters try their best to crow,
Responding to some thirsty, quacking duck,
Or hen who folds her chicks with motherly cluck.
Now morning spreads apace. The stars are drowned.
Trees loom above the fog; and all around
The landscape is transfigured in the light
Of pearly skies. Westward the wings of Night
Are folded as she steals unseen away.
Now in the far northeast an amber gray
Gleams under bars of long dark-pencilled cloud.
The crows above the woods are cawing loud.
Brighter and brighter up the dewy slope
The coming sunrise floods the lands with hope.
The clouds from north to south begin to blush.
Old Graylock answers with a rosy flush.
One mountain peak looms up with crimsoned sides;
A moment more, and in the mist it hides.
And now the valleys catch the sun below,
And elms and barn-rods redden in the glow.
O for a pencil rapid as the light
To paint the glories bursting on the sight!
Making the plain New England landscape seem
The unfamiliar scenery of a dream.
For this might be in Arcady — my rhyme
Some Eastern shepherd's of the olden time.
Here might I pipe with Tityrus in the grove;
Here to fair Amaryllis whisper love;
Here the wild woodland haunts of Dryads seek —
But what is that! The locomotive's shriek
Calls me from Dreamland and the Arcadian dawn.
The sun is up. The mystery is gone.
Another book of poesy the West
Has opened. Let the bards of old go rest.
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.
The Spirit Of The Age
A wondrous light is filling the air,
And rimming the clouds of the old despair;
And hopeful eyes look up to see
Truth's mighty electricity,-
Auroral shimmerings swift and bright,
That wave and flash in the silent night,-
Magnetic billows travelling fast,
And flooding all the spaces vast
From dim horizon to farthest cope
Of heaven, in streams of gathering hope.
Silent they mount and spread apace,
And the watchers see old Europe's face
Lit with expression new and strange,-
The prophecy of coming change.
Meantime, while thousands, wrapt in dreams,
Sleep heedless of the electric gleams,
Or ply their wonted work and strife,
Or plot their pitiful games of life;
While the emperor bows in his formal halls,
And the clerk whirls on at the masking balls;
While the lawyer sits at his dreary files,
And the banker fingers his glittering piles,
And the priest kneels down at his lighted shrine,
And the fop flits by with his mistress fine,-
The diplomat works at his telegraph wires:
His back is turned to the heavenly fires.
Over him flows the magnetic tide,
And the candles are dimmed by the glow outside.
Mysterious forces overawe,
Absorb, suspend the natural law.
The needle stood northward an hour ago;
Now it veers like a weathercock to and fro.
The message he sends flies not as once;
The unwilling wires yield no response.
Those iron veins that pulsed but late
From a tyrant's will to a people's fate,
Flowing and ebbing with feverish strength,
Are seized by a Power whose breadth and length,
Whose height and depth, defy all gauge
Save the great spirit of the age.
The mute machine is moved by a law
That knows no accident or flaw,
And the iron thrills to a different chime
Than that which rang in the dead old time.
For Heaven is taking the matter in hand,
And baffling the tricks of the tyrant band.
The sky above and the earth beneath
Heave with a supermundane breath.
Half-truths, for centuries kept and prized,
By higher truths are polarized.
Like gamesters on a railroad train,
Careless of stoppage, sun or rain,
We juggle, plot, combine, arrange,
And are swept along by the rapid change.
And some who from their windows mark
The unwonted lights that flood the dark,
Little by little, in slow surprise
Lift into space their sleepy eyes;
Little by little are made aware
That a spirit of power is passing there,-
That a spirit is passing, strong and free,-
The soul of the nineteenth century.
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.
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.
The Old Year
O good old Year! this night's your last.
And must you go? With you I've passed
Some days that bear revision.
For these I'd thank you, ere you make
Your journey to the Stygian lake,
Or to the fields Elysian.
Long have you been our household guest;
To keep you we have tried our best.
You must not stay, you tell us,
Not even to introduce your heir,
Who comes so fresh and debonnair
He needs must make you jealous.
I heard your footsteps overhead
To-night — and to myself I said
He's packing his portmanteau.
His book and staff like Prospero's
He has buried, where nobody knows,
And finished his last canto.
Your well-known hat and cloak still look
The same upon their entry hook,
And seem as if they grew here.
But they, ah me! will soon be gone,
And we be sitting here alone
To welcome in the New Year.
The boots so oft put out at night
Will vanish ere to-morrow's light
Across the east is burning.
When morning comes, full well I know
They'll leave no footprints in the snow
Of going or returning.
At twelve o'clock to-night Queen Mab
Will take you in her spectral cab
To catch the downward fast train.
Some of us will sit up with you,
And drink a parting cup with you,
While I indite this last strain.
O good old wise frost-headed Year,
You're brought us health and strength and cheer,
Though sometimes care and sorrow.
Each morn you gave us newer hope
That reached beyond the cloudy scope
Of our unseen to-morrow.
We knew you when you were, forsooth,
No better than a stranger youth —
A fast youth, some one muttered,
When thinking how the days you gave
On ghostly horses to their grave
Have galloped, flown and fluttered.
But what is time, by moon and stars
Checked off in monthly calendars,
To fairy kings like you here?
What are the centuries that span
The inch-wide spaces ruled by man?
Or what are Old and New Year?
You go to join the million years,
The great veiled deep that never clears
Before our mortal seeing:
The shrouded death, the evolving life,
The growth, the mystery, the strife
Of elemental being.
We see in your abstracted eye
The clouded flame of prophecy,
Of time the immortal scorning —
And yet the sympathetic smile
That says, 'I fain would stay awhile
To bid your rhymes good-morning.'
Ah! no more rhymes for you and me,
Old Year, shall we together see, —
Yes, we to-night must sever.
Good-bye, old Number Seventy-five!
It 's nearly time you took your drive
Into the dark forever.
The train that stops for you will let
A stranger out we never met,
To take your place and station.
With greetings glad and shouts of joy
They'll welcome him — while you, old boy,
Depart with no ovation.
Besides, he has a higher claim
Than you — a grand ancestral name
That sets the bells a-ringing.
The great Centennial Year is he.
The nation's noisy jubilee
Young Seventy-six is bringing.
I hear the puffing of his steam.
I hear his locomotive scream
Across the hills and meadows.
One parting glass — the last — the last!
Ten minutes more, and you'll have passed
Into the realm of shadows.
Five minutes yet? But talk must end.
On with your cloak and cap, old friend!
Too long we have been prating.
Your blessing now! We'll think of you.
Ah, there's the clock! Adieu — adieu!
I see your cab is waiting.
'WHAT can the matter be with the thermometer?
Is it the sun or the moon or the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old earth's pedometer?'
Thus in his study a weather philosopher
Mused — every minute more puzzled and cross over.
Wind-charts and notes he proceeded to toss over.
'Up in this tower, this breezy and barren height,
One should be cool as an elderly Sharonite.
Something is wrong with the scales of my Fahrenheit.
'T was but this morning the wind blowing northerly
Roughened the tops of the ocean waves frothily;
Now it has shifted, and seems to be southerly' —
(These are not rhymes — I am fully aware of it.
But the hot weather — for he had the care of it —
Fully excused him, and I have no share of it.)
Time to this sage was so precious that never he
Ate at regular hour; forever he
Seemed to be lost in a weather-wise reverie.
So a small kitchen the town-folks did make for him
Right underneath, where a servant could bake for him,
Boil for him, cook up a chop or a steak for him,
So that he need n't be starving while measuring
Rain-storms and calms that the heavens were treasuring.
'T was a bright thought which they took a great pleasure in;
For 't was the weather that made the great theme for them.
This was their day-talk and this their night's dream for them.
Here was the man who could skim the sky's cream for them;
Thousands of miles away see a cloud-macula —
Tell what was coming in language oracular —
Translate his science in common vernacular.
Quite independent of housekeeping syndicates
He could pronounce what the weather-glass indicates
Long ere old Boreas had opened his windy gates.
Knew all the signs from the Crab to Aquarius,
Shifting or permanent — single or various;
Bright signs that gladden us, dark signs that weary us,
Versed in the trade-winds and currents could spy a way
How a storm-centre in Texas or Iowa
Might prove a cyclone or peaceably die away.
Skilled in all secrets of meteorology,
Clear in his mind as that H I should follow G.
If he made blunders he made no apology.
He was the boldest of Old Probabilities;
Scorned all assistance and short-hand facilities.
Ah, what a thing to have genius and skill it is!
Pity if he should be forced to take off his eye;
Leave for a dinner his notes to a novice eye!
Food was a trifle for one who could prophesy.
So like the prophet of old when tile city he
Left for the woods, and the ravens had pity, he
Found himself served by a black-coat committee.
Now while engrossed in his figures, not dreaming it,
Bridget below in the kitchen was steaming it;
Making the building so hot that ice-cream in it
Melted like butter. Her stove and the range in it
Cooking his dinner — though this may seem strange in it —
Was the sole reason the air had a change in it.
Over his figures his brow getting rigid, he
Kept at his task, never thinking of Bridgety —
Growing each minute more fussy and fidgety.
Up through the speaking-tube rushed the hot air on him,
Bringing the steam of the boiler to bear on him.
So with a mystified sort of despair on him
Soon he proceeded to write and to scratch away,
And by his telegraph sent a despatch away —
(Never before was Old Prob so infatué)
Saying — 'It seems by my Aëroscopical
Great heats with thunder will soon be the topic all —
Weather, in short, most decidedly tropical.
Can it be sun-spots? Volcanic impurities
Caused by a meteor bursting? I'm sure it is
Something abnormal — but very obscure it is!
Possibly something may ail my thermometer;
Possibly 't is the effect of the comet, or
Something broke loose in the old Earth's pedometer.'
Prophets are struck now and then with insanity.
Ever since Adam man's measureless vanity
Thinks his own mood is the mind of humanity.
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. 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!
Saint Brandan, a Scotch abbot, long ago
Sailed southward with a swarm of monks, to sow
The seeds of true religion — nothing else —
Among the tribes of naked infidels.
And venturing far in unknown seas, he found
An island, which became monastic ground.
So runs the legend. Little else was known
Of him we Spaniards call San Borondon.
Some said he was a sorcerer, some a priest;
None truly knew. But this is clear at least,
That there was seen to appear and disappear
An island in the west, for many a year,
That bore his name: but no discoverer yet
His feet upon that shore had ever set.
At Teneriffe and Palma I was one
Who saw that island of San Borondon.
A hundred of us stood upon the shore,
And saw it as it oft was seen before.
The morn was clear; and westward from the bay
It glimmered on the horizon far away.
We watched the fog at sunrise upward curl
And float above that land of rose and pearl;
And sometimes saw behind a purple peak
The sun go down. And some said, 'We will seek
Westward, until we touch the fairy coast,
Or prove it only some drowned island's ghost' —
But after many days returned to swear
The vision vanished in the pale blue air.
Yet still from off the fair Canary beach
Lay the strange land that none could ever reach.
Then others sailed and searched: and some of these
Returned no more across the treacherous seas;
And no one knew their fate. Until at last
We hailed a caravel with shattered mast
Toiling to harbor. Half her sails were gone.
'Ho, mariners, what news of Borondon?'
We shouted — but no answering voice replied;
No sailors on her gangway we descried;
Her shrouds looked ghostly thin, her ropes were dim
As spiders' webs athwart a tree's dead limb;
And still as death she drifted up the bay,
A battered hulk grown dumb and old and gray.
At length she touched the strand, and out there crept
A haggard man, who feebly toward us stepped,
And answered slowly, while we brought him food
And wine. He sitting on a stone, we stood
An eager crowd around him, while we sought
What news he from San Borondon had brought.
With eyes that seemed to gaze beyond the space
Of sea and sky — with strange averted face,
And voice as when some muttering undertone
Of wind is heard, when sitting all alone
On wintry nights, we see the moon grow pale
With hurrying mists — he thus began his tale.
'We saw the island as we sailed away.
It glimmered on the horizon half that day.
But while our caravel still westward steered,
Amazed we stood — the isle had disappeared.
At night there came a storm. The lightning flashed
From north to south. The frightful thunder crashed.
Under bare poles we scudded through the dark,
Till morning gleamed upon our drifting bark —
The red-eyed morn 'neath beetling brows of cloud, —
And the wind changed. Then some one cried aloud,
'Land — at the westward!' And with one accord
All took contagion of that haunting word
'San Borondon.' The island seemed to lie
Three leagues away against a strip of sky
That on the horizon opened like a crack
Of yellow light beneath the vault of black;
Then, as with hearts elate, we nearer sailed,
The clouds dispersed, the sun arose unveiled.
The wind had almost lulled; the waves grew calm.
We neared the isle, we saw the groves of palm,
The rugged cliffs, the streamlet's silver thread
Dropped from the misty mountains overhead;
The shadow-haunted gorges damp and deep;
The flowery meadows in their dewy sleep;
The waving grass along the winding rills;
And, inland far, long slopes of wooded hills.
And all the sea was calm for many a mile
About the shores of that enchanted isle.
Our sails half-filled flapped idly on the mast;
And all the morning and the noon had passed
Before we touched the shore. Then on the sand
We stepped and took possession of the land
For Spain. No signs of life we heard or saw.
But suddenly we stopped with fear and awe;
For on the beach were giant footsteps seen,
And upward tracked into the forests green,
Then lost. But there, with wondering eyes we found
A cross nailed to a tree — and on the ground
Stones ranged in mystic order — and the trace
Of fire once kindled in that lonely place.
As though some sorcerer's sabbath on this ground
A place for its unholy rites had found.
And so, in vague perplexity and doubt,
Until the sun had set, we roamed about.
And some into the forest far had strayed,
While others watched the ship at anchor laid.
When through the woods there rang a distant bell.
We crossed our breasts, and on our knees we fell.
Ave Maria — 't was the hour of prayer.
A consecrated stillness filled the air.
No heathen land was this; no wizard's spell
The clear sweet ringing of that holy bell.
Scarce had we spoken, when we heard a blast
Come rushing from the mountains, fierce and fast
Down a ravine with hoarse and hollow roar;
And sudden darkness fell upon the shore.
The ship — the ship! See how she strains her rope —
All, all aboard — cast off! we may not hope
To save her on these rocks. Away, away!'
Then as we leapt aboard in tossing spray,
Still fiercer blew the wind, and hurled us far
Into the night without a moon or star.
And from the deck the sea swept all the crew.
And I alone was left, to bring to you
This tale. When morning came, the isle was gone —
The unhallowed land you call San Borondon;
A land of sorcery and of wicked spells,
Of hills and groves profane and demon dells.
Good friends, beware! Seek not the accursed shore,
For they who touch its sands return no more,
Save by a miracle, as I have done —
Praised be Madonna and her blessed Son!'
Such was his story. But when morning came,
There lay that smiling island, just the same.
And still they sail to find the enchanted shore
That guards a fearful mystery evermore.
A thousand years may pass away — but none
Shall know the secret of San Borondon.
And so perchance, a thousand years may roll,
And none shall solve the enigma of the soul —
That baffling island in the unknown sea
Whose boundless deep we name Eternity.
The Centennial Year
A Hundred years — and she had sat, a queen
Sheltering her children, opening wide her gates
To all the inflowing tribes of earth. At first
Storms raged around her; but her stumbling feet
Were planted firm upon the eternal rock.
Her young majestic head with sunny curls
And features tense with hope and prophecy
Now rose above the clouds of war. She gazed
Wistful yet calm into the coming years,
And grew in strength and wisdom: and afar
Across the sea the nations of the world
Beheld, and muttered from their ancient halls,
'Who is this stranger, young, unskilled and bold,
This Amazonian regent of the wilds
We spurned, and only sought when exile doomed —
Whose sons are marshalling the land and sea,
The winds, the electric currents and the light,
To do her bidding? Who this Titan queen
Whose face is flushed with sunrise, and whose hands
Reach forth to welcome all our swarms disowned,
Cast forth upon her shores, and turn their blight
To bloom and culture — e'en their crime to good?'
Then some beheld her with derisive sneers,
Judgments derived from rules of use outworn,
And stale conventional comparison;
With fear and envy some — others with awe
And vague hope of ideal rights of man, —
Green harvests now, but swelling into grain
For future time.
And still the years rolled on.
Tremors of battlefields thrilled through her limbs,
Once, twice, and thrice — the last, alas! like shocks
Of agonizing pain; for round her feet
Her own — her children grappled in the fields
Of blood and cannon-shot and fire and smoke —
One recreant multitude for slavery's crown,
And one for freedom and the common cause
That gave the country birth, and pledged the States
To unbroken union based on equal rights.
But justice triumphed, and the stricken land
Regained her poise hard-won.
Still rolled the years,
Till now she rounds her circling century;
And Peace and Plenty smile upon her fields
That stretch from sea to sea. Then she arose
And spake unto the States that clustered round,
Her children all, war's yawning gulf o'erbridged,
North, south, and east and west, her children still;
And to the ancestral realms across the seas: —
'This year I celebrate my birth. For me,
One of the Titan race of latest days,
A race Saturnian fables knew not of,
When giants grew, but hearts and minds were dwarfed
And cramped by precedents of brutal force
That stormed Olympus, so must needs be crushed —
For me a hundred years are as one year
To you, and this centennial year a day.
Therefore 't is meet that we invite the world
To bring its various treasures to our shores,
And blend with us, through symbols and results
Of art and grand achievement, in the creed
Of human brotherhood. And may this year
Be as the seal and pledge of race with race
Forever — one with all, and all with one!'
Then in a chosen spot, where the first vows
Of Liberty were plighted, we beheld
A wonder-work, as though some Geni snared
By incantation wrought the people's will.
For stately palaces arose and gleamed
Amid the trees; and on the distant sea
Came argosies full-laden with a wealth,
Not such as Cortez from the plundered realms
Of Montezuma bore, blood-steeped and wrapped
In crime, back to voracious Spain — but brought
With friendly rivalry from every clime;
From shops and looms of quiet industry
And rare inventive art; more wonderful
Than crude barbaric days could ever dream.
There, heaped profusely through those spacious halls,
The treasures of the abounding century
Were ranged in order. Thither, as to a shore,
The crowding time-waves of a hundred years —
Silent as streams of air — had pulsed and flowed
And broke in surges, not of yeasty foam,
Resultless thought, and aimless bubble-dreams,
But products of the busy world-wide Mind.
From European and from Asian lands,
From tropic heats and Arctic solitudes,
From towns of traffic and from western wilds,
From sunless mines and clear, high-windowed halls
Of skill and industry, and lonely rooms
Where artists and inventors dreamed and toiled,
Pledged to some dear thought-burden of a life: —
From schools and laboratories closely bent
On nature's inmost secrets, and where swift
Discovery trod upon discovery's heels,
In silent unforeseen audacity
Of masterly conception and result.
Here Europe lavished all her modern wealth
Of apt contrivance, imitative skill,
And costly comfort. There remote Japan
With strange and fascinating styles of art
Took fancy captive; and the Orient lands,
Whose more familiar forms we knew, set forth
Their porcelain wonders and their bronzes quaint,
Their ivory lace-work and their brilliant silks.
And there, from end to end of one vast space
Throbbed the blind force whose swift gigantic arm
A thousand glistening iron slaves obeyed,
By science taught to serve the age's need.
And day by day the thronging multitudes,
Flowing and ebbing like a tide, swept by,
And up and down through halls and corridors
Feasting their eyes in endless holiday,
Through long, far-reaching vistas all compact
Of use and beauty.
Proud she well may be.
Once cast on rocks and cradled in the winds,
She now commands, our Titan mother queen;
While thus the flattering world crowds round her feet,
One half to see the gifts the other half
Has laid before her — and we celebrate
Her first proud century's close with worthy signs
Of universal brotherhood and peace.
Then ring, ye bells! and let the organs blow
And swell the choral hymn of praise and joy.
And let the grand orchestral symphonies
Resound through park and palace; while afar
The flying thunders of the steam bring in
And out the thousands who in joyous groups
Make blithe centennial festival and cheer.
And as the autumn days move calmly on,
And from the trees the red and yellow leaves
Drop to the earth — let not the lesson fall
Unheeded. With fraternal grasp we have met
Through all these summer and autumnal months.
Henceforth may peace and unity prevail
O'er all the land. America demands
No pledge less true for her Centennial Year.
Lionel And Lucille
IN the beautiful Castleton Island a mansion of lordly style,
Embowered in gardens and lawns, looks over the glimmering bay.
In the light of a morning in summer, with stately beauty and pride,
Its turrets and glittering roof flash down from the hills like a star.
There, pillowed in woods, it blinks on the dusty village below;
And ere it settles itself to its rest in the ambered dusk,
Its windows blaze from afar in the gold of the setting sun.
There in a curtained alcove facing a lawn to the south,
Lucille one morning in early spring was sitting alone.
Now in a novel she read, and now at her broidery stitched;
And now, throwing both aside, at her piano warbled and trilled.
Then on a balcony leaning, she wished that the weeks would pass,
For she with her mother to Europe was going. Her father had died
And left her an heiress; and lovers like moths came fluttering round,
Dazzled with visions of gold, and half believing them love, —
All but one, who was poor, and loved her, but not for her wealth.
Three months had Lionel known her — but never had told her his love.
How could he ask her to wed him, the scholar who drudged for his bread?
Even were his offers accepted, (and little his chances, he thought,)
What would they say in the city? 'He has picked up a fortune, it seems:
A shrewd lucky fellow!' So proudly he kept his fond thoughts to himself.
Seldom he saw her alone. In a circle of fashion she moved.
Whenever he called, there were carriages waiting, with liveries fine —
Visitors going and coming, with shallow and gossiping talk.
Those who knew him would surely have said, ''T is strange he should love
A girl of such frivolous tastes.' But such are the ways of the heart —
Ever a riddle too deep for the crude common-sense of the world.
To-day no visitors came, and Lucille was deep in her book —
(A tale of romantic affection far back in the Orient days) —
When a ring at the door was heard, and — Lionel stood in the hall.
He had heard she was going to Europe. He would n't yet bid her good-bye,
For he hoped he might see her again ere fate put an ocean between.
Something more earnest than usual she felt was in Lionel's face;
Something more tender and deep in the tones of his tremulous voice,
Though half hidden in jest too grave and intense for a smile.
She, brimming o'er with her poets, and fresh from her bath of romance,
Clothed the season, and him, and herself, in an opaline light.
Softer her tones, and her words less tinged with fashion and form,
Cordially lighted like birds on the ground of his intimate thoughts.
And as he left her, to stroll on the hills of the beautiful island,
Hope with her roseate colors enveloped the earth and the sky.
'T was one of those April days when the lingering Winter stands
Waving his breezy scarfs from the north for a last good-bye;
When the delicate wind-flowers peep from the matting and moss of the woods,
And the blue Hepatica lurks in the shadowy dells of the fern;
When the beautiful nun, the Arbutus, down in her cloisters brown,
Creeps through her corridors damp in the dead old leaves of the past,
Whispering with fragrant breath to the bold things dancing above:
'Tell me, has Winter gone? May I peep — just peep, at the world?'
When the spaces of sky are bluer, with white clouds hurrying fast,
Blurring the sun for a moment, then letting him flash on the fields,
While the shadows are miles in breadth, and travel as swift as the wind
Over the sparkling cities afar and the roughening bay; —
When the pine-groves sigh and sing as the wind sweeps under and through
The cheerful gloom of their spicy shade; and the willows lithe
Bend and wave with the tender green of their trailing boughs; —
When the furry catkins drop from the silvery poplar tree;
When the bare, gray bushes are tipped with the light of their new-born leaves,
And the petted hyacinths sprout and curl their parasite lips
Under the sunlit, sheltering sides of the palace walls,
And seem to scoff at the violets hidden deep in the grass,
And the common, yellow face of the dandelion's star,
As it peeps like a poor man's child through the rails of the garden fence.
Then, as Lionel entered the crowd and the city again,
Lighter his labors appeared in his office, wall-shadowed and dusk.
Dreams of the island and woods swept over his figures and books:
Visions of love in a cottage, with fashion and splendor forgotten.
Changeable April had shown but its sunniest side to his heart.
Once more, — twice, to the island he went: and Lionel hoped
A tenderer feeling for him had dawned in the heart of Lucille.
Ever with friendlier greeting she met him: for she in her mind
Had dressed up a hero of fiction; and Lionel — could it be he?
Was not his name of itself a romance? Then his face and his form,
Voice and manners and culture, were just what her hero's should be.
So with the glamour of life unreal she saw him; and yet —
Was it love? She thought so, perhaps. At least she would dream out her dream:
This was a real live novel — and worth reading through, was it not?
One day, when the bushes were white in the lanes, and the bees were astir
In the blooms of the apple-trees, and the green woods ringing with birds,
Lionel asked Lucille to walk with him over the heights
Looking far down on the Narrows and out on the dim blue sea.
So through the forest they strolled. They stopped here and there for a flower,
Then sat to rest on a rock. An oak-tree over their heads
Stretched abroad its flickering lights and shadows. The birds
Sang in the woodlands around them. The spot seemed made for romance.
And Lionel drew from his pocket a book that had lately appeared,
A volume of lovers' verse by a poet over the seas,
And read aloud from its pages. Lucille sat twisting a wreath,
Laurel and white-thorn blossoms that half dropped away as she twined them; —
Paused now and then to listen; and as he was closing the book,
Laid a wild flower between the leaves to remember the place —
And playfully placed her wreath on his head, as if he were the poet.
Silent and musing they sat, as they turned to look at the sea,
Watching the smoke of the steamers and white sails skimming afar.
And Lionel said, 'Ah, soon you too will be steaming away
Down the blue Narrows; and I — shall miss you — more than you know.'
'Why should you miss me?'
'So seldom you visit our house.'
'Had I but followed my wishes; — but you like the lady appeared,
Shut in the circle of Comus. How hard to enter your ring!'
'What should prevent you from coming? How often I wished you would come!
Nobody calls that I care for: our island is growing so dull.'
'Yes — and you long for a change — and so you are going to Europe.
There in a whirl of delights, with fashion and wealth at command,
Soon you'll forget your poor island, and all the admirers you knew.'
— she whispered —
— and blushed, with her head turned away,
Looked down and murmured: 'You think I am wedded to fashion and wealth:
Yet often I long for the simpler manners the poets have sung,
The grand old days when souls were prized for their natural worth.
You think I can rise to no feelings and thoughts of a serious life —
Can value no mind and no heart but — such as you meet at our house.
I care not for such — I fancied you knew me far better than that.'
— he never had called her Lucille, but the name came unbidden;
'Lucille, could you love a poor toiler who dared not to offer his heart
And his hand — and in silence had loved you, and wished you were poor for his sake,
So fortunes were equal?' And she, still floating in rosy romance,
with a look that melted the walls of reserve
And mingled two souls into one. Then, turning away from the sea,
The sea that so soon must divide them, they pledged to each other their troth.
And Lionel saw not the fates that were frowning afar o'er the waves;
For the world wore the color of dreams, as homeward they wended their way.
Bright were the meetings that followed — and yet with a shadowy touch
On Lionel's hopes, as if in the changeable April days
He still were roaming the hills, and still looked over the bay
Where cloud and sunshine were flying, with doubtful promise of spring.
Lucille had a reason, it seemed, to keep their betrothal untold.
The day was so near of their parting. She feared what her mother might say.
'T were best they should part but as friends. They would write to each other the same —
And they would be true to each other — and all would be clear before long.
And Lionel yielded, and pondered. And so they parted at last.
The summer had hardly begun when a letter from England came,
Full of the voyage and landing — but little of what he had hoped.
Too light, too glancing it seemed for a first love-letter from one
Far over the sea, who had said he should ever be first in her thoughts.
Bright and witty it fluttered from topic to topic — but never
Paused with a tremulous wing to dwell on the love she had left.
Something there was in its tone that said
'I am happy without you:'
Something too little regretful — too full of her glittering life.
And as one gathers a beautiful flower ne'er gathered before,
Hoping a fragrance he misses, and yet half imagines he finds —
Wooing the depths of its color too rich for no perfume to match —
So seemed her letter to him, as he read the lines over and over.
Yet when Lionel answered, he breathed not a word of the thought,
Shading the glowing disc of his love with distant surmise.
'Soon,' he said, 'will the novelty cease of this foreign excitement.
Then she will think sometimes of me as the sun goes down
Over the western waves — and tenderer tones will flow,
And mingle with warmer words in her letters from over the sea.'
Yet when another letter came, it brought her no nearer,
Less of herself, and more of the colors that tinted her life.
And Lionel wrote with passionate words: 'Only tell me, Lucille,
Tell me you love me — but one brief line — and I will not complain.'
Restless, troubled, one day he passed her house on the island;
Shut to the sun and the breeze, it blinked on the village below.
Over the balcony leaned a purple Wisteria vine,
(Blooming, but not in its season, as oft 't is their habit to do,)
Trailing its ladylike flounces from window and carved balustrade,
And dropping its blossoms as brief as love. And Lionel muttered:
'She too over that balcony leaned one day as I passed —
Leaned like a flowery vine; and smiled as I passed below,
And waved me an airy kiss, with a pose of her beautiful form.
Can love that promised so truly be frail as these clusters of June?'
Month after month now passed. Though he wrote as fondly as ever,
Brief were her answers, and longer between — till they finally ceased.
A year from the day when they parted, a letter from Paris arrived,
Short and constrained. It said: 'I fear I have made you unhappy.
We have read too much of the poets. Our troth was a thing of romance.
My mother forbids it, it seems. There are reasons 't were painful to tell.
I'm sure you would find me unfitted — and I am not worth your regretting.
Adieu — and be happy. Lucille.'
Next month in the papers he saw
She had married a Count — some Pole with an unpronounceable name.
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.