When Green Leaves Come Again
WHEN green leaves come again, my love,
When green leaves come again,--
Why put on such a cloudy face,
When green leaves come again?
'Ah, this spring will be like the last,
Of promise false and vain;
And summer die in winter's arms
Ere green leaves come again.
'So slip the seasons--and our lives;
'T is idle to complain:
But yet I sigh, I scarce know why,
When green leaves come again.'
Nay, lift up thankful eyes, my sweet!
Count equal, lost and gain:
Because, as long as the world lasts,
Green leaves will come again.
For, sure as earth lives under snows,
And Love lives under pain,
'T is good to sing with everything,
'When green leaves come again.'
A Silly Song
'O HEART, my heart!' she said, and heard
His mate the blackbird calling,
While through the sheen of the garden green
May rain was softly falling,--
Aye softly, softly falling.
The buttercups across the field
Made sunshine rifts of splendor:
The round snow-bud of the thorn in the wood
Peeped through its leefage tender,
As the rain came softly falling.
'O heart, my heart!' she said and smiled,
'There's not a tree of the valley,
Or a leaf I wis which the rain's soft kiss
Freshens in yonder alley,
Where the drops keep ever falling,--
'There's not a foolish flower i' the grass,
Or bird through the woodland calling,
So glad again of the coming of rain
As I of these tears now falling,--
These happy tears down falling.'
LOUD-VOICED night, with the wild wind blowing
Many a tune;
Stormy night, with white rain-clouds going
Over the moon;
Mystic night, that each minute changes,
Now as blue as the mountain-ranges
Far, far away;
Now as black as a heart where strange is
Joy, night or day.
Wondrous moonlight, unlike all moonlights
Since I was born;
That on a hundred, bright as noonlights,
Looks in slow scorn,--
Moonlights where the old vine-leaves quiver,
Moonlights shining on vale and river,
Where old paths lie;
Moonlights--Night, blot their like forever
Out of the sky!
Hail, new moonlight, fierce, wild, and stormy,
Wintry and bold!
Hail, sharp wind, that can strengthen, warm me,
If ne'er so cold!
Not chance-driven this deluge rages,
ONE doth pour out and ONE assuages;
Under His hand
Drifting, Noah-like, into the ages
Shall touch land.
Over The Hills And Far Away
A LITTLE bird flew my window by,
'Twixt the level street and the level sky,
The level rows of houses tall,
The long low sun on the level wall;
And all that the little bird did say
Was, 'Over the hills and far away.'
A little bird sang behind my chair,
From the level line of corn-fields fair,
The smooth green hedgerow's level bound
Not a furlong off--the horizon's bound,
And the level lawn where the sun all day
Burns:--'Over the hills and far away.'
A little bird sings above my bed,
And I know if I could but lift my head
I would see the sun set, round and grand,
Upon level sea and level sand,
While beyond the misty distance gray
Is 'Over the hills and far away.'
I think that a little bird will sing
Over a grassy mound, next spring,
Where something that once was me, ye'll leave
In the level sunshine, morn and eve:
But I shall be gone, past night, past day,
Over the hills and far away.
At the Midsummer, when the hay was down,
Said I mournful - Though my life be in its prime,
Bare lie my meadows all shorn before their time,
O'er my sere woodlands the leaves are turning brown;
It is the hot Midsummer, when the hay is down.
At the Midsummer, when the hay was down,
Stood she by the brooklet, young and very fair,
With the first white bindweed twisted in her hair -
Hair that drooped like birch-boughs, all in her simple gown -
That eve in high Midsummer, when the hay was down.
At the Midsummer, when the hay was down,
Crept she a willing bride close into my breast;
Low-piled the thunder-clouds had sunk into the west,
Red-eyed the sun out-glared like knight from leaguered town;
It was the high Midsummer, and the sun was down.
It is Midsummer - all the hay is down,
Close to her forehead press I dying eyes,
Praying God shield her till we meet in Paradise,
Bless her in love's name who was my joy and crown,
And I go at Midsummer, when the hay is down.
IT is no joy to me to sit
On dreamy summer eves,
When silently the timid moon
Kisses the sleeping leaves,
And all things through the fair hushed earth
Love, rest--but nothing grieves.
Better I like old Autumn
With his hair tossed to and fro,
Firm striding o'er the stubble fields
When the equinoctials blow.
When shrinkingly the sun creeps up
Through misty mornings cold,
And Robin on the orchard hedge
Sings cheerily and bold,
While the frosted plum
Drops downward on the mould;--
And as he passes, Autumn
Into earth's lap does throw
Brown apples gay in a game of play,
As the equinoctials blow.
When the spent year its carol sinks
Into a humble psalm,
Asks no more for the pleasure draught,
But for the cup of balm,
And all its storms and sunshine bursts
Controls to one brave calm,--
Then step by step walks Autumn,
With steady eyes that show
Nor grief nor fear, to the death of the year,
While the equinoctials blow.
A Dead Sea-Gull
LACK-LUSTRE eye, and idle wing,
And smirchèd breast that skims no more,
White as the foam itself, the wave--
Hast thou not even a grave
Upon the dreary shore,
Forlorn, forsaken thing?
Thou whom the deep seas could not drown,
Nor all the elements affright,
Flashing like thought across the main,
Mocking the hurricane,
Screaming with shrill delight
When the great ship went down.
Thee not thy beauty saved, nor mirth,
Nor daring, nor thy humble lot,
One among thousands--in quick haste
Fate clutched thee as she passed;
Dead--how, it matters not:
Corrupting, earth to earth.
And not a league from where it lies
Lie bodies once as free from stain,
And hearts as gay as this sea-bird's,
Whom all the preachers' words
Will ne'er make white again,
Or from the dead to rise.
Rot, pretty bird, in harmless clay:--
We sing too much poetic woes;
Let us be doing while we can:
Blessed the Christian man
Who on life's shore seeks those
Dying of soul decay.
Down, down like a pale leaf dropping
Under an autumn sky,
My love dropped into my bosom
There was not a ray of sunshine
And not a sound in the air,
As she trembled into my bosom--
My love, no longer fair.
All year round in her beauty
She dwelt on the tree-top high:
She danced in the summer breezes,
She laughed to the summer sky.
I lay so low in the grass-dews,
She sat so high above,
She never wist of my longing,
She never dreamed of my life.
But when winds lay bare her dwelling,
And her heart could find no rest,
I called--and she fluttered downward
Into my faithful breast.
I know that my love is fading;
I know I cannot fold
Her fragrance from the frost-blight,
Her beauty from the mould:
But a little, little longer
She shall contented lie,
And wither away in the sunshine
Come when thou wilt, grim Winter,
My year is crowned and blest
If when my love is dying
She die upon my breast.
Twilight In The North
O THE long northern twilight between the day and the night,
When the heat and the weariness of the world are ended quite:
When the hills grow dim as dreams, and the crystal river seems
Like that River of Life from out the Throne where the blessèd walk in white.
O the weird northern twilight, which is neither night nor day,
When the amber wake of the long-set sun still marks his western way:
And but one great golden star in the deep blue east afar
Warns of sleep, and dark, and midnight--of oblivion and decay.
O the calm northern twilight, when labor is all done,
And the birds in drowsy twitter have dropped silent one by one:
And nothing stirs or sighs in mountains, waters, skies,--
Earth sleeps--but her heart waketh, till the rising of the sun.
O the sweet, sweet twilight, just before the time of rest,
When the black clouds are driven away, and the stormy winds suppressed:
And the dead day smiles so bright, filling earth and heaven with light,--
You would think 't was dawn come back again--but the light is in the west.
O the grand solemn twilight, spreading peace from pole to pole!--
Ere the rains sweep o'er the hillsides, and the waters rise and roll,
In the lull and the calm, come, O angel with the palm--
In the still norther twilight, Azrael, take my soul.
Grace Of Clydeside
AH, little Grace of the golden locks,
The hills rise fair on the shores of Clyde.
As the merry waves wear out these rocks
She wears my heart out, glides past and mocks:
But heaven's gate ever stands open wide.
The boat goes softly along, along,
Like a river of life glows the amber Clyde;
Her voice floats near me like angel's song,--
Ah, sweet love-death, but thy pangs are strong!
Though heaven's gate ever stands open wide.
We walk by the shore and the stars shine bright,
But coldly, above the solemn Clyde:
Her arm touches mine--her laugh rings light--
ONE hears my silence: His merciful night
Hides me--Can heaven be open wide?
I ever was but a dreamer, Grace:
As the gray hills watch o'er the sunny Clyde,
Standing afar, each in his place,
I watch your young life's beautiful race,
Apart--until heaven be opened wide.
And sometimes when in the twilight balm
The hills grow purple along the Clyde,
The waves flow softly and very calm,
I hear all nature sing this one psalm,
That 'heaven's gate ever stands open wide.'
So, happy Grace, with your spirit free,
Laugh on! life is sweet on the banks of Clyde;
This is no blame unto thee or me;
Only God saw it could not be,
Therefore His heaven stands open wide.
SOUL, spirit, genius--which thou art--that whence
I know not, rose upon this mortal frame
Like the sun o'er the mountains, all aflame,
Seen large through mists of childish innocence,
And year by year with me uptravelling thence,
As hour by hour the day-star, madest aspire
My nature, interpenetrate with fire
It felt but understood not--strong, intense,
Wisdom with folly mixed, and gold with clay;--
Soul, thou hast journeyed with me all this way.
Oft hidden and o'erclouded, oft arrayed
In scorching splendors that my earth-life burned,
Yet ever unto thee my true life turned,
For, dim, or clear, 't was thou my daylight made.
SOUL, dwelling oft in God's infinitude,
And sometimes seeming no more part of me--
This me, worms' heritage--than that sun can be
Part of the earth he has with warmth imbued,--
Whence camest thou? whither goest thou? I, subdued
With awe of mine own being--thus sit still,
Dumb, on the summit of this lonely hill,
Whose dry November-grasses dew-bestrewed
Mirror a million suns--That sun, so bright,
Passes, as thou must pass, Soul, into night:
Art thou afraid, who solitary hast trod
A path I know not, from a source to a bourne,
Both which I know not? fear'st thou to return
Alone, even as thou camest, alone, to God?
Over The Hillside
FAREWELL. In dimmer distance
I watch your figures glide,
Across the sunny moorland,
The brown hillside;
Each momently up rising
Large, dark against the sky,
Then--in the vacant moorland,
Alone sit I.
Within the unknown country
Where your lost footsteps pass,
What beauty decks the heavens
And clothes the grass!
Over the mountains shoulder
What glories may unfold!
Though I see but the mountain
Bleak, bare and cold,--
And the white road, slow winding
To where, each after each,
You slipped away--ah, wither?
I cannot reach.
And if I call, what answers?
Only 'twixt earth and sky,
Like wail of parting spirit,
The curlew's cry.
* * * *
Yet, sunny is the moorland,
And soft the pleasant air,
And little flowers like blessings,
While, over all, the mountain
Stands sombre, calm, and still,
Immutable and steadfast,
As the One Will.
Which, done on earth, in heaven
By men and saints and angels,
Be ever blest!
Under its infinite shadow
(Safer than light of ours!)
I'll sit me down a little,
And gather flowers.
Then I will rise and follow
After the setting day,
Without one wish to linger,--
The appointed way.
A Rejected Lover
You 'never loved me,' Ada. These slow words
Dropped softly from your gentle woman-tongue
Out of your true and kindly woman-heart,
Fell, piercing into mine like very swords
The sharper for their kindness. Yet no wrong
Lies to your charge, nor cruelty, nor art,--
Ev'n when you spoke, I saw the tender tear-drop start.
You 'never loved me.' No, you never knew,
You, with youth's morning fresh upon your soul,
What 't is to love: slow, drop by drop, to pour
Our life's whole essence, perfumed through and through
With all the best we have or can control
For the libation--cast it down before
Your feet--then lift the goblet, dry for evermore.
I shall not die as foolish lovers do:
A man's heart beats beneath thid breast of mine,
The breast where--Curse on that fiend-whispering
'It might have been!'--Ada, I will be true
Unto myself--the self that so loved thine:
May all life's pain, like these few tears that spring
For me, glance off as rain-drops from my white dove's wing!
May you live long, some good man's bosom flower,
And gather chldren round your matron knees:
So, when all this is past, and you and I
Remember each our youth-days as an hour
Of joy--or anguish, one, serene, at ease,
May come to meet the other's steadfast eye,
Thinking, 'He loved me well!' clasp hands, and so pass by.
A PLEASANT picture, full of meanings deep,
Old age, calm sitting in the July sun,
On withered hands half-leaning--feeble hands,
That after their life-labors, light or hard,
Their girlish broideries, their marriage-ringed
Domestic duties, their sweet cradle cares,
Have dropped into the quiet-folded ease
Of fourscore years. How peacefully the eyes
Face us! Contented, unregretful eyes,
That carry in them the whole tale of life
With its one moral--'Thus all was--thus best.'
Eyes now so near unto their closing mild
They seem to pierce direct through all that maze,
As eyes immortal do.
Here--Youth. She stands
Under the roses, with elastic foot
Poised to step forward; eager-eyed, yet grave
Beneath the mystery of the unknown To-come,
Though longing for its coming. Firm prepared
(So say the lifted head and close, sweet mouth)
For any future: though the dreamy hope
Throned on her girlish forehead, whispers fond,
'Surely they err who say that life is hard;
Surely it shall not be with me as these.'
God knows: He only. And so best, dear child,
Thou woman-statured, sixteen-year-old child,
Meet bravely the impenetrable Dark
Under thy roses. Bud and blossom thou
Fearless as they--if thou art planted safe,
Whether for gathering or for withering, safe
In the King's garden.
The Path Through The Snow
BARE and sunshiny, bright and bleak,
Rounded cold as a dead maid's cheek,
Folded white as a sinner's shroud,
Or wandering angel's robes of cloud.--
Well I know, well I know
Over the fields the path through the snow.
Narrow and rough it lies between
Wastes where the wind sweeps, biting keen:
Every step of the slippery road
Marks where some weary foot has trod;
Who'll go, who'll go
After the rest on the path through the snow?
They who would tread it must walk alone,
Silent and steadfast--one by one:
Dearest to dearest can only say,
'My heart! I'll follow thee all the way,
As we go, as we go
Each after each on this path through the snow.'
It may be under that western haze
Lurks the omen of brighter days;
That each sentinel tree is quivering
Deep at its core with the sap of spring,
And while we go, while we go,
Green grass-blades pierce thro' the glittering snow.
It may be the unknown path will tend
Never to any earthly end,
Die with the dying day obscure,
And never lead to a human door:
That none know who did go
Patiently once on this path through the snow.
No matter, no matter! the path shines plain;
These pure snow-crystals will deaden pain;
Above, like stars in the deep blue dark,
Eyes that love us look down and mark.
Let us go, let us go,
Whither heaven leads in the path thro' the snow.
The Golden Island: Arran From Ayr
DEEP set in distant seas it lies;
The morning vapors float and fall,
The noonday clouds above it rise,
Then drop as white as virgin's pall.
And sometimes, when that shroud uplifts,
The far green fields show strange and fair;
Mute waterfalls in sliver rifts
Sparkle adown the hillside bare.
But ah! mists gather, more and more;
And though the blue sky has no tears,
And the sea laughs with light all o'er,--
The lovely Island disappears.
O vanished Island of the blest!
O dream of all things pure and high!
Hid in deep seas, as faithful breast
Hides loves that have but seemed to die,--
Whether on seas dividing tossed,
Or led through fertile lands the while,
Better lose all things than have lost
The memory of the morning Isle!
For lo! when gloaming shadows glide,
And all is calm in earth and air,
Above the heaving of the tide
The lonely Island rises fair;
Its purple peaks shine, outlined grand
And clear, as noble lives nigh done;
While stretches bright from land to land
The broad sea-pathway to the sun.
He wraps it in his glory's blaze,
He stoops to kiss its forehead cold;
And, all transfigured by his rays,
It gleams--an Isle of molten gold.
The sun may set, the shades descend,
Earth sleep--and yet while sleeping smile;
But it will live unto life's end--
That vision of the Golden Isle.
A Winter Walk
WE never had believed, I wis,
At primrose time when west winds stole
Like thoughts of youth across the soul,
In such an altered time as this,
When if one little flower did peep
Up through the brown and sullen grass,
We should just look on it, and pass
As if we saw it in our sleep.
Feeling as sure as that this ray
Which cottage children call the sun,
Colors the pale clouds one by one,--
Our touch would make it drop to clay.
We never could have looked, in prime
Of April, or when July trees
Shook full-leaved in the evening bree
Upon the face of this pale time,
Still, soft, familiar; shining bleak
On naked branches, sodden ground,
Yet shining--as if one had found
A smile upon a dead friend's cheek,
Or old friend, lost for years, had strange
In altered mien come sudden back,
Confronting us with our great lack--
Till loss seemed far less sad than change.
Yet though, alas! Hope did not see
This winter skeleton through full leaves,
Out of all bareness Faith perceives
Possible life in field and tree.
In bough and trunk the sap will move,
And the mould break o'er springing flowers;
Nature revives with all her powers,
But only nature;--never love.
So, listlessly with linkèd hands
Both Faith and Hope glide soft away;
While in long shadows, cool and gray,
The sun sets o'er the barren lands.
SILENT and sunny was the way
Where Youth and I danced on together:
So winding and embowered o'er,
We could not see one rood before.
Nevertheless all merrily
We bounded onward, Youth and I,
Leashed closely in a silken tether:
Ah Youth, ah Youth, but I would fain
See thy sweet foolish face again!
It came to pass, one morn of May,
All in a swoon of golden weather,
That I through green leaves fluttering
Saw Joy uprise on Psyche wing:
Eagerly, too eagerly
We followed after,--Youth and I,--
Till suddenly he slipped the tether:
'Where art thou, Youth?' I cried. In vain;
He never more came back again.
Yet onward through the devious way
In rain or shine, I recked not whether,
Like many other maddened boy
I tracked my Psyche-wingèd Joy;
Till, curving round the bowery lane,
Lo,--in the pathway stood pale Pain,
And we met face to face together:
'Whence comest thou?'--and I writhed in vain--
'Unloose thy cruel grasp, O Pain!'
But he would not. Since, day by day
He has ta'en up Youth's silken tether
And changed it into iron bands.
So through rich vales and barren lands
Solemnly, all solemnly,
March we united, he and I;
And we have grown such friends together
I and this my brother Pain,
I think we'll never part again.
A Stream’s Singing
O HOW beautiful is Morning!
How the sunbeams strike the daisies,
And the kingcups fill the meadow
Like a golden-shielded army
Marching to the uplands fair;--
I am going forth to battle,
And life's uplands rise before me,
And my golden shield is ready,
And I pause a moment, timing
My heart's pæan to the waters,
As with cheerful song incessant
Onwards runs the little stream;
Singing ever, onward ever,
Boldly runs the merry stream.
O how glorious is Noon-day!
With the cool large shadows lying
Underneath the giant forest,
The far hill-tops towering dimly
O'er the conquered plains below;--
I am conquering--I shall conquer
In life's battle-field impetuous:
And I lie and listen dreamy
To a double-voiced, low music,--
Tender beech-trees sheeny shiver
Mingled with the diapason
Of the strong, deep, joyful stream,
Like a man's love and a woman's;
So it runs--the happy stream!
O how grandly cometh Even,
Sitting on the mountain summit,
Purple-vestured, grave, and silent,
Watching o'er the dewy valleys,
Like a good king near his end:--
I have labored, I have governed;
Now I feel the gathering shadows
Of the night that closes all things:
And the fair earth fades before me,
And the stars leap out in heaven,
While into the infinite darkness
Solemn runs the steadfast stream--
Onward, onward, ceaseless, fearless,
Singing runs the eternal stream.
A Dream Of Death
WHERE shall we sail to-day?'--Thus said, methought,
A voice that only could be heard in dreams:
And on we glided without mast or oar,
A wondrous boat upon a wondrous sea.
Sudden, the shore curved inward to a bay,
Broad, calm, with gorgeous sea-weeds waving slow
Beneath the water, like rich thoughts that stir
In the mysterious deep of poets' hearts.
So still, so fair, so rosy in the dawn
Lay that bright bay: yet something seemed to breath,
Or in the air, or from the whispering waves,
Or from that voice, as near as one's own soul,
'There was a wreck last night.' A wreck? then where
The ship, the crew?--The all-entombing sea
On which is writ nor name nor chronicle
Laid itself o'er them with smooth crystal smile.
'Yet was the wreck last night.'. And gazing down
Deep down below the surface, we were ware
Of ghastly faces with their open eyes
Uplooking to the dawn they could not see.
One moved with moving sea-weeds: one lay prone,
The tinted fishes gliding o'er his breast;
One, caught by floating hair, rocked quietly
Upon his reedy cradle, like a child.
'The wreck has been'--said the melodious voice,
'Yet all is peace. The dead, that, while we slept,
Struggled for life, now sleep and fear no storms:
O'er them let us not weep when heaven smiles.'
So we sailed on above the diamond sands,
Bright sea-flowers, and white faces stony calm,
Till the waves bore us to the open main,
And the great sun arose upon the world.
The Path Through The Corn
WAVY and bright in the summer air,
Like a pleasant sea when the wind blows fair,
And its roughest breath has scarcely curled
The green highway to a distant world,--
Soft whispers passing from shore to shore,
As from hearts content, yet desiring more--
Who feels forlorn,
Wandering thus down the path through the corn?
A short space since, and the dead leaves lay
Mouldering under the hedgerow gray,
Nor hum of insect, nor voice of bird,
O'er the desolate field was ever heard;
Only at eve the pallid snow
Blushed rose-red in the red sun-glow;
Till, one blest morn,
Shot up into life the young green corn.
Small and feeble, slender and pale,
It bent its head to the winter gale,
Hearkened the wren's soft note of cheer,
Hardly believing spring was near:
Saw chestnuts bud out and campions blow,
And daisies mimic the vanished snow
Where it was born,
On either side of the path through the corn.
The corn, the corn, the beautiful corn,
Rising wonderful, morn by morn:
First, scarce as high as a fairy's wand,
Then, just in reach of a child's wee hand;
Then growing, growing, tall, brave, and strong:
With the voice of new harvests in its song;
While in fond scorn
The lark out-carols the whispering corn.
A strange, sweet path, formed day by day,
How, when, and wherefore, we cannot say,
No more than of our life-paths we know,
Whither they lead us, why we go;
Or whether our eyes shall ever see
The wheat in the ear or the fruit on the tree;
Yet, who's forlorn?--
He who watered the furrows can ripen the corn.
At The Seaside
O SOLITARY shining sea
That ripples in the sun,
O gray and melancholy sea,
O'er which the shadows run;
O many-voiced and angry sea,
Breaking with moan and strain,--
I, like a humble, chastened child,
Come back to thee again;
And build child-castles and dig moats
Upon the quiet sands,
And twist the cliff-convolvulus
Once more, round idle hands;
And look across that ocean line,
As o'er life's summer sea,
Where many a hope went sailing once,
Full set, with canvas free.
Strange, strange to think how some of them
Their silver sails have furled,
And some have whitely glided down
Into the under world;
And some, dismasted, tossed and torn,
Put back in port once more,
Thankful to ride, with freight still safe,
At anchor near the shore.
Stranger it is to lie at ease
As now, with thoughts that fly
More light and wandering than sea-birds
Between the waves and sky:
To play child's play with shells and weeds,
And view the ocean grand
Sunk to one wave that may submerge
A baby-house of sand;
And not once look, or look by chance,
With old dreams quite supprest,
Across that mystic wild sea-world
Of infinite unrest.
O ever solitary sea,
Of which we all have found
Somewhat to dream or say,--the type
Of things without a bound--
Love, long as life, and strong as death;
Faith, humble as sublime;
Eternity, whose large depths hold
The wrecks of this small Time;--
Unchanging, everlasting sea!
To spirits soothed and calm
Thy restless moan of other years
Becomes an endless psalm.
Eudoxia. First Picture
O SWEETEST my sister, my sister that sits in the sun,
Her lap full of jewels, and roses in showers on her hair;
Soft smiling and counting her riches up slow, one by one,
Cool-browed, shaking dew from her garlands--those garlands so fair,
Many gasp, climb, snatch, struggle, and die for--her every-day wear!
O beauteous my sister, turn downwards those mild eyes of thine,
Lest they stab with their smiling, and blister or scorch where they shine.
Young sister who never yet sat for an hour in the cold,
Whose cheek scarcely feels half the roses that throng to caress,
Whose light hands hold loosely these jewels and silver and gold,
Remember thou those in the world who forever on press
In perils and watchings, and hunger and nakedness,
While thou sit'st content in the sunlight that round thee doth shine.
Take heed! these have long borne their burthen--now lift thou up thine.
Be meek--as befits one whose cup to the brim is love-crowned,
While others in dry dust drop empty--What, what canst thou know
Of the wild human tide that goes sweeping eternally round
The isle where thou sit'st pure and calm as a statue of snow,
Around which good thoughts like kind angels continually go?
Be pitiful. Whose eyes once turned from the angels to shine
Upon publicans, sinners? O sister, 't will not pollute thine.
Who, even-eyed, looks on His children, the black and the fair,
The loved and the unloved, the tempted, untempted--marks all,
And metes--not as man metes? If thou with weak tender hand dare
To take up His balances--say where His justice should fall,
Far better be Magdalen dead at the gate of thy hall--
Dead, sinning, and loving, and contrite, and pardoned, to shine
Midst he saints high in heaven, than thou, angel sister of mine!
REST--rest--four little letters, one short word,
Enfolding an infinitude of bliss--
Rest is upon the earth. The heavy clouds
Hang poised in silent ether, motionless,
Seeking nor sun nor breeze. No restless star
Thrills the sky's gray-robed breast with pulsing rays,
The night's heart has throbbed out.
No grass blade stirs,
No downy-wingèd moth comes flittering by
Caught by the light--Thank God, there is no light,
No open-eyed, loud-voiced, quick motioned light,
Nothing but gloom and rest.
A row of trees
Along the hill horizon, westward, stands
All black and still, as if it were a rank
Of fallen angels, melancholy met
Before the amber gate of Paradise--
The bright shut gate, whose everlasting smile
Deadens despair to calm.
O, better far
Better than bliss is rest! If suddenly
Those burnished doors of molten gold, steel-barred,
Which the sun closed behind him as he went
Into his bridal chamber--were to burst
Asunder with a clang, and in a breath
God's mysteries were revealed--His kingdom came--
The multitudes of heavenly messengers
Hastening throughout all space--the thunder quire
Of praise--the obedient lightnings' lambent gleam
Around the unseen Throne--should I not sink
Crushed by the weight of such beatitudes,
Crying, 'Rest, only rest, thou merciful God!
Hide me within the hollow of Thy hand
In some dark corner of the universe,
Thy bright, full, busy universe, that blinds,
Deafens, and tortures--Give me only rest!'
O for a soul-sleep, long and deep and still!
To lie down quiet after the weary day,
Dropping all pleasant flowers from the numbed hands,
Bidding good-night to all companions dear,
Drawing the curtains on this darkened world,
Closing the eyes, and with a patient sigh
Murmuring 'Our Father'--fall on sleep, till dawn!
By The Alma River
WILLIE, fold your little hands;
Let it drop, that 'soldier' toy:
Look where father's picture stands,--
Father, who here kissed his boy
Not two months since,--father kind,
Who this night may--Never mind
Mother's sob, my Willie dear,
Call aloud that He may hear
Who is God of battles, say,
'O, keep father safe this day
By the Alma river.'
Ask no more, child. Never heed
Either Russ, or Frank, or Turk,
Right of nations or of creed,
Chance-poised victory's bloody work:
Any flag i' the wind may roll
On thy heights, Sebastopol;
Willie, all to you and me
Is that spot, where'er it be,
Where he stands--no other word!
Stands--God sure the child's prayer heard--
By the Alma river.
Willie, listen to the bells
Ringing through the town to-day.
That's for victory. Ah, no knells
For the many swept away,--
Hundreds--thousands! Let us weep,
We who need not,--just to keep
Reason steady in my brain
Till the morning comes again,
Till the third dread morning tell
Who they were that fought and fell
By the Alma river.
Come, we'll lay us down, my child,
Poor the bed is, poor and hard;
Yet thy father, far exiled,
Sleeps upon the open sward,
Dreaming of us two at home:
Or beneath the starry dome
Digs out trenches in the dark,
Where he buries--Willie, mark--
Where he buries those who died
Fighting bravely at his side
By the Alma river.
Willie, Willie, go to sleep,
God will keep us, O my boy;
He will make the dull hours creep
Faster, and send news of joy,
When I need not shrink to meet
Those dread placards in the street,
Which for weeks will ghastly stare
In some eyes--Child, sy thy prayer
Once again; a different one:
Say, 'O God, Thy will be done
By the Alma river.'
To A Beautiful Woman
SURELY, dame Nature made you in some dream
Of old-world women--Chriemhild, or bright
Aslauga, or Boadicea fierce and fair,
Or Berengaria as she rose, her lips
Yet ruddy from the poison that anoints
Her memory still, the queen of queenly wives.
I marvel, who will crown you wife, you grand
And goodly creature! who will mount supreme
The empty chariot of your maiden heart,
Curb the strong will that leaps and foams and chafes
Still masterless, and guide you safely home
Unto the golden gate, where quiet sits
Grave Matronhood, with gracious, loving eyes.
What eyes you have, you wild gazelle o' the plain,
You fierce hind of the forest! now they flash,
Now glow, now in their own dark down-dropt shade
Conceal themselves a moment, as some thought,
Too brief to be a feeling, flits across
The April cloudland of your careless soul--
There--that light laugh--and 't is full sun--full day.
Would I could paint you, line by line, ere Time
Touches the gorgeous picture! your ripe mouth,
Your white arched throat, your stature like to Saul's
Among his brethren, yet so fitly framed
In such harmonious symmetry, we say
As of a cedar among common trees
Never 'How tall!' but only 'O how fair!'
Who made you fair? moulded you in the shape
That poets dream of; sent you forth to men
His caligraph inscribed on every curve
Of your brave form?
Is it written on your soul?
--I know not.
Woman, upon whom is laid
Heaven's own sign-manual, Beauty, mock heaven not!
Reverence thy loveliness--the outward type
Of things we understand not, nor behold
But as in a glass, darkly; wear it thou
With awful gladness, grave humility,
That not contemns, nor boasts, nor is ashamed,
But lifts its face up prayerfully to heaven,--
'Thou who hast made me, make me worthy Thee!'
A Flower Of A Day
OLD friend, that with a pale and pensile grace
Climbest the lush hedgerows, art thou back again,
Marking the slow round of the wond'rous years?
Didst beckon me a moment, silent flower?
Silent? As silent is the archangel's pen
That day by day writes our life chronicle,
And turns the page,--the half-forgotten page,
Which all eternity will never blot.
Forgotten? No, we never do forget:
We let the years go: eash then clean with tears,
Leave them to bleach, out in the open day,
Or lock them careful by, like dead friends' clothes,
Till we shall dare unfold them without pain,--
But we forget not, never can forget.
Flower, thou and I a moment face to face--
My face as clear as thine, this July noon
Shining on both, on bee and butterfly
And golden geetle creeping in the sun--
Will pause, and,lifting up, page after page,
The many-colored history of life,
Look backwards, backwards.
So, the volume close!
This July day, with the sun high in heaven,
And the whole earth rejoicing,--let it close.
I think we need not sigh, complain, nor rave;
Nor blush,--our doings and misdoing all
Being more 'gainst heaven than man, heaven them does keep
With all its doings and undoings strange
Concerning us.--Ah, let the volume close:
I would not alter in it one poor line.
My dainty flower, my innocent white flower
With such a pure smile looking up to heaven,
With such a bright smile looking down on me--
(Nothing but smiles,--as if in all the world
Were no such things as thunder-storms or frosts,
Or broken petals trampled on the ground,
Or shivering leaveswhirled in the wintry air
Like ghosts of last years joys--my pretty flower,
I'll pluck thee--smiling too. Not one salt drop
Shall stain thee:--if these foolish eyes are dim,
That they behold such beauty and such peace,
Such wisdom and such sweetness, in God's world.
SMALL wren, mute pecking at the last red plum
Or twittering idly at the yellowing boughs
Fruit-emptied, over thy forsaken house,--
Birdie, that seems to come
Telling, we too have spent our little store,
Our summer's o'er:
Poor robin, driven in by rain-storms wild
To lie submissive under household hands
With beating heart that no love understands,
And scarèd eye, like a child
Who only knows that he is all alone
And summer's gone;
Pale leaves, sent flying wide, a frightened flock
On which the wolfish wind bursts out, and tears
Those tender forms that lived in summer airs
Till, taken at this shock,
They, like weak hearts when sudden grief sweeps by,
Whirl, drop, and die:--
All these things, earthy, of the earth--do tell
This earth's perpetual story; we belong
Unto another country, and our song
Shall be no mortal knell;
Though all the year's tale, as our years run fast,
Mourns, 'summer's past.'
O love immortal, O perpetual youth,
Whether in budding nooks it sits and sings
As hundred poets in a hundred springs,
Or, slaking passion's drouth,
In wine-press of affliction, ever goes
Heavenward, through woes:
O youth immortal--O undying love!
With these by winter fireside we'll sit down
Wearing our snows of honor like a crown;
And sing as in a grove,
Where the full nests ring out with happy cheer,
'Summer is here.'
Roll round, strange years; swift seasons, come and go;
Ye leave upon us but an outward sign;
Ye cannot touch the inward and divine,
While God alone does know;
There sealed till summers, winters, all shall cease
In His deep peace.
Therefore uprouse ye winds and howl your will;
Beat, beat, ye sobbing rains on pane and door;
Enter, slow-footed age, and thou, obscure,
Grand Angel--not of ill;
Healer of every wound, where'er thou come,
Glad, we'll go home.
Fallen In The Night!
IT dressed itself in green leaves all the summer long,
Was full of chattering starlings, loud with throstles' song.
Children played beneath it, lovers sat and talked,
Solitary strollers looked up as they walked.
O, so fresh its branches! and the its old trunk gray
Was so stately rooted, who forbode decay?
Even when winds had blown it yellow and almost bare,
Softly dropped its chestnuts through the misty air;
Still its few leaves rustled with a faint delight,
And their tender colors charmed the sense of sight,
Filled the soul with beauty, and the heart with peace,
Like sweet sounds departing--sweetest when they cease.
Pelting, undermining, loosening, came the rain;
Through its topmost branches roared the hurricane;
Oft it strained and shivered till the night wore past;
But in dusky daylight there the tree stood fast,
Though its birds had left it, and its leaves were dead,
And its blossoms faded, and its fruit all shed.
Ay, and when last sunset came a wanderer by,
Watched it as aforetime with a musing eye,
Still it wore its scant robes so pathetic gay,
Caught the sun's last glimmer, the new moon's first ray;
And majestic, patient, stood amidst its peers
Waiting for the spring-times of uncounted years.
But the worm was busy, and the days were run;
Of its hundred sunsets this was the last one:
So in the quiet midnight, with no eye to see,
None to harm in falling, fell the noble tree!
Says the early laborer, starting at the sight
With a sleepy wonder, 'Fallen in the night!'
Says a schoolboy, leaping in a wild delight
Over trunk and branches, 'Fallen in the night!'
O thou Tree, thou glory of His hand who made
Nothing ever vainly, thou hast Him obeyed!
Lived thy life, and perished when and how He willed;--
Be all lamentation and all murmurs stilled.
To our last hour live we--fruitful, brave, upright,
'T will be a good ending, 'Fallen in the night!'
LITTLE white clouds, why are you flying
Over the sky so blue and cold?
Fair faint hopes, why are you lying
Over my heart like a white cloud's fold?
Slender green leaves, why are you peeping
Out of the ground where the snow yet lies?
Toying west wind, why are you creeping
Like a child's breath across my eyes?
Hope and terror by turns consuming,
Lover and friend put far from me,--
What should I do with the bright spring, coming
Like an angel over the sea?
Over the cruel sea that parted
Me from mine own, and rolls between;--
Out of the woful east, whence darted
Heaven's full quiver of vengeance keen.
Day teaches day, night whispers morning--
'Hundreds are weeping their dead, while thou
Weeping thy living--Rise, be adorning
Thy brows, unwidowed, with smiles.'--But how?
O, had he married me!--unto anguish,
Hardship, sickness, peril, and pain;
That on my breast his head might languish
In lonely jungle or scorching plain;
O, had we stood on some rampart gory,
Till he--ere Horror behind us trod--
Kissed me, and killed me--so, with his glory
My soul went happy and pure to God!
Nay, nay, Heaven pardon me! me, sick-hearted,
Living this long, long life-in-death:
Many there are far wider parted
Who under one roof-tree breathe one breath.
But we that loved--whom one word half broken
Had drawn together close soul to soul
As lip to lip--and it was not spoken,
Nor may be while the world's ages roll.
I sit me down with my tears all frozen:
I drink my cup, be it gall or wine:
For I know, if he lives, I am his chosen--
I know, if he dies, that he is mine.
If love in its silence be greater, stronger
Than million promises, sighs, or tears--
I will wait upon Him a little longer
Who holdeth the balance of our years.
Little white clouds, like angels flying,
Bring the spring with you across the sea--
Loving or losing, living or dying,
Lord, remember, remember me!
The Voice Calling
IN the hush of April weather,
With the bees in budding heather,
And the white clouds floating, floating, and the sunshine falling broad;
While my children down the hill
Run and leap, and I sit still,--
Through the silence, through the silence art Thou calling, O my God?
Through my husband's voice that prayeth,
Though he knows not what he sayeth,
Is it Thou who in Thy Holy Word hast solemn words for me?
And when he clasps me fast,
And smiles fondly o'er the past,
And talks, hopeful, of the future--Lord, do I hear only Thee?
Not in terror nor in thunder
Comes Thy voice, although it sunder
Flesh from spirit, soul from body, human bliss from human pain:
All the work that was to do,
All the joys so sweet and new
Which Thou shewed'st me in a vision--Moses-like--and hid'st again.
From this Pisgah, lying humbled,
The long desert where I stumbled,
And the fair plains I shall never reach, seem equal, clear and far:
On this mountain-top of ease
Thou wilt bury me in peace;
While my tribes march onward, unto Canaan and war.
In my boy's loud laughter ringing,
In the sigh more soft than singing
Of my baby girl that nestles up unto this mortal breast,
After every voice most dear
Comes a whisper--'Rest not here.'
And the rest Thou art preparing, is it best, Lord, is it best?
'Lord, a little, little longer!'
Sobs the earth-love, growing stronger:
He will miss me, and go mourning through his solitary days.
And heaven were scarcely heaven
If these lambs which Thou hast given
Were to slip out of our keeping and be lost in the world's ways.
Lord, it is not fear of dying
Nor an impious denying
Of Thy will, which forevermore on earth, in heaven, be done:
But the love that desperate clings
Unto these my precious things
In the beauty of the daylight, and the glory of the sun.
Ah, Thou still art calling, calling,
With a soft voice unappalling;
And it vibrates in far circles through the everlasting years;
When Thou knockest, even so!
I will arise and go.--
What, m little ones, more violets?--Nay, be patient--mother hears.
Living: After A Death
(Thus seems it we should say to our beloved,--
Each held by such slight links, so oft removed
And I can let thee go to the world's end,
All precious names, companion, love, spouse, friend,
Seal up in an eternal silence gray,
Like a closed grave till resurrection-day:
All sweet remembrances, hopes, dreams, desires,
Heap, as one heaps up sarificial fires:
Then, turning, consecrate by loss, and proud
Of penury--go back into the loud
Tumultuous world again with never a moan--
Save that which whispers still, 'My own, my own,'
Unto the same broad sky whose arch immense
Enfolds us both like the arm of Providence:
And thus, contended, I could live or die,
With never clasp of hand or meeting eye
On this side Paradise.--While thee I see
Living to God, thou art alive to me.
And I, methinks, can let all dear rights go,
Fond duties melt away like April snow,
And sweet, sweet hopes, that took a life to weave,
Vanish like gossamers of autumn eve.
Nay, sometimes seems it I could even bear
To lay down humbly this love-crown I wear,
Steal from my palace, helpless, hopeless, poor,
And see another queen it at the door,--
If only that the king had done no wrong,
If this my palace, where I dwelt so long,
Were not defiled by falsehood entering in:--
There is no loss but change, no death but sin,
No parting, save the slow corrupting pain
Of murdered faith that never lives again.
(So endeth faint the low pathetic cry
Of love, whom death has taught love cannot die,)
And I can stand above the daisy bed,
The only pillow for thy dearest head,
There cover up forever from my sight
My own, my earthly all of earth delight;
And enter the sea-cave of widowed years,
Where far, far off the trembling gleam appears
Through which thy heavenly image slipped away,
And waits to meet me at the open day.
Only to me, my love, only to me.
This cavern underneath the moaning sea;
This long, long life that I alone must tread,
To whom the living seem most like the dead,--
Thou wilt be safe out on the happy shore:
He who in God lives, liveth evermore.
A Living Picture
No, I'll not say your name. I have said it now,
As you mine, first in childish treble, then
Up through a score and more familiar years
Till baby-voices mock us. Time may come
When your tall sons look down on our white hair,
Amused to hear us call each other thus,
And question us about the old, old days,
The far-off days, the days when we were young.
How distant do they seem, and yet how near!
Now, as I lie and watch you come and go,
With garden basket in your hand; in gown
Just girdled, and brown curls that girl-like fall,
And straw hat flapping in the April breeze,
I could forget this lapse of years--start up
Laughing--'Come, let's go play!'
Our play-days are all done.
Still, let us smile:
For as you flit about your garden here
You look like this spring morning: on your lips
An unseen bird sings snatches of gay tunes,
While, an embodied music, moves your step,
Your free, wild, springy step, like Atala's,
Or Pocahontas, careless child o' the sun--
Those Indian beauties I compare you to--
I, still your praiser,--
Nay, nay, I'll not praise,
Fair seemeth fairest, ignorant 't is fair:
That light incredulous laugh is worth a world!
That laugh, with childish echoes.
So then, fade,
Mere dream. Come, true and sweet reality:
Come, dawn of happy wifehood, motherhood,
Ripening to perfect noon! Come, peaceful round
Of simple joys, fond duties, gladsome cares,
When each full hour drops bliss with liberal hand,
Yet leaves to-morrow richer than to-day.
Will you sit here? the grass is summer-warm.
Look at those children making daisy-chains,
So did we too, do you mind? That eldest lad,
He has your very mouth. Yet, you will have 't
His eyes are like his father's? Perhaps so:
They could not be more dark and deep and kind.
Do you know, this hour I have been fancying you
A poet's dream, and almost sighed to think
There was no poet to praise you--
Why, you're flown
After those mad elves in the flower-beds there,
Ha--ha--you're no dream now.
Well, well--so best!
My eyelids droop content o'er moistened eyes:
I would not have you other than you are.
PLANT it safe and sure, my child,
Then cease watching and cease weeping;
You have done your utmost part:
Leave it with a quiet heart:
It will grow while you are sleeping.
'But, O father,' says the child,
With a troubled face up-creeping,
'How can I but think and grieve
When the fierce wind comes at eve
Tearing it--and I lie sleeping!
'I have loved my young tree so!
In each bud seen leaf and floweret,
Watered it each day with prayers,
Guarded it with many cares,
Lest some canker should devour it.
'O good father,' sobs the child,
'If I come in summer's shining
And my pretty tree be dead,
How the sun will scorch my head,
How I shall sit lorn, repining!
'Rather let me, evermore,
An incessant watch thus keeping,
Bear the cold, the storm, the frost,
That my treasure be not lost--
Ay, bear aught--but idle sleeping.'
Sternly said the father then,
'Who art thou, child, vainly grieving?
Canst thou send the balmy dews,
Or the rich sap interfuse
Through the dead trunk, inly living?
'Canst thou bid the heavens restrain
Natural tempests for thy praying?
Canst thou bend one tender shoot,
Urge the growth of one frail root,
Keep one leaflet from decaying?
'If it live to bloom all fair,
Will it praise thee for its blossom?
If it die, will any plaints
Reach thee, as with kings and saints
Drops it to the cold earth's bosom?
'Plant it--all thou canst!--with prayers;
It is safe 'neath His sky's folding
Who the whole earth compasses,
Whether we watch more or less,
His wide eye all things beholding.
'Should He need a goodly tree
For the shelter of the nations,
He will make it grow: if not,
Never yet His love forgot
Human love, and faith, and patience.
'Leave thy treasure in His hand--
Cease all watching and all weeping:
Years hence, men its shade may crave,
And its mighty branches wave
Beautiful above they sleeping.'
If his hope, tear-sown, that child
Garnered after joyful reaping,
Know I not: yet unawares
Gleams this truth through many cares,
'It will grow while thou art sleeping.'
The Dead Czar
LAY him beneath his snows,
The great Norse giant who in these last days
Troubled the nations. Gather decently
The imperial robes about him. 'T is but man,--
This demi-god. Or rather it was man,
And is--a little dust that will corrupt
As fast as any nameless dust which sleeps
'Neath Alma's grass or Balaklava's vines.
No vineyard grave for him. No quiet tomb
By river margin, where across the seas
Children's fond thoughts and women's memories come
Like angels, to sit by the sepulchre,
Saying: 'All these were men who knew to count,
Front-faced, the cost of honor, nor did shrink
From its full payment: coming here to die,
They died--like men.'
But this man? Ah! for him
Funereal state, and ceremonial grand,
The stone-engraved sarcophagus, and then
Nay, oblivion were as bliss
To that fierce howl which rolls from land to land
Exulting,--'Art thou fallen, Lucifer,
Son of the morning?' or condemning,--'Thus
Perish the wicked!' or blaspheming,--'Here
Lies our Belshazzar, our Sennacherib,
Our Pharaoh,--he whose heart God hardenèd,
So that he would not let the people go.'
Self-glorifying sinners! Why, this man
Was but like other men:--you, Levite small,
Who shut your saintly ears, and prate of hell
And heretics, because outside church-doors,
Your church-doors, congregations poor and small
Praise Heaven in their own way;--you, autocrat
Of all the hamlets, who add field to field
And house to house, whose slavish children cower
Before your tyrant footstep;--you, foul-tongued
Fanatic or ambitious egotist,
Who thinks God stoops from His high majesty
To lay His finger on your puny head,
And crown it,--that you henceforth may parade
Your maggotship throughout the wondering world,--
'I am the Lord's anointed!'
Fools and blind!
This Czar, this emperor, this disthronèd corpse,
Lying so straightly in an icy calm
Grander than sovereignty, was but as ye,--
No better and no worse;--Heaven mend us all!
Carry him forth and bury him. Death's peace
Rest on his memory! Mercy by his bier
Sits silent, or says only these few words,--
'Let him who is without sin 'mongst ye all
Cast the first stone.'
AUTUMN to winter, winter into spring,
Spring into summer, summer into fall,--
So rolls the changing year, and so we change;
Motion so swift, we know not that we move.
Till at the gate of some memorial hour
We pause--look in its sepulchre to find
The cast-off shape that years since we called 'I'--
And start, amazed. Yet on! We may not stay
To weep or laugh. All which is past, is past
Even while we gaze the simulated form
Drops into dust, like many-centuried corpse
At opening of a tomb.
Alack, this world
Is full of change, change, change,--nothing but change!
Is there not one straw in life's whirling flood
To hold by, as the torrent sweeps us down,
Us, scattered leaves; eddied and broken; torn
Roughly asunder; or in smooth mid-stream
Divided each from other without pain;
Collected in what looks like union,
Yet is but stagnant chance,--stopping to rot
By the same pebble till the tide shall turn;
Then on, to find no shelter and no rest,
Forever rootless and forever lone.
O God, we are but leaves upon Thy stream,
Clouds on Thy sky. We do but move across
The silent breast of Thy infinitude
Which bears us all. We pour out day by day
Our long, brief moan of mutability
To Thine immutable--and cease.
Our change yearns after Thine unchangedness;
Our mortal craves Thine immortality;
Our manifold and multiform and weak
Imperfectness, requires the perfect ONE.
For Thou art ONE, and we are all of Thee;
Dropped from Thy bosom, as Thy sky drops down
Its morning dews, which glitter for a space,
Uncertain whence they fell, or whither tend,
Till the great Sun arising on his fields
Upcalls them all, and they rejoicing go.
So, with like joy, O Light Eterne, we spring
Thee-ward, and leave the pleasant fields of earth,
Forgetting equally its blossomed green
And its dry dusty paths which drank us up
Remorseless,--we, poor humble drops of dew,
That only wish to freshen a flower's breast,
And be exhaled to heaven.
O Thou supreme
All-satisfying and immutable One,
It is enough to be absorbed in Thee
And vanish,--though 't were only to a voice
That through all ages with perpetual joy
Goes evermore loud crying, 'God! God! God!'
How the word rolls--Leonora--
Lion-like, in full-mouthed sound,
Marching o'er the metric ground
With a tawny tread sublime--
So your name moves, Leonora,
Down my desert rhyme.
So you pace, young Leonora,
Through the alleys of the wood,
Head erect, majestic, tall,
The fit daughter of the Hall:
Yet with hazel eyes declined,
And a voice like summer wind,
And a meek mouth, sweet and good,
Dimpling ever, Leonora,
In fair womanhood.
How those smiles dance, Leonora,
As you meet the pleasant breeze
Under your ancestral trees:
For your heart is free and pure
As this blue March sky o'erhead,
And in the life-path you tread,
All the leaves are budding, sure,
All the primroses are springing,
All the birds begin their singing--
'T is your spring-time, Leonora,
May it long endure.
But it will pass, Leonora:
And the silent days must fall
When a change comes over all:
When the last leaf downward flitters,
And the last, last sunbeam glitters
On the terraced hillside cool,
On the peacocks by the pool:
When you'll walk along these alleys
With no lightsome foot that dallies
With the violets and the moss,--
But with quiet steps and slow,
And grave eyes that earthward grow,
And a matron-heart inured
To all women have endured,--
Must endure and ever will,
All the joy and all the ill,
All the gain and all the loss--
Can you cheerfully lay down
Careless girlhood's flowery crown,
And thus take up, Leonora,
Womanhood's meek cross?
Ay! your eyes shine, Leonora,
Warm, and true, and brave, and kind:
And although I nothing know
Of the maiden heart below,
I in them good omens find.
Go, enjoy your present hours
Like the birds and bees and flowers:
And may summer days bestow
On you just so much of rain,
Blessed baptism of pain!
As will make your blossoms grow.
May you walk, as through life's road
Every noble woman can,--
With a pure heart before God,
And a true heart unto man:
Till with this same smile you wait
For the opening of the Gate
That shuts earth from mortal eyes;
Till at last, with peaceful heart,
All contented to depart,
Leaving children's children playing
In these woods you used to stray in,
You may enter, Leonora,
Lost In The Mist
THE thin white snow-streaks pencilling
That mountain's shoulder gray,
While in the west the pale green sky
Smiled back the dawning day,
Till from the misty east the sun
Was of a sudden born
Like a new soul in Paradise--
How long it seems since morn!
One little hour, O round red sun,
And thou and I shall come
Unto the golden gate of rest,
The open door of home:
One little hour, O weary sun,
Delay the threatened eve
Till my tired feet that pleasant door
Enter and never leave.
Ye rooks that fly in slender file
Into the thick'ning gloom,
Ye'll scarce have reached your grim gray tower
Ere I have reached my home;
Plover, that thrills the solitude
With such an eerie cry,
Seek you your nest ere night-fall comes,
As my heart's nest seek I.
O light, light heart and heavy feet,
Patience a little while!
Keep the warm love-light in these eyes,
And on these lips the smile:
Out-speed the mist, the gathering mist
That follows o'er the moor!--
The darker grows the world without
The brighter seems that door.
O door, so close yet so far off;
O mist that nears and nears!
What, shall I faint in sight of home?
Blinded--but not with tears--
'T is but the mist, the cruel mist,
Which chills this heart of mine:
These eyes, too weak to see that light--
It has not ceased to shine.
A little further, further yet:
The white mist crawls and crawls;
It hems me around, it shuts me in
Its great sepulchral walls:
No earth--no sky--no path--no light--
A silence like the tomb:
O me, it is too soon to die--
And I was going home!
A little further, further yet:
My limbs are young,--my heart--
O heart, it is not only life
That feels it hard to part:
Poor lips, slow freezing into calm,
Numbed hands that helpless fall,
And, a mile off, warm lips, fond hands,
Waiting to welcome all!
I see the pictures in the room,
The figures moving round,
The very flicker of the fire
Upon the patterned ground:
O that I were the shepherd-dog
That guards their happy door!
Or even the silly household cat
That basks upon the floor!
O that I sat one minute's space
Where I have sat so long!
O that I heard one little word
Sweeter than angel's song!
A pause--and then the table fills,
The harmless mirth brims o'er;
While I--O can it be God's will?--
I die, outside the door.
My body fails--my desperate soul
Struggles before it go:
The bleak air's full of voices wild,
But not the voice I know;
Dim shapes come wandering through the dark:
With mocking, curious stares,
Faces long strange peer glimmering by--
But not one face of theirs.
Lost, lost, and such a little way
From that dear sheltering door!
Lost, lost, out of the loving arms
Left empty evermore!
His will be done. O, gate of heaven,
Fairer than earthly door,
Receive me! Everlasting arms,
Enfold me evermore!
And so, farewell * * * * *
What is this touch
Upon my closing eyes?
My name too, that I thought to hear
Next time in Paradise?
Warm arms--close lips--O, saved, saved, saved!
Across the deathly moor
Sought, found--and yonder through the night
Shineth the blessed door.
A mountain in the Island of Arran, the summit of which resembles a gigantic
WITH face turned upward to the changeful sky,
I, Fergus, lie, supine in frozen rest;
The maiden morning clouds slip rosily
Unclasped, unclasping, down my granite breast;
The lightning strikes my brow and passes by.
There's nothing new beneath the sun, I wot:
I, 'Fergus' called,--the great pre-Adamite,
Who for my mortal body blindly sought
Rash immortality, and on this height
Stone-bound, forever am and yet am not,--
There's nothing new beneath the sun, I say.
Ye pigmies of a later race, who come
And play out your brief generation's play
Below me, know, I too spent my life's sum,
And revelled through my short tumultuous day.
O, what is man that he should mouth so grand
Through his poor thousand as his seventy years?
Whether as king I ruled a trembling land,
Or swayed by tongue or pen my meaner peers,
Or earth's whole learning once did understand,--
What matter? The star-angels know it all.
They who came sweeping through the silent night
And stood before me, yet did not appal:
Till, fighting 'gainst me in their courses bright,*
Celestial smote terrestrial.--Hence, my fall.
Hence, Heaven cursed me with a granted prayer;
Made my hill-seat eternal: bade me keep
My pageant of majestic lone despair,
While one by one into the infinite deep
Sank kindred, realm, throne, world: yet I lay there.
There still I lie. Where are my glories fled?
My wisdom that I boasted as divine?
My grand primeval women fair, who shed
Their whole life's joy to crown one hour of mine,
And live to curse the love they coveted?
'The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.'
Gone--gone. Uncounted æons have rolled by,
And still my ghost sits by its corpse of stone,
And still the blue smile of the new-formed sky
Finds me unchanged. Slow centuries crawling on
Bring myriads happy death:--I cannot die.
My stone shape mocks the dead man's peaceful face,
And straightened arm that will not labor more;
And yet I yearn for a mean six-foot space
To moulder in, with daisies growing o'er,
Rather than this unearthly resting-place;--
Where pinnacled, my silent effigy
Against the sunset rising clear and cold,
Startles the musing mstranger sailing by,
And calls up thoughts that never can be told,
Of life, and death, and immortality.
While I?--I watch this after world that creeps
Nearer and nearer to the feet of God:
Ay, though it labors, struggles, sins, and weeps,
Yet, love-drawn, follows ever Him who trod
Through dim Gethsemane to Cavalry's steeps.
O glorious shame! O royal servitude!
High lowliness, and ignorance all-wise!
Pure life with death, and death with life imbued;--
My centuried splendors crumble 'neath Thine eyes,
Thou Holy One who died upon the Rood!
Therefore, face upward to the Christian heaven,
I, Fergus, lie: expectant, humble, calm;
Dumb emblem of the faith to me not given;
The clouds drop chrism, the stars their midnight psalm
Chant over one, who passed away unshriven.
'I am the Resurrection and the Life.',
So from yon mountain graveyard cries the dust
Of child to parent, husband unto wife,
Consoling, and believing in the Just:--
Christ lives, though all the universe died in strife.
Therefore my granite lips forever pray,
'O rains, wash out my sin of self abhorred:
O sun, melt thou my heart of stone away,
Out of Thy plenteous mercy save me, Lord.'
And thus I wait till Resurrection-day.
Looking Death In The Face
AY, in thy face, old fellow! Now's the time.
The Black Sea wind flaps my tent-roof, nor wakes
These lads of mine, who take of sleep their fill,
As if they thought they'd never sleep again,
Pitiless Crimean blast,
How many a howling lullaby thou'lt raise
To-morrow night, all nights till the world's end,
Over some sleepers here!
Some?--who? Dumb Fate
Whispers in no man's ear his coming doom;
Each thinks--'not I--not I.'
But thou, grim Death,
I hear thee on the night-wind flying abroad,
I feel thee here, squatted at our tent-door,
Invisible and incommunicable,
Why yell so in your sleep,
Comrade? Did you see aught?
Well--let him dream:
Who knows, to-morrow such a shout as this
He'll die with. A brave lad, and very like
* * * * * *
So! just two hours have I lain
Freezing. That pale white star, which came and peered
Through the tent-opening, has passed on, to smile
Elsewhere, or lost herself i' the dark,--God knows.
Two hours nearer to dawn. The very hour,
The very hour and day, a year ago,
When we light-hearted and light-footed fools
Went jingling idle swords in waltz and reel,
And smiling in fair faces. How they'd start,
Those dainty red ad white soft faces kind,
If they could but behold my visage now,
Or his--or his--o some poor faces cold
We covered up with earth last noon.
The laidly Thing I felt on our tent-door
Two hours back. It has sat and never stirred.
I cannot challenge it, or shoot it down,
Or grapple with it, as with that young Russ
Whom I killed yesterday. (What eyes he had!--
Great limpid eyes, and curling dark-red hair,--
A woman's picture hidden in his breast,--
I never liked this fighting hand to hand.)
No, it will not be met like flesh and blood,
This shapeless, voiceless, immaterial Thing,
Yet I will meet it. Here I sit alone,--
Show me thy face, O Death!
There, there. I think
I did not tremble.
I am a young man;
Have done full many an ill deed, left undone
Many a good one: lived unto the flesh,
Not to the spirit: I would rather live
A few years more, and try if things might change.
Yet, yet I hope I do not tremble, Death;
And that thy finger pointed at my heart
But calms the tumult there.
What small account
The All-living seems to take of this thin flame
Which we call life. He sends a moment's blast
Out of war's nostrils, and a myriad
Of these our puny tapers are blown out
Forever. Yet we shrink not,--we, such frail
Poor knaves, whom a spent ball can instant strike
Into eternity,--we helpless fools,
Whom a serf's clumsy hand and clumsier sword
Smiting--shall sudden into nothingness
Let out that something rare which could conceive
A universe and its God.
We rush like bridegrooms to Death's grisly arms:
Surely the very longing for that clasp
Proves us immortal. Immortality
Alone could teach this mortal how to die.
Perhaps, war is but Heaven's great ploughshare, driven
Over the barren, fallow earthly fields,
Preparing them for harvest; rooting up
Grass, weeds, and flowers, which necessary fall,
That in these furrows the wise Husbandman
May drop celestial seed.
So let us die;
Yield up our little lives, as the flowers do;
Believing He'll not lose one single soul,--
One germ of His immortal. Naught of His
Or Him can perish; therefore let us die.
I half remember, something like to this
She says in her dear letters. So--let us die.
What, dawn? The faint hum in the trenches fails.
Is that a bell i' the mist? My faith, they go
Early to matins in Sebastopol!--
A gun!--Lads, stand to your arms; the Russ is here.
Kind Heaven, I have looked Death in the face,
Help me to die.