The House Of Change
Was it last Autumn only, when I stood
At the field’s edge, and watched the red glow creep
Among the leaves, and saw the swift flame sweep
From spruce to hemlock, till the living wood
Became a devastated solitude?
For now, behold, old seeds, long years asleep,
Wake; and a legion of young birches leap
To life, and tell the ashes life is good.
O Love of long ago, when this mad fire
Is over, and the ruins of my soul
With the Spring wind the old quest would resume,—
When age knocks at the inn of youth’s desire,
Shall the new growth, now worthier of the goal,
Find still untenanted the chosen room?
Because I ever have gone down Thy ways
With joyous heart and undivided praise,
I pray Thee, Lord, of Thy great loving-kindness,
Thou’lt make to-day even as my yesterdays!”
(At the edge of the yellow dawn I saw them stand,
Body and Soul; and they were hand-in-hand:
The Soul looked backward where the last night’s blindness
Lay still upon the unawakened land;
But the Body, in the sun’s light well arrayed,
Fronted the east, grandly and unafraid:
I knew that it was one might never falter
Although the Soul seemed shaken as it prayed.)
“O Lord” (the Soul said), “I would ask one thing:
Send out They rapid messengers to bring
Me to the shadows which about Thine altar
Are ever born and always gathering
“For I am weary now, and would lie dead
Where I may not behold my old days shed
Like withered leaves around me and above me;
Hear me, O Lord, and I ma comforted!
“O Lord, because I ever deemed Thee kind”
(The Body’s words were borne in on the wind):
“Because I knew that Thou wouldst ever love me
Although I sin, and lead me who am blind;
“Because of all these things, hear me who pray!
Lord, grant me of Thy bounty one more day
To worship Thee, and thank Thee I am living.
Yet if Thou callest now, I will obey.” [page 34]
(The Body’s hand tightly the Soul did hold;
And over them both was shed the sun’s red gold;
And though I knew this day had in its giving
Unnumbered wrongs and sorrows manifold,
I counted it a sad and bitter thing
That this weak, drifting Soul must alway cling
Unto this body—wrought in such a fashion
It must have set the gods, even, marveling.
And, thinking so, I heard the Soul’s loud cries,
As it turned round and saw the eastern skies)
“O Lord, destroy in me this new-born passion
For this that has grown perfect in mine eyes!
“O Lord, let me not see this thing is fair,
This Body Thou hast given me to wear,―
Lest I fall out of love with death and dying,
And deem the old, strange life not hard to bear!
“Yea, now, even now, I love this Body so―
O Lord, on me Thy longest days bestow!
O Lord, forget the words I have been crying,
And lead me where Thou thinkest I should go!”
(At the edge of the open dawn I saw them stand,
Body and Soul, together, hand-in-hand,
Fulfilled, as I, with strong desire and wonder
As they behold the glorious eastern land;
I saw them, in the strong light of the sun,
Go down into the day that had begun;
I knew, as they, that night might never sunder
This Body from the Soul that it had won.)
Let us rise up and live! Behold, each thing
Is ready for the moulding of our hand.
Long have they all awaited our command;
None other will they ever own for king.
Until we come no bird dare try to sing,
Nor any sea its power may understand;
No buds are on the trees; in every land
Year asketh year some tidings of some Spring.
Yea, it is time,—high time we were awake!
Simple indeed shall life be unto us.
What part is ours?—To take what all things give;
To feel the whole world growing for our sake;
To have sure knowledge of the marvelous;
To laugh and love.—L et us rise up and live!
Let us rule well and long. We will build here
Our city in the pathway of the sun.
On this side shall this mighty river run;
Along its course well-laden ships shall steer.
Beyond, great mountains shall their crests uprear,
That from their sides our jewels may be won.
Let all you toil! Behold, it is well done;
Under our sway all far things fall and near!
All time is ours! Let us rule long and well!
So we have reigned for many a long, long day.
No change can come. . . .What hath that slave to tell,
Who dares to stop us on our royal way?
“O King, last night within thy garden fell,
From thine own tree, a rose whose leaves were gray.” [page 32]
Let us lie down and sleep! All things are still,
And everywhere doth rest alone seem sweet.
No more is heard the sound of hurrying feet
Athrough the land their echoes once did fill.
Even the wind knows not its ancient will,
For each ship floats with undisturbèd sheet:
Naught stirs except the Sun, who hastes to greet
His handmaiden, the utmost western hill.
Ah, there the glory is! O west of gold!
Once seemed our life to us as glad and fair;
We knew nor pain nor sorrow anywhere!
O crimson clouds! O mountains autumn-stoled!
Across even you long shadows soon must sweep.
We too have lived. Let us lie down and sleep!
Nay, let us kneel and pray! The fault was ours,
O Lord! No other ones have sinned as we.
The Spring was with us and we praised not Thee;
We gave no thanks for Summer’s strangest flowers.
We built us many ships, and mighty towers,
And held awhile the whole broad world in fee:
Yea, and it sometime writhed at our decree!
The stars, the winds,—all they were subject-powers.
All things we had for slave. We knew no God;
We saw no place on earth where His feet trod—
This earth, where now the Winter hath full sway,
Well shrouded under cold white snows and deep.
We rose and lived; we ruled; yet, ere we sleep,
O Unknown God,—Let us kneel down and pray
The Second Sunday After Easter
“Hearken! Afar on the hills, at last is it surely spring?
Have the sudden mayflowers awakened to see what the wind can
There, in the bare high branches, does a robin try to sing?
“O Life, why—now thou art fair and full of the promise of peace—
Oh, why dost thou shudder away, away from me, begging release,
As the dead leaves falter and flutter and fall when the warm winds cease?
“As the dead leaves fall from the trees. O Life, must thou hurry
Behold, it is spring upon earth, and tomorrow the month will be
And the southmost boughs shall grow green that were barren but
“And I, even I, shall grow young once more; and my face shall be
Yea, fair as still waters at even, under the starlight there;
And all of the glory of dawn shall be seen once again in my hair.
“And yet, and yet, who will see? Were it true that all things should
What joy could we have of it ever? Time bringeth new visions; and
One may not remember in April how autumn was kind, long ago!
“O desolate years! are you over at last with your devious ways?
Nay, I should say, ‘Let me go from you gladly, giving you praise
For the least of the things I remember of you rand the least of your
“Giving thanks for the noises of Earth—little noises—when April is
For the smell of the roses in June, for the gleam of the yellowing
For the sight of the sea at even, the sight of the sea at morn.
“And most—most of all—for the old fighting days! (O La Tour, are
For the sound of beleaguering cannon, the sight of the foe fleeing fast.
Yea, and though at the end we have fallen, even now I am glad at the last!
“How good it is here in the sun! O strong, sweet sound of the sea,
Do you sorrow that now I must go? Have you pity to waste upon me
Who may tarry no longer beside you, whom Time is about to set
“Nay, sorrow nor pity at all. See, I am more glad than a queen
For the joy I have had of you living! Had the things that we know
You and I then had reason for sorrow, O Sea—had our eyes
“Come close to me now,—past the weed-covered rocks, up the
gray of the sand;
Here is a path I have made for you, hollowed it out with my hand;
Come, I would whisper a word to you, Sea, he may never
“‘Where our garden goes down to the sea’s edge (remember?—
O France, thou art fair!)
Renewing those old royal days, of all else careless now, unaware,
Among the remembering lilies her soul abides patiently there.’”