The Blue Ridge
STILL and calm,
In purple robes of kings,
The low-lying mountains sleep at the edge of the world.
The forests cover them like mantles;
Day and night
Rise and fall over them like the wash of waves.
Asleep, they reign.
Silent, they say all.
Hush me, O slumbering mountains -
Send me dreams.
The Inner Silence
Noises that strive to tear
Earth's mantle soft of air
And break upon the stillness where it dwells:
The noise of battle and the noise of prayer,
The cooing noise of love that softly tells
Joy's brevity, the brazen noise of laughter—
All these affront me not, nor echo after
Through the long memories.
They may not enter the deep chamber where
Forever silence is.
Silence more soft than spring hides in the ground
Beneath her budding flowers;
Silence more rich than ever was the sound
Of harps through long warm hours,
'Tis like a hidden vastness, even as though
Great suns might there beat out their measures slow
Nor break the hush mightier than they.
There do I dwell eternally,
There where no thought may follow me,
Nor stillest dreams whose pinions plume the way.
Night In State Street
Art thou he?—
The seer and sage, the hero and lover—yea,
The man of men, then away from the haughty
Come with me!
Ho—ho! to the night—
The spangled night that would the noon outstare.
Her skirts are fringed with light,
She is girdled and crowned with gems of fire that flare.
The city is dizzy with the thrill of her—
Her shining eyes and shadowy floating hair;
And curious winds her nebulous garments blur,
Blowing her moon-white limbs and bosom bare.
She beckons me—
Down the deep street she goes to keep her tryst.
Come—come—oh follow! oh see
The many-windowed walls uprear so high
They dim and quiver and float away in mist
Tangling the earth and sky.
And the pale stars go by
Like spirits masterful and still and strong,
Dragging the heavy nets of life along.
Down in the deep
Lightly the nets enmesh us with the swarm
Of huddled human things that, soft and warm,
Beat out so close the pulses of their lives.
We crowd and creep,
We jostle and push out of our halls and hives,
We chatter and laugh and weep.
Ah, do you hear
The choral of voices, each the secret hiding?
Do you see the warren of souls, each one abiding
In separate solitude, remote, austere?
Here in the glare of the street we cling together
Against the warning darkness, the still height Of the awful night.
We blow like a feather
From hope to hope along the winds of fate
The lettered lights that twinkle in and out
Lure us and laugh at us, beckon and flout,
Flashing their slangy symbols in our eyes,
Blurting their gaudy lies.
The bold shop-windows flaunt their empty wares—
Jewelled or tinselled shows of things,
The fripperies and furnishings
Wherein stark life will stifle her shiverings
Ere forth in the dawn she fares.
Ah, tyranny perilous!
Vain shows that master us!
See the gay girls fluttering wistfully,
Where waxen dummies grin in gowns of lace.
Watch yonder woman in black, whose dimmed eyes see
Soft baby things folded with tender grace.
And look at the children crowding and shouting there
Where dancing dolls jiggle and jerk and stare.
They hover and cling
Possessed by signs and shadows of the thing.
They moor their bark
Close to the shore and fathom not the dark—
The dark that glooms afar
Beyond the invisible star,
Beyond faith's boundaries,
The plausible was and is.
Come, ye adventurous,
Open your hearts to us!
You tiny newsboy, calling extras there,
Pitiful burden-bearer, pale with blight,
What of the night?—
The sullen night that brings you, little one,
So heavy a load of care,
While happier children sleep from sun to sun?
And you, wan youth, haggard and spent,
By mad thirst driven and rent—
Thirst of the body, thirst of the soul—
To what dark goal
Does reeling night lead you, her listless prey,
To gorge you and slay,
And hide forever from the searching day?
And you, furtive and flaunting girl,
Whose heavy-lidded eyes unfurl
Red signal fires, the while, demure,
Your brooding lips deny their lure—
Ah, does the lewd night lash you to her cave,
And will you never her ribald rage out-brave,
And rise no more forlorn
To greet the morn?
The street grows insolent.
With cries of dark delight
And gestures impudent
It rends the robe of night.
Up to the silent sky
It shouts the human cry.
The crowds push in and out
By all the open ways,
Eager to stare and shout
At vaudeville waifs of plays.
They drop their coins and laugh
At the wheezy phonograph,
They hush for the noisy drone
Of the croaking megaphone.
That litters life with jest
They pause that they may not go
On life's eternal quest.
They stifle truth with speech,
They mimic love with lust,
For the glitter of gilt they reach
And cover the gold with dust.
They stoop to the din and glare
Who have the lofty night for comrade rare.
They grope along the ground
Whose stature like the night with stars is crowned.
Oh struggle vain!
Of puppets emulous,
We strive and strain
To forge for our limbs a chain.
Come, thou deep-hearted Night, so dark and bright !
Come, holy Night, come, lawless, dissolute Night!
Come, human Night, hushing thy dreams divine!
Give me thy dreams, O Night—they shall be mine!—
Mine and this beggar's, though we lie to thee!
Mine and this harlot's, though from thee we
flee! Mine and this worldling's, though with might and right
We hide them from our sight.
Thy shadowed eyes the truth behold, and we—
We too shall know the truth, and so be free!
Even now—yea, now
Through lies and vanities we pry and peer.
Even now we bow
At little shrines where pale fires flicker and fleer.
Hark! in the echoing street
The drums that bang and beat,
Where the curb-stone preachers tell
The way to heaven and hell.
Look! in yon window there
A man through a glass astare
At atoms and embryos,
The source whence all life flows.
Search the beginning and end.
We may not choose but follow—
Yes, you and I and these—
The fume of the noisome hollow,
The gleam of the Pleiades.
Wherever one goes in quest
With his quest we are cursed or blest.
And the street, with its blazing mockery of
noon, Leads on to the quiet stars, to the lofty moon.
The little lights go out now row on row,
The dim crowds glide away.
The shadowed street
Pillars the vaulted sky.
And Night, proud Night,
Rapt in her dreams, with stately tread and slow
Patrols the drowsy world. O friend complete,
How may we read her deep delight aright?
Art thou he—
The seer and sage, the hero and lover—yea,
The man of men, then even to the gates of day
Lead thou me!
A Letter From Peking
October I5th, 1910.
My friend, dear friend, why should I hear your voice
Over the Babel of voices, suddenly
Calling as from the new world to the old?
Hush!—are you weary? would you follow me?
Would you make dark the house, and shut the door,
Summon steam-pacing trains, wave-racing ships,
To bear you past the high assembled nations—
Past the loud cries, the plucking hands of the age—
Even to the East that drowses on her throne?
Come then—it's good to be alive today;
For yesterday is dead, and dim tomorrow
Flits like a ghost before us, threatening
Our peering eyes with mistily flapping wings.
Grandly the streets loom upward; huge skyscrapers
Catch at the glory of the sunrise, wear
The morning like a mantle, bare their heads
In praise and prayer. And with us on the pavement,
Above us in the air there, and below,
Under our feet, by train and tram and subway,
The people bear the burden of the age—
Each to his work, each to his love, his dream,
The little secret vision of his soul,
Veiled, muffled, trampled, baffled, but agleam:
Our people, eager to work, eager to laugh,
Eager to love—if but to love were easy,
Pausing not for the slow and difficult thing
As they push past their neighbors to the goal.
Now to the ship—down the long crowded wharves,
The tangle of souls and voices threading thinly
Through the slight gangway. Do you see her there—
Huge, black, incredible, fortress-walled in steel,
Hiding her heart of fire? She has no fear;
The fierce waves leap at her, the arrogant storms
Tease at her flying heels, the boastful winds
Front her in vain. Superb, invincible,
From world to world, over the ravenous ocean
Grandly she bears the fruitage of the time:
Rich fields of corn, mill-yields of goods, long train-loads
Of strong machines, man's hope and love and power
Sealed in a million letters, and at last
Even us, the little human mustard seeds—
Dark earth-specks with the kingdom of heaven within.
Gaily we tread the deck, softly we sleep,
Lightly we chatter away the idle days,
While strong hands, from dark hold to sunny mast,
Do our enormous tasks. And now at last
The world again, low chalky cliffs, the shore,
Parked England silvery green, her viny casements
And dewy lawns, her iron towns of toil
Smoke-bound, unfree. And London, stony London,
Gray storehouse of the heaped-up centuries,
Of hidden sins and valors, locked-in joys;
London the empire-hearted, grave with cares
Under her tawny sky that dulls the sun.
We linger not—swiftly the new age runs
And he must haste who takes her by the hand.
Over the Channel! Come! the little houses
And patchwork fields of France. Paris fullblown,
The red red rose of the world, whose golden heart
Lies bare to the greedy sun, whose petals droop
Ever so softly to the falling time,
Most lovely at the signal hour of change.
Germany then, the little patterned cities
Of the old time swept, garnished for the new;
The ancient halls hung with the ancient art,
And musical with high-stringed orchestras
Playing melodious prophecies; gay Berlin,
Garish, unmellowed, pale, but full of hope,
And proud desire.
Ah whither do they march,
These nations with the sweat upon their brows,
Huge burden-bearers, panoplied in steel,
Facing bleak mists of doubt? Will they cast
down Their heavy fears and bathe their brows in light
And freely run across the fields of dawn—
Children of joy, blood brothers born in love,
Valiant for peace as once for murderous war?
Nearer they draw, trimly the sharp rails cut
Their boundaries—twin scissor-blades of fate.
Swift steamers tie their ports together, bring
Tourist ambassadors from state to state.
Bold man-birds fly through the unsentineled air,
And cobweb wires invisible, more strong
Than chains of steel, are spun from tower to tower,
Bridging the oceans, linking capitals,
Binding men's hearts. O kings of the peopled earth,
O men, rulers of kings, dare you resist
Warriors of science, who are blazing trails
Your statesmenship must travel to new goals?
Laggards, beware lest the advancing myriads,
Bound for the promised land, trample you down!
Dark Russia, standing at the Asian gate,
Questions us with her eastward-peering eyes.
Proud Moscow from her hundred towers looks out—
Moscow, bejeweled with domes, magnificent,
Out of her past barbaric gazes far
Into the future, swings her Kremlin portal
To show the sad Siberian wilderness,
And bids us follow through the autumnal days.
Softly we slip along the garnered fields,
Past clustered villages, low-thatched and brown,
Each with a gay church gilded; shimmer down
The shining Urals, and salute at last
Great Asia where in solitude she waits
Under the northern star.
Her forest then,
Level and low; dark little pines, thin birches
Their leaves all golden on the silver stems.
And square-faced peasants crowding to the train,
Slow, sleepy-eyed, thick-bearded. Onward still
Through the stark plains; Baikal blue in its mountains,
The home of wheeling birds that dive and soar.
And by and by a dragon-guarded roof
With gay beasts perched along its tips, that lift
Like the slim corner of a pale new moon
Poised in the sky at sunset.
We have come
To the first gate of the world. The still Pacific
Glitters between the hills. Dark crowds astare
Greet us with chatter and laughter—beardless men
With shaven brows and long thin tasseled braids,
Clad in dim blue under the darkening sun.
The obliterating night curtains our eyes,
And when at last the red dawn draws the veil
A heavy wall looms over us gray and stern
With towered gates fortress-guarded. And our engine,
Steaming and shrieking past the caravans—
The shaggy ponies, little loaded asses,
The slow process camels pacing down—
Scatters the dust of time, pierces the wall,
And pauses under the shadow of yellow roofs
Where the Forbidden City, wide and still,
Lies dreaming in her sunrise-slanted woods.
Peking! She faces us with marble eyes
Inscrutable. She hearkens to our noise
And guards her secret. Shall we win her over—
We with our guns, our dark machines, our mansions
High piled over her lowly curving roofs;
We with our loud commands? Will she arise,
Weary of silence, wave her yellow flag,
Summon her myriads for the modern race,
The huge new tasks, the war for love and light?
Hush! If we wait and listen, will she speak,
Wise woman or child, veiled queen of the dragon throne?
Softly! No steamer, elbowing storms aside,
No engine nosing through the ancient wall,
No hurrying foot, no soul worn or at war,
Shall penetrate the Circle and the Square,
Set with sweet woods, the green wall and the blue,
And touch the three rings of the Temple of Heaven,
The terraced marble seat, cloud-carved and fair,
Where, at the Centre of the Earth, in peace,
The tranquil East, contemplative, serene,
Dwells with the sun and moon.
Hush—bare your head
And strip your spirit free. When you have won
The ultimate Wisdom, seek the wingèd portal
Once more. Then she, the sage, may rise to you,
Hold converse with you, pilgrim of the age,
And take you to her heart and bless your gifts,
And be as one with you forevermore.
Dance Of The Seasons
Wake ! wake !
Out of the snow and the mist,
In rain-wet wind-blown gauze
Of amber and amethyst,
Cometh Spring like a girl.
Trembling and timorous
She peers through the thin white thaws,
Afraid of the winds that whirl
Down paths all perilous
Where her so tender feet are softly going,
Where the rich earth is awaiting her lavish sowing
Of green and purple and white
In the gardens of day and night.
Hither she comes—
Oh lightly she wavers and lingers!
The chill gray storm benumbs
Her lifted rose-petal fingers,
And looses her hair from its fillet of pearl.
Her soft, dew-fringed eyes—
The virginal eyes of a girl—
Gaze at the foam-veiled skies,
Search for the sun who is hiding
His amorous glowing face,
For the spirit of life now gliding
Unseen through every place.
Hither and yon,
Dashed by the winds that groan,
Lashed by the frost-elves wan,
Whipped by the envious ghosts of old years long gone,
That chatter and sigh
Of the ruin nigh,
Of death and darkness and sorrow that come anon.
Yet bold and brave
She dares—the young Spring—to dance on that ancient grave,
To dance with delicate feet
On the world's despair and defeat,
On the Winter's ashen pall
That covers all.
Look! she lifts the cover—
A corner of that frost-film pall she lifts.
Now Earth, great-hearted lover,
Smiles upward through the dew-bespangled rifts.
And shining sunbeams, pages of the day,
Roll up the mantle, bear it far away.
Then the Earth laughs with pleasure,
And tosses from her treasure
Store of blue crocuses and snow-drops white,
Glad trilliums that make the woodland bright,
Rich arbutus and shadowy violets:
Till, caught in webs of bloom,
Light-footed Spring her stormy woe forgets,
Forgets the cold, the gloom,
Blesses with errant grace
Each dim forgotten place,
Of drooping leaves, muffles the maples bare
In lilac veils, covers with tenderness
The harsh brown world; and then, when all is won,
Trails languorous dreams, dreams exquisite and rare,
And shrinking from the bold, too-fervid sun,
Shyly gives over
Her royal lover,
Like one afraid of love, who will not stay
Love's perfect day;
Lightly gives over—
Her glad fresh-garlanded world, and like the dew
Sleeps in the blue.
She tosses down
Her flowery crown
Into the lap of Summer—
Smiling adorns her with treasure of growing things,
And softly sings,
Even while she fades in light—
A wraith, a mist
A spirit, a dream that goes,
But whither—who knows?
Hus h! hush! Wake not the drowsy Summer—she would dream,
Heavy with growing things.
Dance lightly where her beauty lies agleam
Under languidly folded wings.
Over the delicate grasses
A breath, a spirit passes,
A song, and the odor of bloom—
Give way! make room!
The Summer has met her lover
By day, by night;
He has brought from the stars—bright rover—
Heaven's fire, heaven's light!
He has filled her with life that sleepeth,
That waits for birth,
As a jewel its bright fire keepeth
In the rock-bound earth.
Dance and sway,
While Summer dreameth
The moons away.
Full weary she seemeth
Of love's deep bliss,
But holy, holy
The idle day is rich with budding things
Whereon the bold sun glares.
Dance lightly, lest you tread on folded wings,
Of flight still unawares.
Ah, delicate your footfall be, while ever
The seed grows in the corn,
The bird in the egg, the deed in the endeavor,
The day in the morn.
Deep in the pool the spawning fishes play;
High in the air the bees buzz out their way.
The children of Summer come crowding in lustrous array—
The myriad children of Summer, beloved of the sun,
Through the long hot noons they are glad of the world they have won.
Bright and fair
They throng in the meadows and shake out the dew from their hair;
They sing in the tree-tops, they dip in the slow-flowing stream;
They nod from the hills, in the valleys their swift feet gleam;
They kneel in the moonlight, the bright stars hear their prayer.
The high sun blesses them,
The moon confesses them,
Old Time with patient smile
Harks to their hope awhile.
They are born, they awake, they arise—now they dance in their bloom;
For their revels of love and of wonder the earth makes room.
Oh, she harks to their song for a season, she kisses their feet;
She gives them her all for their hour—be its joy complete!
The fecund Summer then
Covers her eyes again—
Lies dreaming, at rest:
Young mother of life who is feeding
The world at her breast;
Rich bride of the year, ever needing
But love and light
To give, and give more, and give all
In her great love's might.
Tread softly, give heed to her call—
Oh be still! be fleet!
Hush—hush the sweet sound of your singing;
Pause—pause, ye feet!
Sink down! she bids you rest
Close on her breast.
Down! down ! your rapture flinging
Where all her dreams are winging.
Ah, cease your quest!
Peace!—be blest !
Co me with me—
All that live!
Dance with me—
Love—and give !
Give me your love, ye souls of the corn and the vine!
Dance with me! laugh with me! crowd me! be mine—be mine!
Up from the earth in your splendor of scarlet and gold—
Haste, oh make haste ere the warm rich year grow old!
Ye throngs that gaily rise
As the red red leaves that flutter
When the wind rides down from the skies;
Ye spirits that shout and mutter
In laughter, in pain,
When the year of her sowing and reaping
Would waste again,
Come spend of your treasure, full heaping,
Be lavish, be bold!
Cast your hope on the winds, from your feet shake the dark damp mould;
Come dancing, come shouting, come leaping,
Ere the earth grow cold!
Come, wings of the air; come, feet that trample the grasses!
Come, tree-top spirits that kindle the leaves to flame!
Come, sprites of the sea that shout when the gray storm passes !
Come, wraiths of the desert whom sorrow nor death may tame!
Come eat of the rich ripe fruit, come drink of the vine!
Come dance till your revels are drunken with joy, with wine.
For the labor is over and done,
The spoil of the battle is won!
Ah trample it, scatter it,
Cast it afar!
The tempests will batter it—
On with the war!
Let your bright robes float, let them whirl with the rush of your feet—
The gauzes of crimson and gold!
Give your will to the winds—they are chasing, they haste, they are fleet,
They are eager and ruthless and bold.
On ! on! till you circle the earth with the rush of your dancing,
With the shout and the song;
Till your choral of crowds, like a river in flood-time advancing,
Bears all things along!
Dance! dance! for the end comes soon—
Do you feel the chill?
White winds of the Winter croon
From their cave in the hill.
Yes, death and the end come soon—
Spread your gaudy robes!
Haste! haste! for the leaves are falling.
Shout! shout! for the storms are calling.
Give all, for the year grows old.
And the world grows cold.
Gather your white robes close—
Look! in the sky
The bleak winds mutter morose
To the swift dark day.
They gather and threaten and scold,
They shiver and shriek in their rage.
They are ashen and icy and old—
Ah, bitter the passion of age!
Flee from them! haste—haste
Through the vengeful weather!
Lest your red blood chill
And your hearts stop still,
Crowd close together
And flee o'er the drear dead waste!
Out of a sky all brown
The dark storm stoops to shrivel the world away.
With ribald wind he strips her,
With stinging sleet he whips her,
With envious frost he withers her green to gray.
Because she was gay and glad,
Beloved of many lovers, fruitful mother
Of many children crowding and killing each other;
Because she was wasteful mad,
Scattering and trampling her riches for death to smother,
Now shall she starve and freeze
And pray on her stiffened knees.
Now shall she helpless lie
And the powers of the air will mock her;
The spirits she dared defy
Will rend her and blind her and shock her.
With white white snow they will bury her passion deep
Till it's dumb, till it's cold.
They will whistle and roar in their triumph
Till her heart grows old.
They will put out her love-lit sun like the torch at a feast,
And with haughty carousals make wanton his court in the east.
They will brush down the stars like white feathers far blown on dark waves,
And the night will be black as they dance on the ghost-thronged graves.
Your garments are torn, they are sheeted with ice,
In your wind-loosed hair
The sharp sleet rattles.
You are hurled, chased
To the Winter's lair—
You have paid the price,
You have bled in her battles.
Now shelter your woe
And be still, be still!
Let the night-winds go
To their cave in the hill!
Let the dark clouds flee
Through the gates of the west,
Till the earth rides free
Who was sore oppressed.
For weary of orgies that ravage
Is Winter now.
From the heel of a tyrant savage
She lifts her brow.
See—the wrath of the storm is over,
And under a moon-white cover
Lies the world asleep.
So still, so pale—
Dance bravely, lest you quail
And pause to weep.
Over the flower-soft snow
Still as the lost wind go
To open the gates of day.
Where watches yon lone pale star
Crimson and golden are
The curtains that shake and sway.
Ah, lift them! look, through the rift
Comes the sun adrift!
He kindles the snow to fire,
He bids the dead earth aspire.
Oh dance! From the year’s white grave
New blooms will blow.
Dance lightly, wistfully! save
The life below!
Softly! the world is still—
Hush your errant will!
No longer the dream pursue!
Rest—rest, till the dream come true!
Wait! hope! be still !