Blue waves that wash a curved beach
Of sand, like drifted snow;
Song-waves, that sing in silvery speech,
A music soft and low.
A cloudless sun in heaven’s blue sweep;
Great stars, how near that seem!
The night an hour of sea-lulled sleep,
The day a rosy dream.
Sea’s Answer, The
I am the Sea, which God’s controlling hand
Holds in command.
Subservient in seeming good or ill
To work His will.
Or if my voice in peace or pain be heard
I speak His word;
He shapes His purpose through world-wrack or rest
As seems Him best.
This globe-of his vast universe a part-
I am, thou art,
An atom, each, in the eternal plan
We may not scan.
The wind blows cold and the wind blow keen,
And the dreary wintry sleet is falling;
And ever the sand-dunes, white, between
The Ocean voice is callig.
Calls with the sound that the sailor fears;
And the gulls. Low-flying, hasten in,
And the bent boughs shiver in fringe of tears
While the long night hours begin.
But over the path thro’ the Golden Door,
Where the troubled billows oam and flee,
Bonita’s Light from its rocky shore
Shines out to the ships at sea.
Sea, The *
This is my Sea, that to its circling sands
Reached dimpled hands,
Like a tired child that, lulled to slumber, lay
Now a huge, hungry beast that from its lair
Would leap to tear
And crush and mangle and destroy its prey,
It threats today.
This too will cease, my Sea! Cease as a dream!
But wilt thou seem
Ever again, in anger or in play,
* The sound of the ocean on San Francisco’s ‘Tragic Dawn’
April 18,1906, the date of the great earthquake, is said to
have been appalling.
At The Dawn (Song)
Awake, beloved! my heart awakes, -
Though still in slumber lies
The world; the pearl of morning breaks
Along the eastern skies.
The moon, the stars, that rule the night,
And look on land and sea,
A pathway are of luring light
My spirit walks to thee.
‘Wake! ere between again shall lift
The day his lance of flame;
From the still shores of dreamland drift
One hour to love’s dear claim.
O love! My love! the shadows part, -
Thine eager arms I see, -
“As for the water-brook the hart, ”
So is my soul for thee!
“And love will stay-a summer’s day! ”
A long wave rippled up the strand;
She flashed a white hand through the spray,
And plucked a sea-shell form the sand.
And, softly: “ Let thy heart have peace.
Mine shall not fail in aught to thee,
Until this little shell doth cease
To sing its love-the sea.”
Ah, well! Sweet summer’s past and gone,
And love, perhaps, dreads winter weather,
And so the happy dears are flown
On careless wings together!
And yet I smile: this pearly-lined,
Rose-veined shell she gave to me,
With foolish, faithful lips to find
Still singing of the sea!
Leagues, leagues of blinding sand
On either hand;
A pitiless, brazen sea
Far and away until it glimmers dim,
At the horizon’s rim.
A sinking caravan,
Camel and horse and man
Spent since the day began, -
And closing on their path,
The flame-tinged air that speaks the simoom’s wrath.
A sudden breath of balm!
The shadow of a palm
Against the sky; and then about their feet
The cool soft grasses meet;
And to their thirsting lips,
Sweeter than kisses which the Sultan sips
In the Rose Garden, when the bulbuls sing,
And moon and stars and love are listening,
The cold clear water from the well that drips.
‘Allah be praised! ’ the Arab drops his rein,
New life in every vein:
‘Allah be praised! ’ and bows him to the sod:
‘Lo, God is God! there is no God but God! ’
At Anchor *
Swing to the harbor from the deep sea,
O Sail of mine, but hold the sea in sight!
These are my fronded palms, my cocoa tree,
And these the islands of my heart’s delight!
My lift of emerald hills against the blue
From blue; the feathery mists of waterfalls;
The winged gems that flash the foliage through,
Filling the air with fluted madrigals.
The wash of waves upon the coral reef-
O song familiar, of the long ago! -
The lap of waves, where blade and lance and leaf,
Fringing the water’s rim, are glassed below.
And here my tawny Comrades laugh, and reach
Warm hands of mine-the dear brown hands I knew-
With glad, glad greetings in soft-voweled speech,
From hearts that have remembered and been true.
Long have I wandered, tossed by storm tides,
Benumbered in calms-but here, how sure the sea!
Furl the worn sails-the ship at anchor rides-
Leave me with these! Leave me to these and Thee!
* In memory of Charles Warren Stoddard, author of South Sea Idyls, ’ etc.
The night falls, heavy with the coming storm!
Far out, the ocean frets against the bar,
And the cloud-legions, gathering force and form,
Shut, with closed ranks, all gleam of moon or star.
Tempestuous darkness! and unto the dawn,
Long hours. Ah! with the passing will there be
The gold and crimson by the sun-rays drawn,
Or tempest still, and moaning of the sea?
The world is heavy with the coming storm!
No nation wars with nation, race with race,
But where the love-pulse should beat quick and warm,
Lo! brother against brother, face to face.
Abel unto the god of blood gives blood,
Who heeds not the fair fruitage of the land,
And wrong and rage, of viper-nests the brood,
Arm Cain with flaming heart and flaming brand.
Where is the peace that should with thee abide
O Earth? Art still beneath the primal ban,
Availing naught the Holy Crucified?
No faith in God because no faith in man!
Thy helpless idols help thee not-Awake!
Arise, and let thy weary burden fall!
Captive, the fetters of the ages break,
And, thrall to Mammon, be no longer thrall.
O Spirit of the Holy One, from where
On high Thou dwellest, lend Thy loving will
To quell these battle-giants of the air,
And to the warring waters speak, 'Be still.'
Or if from darkness, only, springs the light,
And but from struggle blessed peace is born,
Loose all the awful thunders of Thy might-
And hail, the night! that heralds the glad morn.
I have dreamed of San Francisco all the way-
Francis d’ Assisi! Seeking Monterey,
That hides itself among these strangenesses-
Leading now here, now there- to dizzy height
That challenges the very stars of night-
Then drops to jungled vale,
Or cannoned rocks-till fail
My men and beasts alike in utter stress,
Through weary miles and miles
And days of tears and smiles,
While still my sapphire of the ocean lies
Lost to my seeking eyes.
And, Pedro, it is surly strange that he,
Saint Francis, seems to be
Thus ever in my sight.
Nay, scarcely that, at night,
But vision only; and by day
A frail, slight form in gray,
That ever leads the way. . .
That ‘leads the way, ’ nay, I myself have said;
Is it not his to lead still, having lead?
My patron saint, you know, because he knew
Such love for all things living. Never grew
On this old earth aught that bore not its part
In his great heart;
And in return
His every rose blossomed without a thorn,
And birds and branches sung,
And the dumb creatures found for him a tongue.
Dios! What strange new glory this that breaks
Upon the vision as the morning wakes,
And the thick mist rolls back
From camp and track?
What jeweled radiance singing to our feet
While sound and color meet?
And look! The Golden Door
Out to the Ocean floor! ...
Frances d’ Assissi! This, aye this to thee,
This magic inner Sea!
O Bay of San Francisco, thou, his own-
Save God’s alone!
Under The Christmas Snow
Most lives lie more in the shadow, I think, than in the sun,
And the shadow from some is lifted only when life is done;
And so, though I wear mourning, I am glad at heart to know,
She rests in her still white slumber, under the Christmas snow.
She was to have married Philip. He sailed withhis ship in June.
How long they walked by the sea that night, under the waning moon!
“A year and a day of parting, and a lifetime, sweet, with you.”
Ah me, but we dream life bravely, if only our dreams came true!
She spoke of him very little: ‘twas never her way to talk;
But the restless nights, the restless days, the long, long tireless walk,
Forever beside the ocean. I fancied, almost, there grew
A picture of ocean within her eyes. O tend’rest eyes I knew!
Forever the ocean! Until her heart seemed even to time its beat
With the pulse and the throb of the waters that drifted to her feet;
She smiled when the sea was smiling, and her face in the tempest roar
Grew white as the fury of breakers, that beat on the rocky shore.
Again and again in dead of night, I wakened to find-ah me! -
The still, white form at the window that looked on the lonely sea.
Forever and ever the ocean! And I thought, with yearning pain,
“If only the year were over, and Philip were back again! ”
June passed into December. We were merry at Christmas-tide.
Berry and oak and holly, and folk from the country-side;
Music and feast and frolic, laughter and life and light-
I never missed poor Maggie, till far into the night.
Why should I think of the saying, somewhere that I had read:
“Pray for the one beloved, if he be living or dead,
In the hush of the Christmas midnight he will appear to thee.”
O Maggie, sister Maggie, down by the moaning sea! -
Still as a ghost in the moonlight; white as the drifted snow;
Cold as the pitiless waters, surging to and fro.
Why are your arms extended-what do your eyes behold?
O Maggie, sister Maggie, never your lips have told!
I do not like to speak it. You surely will understand.
She was always gentle and harmless; -nay, when the days are bland’
Quite happy, I think; but in winter, when winds and waves were high,
She would shudder at times, and utter a pitiful, moaning cry.
Midwinter East And West
No flower in all the land-
No leaf upon the tree,
Blossom, or bud, or fruit,
But an icy fringe instead;
And the birds are flown, or dead,
And the world is mute.
The white, cold moonbeams shiver
On the dark face of the river,
While still and slow the waters flow
Out to the open sea;
The moveless pine-trees stand,
Black fortressed on the hill;
And white, and cold, and still,
Wherever the eye may go,
The ghostly snow:
The vast, unbroken silence of snow.
I l; ook out upon the night,
And the darkly flowing river,
And the near stars, with no quiver
In their calm and steady light,
And listen for the voice of the great sea,
And the silence answers me.
O Sea of the West, that comes
With a sound as of rolling drums,
With a muffled beat
As of marching feet,
Up the long lifts of sand,
The golden drifts of sand,
On the long, long shining strand.
An opal, rimmed with blue,
An emerald, shinning through
The pearl’s and ruby’s dyes,
And crests that catch the blaze
Of the diamond’s rays,
Under thy perfect skies!
O Land of the West, I know
How the field flowers bud and blow,
And the grass springs and the grain,
To the first soft touch and summons of the rain.
O, the music of the rain!
O, the music of the streams!
Dream music, heard in dreams,
As I listen through the night,
While the snow falls, still and white.
I hear the branches sway
In the breeze’s play,
And the forests’ solemn hymns:
Almost I hear the stir
Of the sap in their mighty limbs
Like blood in living veins!
The rose is in the lanes,
And the insects buzz and whir;
And where the purple fills
The spaces of the hills,
In one swift month the poppy will lift up
Its golden cup.
And O, and O, in the sunshine and the rain,
Rings out that perfect strain, -
The earth’s divinest song!
My bird with the plain, brown breast,
My lark of the golden west,
Up, up, thy joy notes soar,
And sorrow is no more,
And pain has passed away
In the rapture of thy lay!
Up, up, the glad notes throng,
And the soul is borne along
On the pinions of thy song,
Up from the meadow’s sod,
Up from the world’s unrest,
To peace, to heaven, to God!
And I listen through the silence of the night,
While the snow falls, still and white.
A Song Of The Summer Wind
Balmily, balmily, summer wind,
Sigh through the mountain-passes,
Over the sleep of the beautiful deep,
Over the woods’ green masses;
Ripple the grain of the valley and plain,
And the reeds and the river grasses!
How many songs, O summer wind,
How many songs you know,
Of fair, sweet things in your wanderings,
As over the earth you go-
To the Norland bare and bleak, from where
The red south roses blow.
Where the red south blossoms blow, O wind,
(Sing low to me, low and silly!)
And the golden green of the citrons lean
To the white of the saintly lily;
Where the sun-rays drowse in the orange-boughs,
(Sing, sing, for the heart grows chilly!)
And the belted bee hangs heavily
In rose and daffodilly.
I know a song, O summer wind,
A song of a willow-tree:
Soft as the sweep of its fringes deep
In languorous swoons of tropic noons,
But sad as sad can be!
Yet I would you might sing it, summer wind,
I would you might sing it me.
(O, tremulous, musical murmur of leaves!
O mystical melancholy
Of waves that call from the far sea-wall! -
Shall I render your meaning wholly
Ere the day shall wane to the night again,
And the stars come, slowly, slowly?)
I would you might sing me, summer wind,
A song of a little chamber:
Sing soft, sing low, how the roses grow
And the starry jasmines clamber;
Through the emerald rifts how the moonlight drifts,
And the sulight’s wellow amber.
Sing of a hand in the fluttering leaves,
Like a wee white bird in its nest;
Of a white hand twined in the leaves to find
A bloom for the fair young breast.
Sing of my love, my little love,
My snow-white dove in her nest,
As she looks through the fragrant jasmine leaves
Into the wasting west.
Tenderly. Tenderly, summer wind,
With murmurous word-caresses,
O, wind of the south, to her beautiful mouth
Did you cling with your balmy kisses-
Flutter and float o’er the white, white throat,
And ripple the golden tresses?
“The long year growth from green to gold, ”
Saith the song of the willow-tree;
“My tresses cover, my roots enfold.”
O, summer wind, sing it me!
Lorn and dreary, sad and weary,
As lovers that parted be___
But sweet as the grace of a fair young face
I never again may see!
Singer Of The Sea, The
In Memory of Celia Thaxter.
There is a shadow on the sea!
And a murmur, and a moan,
In its muffed monotone,
Like a solemn threnody;
And the sea-gulls, on their white
Pinions, moving to and fro,
Are like phantoms, in their flight;
As they sweep from off the gray,
Misty headlands, far away,
And about the Beacon Light,
Wheel in circles, low and slow,
Wheel and circle, peer and cry,
As though seeling, restlessly,
Something vanished from their sight.
As though listening for the clear
Tones they never more may hear, -
Music missing from the day,
Music, missing from the night, -
Through the years, that wax and wane,
That may never sound again.
She, who ever loved the sea,
Loved and voiced its minstrelsy, -
Sang its white-caps, tossing free,
Sang the ceasless breaker-shocks,
Dashing, crashing, on the rocks,
Sang itsmoon-drawn tides, its speech,
Silver-soft, upon the beach,
Walks the margin’s golden floor, -
Floats upon its breast no more,
Nay! how know we this to be?
That the forms we may not see,
Passed from mortal touch and ken,
Never come to earth again?
When the brittle house of clay
From the spirit breaks away,
Does the mind forego its will?
Is the voice’s music still?
Do the hands forget their skill?
From the harp-great homer’s heart, -
Do not mighty numbers come?
Lost, divinest Raphael’s art,
And the lips of Shakespeare dumb?
All the years of joy and pain
That are lived, but lived in vain;
Memory’s graven page a blot,
Unrecorded and forgot!
Oh, believe, believe it not!
Man is God’s incarnate thought:
Life, with all the gifts He gave,
All the wondrous powers He wrought,
Finds not ending at the grave.
Part, himself, of Deity,
Man, the spirit, can not die.
“In my Father’s house are
Many mansions.” Did Christ say
Whether near, or whether far?
It may be beside us still
Bide these forms invisible;
Or, if passed to realms away,
Beyond sight’s remotest star,
Does that bind the soul to stay, -
Never, never, to retrace
The golden passage-ways of space? -
As a parted child might yearn
For the mothers arms, and turn,
Fain to look on Earth’s dear face.
‘Twixt the heart that loves and her
Space could place no barrier:
Thought, that swifter is than light,
Leaps a universe in flight.
So I love to think, indeed,
That this singing spirit, free
From her lesser, lower height-
Soaring to the Infinite, -
Turns with loving eyes, and a smile,
Still Sees the tower’s beacon-light,
Shining safely through the night;
Sees the white surf as it rolls
Round her treasured Isle of Shoals, -
Looking from that vaster sea,
Which we name Eternity.
From Living Waters
Commencement poem, written for the
University of California, June,1876.
“Into the balm of the clover,
Into the dawn and the dew,
Come, O my poet, my lover,
Single of spirit and true!
“ Sweeter the song of the throstle
Shall ring from its nest in the vine,
And the lark, my beloved apostle,
Shall chant thee a gospel divine.
“Ah! not to the dullard, the schemer,
I of my fullness may give,
But thou, whom the world calleth dreamer,
Drink of my fountains and live! ”
O, and golden in the sun did the river waters run,
O, and golden in its shinning all the mellow land-
And the poet’s simple rhyme blended softly with
Of the bells that rang the noontide, in the city,
And the gold and amethyst of the thin. Trans-
Lifted, drifted from the ocean to the far hori-
Where the white, transfigured ghost of some ves-
sel, long since lost,
Half in cloud and half in billow, trembled on
its utmost brim.
And I said, “Most beautiful, in the noontide
dream and lull,
Art thou, Nature, sweetest mother, in thy sum-
mer raiment drest;
Aye, in all thy moods and phases, lovingly I
name thy praises,
Yet through all my love and longing chafeth
still the old unrest.”
“Art thou a-worn and a-weary,
Sick with the doubts that perplex,
Come from thy wisdom most dreary,
Less fair than the faith which it wrecks.”
“Not in the tomes of the sages
Lieth the word to thy need;
Truer my blossomy pages,
Sweeter their lessons to read.”
“Aye, ” I said, “but con it duly, who may read
the lesson truly;
Who may grasp the mighty meaning, hidden
past our finding out?
From the weary search unsleeping, what is yielded
to our keeping?
All our knowledge, peradventure; all our wisdom
“O my earth, to know thee fully! I that love
thee, singly, wholly!
In the beauty thou art veiled; in thy melody
Once, unto my perfect seeing give this mystery
Once, thy silence breaking, tell me, whither go
we? whence we come? ”
And I heard the rustling leaves, and the sheaves
against the sheaves
Clashing lightly, clashing brightly, as they rip-
ened in the sun;
And the gracious air astir with the insect hum
And the merry plash and ripple where the river
Heard the anthem of the sea-that most mighty
Only these; yet something deeper than to own
my spirit willed.
Like a holy calm descending, with my inmost
Like the “Peace” to troubled waters, that are
pacified and stilled.
And I said: “Ah, what are we? Children at the
Little higher than these grasses glancing upward
from the sods!
Just the few first pages turning in His mighty
book of learning-
We, mere atoms of beginning, that would wres-
tle with the gods! ”
“In the least one of my daisies
Deeper a meaning is set,
Than the seers ye crown with your praises,
Have wrung from the centuries yet.
“Leave them their doubt and derision;
Lo, to the knowledge I bring,
Clingeth no dimness of vision!
Come, O my chosen, my king!
“Out from the clouds that cover,
The night that would blind and betray,
Come, O my poet, my lover,
Into the golden day! ”
O, and deeper through the calm rolled the cease-
less ocean psalm;
O, and brighter in the sunshine all the meadows
And a little lark sang clear from the willow
And the glory and the gladness closed about me
where I lay.
And I said: “Aye, verily, waiteth yet the mas-
All these mysteries that shall open, though to
surer hand than mine;
All these doubts of our discerning, to the peace
of knowledge turning,
All our darkness, which is human, to the light,
Which is devine! ”
WRITTEN FOR THE GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC,
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, DECORATION DAY,1881
The sea-tides ebb and flow;
The seasons come and go,
Summer and sun succeed the cloud and snow,
And April rain awakes the violet.
Earth puts away
Her somber robes, and cheeks with tear-drops wet
In some sad yesterday
Dimple again with smiles, and half forget
Their grief, as the warm rose
Forgets the night-dews when the noontide glows.
Change follows upon change
Swift as the hours; and far away, and strange
As the dim memory of night’s troubled dream
In dawn’s returning beam,
Seem the dark, troubled years,
The sad, but glorious years,
Writ on the nation’s heart in blood and tears.
Ah, God! and yet we know
It was no dream in those days, long ago:
It was no dream, the beat
To arms, the steady tramp along the street
Of answering thousands, quick with word and deed
Unto their country’s need;
No dream the banners, flinging, fresh and fair
Their colors on the air-
Not stained and worn like these
With sad, dumb lips, most eloquent of those
Of those on many a hard-fought battlefield,
From hand to hand that bore
Their starry folds, and, knowing not to yield,
Fell, with a brave front steady to their foes.
Year after year the spring steals back again,
Bringing the bird and blossom in her train,
Beauty and melody,
But they return no more!
Borne on what tides of pain,
Over the unknown sea,
Unto the unknown shore:
Amid the pomp and show
Of glittering ranks, the cannon’s smoke and roar,
Tossed in the rock and reel
Of the wild waves of battle to and fro,
Amid the roll of drums, the ring of steel,
The clash of sabre, and the fiery hell
Of bursting shot and shell,
The scream of wounded steeds, the thunder tones
Of firm command, the prayers, the cheers, the groans, -
War’s mingled sounds of triumph and despair.
Blending with trumpet-blast and bugle-blare.
But not alone amid the battle wrack
They died, - our brave true men.
By southern glade and glen,
In dark morass, within whose pathless deeps,
The serpent coils and creeps,
They fell, with the fierce bloodhound on their track.
Amid the poisonous breath
Of crowded cells, and the rank, festering death
Of the dread prison-pen;
From dreary hospital,
And the dear, sheltering wall
Of home, that claimed them but to lose again,
They passed away, - the army of our slain!
O leader! Tried and true,
What words may speak of thee?
Last sacrifice divine,
Upon our country’s shrine!
O man, that toward above
Thy follow-men, with heart the tenderest,
And “whitest soul the nation ever knew! ”
Bravest and kingliest!
We lay our sorrow down
Before thee, as a crown;
We fold thee with our love
In silence: where are words to speak of thee?
For us the budded laughter of the May
Is beautiful to-day,
Upon the land, but nevermore for them,
Our heroes gone the rose upon its stem
Unfolds, or the fair lily blooms to bless
Their living eyes, with its pure loveliness;
No song-bird at the morn
Greets them with gladness of a day new-born;
No kiss of a child or wife
Warms their cold lips again to love and life,
Breaking sweet slumbers with as sweet release.
They may not wake again!
But from the precious soil,
Born of their toil-
Nursed with what crimson rain-
We pluck to-day the snow-white flower of peace.
He does not die, who in a noble cause
Renders his life: immortal as the laws
By which God rules the universe is he.
Silence his name may hold,
His fame untold
In all the annals of earth’s great may be,
But, bounded by no span
Of years which rounds the common lot of man,
Lo! he is one
Henceforward, with the work which he has done,
Whose meed and measure is Eternity.
They are not lost to us, they still are ours,
They do not rest. Cover their graves with flowers-
Earth’s fairest treasures, fashioned with skill,
Which makes the daisy’s disk a miracle
No less than man. On monument and urn,
Let their rich fragrance burn,
Like incense on a altar; softly spread
A royal mantle o’er each unmarked bed,
And, as a jeweled-rain,
Drop their bright petals for the nameless dead
And lonely, scattered wide
On plain and mountain-side,
Beneath the wave, and by the river-tide.
So let them rest
Upon their country’s breast.
They have not died in vain:
Through them she lives, with head no longer bowed
Among the nations, but erect and proud-
Washed clean of wrong and shame,
Her freedom never more an empty name,
Her all her scattered stars as one again.
Was it the sigh and shiver of the leaves?
Was it the murmer of the meadow brook,
That in and out the reeds and water weeds
Slipped silverly, and on their tremulous keys
Uttered her many melodies? Or voice
Of the far sea, red with the sunset gold,
That sang within her shining shores, and sang
Within the gate, that in the sunset shone
A gate of fire against the outer world?
For, ever as I turned the magic page
Of that old song the old, blind singer sang
Unto the world, when it and song were young—
The ripple of the reeds, or odorous,
Soft sigh of leaves, or voice of the far sea-
A mystical, low murmur, tremulous
Upon the wind, came in with musk of rose,
The salt breath of the waves, and far, faint smell
Of laurel up the slopes of Tamalpais....
“Am I less fair, am I less fair than these,
Daughters of far-off seas?
Daughters of far-off shores, - bleak, over-blown
With foam of fretful tides, with wail and moan
Of waves, that toss wild hands, that clasp and beat
Wild, desolate hands above the lonely sands,
Printed no more with pressure of their feet:
That chase no more the light feet flying swift
Up golden sands, nor lift
Foam fingers white unto their garment hem,
And flowing hair of them.
“For these are dead: the fair, great queens are dead!
The long hair’s gold a dust the wind bloweth
Wherever it may list;
The curved lips, that kissed
Heroes and kings of men, a dust that breath,
Nor speech, nor laughter, ever guickeneth;
And all the glory sped
From the large, marvelous eyes, the light whereof
Wrought wonder in their hearts, - desire, and love!
And wrought not any good:
But strife, and curses of the gods, and flood,
And fire and battle-death!
Am I less fair, less fair,
Because that my hands bear
Neither a sword, nor any flaming brand,
To blacken and make desolate my land,
But on my brows are leaves of olive boughs,
And in mine arms a dove!
“Sea-born and goddess, blossom of the foam
Pale Aphrodite, shadowy as a mist
Not any sun hath kissed!
Tawny of limb I roam,
The dusks of forests dark within my hair;
The far Yosemite,
For garment and for covering me,
Wove the white foam and mist,
The amber and the rose and amethyst
Of her wild fountains, shaken loose in air.
And I am of the hills and of the sea:
Strong with the strength of my great hills, and calm
With calm of the fair sea, whose billowy gold
Girdles the land whose queen and love I am!
Lo! Am I less than thou,
That with a sound of lyres, and harp-playing,
Not any voice doth sing
The beauty of mine eyelids and my brow?
Nor hymn in all my fair and gracious ways,
And lengths of golden days,
The measure and the music of my praise?
“Ah, what indeed is this
Old land beyond the seas, that ye should miss
For her the grace and majesty of mine?
Are not the fruits and vine
Fair on my hills, and in my vales the roses?
The palm-tree and the pine
Strike hands together under the same skies
In every wind that blows.
What clearer heavens can shine
Above the land whereon the shadow lies
Of her dead glory, and her slaughtered kings,
And lost, evanished gods?
Upon my fresh green sods
No king has walked to curse and desolate:
But in the valleys Freedom sits and sings,
And on ths heights above;
Upon her brows the leaves of olive boughs,
And in her arms a dove;
And the great hills are pure, undesecrate,
White with their snows untrod,
And mighty with the presence of their God!
“Harken, how many years
I sat alone, I sat alone and heard
Only the silence stirred
By wind and leaf, by clash of grassy spears,
And singing bird that called to singing bird.
Heard but the savage tongue
Of my brown savage children, that among
The hills and valleys chased the buck and doe,
And round the wigwam fires
Chanted wild songs of their wild savage sires,
And danced their wild, weird dances to and fro,
And wrought their beaded robes of buffalo.
Day following upon day,
Saw but the panther crouched upon the limb,
Smooth serpents, swift and slim,
Slip through the reeds and grasses, and the bear
Crush through his tangled lair
Of chapparal, upon the startled prey!
“Listen, how I have seen
Flash of strange fires in gorge and black ravine;
Heard the sharp clang of steel, that came to drain
The mountain’s golden vein-
And laughed and sang, and sang and laughed again,
Because that ‘now, ’ I said, ‘I shall be known!
I shall not set alone;
But reach my hands unto my sister lands!
And they? Will they not turn
Old, wondering dim eyes to me, and yearn-
Aye, they will yearn, in sooth,
To my glad beauty, and my glad fresh youth! ’
“What matters though the morn
Redden upon my singing fields of corn!
What matters though the wind’s unresting feet
Ripple the vales run with wine,
Ang on these hills of mine
The orchard boughs droop heavy with ripe fruit?
When with nor sound of lute
Nor lyre, doth any singer chant and sing
Me, in my life’s fair spring:
The matin song of me in my young day?
But all my lays and mountain to the farther hem
Of sea, and there be none to gather them.
“Lo! I have waited long!
How longer yet must my strung harp be dumb,
Ere its great master come?
Till the fair singer comes to wake the strong,
Rapt chords of it unto the new, glad song!
Him a diviner speech
My song-birds wait to teach:
The secrets of the field
My blossoms will not yeld
To other hands than his;
And, lingering for this,
My Laurels lend the glory of their boughs
To crown no narrower brows.
For on his lips must wisdom sit with youth,
And in his eyes, and on his lids thereof,
The light of a great love-
And on his forehead, truth! ”...
Was in the wind, or the soft sigh of leaves,
Or sound of singing waters? Lo, I looked,
And saw the silvery ripples of the brook,
The fruit upon the hills, the waving trees,
And mellow fields of harvest; saw the Gate
Burn in the sunset; the thin thread of mist
Creep white across the Saucelito hills;
Till the day darkened down the ocean rim,
The sunset purple slipped from Tamalpais,
And bay and sky were bright with sudden stars.