Esse Quam Videri
The knightly legend of thy shield betrays
The moral of thy life; a forecast wise,
And that large honor that deceit defies,
Inspired thy fathers in the eider days,
Who decked thy scutcheon with that sturdy phrase,
To be rather than seem . As eve's red skies
Surpass the morning's rosy prophecies,
Thy life to that proud boast its answer pays.
Scorning thy faith and purpose to defend
The ever-mutable multitude at last
Will hail the power they did not comprehend,
Thy fame will broaden through the centuries;
As, storm and billowy tumult overpast,
The moon rules calmly o'er the conquered seas.
After Stuart Merrill
Trembling of purple banners in the fight,
Wild neigh of horses in destruction's path,
Howling of trumpets answering yells of wrath,
Dim eyes where slowly fades the living light;
And on the plains, the ghastly heaped up death
O'er which the guns thunder their dull refrain;
And summer is shamed and autumn grieves in rain,
And carnage breathes abroad a hateful breath.
Back! O thou nightmare of the tired world's rest!
The Spring sees blooming at the mother's breast
Pink mouths of babes with cooing laughter rife;
While from the valley to the mountain springs,
Amid the rustle of zephyrs and of wings,
Sound, like young heart-beats, all the bells of Life.
God send me tears!
Loose the fierce band that binds my tired brain,
Give me the melting heart of other years,
And let me weep again!
Before me pass
The shapes of things inexorably true.
Gone is the sparkle of transforming dew
From every blade of grass.
In life's high noon
Aimless I stand, my promised task undone,
And raise my hot eyes to the angry sun
That will go down too soon.
Turned into gall
Are the sweet joys of childhood's sunny reign;
And memory is a torture, love a chain
That binds my life in thrall.
And childhood's pain
Could to me now the purest rapture yield;
I pray for tears as in his parching field
The husbandman for rain.
We pray in vain!
The sullen sky flings down its blaze of brass;
The joys of love all scorched and withering pass;
I shall not weep again.
When April woke the drowsy flowers,
And vagrant odors thronged the breeze,
And bluebirds wrangled in the bowers,
And daisies flashed along the leas,
And faint arbutus strove among
Dead winter's leaf-strewn wreck to rise,
And nature's sweetly jubilant song
Went murmuring up the sunny skies,
Into this cheerful world you came,
And gained by right your vernal name.
I think the springs have changed of late,
For "Arctics" are my daily wear,
The skies are turned to cold gray slate,
And zephyrs are but draughts of air;
But you make up whate'er we lack,
When we, too rarely, come together,
More potent than the almanac,
You bring the ideal April weather;
When you are with us we defy
The blustering air, the lowering sky;
In spite of Winter's icy darts,
We've spring and sunshine in our hearts.
In fine, upon this April day,
This deep conundrum I will bring:
Tell me the two good reasons, pray,
I have, to say you are like spring?
You give it up? Because we love you
And see so very little of you.
How It Happened
I pray you, pardon me, Elsie,
And smile that frown away
That dims the light of your lovely face
As a thunder-cloud the day.
I really could not help it,
Before I thought, 't was done,
And those great gray eyes flashed bright and cold,
Like an icicle in the sun.
I was thinking of the summers
When we were boys and girls,
And wandered in the blossoming woods,
And the gay winds romped with your curls.
And you seemed to me the same little girl
I kissed in the alder-path,
I kissed the little girl's lips, and alas!
I have roused a woman's wrath.
There is not so much to pardon,--
For why were your lips so red?
The blond hair fell in a shower of gold
From the proud, provoking head.
And the beauty that flashed from the splendid eyes,
And played round the tender mouth,
Rushed over my soul like a warm sweet wind
That blows from the fragrant south.
And where, after all, is the harm done?
I believe we were made to be gay,
And all of youth not given to love
Is vainly squandered away.
And strewn through life's low labors,
Like gold in the desert sands,
Are love's swift kisses and sighs and vows
And the clasp of clinging hands.
And when you are old and lonely,
In Memory's magic shine
You will see on your thin and wasting hands,
Like gems, these kisses of mine.
And when you muse at evening
At the sound of some vanished name,
The ghost of my kisses shall touch your lips
And kindle your heart to flame.
On Tabor's height a glory came,
And, shrined in clouds of lambent flame,
The awestruck, hushed disciples saw
Christ and the prophets of the law.
Moses, whose grand and awful face
Of Sinai's thunder bore the trace,
And wise Elias, in his eyes
The shade of Israel's prophecies,
Stood in that wide, mysterious light,
Than Syrian noons more purely bright,
One on each hand, and high between
Shone forth the godlike Nazarene.
They bowed their heads in holy fright,
No mortal eyes could bear the sight,
And when they looked again, behold!
The fiery clouds had backward rolled,
And borne aloft in grandeur lonely,
Nothing was left "save Jesus only."
Resplendent type of things to be!
We read its mystery to-day
With clearer eyes than even they,
The fisher-saints of Galilee.
We see the Christ stand out between
The ancient law and faith serene,
Spirit and letter; but above
Spirit and letter both was Love.
Led by the hand of Jacob's God,
Through wastes of eld a path was trod
By which the savage world could move
Upward through law and faith to love.
And there in Tabor's harmless flame
The crowning revelation came.
The old world knelt in homage due,
The prophets near in reverence drew,
Law ceased its mission to fulfill,
And Love was lord on Tabor's hill.
So now, while creeds perplex the mind
And wranglings load the weary wind,
When all the air is filled with words
And texts that ring like clashing swords,
Still, as for refuge, we may turn
Where Tabor's shining glories burn,
The soul of antique Israel gone,
And nothing left but Christ alone.
Under the high unclouded sun
That makes the ship and shadow one,
I sail away as from the fort
Booms sullenly the noonday gun.
The odorous airs blow thin and fine,
The sparkling waves like emeralds shine,
The lustre of the coral reefs
Gleams whitely through the tepid brine.
And glitters o'er the liquid miles
The jewelled ring of verdant isles,
Where generous Nature holds her court
Of ripened bloom and sunny smiles.
Encinctured by the faithful seas
Inviolate gardens lead the breeze,
Where flaunt like giant-warders' plumes
The pennants of the cocoa-trees.
Enthroned in light and bathed in balm,
In lonely majesty the Palm
Blesses the isles with waving hands,
High-Priest of the eternal Calm.
Yet Northward with an equal mind
I steer my course, and leave behind
The rapture of the Southern skies,
The wooing of the Southern wind.
For here o'er Nature's wanton bloom
Falls far and near the shade of gloom,
Cast from the hovering vulture-wings
Of one dark thought of woe and doom.
I know that in the snow-white pines
The brave Norse fire of freedom shines,
And fain for this I leave the land
Where endless summer pranks the vines.
O strong, free North, so wise and brave!
O South, too lovely for a slave!
Why read ye not the changeless truth,
The free can conquer but to save?
May God upon these shining sands
Send Love and Victory clasping hands,
And Freedom's banners wave in peace
Forever o'er the rescued lands!
And here, in that triumphant hour,
Shall yielding Beauty wed with Power;
And blushing earth and smiling sea
In dalliance deck the bridal bower.
Key West, 1864.
Sunise In The Place De La Concorde
Paris, August, 1865
I stand at the break of day
In the Champs Elysees.
The tremulous shafts of dawning
As they shoot o'er the Tuileries early,
Strike Luxor's cold gray spire,
And wild in the light of the morning
With their marble manes on fire,
Ramp the white Horses of Marly.
But the Place of Concord lies
Dead hushed 'neath the ashy skies.
And the Cities sit in council
With sleep in their wide stone eyes.
I see the mystic plain
Where the army of spectres slain
In the Emperor's life-long war
March on with unsounding tread
To trumpets whose voice is dead.
Their spectral chief still leads them,-
The ghostly flash of his sword
Like a comet through mist shines far,
And the noiseless host is poured,
For the gendarme never heeds them,
Up the long dim road where thundered
The army of Italy onward
Through the great pale Arch of the Star!
The spectre army fades
Far up the glimmering hill,
But, vaguely lingering still,
A group of shuddering shades
Infects the pallid air,
Growing dimmer as day invades
The hush of the dusky square.
There is one that seems a King,
As if the ghost of a Crown
Still shadowed his jail-bleached hair;
I can hear the guillotine ring,
As its regicide note rang there,
When he laid his tired life down
And grew brave in his last despair.
And a woman frail and fair
Who weeps at leaving a world
Of love and revel and sin
In the vast Unknown to be hurled;
(For life was wicked and sweet
With kings at her small white feet!)
And one, every inch a Queen,
In life and in death a Queen,
Whose blood baptized the place,
In the days of madness and fear,-
Her shade has never a peer
In majesty and grace.
Murdered and murderers swarm;
Slayers that slew and were slain,
Till the drenched place smoked with the rain
That poured in a torrent warm,
Till red as the Rider's of Edom
Were splashed the white garments of Freedom
With the wash of the horrible storm!
And Liberty's hands were not clean
In the day of her pride unchained,
Her royal hands were stained
With the life of a King and Queen;
And darker than that with the blood
Of the nameless brave and good
Whose blood in witness clings
More damning than Queens' and Kings'.
Has she not paid it dearly?
Chained, watching her chosen nation
Grinding late and early
In the mills of usurpation?
Have not her holy tears
Flowing through shameful years,
Washed the stains from her tortured hands?
We thought so when God's fresh breeze,
Blowing over the sleeping lands,
In 'Forty-Eight waked the world,
And the Burgher-King was hurled
From that palace behind the trees.
As Freedom with eyes aglow
Smiled glad through her childbirth pain,
How was the mother to know
That her woe and travail were vain?
A smirking servant smiled
When she gave him her child to keep;
Did she know he would strangle the child
As it lay in his arms asleep?
Liberty's cruellest shame!
She is stunned and speechless yet.
In her grief and bloody sweat
Shall we make her trust her blame?
The treasure of 'Forty-Eight
A lurking jail-bird stole,
She can but watch and wait
As the swift sure seasons roll.
And when in God's good hour
Comes the time of the brave and true,
Freedom again shall rise
With a blaze in her awful eyes
That shall wither this robber-power
As the sun now dries the dew.
This Place shall roar with the voice
Of the glad triumphant people,
And the heavens be gay with the chimes
Ringing with jubilant noise
From every clamorous steeple
The coming of better times.
And the dawn of Freedom waking
Shall fling its splendors far
Like the day which now is breaking
On the great pale Arch of the Star,
And back o'er the town shall fly,
While the joy-bells wild are ringing,
To crown the Glory springing
From the Column of July!