YOUNG, the naked stoker who went
Mad with the fires and leapt to the sea,
Boyhood still in the voice that sent
One shrill cry back from eternity.
Perchance from the phosphorescent gleams
That shot through our wake of swirling foam,
On his delirious brain flashed dreams
Of a waiting mother, an English home.
The ocean clad him in cool, soft robe;
The ship fled on, as the guilty flee;
And the sun, a crimson-belted globe,
Slipped down to comfort him under the sea.

A Song Of Riches

What will you give to a barefoot lass,
Morning with breath like wine?
Wade, bare feet! In my wide morass
Starry marigolds shine.
Alms, sweet Noon, for a barefoot lass,
With her laughing looks aglow!
Run, bare feet! In my fragrant grass
Golden buttercups blow.

Gift, a gift for a barefoot lass,
O twilight hour of dreams!
Rest, bare feet, by my lake of glass,
Where the mirrored sunset gleams.

Homeward the weary merchants pass,
With the gold bedimmed by care.
Little they wise that the barefoot lass
Is the only millionaire.

GRAY gulls that wheeled and dipped and rose
Where tossing crests like Alpine snows
Would shimmer and entice;
A stormy petrel, Judas soul,
Dark wanderer of the waste, whose goal
No mariner hath seen;
And flaming from the vanished sun
A wondrous wing vermilion,
A bird of Paradise,
A soaring wing that shone so far
The orient horizon bar
Flushed, and the sea between
Like an Arabian carpet glowed
With changeful hues where subtly flowed
Some magical device;
And one pale plume in heaven's dim dome
Above that fairy-colored foam,
The new moon's ghostly sheen.

Starlight At Sea

OVER the murmurous choral of dim waves
The constellations glow against the soft
Ethereal dusk, —forever fair, aloft,
Serene, while man climbs painfully from caves
To cities, clamorous cities, life that raves
Like surf against the rocks. It is not oft
Our cities glimpse the stars, their luster scoffed
Away by low, hard glitter that outbraves
Night's blessing of the dark. But here upon
Mid-ocean, all whose muffled voices ring
A rapture lost to our vexed human wills,
We see the primal radiance that shone
On chaos, —see the young God shepherding
His gleaming flocks on the empurpled hills.

April In September

WHAT song is in the sap of this brave oak-tree
That to the north-star faces,
Ravened each June by caterpillar masses
Till all its leaves are laces,
Poor shreds whose very shadow grieves the grasses?
I leave it then, but roses and the smoke-tree
Look from the lawn below it
And watch for that gold witch, Midsummer Weather,
With magic breath to blow it
Free of its foes, whose wings make mirth together.
Vital as Igdrasil, immortal folk-tree,
When I return, its losses
Are all restored, its fresh, soft foliage gleaming
With peach and citron glosses,
A Druid that is never done with dreaming.

The U-Boat Crew

ALAS, alas for those blond boys who stalk
Their prey in ambush of the shuddering seas,
Whiling the wait with merry, tender talk
Of some dear knot of flower-clad cottages
Beyond the Rhine! The merchantship draws on;
Their swift torpedo strikes its mark; the sea
Moans with the dying; for a victory won
They thank the pagan god of Germany.
Happier to die the hideous, smothering death,
Too deep for mercy, in their own snared trap,
Than live to learn how time interpreteth
The cause they served; the tragical mishap
Of pride that pledged The Day and brought The Night;
—Than live to loathe their Fatherland, a name
So high, so fallen, that betrayed their bright
Young loyalty to savageries of shame.

WHITE year, white year,
Muffled soft in snow,
A diamond spray whose gems are gone
Before their grace we know,
A crystal-coated spray whose hours
Melt when looked upon,
Hoarfrost stars and hoarfrost flowers,
White year!
Green year, green year,
Sweet with sun and showers,
A windblown spray whose blossoms bright
Are the seven-colored hours,
A dancing spray whose leaves are days,
A spray whose leaves delight
In azure gleam and silver haze,
Green year!
New Year, new year
From rosy leaf to gold,
A shining spray on the Tree of Time
Where myriad sprays unfold,
A spray so fair that God may see
And gather it, bloom and rime,
To deck the doors of Eternity,
New Year!

IN seas far north, day after day
We leaned upon the rail, engrossed
In frolic fin and jewel spray
And crystal headlands of the coast.
Those beauties held so long in gaze
Have melted from my mind like snow,
But still I see through rifted haze
The wizard tower and portico
That flashed one instant, white and whist,
A grace too exquisite to keep,
A picture springing from the mist
As a dream comes shining out of sleep.
I do not know what name he wrote,
Our captain, in his good ship's log,
For that sea-wraith, —how men denote
Our fleeting phantom of the fog;
But yet across the world I thrill
With rapture of that ivory gleam,
That sudden shaft of glory, till
It wears the wonder of a dream.

THE leaves and tassels of the oak
Were golden-green with May,
Pavilion whence forever broke
Some angel roundelay.
A carol like a glory came
From topmost twig astir,
Enkindled by a flying flame,
The scarlet tanager.
The tree was glad as Paradise
When, eager soul on soul,
The saints flock home. There glistened twice
A wild-throat oriole;
And once the grosbeak's rosy breast
Poured its enchanted hymn;
While sunny wing and jewel crest
Lit many a blissful limb.
The whole wide world was in my oak
Whose catkins danced for mirth,
— Plumes gray as curling city smoke,
Plumes brown as fresh-plowed earth;
Even heaven had graced our festival,
For oft the loving eye
Would find, coaxed by a wistful call,
The bluebird's fleck of sky.

Children Of The War

SHRUNKEN little bodies, pallid baby faces,
Eyes of staring terror, innocence defiled,
Tiny bones that strew the sand of silent places,
— This upon our own star where Jesus was a child.
Broken buds of April, is there any garden
Where they yet may blossom, comforted of sun,
While their sad Creator bows to ask their pardon
For the life He gave them, life and death in one?
Spared by steel and hunger, still shall horror blazon
Those white and tender spirits with anguish unforgot;
Half a century hence the haggard look shall gaze on
The outrage of a mother, shall see a grandsire shot.
Man who wings the azure, lassoes the hoof sparkling,
Fire-maned steeds of glory and binds them to his car,
Cannot man whose searchlight leaves no horizon darkling
Safeguard little children upon our golden star?

A Mountain Storm

OUR blue sierras shone serene, sublime,
When ghostly shapes came crowding up the air,
Shadowing the landscape with some vast despair;
And all was changed as in weird pantomime,
Transfigured into vague, fantastic form
By that tremendous carnival of storm.
Pilgrim processions of bowed trees that climb
To sacred summits, in the clashing hail
Shuddered like flagellants beneath the flail.
Most gracious hills, in that tempestuous time,
Went wild as angered bulls, with bellowing cry
And goring horns that strove to charge the sky.
Masses of rock, long gnawed by stealthy rime,
With sudden roar that made our bravest blanch,
Came volleying down in fatal avalanche.
All nature seemed convulsed in some fierce crime,
And then a rainbow, and behold! the sun
Went comforting the harebells one by one;
And all was still save for the vesper chime
From far, faint belfry bathed in creamy light,
And the soft footfalls of the coming night.

BESIDE the country road with truant grace
Wild carrot lifts its circles of white lace.
From vines whose interwoven branches drape
The old stone walls, come pungent scents of grape.
The sumach torches burn; the hardhack glows;
From off the pines a healing fragrance blows;
The pallid Indian pipe of ghostly kin
Listens in vain for stealthy moccasin.
In pensive mood a faded robin sings;
A butterfly with dusky, gold-flecked wings
Holds court for plumy dandelion seed
And thistledown, on throne of fireweed.
The road goes loitering on, till it hath missed
Its way in goldenrod, to keep a tryst,
Beyond the mosses and the ferns that veil
The last faint lines of its forgotten trail,
With Lonely Lake, so crystal clear that one
May see its bottom sparkling in the sun
With many-colored stones. The only stir
On its green banks is of the kingfisher
Dipping for prey, but oft, these haunted nights,
That mirror shivers into dazzling lights,
Cleft by a falling star, a messenger
From some bright battle lost, Excalibur.

Soldiers To Pacifists

NOT ours to clamor shame on you,
Nor fling a bitter blame on you,
Nor brand a cruel name on you,
That evil name of treason,
You who have heard the ivory flutes,
Who float white banners, brave recruits
Of Peace, seeking to pluck her fruits
In bud and blossom season.
A sterner bugle calls to us;
More direful duty falls to us;
God grants no garden-walls to us
Till the scarred waste be delivered
From dragon passions that destroy
All sanctitudes of faith and joy;
We, too, are on divine employ;
By sword shall sword be shivered.
Cherish your bud, star-eyed of bloom,
Dawn-flower of hope, belied of gloom,
While, surges of the tide of doom,
The gathering nations thunder
Against a red, colossal throne;
Cherish it, that the seed be sown
At last even where that monstrous stone
Crushes life's roots asunder.
Follow your flutes the fairy way;
Wing-sandaled, climb the airy way,
The wonderful, unwary way,
Too lovely for derision;
While we, your comrades at the goal,
Step to the drum-beat and unroll
The flag of Freedom, every soul
Obedient to its vision.

Yellow Warblers

The first faint dawn was flushing up the skies
When, dreamland still bewildering mine eyes,
I looked out to the oak that, winter-long,
-- a winter wild with war and woe and wrong --
Beyond my casement had been void of song.

And lo! with golden buds the twigs were set,
Live buds that warbled like a rivulet
Beneath a veil of willows. Then I knew
Those tiny voices, clear as drops of dew,
Those flying daffodils that fleck the blue,

Those sparkling visitants from myrtle isles,
Wee pilgrims of the sun, that measure miles
Innumerable over land and sea
With wings of shining inches. Flakes of glee,
They filled that dark old oak with jubilee,

Foretelling in delicious roundelays
Their dainty courtships on the dipping sprays,
How they should fashion nests, mate helping mate,
Of milkweed flax and fern-down delicate
To keep sky-tinted eggs inviolate.

Listening to those blithe notes, I slipped once more
From lyric dawn through dreamland's open door,
And there was God, Eternal Life that sings,
Eternal joy, brooding all mortal things,
A nest of stars, beneath untroubled wings.

America The Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

NOT yet hath Nature, lovely colorist,
Bestirred her from creative dream to fling
Soft flame upon the woods, —nay, not to dip
One pleading maple-tip
In carmine; all the waiting world is whist,
Alert to hear the first faint flutes of spring.
Not yet the tingling flood of blue and gold
Is poured through heaven, but o'er the misty pond,
Quiet as patterned silk, flushed saplings lean;
And the auspicious green
Through the deep woods and on the unpathed wold
Brightens in patient moss and wistful frond.
Not yet cascades of melody invoke
The holy dawn, but all the air perceives,
By some fine thrill, the rushing northward flight
Of myriad wings, despite
The nonchalances of this crookback oak,
Still clinging to its russet shreds of leaves.
Not yet the laughing hid-folk of the earth
Thrust Up white helm and golden coronet,
Sweet elfin host armored in gossamer,
But gentle tremors stir
The conscious mold; new beauty comes to birth
Under the snow's fast-melting coverlet.
Not yet, not yet the yearly miracle
Is wrought, but ecstasy is on the wing,
And her divine, irrevocable flight
Is swift as all delight.
The heart is hushed as for the sacring-bell,
Awe-smitten by expectancy of spring.

Two centuries' winter storms have lashed the changing sands of Falmouth's shore,
Deep-voiced, the winds, swift winged, wild, have echoed there the ocean's roar.
But though the north-east gale unleashed, rage-blind with power, relentless beat,
The sturdy light-house sheds its beam on waves churned white beneath the sleet.
And still when cold and fear are past, and fields are sweet with spring-time showers,
Mystic, the gray age-silent hills breathe out their souls in fair mayflowers.
And where the tawny saltmarsh lies beyond the sand dunes' farthest reach,
The undulous grass grown russet green, skirts the white crescent of the beach.

Above the tall elms' green-plumed tops, etched against low-hung, gray-hued skies,
Straight as the heaven-kissing pine, the home-bound mariner descries
The goodly spire of the old first church, reverend, serene, with old-time grace,
Symbol and sign of an inner life deep-sealed by time's slow carven trace.

Out of that church in days long gone went a stalwart, true-eyed sturdy band,
Sons of the mist and the flying foam, the blood and brawn of the Pilgrim land;
Down to the sea where the tall masts rose, where the green-mossed black hulls rose and fell,
And the cables strained at the call of the tide, for they knew and heeded its summons well.

COLOSSAL orb of space,
Sparkling with diamond
Of countless star on star,
All whirling with wild grace
In their enwoven dance
Illimitably far,
What lies beyond
Your vasty hollow girdled by that bright
River of stellar spray
We call the Milky Way?
Immeasurable ball,
Cornpassed and clasped in light,
Can you be all,
A flock of fireflies circling in the night,
A maze of jewels that the toss of Chance
Let fall,
Sun, planet, asteroid,
One globe of glories in the utter void?
What lies beyond?
Does the sheer Dark immerse
Infinity, drowning the last faint gold
Of fleeting comets, lost and vagabond?
Or is this astral universe,
All that our utmost vision may behold,
But one amidst a host of star-strewn spheres,
Each zoned with its own stream
Of softer gleam,
Perchance each dowered with wonder, love and tears?
What lies beyond?
The puny human heart still stirs
Against those flaming barriers,
That proud, impenetrable dome
Of fire and ether, seeking for a home,
A Soul that shall respond
To all its questions, longings and despairs.
Is space but raiment that the Spirit wears,
A gem-embroidered mantle to conceal
And yet reveal
In splendors of surprise
Beauty ineffable,
Or shall we rise,
Higher than dream of Dante ever trod,
From star to star, from empyrean on
To empyrean, till the sun that shone
Over our vexed mortality be wan,
Through life on life, eternal range
From form to form, from change to change,
To find the Unknown God?

THE weazen planet Mercury,
Whose song is done,
— Rash heart that drew too near
His dazzling lord the Sun!—
Forgets that life was dear,
So shriveled now and sere
The goblin planet Mercury.
But Venus, thou mysterious, Enveilèd one,
Fairest of lights that fleet
Around the radiant Sun,
Do not thy pulses beat
To music blithe and sweet,
O Venus, veiled, mysterious?
And Earth, our shadow-haunted Earth,
Hast thou, too, won
The graces of a star
From the glory of the Sun?
Do poets dream afar
That here all lusters are,
Upon our blind, bewildered Earth?
We dream that mighty forms on Mars,
With wisdom spun
From subtler brain than man's,
Are hoarding snow and sun,
Wringing a few more spans
Of life, fierce artisans,
From their deep-grooved, worn planet Mars.
But thou, colossal Jupiter,
World just begun,
Wild globe of golden steam,
Chief nursling of the Sun,
Transcendest human dream,
That faints before the gleam
Of thy vast splendor, Jupiter.
And for what rare delight,
Or woes to shun,
Of races increate,
New lovers of the Sun,
Was Saturn ringed with great
Rivers illuminate,
Ethereal jewel of delight?
Far from his fellows, Uranus
Doth lonely run
In his appointed ways
Around the sovereign Sun, —
Wide journeys that amaze
Our weak and toiling gaze,
Searching the path of Uranus.
But on the awful verge
Of voids that stun
The spirit, Neptune keeps
The frontier of the Sun.
Over the deeps on deeps
He glows, a torch that sweeps
The circle of that shuddering verge.
On each bright planet waits
Who casts beneath her feet
Ashes of star and sun,
But when all ruby heat.
Is frost, a Heart shall beat,
Where God, within the darkness, waits.

Santa's Stocking

Dame Snow has been knitting all day
With needles of crystal and pearl
To make a big, beautiful stocking
For Santa, her merriest son;
And now in some wonderful way
She has hung it, by twist and by twirl,
On the tip of the moon, and sits rocking,
Old mother, her day's work done.

How long and how empty it flaps,
Like a new, white cloud in the sky!
The stars gleam above it for candles;
But who is to fill it and trim?
Dame Snow in her rocking-chair naps.
When Santa comes home by and by,
Will he find — O scandal of scandals! —
No Christmas at all for him?

Dear Saint of the reindeer sleigh,
At his tink-a-link-tinkle-a-link,
The evergreens blossom with tapers;
'Tis Christmas by all the clocks;
And wherever he calls, they say,
The most polished andirons wink,
The sulkiest chimney capers,
And Baby kicks off its socks.

His pack is bursting with toys;
The dollies cling round his neck;
And sleds come slithering after
As he takes the roofs at a run.
Blithe lover of girls and boys,
Bonbons he pours by the peck;
Holidays, revels and laughter,
Feasting and frolic and fun.

Who would dream that his kind heart aches
— Heart shaped like a candied pear,
Sweet heart of our housetop rover —
For the homes where no carols resound,
For the little child that wakes
To a hearth all cold and bare,
For Santa, his white world over,
Finds Christmas doesn't go round!

Dame Snow has been knitting all day
With needles of crystal and pearl
To make a big, beautiful stocking
For Santa, her busiest son;
And now in some wonderful way
She has hung it, by twist and by twirl,
On the tip of the moon, and sits rocking,
Old mother, her day's work done.

Let us bring the dear Saint from our store
Fair gifts wrapped softly in love;
Let all gentle children come flocking,
Glad children whose Christmas is sure;
Let us bring him more treasures and more,
While the star-candles glisten above,
For whatever we put in his stocking,
Santa Claus gives to the poor.

The Falmouth Bell

Never was there lovelier town
Than our Falmouth by the sea.
Tender curves of sky look down
On her grace of knoll and lea.
Sweet her nestled Mayflower blows
Ere from prouder haunts the spring
Yet has brushed the lingering snows
With a violet-colored wing.
Bright the autumn gleams pervade
Cranberry marsh and bushy wold,
Till the children's mirth has made
Millionaires in leaves of gold;
And upon her pleasant ways,
Set with many a gardened home,
Flash through fret of drooping sprar
Visions far of ocean foam.
Happy bell of Paul Revere,
Sounding o'er such blest demesne
While a hundred times a year
Weaves the round from green to green.

--------------------------------- --------------------------------------------- --
Never were there friendlier folk
Than in Falmouth by the sea,
Neighbor-households that invoke
Pride of sailor-pedigree.
Here is princely interchange
Of the gifts of shore and field,
Starred with treasures rare and strange
That the liberal sea-chests yield.
Culture here burns breezy torch
Where gray captains, bronzed of neck
Tread their little length of porch
With a memory of the deck.
Ah, and here the tenderest hearts,
Here where sorrows sorest wring
And the widows shift their parts
Comforted and comforting.
Holy bell of Paul Revere
Calling such to prayer and praise.
While a hundred times the year
Herds her flock of faithful days!

--------------------------------- --------------------------------------------- --
Greetings to thee, ancient bell
Of our Falmouth by the sea!
Answered by the ocean swell,
Ring thy centuried Jubilee!
Like the white sails of the Sound,
Hast thou seen the years drift by,
From the dreamful, dim profound
To a goal beyond the eye.
Long thy maker lieth mute,
Hero of a faded strife;
Thou hast tolled from seed to fruit
Generations three of life.
Still thy mellow voice and clear
Floats o'er land and listening deep,
And we deem our fathers hear
From their shadowy hill of sleep.
Ring thy peals for centuries yet,
Living voice of Paul Revere!
Let the future not forget
That the past accounted dear!

Must I, who walk alone,
Come on it still,
This Puck of plants
The wise would do away with,
The sunshine slants
To play with,
Our wee, gold-dusty flower, the yellow clover,
Which once in Parting for a time
That then seemed long,
Ere time for you was over,
We sealed our own?
Do you remember yet,
O Soul beyond the stars,
Beyond the uttermost dim bars
Of space,
Dear Soul, who found earth sweet,
Remember by love's grace,
In dreamy hushes of the heavenly song,
How suddenly we halted in our climb,
Lingering, reluctant, up that farthest hill,
Stooped for the blossoms closest to our feet,
And gave them as a token
Each to Each,
In lieu of speech,
In lieu of words too grievous to be spoken,
Those little, gypsy, wondering blossoms wet
With a strange dew of tears?

So it began,
This vagabond, unvalued yellow clover,
To be our tenderest language. All the years
It lent a new zest to the summer hours,
As each of us went scheming to surprise
The other with our homely, laureate flowers.
Sonnets and odes
Fringing our daily roads.
Can amaranth and asphodel
Bring merrier laughter to your eyes?
Oh, if the Blest, in their serene abodes,
Keep any wistful consciousness of earth,
Not grandeurs, but the childish ways of love,
Simplicities of mirth,
Must follow them above
With touches of vague homesickness that pass
Like shadows of swift birds across the grass.
Beneath some foreign arch of sky,
How many a time the rover
You or I,
For life oft sundered look from look,
And voice from voice, the transient dearth
Schooling my soul to brook
This distance that no messages may span,
Would chance
Upon our wilding by a lonely well,
Or drowsy watermill,
Or swaying to the chime of convent bell,
Or where the nightingales of old romance
With tragical contraltos fill
Dim solitudes of infinite desire;
And once I joyed to meet
Our peasant gadabout
A trespasser on trim, seigniorial seat,
Twinkling a saucy eye
As potentates paced by.

Our golden cord! our soft, pursuing flame
From friendship's altar fire!
How proudly we would pluck and tame
The dimpling clusters, mutinously gay!
How swiftly they were sent
Far, far away
On journeys wide,
By sea and continent,
Green miles and blue leagues over,
From each of us to each,
That so our hearts might reach,
And touch within the yellow clover,
Love's letter to be glad about
Like sunshine when it came!

My sorrow asks no healing; it is love;
Let love then make me brave
To bear the keen hurts of
This careless summertide,
Ay, of our own poor flower,
Changed with our fatal hour,
For all its sunshine vanished when you died;
Only white clover blossoms on your grave.

Santa Claus' Riddle

Of all the happy and holy times
That fill the steeples with merry chimes
And warm our hearts in the coldest climes,
'Twas Christmas eve, as I live by rhymes.

One by one had the drowsy oaks
Wrapt about them their snow-flake cloaks,
And snugly fastened, with diamond pins,
Fleecy nightcaps beneath their chins.

The stars had kissed the hills good-night,
But lingered yet, with a taper light,
Till the chattering lips of the little streams
Were sealed with frost for their winter dreams.

And the silver moonbeams softly fell
On cots as white as the lily-bell,
Where the nested children sweetly slept,
While watch above them their angels kept.

Eyes of gray and of hazel hue,
Roguish black eyes and bonny blue,
All with their satin curtains drawn,'
Peeped not once till the shining dawn.

But still through the silent eventide
Brown eyes twain were opened wide,
Where, bolt upright in his pillows, sate
A wise little wean called Curly Pate.

Now yet the lore of schools and books
Had troubled the peace of his childish looks,
But through the valleys of Fairyland
He had walked with Wisdom, hand in hand.

Once midsummer eves he would hear, perchance,
The shrill, sweet pipes of the elfin dance,
And their dewy prints in the dawning trace
On tremulous carpets of cobweb lace.

He had caught the clink of the hammers fine,
Where the goblins delve in their darksome mine,
In green cocked hats of a queer design,
With crystal tears in their ruby eyne.

He had seen where the golden basket swings
At the tip of the rainbow's dazzling wings,
Full of the silver spoons that fall
Into the mouths of babies small.

He had met Jack Frost in tippet and furs,
Pricking his thumbs on the chestnut burrs,
And this learnèd laddie could tell, no doubt,
Why nuts fall down and friends fall out.

And now, while the dusky night waxed late,
All nid-nodding sat Curly Pate,
Scaring the dreams, whose wings of gauze
Would veil his vision from Santa Claus.

And ever he raised, by a resolute frown,
The heavy lids that came stealing down
To rest their silken fringes brown
On the rosiest cheek in Baby-Town.

Till at last, — so the legend tells, —
He heard the tinkle of silver bells;
Tinkle! tinkle! a jocund tune
Between the snow and the sinking moon.

O, then, how the heart of our hero beat!
How it throbbed in time to the music sweet,
While gaily rung on the frosted roofs
The frolicsome tramp of reindeer hoofs!

And down the chimney by swift degrees
Came worsted stockings and velvet knees,
Till from furry cap unto booted feet
Dear Saint Nicholas stood complete.

Blessings upon him! and how he shook
His plumb little sides with a mirthful look,
As he crammed, his bright, blue eyes a-twinkle,
The bairnie's sock in its every wrinkle.

May he live forever — the blithe old soul,
With cheeks so ruddy and shape so droll,
Throned on a Yule-log, crowned with holly,
The king of kindness, the friend of folly!

His task was done, and he brushed the snow
From his crispy beard, as he turned to go;
From his crispy beard and his tresses hoar,
As he tiptoed over the moonlight floor.

But the sparkling flakes to delicious crumbs
Of frosted cakes and to sugar-plums
Changed as they fell, whereas near by
A bubble of laughter proved the spy.

Back from the chimney flashed the Saint,
And stamped his feet in a rage so quaint
That from scores of pockets the dolls in flee
Popped up their curious heads to see.

'Oho!' in a terrible voice he spake,
'By the Mistletoe Bough! a boy awake!
Now freeze my whiskers! but in my pack
I'll stow him away for a jumping-jack.

'Wise as an owlet? Quick! the proof!
My reindeer stamp on the snowy roof.
So read my riddle, if sage you be,
Or up the chimney you go with me.

'Name me the tree of the deepest roots,
Whose boughs are laden with sweetest fruits,
In bleakest weather which blooms aright,
And buds and bears in a single night.'

Did Curly Pate tremble? Never a whit.
Below the curls was the mother-wit;
And well I ween that his two eyes brown
Spied the dimple beneath the frown.

So shaking shyly, with childish grace,
The ringlets soft from his winsome face,
He peeped through his lashes and answered true,
As I trow that a brave little man should do:

'Please thy Saintship, no eyes have seen
Thy wondrous orchards of evergreen;
But where is the wean who doth no long
The whole year through for thy harvest song?

'The Christmas Tree hath struck deep roots
In human hearts: its wintry fruits
Are sweet with love,And the bairns believe
It buddeth and beareth on Holy Eve.'

A stir in the chimney, a crackle of frost,
A tinkle of bells on the midnight lost;
And in mirth and music the riddling guest
Had smiled and vanished, as saints know best.

But low on his pillow the laddie dear
Sank and slumbered, till chanticleer,
Crowing apace, bade children wake
To bless the dawn for the Christ-child's sake.

The Death Of Olaf Tryggvision

BLUE as blossom of the myrtle
Smiled the steadfast eyes of Olaf
On the host of ships that harried
His enraged, gold-glittering Dragon,
Snared within that ring of sea-birds,
By their fierce beaks rent and bitten;
All men knew the crimson kirtle,
Rich-wrought helm and shield that dazzled
Back the whirling wrath of sword-edge,
But the king, while doom yet tarried,
Bleeding fast beneath his byrny,
Still throughout the savage hurtle
Of the ax-play and the spear-play,
Blinding storm of stones and arrows,
Shivering steel and shock of iron,
Stood erect above the slaughter,
An unblenching lord of battle,
Till about his knees were drifted
Heaps of slain, his last earl smitten.
From the poop then sprang King Olaf,
Faring on his farthest journey,
With his shield above him lifted,
Shield whose shimmer mocked the rattle
Of the missiles rained upon it,
Down into the deep sea-water.
Nevermore shall he thrust keel
Into billow, fain to feel
Pull of rudder 'neath his hand,
Swing of tide that bears his folk
On to spoil some startled strand,
Rick and homestead wrapt in smoke.
All the daring deeds are done
Of King Olaf Tryggvison.
As the red-stained waves ran o'er him,
Faithful to their friend, sea-rover,
Hid the flickering shield forever
From the fury of his foemen,
Hushed the war-din to his hearing,
Sweetened on his swooning senses
Even that wild roar of victory,
Through the dim green gloom appearing
Women's faces flashed before him.
Fair the first, but wan with vigil,
Mother-tender, mother-valiant,
Face of Astrid, she who bore him
On a couch of ferns and clover
In a little, lonely island,
Warded only by her fosterer,
Old Thorolf, who would not sever
His rude service from her sorrows;
She who flitted with her man-child
On from fen to forest, hunted
By the murderers of his father,
Every rustling branch an omen
Of the dangers darkening over
That rich seed of frail defenses;
She whose last look smiled him courage,
Rosy wean of three rude winters,
When the pirate crew had seized them,
Sold the gold-haired boy and mother
Into sundering thraldom, slaughtered
Old Thorolf as stiff and useless.
Then the face of Queen Allogia,
Like a sudden shield, white-shining,
Raised between the vengeful blood-wrath
And the lad whose earliest death-blow
Smote the slayer unforgotten
Of Thorolf. Soft gleamed another,
Younger face, white rose of passion,
Geira, to whose grace her lover
Bowed his boyhood's turbulences,
Gentled in that blissful bridal,
Till death stole upon their joyance,
Gathering her fragrant girlhood
Like a flower, and frenzy-driven
Forth King Olaf fared a-warring,
South-away to sack and harry
Every quiet shore that silvered
On his homeless, waste horizon.
Still amid the flying splinters
Of the swords, and famous morrows,
When the Norns did as it pleased them
With their secret shuttle, twining
In the pattern of his life-days
Strands of mirth and splendor only
For the rending, for the strewing
On the whirlwind, still the Viking
Was of women loved and hated.
Swift their faces glinted on a
Drowning sight, —the Irish Gyda,
Wise of heart to ken a hero,
Stepping by her silken suitors,
Choosing for her lord the towering,
Shag-cloaked Northman, rough and royal;
Then Queen Sigrid, called the Haughty,
With the blow his glove had given
Whitening on her lips, a striking
That became his scathe; young Gudrun,
Who, to her slain father loyal,
Would her bridegroom's breast have riven,
Glorious as he slept beside her,
With a stab too long belated,
With the steel he, waking, wrested
From that slender hand; and Thyri,
Clinging, coaxing, pouting, weeping,
Craving still the thing denied her,
With a sting in all her sweetness,
Yet to him a new Madonna
For the baby-boy who nestled
On her bosom, all bedrifted
With her yellow hair, their starry
Little son too dear for keeping,
Tender guest that might not tarry,
Though upon those tiny temples,
Crystal cold beneath the kisses,
Like midsummer storm came showering
Down the last wild tears of Olaf,
Ever longing, ever lonely.
Nevermore to him, who there
Chokes with brine, shall maidens bear
Honey-mead in well-carved cup,
While the harpers strike the strings,
And the songs and shouts go up
Till the hollow roof-tree rings.
All the wine of life is run
For King Olaf Tryggvison.
All had vanished from the vision
Of those blue eyes, blankly staring
Through that pall of purple waters,
Through that peace below all motion
Of intoning tides and billows,
Where sad palaces are peopled
By the gods he had forsaken.
Too divine for vain derision
And the empty sound of censure,
Wondered they upon the waster
Of their temples, their blasphemer,
As that drifting body rested
On the knees of Ran, the husher
Of all hearts beneath the ocean.
Many mariners, far-faring
By the swan-road, subtly taken
In her nets, have proved her pillows
Soft with slumber. Azure-vested
Clustering came her thrice-three daughters,
While her lord, the hoary Ægir,
From his castle coral-steepled
Wended slow, the seaweed woven
In his mantle. Comely Niörd,
Crowned with shells, and mystic Mimir,
Ay, and many another followed,
Musing on this altar-crusher,
On this sleeping king, awaker
In a realm not theirs, this taster
Of strange bread and wine, this dreamer
Of the new dream that had cloven
Even their dusk region hollowed
Out of chaos by All-Maker,
By the Power past peradventure.
Nevermore shall Olaf's rod
Smite a silent, oak-hewn god;
Nevermore shall Olaf's torch
Fire great Woden's house, or Thor's,
Where the stubborn heathen scorch,
Constant to their ancestors,
— Souls too steadfast to be won
By King Olaf Tryggvison.
From that pallid body parted,
Sped the proud, impetuous spirit
Forth to seek his throne of splendor,
Not the benches of Valhalla
In the ancient Grove of Glistening,
Palace wrought of spears, roofed over
With gold shields, the tiles of Woden,
Where brave warriors feast forever
On the boar's flesh, making merry
With the foaming mead, with minstrels
And the hero-sport of battle,
But that far more dazzling dwelling
Of the young God radiant-hearted,
Christ, whose loyal earl was Olaf.
Oh, what welcome would he merit,
He, the new faith's fierce defender,
Forcing thousands, as a drover
Urges wild, unwilling cattle,
To the font, their blond heads shrinking
From the sacred dew? Who would not
Be faith-changers, take the christening
At his gracious word, gainsayers
Of his will, had been the players
In grim shows,—maimed, torn asunder,
Stoned, slow-strangled with the swallowing
Of live snakes. So did he sever
Norway from her shrines, excelling
All Christ's folk in fealty. Should not
Horns blow up for him in Heaven,
Olaf Tryggvison, who even
Had the wizards well outwitted,
Bidding them to feast, and firing,
While they drowsed there, dull with drinking,
Hall and all; caught those who flitted,
Chained them fast on tide-swept skerry,
Sorcerers whose best spell-singing
Had not stayed the waves from following?
Are not saints and angels listening
For his rumored coming, choiring
Till their praises are as thunder
Of great minster-bells a-ringing?
Olaf stood imparadised
In the loneliness of Christ,
Of the White Lord Christ, Who said:
'Only precious stones of pity,
Holy pearls of peace may build
For each soul the Shining City.
When in thee is Heaven fulfilled,
I shall claim my champion,
Not King Olaf Tryggvison,
But my shepherd Mercy, fed
On Love the wine and Love the bread.'