When, one by one, the stars have trembled through
Eve's shadowy hues of violet, rose, and fire
As on a pansy-bloom the limpid dew
Orbs its bright beads; and, one by one, the choir
Of insects wakes on nodding bush and brier:
Then through the woods where wandering winds pursue
A ceaseless whisper like an eery lyre
Struck in the Erl-king's halls, where ghosts and dreams
Hold revelry, your goblin music screams,
Shivering and strange as some strange thought come true.
Brown as the agaric that frills dead trees,
Or those fantastic fungi of the woods
That crowd the dampness are you kin to these
In some mysterious way that still eludes
My fancy? you, who haunt the solitudes
With witch-like wailings? voice, that seems to freeze
Out of the darkness, like the scent which broods,
Rank and rain-sodden, over autumn nooks,
That, to the mind, might well suggest such looks,
Ghastly and gray, as pale clairvoyance sees.
You people night with weirdness: lone and drear,
Beneath the stars, you cry your wizard runes;
And in the haggard silence, filled with fear,
Your shuddering hoot seems some bleak grief that croons
Mockery and terror; or, beneath the moon's
Cloud-hurrying glimmer, to the startled ear,
Crazed, madman snatches of old, perished tunes,
The witless wit of outcast Edgar there
In the wild night; or, wan with all despair,
The mirthless laughter of the Fool in Lear.
Succinctae sacra Dianae
There the ragged sunlight lay
Tawny on thick ferns and gray
On dark waters: dimmer,
Lone and deep, the cypress grove
Bowered mystery and wove
Braided lights, like those that love
On the pearl plumes of a dove
Faint to gleam and glimmer.
There centennial pine and oak
Into stormy cadence broke:
Hollow rocks gloomed, slanting,
Echoing in dim arcade,
Looming with long moss, that made
Twilight streaks in tatters laid:
Where the wild hart, hunt-affrayed,
Plunged the water, panting.
Poppies of a sleepy gold
Mooned the gray-green darkness rolled
Down its vistas, making
Wisp-like blurs of flame. And pale
Stole the dim deer down the vale:
And the haunting nightingale
Throbbed unseen-the olden tale
All its wild heart breaking.
There the hazy serpolet,
Dewy cistus, blooming wet,
Blushed on bank and bowlder;
There the cyclamen, as wan
As first footsteps of the dawn,
Carpeted the spotted lawn:
Where the nude nymph, dripping drawn,
Basked a wildflower shoulder.
In the citrine shadows there
What tall presences and fair,
Godlike, stood!-or, gracious
As the rock-rose there that grew,
Delicate and dim as dew,
Stepped from boles of oaks, and drew
Faunlike forms to follow, who
Filled the forest spacious!-
Guarding that Boeotian
Valley so no foot of man
Soiled its silence holy
With profaning tread-save one,
The Hyantian: Actaeon,
Who beheld, and might not shun
Pale Diana's wrath; undone
By his own mad folly.
Lost it lies-that valley: sleeps
In serene enchantment; keeps
Beautiful its banished
Bowers that no man may see;
Fountains that her deity
Haunts, and every rock and tree
Where her hunt goes swinging free
As in ages vanished.
Riders In The Night
Death rides black-masked to-night; and through the land
Madness beside him brandishes a torch.
The peaceful farmhouse with its vine-wreathed porch
Lies in their way. Death lifts a bony hand
And knocks, and Madness makes a wild demand
Of fierce Defiance: then the night's deep arch
Reverberates, and under beech and latch
A dead face stares; shot where one took his stand.
Then down the night wild hoofs; the darkness beats;
And like a torrent through the startled town
Destruction sweeps; high overhead a flame;
And Violence that shoots amid the streets.
A piercing whistle: one who gallops down:
And Death and Madness go the way they came.
Rain and black night. Beneath the covered bridge
The rushing Fork that roars among its rocks.
Nothing is out. Nothing? What's that which blocks
The long grey road upon the rain-swept ridge?
A horseman! No! A mask! As hewn from jet
With ready gun he waits and sentinels
The open way. Far off he hears wild bells;
And now a signal shrills through wind and wet.
Was that the thunder, or the rushing stream?
The tunnel of the bridge throbs with mad hoofs;
Now its black throat pours out a midnight cloud
Riders! behind whom steadily a gleam
Grows to a glare that silhouettes dark roofs,
Whence armed Pursuit gathers and gallops loud.
A lonely barn, lost in a field of weeds;
A fallen fence, where partly hangs a gate:
The skies are darkening and the hour is late;
The Indian dusk comes, red in rainy beads.
Along a path, which from a woodland leads,
Horsemen come riding who dismount and wait:
Here Anarchy conspires with Crime and Hate,
And Madness masks and on its business speeds.
Another Kuklux in another war
Of blacker outrage down the night they ride,
Brandishing a torch and gun before each farm.
Is Law asleep then? Does she fear? Where are
The servants of her strength, the Commonweath's pride?
And where the steel of her restraining arm?
In Black And Red
The hush of death is on the night. The corn,
That loves to whisper to the wind; the leaves,
That dance with it, are silent: one perceives
No motion mid the fields, as dry as horn.
What light is that? It cannot be the morn!
Yet in the east it seems its witchcraft weaves
A fiery rose. Look! how it grows! it heaves
And flames and tosses! 'Tis a burning barn!
And now the night is rent with shouts and shots.
Dark forms and faces hurry past. The gloom
Gallops with riders. Homes are less than straw
Before this madness: human lives, mere lots
Flung in and juggled from the cap of Doom,
Where Crime stamps yelling on the face of Law.
Gammer Gaffer - A Ballad Of Gloucester
One night when trees were tumbled down,
And wild winds shook at sea the sail,
Old Gammer Gaffer, lean and brown,
Chuckled and whistled on her nail;
Then seized her broom and, mounting it,
Flew up the chimney with her cat;
All Dogtown bayed to see her flit,
The screech-owl shrieked, and, lightning-lit,
About her head flew black the bat.
Her crow-like body, humped and black,
Seemed part and portion of her broom;
The black cat, crouched upon her back,
Lit with its yellow eyes the gloom.
Towards Gloucester Town she took her flight,
And night grew wilder as she went;
The wind blew out the fisher's light,
And tore his sails in tatters white,
And strewed them through the firmament.
Old shutters clapped and windows rapped,
And shingles shook as if in pain;
Her besom on each old door slapped
And flapped as, cloaked and conical-capped,
Whisked by old Gammer Gaffer's train.
To window-panes, where candle-light
Showed some good wife who sat alone,
She pressed her sharp face, skinny white,
And knocked with knuckled hands of bone:
Then croaked and mumbled, like the draught
That grumbles in the chimney-flue;
Or on the gables danced and laughed,
Her old cloak flapping as if daft,
While round her face her wild hair blew.
Old gutters dripped and dead leaves skipped,
And wildly struck the village clock,
As off a shutter here she ripped,
Old Gammer! or like madness whipped
Around and 'round some weather-cock.
Then at one door she shook the latch,
And to a cranny set her chin
And croaked:'Hey! here's an egg to hatch.
Eh? Goodie Brown, come, take it in.
I've news for ye! Good news! he! he!
Your old man he's gone down at sea.
There's something, eh? to hearten ye!
Hey! what man now shall wear his shoes?'
And, chuckling to herself, again
Around the house she rode her broom;
Then mounted to the weather-vane
And whirled and maundered to the gloom:
'Aye! weep, ye women! weep and wail!
'Twas I who wrought your good men's weird!
'Twas I who raised the Gloucester gale!
'Twas I who tattered shroud and sail,
And seized and drowned them, by my beard!'
Old sign-boards squeaked and gables creaked.
And crazy gates closed with a bang,
As, parrot-beaked and lanthorn-cheeked,
Old Gammer round the belfry shrieked
And made its cracked old bell go clang
So round and round the old Cape Town
She whirled and whined as whines the wind;
Now this way blew her rag of gown,
Now that way, through the blackness blind.
And as she went she crowed and croaked.
And crooned some snatch of devil's verse,
While now and then her cat she stroked;
And, in a wink, all capped and cloaked,
Flew back to Dogtown with a curse.
Bertrand De Born
The burden of the sometime years,
That once my soul did overweigh,
Falls from me, with its griefs and fears,
When gazing in thine eyes of gray;
Wherein, behold, like some bright ray
Of dawn, thy heart's fond love appears,
To cheer my life upon its way.
Thine eyes! the daybreak of my heart!
That give me strength to do and dare;
Whose beauty is a radiant part
Of all my songs; the music there;
The morning, that makes dim each care,
And glorifies my mind's dull mart,
And helps my soul to do and dare.
God, when He made thy fresh fair face,
And thy young body, took the morn
And made thee like a rose, whose race
Is not of Earth; without a thorn,
And dewed thee with the joy that's born
Of love, wherein hope hath its place
Like to the star that heralds morn.
I go my way through town and thorp:
In court and hall and castle bower
I tune my lute and strike my harp:
And often from some twilight tower
A lady drops to me a flower,
That bids me scale the moat's steep scarp,
And climb to love within her bower.
I heed them not, but go my ways:
What is their passion unto me!
My songs are only in thy praise;
Thy face alone it is I see,
That fills my heart with melody
My sweet aubade! that makes my days
All music, singing here in me!
One time a foul knight in his towers
Sneered thus: 'God's blood! why weary us
With this one woman all our hours!
Sing of our wenches! amorous
Yolande and Ysoarde here! Not thus
Shalt sing, but of our paramours!
What is thy Lady unto us!'
And then I flung my lute aside;
And from its baldric flew my sword;
And down the hall 't was but a stride;
And in his brute face and its word
My gauntlet; and around the board
The battle, till all wild-beast-eyed
He lay and at his throat my sword.
Thou dost remember in Provence
The vile thing that I slew; and how
With my good jongleurs and my lance
Kept back his horde! The memory now
Makes fierce my blood and hot my brow
With rage. Ah, what a madman dance
We led them, and escaped somehow!
Oft times, when, in the tournament,
I see thee sitting yet uncrowned;
And bugles blow and spears are bent,
And shields and falchions clash around,
And steeds go crashing to the ground;
And thou dost smile on me, 'though spent
With war, again my soul is crowned:
And I am fire to strike and slay;
Before my face there comes a mist
Of blood; and like a flame I play
Through the loud lists; all who resist
Go down like corn; until thy wrist,
Kneeling, I kiss; the wreath they lay
Of beauty on thy head's gold mist.
And then I seize my lute and sing
Some chanson or some wild aubade
Full of thy beauty and the swing
Of swords and love which I have had
Of thee, until, with music mad,
The lists reel with thy name and ring
The echoed words of my aubade.
I am thy knight and troubadour,
Bertrand de Born, whom naught shall part
From thee: who art my life's high lure,
And wild bird of my wilder heart
And all its music: yea, who art
My soul's sweet sickness and its cure,
From which, God grant! it ne 'er shall part.
The day is dead; and in the west
The slender crescent of the moon
Diana's crystal-kindled crest
Sinks hillward in a silvery swoon.
What is the murmur in the dell?
The stealthy whisper and the drip?
A Dryad with her leaf-light trip?
Or Naiad o'er her fountain well?
Who, with white fingers for her comb,
Sleeks her blue hair, and from its curls
Showers slim minnows and pale pearls,
And hollow music of the foam.
What is it in the vistaed ways
That leans and springs, and stoops and sways?
The naked limbs of one who flees?
An Oread who hesitates
Before the Satyr form that waits,
Crouching to leap, that there she sees?
Or under boughs, reclining cool,
A Hamadryad, like a pool
Of moonlight, palely beautiful?
Or Limnad, with her lilied face,
More lovely than the misty lace
That haunts a star and gives it grace?
Or is it some Leimoniad,
In wildwood flowers dimly clad?
Oblong blossoms white as froth;
Or mottled like the tiger-moth;
Or brindled as the brows of death;
Wild of hue and wild of breath.
Here ethereal flame and milk
Blent with velvet and with silk;
Here an iridescent glow
Mixed with satin and with snow:
Pansy, poppy and the pale
Serpolet and galingale;
Mandrake and anemone,
Honey-reservoirs o' the bee;
Cistus and the cyclamen,
Cheeked like blushing Hebe this,
And the other white as is
Bubbled milk of Venus when
Cupid's baby mouth is pressed,
Rosy, to her rosy breast.
And, besides, all flowers that mate
With aroma, and in hue
Stars and rainbows duplicate
Here on earth for me and you.
Yea! at last mine eyes can see!
'Tis no shadow of the tree
Swaying softly there, but she!
Mænad, Bassarid, Bacchant,
What you will, who doth enchant
Night with sensuous nudity.
Lo! again I hear her pant
Breasting through the dewy glooms
Through the glow-worm gleams and glowers
Of the starlight;-wood-perfumes
Swoon around her and frail showers
Of the leaflet-tilted rain.
Lo, like love, she comes again,
Through the pale, voluptuous dusk,
Sweet of limb with breasts of musk.
With her lips, like blossoms, breathing
Honeyed pungence of her kiss,
And her auburn tresses wreathing
Like umbrageous helichrys,
There she stands, like fire and snow,
In the moon's ambrosial glow,
Both her shapely loins low-looped
With the balmy blossoms, drooped,
Of the deep amaracus.
Spiritual yet sensual,
Lo, she ever greets me thus
In my vision; white and tall,
Her delicious body there,
Raimented with amorous air,
To my mind expresses all
The allurements of the world.
And once more I seem to feel
On my soul, like frenzy, hurled
All the passionate past.-I reel,
Greek again in ancient Greece,
In the Pyrrhic revelries;
In the mad and Mænad dance
Onward dragged with violence;
Pan and old Silenus and
Faunus and a Bacchant band
Round me. Wild my wine-stained hand
O'er tumultuous hair is lifted;
While the flushed and Phallic orgies
Whirl around me; and the marges
Of the wood are torn and rifted
With lascivious laugh and shout.
And barbarian there again,
Shameless with the shameless rout,
Bacchus lusting in each vein,
With her pagan lips on mine,
Like a god made drunk with wine,
On I reel; and, in the revels,
Her loose hair, the dance dishevels,
Blows, and 'thwart my vision swims
All the splendor of her limbs....
So it seems. Yet woods are lonely.
And when I again awake,
I shall find their faces only
Moonbeams in the boughs that shake;
And their revels, but the rush
Of night-winds through bough and brush.
Yet my dreaming-is it more
Than mere dreaming? Is some door
Opened in my soul? a curtain
Raised? to let me see for certain
I have lived that life before?
We were a crew of what you please,
Men with the lust of gold gone mad;
Dutch and Yankee and Portuguese,
With a nigger or two from Trinidad,
The scum of the Caribbees:
Outbound, outbound for a treasure ground,
A pirate isle no man had found,
A long-lost isle in the Southern Seas,
An isle of the Southern Seas.
We sailed our ship by a chart we bore,
The parchment script of a buccaneer,
Whose skeleton, found on a Carib shore,
Had kept its secret for many a year,
Locked in a buckle of belt it wore.
And the dim chart told of buried gold,
A hidden harbor and pirate hold,
On an isle that seamen touched no more,
That sailors knew no more.
We were a crew of Devil-may-care,
Who staked our lives on a bit of a scrawl;
Who diced each other for lot and share
Or ever we hoisted sail at all,
Or the brine blew through our hair.
At last with a hail for calm or gale,
The wind of adventure in our sail,
We piped up anchor and did our dare,
Steered for the Island there.
From Porto Bello to Isle of France,
And thence South East our chart read plain:
We followed the route of old Romance,
The plate-ship route of the Spanish Main,
The old wild route of Chance.
Black Beard sailed it and Jean Lafitte;
And Drake and Morgan, and many a fleet
Of pillage once that led the dance,
Spain's golden-galleon dance.
Moidores, guineas, and pieces-of-eight;
Doubloons round as the gibbous moon;
All the wealth that they sacked as freight
In the good old days' of the piccaroon,
We dreamed of soon and late:
And gems of the East, of which the least
Would grace a Khan's or a Caliph's feast,
And chest on chest of Spanish plate,
Great chests of Spanish plate.
The wind blew fair from Panama;
For a month the wind blew fair and free;
We steered our ship by the gold we saw
In the far-off script of a century,
Wherein men knew no law.
We held our course, for better or worse,
Now with a song and now with a curse,
According to the lots we'd draw,
Rum or the lots we'd draw.
We had not reckoned on destiny,
And him all seamen dread, they say,
That captain, old in infamy,
Who holds to Hell till the Judgment Day,
And takes of Earth his fee.
Oh, black and black is the South Sea track
Of the skeleton Captain, Yellow Jack,
Who sweeps with his boneyard crew the sea,
The hurricane-haunted sea.
. . . . . .
Six weeks we lay in the doldrums; dead;
Six weeks that rotted us with delay,
Till a gale sprang up and drove us ahead,
Out of our course, for a week and a day,
Till we deemed we were Dutchman-led.
When the gale was done, why, one by one,
The scurvy took us, every son,
And mutiny down in the hold was bred,
Mutiny then was bred.
At last on our bow we sighted shore,
A wild crag circled of cloud and sea;
Our pirate isle, where ceaselessly
The rock-fanged surf kept up its roar
Round a towering bluff and tree,
Where the chart was marked that the gold should be:
Cliffs that the seafowl clamored o'er,
With the dragging seaweed hoar.
A smudge of mist and a gleam that died,
And a muttering down below
And night was on us at a stride,
And, God! how it came to blow!
And a man went over the side:
Then fore and aft of our crazy craft
Corposants glimmered and Madness laughed,
And a voice from the Island wild replied,
A dæmon voice replied.
Three nights and days of the hurncane's rage.
What curse now held us off!
We never would win to an anchorage,
We thought, when, ho! with a scoff
The Island thundered, 'Come take your wage!'
And, lo, that night by the thin moonlight
We found our ship in a bay or bight,
That seemed a part of another age,
A far-off pirate age.
Our ship a-leak and her pumps all jammed
We won to the Harbor of Yellow Jack;
And so it was that he took command
And hoisted his skeleton flag of black,
And our decks with dead men crammed.
But we we found the treasure ground
Where some went mad and some were drowned
For the gold, you see, was damned, was damned,
The gold you see was damned.
The Black Knight
I had not found the road too short,
As once I had in days of youth,
In that old forest of long ruth,
Where my young knighthood broke its heart,
Ere love and it had come to part,
And lies made mockery of truth.
I had not found the road too short.
A blind man, by the nightmare way,
Had set me right when I was wrong.-
I had been blind my whole life long-
What wonder then that on this day
The blind should show me how astray
My strength had gone, my heart once strong.
A blind man pointed me the way.
The road had been a heartbreak one,
Of roots and rocks and tortured trees,
And pools, above my horse's knees,
And wandering paths, where spiders spun
'Twixt boughs that never saw the sun,
And silence of lost centuries.
The road had been a heartbreak one.
It seemed long years since that black hour
When she had fled, and I took horse
To follow, and without remorse
To slay her and her paramour
In that old keep, that ruined tower,
From whence was borne her father's corse.
It seemed long years since that black hour.
And now my horse was starved and spent,
My gallant destrier, old and spare;
The vile road's mire in mane and hair,
I felt him totter as he went:-
Such hungry woods were never meant
For pasture: hate had reaped them bare.
Aye, my poor beast was old and spent.
I too had naught to stay me with;
And like my horse was starved and lean;
My armor gone; my raiment mean;
Bare-haired I rode; uneasy sith
The way I'd lost, and some dark myth
Far in the woods had laughed obscene.
I had had naught to stay me with.
Then I dismounted. Better so.
And found that blind man at my rein.
And there the path stretched straight and plain.
I saw at once the way to go.
The forest road I used to know
In days when life had less of pain.
Then I dismounted. Better so.
I had but little time to spare,
Since evening now was drawing near;
And then I thought I saw a sneer
Enter into that blind man's stare:
And suddenly a thought leapt bare,-
What if the Fiend had set him here!-
I still might smite him or might spare.
I braced my sword: then turned to look:
For I had heard an evil laugh:
The blind man, leaning on his staff,
Still stood there where my leave I took:
What! did he mock me? Would I brook
A blind fool's scorn?-My sword was half
Out of its sheath. I turned to look:
And he was gone. And to my side
My horse came nickering as afraid.
Did he too fear to be betrayed?-
What use for him? I might not ride.
So to a great bough there I tied,
And left him in the forest glade:
My spear and shield I left beside.
My sword was all I needed there.
It would suffice to right my wrongs;
To cut the knot of all those thongs
With which she'd bound me to despair,
That woman with her midnight hair,
Her Circe snares and Siren songs.
My sword was all I needed there.
And then that laugh again I heard,
Evil as Hell and darkness are.
It shook my heart behind its bar
Of purpose, like some ghastly word.
But then it may have been a bird,
An owlet in the forest far,
A raven, croaking, that I heard.
I loosed my sword within its sheath;
My sword, disuse and dews of night
Had fouled with rust and iron-blight.
I seemed to hear the forest breathe
A menace at me through its teeth
Of thorns 'mid which the way lay white.
I loosed my sword within its sheath.
I had not noticed until now
The sun was gone, and gray the moon
Hung staring; pale as marble hewn;-
Like some old malice, bleak of brow,
It glared at me through leaf and bough,
With which the tattered way was strewn.
I had not noticed until now.
And then, all unexpected, vast
Above the tops of ragged pines
I saw a ruin, dark with vines,
Against the blood-red sunset massed:
My perilous tower of the past,
Round which the woods thrust giant spines.
I never knew it was so vast.
Long while I stood considering.-
This was the place and this the night.
The blind man then had set me right.
Here she had come for sheltering.
That ruin held her: that dark wing
Which flashed a momentary light.
Some time I stood considering.
Deep darkness fell. The somber glare
Of sunset, that made cavernous eyes
Of those gaunt casements 'gainst the skies,
Had burnt to ashes everywhere.
Before my feet there rose a stair
Of oozy stone, of giant size,
On which the gray moon flung its glare.
Then I went forward, sword in hand,
Until the slimy causeway loomed,
And huge beyond it yawned and gloomed
The gateway where one seemed to stand,
In armor, like a burning brand,
Sword-drawn; his visor barred and plumed.
And I went toward him, sword in hand.
He should not stay revenge from me.
Whatever lord or knight he were,
He should not keep me long from her,
That woman dyed in infamy.
No matter. God or devil he,
His sword should prove no barrier.-
Fool! who would keep revenge from me!
And then I heard, harsh over all,
That demon laughter, filled with scorn:
It woke the echoes, wild, forlorn,
Dark in the ivy of that wall,
As when, within a mighty hall,
One blows a giant battle-horn.
Loud, loud that laugh rang over all.
And then I struck him where he towered:
I struck him, struck with all my hate:
Black-plumed he loomed before the gate:
I struck, and found his sword that showered
Fierce flame on mine while black he glowered
Behind his visor's wolfish grate.
I struck; and taller still he towered.
A year meseemed we battled there:
A year; ten years; a century:
My blade was snapped; his lay in three:
His mail was hewn; and everywhere
Was blood; it streaked my face and hair;
And still he towered over me.
A year meseemed we battled there.
'Unmask!' I cried. 'Yea, doff thy casque!
Put up thy visor! fight me fair!
I have no mail; my head is bare!
Take off thy helm, is all I ask!
Why dost thou hide thy face?-Unmask!'-
My eyes were blind with blood and hair,
And still I cried, 'Take off thy casque!'
And then once more that laugh rang out
Like madness in the caves of Hell:
It hooted like some monster well,
The haunt of owls, or some mad rout
Of witches. And with battle shout
Once more upon that knight I fell,
While wild again that laugh rang out.
Like Death's own eyes his glared in mine,
As with the fragment of my blade
I smote him helmwise; huge he swayed,
Then crashed, like some cadaverous pine,
Uncasqued, his face in full moonshine:
And I-I saw; and shrank afraid.
For, lo! behold! the face was mine.
What devil's work was here!-What jest
For fiends to laugh at, demons hiss!-
To slay myself? and so to miss
My hate's reward?-revenge confessed!-
Was this knight I?-My brain I pressed.-
Then who was he who gazed on this?-
What devil's work was here!--What jest!
It was myself on whom I gazed-
My darker self!-With fear I rose.-
I was right weak from those great blows.-
I stood bewildered, stunned and dazed,
And looked around with eyes amazed.-
I could not slay her now, God knows!-
Around me there a while I gazed.
Then turned and fled into the night,
While overhead once more I heard
That laughter, like some demon bird
Wailing in darkness.-Then a light
Made clear a woman by that knight.
I saw 'twas she, but said no word,
And silent fled into the night.
Not they the great
Who build authority around a State,
And firm on calumny and party hate
Base their ambition. Nor the great are they
Who with disturbance make their way,
Mindful of but to-day
And individual ends that so compel
They know not what they do, yet do it well.
Butthey the great.
Who sacrifice their honor for the State
And set their seal
Upon the writing, consecrate,
Of time and fate,
That says, 'He suffered for a People's weal:
Or, calm of soul and eye,
Helped to eliminate
The Madness that makes Progress its wild cry,
And for its policy
Self, a divinity,
That on illusions thrives,
And knows not whither its desire drives
Till on the rocks its headlong vessel rives.'
God of the wise,
On whom the People wait,
And who at last all evils wilt abate,
Make Thou more keen men's eyes:
Let them behold how Thou at length wilt bring,
From turmoil and confusion now that cling
About the Nation's feet,
Order and calm and peace
With harmony of purpose, wing to wing
As out of Chaos sprang
Light and its co-mate, Law, when loud Thy summons rang
High instruments of power never to cease,
Spirits of destiny,
Who from their lofty seat
Shall put down hate and strife's insanity,
And all contentions old that eat
The country to the quick:
And Common-Sense, the Lion-Heart now sick,
Forth from his dungeon cell
With Song, his bold Blondél;
And, stretching forth a stalwart arm
To laboring land and sea,
With his glad coming warm
The land to one accord, one sympathy
Of soul; whose strength shall stand
For something more than gold to all the land,
Making more sure the ties
Of freedom and equality
And Progress; who, unto the watchful skies,
Unfurls his banner and, with challenging hand,
Leads on the world's emprise.
God of the just and wise,
Behold! why is it that our mortal eyes
Are not more open to the good that lies
Around our feet? the blessings in disguise
That go with us about our daily deeds
Attending all our needs?
Why is it that, so rich and prodigal,
We will complain
Of Nature her whose liberal hand,
Summer and spring and fall,
Pours out abundance on the Land?
Cotton and oil and grain
O God, make men more sane!
Help them to understand
And trust in her who never failed her due;
Who never camped with Famine and his crew
Or made ally
Of the wild House of old Calamity!
But always faithfully,
Year after generous year,
From forth her barque of plenty, stanch of sail,
Poured big abundance. What did lies avail,
Or what did fear
To make her largess fail? They who descry,
Raising a hue and cry,
Disaster's Harpies darkening the sky
Each month that comes and goes, are they not less
Of insight than the beasts of hill and field,
Who take no worry, knowing Earth will yield
Her usual harvest a sufficiency
For all and more; yea, even enough to bless
The sons of Greed, who make a market of lies
And blacken blessings unto credulous eyes,
Turning them curses, till on every hand
They see, as Speculation sees,
God's benefactions rain, and sun, and snow
Working destruction in the land,
The camping-ground of old hostilities,
Changing all joy to woe
With visitations of her wrath withal,
Proclaiming her, our mother Nature, foe
Undeviating, to our hopes below
Nature, who never yet has failed to bless us all.
By the long leagues of cotton Texas rolls,
And Mississippi bolls;
By the wide seas of wheat
The far Dakotas beat
Against the barriers of the mountainland:
And by the miles of maize
Like a vast carpet in
Her House of Nights and Days,
Where, glittering, in council meet
The Spirits of the Cold and Heat,
With old Fertility whose heart they win:
By all the wealth replete
Within our scan,
From Florida to where the snows begin,
Made manifest of Nature unto Man
The Land is as a mighty scroll unrolled,
Whereon God writes His name
In harvest: green and gold
And russet making fair as oft of old
Each dædal part He decorates the same
With splendors manifold
Of mountains and of rivers, fruits and flowers;
Sealing each passage of the rubric Hours
With esoteric powers
Of life and love, and all their mystery,
Through which men yet may see
The truth that shall refute the fool that cries,
'God has forgot us and our great emprise!'
Of elemental mold
God made our Country, wombing her with gold
And veining her with copper, iron, and coal.
Making her strong for her appointed goal.
High on her eagled peaks His rainbow gleams
Its mighty message: in her mountain streams
His voice is heard: and on the wind and rain
And Portents of His purpose, while she dreams
Of great achievements, great activities,
And, weariless of brain,
From plain to busy plain,
And peak to plateau, with unresting hand,
Along the laboring land,
She speeds swift train on train,
Feeling the urge in her of energies,
That bear her business on
From jubilant dawn to dawn,
From where the snow makes dumb
Alaskan heights, to where, like hives of bees,
The prairies hum
With cities; while around her girdling seas
Ships go and come,
Servants and slaves of her vast industries.
And He, who sits above,
And, watching, sees
Her dreams become great actualities,
Out of His love
Will He continue to bestow
Blessings upon her, even more and more,
Until their store
Shall pass the count of all the dreams we know?
The sordid souls that worship Greed?
The vampire lives that feed,
Feast and grow fat
On what they name the Proletariat;
Wringing with blood and sweat,
From forth the nation's muscle, heart, and brain,
The strength that keeps her sane:
They, too, shall have their day and cease to be.
Ignoble souls, who, for a market, set
Before the People's eyes
A scarecrow train
Of fabrications, rumors, antic lies
Of havoc and calamity,
Panic appearances of Famine, War,
That for the moment bar
The path of Truth and work their selfish gain.
God of the simple and the wise,
Grant us more light; and lead
The great adventure to its mighty end!
From Thy o'erarching skies
Still give us heed,
And make more clear the way that onward lies.
Not wealth now is her need,
The great Republic's, Wealth, the child of Greed,
Nay, nay! O God, but for the dream we plead,
The dream as well as deed,
The Dream of Beauty which shall so descend
From Thee, and with her inmost being blend,
That it shall help her cause
More than all temporal laws. . . .
Now, for her soul's increase,
And spirit's peace,
Curb the bright dæmon Speed;
Grant her release
From strife; and let the joy that springs
From love of lowly things
Possess her soul and plead
For work that counts for something to the heart,
And grows immortal part
Of life the work called Art;
And let Love lead
Her softly all her days; with quiet hand
Sowing the fruitful land
With spiritual seed
Of wisdom from which blossoms shall expand
Of vital beauty, and her fame increase
More than the wealth of all the centuries.
God of the wise,
The meek and humble, who still look to Thee,
Holding to sanity
And truth and purpose of the great emprise,
Keep her secure,
And beautiful and pure
As when in ages past Thou didst devise,
Saying within Thy heart, 'She shall endure!
A great Republic!' Let her course be sure,
O God, and, in detraction's spite,
And in the night,
If night there must be, light a beacon light
To guide her safely through the strife,
The conflict of her soul, with passions rife.
Oh, raise some man of might,
Whose mind shall put down storm and stress of life,
And kindle anew the lamp whose light shall burn,
A Pharos, in the storms,
That shall arise and with confusion shake
Foundations of the walls of Civilization:
A pillar of flame, behold,
Like that of old,
Which Israel followed and its bondage brake,
Leading each night-lost Nation
To refuge in her arms,
Freedom's, away from all the Tyrannies
Of all the Centuries,
Safe on her heart to learn
To hush its heart's alarms.
A March Voluntary (Wind And Cloud)
Winds that cavern heaven and the clouds
And canyon with cerulean blue,
Great rifts down which the stormy sunlight crowds
Like some bright seraph, who,
Mailed in intensity of silver mail,
Flashes his splendor over hill and vale,
Now tramp, tremendous, the loud forest through:
Or now, like mighty runners in a race,
That swing, long pace to pace,
Sweep 'round the hills, fresh as, at dawn's first start,
They swept, dew-dripping, from
The crystal-crimson ruby of her heart,
Shouting the dim world dumb.
And with their passage the gray and green
Of the earth 's washed clean;
And the cleansing breath of their might is wings
And warm aroma, we know as Spring's,
And sap and strength to her bourgeonings.
My brow I bare
To the cool, clean air,
That blows from the crests of the clouds that roll,
Pearl-piled and berged as floes of Northern Seas,
Banked gray and thunder-low
Big in the heaven's peace;
Clouds, borne from nowhere that we know,
With nowhere for their goal;
With here and there a silvery glow
Of sunlight chasming deeps of sombre snow,
Great gulfs that overflow
With sky, a sapphire-blue,
Or opal, sapphire-kissed,
Wide-welled and deep and swiftly rifting through
Stratas of streaming mist;
Each opening like a pool,
Set 'round with crag-like clouds 'mid which its eye gleams cool.
What blue is bluer than the bluebird's blue!
'T is as if heaven itself sat on its wings;
As if the sky in miniature it bore
The fields and forests through,
Bringing the very heaven to our door;
The daybreak of its back soft-wedded to
The sunset-auburn of its throat that sings.
The dithyrambics of the wind and rain
Strive to, but cannot, drown its strain:
Again, and yet again
I hear it where the maples tassel red,
And blossoms of the crab round out o'erhead,
And catkins make the willow-brake
A gossamer blur around the lake
That lately was a stream,
A little stream locked in its icy dream.
Invisible crystals of aerial ring,
Against the wind I hear the bluebird fling
Its notes; and where the oak's mauve leaves uncurl
I catch the skyey glitter of its wing;
Its wing that lures me, like some magic charm,
Far in the woods
And shadowy solitudes:
And where the purple hills stretch under purple and pearl
Of clouds that sweep and swirl,
Its music seems to take material form;
A form that beckons with cerulean arm
And bids me see and follow,
Where, in the violet hollow,
There at the wood's far turn,
On starry moss and fern,
She shimmers, glimmering like a rainbowed shower,
The Spirit of Spring,
Diaphanous-limbed, who stands
With honeysuckle hands
Sowing the earth with many a firstling flower,
Footed with fragrance of their blossoming,
And clad in heaven as is the bluebird's wing.
The tumult and the booming of the trees,
Shaken with shoutings of the winds of March
No mightier music have I heard than these,
The rocking and the rushing of the trees,
The organ-thunder of the forest's arch.
And in the wind their columned trunks become,
Each one, a mighty pendulum,
Swayed to and fro as if in time
To some vast song, some roaring rhyme,
Wind-shouted from sonorous hill to hill
The woods are never still:
The dead leaves frenzy by,
Innumerable and frantic as the dance
That whirled its madness once beneath the sky
In ancient Greece, like withered Corybants:
And I am caught and carried with their rush,
Their countless panic borne away,
A brother to the wind, through the deep gray
Of the old beech-wood, where the wild Marchday
Sits dreaming, filling all the boisterous hush
With murmurous laughter and swift smiles of sun;
Conspiring in its heart and plotting how
To load with leaves and blossoms every bough,
And whispering to itself, 'Now Spring's begun!
And soon her flowers shall golden through these leaves!
Away, ye sightless things and sere!
Make room for that which shall appear!
The glory and the gladness of the year;
The loveliness my eye alone perceives,
Still hidden there beneath the covering leaves,
My song shall waken! flowers, that this floor
Of whispering woodland soon shall carpet o'er
For my sweet sisters' feet to tread upon,
Months kinder than myself, the stern and strong,
Whose soul is full of wild, tumultuous song;
And whose rough hand now thrusts itself among
The dead leaves; groping for the flowers that lie
Huddled beneath, each like a sleep-closed eye:
Gold adder's-tongue and pink
Oxalis; snow-pale bloodroot blooms;
May-apple hoods, that parasol the brink,
Screening their moons, of the slim woodland stream:
And the wild iris; trillium, white as stars
And bluebells, dream on dream:
With harsh hand groping in the glooms,
I grasp their slenderness and shake
Their lovely eyes awake,
Dispelling from their souls the sleep that mars;
With heart-disturbing jars
Clasping their forms, and with rude finger-tips,
Through the dark rain that drips
Lifting them shrinking to my stormy lips,
'Already spicewood and the sassafras,
Like fragrant flames, begin
To tuft their boughs with topaz, ere they spin
Their beryl canopies a glimmering mass,
Mist-blurred, above the deepening grass.
Already where the old beech stands
Clutching the lean soil as it were with hands
Taloned and twisted, on its trunk a knot,
A huge excrescence, a great fungous clot,
Like some enormous and distorting wart,
My eyes can see how, blot on beautiful blot
Of blue, the violets blur through.
The musky and the loamy rot
Of leaf-pierced leaves; and, heaven in their hue,
The little bluets, crew on azure crew,
Prepare their myriads for invasion too.
'And in my soul I see how, soon, shall rise,
Still hidden to men's eyes,
Dim as the wind that 'round them treads,
Hosts of spring-beauties, streaked with rosy reds,
And pale anemones, whose airy heads,
As to some fairy rhyme,
All day shall nod in delicate time:
And now, even now, white peal on peal
Of pearly bells, that in bare boughs conceal
Themselves, like snowy music, chime on chime,
The huckleberries to my gaze reveal
Clusters, that soon shall toss
Above this green-starred moss,
That, like an emerald fire, gleams across
This forest-side, and from its moist deeps lifts
Slim, wire-like stems of seed;
Or, lichen-colored, glows with many a bead
Of cup-like blossoms: carpets where, I read,
When through the night's dark rifts
The moonlight's glimpsing splendor sifts,
The immaterial forms
With moonbeam-beckoning arms,
Of Fable and Romance,
Myths that are born of whispers of the wind
And foam of falling waters, music-twinned,
Shall lead the legendary dance;
The dance that never stops,
Of Earth's wild beauty on the green hill-tops.'
The youth, the beauty and disdain
Of birth, death does not know,
Compel my heart with longing like to pain
When the spring breezes blow,
The fragrance and the heat
Of their soft breath, whose musk makes sweet
Each woodland way, each wild retreat,
Seem saying in my ear, 'Hark, and behold!
Before a week be gone
This barren woodside and this leafless wold
A million flowers shall invade
With argent and azure, pearl and gold,
Like rainbow fragments scattered of the dawn,
Here making bright, here wan
Each foot of earth, each glen and glimmering glade,
Each rood of windy wood,
Where late gaunt Winter stood,
Shaggy with snow and howling at the sky;
Where even now the Springtime seems afraid
To whisper of the beauty she designs,
The flowery campaign that she now outlines
Within her soul; her heart's conspiracy
To take the world with loveliness; defy
And then o'erwhelm the Death that Winter throned
Amid the trees, with love that she hath owned
Since God informed her of His very breath,
Giving her right triumphant over Death.
Her heart's deep ecstasy shall swell,
Taking the form of flower, leaf, and blade,
Invading every dell,
And sweeping, surge on surge,
Around the world, like some exultant raid,
Even to the heaven's verge.
Soon shall her legions storm
Death's ramparts, planting Life's fair standard there,
The banner which her beauty hath in care,
Beauty, that shall eventuate
With all the pomp and pageant and the state,
That are apart of power, and that wait
On majesty, to which it, too, is heir.'
Already purplish pink and green
The bloodroot's buds and leaves are seen
Clumped in dim cirques; one from the other
Hardly distinguished in the shadowy smother
Of last year's leaves blown brown between.
And, piercing through the layers of dead leaves,
The searching eye perceives
The dog's-tooth violet, pointed needle-keen,
Lifting its beak of mottled green;
While near it heaves
The May-apple its umbrous spike, a ball,
Like to a round, green bean,
That folds its blossom, topping its tight-closed parasol:
The clustered bluebell near
Hollows its azure ear,
Low leaning to the earth as if to hear
The sound of its own growing and perfume
Flowing into its bloom:
And softly there
The twin-leaf's stems prepare
Pale tapers of transparent white,
As if to light
The Spirit of Beauty through the wood's green night.
Why does Nature love the number five?
Five-whorled leaves and five-tipped flowers?
Haply the bee that sucks i' the rose,
Laboring aye to store its hive,
And humming away the long noon hours,
Haply it knows as it comes and goes:
Or haply the butterfly,
Or moth of pansy-dye,
Flitting from bloom to bloom
In the forest's violet gloom,
It knows why:
Or the irised fly; to whom
Each bud, as it glitters near,
Lends eager and ardent ear.
And also tell
Why Nature loves so well
To prank her flowers in gold and blue.
Haply the dew,
That lies so close to them the whole night through,
Hugged to each honeyed heart,
Perhaps the dew the secret could impart:
Or haply now the bluebird there that bears,
God's sapphire on its wings,
O' the clean, clear sky,
The heav'n of which he sings,
Haply he, too, could tell me why:
Or the maple there that swings,
To the wind's soft sigh,
Its winglets, crystal red,
A rainy ruby twinkling overhead:
Or haply now the wind, that breathes of rain
Amid the rosy boughs, it could explain:
And even now, in words of mystery,
That haunt the heart of me,
Low-whispered, dim and bland,
Tells me, but tells in vain,
And strives to make me see and understand,
The feldspar fire of the violet breaks,
And the starred myrtle aches
With heavenly blue; and the frail windflower shakes
Its trembling tresses in the opal air.
Intimations Of The Beautiful
The hills are full of prophecies
And ancient voices of the dead;
Of hidden shapes that no man sees,
Pale, visionary presences,
That speak the things no tongue hath said,
No mind hath thought, no eye hath read.
The streams are full of oracles,
And momentary whisperings;
An immaterial beauty swells
Its breezy silver o'er the shells
With wordless speech that sings and sings
The message of diviner things.
No indeterminable thought is theirs,
The stars', the sunsets' and the flowers';
Whose inexpressible speech declares
Th' immortal Beautiful, who shares
This mortal riddle which is ours,
Beyond the forward-flying hours.
It holds and beckons in the streams;
It lures and touches us in all
The flowers of the golden fall-
The mystic essence of our dreams:
A nymph blows bubbling music where
Faint water ripples down the rocks;
A faun goes dancing hoiden locks,
And piping a Pandean air,
Through trees the instant wind shakes bare.
Our dreams are never otherwise
Than real when they hold us so;
We in some future life shall know
Them parts of it and recognize
Them as ideal substance, whence
The actual is-(as flowers and trees,
From color sources no one sees,
Draw dyes, the substance of a sense)-
Material with intelligence.
What intimations made them wise,
The mournful pine, the pleasant beech?
What strange and esoteric speech?-
(Communicated from the skies
In runic whispers)-that invokes
The boles that sleep within the seeds,
And out of narrow darkness leads
The vast assemblies of the oaks.
Within his knowledge, what one reads
The poems written by the flowers?
The sermons, past all speech of ours,
Preached by the gospel of the weeds?-
O eloquence of coloring!
O thoughts of syllabled perfume!
O beauty uttered into bloom!
Teach me your language! let me sing!
Along my mind flies suddenly
A wildwood thought that will not die;
That makes me brother to the bee,
And cousin to the butterfly:
A thought, such as gives perfume to
The blushes of the bramble-rose,
And, fixed in quivering crystal, glows
A captive in the prismed dew.
It leads the feet no certain way;
No frequent path of human feet:
Its wild eyes follow me all day;
All day I hear its wild heart beat:
And in the night it sings and sighs
The songs the winds and waters love;
Its wild heart lying tranced above,
And tranced the wildness of its eyes.
Oh, joy, to walk the way that goes
Through woods of sweet-gum and of beech!
Where, like a ruby left in reach,
The berry of the dogwood glows:
Or where the bristling hillsides mass,
'Twixt belts of tawny sassafras,
Brown shocks of corn in wigwam rows!
Where, in the hazy morning, runs
The stony branch that pools and drips,
The red-haws and the wild-rose hips
Are strewn like pebbles; and the sun's
Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
To see, through scintillating seeds,
The hunters steal with glimmering guns!
Oh, joy, to go the path which lies
Through woodlands where the trees are tall!
Beneath the misty moon of fall,
Whose ghostly girdle prophesies
A morn wind-swept and gray with rain;
When, o'er the lonely, leaf-blown lane,
The night-hawk like a dead leaf flies!
To stand within the dewy ring
Where pale death smites the boneset blooms,
And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
Of mint, with aromatic wing!
And hear the creek,-whose sobbing seems
A wild-man murmuring in his dreams,-
And insect violins that sing.
Or where the dim persimmon tree
Rains on the path its frosty fruit,
And in the oak the owl doth hoot,
Beneath the moon and mist, to see
The outcast Year go,-Hagar-wise,-
With far-off, melancholy eyes,
And lips that sigh for sympathy.
Towards evening, where the sweet-gum flung
Its thorny balls among the weeds,
And where the milkweed's sleepy seeds,-
A faery Feast of Lanterns,-swung;
The cricket tuned a plaintive lyre,
And o'er the hills the sunset hung
A purple parchment scrawled with fire.
From silver-blue to amethyst
The shadows deepened in the vale;
And belt by belt the pearly-pale
Aladdin fabric of the mist
Built up its exhalation far;
A jewel on an Afrit's wrist,
One star gemmed sunset's cinnabar.
Then night drew near, as when, alone,
The heart and soul grow intimate;
And on the hills the twilight sate
With shadows, whose wild robes were sown
With dreams and whispers;-dreams, that led
The heart once with love's monotone,
And memories of the living-dead.
All night the rain-gusts shook the leaves
Around my window; and the blast
Rumbled the flickering flue, and fast
The storm streamed from the dripping eaves.
As if-'neath skies gone mad with fear-
The witches' Sabboth galloped past,
The forests leapt like startled deer.
All night I heard the sweeping sleet;
And when the morning came, as slow
As wan affliction, with the woe
Of all the world dragged at her feet,
No spear of purple shattered through
The dark gray of the east; no bow
Of gold shot arrows swift and blue.
But rain, that whipped the windows; filled
The spouts with rushings; and around
The garden stamped, and sowed the ground
With limbs and leaves; the wood-pool filled
With overgurgling.-Bleak and cold
The fields looked, where the footpath wound
Through teasel and bur-marigold.
Yet there's a kindness in such days
Of gloom, that doth console regret
With sympathy of tears, which wet
Old eyes that watch the back-log blaze.-
A kindness, alien to the deep
Glad blue of sunny days that let
No thought in of the lives that weep.
This dawn, through which the Autumn glowers,-
As might a face within our sleep,
With stone-gray eyes that weep and weep,
And wet brows bound with sodden flowers,-
Is sunset to some sister land;
A land of ruins and of palms;
Rich sunset, crimson with long calms,-
Whose burning belt low mountains bar,-
That sees some brown Rebecca stand
Beside a well the camel-band
Winds down to 'neath the evening star.
O sunset, sister to this dawn!
O dawn, whose face is turned away!
Who gazest not upon this day,
But back upon the day that's gone!
Enamored so of loveliness,
The retrospect of what thou wast,
Oh, to thyself the present trust!
And as thy past be beautiful
With hues, that never can grow less!
Waiting thy pleasure to express
New beauty lest the world grow dull.
Down in the woods a sorcerer,
Out of rank rain and death, distills,-
Through chill alembics of the air,-
Aromas that brood everywhere
Among the whisper-haunted hills:
The bitter myrrh of dead leaves fills
Wet valleys (where the gaunt weeds bleach)
With rainy scents of wood-decay;-
As if a spirit all the day
Sat breathing softly 'neath the beech.
With other eyes I see her flit,
The wood-witch of the wild perfumes,
Among her elfin owls,-that sit,
A drowsy white, in crescent-lit
Dim glens of opalescent glooms:-
Where, for her magic, buds and blooms
Mysterious perfumes, while she stands,
A thornlike shadow, summoning
The sleepy odors, that take wing
Like bubbles from her dewy hands.
Among the woods they call to me-
The lights that haunt the wood and stream;
Voices of such white ecstasy
As moves with hushed lips through a dream:
They stand in auraed radiances,
Or flash with nimbused limbs across
Their golden shadows on the moss,
Or slip in silver through the trees.
What love can give the heart in me
More hope and exaltation than
The hand of light that tips the tree
And beckons far from marts of man?
That reaches foamy fingers through
The broken ripple, and replies
With sparkling speech of lips and eyes
To souls who seek and still pursue.
Give me the streams, that counterfeit
The twilight of autumnal skies;
The shadowy, silent waters, lit
With fire like a woman's eyes!
Slow waters that, in autumn, glass
The scarlet-strewn and golden grass,
And drink the sunset's tawny dyes.
Give me the pools, that lie among
The centuried forests! give me those,
Deep, dim, and sad as darkness hung
Beneath the sunset's somber rose:
Still pools, in whose vague mirrors look-
Like ragged gypsies round a book
Of magic-trees in wild repose.
No quiet thing, or innocent,
Of water, earth, or air shall please
My soul now: but the violent
Between the sunset and the trees:
The fierce, the splendid, and intense,
That love matures in innocence,
Like mighty music, give me these!
When thorn-tree copses still were bare
And black along the turbid brook;
When catkined willows blurred and shook
Great tawny tangles in the air;
In bottomlands, the first thaw makes
An oozy bog, beneath the trees,
Prophetic of the spring that wakes,
Sang the sonorous hylodes.
Now that wild winds have stripped the thorn,
And clogged with leaves the forest-creek;
Now that the woods look blown and bleak,
And webs are frosty white at morn;
At night beneath the spectral sky,
A far foreboding cry I hear—
The wild fowl calling as they fly?
Or wild voice of the dying Year?
And still my soul holds phantom tryst,
When chestnuts hiss among the coals,
Upon the Evening of All Souls,
When all the night is moon and mist,
And all the world is mystery;
I kiss dear lips that death hath kissed,
And gaze in eyes no man may see,
Filled with a love long lost to me.
I hear the night-wind's ghostly glove
Flutter the window: then the knob
Of some dark door turn, with a sob
As when love comes to gaze on love
Who lies pale-coffined in a room:
And then the iron gallop of
The storm, who rides outside; his plume
Sweeping the night with dread and gloom.
So fancy takes the mind, and paints
The darkness with eidolon light,
And writes the dead's romance in night
On the dim Evening of All Saints:
Unheard the hissing nuts; the clink
And fall of coals, whose shadow faints
Around the hearts that sit and think,
Borne far beyond the actual's brink.
I heard the wind, before the morn
Stretched gaunt, gray fingers 'thwart my pane,
Drive clouds down, a dark dragon-train;
Its iron visor closed, a horn
Of steel from out the north it wound.-
No morn like yesterday's! whose mouth,
A cool carnation, from the south
Breathed through a golden reed the sound
Of days that drop clear gold upon
Cerulean silver floors of dawn.
And all of yesterday is lost
And swallowed in to-day's wild light-
The birth deformed of day and night,
The illegitimate, who cost
Its mother secret tears and sighs;
Unlovely since unloved; and chilled
With sorrows and the shame that filled
Its parents' love; which was not wise
In passion as the day and night
That married yestermorn with light.
Down through the dark, indignant trees,
On indistinguishable wings
Of storm, the wind of evening swings;
Before its insane anger flees
Distracted leaf and shattered bough:
There is a rushing as when seas
Of thunder beat an iron prow
On reefs of wrath and roaring wreck:
'Mid stormy leaves, a hurrying speck
Of flickering blackness, driven by,
A mad bat whirls along the sky.
Like some sad shadow, in the eve's
As by some strange and twilight spell-
A gaunt girl stands among the leaves,
The night-wind in her dolorous dress:
Symbolic of the life that grieves,
Of toil that patience makes not less,
Her load of fagots fallen there.-
A wilder shadow sweeps the air,
And she is gone…. Was it the dumb
Eidolon of the month to come?
The song birds-are they flown away?
The song birds of the summer time,
That sang their souls into the day,
And set the laughing hours to rhyme.
No catbird scatters through the bush
The sparkling crystals of its song;
Within the woods no hermit-thrush
Thridding with vocal gold the hush.
All day the crows fly cawing past:
The acorns drop: the forests scowl:
At night I hear the bitter blast
Hoot with the hooting of the owl.
The wild creeks freeze: the ways are strewn
With leaves that clog: beneath the tree
The bird, that set its toil to tune,
And made a home for melody,
Lies dead beneath the snow-white moon.