All day the clouds hung ashen with the cold;
And through the snow the muffled waters fell;
The day seemed drowned in grief too deep to tell,
Like some old hermit whose last bead is told.
At eve the wind woke, and the snow clouds rolled
Aside to leave the fierce sky visible;
Harsh as an iron landscape of wan hell
The dark hills hung framed in with gloomy gold.
And then, towards night, the wind seemed some one at
My window wailing: now a little child
Crying outside my door; and now the long
Howl of some starved beast down the flue. I sat
And knew 'twas Winter with his madman song
Of miseries on which he stared and smiled.
The Voice Of Ocean
A cry went through the darkness; and the moon,
Hurrying through storm, gazed with a ghastly face,
Then cloaked herself in scud: the merman race
Of surges ceased; and then th' Aeolian croon
Of the wild siren, Wind, within the shrouds
Sunk to a sigh. The ocean in that place
Seemed listening; haunted, for a moment's space,
By something dread that cried against the clouds.
Mystery and night; and with them fog and rain:
And then that cry again as if the deep
Uttered its loneliness in one dark word:
Her horror of herself; her Titan pain;
Her monsters; and the dead that she must keep,
Has kept, alone, for centuries, unheard.
THERE is a glory in the apple boughs
Of silver moonlight; like a torch of myrrh,
Burning upon an altar of sweet vows,
Dropped from the hand of some wan worshipper:
And there is life among the apple blooms
Of whisp’ring winds; as if a god addressed
The flamen from the sanctuary glooms
With secrets of the bourne that hope hath guessed,
Saying: ‘Behold! a darkness which illumes,
A waking which is rest.’
There is a blackness in the apple trees
Of tempest; like the ashes of an urn
Hurt hands have gathered upon blistered knees,
With salt of tears, out of the flames that burn:
And there is death among the blooms, that fill
The night with breathless scent,—as when, above
The priest, the vision of his faith doth will
Forth from his soul the beautiful form thereof,—
Saying: ‘Behold! a silence never still;
The other form of love.’
Child And Father
A LITTLE child, one night, awoke and cried,
'Oh, help me, father! there is something wild
Before me! help me!' Hurrying to his side
I answered, 'I am here. You dreamed, my child.'
'A dream? —' he questioned. 'Oh, I could not see!
It was so dark! — Take me into your bed!'—
And I, who loved him, held him soothingly,
And smiling on his terror, comforted.
He nestled in my arms. I held him fast;
And spoke to him and calmed his childish fears,
Until he smiled again, asleep at last,
Upon his lashes still a trace of tears….
How like a child the world! who, in this night
Of strife, beholds strange monsters threatening;
And with black fear, having so little light,
Cries to its Father, God, for comforting.
And well for it, if, answering the call,
The Father hear and soothe its dread asleep! —
How many though, whom thoughts and dreams appall,
Must lie awake and in the darkness weep.
Thin, chisel-fine a cricket chipped
The crystal silence into sound;
And where the branches dreamed and dripped
A grasshopper its dagger stripped
And on the humming darkness ground.
A bat, against the gibbous moon,
Danced, implike, with its lone delight;
The glowworm scrawled a golden rune
Upon the dark; and, emerald-strewn,
The firefly hung with lamps the night.
The flowers said their beads in prayer,
Dew-syllables of sighed perfume;
Or talked of two, soft-standing there,
One like a gladiole, straight and fair,
And one like some rich poppy-bloom.
The mignonette and feverfew
Laid their pale brows together:-'See!'
One whispered: 'Did their step thrill through
Your roots?'-'Like rain.'-'I touched the two
And a new bud was born in me.'
One rose said to another:-'Whose
Is this dim music? song, that parts
My crimson petals like the dews?'
'My blossom trembles with sweet news-
It is the love of two young hearts.'
The Lost Dream
THE black night showed its hungry teeth,
And gnawed with sleet at roof and pane;
Beneath the door I heard it breathe —
A beast that growled in vain.
The hunter wind stalked up and down,
And crashed his ice-spears through each tree;
Before his rage, in tattered gown,
I saw the maid moon flee.
There stole a footstep to my door;
A voice cried in my room and — there!
A shadow cowled and gaunt and hoar,
Death, leaned above my chair.
He beckoned me; he bade me rise,
And follow through the madman night;
Into my heart's core pierced his eyes,
And lifted me with might.
I rose; I made no more delay;
And followed where his eyes compelled;
And through the darkness, far away,
They lit me and enspelled.
Until we reached an ancient wood,
That flung its twisted arms around,
As if in anguish that it stood
On dark, unhallowed ground.
And then I saw it — cold and blind —
The dream, that had my heart to share,
That fell, before its feet could find
Its home, and perished there.
Before The Rain
BEFORE the rain, low in the obscure east,
Weak and morose the moon hung, sickly gray;
Around its disc the storm mists, cracked and creased,
Wove an enormous web, wherein it lay
Like some white spider hungry for its prey.
Vindictive looked the scowling firmament,
In which each star, that flashed a dagger ray,
Seemed filled with malice of some dark intent.
The marsh-frog croaked; and underneath the stone
The peevish cricket raised a creaking cry.
Within the world these sounds were heard alone,
Save when the ruffian wind swept from the sky,
Making each tree like some sad spirit sigh;
Or shook the clumsy beetle from its weed,
That, in the drowsy darkness, bungling by,
Sharded the silence with its feverish speed.
Slowly the tempest gathered. Hours passed
Before was heard the thunder's sullen drum
Rumbling night's hollow; and the Earth at last,
Restless with waiting,-like a woman, dumb
With doubting of the love that should have clomb
Her casement hours ago,--avowed again,
'Mid protestations, joy that he had come.
And all night long I heard the Heavens explain.
If heart be tired and soul be sad
As life goes on in homespun clad,
Drab, colorless, with much of care,
Not even a ribbon in her hair;
Heart-broken for the near and new,
And sick to do what others do,
And quit the road of toil and tears,
Doffing the burden of the years:
And if beside you one should rise,
Doubt, with a menace, in its eyes
Why, look Life in the face;
And there again you may retrace
The dream that once in youth you had
When life was full of hope and glad,
And knew no doubt, no dread, that trails
In darkness by, and sighs, 'All fails!'
And in its every look and breath
A shudder, old as night, that saith,
With something of finality,
'There is no immortality!'
Confusing faith who stands alone
Like a green tree midst woods of stone,
Who feels within itself a change
Through contact with the dark and strange.
'T were better with that Dream, you knew
In youth, to dream all dreams come true,
And follow Love, in homespun clad,
As once you did when but a lad;
And, with the trusting heart of youth,
Listened, and held them for the truth,
The wondertales Life told to you
Tales, that at last she will make true.
The dim verbena drugs the dusk
With lemon-heavy odours where
The heliotropes breathe drowsy musk
Into the jasmine-dreamy air;
The moss-rose bursts its dewy husk
And spills its attar there.
The orange at thy casement swings
Star-censers oozing rich perfumes;
The clematis, long-petalled, clings
In clusters of dark purple blooms;
With flowers, like moons or sylphide wings,
Magnolias light the glooms.
Awake, awake from sleep!
Thy balmy hair,
Down-fallen, deep on deep,
Like blossoms there'
That dew and fragrance weep'
Will fill the night with prayer.
Awake, awake from sleep!
And dreaming here it seems to me
A dryad's bosom grows confessed,
Bright in the moss of yonder tree,
That rustles with the murmurous West
Or is it but a bloom I see,
Round as thy virgin breast?
Through fathomless deeps above are rolled
A million feverish worlds, that burst,
Like gems, from Heaven's caskets old
Of darkness fires that throb and thirst;
An aloe, showering buds of gold,
The night seems, star-immersed.
Unseal, unseal thine eyes!
O'er which her rod
Sleep sways; and like the skies,
That dream and nod,
Their starry majesties
Will fill the night with God.
Unseal, unseal thine eyes!
Haunters Of The Silence
There are haunters of the silence, ghosts that hold the heart and brain:
I have sat with them and hearkened; I have talked with them in vain:
I have shuddered from their coming, yet have run to meet them there,
And have cursed them and have blessed them and have loved them to despair.
At my door I see their shadows; in my walks I meet their ghosts;
Where I often hear them weeping or sweep by in withered hosts:
Perished dreams, gone like the roses, crumbling by like autumn leaves;
Phantoms of old joys departed, that the spirit eye perceives.
Oft at night they sit beside me, fix their eyes upon my face,
Demon eyes that burn and hold me, in whose deeps my heart can trace
All the past; and where a passion, as in Hell the ghosts go by,
Turns an anguished face toward me with a love that cannot die.
In the night-time, in the darkness, in the blackness of the storm,
Round my fireplace there they gather, flickering form on shadowy form:
In the daytime, in the noontide, in the golden sunset glow,
On the hilltops, in the forests, I have met them walking slow.
There are haunters of the silence, ghosts that hold the brain and heart:
In the mansion of my being they have placed a room apart:
There I hear their spectre raiment, see their shadows on the floor,
Where the raven, Sorrow, darkens Love's pale image o'er my door.
The Sea Faery
She was strange as the orchids that blossom
And glimmer and shower their balm
And bloom on the tropical ocean,
That crystals round islands of palm:
And she sang to and beckoned and bound me
With beauty immortal and calm.
She was wild as the spirits that banner,
Auroral, the ends of the Earth,
With polar processions, that battle
With Darkness; or, breathing, give birth
To Silence; and herd from the mountains
The icebergs, gigantic of girth.
She was silver as sylphids who blend with
The morning the pearl of their cheeks:
And rosy as spirits whose tresses
Trail golden the sunset with streaks:
An opaline presence that beckoned
And spake as the sea-rapture speaks:
'Come with me! come down in the ocean!
Yea, leave this dark region with me!
Come! leave it! forget it in thunder
And roll of the infinite sea!
Come with me! No mortal bliss equals
The bliss I shall give unto thee.' . . .
And so it was then that she bound me
With witchcraft no mortal divines,
While softly with kisses she drew me,
As the moon draws a dream from the pines,
Down, down to her cavern of coral,
Where ever the sea-serpent twines.
And ever the creatures, whose shadows
Bulk huge as an isle on the sight,
Swim cloud-like and vast, without number,
Around her who leans, like a light,
And smiles at me sleeping, pale-sleeping,
Wrapped deep in her mermaiden might.
The Watcher On The Tower
The Voice of a Man
WHAT of the Night, O Watcher?
The Voice of a Woman
Yea, what of it?
A star has risen; and a wind blows strong.
Voice of the Man
The Night is dark.
But God is there above it.
Voice of the Woman
The Night is dark; the Night is dark and long.
Voice of the Man
What of the Night, O Watcher?
Voice of the Woman
Night of sorrow!
Out of the East there comes a sound, like song.
Voice of the Man
The Night is dark.
Have courage! There’s To-morrow!
Voice of the Woman
The Night is dark; the Night is dark and long.
Voice of the Man
What of the Night, O Watcher?
Voice of the Woman
Is it other?
I see a gleam; a thorn of light; a thong.
Voice of the Man
The Night is dark.
The Morning comes, my Brother.
Voice of the Woman
The Night is dark; the Night is dark and long.
Voice of the Man
What now, what now, O Watcher?
Red as slaughter
The Darkness dies. The Light comes swift and strong.
Voice of the Man
The Night was long.—What sayest thou, my Daughter?
Voice of the Woman
The Night was dark; the Night was dark and long.
THE season of the rose and peace is past:
It could not last.
There's heartbreak in the hills and stormy sighs
Of sorrow in the rain-lashed plains and skies,
While Earth regards, aghast,
The last red leaf that flies.
The world is cringing in the darkness where
War left his lair,
And everything takes on a lupine look,
Baring gaunt teeth at every peaceful nook,
And shaking torrent hair
At every little brook.
Cancers of ulcerous flame his eyes, and — hark!
There in the dark
The ponderous stir of metal, iron feet;
And with it, heard around the world, the beat
Of Battle; sounds that mark
His heart's advance, retreat.
With shrapnel pipes he goes his monstrous ways;
And, screeching, plays
The hell-born music Havoc dances to;
And, following with his skeleton-headed crew
Of ravening Nights and Days,
Horror invades the blue.
Against the Heaven he lifts a mailed fist
And writes a list
Of beautiful cities on the ghastly sky:
And underneath them, with no reason why,
In blood and tears and mist,
The postscript, 'These must die!'
Change is the portion and chief heritage
Of every Age.
The spirit of God still waits its time.— And War
May blur His message for a while, and mar
The writing on His page,
To this our sorrowful star.
But there above the conflict, orbed in rays,
Is drawn the face
Of Peace; at last who comes into her own;
Peace, from whose tomb the world shall roll the stone,
And give her highest place
In the human heart alone.
I Saw the daughters of the Dawn come dancing o'er the hills;
The winds of Morn danced with them, oh, and all the sylphs of air:
I saw their ribboned roses blow, their gowns, of daffodils,
As over eyes of sapphire tossed the wild gold of their hair.
I saw the summer of their feet imprint the earth with dew,
And all the wildflowers open eyes in joy and wonderment:
I saw the sunlight of their hands waved at each bird that flew,
And all the birds, as with one voice, to their wild love gave vent.
'And, oh I' I said, 'how fair you are I how fair! how very fair!
Oh, leap, my heart; and laugh, my heart! as laughs and leaps the Dawn!
Mount with the lark and sing with him and cast away your care!
For love and life are come again and night and sorrow gone!'
I saw the acolytes of Eve, the mystic sons of Night,
Come pacing through the ancient wood in hoods of hodden-grey;
Their sombre cloaks were pinned with stars, and each one bore a light,
A moony lanthorn, and a staff to help him on his way.
I heard their mantles rustle by, their sandals' whispering, sweep,
And saw the wildflowers bow their heads and close their lovely eyes:
I saw their shadows pass and pass, and with them Dreams and Sleep,
Like children with their father, went, in dim and ghostly guise.
'And, oh!' I said, 'how sad you are! how sad! how wondrous sad!
Oh, hush, my heart! be still, my heart! and, like the dark, be dumb!
Be as the wild-rose there that dreams the perfect hour it had,
And cares not if the day be past and death and darkness come.'
A Last Word
OH, for some cup of consummating might,
Filled with life's kind conclusion, lost in night!
A wine of darkness, that with death shall cure
This sickness called existence! —Oh to find
Surcease of sorrow! quiet for the mind,
An end of thought in something dark and sure!
Mandrake and hellebore, or poison pure! —
Some drug of death, wherein there are no dreams! —
No more, no more, with patience, to endure
The wrongs of life, the hate of men, it seems;
Or wealth's authority, tyranny of time,
And lamentations and the boasts of man!
To hear no more the wild complaints of toil,
And struggling merit, that, unknown, must starve:
To see no more life's disregard for Art!
Oh God! to know no longer anything!
Nor good, nor evil, or what either means!
Nor hear the changing tides of customs roll
On the dark shores of Time! No more to hear
The stream of Life that furies on the shoals
Of hard necessity! No more to see
The unavailing battle waged of Need
Against adversity! — Merely to lie, at last,
Pulseless and still, at peace beneath the sod!
To think and dream no more! no more to hope!
At rest at last! at last at peace and rest,
Clasped by some kind tree's gnarled arm of root
Bearing me upward in its large embrace
To gentler things and fairer — clouds and winds,
And stars and sun and moon! To undergo
The change the great trees know when Spring comes in
With shoutings and rejoicings of the rain,
To swiftly rise an atom in a host,
The myriad army of the leaves; and stand
A handsbreadth nearer Heaven and what is God!
To pulse in sap that beats unfevered in
The life we call inanimate — the heart
Of some great tree. And so, unconsciously,
As sleeps a child, clasped in its mother's arm,
Be taken back, in amplitudes of grace,
To Nature's heart, and so be lost in her.
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.
The Image In The Glass
The slow reflection of a woman's face
Grew, as by witchcraft, in the oval space
Of that strange glass on which the moon looked in:
As cruel as death beneath the auburn hair
The dark eyes burned; and, o'er the faultless chin,
Evil as night yet as the daybreak fair,
Rose-red and sensual smiled the mouth of sin.
The glorious throat and shoulders and, twin crests
Of snow, the splendid beauty of the breasts,
Filled soul and body with the old desire
Daughter of darkness! how could this thing be?
You, whom I loathed! for whom my heart's fierce fire
Had burnt to ashes of satiety!
You, who had sunk my soul in all that's dire!
How came your image there? and in that room!
Where she, the all adored, my life's sweet bloom,
Died poisoned! She, my scarcely one week's bride
Yea, poisoned by a gift you sent to her,
Thinking her death would win me to your side.
And so it did! but... well, it made some stir
By your own hand, I think, they said you died.
Time passed. And then was it the curse of crime,
That night of nights, which forced my feet to climb
To that locked bridal-room? 'T was midnight when
A longing, like to madness, mastered me,
Compelled me to that chamber, which for ten
Sad years was sealed; a dark necessity
To gaze upon I knew not what again.
Love's ghost, perhaps. Or, in the curvature
Of that strange mirror, something that might cure
The ache in me some message, said perchance
Of her dead loveliness, which once it glassed,
That might repeat again my lost romance
In momentary pictures of the past,
While in its depths her image swam in trance.
I did not dream to see the soulless eyes
Of you I hated; nor the lips where lies
And kisses curled; your features, that were tuned
To all demonic, smiling up as might
Some deep damnation! while... my God! I swooned!.
Oozed slowly out, between the breast's dead white,
The ghastly red of that wide dagger-wound.
A Fallen Beech
Nevermore at doorways that are barken
Shall the madcap wind knock and the moonlight;
Nor the circle which thou once didst darken,
Shine with footsteps of the neighbouring moonlight,
Visitors for whom thou oft didst hearken.
Nevermore, gallooned with cloudy laces,
Shall the morning, like a fair freebooter,
Make thy leaves his richest treasure-places;
Nor the sunset, like a royal suitor,
Clothe thy limbs with his imperial graces.
And no more, between the savage wonder
Of the sunset and the moon's up-coming,
Shall the storm, with boisterous hoof-beats, under
Thy dark roof dance, Faun-like, to the humming
Of the Pan-pipes of the rain and thunder.
Oft the Satyr-spirit, beauty-drunken,
Of the Spring called; and the music measure
Of thy sap made answer; and thy sunken
Veins grew vehement with youth, whose pressure
Swelled thy gnarly muscles, winter-shrunken.
And the germs, deep down in darkness rooted,
Bubbled green from all thy million oilets,
Where the spirits, rain-and-sunbeam-suited,
Of the April made their whispering toilets,
Or within thy stately shadow footed.
Oft the hours of blonde Summer tinkled
At the windows of thy twigs, and found thee
Bird-blithe; or, with shapely bodies, twinkled
Lissom feet of naked flowers around thee,
Where thy mats of moss lay sunbeam-sprinkled.
And the Autumn with his gypsy-coated
Troop of days beneath thy branches rested,
Swarthy-faced and dark of eye; and throated
Songs of roaming; or with red hand tested
Every nut-bur that above him floated.
Then the Winter, barren-browed, but rich in
Shaggy followers of frost and freezing,
Made the floor of thy broad boughs his kitchen,
Trapper-like, to camp in; grimly easing
Limbs snow-furred and moccasined with lichen.
Now, alas! no more do these invest thee
With the dignity of whilom gladness!
They unto whose hearts thou once confessed thee
Of thy dreams now know thee not! and sadness
Sits beside thee where, forgot, dost rest thee.
“I BELT the morn with ribboned mist;
With baldricked blue I gird the noon,
And dusk with purple, crimson-kissed,
White-buckled with the hunter’s-moon.
“These follow me,” the Season says:
“Mine is the frost-pale hand that packs
Their scrips, and speeds them on their ways,
With gypsy gold that weighs their backs.”
A daybreak horn the Autumn blows,
As with a sun-tanned hand he parts
Wet boughs whereon the berry glows;
And at his feet the red fox starts.
The leafy leash that holds his hounds
Is loosed; and all the noonday hush
Is startled; and the hillside sounds
Behind the fox’s bounding brush.
When red dusk makes the western sky
A fire-lit window through the firs,
He stoops to see the red fox die
Among the chestnut’s broken burrs.
Then fanfaree and fanfaree,
His bugle sounds; the world below
Grows hushed to hear; and two or three
Soft stars dream through the afterglow.
Like some black host the shadows fall,
And blackness camps among the trees;
Each wildwood road, a Goblin Hall,
Grows populous with mysteries.
Night comes with brows of ragged storm,
And limbs of writhen cloud and mist;
The rain-wind hangs upon his arm
Like some wild girl who cries unkissed.
By his gaunt hands the leaves are shed
In headlong troops and nightmare herds;
And, like a witch who calls the dead,
The hill-stream whirls with foaming words.
Then all is sudden silence and
Dark fear—like his who cannot see,
Yet hears, lost in a haunted land,
Death rattling on a gallow’s-tree.
The days approach again; the days
Whose mantles stream, whose sandals drag,
When in the haze by puddled ways
The gnarled thorn seems a crooked hag.
When rotting orchards reek with rain;
And woodlands crumble, leaf and log;
And in the drizzling yard again
The gourd is tagged with points of fog.
Now let me seat my soul among
The woods’ dim dreams, and come in touch
With melancholy, sad of tongue
And sweet, who says so much, so much.
How long had I sat there and had not beheld
The gleam of the glow-worm till something compelled!...
The heaven was starless, the forest was deep,
And the vistas of darkness stretched silent in sleep.
And late 'mid the trees had I lingered until
No thing was awake but the lone whippoorwill.
And haunted of thoughts for an hour I sat
On a lichen-gray rock where the moss was a mat.
And thinking of one whom my heart had held dear,
Like terrible waters, a gathering fear.
Came stealing upon me with all the distress
Of loss and of yearning and powerlessness:
Till the hopes and the doubts and the sleepless unrest
That, swallow-like, built in the home of my breast,
Now hither, now thither, now heavenward flew,
Wild-winged as the winds are: now suddenly drew
My soul to abysses of nothingness where
All light was a shadow, all hope, a despair:
Where truth, that religion had set upon high,
The darkness distorted and changed to a lie:
And dreams of the beauty ambition had fed
Like leaves of the autumn fell blighted and dead.
And I rose with my burden of anguish and doom,
And cried, 'O my God, had I died in the womb!
'Than born into night, with no hope of the morn,
An heir unto shadows, to live so forlorn!
'All effort is vain; and the planet called Faith
Sinks down; and no power is real but death.
'Oh, light me a torch in the deepening dark
So my sick soul may follow, my sad heart may mark!'
And then in the darkness the answer!-It came
From Earth not from Heaven-a glimmering flame,
Behold, at my feet! In the shadow it shone
Mysteriously lovely and dimly alone:
An ember; a sparkle of dew and of glower;
Like the lamp that a spirit hangs under a flower:
As goldenly green as the phosphorus star
A fairy may wear in her diadem's bar:
An element essence of moonlight and dawn
That, trodden and trampled, burns on and burns on.
And hushed was my soul with the lesson of light
That God had revealed to me there in the night:
Though mortal its structure, material its form,
The spiritual message of worm unto worm.
Rose Leaves When The Rose Is Dead
See how the rose leaves fall
The rose leaves fall and fade:
And by the wall, in dusk funereal,
How leaf on leaf is laid,
Withered and soiled and frayed.
How red the rose leaves fall
And in the ancient trees,
That stretch their twisted arms about the hall,
Burdened with mysteries,
How sadly sighs the breeze.
How soft the rose leaves fall
The rose leaves drift and lie:
And over them dull slugs and beetles crawl,
And, palely glimmering by,
The glow-worm trails its eye.
How thick the rose leaves fall
And strew the garden way,
For snails to slime and spotted toads to sprawl,
And, plodding past each day,
Coarse feet to tread in clay.
How fast they fall and fall
Where Beauty, carved in stone,
With broken hands veils her dead eyes; and, tall,
White in the moonlight lone,
Looms like a marble moan.
How slow they drift and fall
And strew the fountained pool,
That, in the nymph-carved basin by the wall,
Reflects in darkness cool.
Ruin made beautiful.
How red the rose leaves fall
Fall and like blood remain
Upon the dial's disc, whose pedestal,
Black-mossed and dark with stain,
Crumbles in sun and rain.
How wan they seem to fall
Around one where she stands
Dim in their midst, beyond the years' recall,
Reaching pale, passionate hands
Into the past's vague lands.
How still they fall and fall
Around them where they meet
As oft of old: she in her gem-pinned shawl
Of white; and he, complete
In black from head to feet.
How faint the rose leaves fall
Around them where, it seems,
He holds her clasped parting from her and all
His heart's young hopes and dreams
There in the moon's thin beams.
Around them rose leaves fall
And in the stress and urge
Of winds that strew them lightly over all,
With deep, autumnal surge,
There seems to rise a dirge:
'See how the rose leaves fall
Upon thy dead, O soul!
The rose leaves of the love that once in thrall
Held thee beyond control,
Making thy heart's world whole.
'God help them still to fall
Around thee, bowed above
The face within thy heart, beneath the pall!
The perished face thereof,
The beautiful face of Love.'
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.
I remember, when a child,
How within the April wild
Once I walked with Mystery
In the groves of Arcady….
Through the boughs, before, behind,
Swept the mantle of the wind,
Thunderous and unconfined.
Overhead the curving moon
Pierced the twilight: a cocoon,
Golden, big with unborn wings-
Beauty, shaping spiritual things,
Vague, impatient of the night,
Eager for its heavenward flight
Out of darkness into light.
Here and there the oaks assumed
Satyr aspects; shadows gloomed,
Hiding, of a dryad look;
And the naiad-frantic brook,
Crying, fled the solitude,
Filled with terror of the wood,
Or some faun-thing that pursued.
In the dead leaves on the ground
Crept a movement; rose a sound:
Everywhere the silence ticked
As with hands of things that picked
At the loam, or in the dew,-
Elvish sounds that crept or flew,-
Beak-like, pushing surely through.
Down the forest, overhead,
Stammering a dead leaf fled,
Filled with elemental fear
Of some dark destruction near-
One, whose glowworm eyes I saw
Hag with flame the crooked haw,
Which the moon clutched like a claw.
Gradually beneath the tree
Grew a shape; a nudity:
Lithe and slender; silent as
Growth of tree or blade of grass;
Brown and silken as the bloom
Of the trillium in the gloom,
Visible as strange perfume.
For an instant there it stood,
Smiling on me in the wood:
And I saw its hair was green
As the leaf-sheath, gold of sheen:
And its eyes an azure wet,
From within which seemed to jet
Sapphire lights and violet.
Swiftly by I saw it glide;
And the dark was deified:
Wild before it everywhere
Gleamed the greenness of its hair;
And around it danced a light,
Soft, the sapphire of its sight,
Making witchcraft of the night.
On the branch above, the bird
Trilled to it a dreamy word:
In its bud the wild bee droned
Honeyed greeting, drowsy-toned:
And the brook forgot the gloom,
Hushed its heart, and, wrapped in bloom,
Breathed a welcome of perfume.
To its beauty bush and tree
Stretched sweet arms of ecstasy;
And the soul within the rock
Lichen-treasures did unlock
As upon it fell its eye;
And the earth, that felt it nigh,
Into wildflowers seemed to sigh….
Was it dryad? was it faun?
Wandered from the times long gone.
Was it sylvan? was it fay?-
Dim survivor of the day
When Religion peopled streams,
Woods and rocks with shapes like gleams,-
That invaded then my dreams?
Was it shadow? was it shape?
Or but fancy's wild escape?-
Of my own child's world the charm
That assumed material form?-
Of my soul the mystery,
That the spring revealed to me,
There in long-lost Arcady?
Poppy And Mandragora
Let us go far from here!
Here there is sadness in the early year:
Here sorrow waits where joy went laughing late:
The sicklied face of heaven hangs like hate
Above the woodland and the meadowland;
And Spring hath taken fire in her hand
Of frost and made a dead bloom of her face,
Which was a flower of marvel once and grace,
And sweet serenity and stainless glow.
Delay not. Let us go.
Let us go far away
Into the sunrise of a fairer May:
Where all the nights resign them to the moon,
And drug their souls with odor and soft tune,
And tell their dreams in starlight: where the hours
Teach immortality with fadeless flowers;
And all the day the bee weights down the bloom,
And all the night the moth shakes strange perfume,
Like music, from the flower-bells' affluence.
Let us go far from hence.
Why should we sit and weep,
And yearn with heavy eyelids still to sleep?
Forever hiding from our hearts the hate,-
Death within death,-life doth accumulate,
Like winter snows along the barren leas
And sterile hills, whereon no lover sees
The crocus limn the beautiful in flame;
Or hyacinth and jonquil write the name
Of Love in fire, for each passer-by.
Why should we sit and sigh?
We will not stay and long,
Here where our souls are wasting for a song;
Where no bird sings; and, dim beneath the stars,
No silvery water strikes melodious bars;
And in the rocks and forest-covered hills
No quick-tongued echo from her grotto fills
With eery syllables the solitude-
The vocal image of the voice that wooed-
She, of wild sounds the airy looking-glass.
Our souls are tired, alas!
What should we say to her?-
To Spring, who in our hearts makes no sweet stir:
Who looks not on us nor gives thought unto:
Too busy with the birth of flowers and dew,
And vague gold wings within the chrysalis;
Or Love, who will not miss us; had no kiss
To give your soul or the sad soul of me,
Who bound our hearts to her in poesy,
Long since, and wear her badge of service still.-
Have we not served our fill?
We will go far away.
Song will not care, who slays our souls each day
With the dark daggers of denying eyes,
And lips of silence!… Had she sighed us lies,
Not passionate, yet falsely tremulous,
And lent her mouth to ours in mockery; thus
Smiled from calm eyes as if appreciative;
Then, then our love had taught itself to live
Feeding itself on hope, and recompense.
But no!-So let us hence.
So be the Bible shut
Of all her Beauty, and her wisdom but
A clasp for memory! We will not seek
The light that came not when the soul was weak
With longing, and the darkness gave no sign
Of star-born comfort. Nay! why kneel and whine
Sad psalms of patience and hosannas of
Old hope and dreary canticles of love?-
Let us depart, since, as we long supposed,
For us God's book was closed.
The Paphian Venus
With anxious eyes and dry, expectant lips,
Within the sculptured stoa by the sea,
All day she waited while, like ghostly ships,
Long clouds rolled over Paphos: the wild bee
Hung in the sultry poppy, half asleep,
Beside the shepherd and his drowsy sheep.
White-robed she waited day by day; alone
With the white temple's shrined concupiscence,
The Paphian goddess on her obscene throne,
Binding all chastity to violence,
All innocence to lust that feels no shame-
Venus Mylitta born of filth and flame.
So must they haunt her marble portico,
The devotees of Paphos, passion-pale
As moonlight streaming through the stormy snow;
Dark eyes desirous of the stranger sail,
The gods shall bring across the Cyprian Sea,
With him elected to their mastery.
A priestess of the temple came, when eve
Blazed, like a satrap's triumph, in the west;
And watched her listening to the ocean's heave,
Dusk's golden glory on her face and breast,
And in her hair the rosy wind's caress,-
Pitying her dedicated tenderness.
When out of darkness night persuades the stars,
A dream shall bend above her saying, 'Soon
A barque shall come with purple sails and spars,
Sailing from Tarsus 'neath a low white moon;
And thou shalt see one in a robe of Tyre
Facing toward thee like the god Desire.
'Rise then! as, clad in starlight, riseth Night-
Thy nakedness clad on with loveliness!
So shalt thou see him, like the god Delight,
Breast through the foam and climb the cliff to press
Hot lips to thine and lead thee in before
Love's awful presence where ye shall adore.'
Thus at her heart the vision entered in,
With lips of lust the lips of song had kissed,
And eyes of passion laughing with sweet sin,
A shimmering splendor robed in amethyst,-
Seen like that star set in the glittering gloam,-
Venus Mylitta born of fire and foam.
So shall she dream until, near middle night,-
When on the blackness of the ocean's rim
The moon, like some war-galleon all alight
With blazing battle, from the sea shall swim,-
A shadow, with inviolate lips and eyes,
Shall rise before her speaking in this wise:
'So hast thou heard the promises of one,-
Of her, with whom the God of gods is wroth,-
For whom was prophesied at Babylon
The second death-Chaldaean Mylidoth!
Whose feet take hold on darkness and despair,
Hissing destruction in her heart and hair.
'Wouldst thou behold the vessel she would bring?-
A wreck! ten hundred years have smeared with slime:
A hulk! where all abominations cling,
The spawn and vermin of the seas of time:
Wild waves have rotted it; fierce suns have scorched;
Mad winds have tossed and stormy stars have torched.
'Can lust give birth to love? The vile and foul
Be mother to beauty? Lo! can this thing be?-
A monster like a man shall rise and howl
Upon the wreck across the crawling sea,
Then plunge; and swim unto thee; like an ape,
A beast all belly.-Thou canst not escape!'
Gone was the shadow with the suffering brow;
And in the temple's porch she lay and wept,
Alone with night, the ocean, and her vow.-
Then up the east the moon's full splendor swept,
And dark between it-wreck or argosy?-
A sudden vessel far away at sea.
The End Of The Century
There are moments when, as missions,
God reveals to us strange visions;
When, within their separate stations,
We may see the Centuries,
Like revolving constellations
Shaping out Earth's destinies.
I have gazed in Time's abysses,
Where no smallest thing Earth misses
That was hers once. 'Mid her chattels,
There the Past's gigantic ghost
Sits and dreams of thrones and battles
In the night of ages lost.
Far before her eyes, unholy
Mist was spread; that darkly, slowly
Rolled aside, like some huge curtain
Hung above the land and sea;
And beneath it, wild, uncertain,
Rose the wraiths of memory.
First I saw colossal spectres
Of dead cities: Troy once Hector's
Pride; then Babylon and Tyre;
Karnac, Carthage, and the gray
Walls of Thebes, Apollo's lyre
Built; and Rome and Nineveh.
Empires followed: first, in seeming,
Old Chaldea lost in dreaming;
Egypt next, a bulk Memnonian
Staring from her pyramids;
Then Assyria, Babylonian
Night beneath her hell-lit lids.
Greece, in classic white, sidereal
Armored; Rome, in dark, imperial
Purple, crowned with blood and fire,
Down the deeps barbaric strode;
Gaul and Britain stalking by her,
Skin-clad and tattooed with woad.
All around them, rent and scattered,
Lay their gods with features battered,
Brute and human, stone and iron,
Caked with gems and gnarled with gold;
Temples, that did once environ
These, in wreck around them rolled.
While I stood and gazed and waited,
Slowly night obliterated
All; and other phantoms drifted
Out of darkness pale as stars;
Shapes that tyrant faces lifted,
Sultans, kings, and emperors.
Man and steed in ponderous metal
Panoplied, they seemed to settle,
Condors gaunt of devastation,
On the world: behind their march
Loomed before them with her torch.
Helmets flamed like fearful flowers;
Chariots rose and moving towers;
Captains passed; each fierce commander
With his gauntlet on his sword:
Cæsar, each led on his horde.
Huns and Vandals; wild invaders:
Goths and Arabs; stern Crusaders:
Each, like some terrific torrent,
Rolled above a ruined world;
Till a cataract abhorrent
Seemed the swarming spears uphurled.
Banners and escutcheons, kindled
By the light of slaughter, dwindled
Died in darkness; the chimera
Of the Past was laid at last.
But, behold, another era
From her corpse rose, vague and vast.
Demogorgon of the Present!
Who in one hand raised a Crescent,
In the other, with submissive
Fingers, lifted up a Cross;
Reverent and yet derisive
Seemed she, robed in gold and dross.
In her skeptic eyes professions
Of great faith I saw; expressions,
Christian and humanitarian,
Played around her cynic lip;
Still I knew her a barbarian
By the sword upon her hip.
And she cherished strange eidolons,
Pagan shadows Platos, Solons
From whose teachings she indentured
Forms of law and sophistry;
Seeking still for truth she ventured
Just so far as these could see.
When she vanished, I uplifting
Eyes to where the dawn was rifting
Darkness, lo! beheld a shadow
Towering on Earth's utmost peaks;
'Round whom morning's eldorado
Rivered gold in blinding streaks.
On her brow I saw the stigma
Still of death; and life's enigma
Filled her eyes: around her shimmered
Folds of silence; and afar,
Faint above her forehead, glimmered
Lone the light of one pale star.
Then a voice, above or under
Earth, against her seemed to thunder
Questions, wherein was repeated,
'Christ or Cain?' and'God or beast?'
And the Future, shadowy-sheeted,
Turning, pointed towards the East.
The Dream Of Roderick
Below, the tawny Tagus swept
Past royal gardens, breathing balm;
Upon his couch the monarch slept;
The world was still; the night was calm.
Gray, Gothic-gated, in the ray
Of moonrise, tower-and castle-crowned,
The city of Toledo lay
Beneath the terraced palace-ground.
Again, he dreamed, in kingly sport
He sought the tree-sequestered path,
And watched the ladies of his Court
Within the marble-basined bath.
Its porphyry stairs and fountained base
Shone, houried with voluptuous forms,
Where Andalusia vied in grace
With old Castile, in female charms.
And laughter, song, and water-splash
Rang round the place, with stone arcaded,
As here a breast or limb would flash
Where beauty swam or beauty waded.
And then, like Venus, from the wave
A maiden came, and stood below;
And by her side a woman slave
Bent down to dry her limbs of snow.
Then on the tesselated bank,
Robed on with fragrance and with fire,
Like some exotic flower-she sank,
The type of all divine desire.
Then her dark curls, that sparkled wet,
She parted from her perfect brows,
And, lo, her eyes, like lamps of jet
Within an alabaster house.
And in his sleep the monarch sighed,
'Florinda!'-Dreaming still he moaned,
'Ah, would that I had died, had died!
I have atoned! I have atoned!' ...
And then the vision changed: O'erhead
Tempest and darkness were unrolled,
Full of wild voices of the dead,
And lamentations manifold.
And wandering shapes of gaunt despair
Swept by, with faces pale as pain,
Whose eyes wept blood and seemed to glare
Fierce curses on him through the rain.
And then, it seemed, 'gainst blazing skies
A necromantic tower sate,
Crag-like on crags, of giant size;
Of adamant its walls and gate.
And from the storm a hand of might
Red-rolled in thunder, reached among
The gate's huge bolts-that burst; and night
Clanged ruin as its hinges swung.
Then far away a murmur trailed,
As of sad seas on cavern'd shores,
That grew into a voice that wailed,
'They come! they come! the Moors! the Moors!'
And with deep boom of atabals
And crash of cymbals and wild peal
Of battle-bugles, from its walls
An army rushed in glimmering steel.
And where it trod he saw the torch
Of conflagration stalk the skies,
And in the vanward of its march
The monster form of Havoc rise.
And Paynim war-cries rent the storm,
Athwart whose firmament of flame,
Destruction reared an earthquake form
On wreck and death without a name ...
And then again the vision changed:
Where flows the Guadalete, see,
The warriors of the Cross are ranged
Against the Crescent's chivalry.
With roar of trumpets and of drums
They meet; and in the battle's van
He fights; and, towering towards him, comes
Florinda's father, Julian;
And one-eyed Taric, great in war:
And where these couch their burning spears,
The Christian phalanx, near and far,
Goes down like corn before the shears.
The Moslem wins: the Christian flies:
'Allah il Allah,' hill and plain
Reverberate: the rocking skies,
'Allah il Allah,' shout again.
And then he dreamed the swing of swords
And hurl of arrows were no more;
But, louder than the howling hordes,
Strange silence fell on field and shore.
And through the night, it seemed, he fled,
Upon a white steed like a star,
Across a field of endless dead,
Beneath a blood-red scimitar.
Of sunset: And he heard a moan,
Beneath, around, on every hand-
'Accurséd! Yea, what hast thou done
To bring this curse upon thy land?'
And then an awful sense of wings:
And, lo! the answer-''Twas his lust
That was his crime. Behold! E'en kings
Must reckon with Me. All are dust.'
I took the road again last night
On which my boyhood's hills look down;
The old road leading from the town,
The village there below the height,
Its cottage homes, all huddled brown,
Each with its blur of light.
The old road, full of ruts, that leads,
A winding streak of limestone-grey,
Over the hills and far away;
That's crowded here by arms of weeds
And elbows of railfence, asway
With flowers that no one heeds:
That's dungeoned here by rocks and trees
And maundered to by waters; there
Lifted into the free wild air
Of meadow-land serenities:
The old road, stretching far and fair
To where my tired heart sees.
That says, 'Come, take me for a mile;
And let me show you mysteries:
The things the yellow moon there sees,
And those few stars that 'round her smile:
Come, take me, now you are at ease,
And walk with me a while.'
And I I took it at its word:
And friendships, clothed in olden guise,
Walked with me; and, as I surmise,
Old dreams for twenty years unheard;
And love, who gazed into my eyes
As once when youth adored.
And voices, vocal silences;
And visions, that my youth had seen,
Slipped from each side, in silvery green,
And spoke to me in memories;
And recollections smiled between
My tear-wet face and trees.
Enchantment walked by field and farm,
And whispered me on either side;
And where the fallows broadened wide
Dim mystery waved a moon-white arm,
Or, from the woodland, moonbeam-eyed,
Beckoned a filmy form.
Spirits of wind and starlight wove
From fern to fern a drowsy dance;
Or o'er the wood-stream hung a-trance:
And from the leaves, that dreamed above,
The elfin-dew dropped many a lance
Of light and, glimmering, drove.
Star-arrows through the warmth and musk,
That sparkled on the moss and loam,
And shook from bells of wildflower foam
The bee-like music of the dusk,
And rimmed with spars the lily's dome
And morning-glory's tusk.
And, soft as cobwebs, I beheld
The moths, they say that fairies use
As coursers, come by ones and twos
From stables of the blossoms belled:
While busily, among the dews,
Where croaked the toad and swelled,
The nimble spider climbed his thread,
Or diagramed a dim design,
Or flung, above, a slender line
To launder dews on. Overhead
An insect drew its dagger fine
And stabbed the stillness dead.
And there! far at the lane's dark end,
A light showed, like a glow-worm lamp:
And through the darkness, summer-damp,
An old rose-garden seemed to send
Sweet word to me as of a camp
Of dreams around the bend.
And there a gate! whereat, mid deeps
Of honeysuckle dewiness,
She stood whose lips were mine to press
How long ago! for whom still leaps
My heart with longing and, no less,
With passion here that sleeps.
The smiling face of girlhood; eyes
Of wine-warm brown; and heavy hair,
Auburn as autumn in his lair,
Took me again with swift surprise,
As oft they took me, coming there
In days of bygone ties.
The cricket and the katydid
Pierced silence with their stinging sounds;
The firefly went its golden rounds,
Where, lifting slow one sleepy lid,
The baby rosebud dreamed; and mounds
Of lilies breathed half-hid.
The white moon waded through a cloud,
Like some pale woman through a pool:
And in the darkness, close and cool
I felt a form against me bowed,
Her breast to mine; and deep and full
Her maiden heart beat loud.
I never dreamed it was a trick
That fancy played me; memory
And moonlight.... Yet, it well may be
The old road, too, that night was quick
With dreams that were reality
To every stone and stick.
For instantly when, overhead,
The moon swam there! where soft had gleamed
That vision, now no creature seemed
Only a ruined house and shed.
Was it a dream the old road dreamed?
Or I of her long dead?
The Land Of Hearts Made Whole
Do you know the way that goes
Over fields of rue and rose,
Warm of scent and hot of hue,
Roofed with heaven's bluest blue,
To the Vale of Dreams Come True?
Do you know the path that twines,
Banked with elder-bosks and vines,
Under boughs that shade a stream,
Hurrying, crystal as a gleam,
To the Hills of Love a-Dream?
Tell me, tell me, have you gone
Through the fields and woods of dawn,
Meadowlands and trees that roll,
Great of grass and huge of bole,
To the Land of Hearts Made Whole?
On the way, among the fields,
Poppies lift vermilion shields,
In whose hearts the golden Noon,
Murmuring her drowsy tune,
Rocks the sleepy bees that croon.
On the way, amid the woods,
Mandrakes muster multitudes,
'Mid whose blossoms, white as tusk,
Glides the glimmering Forest-Dusk,
With her fluttering moths of musk.
Here you hear the stealthy stir
Of shy lives of hoof and fur;
Harmless things that hide and peer,
Hearts that sucked the milk of fear
Fox and rabbit, squirrel and deer.
Here you see the mossy flight
Of faint forms that love the night
Whippoorwill and owlet-things,
Whose far call before you brings
Wonder-worlds of happenings.
Now in sunlight, now in shade,
Water, like a brandished blade,
Foaming forward, wild of flight,
Startles then arrests the sight,
Whirling steely loops of light.
Thro' the tree-tops, down the vale,
Breezes pass and leave a trail
Of cool music that the birds,
Following in happy herds,
Gather up in twittering words.
Blossoms, frail and manifold,
Strew the way with pearl and gold;
Blurs, that seem the darling print
Of the Springtime's feet, or glint
Of her twinkling gown's torn tint.
There the myths of old endure:
Dreams that are the world-soul's cure;
Things that have no place or play
In the facts of Everyday
'Round your presence smile and sway.
Suddenly your eyes may see,
Stepping softly from her tree,
Slim of form and wet with dew,
The brown dryad; lips the hue
Of a berry bit into.
You may mark the naiad rise
From her pool's reflected skies;
In her gaze the heaven that dreams,
Starred, in twilight-haunted streams,
Mixed with water's grayer gleams.
You may see the laurel's girth,
Big of bloom, give fragrant birth
To the oread whose hair,
Musk and darkness, light and air,
Fills the hush with wonder there.
You may mark the rocks divide,
And the faun before you glide,
Piping on a magic reed,
Sowing many a music seed,
From which bloom and mushroom bead.
Of the rain and sunlight born,
Young of beard and young of horn,
You may see the satyr lie,
With a very knowing eye,
Teaching youngling birds to fly.
These shall cheer and follow you
Through the Vale of Dreams Come True;
Wind-like voices, leaf-like feet;
Forms of mist and hazy heat,
In whose pulses sunbeams beat.
Lo! you tread enchanted ground!
From the hollows all around
Elf and spirit, gnome and fay,
Guide your feet along the way
Till the dewy close of day.
Then beside you, jet on jet,
Emerald-hued or violet,
Flickering swings a firefly light,
Aye to guide your steps a-right
From the valley to the height.
Steep the way is; when at last
Vale and wood and stream are passed,
From the heights you shall behold
Panther heavens of spotted gold
Tiger-tawny deeps unfold.
You shall see on stocks and stones
Sunset's bell-deep color tones
Fallen; and the valleys filled
With dusk's purple music, spilled
On the silence rapture-thrilled.
Then, as answering bell greets bell,
Night ring in her miracle
Of the doméd dark, o'er-rolled,
Note on note, with starlight cold,
'Twixt the moon's broad peal of gold.
On the hill-top Love-a-Dream
Shows you then her window-gleam;
Brings you home and folds your soul
In the peace of vale and knoll,
In the Land of Hearts Made Whole.
The Giant And The Star
Here's the tale my father told,
Walking in the park one night,
When the stars shone big and bright,
And the autumn wind blew cold:
Once a giant lived of old
In a far-off country, far
As the moon is, where one star,
Golden bright and fair of ray,
Lit the people on their way,
In the darkness gone astray.
And this star was beautiful
As a baby's eyes of blue,
And as bright as they are, too,
Brighter, father said. And who'll
Ever guess what happened? You'll
Wonder when I tell you that
This great, ugly giant sat
In his den, among the bones
Of dead pilgrims, luckless ones,
Throwing at this star big stones.
By his side a lion crouched,
A great cub, who helped him catch
Men and women; keeping watch
Night and day: the giant slouched
In or out the cave and pouched
Travelers. His club, a tree,
Knotted, flung across his knee.
So he lounged or sat, his eyes,
Red as flames, fixed on the skies,
Watching for that star to rise.
For, you see, he'd had no meat
For a week or two; the light
Of the star led people right;
He just gnashed his teeth and eat
Herbs; the lion at his feet
Huddled, mad with hunger, too;
Glaring, as all lions do,
Gaunt it crouched and whined and howled,
While the giant prowled and prowled,
Or sat sullen and just growled.
How he hated all mankind!
So he growled there all day long;
And his big voice, like a gong,
Made the mountain ring. And blind,
Like a bat, without a mind,
He could see no sense or use
In that star; so would abuse,
Curse it, all because its light,
Like a lamp, led pilgrims right,
And they were n't lost in night.
For, you see, the only food
Of this awful ogre was
Men and women; and because
They escaped him in the wood,
And it happened that he could
Never get enough to eat,
Waiting there for human meat,
Thus he thought, 'If it were out,
Then they'd come my way, no doubt,
Having night here all about.
'I'll just blow it out, ' he said,
And heaved up his bulky bones,
And went grumbling up the stones
To the very mountain's head,
Shaking with his mighty tread
All the crags and pines around.
Then he sat there on the ground
And began to blow and blow,
Till at last, oh slow, so slow!
Duller grew that star's bright glow.
Then the giant stopped a bit,
And drew in another breath:
Saying, 'This will be its death!'
Bulged his cheeks and blew at it,
Blew and blew and never quit
Till the star was blown quite out.
Then he rose and, with a shout,
Back into his den again
He went lumbering; the plain
Groaned; the mountain felt the strain.
In his cave he squatted, grim,
Humped and ugly, with his club
Flung across his knees; his cub,
Mountain lion, close to him,
Glaring; both its eyes a rim
Of green smoulder. And that night,
Sure enough, the giant was right:
Since the star no longer shone,
People lost their way alone,
And he captured many a one.
And they squatted in their den,
He and his big lion cub,
By his side his bloody club;
Squatted, snarling, crunching men
That night must have brought them ten.
And when all were eaten he,
The old giant, groaningly
Raised himself and went, I think,
To a stream to get a drink,
Foaming at the mountain's brink.
He had clean forgotten now
All about that star, you know,
That had lit the world below:
Now it was so dark, I vow,
He got lost too; don't know how;
Cursed himself and said, 'Odsblood!
I've got lost in this curst wood!
Wish I had a torch. No doubt
That old star threw light about.
Sorry now I blew it out!'
Hardly had he spoken when
Crash he went, huge club and all,
Headlong o'er the mountain wall,
Where he'd thrown the bones of men,
Often, he had eaten. Then
How he bellowed! and the rocks
Echoed with loud breakbone knocks
As adown the mountain side
Sheer he plunged; limbs sprawling wide,
Fell and broke his neck and died.
And the next day, father said,
Came a hunter with a bow,
Found that lion-cub, you know,
Crouching near that giant's head;
With his bow he shot it dead.
And that night, as broad as day,
Pilgrims journeying their way,
Saw a light grow, bar on bar,
Lighting them the road afar.
God had lit another star.
An Ode to be read on the laying of the foundation
stone of the new Oglethorpe University,
January, 1915, at Atlanta,
AS when with oldtime passion for this Land
Here once she stood, and in her pride, sent forth
Workmen on every hand,
Sowing the seed of knowledge South and North,
More gracious now than ever, let her rise,
The splendor of a new dawn in her eyes;
Grave, youngest sister of that company,
That smiling wear
Laurel and pine
And wild magnolias in their flowing hair;
The sisters Academe,
With thoughts divine,
Standing with eyes a-dream,
Gazing beyond the world, into the sea,
Where lie the Islands of Infinity.
Now in these stormy days of stress and strain,
When Gospel seems in vain,
And Christianity a dream we've lost,
That once we made our boast;
Now when all life is brought
Face to grim face with naught,
And a condition speaking, trumpet-lipped,
Of works material, leaving Beauty out
Of God's economy; while, horror-dipped,
Lies our buried faith, full near to perish,
'Mid the high things we cherish,
In these tempestuous days when, to and fro
The serpent, Evil, goes and strews his way
With dragon's teeth that play
Their part as once they did in Jason's day;
And War, with menace loud,
And footsteps, metal-slow,
And eyes a crimson hot,
Is seen, against the Heaven a burning blot
Of blood and tears and woe:
Now when no mortal living seems to know
Whither to turn for hope, we turn to thee,
And such as thou art, asking 'What's to be?'
And that thou point the path
Above Earth's hate and wrath,
And Madness, stalking with his torch aglow
Amid the ruins of the Nations slow
Crumbling to ashes with Old Empire there
In Europe's tiger lair.
A temple may'st thou be,
A temple by the everlasting sea,
For the high goddess, Ideality,
Set like a star,
Above the peaks of dark reality:
Above the deeds of War,
Within the shrine of Love, whose face men mar
That is the prism
Through which they gaze with eyes obscured of Greed,
At the white light of God's Eternity,
The comfort of the world, the soul's great need,
That beacons Earth indeed,
Breaking its light intense
With turmoil and suspense
And failing human Sense.
From thee a higher Creed
Shall be evolved.
The broken lights resolved
Into one light again, of glorious light,
Between us and the Everlasting, that is God.—
The all-confusing fragments, that are night,
Lift up thy rod
Of knowledge and from Truth's eyeballs strip
The darkness, and in armor of the Right,
Bear high the standard of imperishable light!
Cry out, 'Awake! — I slept awhile! — Awake!
Again I take
My burden up of Truth for Jesus' sake,
And stand for what he stood for, Peace and Thought,
And all that's Beauty-wrought
Through doubt and dread and ache,
By which the world to good at last is brought!'
No more with silence burdened, when the Land
Was stricken by the hand
Of war, she rises, and assumes her stand
For the Enduring; setting firm her feet
On what is blind and brute:
Still holding fast
With honor to the past,
Speaking a trumpet word,
Which shall be heard
As an authority, no longer mute.
Again, yea, she shall stand
For what Truth means to Man
For science and for Art and all that can
Make life superior to the things that weight
The soul down, things of hate
Instead of love, for which the world was planned;
May she demand
Faith and inspire it; Song to lead her way
Above the crags of Wrong
Into the broader day;
And may she stand
For poets still; poets that now the Land
Needs as it never needed; such an one
As he, large Nature's Son
Lanier, who with firm hand
Held up her magic wand
Directing deep in music such as none
Has ever heard
Such music as a bird
Gives of its soul, when dying,
And unconscious if it's heard.
So let her rise, mother of greatness still,
Above all temporal ill;
Invested with all old nobility,
Teaching the South decision, self control
And strength of mind and soul;
Achieving ends that shall embrace the whole
Through deeds of heart and mind;
And thereby bind
Its effort to an end
And reach its goal.
So shall she win
A wrestler with sin,
Supremely to a place above the years,
And help men rise
To what is wise
And true beyond their mortal finite scan —
The purblind gaze of man;
Aiding with introspective eyes
His soul to see a higher plan
Of life beyond this life; above the gyves
Of circumstance that bind him in his place
Of doubt and keep away his face
From what alone survives;
And what assures
Immortal life to that within, that gives
Of its own self,
And through its giving, lives,
And evermore endures.
About the time when bluebells swing
Their elfin belfries for the bee
And in the fragrant House of Spring
Wild Music moves; and Fantasy
Sits weaving webs of witchery:
And Beauty's self in silence leans
Above the brook and through her hair
Beholds her face reflected there,
And wonders what the vision means
About the time when bluebells swing,
I found a path of glooms and gleams,
A way that Childhood oft has gone,
That leads into the Wood of Dreams,
Where, as of old, dwell Fay and Faun,
And Faërie dances until dawn;
And Elfland calls from her blue cave,
Or, starbright, on her snow-white steed,
Rides blowing on a silver reed
That Magic follows like a slave
I found a path of glooms and gleams.
And in that Wood I came again
On old enchantments. There, behold,
I saw them pass, a kingly train,
Fable and Legend, wise and old,
In garb of glimmering green and gold:
While far away forgotten bells
And horns of Faërie made faint sound;
And all the anxious heaven around
And earth grew gossamered with spells,
And whirled with ouphen feet again.
And, lo, I saw the ancient Hall
Of Story rise, where Dreams conspire
With Words and Music to enthrall
The Yearning of the soul's desire,
Holding it fast with charméd fire:
Where Glamour bows in servitude;
And, Lord of Ecstasy and Awe,
Song, with his henchmen, Lore and Law,
Sits 'mid the mighty Brotherhood
Of Beauty in that twilight Hall.
Then far away the forest rang
With something more than bugle calls:
A voice, a summons wild that sang,
As if Adventure in his halls
Awoke; or Daring on the walls
Shouted to Youth to take his stand
Before the wizard-guarded tower
Where Love, within her secret bower,
Beckons him on with moon-white hand
Why was it that the forest rang?
And then I knew: It was my Sprite,
My Witch, whose spells had led me far:
Who held me with the old delight,
And drew my soul beyond the bar
Of all the real, like a star.
How long ago, how far that day,
Since first I met her in the wild!
And on my face her white face smiled,
And my child fears she soothed away!
Ay! ay! 'twas she -my airy Sprite!
And on my heart again the hour
Flashed as when first she gazed at me;
Her loveliness clothed on with power
And joy and godlike mystery,
A portion of Earth's ecstasy:
Again I felt, in ways unknown,
Down in my soul a memory waken
Of some far kiss once given and taken,
That made me hers, her very own,
Once every year for one brief hour. . . .
A Dryad laughed among the trees;
A Naiad flashed with limbs a-spark;
A Satyr reached rough arms to seize;
A Faun foot danced adown the dark
To music of rude pipes of bark:
Earth crowded all its shapes-around,
Myths, bare and beautiful of breast,
'Mid whom pursuing passion pressed,
Wild, Pan-like, leaping from the ground.
A Dryad laughed among the trees.
Then Elfdom, in a starlike rain,
To right and left rose blossoms slim;
And urged its Joy in twinkling train
Down many a flower and rainbow rim
Of moonbeam. Fancy sat with Whim:
And from the ferns gleamed glowworm eyes,
Where Faërie held its Court; and, green,
An impish spirit ran between,
With Puck-like laughter of surprise,
And firefly flickerings, wild as rain.
Then suddenly a light that grew,
And in the light my Witch! who stood,
As crystal-evident as dew,
Weaving a spell that made the wood
Take on a dream's similitude:
And, lo, through radiance and perfume
I saw Romance, crowned with a crown,
And Chivalry come riding down,
On two great steeds, all gold and gloom,
Round whom the splendor grew and grew. . . .
And of the Dream the forest dreams
Again my soul becomes a part:
Again my magic armor gleams;
Again beneath its steel my heart
Throbs all impatient for the start.
Again the towers of Time and Chance
Loom grimly, where, forever fair,
Wrapped in the glory of her hair,
Beauty lies bound by Necromance,
The Beauty that we know in dreams.
And, as before, again I smile,
Delaying still to break the spell,
Facing the gateway of old Guile,
Where hangs the slug-horn that shall knell
Defiance to the Courts of Hell.
'Then Elfdom, in a starlike rain,
To right and left rose blossom-slim.'
What though around me, torch on torch,
The eyes of Danger, glowering, wait!
What though Death heaves a sword of hate
Beneath the gate's enchanted arch!
I raise the horn again and smile.
What now, O Night, shall make me pause?
I face the darkness of the tomb,
That stirs with clank of iron claws,
And threatenngs of gigantic doom,
The monster in the granite gloom.
And then full in the face of Night
I hurl my challenge, blast on blast
The drawbridge thunders; and the vast
Echoes with batlike wings in flight.
There is no thing to give me pause.
My heart sings, bounding to its quest.
I mount the stairs to where she sleeps,
A rose upon her brow and breast,
And in her long hair's golden deeps
The glory of the youth she keeps.
I kneel again; I clasp her there;
I kiss her mouth; but, lo, behold!
Her beauty crumbles into mold,
'And all the castle goes in air,
And with it all my heart's high quest. . . .
And in the wood I wake again.
The Dream is gone as is the child,
Who followed far in rapture's train,
And by a vision was beguiled,
The Witch, the Presence undefiled,
Whose call still sounds o'er holt and hollow,
An elfin bugle, in the morn;
And in the eve a faery horn,
Bidding the dreaming heart to follow,
The child in man that hears again. . . .
For what we dream is never lost.
Dreams mold the soul within the clay.
The rapture and the pentecost
Of beauty shape our lives some way:
They are the beam, the guiding ray,
That Nature dowers us with at birth,
And, like the light upon the crown
Of some dark hill, that towers down,
Point us to Heaven, not to Earth,
Above the world where dreams are lost.
That Night When I Came To The Grange
The trees took on fantastic shapes
That night when I came to the grange;
The very bushes seemed to change;
This seemed a hag's head, that an ape's:
The road itself seemed darkly strange
That night when I came to the grange.
The storm had passed, but still the night
Cloaked with deep clouds its true intent,
And moody on its way now went
With muttered thunder and the light,
Torch-like, of lightning that was spent
Flickering the mask of its intent.
Like some hurt thing that bleeds to death,
Yet never moves nor heaves a sigh,
Some last drops shuddered from the sky:
The darkness seemed to hold its breath
To see the sullen tempest die,
That never moved nor heaved a sigh.
Within my path, among the weeds,
The glow-worm, like an evil eye,
Glared malice; and the boughs on high
Flung curses at me, menaced deeds
Of darkness if I passed them by:
They and the glow-worm's glaring eye.
The night-wind rose, and raved at me,
Hung in the tree beside the gate;
The gate that snarled its iron hate
Above the gravel, grindingly,
And set its teeth to make me wait,
Beside the one tree near the gate.
The next thing that I knew a bat
Out of the rainy midnight swept
An evil blow: and then there crept,
Malignant with its head held flat,
A hiss before me as I stept,
A fang, that from the midnight swept.
I drew my dagger then, the blade
That never failed me in my need;
'Twere well to be prepared; indeed,
Who knew what waited there? what shade,
Or substance, banded to impede
My entrance of which there was need.
The blade, at least, was tangible
Among the shadows I must face;
Its touch was real; and in case
Hate waylaid me, would serve me well;
I needed something in that place
Among the shadows I must face.
The dead thorn took me by surprise,
A hag-like thing with twisted clutch;
From o'er the wall I felt it touch
My brow with talons; at my eyes
It seemed to wave a knotted crutch,
A hag-like thing with twisted clutch.
A hound kept howling in the night;
He and the wind were all I heard:
The wind that maundered some dark word
Of wrong, that nothing would make right,
To every rain-dropp that it stirred:
The hound and wind were all I heard.
The grange was silent as the dead:
I looked at the dark face of it:
Nowhere was any candle lit:
It looked like some huge nightmare head
With death's-head eyes. I paused a bit
To study the dark face of it.
And then I rang and knocked: I gave
The great oak door loud blow on blow:
No servant answered: wild below
The echoes clanged as in a cave:
The evil mansion seemed to know
Who struck the door with blow on blow.
Silence: no chink of light to say
That he and his were living there,
That sinful man with snow-white hair,
That creature, I had come to slay;
That wretched thing, who did not dare
Reveal that he was hiding there.
I broke my dagger on the door,
Yet woke but echoes in the hall:
Then set my hands unto the wall
And clomb the ivy as before
In boyhood, to a window tall,
That was my room's once in that hall.
At last I stood again where he,
That vile man with the sneering face,
That fiend, that foul spot on our race,
Had sworn none of our family
Should ever stand again: the place
Was dark as his own devil's face.
I stood, and felt as if some crime
Closed in on me, hedged me around:
It clutched at me from closets; bound
Its arms around me; time on time
I turned and grasped; but nothing found,
Only the blackness all around.
The darkness took me by the throat:
I could not hear but felt it hiss
'Take this, you hound! and this! and this!'
Then, all at once, afar, remote,
I heard a door clang. Murder is
More cautious yet, whose was that hiss?
Oh, for a light! The blackness jeered
And mouthed at me; its sullen face
Was as a mask on all the place,
From which two sinister sockets leered;
A death's-head, that my eyes could trace,
That stared me sullen in the face.
Then silence packed the hall and stair
And crammed the rooms from attic down,
Since that far door had clanged; its frown
Upon the darkness, everywhere,
Had settled; like a graveyard gown
It clothed the house from attic down.
And then I heard a groan and one
Long sigh then silence. Who was near?
Was it the darkness at my ear
That mocked me with a deed undone?
Or was it he, who waited here,
To kill me when I had drawn near?
I drew my sword then: stood and stared
Into the night, that was a mask
To all the house, that made my task
A hopeless one. Ah! had it bared
Its teeth at me what more to ask!
My sword had gone through teeth and mask!
It was not fair to me; my cause!
The villain darkness bound my eyes.
Why, even the moon refused to rise.
It might have helped me in that pause,
Before I groped the room, whose size
Seemed monstrous to my night-bound eyes.
What was it that I stumbled on?
God! for a light that I might see!
There! something sat that stared at me
Some loathsome, twisted thing the spawn
Of hell and midnight. Was it he?
God! for a light that I might see!
And then the moon! thank Heaven! the moon
Broke through the clouds, a face chalk-white:
Now then, at last, I had a light!
And then I saw the thing seemed hewn
From marble at the moment's sight,
Bathed in the full moon's wistful white.
He sat, or rather crouched, there dead:
Her dagger in his heart that girl's:
His open eyes as white as pearls
Malignant staring overhead:
One hand clutched full of torn-out curls.
Her dagger in his heart that girl's.
I knew the blade. Why, I had seen
The thing stuck in her gipsy hair,
Worn as they wear them over there
In Spain: its gold hilt crusted green
With jade-like gems of cruel glare.
She wore it in her gipsy hair.
She called it her'green wasp, ' and smiled
As if of some such deed she dreamed:
And yet to me she always seemed
A child, a little timid child,
Who at a mouse has often screamed
And yet of deeds like this she dreamed.
Where was she now? Some pond or pool
Would yield her body up some day.
Poor little waif, that'd gone astray!
And I! oh God! how great a fool
To know so long and yet delay!
Some pond would yield her up some day.
The world was phantomed with the mist
That night when I came from the grange.
So, she had stabbed him. It was strange.
Who would have thought that she who kiss'd
Would kill him too! Well, women change.
Their curse is on the lonely grange!
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.
The North Shore
September On Cape Ann
The partridge-berry flecks with flame the way
That leads to ferny hollows where the bee
Drones on the aster. Far away the sea
Points its deep sapphire with a gleam of grey.
Here from this height where, clustered sweet, the bay
Clumps a green couch, the haw and barberry
Beading her hair, sad Summer, seemingly,
Has fallen asleep, unmindful of the day.
The chipmunk barks upon the old stone wall;
And in the shadows, like a shadow, stirs
The woodchuck where the boneset's blossom creams.
Was that a phoebe with its pensive call?
A sighing wind that shook the drowsy firs?
Or only Summer waking from her dreams?
In An Annisquam Garden
Old phantoms haunt it of the long ago;
Old ghosts of old-time lovers and of dreams:
Within the quiet sunlight there, meseems,
I see them walking where those lilies blow.
The hardy phlox sways to some garment's flow;
The salvia there with sudden scarlet streams,
Caught from some ribbon of some throat that gleams,
Petunia-fair, in flounce and furbelow.
I seem to hear their whispers in each wind
That wanders mid the flowers. There they stand!
Among the shadows of that apple-tree!
They are not dead, whom still it keeps in mind,
This garden, planted by some lovely hand
That keeps it fragrant with its memory.
I saw the spirit of the pines that spoke
With spirits of the ocean and the storm:
Against the tumult rose its tattered form,
Wild rain and darkness round it like a cloak.
Fearful it stood, limbed like some twisted oak,
Gesticulating with one giant arm,
Raised as in protest of the night's alarm,
Defiant still of some impending stroke.
Below it, awful in its majesty,
The spirit of the deep, with rushing locks,
Raved: and above it, lightning-clad and shod,
Thundered the tempest. Thus they stood, the three;
Terror around them; while, upon the rocks,
Destruction danced, mocking at man and God.
Night And Storm At Gloucester
I heard the wind last night that cried and wept
Like some old skipper's ghost outside my door;
And on the roof the rain that tramped and tore
Like feet of seamen on a deck storm-swept.
Against the pane the Night with shudderings crept,
And crouched there wailing; moaning ever more
Its tale of terror; of the wrath on shore,
The rage at sea, bidding all wake who slept.
And then I heard a voice as old as Time;
The calling of the mother of the world,
Ocean, who thundered on her granite crags,
Foaming with fury, meditating crime.
And then, far off, wild minute guns; and, hurled
Through roaring surf, the rush of sails in rags.
The Voice Of Ocean
A cry went through the darkness; and the moon,
Hurrying through storm, gazed with a ghastly face,
Then cloaked herself in scud: the merman race
Of surges ceased; and then th' Æolian croon
Of the wild siren, Wind, within the shrouds
Sunk to a sigh. The ocean in that place
Seemed listening; haunted, for a moment's space,
By something dread that cried against the clouds.
Mystery and night; and with them fog and rain:
And then that cry again as if the deep
Uttered its loneliness in one dark word:
Her horror of herself; her Titan pain;
Her monsters; and the dead that she must keep,
Has kept, alone, for centuries, unheard.
I saw the daughters of the ocean dance
With wind and tide, and heard them on the rocks:
White hands they waved me, tossing sunlit locks,
Green as the light an emerald holds in trance.
Their music bound me as with necromance
Of mermaid beauty, that for ever mocks,
And lured me as destruction lures wild flocks
Of light-led gulls and storm-tossed cormorants.
Nearer my feet they crept: I felt their lips:
Their hands of foam that caught at me, to press,
As once they pressed Leander: and, straightway,
I saw the monster-ending of their hips;
The cruelty hid in their soft caress;
The siren-passion ever more to slay.
A Bit Of Coast
One tree, storm-twisted, like an evil hag,
The sea-wind in its hair, beside a path
Waves frantic arms, as if in wild-witch wrath
At all the world. Gigantic, grey as slag,
Great boulders shoulder through the hills, or crag
The coast with danger, monster-like, that lifts
Huge granite, round which wheel the gulls and swifts,
And at whose base the rotting sea-weeds drag.
Inward the hills are wooded; valley-cleft;
Tangled with berries; vistaed dark with pines;
At whose far end, as 'twere within a frame,
Some trail of water that the ocean left
Gleams like a painting where one white sail shines,
Lit with the sunset's poppy-coloured flame.
Autumn At Annisquam
The bitter-sweet and red-haw in her hands,
And in her hair pale berries of the bay,
She haunts the coves and every Cape Ann way,
The Indian, Autumn, wandered from her bands.
Beside the sea, upon a rock, she stands,
And looks across the foam, and straight the grey
Takes on a sunset tone, and all the day
Murmurs with music of forgotten lands.
Now in the woods, knee-deep among the ferns,
She walks and smiles and listens to the pines,
The sweetheart pines, that kiss and kiss again,
Whispering their love: and now she frowns and turns
And in the west the fog in ragged lines
Rears the wild wigwams of the tribes of rain.
Against the pane the darkness, wet and cold,
Pressed a wild face and raised a ragged arm
Of cloud, clothed on with thunder and alarm
And terrible with elemental gold.
Above the fisher's hut, beyond the wold,
The wind, a Salem witch, rushed shrieking harm,
And swept her mad broom over every farm
To devil-revels in some forest old.
Hell and its-hags, it seemed, held court again
On every rock, trailing a tattered gown
Of surf, and whirling, screaming, to the sea
Elf-locks, fantastic, of dishevelled rain;
While in their midst death hobbled up and down
Monstrous and black, with diabolic glee.
Night and the sea, and heaven overhead
Cloudless and vast, as 'twere of hollowed spar,
Wherein the facets gleamed of many a star,
And the half-moon a crystal radiance shed.
Then suddenly, with burning banners spread,
In pale celestial armour, as for war,
Into the heaven, flaming from afar,
The Northern Lights their phalanxed splendours led.
Night, for the moment, seemed to catch her breath,
And earth gazed, silent with astonishment,
As spear on spear the auroral armies came;
As when, triumphant over hell and death,
The victor angels thronged God's firmament
With sword on sword and burning oriflamme.
Far as the eye can see the land is grey,
And desolation sits among the stones
Looking on ruin who, from rocks like bones,
Stares with a dead face at the dying day.
Mounds, where the barberry and bay hold sway,
Show where homes rose once; where the village crones
Gossiped, and man, with many sighs and groans,
Laboured and loved and went its daily way.
Only the crow now, like a hag returned,
Croaks on the common that its hoarse voice mocks.
Meseems that here the sorrow of the earth
Has lost herself, and, with the past concerned,
Sits with the ghosts of dreams that haunt these rocks,
And old despairs to which man's soul gave birth.
An Abandoned Quarry
The barberry burns, the rose-hip crimsons warm,
And haw and sumach hedge the hill with fire,
Down which the road winds, worn of hoof and tire,
Only the blueberry-picker plods now from the farm.
Here once the quarry-driver, brown of arm,
Wielded the whip when, deep in mud and mire,
The axle strained, and earned his daily hire,
Labouring bareheaded in both sun and storm.
Wild-cherry now and blackberry and bay
Usurp the place: the wild-rose, undisturbed,
Riots, where once the workman earned his wage,
Whose old hands rest now, like this granite grey,
These rocks, whose stubborn will whilom he curbed,
Hard as the toil that was his heritage.
A Pool Among The Rocks
I know a pool, whose crystalline repose
Sleeps under walls of granite, whence the pine
Leans looking at its image, line for line
Repeated with the sumach and wild-rose
That redden on the rocks; where, at day's close,
The sunset dreams, and lights incarnadine
Dark waters and the place seems brimmed with wine,
A giant cup that splendour overflows.
Night, in her livery of stars and moon,
Stoops to its mirror, gazing steadily;
And, saddened by her beauty, drops one tear,
A falling star; while round it sighs the rune
Of winds, conspirators that sweep from sea,
Whispering of things that fill the heart with fear.
High On A Hill
There is a place among the Cape Ann hills
That looks from fir-dark summits on the sea,
Whose surging sapphire changes constantly
Beneath deep heavens, Morning windowsills,
With golden calm, or sunset citadels
With storm, whose towers the winds' confederacy
And bandit thunder hold in rebel fee,
Swooping upon the ilsher's sail that swells.
A place, where Sorrow ceases to complain,
And life's old Cares put all their burdens by,
And Weariness forgets itself in rest.
Would that all life were like it; might obtain
Its pure repose, its outlook, strong and high,
That sees, beyond, far Islands of the Blest.
An Ode - In Commemoration Of The Founding, Of The Massachusetts Bay Colony In The Year 1623.
They who maintained their rights,
Through storm and stress,
And walked in all the ways
That God made known,
Led by no wandering lights,
And by no guess,
Through dark and desolate days
Of trial and moan:
Here let their monument
Rise, like a word
In rock commemorative
Of our Land's youth;
Of ways the Puritan went,
With soul love-spurred
To suffer, die, and live
For faith and truth.
Here they the corner-stone
Of Freedom laid;
Here in their hearts' distress
They lit the lights
Of Liberty alone;
Here, with God's aid,
Conquered the wilderness,
Secured their rights.
Not men, but giants, they,
Who wrought with toil
And sweat of brawn and brain
Their freehold here;
Who, with their blood, each day
Hallowed the soil,
And left it without stain
And without fear.
Yea; here, from men like these,
Our country had its stanch beginning;
Hence sprang she with the ocean breeze
And pine scent in her hair;
Deep in her eyes the winning,
The far-off winning of the unmeasured West;
And in her heart the care,
The young unrest,
Of all that she must dare,
Ere as a mighty Nation she should stand
Towering from sea to sea,
From land to moantained land,
One with the imperishable beauty of the stars
In absolute destiny;
Part of that cosmic law, no shadow mars,
To which all freedom runs,
That wheels the circles of the worlds and suns
Along their courses through the vasty night,
Irrevocable and eternal as is Light.
What people has to-day
Such faith as launched and sped,
With psalm and prayer, the Mayflower on its way?
Such faith as led
The Dorchester fishers to this sea-washed point,
This granite headland of Cape Ann?
Where first they made their bed,
Salt-blown and wet with brine,
In cold and hunger, where the storm-wrenched pine
Clung to the rock with desperate footing. They,
With hearts courageous whom hope did anoint,
Despite their tar and tan,
Worn of the wind and spray,
Seem more to me than man,
With their unconquerable spirits. Mountains may
Succumb to men like these, to wills like theirs,
The Puritan's tenacity to do;
The stubbornness of genius; holding to
Their purpose to the end,
No New-World hardship could deflect or bend;
That never doubted in their worst despairs,
But steadily on their way
Held to the last, trusting in God, who filled
Their souls with fire of faith that helped them build
A country, greater than had ever thrilled
Man's wildest dreams, or entered in
His highest hopes. 'Twas thins that helped them win
In spite of danger and distress,
Through darkness and the din
Of winds and waves, unto a wilderness,
Savage, unbounded, pathless as the sea,
That said, 'Behold me! I am free!'
Giving itself to them for greater things
Than filled their souls with dim imaginings.
Let History record their stalwart names,
And catalogue their fortitude, whence grew,
Swiftly as running flames,
Cities and civilazation:
How from a meeting-house and school,
A few log-huddled cabins, Freedom drew
Her rude beginnings. Every pioneer station,
Each settlemeat, though primitive of tool,
Had in it then the making of a Nation;
Had in it then the roofing of the plains
With tragic; and the piercing through and through
Of forests with the iron veins
Would I could make you see
How these, laboriously,
These founders of New England, every hour
Faced danger, death, and misery,
Conquering the wilderness;
With supernatural power
Changing its features; all its savage glower
Of wild barbarity, fierce hate, duress,
To something human, something that could bless
Mankind with peace and lift its heart's elation;
Something at last that stood
For universal brotherhood,
Astonishing the world, a mighty Nation,
Hewn from the solitude.
Iron of purpose as of faith and daring,
And of indomitable will,
With axe and hymn-book still I see them faring,
The Saxon Spirit of Conquest at their side
With sword and flintlock; still I see them stride,
As to some Roundhead rhyme,
Adown the aisles of Time.
Can praise be simply said of such as these?
Such men as Standish, Winthrop, Endicott?
Such souls as Roger Conant and John White?
Rugged and great as trees,
The oaks of that New World with which their lot
Was cast forever, proudly to remain.
That world in which each name still stands, a light
To beacon the Ship of State through stormy seas.
Can praise be simply said
Of him, the younger Vane,
Puritan and patriot,
Whose dedicated head
Was laid upon the block
In thy name, Liberty!
Can praise be simply said of such as he!
Needs must the soul unlock
All gates of eloquence to sing of these.
Such epic melodies,
As holds the utterance of the earlier gods,
The lords of song, one needs
To sing the praise of these!
No feeble music, tinklings frail of glass;
No penny trumpetings; twitterings of brass,
The moment's effort, shak'n from pigmy bells,
Ephemeral drops from small Pierian wells,
With which the Age relieves a barren hour.
But such large music, such melodious power,
As have our cataracts,
Pouring the iron facts,
The giant acts
Of these: such song as have our rock-ridged deep
And mountain steeps,
When winds, like clanging eagles, sweep the storm
On tossing wood and farm:
Such eloquence as in the torrent leaps,
Where the hoarse canyon sleeps,
Holding the heart with its terrific charm,
Carrying its roaring message to the town,
To voice their high achievement and renown.
Long, long ago, beneath heaven's stormy slope,
In deeds of faith and hope,
Our fathers laid Freedom's foundations here,
And raised, invisible, vast,
Embodying naught of doubt or fear,
A monument whose greatness shall outlast
The future, as the past,
Of all the Old World's dynasties and kings.
A symbol of all things
That we would speak, but cannot say in words,
Of those who first began our Nation here,
Behold, we now would rear!
A different monument! a thought, that girds
Itself with granite; dream made visible
In rock and bronze to tell
To all the Future what here once befell;
Here where, unknown to them,
A tree took root; a tree of wondrous stem;
The tree of high ideals, which has grown,
And has not withered since its seed was sown,
Was planted here by them in this new soil,
Who watered it with tears and blood and toil:
An heritage we mean to hold,
Keeping it stanch and beautiful as of old.
For never a State,
Or People, yet was great
Without its great ideals; branch and root
Of the deep tree of life where bud and blow
The dreams, the thoughts, that grow
To deeds, the glowing fruit.
The morn, that breaks its heart of gold
Above the purple hills;
The eve, that spills
Its nautilus splendor where the sea is rolled;
The night, that leads the vast procession in
Of stars and dreams,
The beauty that shall never die or pass:
The winds, that spin
Of rain the misty mantles of the grass,
And thunder-raiment of the mountain-streams;
The sunbeams, needling with gold the dusk
Green cowls of ancient woods;
The shadows, thridding, veiled with musk,
The moon-pathed solitudes,
Call to my Fancy, saying, 'Follow! follow!'
Till, following, I see,
Fair as a cascade in a rainbowed hollow,
A dream, a shape, take form,
Clad on with every charm,
The vision of that Ideality,
Which lured the pioneer in wood and hill,
And beckoned him from earth and sky;
The dream that cannot die,
Their children's children did fulfill,
In stone and iron and wood,
Out of the solitude,
And by a forthright act
Create a mighty fact
A Nation, now that stands
Clad on with hope and beauty, strength and song,
Eternal, young, and strong,
Planting her heel on Wrong,
Her starry banner in triumphant hands....
Within her face the rose
Of Alleghany dawns;
Limbed with Alaskan snows,
Floridian starlight in her eyes,
Eyes stern as steel yet tender as a fawn's,
And in her hair
The rapture of her river; and the dare,
As perishless as truth,
That o'er the crags of her Sierras flies,
Urging the eagle ardor through her veins,
Behold her where,
Around her radiant youth,
The spirits of the cataracts and plains,
The genii of the floods and forests, meet,
In rainbow mists circling her brow and feet:
The forces vast that sit
In session round her; powers paraclete,
That guard her presence; awful forms and fair,
Making secure her place;
Guiding her surely as the worlds through space
Do laws sidereal; edicts, thunder-lit,
Of skyed eternity, in splendor borne
On planetary wings of night and morn.
Behold her! this is she!
Beautiful as morning on the summer sea,
Yet terrible as is the elemental gold
That cleaves the tempest and in angles clings
About its cloudy temples. Manifold
The dreams of daring in her fearless gaze,
Fixed on the future's days;
And round her brow, a strand of astral beads,
Her soul's resplendent deeds;
And at her front one star,
Like that on morning's slope,
Beaconing the world afar.
From her high place she sees
Her long procession of accomplished acts,
Of thoughts in steel and stone, of marble dreams,
Lift up tremendous battlements,
Sun-blinding, built of facts;
While in her soul she seems,
Listening, to hear, as from innumerable tents,
Æonian thunder, wonder, and applause
Of all the heroic ages that are gone;
That, as her Past, her Future shall endure,
As did her Cause
When redly broke the dawn
Of fierce rebellion, and, beneath its star,
The firmaments of war
Poured down infernal rain,
And North and South lay bleeding 'mid their slain.
And now, no less, shall her Cause still prevail,
More so in peace than war,
Through the thrilled wire and electric rail,
Carrying her message far;
Shaping her dream
Within the brain of steam,
That, with a myriad hands,
Labors unceasingly, and knits her lands
In firmer union; joining plain and stream
With steel; and binding shore to shore
With bands of iron; nerves and arteries,
Along whose adamant forever pour
Her concrete thoughts, her tireless energies.
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.
In Solitary Places
The hurl and hurry of the winds of March,
That tore the ash and bowed the pine and larch,
Are past and done with: winds, that trampled through
The forests with enormous, scythe-like sweep,
And from the darkening deep,
The battlements of heaven, thunder-blue,
Rumbled the arch,
The rocking arch of all the booming oaks,
With stormy chariot-spokes;
Chariots from which wild bugle-blasts they blew,
Their warrior challenge.. . Now the wind flower sweet
Misses the fury of their ruining feet,
The trumpet-thunder of resistless flight,
Crashing and vast, obliterating light;
Sweeping the skeleton cohorts down
Of last year's leaves; and, overhead,
Hurrying the giant foliage of night,
Gaunt clouds that streamed with tempest. Now each crown
Of woods that stooped to clamor of their tread,
The frenzy of their passage, stoops no more,
Hearing no more their clarion-command,
Their chariot-hurl and the wild whip in hand.
No more, no more,
The forests rock and roar
And tumult with their shoutings.. . Hushed and still
Is the green-gleaming and the sunlit hill,
Along whose sides,
Flushing the dewy moss and rainy grass
Beneath the topaz-tinted sassafras,
As aromatic as some orient wine
The violet fire of the bluet glides,
The amaranthine flame
Glints of the bluebell; and the celandine,
Line upon lovely line,
Deliberate goldens into birth;
And, ruby and rose, the moccasin-flower hides:
Innumerable blooms, with which she writes her name,
April, upon the page,
The winter-withered parchment of old Earth,
Her fragrant autograph that gives it worth
And loveliness that takes away its age.
Here where the woods are wet,
The blossoms of the dog's-tooth violet
Seem meteors in a miniature firmament
Of wildflowers, where, with rainy sound and scent
Of breeze and blossom, soft the April went:
Their tongue-like leaves of umber-mottled green,
So thickly seen,
Seem dropping words of gold,
The visible syllables of a magic old.
Beside them, near the wahoo-bush and haw,
Blooms the hepatica;
Its slender flowers upon swaying stems
Lifting pale, solitary blooms,
Starry, and twilight-colored, like frail gems,
That star the diadems
Of sylvan spirits, piercing pale the glooms;
Or like the wands, the torches of the fays,
That light lone, woodland ways
With slim, uncertain rays:
(The faery people, whom no eye may see,
Busy, so legend says,
With budding bough and leafing tree,
The blossom's heart o' honey and honey-sack o' the bee,
And all dim thoughts and dreams,
That take the form of flowers, as it seems,
And haunt the banks of greenwood streams,
Showing in every line and curve,
Commensurate with our love, and intimacy,
A smiling confidence or sweet reserve.)
There at that leafy turn
Of trailered rocks, rise fronds of hart's-tongue fern:
Fronds that my fancy names
Of feathering emerald and gold,
That, kindled in the musky mould,
Now, stealthily as the morn, unfold
Their cool green fires that burn
Uneagerly, and spread around
An elfin light above the ground,
Like that green glow
A spirit, lamped with crystal, makes below
In dripping caves of labyrinthine moss.
And in the underwoods, around them, toss
The white-hearts with their penciled leaves,
That 'mid the shifting gleams and glooms,
The interchanging shine and shade,
Seem some vague garment made
By unseen hands that weave, that none perceives;
Pale hands that work invisible looms,
Now dropping shreds of light,
Now shadow-shreds, that interbraid
And form faint colors mixed with frail perfumes.
Or, are they fragments left in flight,
These flowers that scatter every glade
With windy, beckoning white,
And breezy blowing blue,
Of her wild gown that shone upon my sight,
A moment, in the woods I wandered through?
April's, whom still I follow,
Whom still my dreams pursue;
Who leads me on by many a tangled clue
Of loveliness, until, in some green hollow,
Born of her fragrance and her melody,
But lovelier than herself and happier, too,
Cradled in blossoms of the dogwood-tree,
My soul shall see
White as a sunbeam in the heart of day
The infant, May.
Up, up, my Heart, and forth, where none perceives!
'T was this that that sweet lay meant
You heard in dreams.
Come, let us take rich payment,
For every care that grieves,
From Nature's prodigal purse.'T was this that May meant
By sending forth that wind which 'round our eaves
Whispered all night. Or was 't the Spirit who weaves,
From gold and glaucous green of early leaves,
Spring's radiant raiment?
Up, up, my Heart, and forth, where none perceives!
Come, let us forth, my Heart, where none divines!
Into far woodland places,
Where we may meet the fair, assembled races,
Beneath the guardian pines,
Of God's first flowers: poppy-celandines,
And wake-robins and bugled columbines,
With which her hair, her heavenly hair she twines,
And loops and laces.
Come let us forth, my Heart, where none divines!
Forth, forth, my Heart, and let us find our dreams,
There where they haunt each hollow!
Dreams, luring us with Oread feet to follow,
With flying feet of beams,
Fleeter and lighter than the soaring swallow:
Dreams, holding us with Dryad glooms and gleams;
With Naiad looks, far stiller than still streams,
That have beheld and still reflect, it seems,
The God Apollo.
Forth, forth, my Heart, and let us find our dreams!
Out, out my Heart! the world is white with spring.
Long have our dreams been pleaders:
Now let them be our firm but gentle leaders.
Come, let us forth and sing
Among the amber-emerald-tufted cedars,
And balm-o'-Gileads, cottonwoods, a-swing
Like giant censers, that from leaf-cusps fling
Balsams of gummy gold, bewildering
The winds their feeders.
Out, out, my Heart! the world is white with spring.
Up, up, my Heart, and all thy hope put on!
Array thyself in splendor!
Like some bright dragonfly, some May-fly slender,
The irised lamels don
Of thy new armor; and, where burns the centre,
Refulgent, of the widening rose of dawn,
Spread thy wild wings! and, ere the hour be gone,
Bright as a blast from some bold clarion,
Thy Dream-world enter!
Up, up, my heart, and all thy hope put on!
And then I heard it singing,
The wind that kissed my hair,
A song of wild expression,
A song that called in session
The wildflowers there up-springing,
The wildflowers lightly flinging
Their tresses to the air.
And first the bloodroot-blooms of March
In troops arose; each with its torch
Of hollow snow, within which, bright,
The calyx grottoed golden light.
Hepatica and bluet,
And gold corydalis.
Rose, swaying to the aria;
While phlox and dim dentaria
In rapture, ere they knew it,
Oped, nodding lightly to it,
Faint as a first star is.
And then a music, to the ear
Inaudible, I seemed to hear;
A symphony that seemed to rise
And speak in colors to the eyes.
I saw the Jacob's-Ladder
Ring violet peal on peal
Of perfume, azure-swinging;
The bluebell slimly ringing
Its purple chimes; and gladder,
Green note on note, the madder
Bells of the Solomon's-seal.
Now far away; now near; now lost,
I saw their fragrant music tossed,
Mixed dimly with white interludes
Of trilliums starring cool the woods.
Then choral, solitary,
I saw the celandine
Smite bright its golden cymbals;
The starwort shake its timbrels;
The whiteheart's horns of Faery,
With many a flourish airy,
Strike silvery into line.
And straight my soul they seemed to draw,
By chords of loveliness and awe,
Into a Faery World afar,
Where all man's dreams and longings are.
Then the face of a spirit looked down at me
Out of the deeps of the opal morn:
Its eyes were blue as a sunlit sea,
And young with the joy of a star that has just been born:
And I seemed to hear, with my soul, the rose of its cool mouth say:
'Long I lay; long I lay,
Low on the Hills of the Break-of-Day,
Where ever the light is green and gray,
And the gleam of the moon is a silvery spray,
And the stars are glimmering bubbles:
Now from the Hills of the Break-of-Day.
I come, I come, on a rainbow ray,
To laugh and sparkle, to leap and play,
And blow from the face of the world away,
Like mists, its cares and troubles.'
And now that the dawn is everywhere
Let us take this road through this wild green place,
Where the rattlesnake-weed shows its yellow face,
And the lichens cover the rocks with lace:
Where tannin-touched is the wild free air,
Let us take this path through the oaks where thin
The low leaves whisper, 'The day is fair, '
And waters murmur, 'Come in, come in!
Where the wind of our foam can play with your hair
And blow away care.'
Berry blossoms that seem to flow
As the winds blow;
Blackberry blossoms swing and sway
To and fro
Along our way,
Like ocean spray on a breezy day,
Over the green of the grass as foam on the green of a bay
When the world is white and green with the white and the green of May.
And here the bluets blooming
Make little eyes at you;
O'er which the bees go booming,
Drunk with the honey-dew.
O slender Quaker-ladies,
O star-bright Quaker-ladies,
With eyes of heavenly blue,
With eyes of azure hue,
Who, where the mossy shade is,
Hold quiet Quaker-meeting,
Are these your serenaders?
Your gold-hipped serenaders,
Who, humming love-songs true,
And to your eyes repeating
Soft ballads, stop to woo?
Then change to ambuscaders,
To gold galloonéd raiders,
And rob the hearts of you,
The golden hearts of you.
And here the bells of the huckleberries toss, so it seems, in time,
Delicate, tenderly white, clumped by the wildwood way,
Swinging, it seems, inaudible peals of a dew clustered rhyme,
Visible music, dropped from the virginal lips of the May,
Crystally dropped, so it seems, blossoming bar upon bar,
Pendent, pensively pale, star upon hollowed star.
The dewberries are blooming now;
The days are long, the nights are short:
Each dogwood and each black-haw bough
Is bleached with bloom, and seems a part,
Reflected palely on her brow,
Of dreams that haunt the Year's young heart.
But this will pass; and instantly
The world forget the spring that was;
And underneath the wild-plum tree,
'Mid hornet hum and wild-bee's buzz,
Summer, in dreamy reverie,
Will sit, all warm and amorous.
Summer, with drowsy eyes and hair,
Who walks the orchard aisles between;
Whose hot touch tans the freckled pear,
And crimsons peach and nectarine;
And in the vineyard everywhere
Bubbles with blue the grape's ripe green.
Where now the briers blossoming are
Soon will the berries darkly glow;
Then summer pass: and, star on star,
Where now the grass is strewn below
With blossoms, soon, both near and far,
Will lie th' obliterating snow.
The star-flower, now that discs with gold
The woodland moss, the forest grass,
Already in a day is old,
Already doth its beauty pass;
Soon, undistinguished, with the mould
'T will mingle and will mix, alas!
The bluet, too, that spreads its skies,
Diminutive heavens, at our feet;
And crowfoot-bloom, that, with orbed eyes
Of amber, now our eyes doth greet,
Shall fade and pass, and none surmise
How once they made the Maytime sweet.
But still the crowfoot trails its gold
Along the edges of the oak wood old;
And still, where spreads the water, white are seen
The lilies islanded between
The pads 'round archipelagoes of green;
The jade-dark pads that pave
The water's wrinkled wave,
In which the warbler and the sparrow lave
Their fluttered breasts and wings;
Preening their backs, with many twitterings,
With necks the moisture streaks;
Then dipping deep their beaks,
To which some bead of liquid coolness clings,
As bending back their mellow throats
They let the freshness trickle into notes.
And now you hear
The red-capped woodpecker rap close and clear;
And now that acrobat,
The yellow-breasted chat,
Chuckles his grotesque music from
Some tree that he hath clomb.
And now, and now,
Upon a locust bough,
Hark how the honey-throated thrush
Scatters the forest's emerald hush
With notes of golden harmony,
Taking the woods with witchery
Or is 't some spirit none may see,
Hid in the top of yonder tree,
Who, in his house of leaves, of haunted green,
Keeps trying, silver-sweet, his sunbeam flute serene?
Again the spirit looked down at me
Out of the sunset's ruin of gold;
Its eyes were dark as a moonless sea,
And grave with the grief of a star that with sorrow is old:
And I seemed to hear, with my soul, the flame of its sad mouth sigh:
'Now good-by! now good-by!
Down to the Caves of the Night go I:
Where a shadowy couch of the purple sky,
That the moon- and the starlight curtain high,
Is spread for my joy and sorrow:
Down to the Caves of the Night go I,
Where side by side in mystery
With all the Yesterdays I'll lie;
And where, from my body, before I die,
Will be born the young To-morrow.'
And now that the dusk draws down you see,
Tipped by the weight of a passing bee,
The milkwort's spike of blue,
Of lavender hue,
Nod like a goblin night-cap, slim, sedate,
That night shall tassel with the dew,
Beneath its canopy of flowering rue.
And now, as twilight's purple state
Deepens the oaks' dark vistas through,
The owlet's cry of'Who, oh, who,
Who walks so late?'
Drifts like a challenge down to you.
Or there on the twig of the oak-tree tall,
The gray-green egg in the gray-green gall,
You, too, might hear if you, too, would try,
Might hear it open; all tinily
Split, and the little round worm and white,
That grows to a gnat in a summer night,
Uncurl in its nest as it dreams of flight:
In the heart of the weed that grows near by,
The little gray worm that becomes a fly,
A green wood-fly, a rainbowed fly,
You, too, might hear if you, too, would try,
As a leaf-bud pushes from forth a tree,
Minute of movement, steadily,
As it feels a yearning for wings begin,
Under the milk of its larval skin
The silent pressure of wings within.
The west grows ashen, the woods grow berylwan;
The redbird lifts its plaintive vesper-song,
Where faint a fox or rabbit steals along:
And in some vine-roofed hollow, far withdrawn,
The creek-frog sounds his deeply guttural gong,
As dusk comes on:
The water's gnarléd dwarf or gnome,
Seated upon his temple's oozy dome,
Calling the faithful unto prayer,
Muezzin-like, the worshippers of the moon,
The insect-folk of earth and air
That join him in his twilight tune.
Along the path where the lizard hides,
An instant shadow the spider glides,
The hairy spider that haunts the way,
Crouching black by its earth-bored hole,
An insect-ogre, that lairs with the mole,
Hungry, seeking its insect prey,
Fast to follow and swift to slay.
And over your hands and over your face
The cobweb brushes its phantom lace:
And now from many a stealthy place,
Woolly-winged and gossamer-gray,
The woodland moths come fluttering,
Marked and mottled with lichen hues,
Seal-soft umbers and downy blues,
Dark as the bark to which they cling.
Now in the hollow of a hill,
Like a glow-worm held in a giant hand,
Under the sunset's last red band,
And one star hued like a daffodil,
The windowed lamp of a cabin glows,
The charcoal-burner's, whose hut is poor,
But ever open; beside whose door
An oak grows gnarled and a pine stands slim.
Clean of heart and of feature grim,
Here he houses where no one knows,
His only neighbors the cawing crows
That make a roost of the pine's top limb;
His only friend the fiddle he bows
As he sits at his door in the eve's repose,
Making it chuckle and sing and speak,
Lovingly pressed to his swarthy cheek.
And over many a root, through ferns and weeds,
Past lonely places where the raccoon breeds,
By many a rock and water lying dim,
Roofed with the brier and the bramble-rose,
Under a star and the new-moon's rim,
Downward the wood-way leads to him,
Down where the lone lamp gleams and glows,
A pencil slim
Of marigold light'under leaf and limb.
Ere that small sisterhood of misty-stars,
The Pleiades, consents to grace the sky;
While yet through sunset's tiger-tawny bars
The evening-star shines downward like an eye,
A torch, Enchantment, in her topaz tower
Of twilight, kindles at the Day's last hour,
Listen, and you may hear, now low, now high,
A voice, a spirit, dreamier than a flower.
There is a fellowship so still and sweet,
A brotherhood, that speaks, unwordable,
In every tree, in every flower you meet,
The soul is fain to sit beneath its spell.
And heart-admitted to their presence there,
Those intimacies of the earth and air,
It shall hear words, too wonderful to tell,
Too deep to interpret, of unspoken prayer.
And you may see the things no eyes have seen,
And hear the things no ears have ever heard;
The Murmur of the Woods, in gray and green,
Will lean to you, its soul a whispered word;
Or by your side, in hushed and solemn wise,
The Silence sit; and, clothed in glimmering dyes
Of pearl and purple, herding bee and bird,
The Dusk steal by you with her shadowy eyes.
Then through the Ugliness that toils in night,
Uncouth, obscure, that hates the glare of day,
The things that pierce the earth and know no light,
And hide themselves in clamminess and clay,
The dumb, ungainly things, that make a home
Of mud and mire they hill and honeycomb,
Through these, perhaps, in some mysterious way,
Beauty may speak fairer than wind-blown foam.
Not as it speaks, an eagle message, drawn
From starry vastness of night's labyrinths:
Not uttering itself from out the dawn
In egret hues; nor from the cloud-built plinths
Of sunset's splendor, speaking burningly
Unto the spirit; nor all flowery
From cygnet-colored cymes of hyacinths,
But from the things that type humility.
From things despised: even from the crawfish there,
Hollowing its house of ooze a wet, vague sound
Of sleepy slime; or from the mole, whose lair,
Blind-tunnelled, corridores the earth around,
Beauty may draw her truths, as draws its wings
The butterfly from the dull worm that clings,
Cocoon and chrysalis; and from the ground
Address the soul through even senseless things.
For oft my soul hath heard the trees' huge roots
Fumble the darkness, clutching at the soil;
Hath heard the green beaks of th' imprisoned shoots
Peck at the boughs from which the leaves uncoil;
Hath heard the buried germ soft split its pod,
Groping its blind way up to light and God;
The mushroom, laboring with gnome-like toil,
Heave slow its white orb through the encircling sod.
The winds and waters, stars and streams and flowers,
The earth and rocks, each moss-tuft and each fern,
The very lichens speak. This world of ours
Is eloquent with things that bid us learn
To pierce appearances, and so to mark,
Within the stone and underneath the bark,
Heard through some inward sense, the dreams that turn
Outward to light and beauty from the dark.
I stood alone in a mountain place,
And it came to pass, as I gazed on space,
That I met with Mystery, face to face.
Within her eyes my wondering soul beheld
The eons past, the eons yet to come,
At cosmic labor; and the stars, that swelled,
Fiery or nebulous, from the darkness dumb,
In each appointed place and period,
I saw were words, whose hieroglyphic sum
Blazoned one word, the mystic name of God.
I walked alone 'mid the forest's maze,
And it came to pass, as I went my ways,
That I met with Beauty, face to face.
Within her eyes my worshipping spirit saw
The moments busy with the dreams whence spring
Earth's loveliness: and all fair things that awe
Man's soul with their perfection everything
That buds and bourgeons, blossoming above,
I saw were letters of enduring Law
That bloomed one word, the beautiful name of Love.