Lying alone I dreamed a dream last night:
Methought that Joy had come to comfort me
For all the past, its suffering and slight,
Yet in my heart I felt this could not be.
All that he said unreal seemed and strange,
Too beautiful to last beyond to-morrow;
Then suddenly his features seemed to change,
The mask of joy dropped from the face of Sorrow.
A Ghost And A Dream
Rain will fall on the fading flowers,
Winds will blow through the dripping tree,
When Fall leads in her tattered Hours
With Death to keep them company.
All night long in the weeping weather,
All night long in the garden grey,
A ghost and a dream will talk together
And sad are the things they will have to say:
Old sad things of the bough that's broken;
Heartbreak things of the leaf that's dead;
Old sad things no tongue hath spoken;
Sorrowful things no man hath said.
I saw the Summer through her garden go,
A marigold hung in her auburn hair,
Her brown arms heaped with harvest, and the lair
Of poppied plenty, like the peach aglow:
Among the pepper-pods, in scarlet row,
And golden gourds and melons, where the pear
And quince hung heavy, in the languid air
She laid her down and let her eyes close slow.
Not so much breath as blows the thistle by,
Not so much sound as rounds a cricket's croon,
Was in her sleep, and yet about her seemed
The long dark sweep of rain, the whirling cry
And roar of winds beneath a stormy moon.
Was it a dream of Autumn that she dreamed?
Spare us our Dreams, O God! The dream we dreamed
When we were children and dwelt near the Land
Of Faery, which our Childhood often planned
To reach, beholding where its towers gleamed:
The dream our Youth put seaward with; that streamed
With Love's wild hair, or beckoned with the hand
Of stout Adventure: Then that dream which spanned
Our Manhood's skies with fame; that shone, it seemed,
The one fixed star of purpose, fair and far,
The dream of great achievement, in the heaven
Of our desire, and gave the soul strong wings:
Then that last dream, through which these others are
Made true: The dream that holds us at Life's even,
The mortal hope of far immortal things.
The Glory And The Dream
There in the past I see her as of old,
Blue-eyed and hazel-haired, within a room
Dim with a twilight of tenebrious gold;
Her white face sensuous as a delicate bloom
Night opens in the tropics. Fold on fold
Pale laces drape her; and a frail perfume,
As of a moonlit primrose brimmed with rain,
Breathes from her presence, drowsing heart and brain.
Her head is bent; some red carnations glow
Deep in her heavy hair; her large eyes gleam;
Bright sister stars of those twin worlds of snow,
Her breasts, through which the veined violets stream;
I hold her hand; her smile comes sweetly slow
As thoughts of love that haunt a poet's dream;
And at her feet once more I sit and hear
Wild words of passion-dead this many a year.
The moth and beetle wing about
The garden ways of other days;
Above the hills, a fiery shout
Of gold, the day dies slowly out,
Like some wild blast a huntsman blows:
And o'er the hills my Fancy goes,
Following the sunset's golden call
Unto a vine-hung garden wall,
Where she awaits me in the gloom,
Between the lily and the rose,
With arms and lips of warm perfume,
The dream of Love my Fancy knows.
The glowworm and the firefly glow
Among the ways of bygone days;
A golden shaft shot from a bow
Of silver, star and moon swing low
Above the hills where twilight lies:
And o'er the hills my Longing flies,
Following the star's far-arrowed gold,
Unto a gate where, as of old,
She waits amid the rose and rue,
With star-bright hair and night-dark eyes,
The dream, to whom my heart is true,
My dream of Love that never dies.
The Dream In The Wood
The beauty of the day put joy,
Unbounded, in the woodland's breast,
Through which the wind,like some wild boy,
Ran on and took no rest.
The little stream that made its home,
Under the spicewood bough and beech,
Hummed to its heart a song of foam,
Or with the moss held speech.
And he, whose heart was weighed with tears,
And who had come to seek a dream,
For a dim while forgot his fears,
Hearkening the wind and stream.
The wind for him assumed a form,
A child's, with wildflowers in its hair;
It seemed to take him by the arm
To lead him far from care.
The streamlet raised a hand of spray
By every rock, and waved him on,
Whispering, 'Come, take this wildwood way,
And find your dream long gone.'
And he, who heard and followed these,
Came on a secret place apart,
And there, behold! the dream of peace
He found in his own heart.
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.
In The Forest Of Love
What sighed the Forest to the nest?
'So young, so old,
Help me to mold
This life I hold.'
What said the bird,
That harked and heard?
Love, love is best.
Take heed, my Life, and quit thy quest.
The meaning of Love is rest.'
So spake the bird.
What cried the Nightwind to the trees?
'Thou dream of Earth,
Make me of worth
In death and birth!'
What said the wood
Stark-still that stood?
Give me increase.
Take heed, my Heart! thy sighings cease.
The meaning of Love is peace.'
So spake the Wood.
What sobbed the Earth in deep and height?
'O Song of Songs,
Unloose my thongs,
And right my wrongs!'
What said the Clod,
That dreamed of God?
Prisoner of Night,
Spirit, lift high thy taper-light!
The meaning of Love is might.'
So spake the Clod.
The Dead Dream
Between the darkness and the day
As, lost in doubt, I went my way,
I met a shape, as faint as fair,
With star-like blossoms in its hair:
Its body, which the moon shone through,
Was partly cloud and partly dew:
Its eyes were bright as if with tears,
And held the look of long-gone years;
Its mouth was piteous, sweet yet dread,
As if with kisses of the dead:
And in its hand it bore a flower,
In memory of some haunted hour.
I knew it for the Dream I'd had
In days when life was young and glad.
Why had it come with love and woe
Out of the happy Long-Ago?
Upon my brow I felt its breath,
Heard ancient. words of faith and death,
Sweet with the immortality
Of many a fragrant memory:
And to my heart again I took
Its joy and sorrow in a look,
And kissed its eyes and held it fast,
And bore it home from out the past
My Dream of Beauty and of Truth,
I dreamed had perished with my Youth.
The House Of Moss
How fancy romped and played here,
Building this house of moss!
A faery house, the shade here
And sunlight gleam across;
And how it danced and swayed here,
A child with locks atoss!
I pause to gaze and ponder;
And, whisk! I seem to know
How, in that house and under,
The starry elf-lamps glow,
And pixy dances sunder
The hush when night falls slow.
Oh, that a witch had willed it
That those child-dreams come true!
With which the child-heart filled it
While 'neath glad hands it grew,
And, dim, amort, it builded
Far better than it knew.
For Middleage, that wandered
And found it hidden here,
And, pausing, gazed and pondered
Knowing a mystery near
A dream, its childhood squandered,
Or lost, gone many a year.
Had not Time so distorted
My vision, haply I
Had also viewed, wild-hearted,
Dreams which that child drew nigh,
And to the world imparted
Strange news none dare deny.
On The Road
LET us bid the world good-by,
Now while sun and cloud's above us,
While we've nothing to deny,
Nothing but our selves to love us:
Let us fancy, I and you,
All the dreams we dreamed came true.
We have gone but half the road,
Rugged road of root and bowlder;
Made the best of Life's dark load,
Cares, that helped us to grow older:
We, my dear, have done our best —
Let us stop awhile and rest.
Let us, by this halfway stile,
Put away the world's desire,
And sit down, a little while,
With our hearts, and light a fire:
Sing the songs that once we sung
In the days when we were young.
Haply they will bring again,
From the Lands of Song and Story,
To our sides the elfin train
Of the dreams we dreamed of glory,
That are one now with the crew
Of the deeds we did not do.
Here upon the road of Life
Let us rest us; take our pleasure:
Free from care and safe from strife,
Count again our only treasure —
Love, that helped us on our way,
Our companion night and day.
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.
The Name On The Tree
I saw a name carved on a tree —
A simpler name there could not be—
But seeing it I seemed to see
A Devon garden,— pleasantly
About a parsonage, — the bee
Made drowsy-sweet; where rosemary
And pink and phlox and peony
Bowed down to one
Whom Herrick made to bloom in Poetry.
A moment there I saw her stand,—
A gillyflower in her hand,—
And then, kind-faced and big and bland,
As raised by some magician's wand,
Herrick himself passed by, sun-tanned,
And smiling; and the quiet land
Seemed to take on and understand
A dream long dreamed,
And for the lives of two some gladness planned.
And then I seemed to hear a sigh,—
And someone softly walking nigh,—
The leaves shook; and a butterfly
Trailed past; and through the sleepy sky
A bird flew, crying strange its cry —
Then suddenly before my eye
Two lovers strolled — They knew not why
I looked amazed,—
But I had seen old ghosts of long dead loves go by.
A Dream Shape
With moon-white hearts that held a gleam
I gathered wild-flowers in a dream,
And shaped a woman, whose sweet blood
Was odour of the wildwood bud.
From dew, the starlight arrowed through,
I wrought a woman's eyes of blue;
The lids that on her eyeballs lay,
Were rose-pale petals of the May.
Out of a rosebud's veins I drew
The flagrant crimson beating through
The languid lips of her, whose kiss
Was as a poppy's drowsiness.
Out of the moonlight and the air
I wrought the glory of her hair,
That o'er her eyes' blue heaven lay
Like some gold cloud o'er dawn of day.
I took the music of the breeze
And water, whispering in the trees,
And shaped the soul that breathed below
A woman's blossom breasts of snow.
A shadow's shadow in the glass
Of sleep, my spirit saw her pass:
And thinking of it now, meseems
We only live within our dreams.
For in that time she was to me
More real than our reality;
More real than Earth, more real than I
The unreal things that pass and die.
There is no rhyme that is half so sweet
As the song of the wind in the rippling wheat;
There is no metre that's half so fine
As the lilt of the brook under rock and vine;
And the loveliest lyric I ever heard
Was the wildwood strain of a forest bird.-
If the wind and the brook and the bird would teach
My heart their beautiful parts of speech,
And the natural art that they say these with,
My soul would sing of beauty and myth
In a rhyme and metre that none before
Have sung in their love, or dreamed in their lore,
And the world would be richer one poet the more.
A thought to lift me up to those
Sweet wildflowers of the pensive woods;
The lofty, lowly attitudes
Of bluet and of bramble-rose:
To lift me where my mind may reach
The lessons which their beauties teach.
A dream, to lead my spirit on
With sounds of faery shawms and flutes,
And all mysterious attributes
Of skies of dusk and skies of dawn:
To lead me, like the wandering brooks,
Past all the knowledge of the books.
A song, to make my heart a guest
Of happiness whose soul is love;
One with the life that knoweth of
But song that turneth toil to rest:
To make me cousin to the birds,
Whose music needs not wisdom's words.
A Forest Idyl
Beneath an old beech-tree
They sat together,
Fair as a flower was she
Of summer weather.
They spoke of life and love,
While, through the boughs above,
The sunlight, like a dove,
Dropped many a feather.
And there the violet,
The bluet near it,
Made blurs of azure wet
As if some spirit,
Or woodland dream, had gone
Sprinkling the earth with dawn,
When only Fay and Faun
Could see or hear it.
She with her young, sweet face
And eyes gray-beaming,
Made of that forest place
A spot for dreaming:
A spot for Oreads
To smooth their nut-brown braids,
For Dryads of the glades
To dance in, gleaming.
So dim the place, so blest,
One had not wondered
Had Dian's moonéd breast
The deep leaves sundered,
And there on them awhile
The goddess deigned to smile,
While down some forest aisle.
The far hunt thundered.
I deem that hour perchance
Was but a mirror
To show them Earth's romance
And draw them nearer:
A mirror where, meseems,
All that this Earth-life dreams,
All loveliness that gleams,
Their souls saw clearer.
Beneath an old beech-tree
They dreamed of blisses;
Fair as a flower was she
That summer kisses:
They spoke of dreams and days,
Of love that goes and stays,
Of all for which life prays,
Ah me! and misses.
A Forest Child
There is a place I search for still,
Sequestered as the world of dreams,
A bushy hollow, and a hill
That whispers with descending streams,
Cool, careless waters, wandering down,
Like Innocence who runs to town,
Leaving the wildwood and its dreams,
And prattling like the forest streams.
But still in dreams I meet again
The child who bound me, heart and hand,
And led me with a wildflower chain
Far from our world, to Faeryland:
Who made me see and made me know
The lovely Land of Long-Ago,
Leading me with her little hand
Into the world of Wonderland.
The years have passed: how far away
The day when there I met the child,
The little maid, who was a fay,
Whose eyes were dark and undefiled
And crystal as a woodland well,
That holds within its depths a spell,
Enchantments, featured like a child,
A dream, a poetry undefiled.
Around my heart she wrapped her hair,
And bound my soul with lips and eyes,
And led me to a cavern, where
Grey Legend dwelt in kingly guise,
Her kinsman, dreamier than the moon,
Who called her Fancy, read her rune,
And bade her with paternal eyes
Divest herself of her disguise.
And still I walk with her in dreams,
Though many years have passed since then,
And that high hill and its wild streams
Are lost as is that faery glen.
And as the years go swiftly by
I find it harder, when I try,
To meet with her, who led me then
Into the wildness of that glen.
This was my dream:
It seemed the afternoon
Of some deep tropic day; and yet the moon
Stood round and bright with golden alchemy
High in a heaven bluer than the sea.
Long lawny lengths of perishable cloud
Hung in a west o'er rolling forests bowed;
Clouds raining colours, gold and violet,
That, opening, seemed from mystic worlds to let
Hints down of Parian beauty and lost charms
Of dim immortals, young, with floating forms.
And all about me fruited orchards grew,
Pear, quince and peach, and plums of dusty blue;
Rose-apricots and apples streaked with fire,
Kissed into ripeness by the sun's desire
And big with juice. And on far, fading hills,
Down which it seemed a hundred torrent rills
Flashed rushing silver, vines and vines and vines
Of purple vintage swollen with cool wines;
Pale pleasant wines and fragrant as late June,
Their delicate tang drawn from the wine-white moon
And from the clouds o'er this sweet world there dripped
An odorous music, strangely feverish-lipped,
That swung and swooned and panted in mad sighs;
Investing at each throb the air with eyes,
And forms of sensuous spirits, limpid white,
Clad on with raiment as of starry night;
Fair, faint embodiments of melody,
From out whose hearts of crystal one could see
The music stream like light through delicate hands
Hollowing a lamp. And as on sounding sands
The ocean murmur haunts the rosy shells,
Within whose convolutions beauty dwells,
My soul became a vibrant harp of love,
Re-echoing all the harmony above.
A Prayer For Old Age
These are the things which I would ask of Time:
When I am old,
Never to feel in soul doubt's spiritual rime;
The heart grow cold
With self; but in me that which warms my time.
Never to feel the drouth, the dearth that kills,
Before one dies,
Of mind, full-flowering on thought's fertile hills;
But, in my skies,
The falcon, Fancy, that no season kills.
Never to see the shadow at my door,
Nor fear its fall;
But wait serenely, whether rich or poor,
Nor care at all,
So Love sits with me at my open door.
Never to have a dream I dreamed destroyed:
And towards the last
Live o'er again all that I have enjoyed,
The happy Past,
Through these, the dreams, no time has yet destroyed.
Never to lose my love for lowly things;
To feel the need
For simple beauty still: each bird that sings,
Each flower and weed
That looks its message of unguessed-at things.
Never to lose my faith in Nature, God:
But still to find
Worship in trees; religion in each sod;
And in the wind
Sermons that breathe the universal God.
Never to age in mind; much less in heart;
But keep them young
With song, glad song, that still shall have its part,
Sung or unsung,
Within the inmost temple of my heart.
That I may lose not all my trust in men!
And, through it, grow
Nearer to Heaven and God: and softly then
Meet Death and know
He has no terrors for my soul. Amen.
The Dream Child
There is a place (I know it well)
Where beech trees crowd into a gloom,
And where a twinkling woodland well
Flings from a rock a rippling plume,
And, like a Faun beneath a spell,
The silence breathes of beam and bloom.
And here it was I met with her,
The child I never hoped to see,
Who long had been heart's-comforter,
And soul's-companion unto me,
Telling me oft of myths that were,
And of far faerylands to-be.
She stood there smiling by the pool,
The cascade made below the rocks;
Innocent, naked, beautiful,
The frail gerardia in her locks,
A flower, elfin-sweet and cool,
Freckled as faery four-o -clocks.
Her eyes were rain-bright; and her hair
An amber gleam like that which tips
The golden leaves when Fall comes fair;
And twin red berries were her lips;
Her beauty, pure and young and bare,
Shone like a star from breasts to hips.
Oft had I seen her thus, of old,
In dreams, where she played many parts:
A form, possessing in its mold
The high perfection of all Arts,
With all the hopes to which men hold,
And loves for which they break their hearts.
And she was mine. Within her face
I read' her soul. . . . Then, while she smiled,
A sudden wind swept through the place
And she was gone. My heart beat wild;
The leaves shook and, behold, no trace
Was there of her, the faery child.
Only a ray of gold that hung
Above the water; and a bough,
Rain-bright and berried, low that swung:
Yet, in my heart of hearts, somehow,
I felt (I need not search among
The trees) that she was hiding now.
The Old Lane
An old, lost lane; where can it lead?
To stony pastures, where the weed
Purples its plume, or sails its seed:
And from one knoll, the vetch makes green,
Trailing its glimmering ribbon on,
Under deep boughs, a creek is seen,
Flecked with the silver of the dawn.
An old, green lane; where can it go?
Into the valley-land below,
Where red the wilding lilies blow:
Where, under willows, shadowy grey,
The blue-crane wades, the heron glides;
And in each pool the minnows sway,
Twinkling their slim and silvery sides.
An old, railed lane; where does it end?
Beyond the log-bridge at the bend,
Towards which our young feet used to wend:
Where, 'neath a dappled sycamore,
The old mill thrashed its foaming wheel,
And, smiling, at its corn-strewn door
The miller leant all white with meal.
An old, wild lane; I know it well:
The creek, the bridge across the dell:
The old house on the orchard-swell:
The pine-board porch above the creek,
Where oft we used to sit and dream,
Two children, fair of hair and cheek,
Dropping our flowers in the stream.
An old, old lane; I follow it
In fancy; and, where branches knit,
Behold a boy and girl who sit
Beside the mill-dam near the mill;
Or in a flat-boat, old and worn,
Oar lilyward. I see them still
Her dress is rent, his trousers torn.
An old, lost lane. Come, let us find,
As here I have it in my mind,
As boyhood left it far behind!
Yes; let us follow it again,
And meet her, wild of foot and hair,
The tomboy, sweet as sun and rain,
Whom once we worshipped to despair.
ON the Heights of Great Endeavour,—
Where Attainment looms forever,—
Toiling upward, ceasing never,
Climb the fateful Centuries:
Up the difficult, dark places,
Joy and anguish in their faces,
On they strive, the living races,
And the dead, that no one sees.
Shape by shape, with brow uplifted,
One by one, where night is rifted,
Pass the victors, many gifted,
Where the heaven opens wide:
While below them, fallen or seated,
Mummy-like, or shadow-sheeted,
Stretch the lines of the defeated,—
Scattered on the mountainside.
And each victor, passing wanly,
Gazes on that Presence lonely,
With unmoving eyes where only
Grow the dreams for which men die:
Grow the dreams, the far, ethereal,
That on earth assume material
Attributes, and, vast, imperial,
Rear their battlements on high.
Kingdoms, marble-templed, towered,
Where the Arts, the many-dowered,—
That for centuries have flowered,
Trampled under War’s wild heel,—
Lift immortal heads and golden,
Blossoms of the times called olden,
Universal in appeal.
As they enter,—high and lowly,—
On the hush these words fall slowly:—
‘Ye who kept your purpose holy,
Never dreamed your cause was vain,
Look!—Behold, through time abating,
How the long, sad days of waiting,
Striving, starving, hoping, hating,
Helped your spirit to attain.
‘For to all who dream, aspire,
Marry effort to desire,
On the cosmic heights, in fire
Beaconing, my form appears:—
I am marvel, I am morning!
Beauty in man’s heart and warning!—
On my face none looks with scorning,
And no soul attains who fears.’
Rose And Redbird - A Faerytale
I had the strangest dream last night:
I dreamed the poppies, red and white,
That over-run the flower-bed,
Changed to wee women, white and red,
Who, jeweled with the twinkling wet,
Joined hands and danced a minuet.
And there, beside the garden walk,
I thought a red-rose stood at talk
With a black cricket; and I heard
The cricket say, 'You are the bird,
Red-crested, who comes every day
To sing his lyric roundelay.'
The rose replied, 'Nay! you must know
That bird and I loved long-ago:
I am a princess, he a prince:
And we were parted ever since
The world of science made us don
The new disguises we have on.'
And then the rose put off disguise
And stood revealed before my eyes,
A faery princess; and, in black,
His tiny fiddle on his back,
An elfin fiddler, long of nose,
The cricket bowed before the rose.
A house of moss and firefly-light
Now seemed to rise within the night
Beside the tree where, bending low,
The flowers stood, a silken row,
Around the rose, a faery band
Before the Queen of Faeryland.
And suddenly I saw the side
Of a great beech-tree open wide,
And there, behold! were wondrous things,
Slim flower-like people bright with wings,
Who bowed before a throne of state,
Whereon the rose and redbird sate.
And then I woke; and there, behold,
Was naught except the moonlight's gold
On tree and garden; and the flowers
Safe snuggled in their beds and bowers:
The rose was gone, but where she'd stood
Lay scattered crimson of her hood.
The cricket still was at his tune
Somewhere between the dawn and moon:
And I'd have sworn it was a dream
Had I not glimpsed a glowworm gleam
And heard a chuckling in the tree,
And seen the dewdropp wink at me.
I oft have met her slowly wandering
Beside a leafy stream, her locks blown wild,
Her cheeks a hectic flush, more fair than Spring,
As if on her the sumach copse had smiled.
Or I have seen her sitting, tall and brown,-
Her gentle eyes with foolish weeping dim,-
Beneath a twisted oak from whose red leaves
She wound great drowsy wreaths and cast them down;
The west-wind in her hair, that made it swim
Far out behind, deep as the rustling sheaves.
Or in the hill-lands I have often seen
The marvel of her passage; glimpses faint
Of glimmering woods that glanced the hills between,
Like Indian faces, fierce with forest paint.
Or I have met her 'twixt two beechen hills,
Within a dingled valley near a fall,
Held in her nut-brown hand one cardinal flower;
Or wading dimly where the leaf-dammed rills
Went babbling through the wildwood's arrased hall,
Where burned the beech and maples glared their power.
Or I have met her by some ruined mill,
Where trailed the crimson creeper, serpentine,
On fallen leaves that stirred and rustled chill,
And watched her swinging in the wild-grape vine.
While Beauty, sad among the vales and mountains,
More sad than death, or all that death can teach,
Dreamed of decay and stretched appealing arms,
Where splashed the murmur of the forest's fountains;
With all her loveliness did she beseech,
And all the sorrow of her wildwood charms.
Once only in a hollow, girt with trees,
A-dream amid wild asters filled with rain,
I glimpsed her cheeks red-berried by the breeze,
In her dark eyes the night's sidereal stain.
And once upon an orchard's tangled path,
Where all the golden-rod had turned to brown,
Where russets rolled and leaves were sweet of breath,
I have beheld her 'mid her aftermath
Of blossoms standing, in her gypsy gown,
Within her gaze the deeps of life and death.
Lords Of The Visionary Eye
I CAME upon a pool that shone,
Clear, emerald-like, among the hills,
That seemed old wizards round a stone
Of magic that a vision thrills.
And as I leaned and looked, it seemed
Vague shadows gathered there and here —
A dream, perhaps the water dreamed
Of some wild past, some long-dead year….
A temple of a race unblessed
Rose huge within a hollow land,
Where, on an altar, bare of breast,
One lay, a man, bound foot and hand.
A priest, who served some hideous god,
Stood near him on the altar stair,
Clothed on with gold; and at his nod
A multitude seemed gathered there.
I saw a sword descend; and then
The priest before the altar turned;
He was not formed like mortal man,
But like a beast whose eyeballs burned.
Amorphous, strangely old, he glared
Above the victim he had slain,
Who lay with bleeding bosom bared,
From which dripped slow a crimson rain.
Then turned to me a face of stone
And mocked above the murdered dead,
That fixed its cold eyes on his own
And cursed him with a look of dread.
And then, it seemed, I knew the place,
And how this sacrifice befell:
I knew the god, the priest's wild face,
I knew the dead man — knew him well.
And as I stooped again to look,
I heard the dark hills sigh and laugh,
And in the pool the water shook
As if one stirred it with a staff.
And all was still again and clear:
The pool lay crystal as before,
Temple and priest were gone; the mere
Had closed again its magic door.
A face was there; it seemed to shine
As round it died the sunset's flame —
The victim's face?— or was it mine?—
They were to me the very same.
And yet, and yet — could this thing be? —
And in my soul I seemed to know,
At once, this was a memory
Of some past life, lived long ago.
Recorded by some secret sense,
In forms that we as dreams retain;
Some moment, as experience,
Projects in pictures on the brain.
A Boy's Heart
It's out and away at break of day,
To frolic and run in the sun-sweet hay:
It's up and out with a laugh and shout
Let the old world know that a boy's about.
It's ho for the creek that the minnows streak,
That the sunbeams dapple, the cattle seek;
For a fishing-pole and a swimming-hole,
Where a boy can loaf and chat with his soul.
It's oh to lie and look at the sky
Through the roof of the leaves that's built so high:
Where all day long the birds make song,
And everything 's right and nothing is wrong.
It's hey to win where the breeze blows thin,
And watch the twinkle of feather and fin:
To lie all day and dream away
The long, long hours as a boy's heart may.
It's oh to talk with the trees and walk
With the winds that whisper to flower and stalk:
And it's oh to look in the open book
Of your own boy-dreams in some leafy nook.
Away from the noise of the town, and toys,
To dream the dreams that are dreamed by boys:
To run in the heat, with sun-tanned feet,
To the music of youth in your heart's young beat.
To splash and wade in the light and shade
Of the league-long ripples the sunbeams braid:
In boyhood's wise to see with eyes
Of fancy hued as the butterflies.
To walk for hours and learn the flowers,
And things that haunt the woods and bowers:
To climb to a nest on a tree's top crest,
Where a bird, like your heart, is singing its best.
To feel the rain on your face again,
Like the thirsty throats that the flowers strain:
To hear the call of the waterfall,
Like the voice of youth, a wonder-thrall.
And it's oh for me at last to see
The rainbow's end by the hillside tree:
On the wet hillside where the wild ferns hide,
Like a boy's bright soul to see it glide.
Then to laugh and run through shower and sun
In the irised hues that are arched and spun:
And, the rainbow's friend, to find and spend
The bag of gold at the rainbow's end.
Was it a dream,
Or a whim of the night?
Or did they gleam
Upon my sight
An instant there in the wan moonlight?
I saw them all, I think,
Under the bowers,
The faery folk, in a moonbeam wink,
Disguised as flowers.
First came the Bleeding-Hearts, that hang like bells
Or delicate shells;
Who, gowned in white and red,
Hooped skirts and furbelows,
A long procession led
Of Faery Ladies and their beaux,
Such as the Violet and Early Rose,
Into the ball-room of the flower-bed,
Where they began a Pixy minuet.
Then suddenly, from whence nobody knows,
The Johnny-Jump-Ups glimmered in that set,
Tipping about on tiny flower-toes,
All dressed in twinkling velvet, black and blue,
Faint-jeweled with the dew:
Stout sons of Faërie, Yeomen of the Night,
Glittering, each one, a rapier-ray of light:
Then, bowing two by two,
While all the Bleeding-Hearts stood by and fanned,
They, silken hand in hand,
Began a faery saraband,
That wound and interwound, and went and came again.
In ruffed and ribboned lines,
The gold-and-ruby gleaming Columbines,
Fair Maids-of-Honor to the Faery Queen,
Who still remained unseen,
Trailed twinkling into view.
And then a trumpet blew
A beetle-blast and there!
Adown a glowworm-lanthorned avenue,
Tall two by two,
With sapphire-helméd hair,
Proud Knights and minions of the moon,
The Larkspurs, to a cricket tune,
Marched with a haughty air.
And golden-cuirassed, blowing a wild fanfare
Of fragrant notes
From honey-crystaled throats,
Snapdragons, Trumpeters of the Faery King,
With pomp and glittering
Of many an elfin prince and peer,
And when I felt secure,
The King and Queen of Faerie would appear,
A cockerel crew, a thwarting cockerel crew,
And, presto! whew!
The whole scene went in air,
Leaving it there,
The garden, glimmering with the moon and dew,
With all its flowers. But I knew,
Nay, I was sure,
It was not quite as innocent as it seemed.
It could not fool me with its looks demure.
I knew I had not dreamed.
What wood-god, on this water's mossy curb,
Lost in reflections of earth's loveliness,
Did I, just now, unconsciously disturb?
I, who haphazard, wandering at a guess,
Came on this spot, wherein, with gold and flame
Of buds and blooms, the season writes its name.
Ah, me! could I have seen him ere alarm
Of my approach aroused him from his calm!
As he, part Hamadryad and, mayhap,
Part Faun, lay here; who left the shadow warm
As wildwood rose, and filled the air with balm
Of his sweet breath as with ethereal sap.
Does not the moss retain some vague impress,
Green dented in, of where he lay or trod?
Do not the flow'rs, so reticent, confess
With conscious looks the contact of a god?
Does not the very water garrulously
Boast the indulgence of a deity?
And, hark! in burly beech and sycamore
How all the birds proclaim it! and the leaves
Rejoice with clappings of their myriad hands!
And shall not I believe, too, and adore,
With such wide proof?-Yea, though my soul perceives
No evident presence, still it understands.
And for a while it moves me to lie down
Here on the spot his god-head sanctified:
Mayhap some dream he dreamed may lingert brown
And young as joy, around the forestside;
Some dream within whose heart lives no disdain
For such as I whose love is sweet and sane;
That may repeat, so none but I may hear
As one might tell a pearl-strung rosary
Some epic that the trees have learned to croon,
Some lyric whispered in the wild-flower's ear,
Whose murmurous lines are sung by bird and bee,
And all the insects of the night and noon.
For, all around me, upon field and hill,
Enchantment lies as of mysterious flutes;
As if the music of a god's good-will
Had taken on material attributes
In blooms, like chords; and in the water-gleam,
That runs its silvery scales from stream to stream;
In sunbeam bars, up which the butterfly,
A golden note, vibrates then flutters on
Inaudible tunes, blown on the pipes of Pan,
That have assumed a visible entity,
And drugged the air with beauty so, a Faun,
Behold, I seem, and am no more a man.
THE moon, a circle of gold,
O'er the crowded housetops rolled,
And peeped in an attic, where,
'Mid sordid things and bare,
A sick child lay and gazed
At a road to the far-away,
A road he followed, mazed,
That grew from a moonbeam-ray,
A road of light that led
From the foot of his garret-bed
Out of that room of hate,
Where Poverty slept by his mate,
Sickness —out of the street,
Into a wonderland,
Where a voice called, far and sweet,
'Come, follow our Fairy band!'
A purple shadow, sprinkled
With golden star-dust, twinkled
Suddenly into the room
Out of the winter gloom:
And it wore a face to him
Of a dream he'd dreamed: a form
Of Joy, whose face was dim,
Yet bright with a magic charm.
And the shadow seemed to trail,
Sounds that were green and frail:
Dew-dripples; notes that fell
Like drops in a ferny dell;
A whispered lisp and stir,
Like winds among the leaves,
Blent with a cricket-chirr,
And coo of a dove that grieves.
And the Elfin bore on its back
A little faery pack
Of forest scents: of loam
And mossy sounds of foam;
And of its contents breathed
As might a clod of ground
Feeling a bud unsheathed
There in its womb profound.
And the shadow smiled and gazed
At the child; then softly raised
Its arms and seemed to grow
To a tree in the attic low:
And from its glimmering hands
Shook emerald seeds of dreams,
From which grew fairy bands,
Like firefly motes and gleams.
The child had seen them before
In his dreams of Fairy lore:
The Elves, each with a light
To guide his feet a-right,
Out of this world to a world
Where Magic built him towers,
And Fable old, unfurled,
Flags like wonderful flowers.
And the child, who knew this, smiled,
And rose, a different child:
No more he knew of pain,
Or fear of heart and brain. —
At Poverty there that slept
He never even glanced,
But into the moon-road stept,
And out of the garret danced.
Out of the earthly gloom,
Out of the sordid room,
Out, on a moonbeam ray! —
Now at last to play
There with comrades found!
Children of the moon,
There on faery ground,
Where none would find him soon!
The Old House In The Wood
Weeds and dead leaves, and leaves the Autumn stains
With hues of rust and rose whence moisture weeps;
Gnarl'd thorns, from which the knotted haw-fruit rains
On paths the gray moss heaps.
One golden flower, like a dreamy thought
In the sad mind of Age, makes bright the wood;
And near it, like a fancy Childhood-fraught,
The toadstool's jaunty hood.
Webs, in whose snares the nimble spiders crouch,
Waiting the prey that comes, moon-winged, with night:
Slugs and the snail which trails the mushroom's pouch,
That marks the wood with white.
An old gaunt house, round which the trees decay,
Its porches fallen and its windows gone,
Starts out at you as if to bar the way,
Or bid you hurry on.
A picket fence, grim as a skeleton arm,
Is flung around a weed-wild garden place;
The gate, o'er which the rose once hung its charm,
Gapes in an empty space.
Here nothing that was beauty's now remains:
Old death and sorrow have made all their own,
And life and love, who wrought here, for their pains
Have nothingness alone.
I stand before the shattered fence and gaze:
All, all is silent now where once was noise
Of household duties, gossip of kind days,
And little children's joys.
Then suddenly I see a shadow slip
From out the house: A ghost of bygone years;
One finger lifted to its pallid lip,
It passes me with tears.
It passes me 'mid whirling leaves and rain.
Between the trees I see it gleam and glide.
I know it for the dream which once in vain
My heart had made its guide.
Was it for this that I had come the blind
Old ways of life back to Love's house again?
The house of Memory, there again to find
The dream that proved in vain?
A will-o'-wisp; a faery fire; a spark,
That led me where I knew not; and at last
Would leave me, lost within the woodland dark,
'Mid shadows of the past.
Again I followed; and again it failed.
And night came on. And then once more it seemed
That all was lost; that nothing more availed
Wen, lo! a window gleamed,
And I was home. . . . Thank God for love! and light,
Set inthe window of the days that were!
And for the dream, though vain, that through the night
Leads back to home and her!
There is never a thing we dream or do
But was dreamed and done in the ages gone;
Everything's old; there is nothing that's new,
And so it will be while the world goes on.
The thoughts we think have been thought before;
The deeds we do have long been done;
We pride ourselves on our love and lore
And both are as old as the moon and sun.
We strive and struggle and swink and sweat,
And the end for each is one and the same;
Time and the sun and the frost and wet
Will wear from its pillar the greatest name.
No answer comes for our prayer or curse,
No word replies though we shriek in air;
Ever the taciturn universe
Stretches unchanged for our curse or prayer.
With our mind's small light in the dark we crawl,
Glow-worm glimmers that creep about,
Till the Power that shaped us, over us all
Poises His foot and treads us out.
Unasked He fashions us out of clay,
A little water, a little dust,
And then in our holes He thrusts us away,
With never a word, to rot and rust.
'Tis a sorry play with a sorry plot,
This life of hate and of lust and pain,
Where we play our parts and are soon forgot,
And all that we do is done in vain.
There is never a dream but it shall come true,
And never a deed but was wrought by plan;
And life is filled with the strange and new,
And ever has been since the world began.
As mind develops and soul matures
These two shall parent Earth's mightier acts;
Love is a fact, and 'tis love endures
'Though the world make wreck of all other facts.
Through thought alone shall our Age obtain
Above all Ages gone before;
The tribes of sloth, of brawn, not brain,
Are the tribes that perish, are known no more.
Within ourselves is a voice of Awe,
And a hand that points to Balanced Scales;
The one is Love and the other Law,
And their presence alone it is avails.
For every shadow about our way
There is a glory of moon and sun;
But the hope within us hath more of ray
Than the light of the sun and moon in one.
Behind all being a purpose lies,
Undeviating as God hath willed;
And he alone it is who dies,
Who leaves that purpose unfulfilled.
Life is an epic the Master sings,
Whose theme is Man, and whose music, Soul,
Where each is a word in the Song of Things,
That shall roll on while the ages roll.
The cuckoo-sorrel paints with pink
The green page of the meadow-land
Around a pool where thrushes drink
As from a hollowed hand.
A hill, long-haired with leathered grass
Combed by the strong incessant wind,
Looks down upon the pool's pale glass
Like some old hag gone blind,
And on a forest grey of beech,
Reserved, mysterious, deep and wild,
That whispers to itself; its speech
Like some old man's turned child.
A forest, through which something speaks
Authoritative things to man,
A something that o'erawed the Greeks,
The universal Pan.
And through the forest falls a stream
Babbling of immemorial things
The myth, that haunts it like a dream,
The god, that in it sings.
And here it was, when I was young,
Across this meadow, sorrel-stained,
To this green place where willows wrung
Wild hands, and beech-trees strained
Their mighty strength with winds of spring,
That clutched and tore the wild-witch hair
Of yon gaunt hill, I heard them sing,
The hylas hidden there.
The slant gale played soft fugues of rain,
With interludes of sun between,
Where windflowers wove a twinkling chain
Through mosses grey and green.
From every coign of woodland peered
The starry eyes of Loveliness,
As reticently now she neared
Or stood in shy distress.
Then I remembered all the past
The ancient ships, the unknown seas;
And him, like some huge, knotted mast,
My master Herakles.
Again I saw the port, the wood
Of Cyzicus; the landing there;
The pool among the reeds; and, nude,
The nymphs with long green hair,
That swarmed to clasp me when I stooped
To that grey pool as clear as glass,
And round my body wrapped and looped
Their hair, like water-grass.
Hylas, the Argonaut, the lad
Beloved of Herakles, was I
Again with joy my heart grew sad,
Dreaming on days gone by.
Again I felt the drowning pain,
The kiss that slew me long ago;
The dripping arms drew down again,
And love cried all its woe.
The new world vanished! 'Twas the old.
Once more I knew the Mysian shore,
The haunted pool, the wood, the cold
Wild wind from sea and moor.
And then a voice went by; 'twas his,
The Demigod's who sought me: but
Cold mouths had closed mine with a kiss
And both mine eyes were shut....
And had the hylas ceased to sing?
Or what? For, lo! I stood again
Between the hill and wood; and Spring
Gazed at me through the rain.
And in her gaze I seemed to see
This was a dream she'd dreamed, not I;
A figment of a memory
That I had felt go by.
What ogive gates from gold of Ophir wrought,
What walls of Pariah, whiter than a rose,
What towers of crystal, for the eyes of thought,
Hast builded on far Islands of Repose?
Thy cloudy columns, vast, Corinthian,
Or huge, Ionic, colonnade the heights
Of dreamland, looming o'er the soul's deep seas;
Built melodies of marble, that no man
Has ever reached, except in fancy's flights,
Templing the presence of perpetual ease.
Oft, where o'er plastic frieze and plinths of spar,
In glimmering solitudes of pillared stone,
The twilight blossoms with one violet star,
With thee, O Reverie, I have stood alone,
And there beheld, from out the Mythic Age,
The rosy breasts of Cytherea fair,
Full-cestused, and suggestive of what loves
Immortal rise; and heard the lyric rage
Of sun-burnt Poesy, whose throat breathes bare
O'er leopard skins, fluting among his groves.
Oft, where thy castled peaks and templed vales
Cloud like convulsive sunsets shores that dream,
Myrrh-fragrant, over siren seas whose sails
Gleam white as lilies on a lilied stream,
My soul has dreamed. Or by thy sapphire sea,
In thy arcaded gardens, in the shade
Of breathing sculpture, oft has walked with thought,
And bent, in shadowy attitude, its knee
Before the shrine of Beauty that must fade
And leave no memory of the mind that wrought.
Who hath beheld thy caverns where, in heaps,
The wines of Lethe and Love's witchery,
In sealéd Amphoræ a sibyl keeps,
World-old, for ever guarded secretly?
No wine of Xeres or of Syracuse!
No fine Falernian and no vile Sabine!
The stolen fire of a demigod,
Whose bubbled purple goddess feet did bruise
In crusted vats of vintage, where the green
Flames with wild poppies, on the Samian sod.
Oh, for the deep enchantment of one draught!
The reckless ecstasy of classic earth!
With godlike eyes to laugh as gods have laughed
In eyes of mortal brown, a mighty mirth.
Of deity delirious with desire!
To breathe the dropping roses of the shrines,
The splashing wine-libation and the blood,
And all the young priest's dreaming! To inspire
My eager soul with beauty, 'til it shines
An utt'rance of life's loftier brotherhood!
So would I slumber in the old-world shades,
And Poesy should touch me, as some bold
Wild bee a pulpy lily of the glades,
Barbaric-covered with the kernelled gold;
And feel the glory of the Golden Age
Less godly than my purpose, strong to dare
Death with the pure immortal lips of love:
Less lovely than my soul's ideal rage
To mate itself with Music and declare
Itself part meaning of the stars above.
The Willow Water
Deep in the hollow wood he found a way
Winding unto a water, dim and gray,
Grayer and dimmer than the break of day;
By which a wildrose blossomed; flower on flower
Leaning above its image hour on hour,
Musing, it seemed, on its own loveliness,
And longing with sweet longing to express
Some thought to its reflection.
Bee-shaken pollen from th' o'erburdened bough,
And now a petal, delicate as a blush,
It seemed to sigh or whisper to the hush
The dreams, the myths and marvels it had seen
Tip-toeing dimly through the woodland green:
Faint shapes of fragrance; forms like flowers, that go
Footing the moss; or, shouldered with moonbeam glow,
Through starlit waves oaring an arm of snow.
He sat him down and gazed into the pool:
And as he gazed, two petals, silken cool,
Fell, soft as starbeams fall that arrow through
The fern-hung trembling of a dropp of dew;
And, pearly-placid, on the water lay,
Two curves of languid ruby, where, rose-gray,
The shadow of a willow dimmed the stream.
And suddenly he saw or did he dream
He saw? the rose-leaves change to rosy lips,
A laughing crimson. And, with silvery hips,
And eyes of luminous emerald, full of sleep
And all the stillness of the under deep,
The shadow of the tree become a girl,
A shadowy girl, who shook from many a curl
Faint, tangled glimmerings of shell and pearl.
A girl who called him, beckoned him to come,
Waving a hand whiter than moonlit foam,
And pointing, minnowy fingered, to her home
A bubble, rainbow-built, beneath the wave,
Dim-domed, and murmurous as the deep-sea cave,
Columned of coral and of grottoed foam,
Where the pale mermaids never cease to comb
Their weed-green hair with fingers crystal-cold,
Sighing forever 'round the Sea King old
Throned. on his throne of shell and ribbéd gold.
Laughing, she lured him, lipped like some wild rose;
Bidding him follow; come to her; repose
Upon her bosom and forever dream
Lulled by the wandering whisper of the stream.
But him mortality weighed heavily on
And earthly love: and, sorrowful and wan,
He shook his head, motioning, 'I cannot rise';
But still he felt the magic of her eyes
Drawing him to her; felt her hands of foam
Around his heart; her lips, that bade him come
With smiling witchery, and with laughing looks
Like those that lured us in the fairy books
Our childhood dreamed on.
Then, as suddenly,
A wind, it seemed, from no where he could see,
Wrinkled the water; ruffled its smooth glass;
And there again, behold! when it did pass
The rose-leaves lay and shadow, dimly seen;
The willow's shadow, and no thing between.
The Morn That Breaks Its Heart Of Gold
From an ode 'In Commemoration of the Founding of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony.'
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, penciling 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 stalwart 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 rivers; 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.
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,
AEonian 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 great Cause 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.
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?
Yes, I love the homestead. There
In the spring the lilacs blew
Plenteous perfume everywhere;
There in summer gladioles grew
Parallels of scarlet glare.
And the moon-hued primrose cool
Satin-soft and redolent;
Filling all the air with scent;
Roses red or white as wool.
Roses, glorious and lush,
Rich in tender-tinted dyes,
Like the gay tempestuous rush
Of unnumbered butterflies,
Clustering o'er each bending bush.
Here japonica and box,
And the wayward violets;
Clumps of star-enamelled phlox,
And the myriad flowery jets
Of the twilight four-o'-clocks.
Ah, the beauty of the place!
When the June made one great rose,
Full of musk and mellow grace,
In the garden's humming close,
Of her comely mother face!
Bubble-like, the hollyhocks
Budded, burst, and flaunted wide
Gypsy beauty from their stocks;
Morning glories, bubble-dyed,
Swung in honey-hearted flocks.
Tawny tiger-lilies flung
Doublets slashed with crimson on;
Graceful slave-girls, fair and young,
Like Circassians, in the sun
Alabaster lilies swung.
Ah, the droning of the bee;
In his dusty pantaloons
Tumbling in the fleurs-de-lis;
In the drowsy afternoons
Dreaming in the pink sweet-pea.
Ah, the moaning wildwood-dove!
With its throat of amethyst
Rippled like a shining cove
Which a wind to pearl hath kissed,
Moaning, moaning of its love.
And the insects' gossip thin
From the summer hotness hid
In lone, leafy deeps of green;
Then at eve the katydid
With its hard, unvaried din.
Often from the whispering hills,
Borne from out the golden dusk,
Gold with gold of daffodils,
Thrilled into the garden's musk
The wild wail of whippoorwills.
From the purple-tangled trees,
Like the white, full heart of night,
Solemn with majestic peace,
Swam the big moon, veined with light;
Like some gorgeous golden-fleece.
She was there with me. And who,
In the magic of the hour,
Had not sworn that they could view,
Beading on each blade and flower
Moony blisters of the dew?
And each fairy of our home,
Firefly, its taper lit
In the honey-scented gloam,
Dashing down the dusk with it
Like an instant-flaming foam.
And we heard the calling, calling,
Of the screech-owl in the brake;
Where the trumpet-vine hung, crawling
Down the ledge, into the lake
Heard the sighing streamlet falling.
Then we wandered to the creek
Where the water-lilies, growing
Thick as stars, lay white and weak;
Or against the brooklet's flowing
Bent and bathed a bashful cheek.
And the moonlight, rippling golden,
Fell in virgin aureoles
On their bosoms, half unfolden,
Where, it seemed, the fairies' souls
Dwelt as perfume, unbeholden;
Or lay sleeping, pearly-tented,
Baby-cribbed within each bud,
While the night-wind, piney-scented,
Swooning over field and flood,
Rocked them on the waters dented.
Then the low, melodious bell
Of a sleeping heifer tinkled,
In some berry-briered dell,
As her satin dewlap wrinkled
With the cud that made it swell.
And, returning home, we heard,
In a beech-tree at the gate,
Some brown, dream-behaunted bird,
Singing of its absent mate,
Of the mate that never heard.
And, you see, now I am gray,
Why within the old, old place,
With such memories, I stay;
Fancy out her absent face
Long since passed away.
She was mine yes! still is mine:
And my frosty memory
Reels about her, as with wine
Warmed into young eyes that see
All of her that was divine.
Yes, I loved her, and have grown
Melancholy in that love,
And the memory alone
Of perfection such whereof
She could sanctify each stone.
And where'er the poppies swing
There we walk, as if a bee
Bent them with its airy wing,
Down her garden shadowy
In the hush the evenings bring.
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.