Snow And Fire
Deep-hearted roses of the purple dusk
And lilies of the morn;
And cactus, holding up a slender tusk
Of fragrance on a thorn;
All heavy flowers, sultry with their musk,
Her presence puts to scorn.
For she is like the pale, pale snowdropp there,
Scentless and chaste of heart;
The moonflower, making spiritual the air,
Like some pure work of art;
Divine and holy, exquisitely fair,
And virtue's counterpart.
Yet when her eyes gaze into mine, and when
Her lips to mine are pressed,
Why are my veins all fire then? and then
Why should her soul suggest
Voluptuous perfumes, maddening unto men,
And prurient with unrest?
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.’
She was a queen. 'Midst mutes and slaves,
A mameluke, he loved her.--Waves
Dashed not more hopelessly the paves
Of her high marble palace-stair
Than lashed his love his heart's despair.-
As souls in Hell dream Paradise,
He suffered yet forgot it there
Beneath Rommaneh's houri eyes.
With passion eating at his heart
He served her beauty, but dared dart
No amorous glance, nor word impart.-
Taifi leather's perfumed tan
Beneath her, on a low divan
She lay 'mid cushions stuffed with down:
A slave-girl with an ostrich fan
Sat by her in a golden gown.
She bade him sing. Fair lutanist,
She loved his voice. With one white wrist,
Hooped with a blaze of amethyst,
She raised her ruby-crusted lute:
Gold-welted stuff, like some rich fruit,
Her raiment, diamond-showered, rolled
Folds pigeon-purple, whence one foot
Drooped in an anklet-twist of gold.
He stood and sang with all the fire
That boiled within his blood's desire,
That made him all her slave yet higher:
And at the end his passion durst
Quench with one burning kiss its thirst.-
O eunuchs, did her face show scorn
When through his heart your daggers burst?
And dare ye say he died forlorn?
Amadis And Oriana
From 'Beltenebros at Miraflores'
O sunset, from the springs of stars
Draw down thy cataracts of gold;
And belt their streams with burning bars
Of ruby on which flame is rolled:
Drench dingles with laburnum light;
Drown every vale in violet blaze:
Rain rose-light down; and, poppy-bright,
Die downward o'er the hills of haze,
And bring at last the stars of night!
The stars and moon! that silver world,
Which, like a spirit, faces west,
Her foam-white feet with light empearled,
Bearing white flame within her breast:
Earth's sister sphere of fire and snow,
Who shows to Earth her heart's pale heat,
And bids her mark its pulses glow,
And hear their crystal currents beat
With beauty, lighting all below.
O cricket, with thy elfin pipe,
That tinkles in the grass and grain;
And dove-pale buds, that, dropping, stripe
The glen's blue night, and smell of rain;
O nightingale, that so dost wail
On yonder blossoming branch of snow,
Thrill, fill the wild deer-haunted dale,
Where Oriana, walking slow,
Comes, thro' the moonlight, dreamy pale.
She comes to meet me!-Earth and air
Grow radiant with another light.
In her dark eyes and her dark hair
Are all the stars and all the night:
She comes! I clasp her!-and it is
As if no grief had ever been.-
In all the world for us who kiss
There are no other women or men
But Oriana and Amadis.
Sleep Is A Spirit
Sleep is a spirit, who beside us sits,
Or through our frames like some dim glamour flits;
From out her form a pearly light is shed,
As from a lily, in a lily-bed,
A firefly's gleam. Her face is pale as stone,
And languid as a cloud that drifts alone
In starry heav'n. And her diaphanous feet
Are easy as the dew or opaline heat
Lo! with ears aurora pink
As Dawn's she leans and listens on the brink
Of being, dark with dreadfulness and doubt,
Wherein vague lights and shadows move about,
And palpitations beat like some huge heart
Of Earth the surging pulse of which we're part.
One hand, that hollows her divining eyes,
Glows like the curved moon over twilight skies;
And with her gaze she fathoms life and death
Gulfs, where man's conscience, like a restless breath
Of wind, goes wand'ring; whispering low of things,
The irremediable, where sorrow clings.
Around her limbs a veil of woven mist
Wavers, and turns from fibered amethyst
To textured crystal; through which symboled bars
Of silver burn, and cabalistic stars
Of nebulous gold.
Shrouding her feet and hair,
Within this woof, fantastic, everywhere,
Dreams come and go; the instant images
Of things she sees and thinks; realities,
Shadows, with which her heart and fancy swarm.
That in the veil take momentary form:
Now picturing heaven in celestial fire,
And now the hell of every soul's desire;
Hinting at worlds, God wraps in mystery,
Beyond the world we know and touch and see.
The tripod flared with a purple spark,
And the mist hung emerald in the dark:
Now he stooped to the lilac flame
Over the glare of the amber embers,
Thrice to utter no earthly name;
Thrice, like a mind that half remembers;
Bathing his face in the magic mist
Where the brilliance burned like an amethyst.
'Sylph, whose soul was born of mine,
Born of the love that made me thine,
Once more flash on my eyes! Again
Be the loved caresses taken!
Lip to lip let our forms remain!-
Here in the circle sense, awaken!
Ere spirit meet spirit, the flesh laid by,
Let me touch thee, and let me die.'
Sunset heavens may burn, but never
Know such splendor! There bloomed an ever
Opaline orb, where the sylphid rose
A shape of luminous white; diviner
White than the essence of light that sows
The moons and suns through space; and finer
Than radiance born of a shooting-star,
Or the wild Aurora that streams afar.
'Look on the face of the soul to whom
Thou givest thy soul like added perfume!
Thou, who heard'st me, who long had prayed,
Waiting alone at morning's portal!-
Thus on thy lips let my lips be laid,
Love, who hast made me all immortal!
Give me thine arms now! Come and rest
Weariness out on my beaming breast!'
Was it her soul? or the sapphire fire
That sang like the note of a seraph's lyre?
Out of her mouth there fell no word-
She spake with her soul, as a flower speaketh.
Fragrant messages none hath heard,
Which the sense divines when the spirit seeketh….
And he seemed alone in a place so dim
That the spirit's face, who was gazing at him,
For its burning eyes he could not see:
Then he knew he had died; that she and he
Were one; and he saw that this was she.
He stands above all worldly schism,
And, gazing over life's abysm
Beholds within the starry range
Of heaven laws of death and change,
That, through his soul's prophetic prism,
Are turned to rainbows wild and strange.
Through nature is his hope made surer
Of that ideal, his allurer,
By whom his life is upward drawn
To mount pale pinnacles of dawn,
'Mid which all that is fairer, purer
Of love and lore it come upon.
An alkahest, that makes gold metal
Of dross, his mind is where one petal
Of one wild-rose will all outweigh
The piled-up facts of everyday
Where commonplaces, there that settle,
Are changed to things of heavenly ray.
He climbs by steps of stars and flowers,
Companioned of the dreaming hours,
And sets his feet in pastures where
No merely mortal feet may fare;
And higher than the stars he towers
Though lowlier than the flowers there.
His comrades are his own high fancies
And thoughts in which his soul romances;
And every part of heaven or earth
He visits, lo, assumes new worth;
And touched with loftier traits and trances
Re-shines as with a lovelier birth.
He is the play, likewise the player;
The word that's said, also the sayer;
And in the books of heart and head
There is no thing he has not read;
Of time and tears he is the weigher,
And mouthpiece 'twixt the quick and dead.
He dies: but, mountain ever higher,
Wings Phoenix-like from out his pyre
Above our mortal day and night,
Clothed on with semipiternal light;
And raimented in thought's far fire
Flames on in everlasting flight.
Unseen, yet seen, on heights of visions,
Above all praise and world derisions,
His spirit and his deathless brood
Of dreams fare on, a multitude,
While on the pillar of great missions
His name and place are granite-hewed.
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.
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.
Romaunt Of The Oak
'I rode to death, for I fought for shame
The Lady Maurine of noble name,
'The fair and faithless!-Though life be long
Is love the wiser?-Love made song
'Of all my life; and the soul that crept
Before, arose like a star and leapt:
'Still leaps with the love that it found untrue,
That it found unworthy.-Now run me through!
'Yea, run me through! for meet and well,
And a jest for laughter of fiends in hell,
'It is that I, who have done no wrong,
Should die by the hand of Hugh the Strong,
'Of Hugh her leman!-What else could be
When the devil was judge twixt thee and me?
'He splintered my lance, and my blade he broke-
Now finish me thou 'neath the trysting oak!' ...
The crest of his foeman,-a heart of white
In a bath of fire,-stooped i' the night;
Stooped and laughed as his sword he swung,
Then galloped away with a laugh on his tongue....
But who is she in the gray, wet dawn,
'Mid the autumn shades like a shadow wan?
Who kneels, one hand on her straining breast,
One hand on the dead man's bosom pressed?
Her face is dim as the dead's; as cold
As his tarnished harness of steel and gold.
O Lady Maurine! O Lady Maurine!
What boots it now that regret is keen?
That his hair you smooth, that you kiss his brow
What boots it now? what boots it now?...
She has haled him under the trysting oak,
The huge old oak that the creepers cloak.
She has stood him, gaunt in his battered arms,
In its haunted hollow.-'Be safe from storms,'
She laughed as his cloven casque she placed
On his brow, and his riven shield she braced.
Then sat and talked to the forest flowers
Through the lonely term of the day's pale hours.
And stared and whispered and smiled and wept,
While nearer and nearer the evening crept.
And, lo, when the moon, like a great gold bloom
Above the sorrowful trees did loom,
She rose up sobbing, 'O moon, come see
My bridegroom here in the old oak-tree!
'I have talked to the flowers all day, all day,
For never a word had he to say.
'He would not listen, he would not hear,
Though I wailed my longing into his ear.
'O moon, steal in where he stands so grim,
And tell him I love him, and plead with him.
'Soften his face that is cold and stern
And brighten his eyes and make them burn,
'O moon, O moon, so my soul can see
That his heart still glows with love for me!' ...
When the moon was set, and the woods were dark,
The wild deer came and stood as stark
As phantoms with eyes of fire; or fled
Like a ghostly hunt of the herded dead.
And the hoot-owl called; and the were-wolf snarled;
And a voice, in the boughs of the oak-tree gnarled,
Like the whining rush of the hags that ride
To the witches' sabboth,-crooned and cried.
And wrapped in his mantle of wind and cloud
The storm-fiend stalked through the forest loud.
When she heard the dead man rattle and groan
As the oak was bent and its leaves were blown,
And the lightning vanished and shimmered his mail,
Through the swirling sweep of the rain and hail,
She seemed to hear him, who seemed to call,-
'Come hither, Maurine, the wild leaves fall!
'The wild leaves rustle, the wild leaves flee;
Come hither, Maurine, to the hollow tree!
'To the trysting tree, to the tree once green;
Come hither, Maurine! come hither, Maurine!' ...
They found her closed in his armored arms-
Had he claimed his bride on that night of storms?
The sunset-crimson poppies are departed,
The dusky-centred, sultry-smelling poppies,
That burnt like flames along the garden coppice:
The ruby-cupped and opium-brimming poppies,
That slumber wedded,
The sunset-crimson poppies are departed.
Oh, heavy, heavy are the hours that fall,
The lonesome hours of the lonely days!
No poppy strews oblivion by the wall,
Where lone the last pod sways,
Oblivion that was hers of old that happier made her days.
Oh, weary, weary is the sky o'er all,
The days that creep, the hours that crawl,
And weary all the ways
She leans her face against the old stone wall,
The lichened wall, the mildewed wall,
And dreams, the long, long days,
Of one who will not come again whatever may befall.
. . . . .
All night it blew. The rain streamed down
And drowned the world in misty wet.
At morning, 'round the sunflower's crown
A row of glimmering drops was set;
The candytuft, heat shrivelled brown,
And beds of drought-dried mignonette,
Were beat to earth: but wearier, oh,
The rain was than the sun's fierce glow
That in the garth had wrought such woe:
That killed the moss-rose ere it bloomed,
And scorched the double-hollyhocks;
And bred great, poisonous weeds that doomed
The snapdragon and standing-phlox;
'Mid which gaunt spiders wove and loomed
Their dusty webs 'twixt rows of box;
And rotted into sleepy ooze
The lilied moat, that, lined with yews,
Lay scummed with many sickly hues.
How oft she longed and prayed for rain!
To blot the hateful landscape out!
To hem her heart, so parched with pain,
With sounds of coolth and broken drought;
And cure with change her stagnant brain,
And soothe to sleep all care and doubt.
At last when many days had past
And she had ceased to care at last
The longed-for rain came, falling fast.
At night, as late she lay awake,
And thought of him who had not come,
She heard the gray wind, moaning, shake
Her lattice; then the steady drum
Of storm upon the leads.. . The ache
Within her heart, so burdensome,
Grew heavier with the moan of rain.
The house was still, save, at her pane
The wind cried; hushed, then cried again.
All night she lay awake and wept:
There was no other thing to do:
At dawn she rose and, silent, crept
Adown the stairs that led into
The dripping garth, the storm had swept
With ruin; where, of every hue,
The flowers lay rotting, stained with mould;
Where all was old, unkempt and old,
And ragged as a marigold.
She sat her down, where oft she sat,
Upon a bench of marble, where,
In lines she oft would marvel at,
A Love was carved. She did not dare
Look on it then, remembering that
Here in past time he kissed her hair,
And murmured vows while, soft above,
The full moon lit the forth thereof,
The slowly crumbling form of Love.
She could but weep, remembering hours
Like these. Then in the drizzling rain.,
That weighed with wet the dying flowers,
She sought the old stone dial again;
The dial, among the moss-rose bowers,
Where often she had read, in vain,
Of time and change, and love and loss,
Rude-lettered and o'ergrown with moss,
That slow the gnomon moved across.
Remembering this she turned away,
The rain and tears upon her face.
There was no thing to do or say.
She stood a while, a little space,
And watched the rain bead, round and gray,
Upon the cobweb's tattered lace,
And tag the toadstool's spongy brim
With points of mist; and, orbing, dim
With fog the sunflower's ruined rim.
With fog, through which the moon at night
Would glimmer like a spectre sail;
Or, sullenly, a blur of light,
Like some huge glow-worm dimly trail;
'Neath which she 'd hear, wrapped deep in white,
The far sea moaning on its shale:
While in the garden, pacing slow,
And listening to its surge and flow,
She'd seem to hear her own heart's woe.
Now as the fog crept in from sea,
A great, white darkness, like a pall,
The yews and huddled shrubbery,
That dripped along the weedy wall,
Turned phantoms; and as shadowy
She too seemed, wandering 'mid it all
A phantom, pale and sad and strange,
And hopeless; doomed for aye to range
About the melancholy grange.
. . . . .
The pansies too are dead, the violet-varied,
The raven-dyed and fire-fretted pansies,
To memory married;
That from the grass, like forms in old romances,
Raised fairy faces:
All dead they lie, the violet-velvet pansies,
In many places,
The pansies too are dead, the violet-varied.
Oh, hateful, hateful are the hours that pass,
The lonely hours of the lonesome nights!
No pansy scatters heartsease through the grass,
That autumn sorrow blights,
The heartsease that was hers of old that happier made her nights.
Oh, barren, barren is her life, alas!
Its youth and beauty, all it has,
And barren all delights
She lays her face against the withered grass,
The sodden grass, the autumn grass,
And thinks, the long, long nights,
Of one who will not come again whatever comes to pass.
At The Lane's End
No more to strip the roses from
The rose-boughs of her porch's place!
I dreamed last night that I was home
Beside a rose her face.
I must have smiled in sleep who knows?
The rose aroma filled the lane;
I saw her white hand's lifted rose
That called me home again.
And yet when I awoke so wan,
An old face wet with icy tears!
Somehow, it seems, sleep had misdrawn
A love gone thirty years.
The clouds roll up and the clouds roll down
Over the roofs of the little town;
Out in the hills where the pike winds by
Fields of clover and bottoms of rye,
You will hear no sound but the barking cough
Of the striped chipmunk where the lane leads off;
You will hear no bird but the sapsuckers
Far off in the forest, that seems to purr,
As the warm wind fondles its top, grown hot,
Like the docile back of an ocelot:
You will see no thing but the shine and shade
Of briers that climb and of weeds that wade
The glittering creeks of the light, that fills
The dusty road and the red-keel hills
And all day long in the pennyroy'l
The grasshoppers at their anvils toil;
Thick click of their tireless hammers thrum,
And the wheezy belts of their bellows hum;
Tinkers who solder the silence and heat
To make the loneliness more complete.
Around old rails where the blackberries
Are reddening ripe, and the bumble-bees
Are a drowsy rustle of Summer's skirts,
And the bob-white's wing is the fan she flirts.
Under the hill, through the iron weeds,
And ox-eyed daisies and milkweeds, leads
The path forgotten of all but one.
Where elder bushes are sick with sun,
And wild raspberries branch big blue veins
O'er the face of the rock, where the old spring rains
Its sparkling splinters of molten spar
On the gravel bed where the tadpoles are,
You will find the pales of the fallen fence,
And the tangled orchard and vineyard, dense
With the weedy neglect of thirty years.
The garden there, where the soft sky clears
Like an old sweet face that has dried its tears;
The garden plot where the cabbage grew
And the pompous pumpkin; and beans that blew
Balloons of white by the melon patch;
Maize; and tomatoes that seemed to catch
Oblong amber and agate balls
Thrown from the sun in the frosty falls:
Long rows of currants and gooseberries,
And the balsam-gourd with its honey-bees.
And here was a nook for the princess-plumes,
The snap-dragons and the poppy-blooms,
Mother's sweet-williams and pansy flowers,
And the morning-glories' bewildered bowers,
Tipping their cornucopias up
For the humming-birds that came to sup.
And over it all was the Sabbath peace
Of the land whose lap was the love of these;
And the old log-house where my innocence died,
With my boyhood buried side by side.
Shall a man with a face as withered and gray
As the wasp-nest stowed in a loft away,
Where the hornets haunt and the mortar drops
From the loosened logs of the clap-board tops;
Whom vice has aged as the rotting rooms
The rain where memories haunt the glooms;
A hitch in his joints like the rheum that gnats
In the rasping hinge of the door that jars;
A harsh, cracked throat like the old stone flue
Where the swallows build the summer through;
Shall a man, I say, with the spider sins
That the long years spin in the outs and ins
Of his soul returning to see once more
His boyhood's home, where his life was poor
With toil and tears and their fretfulness,
But rich with health and the hopes that bless
The unsoiled wealth of a vigorous youth;
Shall he not take comfort and know the truth
In its threadbare raiment of falsehood? Yea!
In his crumbled past he shall kneel and pray,
Like a pilgrim come to the shrine again
Of the homely saints that shall soothe his pain,
And arise and depart made clean from stain!
Years of care can not erase
Visions of the hills and trees
Closing in the dam and race;
Not the mile-long memories
Of the mill-stream's lovely place.
How the sunsets used to stain
Mirror of the water lying
Under eaves made dark with rain!
Where the red-bird, westward flying,
Lit to try one song again.
Dingles, hills, and woods, and springs,
Where we came in calm and storm,
Swinging in the grape-vine swings,
Wading where the rocks were warm,
With our fishing-nets and strings.
Here the road plunged down the hill,
Under ash and chinquapin,
Where the grasshoppers would drill
Ears of silence with their din,
To the willow-girdled mill.
There the path beyond the ford
Takes the woodside, just below
Shallows that the lilies sword,
Where the scarlet blossoms blow
Of the trumpet-vine and gourd.
Summer winds, that sink with heat,
On the pelted waters winnow
Moony petals that repeat
Crescents, where the startled minnow
Beats a glittering retreat.
Summer winds that bear the scent
Of the iron-weed and mint,
Weary with sweet freight and spent,
On the deeper pools imprint
Stumbling steps in many a dent.
Summer winds, that split the husk
Of the peach and nectarine,
Trail along the amber dusk
Hazy skirts of gray and green,
Spilling balms of dew and musk.
Where with balls of bursting juice
Summer sees the red wild-plum
Strew the gravel; ripened loose,
Autumn hears the pawpaw drum
Plumpness on the rocks that bruise:
There we found the water-beech,
One forgotten August noon,
With a hornet-nest in reach,
Like a fairyland balloon,
Full of bustling fairy speech.
Some invasion sure it was;
For we heard the captains scold;
Waspish cavalry a-buzz,
Troopers uniformed in gold,
Sable-slashed, to charge on us.
Could I find the sedgy angle,
Where the dragon-flies would turn
Slender flittings into spangle
On the sunlight? or would burn
Where the berries made a tangle
Sparkling green and brassy blue;
Rendezvousing, by the stream,
Bands of elf-banditti, who,
Brigands of the bloom and beam,
Drunken were with honey-dew.
Could I find the pond that lay
Where vermilion blossoms showered
Fragrance down the daisied way?
That the sassafras embowered
With the spice of early May?
Could I find it did I seek
The old mill? Its weather-beaten
Wheel and gable by the creek?
With its warping roof; worm-eaten,
Dusty rafters worn and weak.
Where old shadows haunt old places,
Loft and hopper, stair and bin;
Ghostly with the dust that laces
Webs that usher phantoms in,
Wistful with remembered faces.
While the frogs' grave litanies
Drowse in far-off antiphone,
Supplicating, till the eyes
Of dead friendships, long alone
In the dusky corners, rise.
Moonrays or the splintered slip
Of a star? within the darkling
Twilight, where the fire-flies dip
As if Night a myriad sparkling
Jewels from her hands let slip:
While again some farm-boy crosses,
With a corn-sack for the meal,
O'er the creek, through ferns and mosses
Sprinkled by the old mill-wheel,
Where the water drips and tosses.
Forest And Field
GREEN, watery jets of light let through
The rippling foliage drenched with dew;
And golden glimmers, warm and dim,
That in the vistaed distance swim;
Where, 'round the wood-spring's oozy urn,
The limp, loose fronds of forest fern
Trail like the tresses, green and wet,
A wood-nymph binds with violet.
O'er rocks that bulge and roots that knot
The emerald-amber mosses clot;
From matted walls of brier and brush
The eider nods its plumes of plush;
And, Argus-eyed with many a bloom,
The wild-rose breathes its wild perfume;
May-apples, ripening yellow, lean
With oblong fruit, a lemon-green,
Near Indian-turnips, long of stem,
That bear an acorn-oval gem,
As if some woodland Bacchus there,—
While braiding locks of hyacinth hair
With ivy-tod,—had idly tost
His thyrsus down and so had lost:
And blood-root, that from scarlet wombs
Puts forth, in spring, its milk-white blooms,
That then like starry footsteps shine
Of April under beech and pine;
At which the gnarled eyes of trees
Stare, big as Fauns' at Dryades,
That bend above a fountain's spar
As white and naked as a star.
The stagnant stream flows sleepily
Thick with its lily-pads; the bee,—
All honey-drunk, a Bassarid,—
Booms past the mottled toad, that, hid
In calamus-plants and blue-eyed grass,
Beside the water's pooling glass,
Silenus-like, eyes stolidly
The Mænad-glittering dragonfly.
And pennyroyal and peppermint
Pour dry-hot odours without stint
From fields and banks of many streams;
And in their scent one almost seems
To see Demeter pass, her breath
Sweet with her triumph over death.—
A haze of floating saffron; sound
Of shy, crisp creepings o'er the ground;
The dip and stir of twig and leaf;
Tempestuous gusts of spices brief
Borne over bosks of sassafras
By winds that foot it on the grass;
Sharp, sudden songs and whisperings,
That hint at untold hidden things—
Pan and Sylvanus who of old
Kept sacred each wild wood and wold.
A wily light beneath the trees
Quivers and dusks with every breeze—
A Hamadryad, haply, who,—
Culling her morning meal of dew
From frail, accustomed cups of flowers,—
Now sees some Satyr in the bowers,
Or hears his goat-hoof snapping press
Some brittle branch, and in distress
Shrinks back; her dark, dishevelled hair
Veiling her limbs one instant there.
Down precipices of the dawn
The rivers of the day are drawn,
The soundless torrents, free and far,
Of gold that deluge every star.
There is a sound of brooks and wings
That fills the woods with carollings;
And, dashed on moss and flow'r and fern,
And leaves, that quiver, breathe and burn,
Rose-radiance smites the solitudes,
The dew-drenched hills, the dripping woods,
That twitter as with canticles
Of shade and light; and wind, that smells
Of flowers, and buds, and boisterous bees,
Delirious honey, and wet trees.—
Through briers that trip them, one by one,
With swinging pails, that take the sun,
A troop of girls comes—berriers,
Whose bare feet glitter where they pass
Through dewdrop-trembling tufts of grass.
And, oh! their laughter and their cheers
Wake Echo 'mid her shrubby rocks
Who, answering, from her mountain mocks
With rapid fairy horns; as if
Each mossy vale and weedy cliff
Had its imperial Oberon,
Who, seeking his Titania, hid
In coverts caverned from the sun,
In kingly wrath had called and chid.
Cloud-feathers, oozing orange light,
Make rich the Indian locks of night;
Her dusky waist with sultry gold
Girdled and buckled fold on fold.
One star. A sound of bleating flocks.
Great shadows stretched along the rocks,
Like giant curses overthrown
By some Arthurian champion.
Soft-swimming sorceries of mist
That streak blue glens with amethyst.
And, tinkling in the clover dells,
The twilight sound of cattle-bells.
And where the marsh in reed and grass
Burns, angry as a shattered glass,
The flies make golden blurs, that shine
Like drops of amber-scattered wine
Spun high by reeling Bacchanals,
When Bacchus wreathes his curling hair
With vine-leaves, and from every lair
His worshippers around him calls.
They come, they come, a happy throng,
The berriers with gibe and song;
Their pails brimmed black to tin-bright eaves
With luscious fruit, kept cool with leaves
Of aromatic sassafras;
'Twixt which some sparkling berry slips,
Like laughter, from the purple mass,
Wine-swollen as Silenus' lips.
The tanned and tired noon climbs high
Up burning reaches of the sky;
Below the drowsy belts of pines
The rock-ledged river foams and shines;
And over rainless hill and dell
Is blown the harvest's sultry smell:
While, in the fields, one sees and hears
The brawny-throated harvesters,—
Their red brows beaded with the heat,—
By twos and threes among the wheat
Flash their hot scythes; behind them press
The binders—men and maids that sing
Like some mad troop of piping Pan;—
While all the hillsides swoon and ring
Such sounds of Ariel airiness
As haunted freckled Caliban.
'O ho! O ho! 'tis noon I say.
The roses blow.
Away, away, above the hay,
To the tune o' the bees the roses sway;
The love-songs that they hum all day,
So low! So low!
The roses' Minnesingers they.'
Up velvet lawns of lilac skies
The tawny moon begins to rise
Behind low, blue-black hills of trees,—
As rises up, in Siren seas,
To rock in purple deeps, hip-hid,
A virgin-bosomed Oceanid.—
Gaunt shadows crouch by tree and scaur,
Like shaggy Satyrs waiting for
The moonbeam Nymphs, the Dryads white,
That take with loveliness the night,
And glorify it with their love.
The sweet, far notes I hear, I hear,
Beyond dim pines and mellow ways,
The song of some fair harvester,
The lovely Limnad of the grove,
Whose singing charms me while it slays.
'O deep! O deep! the earth and air
Are sunk in sleep.
Adieu to care! Now everywhere
Is rest; and by the old oak there
The maiden with the nut-brown hair
Doth keep, doth keep
Tryst with her lover the young and fair.'
Like Atalanta's spheres of gold,
Within the orchard, apples rolled
From sudden hands of boughs that lay
Their leaves, like palms, against the day;
And near them pears of rusty brown
Lay bruised; and peaches, pink with down,
And furry as the ears of Pan,
Or, like Diana's cheeks, a tan
Beneath which burnt a tender fire;
Or wan as Psyche's with desire.
And down the orchard vistas,—young,
A hickory basket by him swung,
A straw-hat, 'gainst the sloping sun
Drawn brim-broad o'er his face,—he strode;
As if he looked to find some one,
His eyes far-fixed beyond the road.
Before him, like a living burr,
Rattled the noisy grasshopper.
And where the cows' melodious bells
Trailed music up and down the dells,
Beside the spring, that o'er the ground
Went whimpering like a fretful hound,
He saw her waiting, fair and slim,
Her pail forgotten there, for him.
Yellow as sunset skies and pale
As fairy clouds that stay or sail
Through azure vaults of summer, blue
As summer heavens, the wildflowers grew;
And blossoms on which spurts of light
Fell laughing, like the lips one might
Feign for a Hebe, or a girl
Whose mouth is laughter-lit with pearl.
Long ferns, in murmuring masses heaped;
And mosses. moist, in beryl steeped
And musk aromas of the wood
And silence of the solitude:
And everything that near her blew
The spring had showered thick with dew.—
Across the rambling fence she leaned,
Her fresh, round arms all white and bare;
Her artless beauty, bonnet-screened,
Rich-coloured with its auburn hair.
A wood-thrush gurgled in a vine—
Ah! 'tis his step, 'tis he she hears;
The wild-rose smelt like some rare wine—
He comes, ah, yes! 'tis he who nears.
And her brown eyes and all her face
Said welcome. And with rustic grace
He leant beside her; and they had
Some talk with youthful laughter glad:
I know not what; I know but this
Its final period was a kiss.
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.
A March Voluntary (Wind And Cloud)
Winds that cavern heaven and the clouds
And canyon with cerulean blue,
Great rifts down which the stormy sunlight crowds
Like some bright seraph, who,
Mailed in intensity of silver mail,
Flashes his splendor over hill and vale,
Now tramp, tremendous, the loud forest through:
Or now, like mighty runners in a race,
That swing, long pace to pace,
Sweep 'round the hills, fresh as, at dawn's first start,
They swept, dew-dripping, from
The crystal-crimson ruby of her heart,
Shouting the dim world dumb.
And with their passage the gray and green
Of the earth 's washed clean;
And the cleansing breath of their might is wings
And warm aroma, we know as Spring's,
And sap and strength to her bourgeonings.
My brow I bare
To the cool, clean air,
That blows from the crests of the clouds that roll,
Pearl-piled and berged as floes of Northern Seas,
Banked gray and thunder-low
Big in the heaven's peace;
Clouds, borne from nowhere that we know,
With nowhere for their goal;
With here and there a silvery glow
Of sunlight chasming deeps of sombre snow,
Great gulfs that overflow
With sky, a sapphire-blue,
Or opal, sapphire-kissed,
Wide-welled and deep and swiftly rifting through
Stratas of streaming mist;
Each opening like a pool,
Set 'round with crag-like clouds 'mid which its eye gleams cool.
What blue is bluer than the bluebird's blue!
'T is as if heaven itself sat on its wings;
As if the sky in miniature it bore
The fields and forests through,
Bringing the very heaven to our door;
The daybreak of its back soft-wedded to
The sunset-auburn of its throat that sings.
The dithyrambics of the wind and rain
Strive to, but cannot, drown its strain:
Again, and yet again
I hear it where the maples tassel red,
And blossoms of the crab round out o'erhead,
And catkins make the willow-brake
A gossamer blur around the lake
That lately was a stream,
A little stream locked in its icy dream.
Invisible crystals of aerial ring,
Against the wind I hear the bluebird fling
Its notes; and where the oak's mauve leaves uncurl
I catch the skyey glitter of its wing;
Its wing that lures me, like some magic charm,
Far in the woods
And shadowy solitudes:
And where the purple hills stretch under purple and pearl
Of clouds that sweep and swirl,
Its music seems to take material form;
A form that beckons with cerulean arm
And bids me see and follow,
Where, in the violet hollow,
There at the wood's far turn,
On starry moss and fern,
She shimmers, glimmering like a rainbowed shower,
The Spirit of Spring,
Diaphanous-limbed, who stands
With honeysuckle hands
Sowing the earth with many a firstling flower,
Footed with fragrance of their blossoming,
And clad in heaven as is the bluebird's wing.
The tumult and the booming of the trees,
Shaken with shoutings of the winds of March
No mightier music have I heard than these,
The rocking and the rushing of the trees,
The organ-thunder of the forest's arch.
And in the wind their columned trunks become,
Each one, a mighty pendulum,
Swayed to and fro as if in time
To some vast song, some roaring rhyme,
Wind-shouted from sonorous hill to hill
The woods are never still:
The dead leaves frenzy by,
Innumerable and frantic as the dance
That whirled its madness once beneath the sky
In ancient Greece, like withered Corybants:
And I am caught and carried with their rush,
Their countless panic borne away,
A brother to the wind, through the deep gray
Of the old beech-wood, where the wild Marchday
Sits dreaming, filling all the boisterous hush
With murmurous laughter and swift smiles of sun;
Conspiring in its heart and plotting how
To load with leaves and blossoms every bough,
And whispering to itself, 'Now Spring's begun!
And soon her flowers shall golden through these leaves!
Away, ye sightless things and sere!
Make room for that which shall appear!
The glory and the gladness of the year;
The loveliness my eye alone perceives,
Still hidden there beneath the covering leaves,
My song shall waken! flowers, that this floor
Of whispering woodland soon shall carpet o'er
For my sweet sisters' feet to tread upon,
Months kinder than myself, the stern and strong,
Whose soul is full of wild, tumultuous song;
And whose rough hand now thrusts itself among
The dead leaves; groping for the flowers that lie
Huddled beneath, each like a sleep-closed eye:
Gold adder's-tongue and pink
Oxalis; snow-pale bloodroot blooms;
May-apple hoods, that parasol the brink,
Screening their moons, of the slim woodland stream:
And the wild iris; trillium, white as stars
And bluebells, dream on dream:
With harsh hand groping in the glooms,
I grasp their slenderness and shake
Their lovely eyes awake,
Dispelling from their souls the sleep that mars;
With heart-disturbing jars
Clasping their forms, and with rude finger-tips,
Through the dark rain that drips
Lifting them shrinking to my stormy lips,
'Already spicewood and the sassafras,
Like fragrant flames, begin
To tuft their boughs with topaz, ere they spin
Their beryl canopies a glimmering mass,
Mist-blurred, above the deepening grass.
Already where the old beech stands
Clutching the lean soil as it were with hands
Taloned and twisted, on its trunk a knot,
A huge excrescence, a great fungous clot,
Like some enormous and distorting wart,
My eyes can see how, blot on beautiful blot
Of blue, the violets blur through.
The musky and the loamy rot
Of leaf-pierced leaves; and, heaven in their hue,
The little bluets, crew on azure crew,
Prepare their myriads for invasion too.
'And in my soul I see how, soon, shall rise,
Still hidden to men's eyes,
Dim as the wind that 'round them treads,
Hosts of spring-beauties, streaked with rosy reds,
And pale anemones, whose airy heads,
As to some fairy rhyme,
All day shall nod in delicate time:
And now, even now, white peal on peal
Of pearly bells, that in bare boughs conceal
Themselves, like snowy music, chime on chime,
The huckleberries to my gaze reveal
Clusters, that soon shall toss
Above this green-starred moss,
That, like an emerald fire, gleams across
This forest-side, and from its moist deeps lifts
Slim, wire-like stems of seed;
Or, lichen-colored, glows with many a bead
Of cup-like blossoms: carpets where, I read,
When through the night's dark rifts
The moonlight's glimpsing splendor sifts,
The immaterial forms
With moonbeam-beckoning arms,
Of Fable and Romance,
Myths that are born of whispers of the wind
And foam of falling waters, music-twinned,
Shall lead the legendary dance;
The dance that never stops,
Of Earth's wild beauty on the green hill-tops.'
The youth, the beauty and disdain
Of birth, death does not know,
Compel my heart with longing like to pain
When the spring breezes blow,
The fragrance and the heat
Of their soft breath, whose musk makes sweet
Each woodland way, each wild retreat,
Seem saying in my ear, 'Hark, and behold!
Before a week be gone
This barren woodside and this leafless wold
A million flowers shall invade
With argent and azure, pearl and gold,
Like rainbow fragments scattered of the dawn,
Here making bright, here wan
Each foot of earth, each glen and glimmering glade,
Each rood of windy wood,
Where late gaunt Winter stood,
Shaggy with snow and howling at the sky;
Where even now the Springtime seems afraid
To whisper of the beauty she designs,
The flowery campaign that she now outlines
Within her soul; her heart's conspiracy
To take the world with loveliness; defy
And then o'erwhelm the Death that Winter throned
Amid the trees, with love that she hath owned
Since God informed her of His very breath,
Giving her right triumphant over Death.
Her heart's deep ecstasy shall swell,
Taking the form of flower, leaf, and blade,
Invading every dell,
And sweeping, surge on surge,
Around the world, like some exultant raid,
Even to the heaven's verge.
Soon shall her legions storm
Death's ramparts, planting Life's fair standard there,
The banner which her beauty hath in care,
Beauty, that shall eventuate
With all the pomp and pageant and the state,
That are apart of power, and that wait
On majesty, to which it, too, is heir.'
Already purplish pink and green
The bloodroot's buds and leaves are seen
Clumped in dim cirques; one from the other
Hardly distinguished in the shadowy smother
Of last year's leaves blown brown between.
And, piercing through the layers of dead leaves,
The searching eye perceives
The dog's-tooth violet, pointed needle-keen,
Lifting its beak of mottled green;
While near it heaves
The May-apple its umbrous spike, a ball,
Like to a round, green bean,
That folds its blossom, topping its tight-closed parasol:
The clustered bluebell near
Hollows its azure ear,
Low leaning to the earth as if to hear
The sound of its own growing and perfume
Flowing into its bloom:
And softly there
The twin-leaf's stems prepare
Pale tapers of transparent white,
As if to light
The Spirit of Beauty through the wood's green night.
Why does Nature love the number five?
Five-whorled leaves and five-tipped flowers?
Haply the bee that sucks i' the rose,
Laboring aye to store its hive,
And humming away the long noon hours,
Haply it knows as it comes and goes:
Or haply the butterfly,
Or moth of pansy-dye,
Flitting from bloom to bloom
In the forest's violet gloom,
It knows why:
Or the irised fly; to whom
Each bud, as it glitters near,
Lends eager and ardent ear.
And also tell
Why Nature loves so well
To prank her flowers in gold and blue.
Haply the dew,
That lies so close to them the whole night through,
Hugged to each honeyed heart,
Perhaps the dew the secret could impart:
Or haply now the bluebird there that bears,
God's sapphire on its wings,
O' the clean, clear sky,
The heav'n of which he sings,
Haply he, too, could tell me why:
Or the maple there that swings,
To the wind's soft sigh,
Its winglets, crystal red,
A rainy ruby twinkling overhead:
Or haply now the wind, that breathes of rain
Amid the rosy boughs, it could explain:
And even now, in words of mystery,
That haunt the heart of me,
Low-whispered, dim and bland,
Tells me, but tells in vain,
And strives to make me see and understand,
The feldspar fire of the violet breaks,
And the starred myrtle aches
With heavenly blue; and the frail windflower shakes
Its trembling tresses in the opal air.
Intimations Of The Beautiful
The hills are full of prophecies
And ancient voices of the dead;
Of hidden shapes that no man sees,
Pale, visionary presences,
That speak the things no tongue hath said,
No mind hath thought, no eye hath read.
The streams are full of oracles,
And momentary whisperings;
An immaterial beauty swells
Its breezy silver o'er the shells
With wordless speech that sings and sings
The message of diviner things.
No indeterminable thought is theirs,
The stars', the sunsets' and the flowers';
Whose inexpressible speech declares
Th' immortal Beautiful, who shares
This mortal riddle which is ours,
Beyond the forward-flying hours.
It holds and beckons in the streams;
It lures and touches us in all
The flowers of the golden fall-
The mystic essence of our dreams:
A nymph blows bubbling music where
Faint water ripples down the rocks;
A faun goes dancing hoiden locks,
And piping a Pandean air,
Through trees the instant wind shakes bare.
Our dreams are never otherwise
Than real when they hold us so;
We in some future life shall know
Them parts of it and recognize
Them as ideal substance, whence
The actual is-(as flowers and trees,
From color sources no one sees,
Draw dyes, the substance of a sense)-
Material with intelligence.
What intimations made them wise,
The mournful pine, the pleasant beech?
What strange and esoteric speech?-
(Communicated from the skies
In runic whispers)-that invokes
The boles that sleep within the seeds,
And out of narrow darkness leads
The vast assemblies of the oaks.
Within his knowledge, what one reads
The poems written by the flowers?
The sermons, past all speech of ours,
Preached by the gospel of the weeds?-
O eloquence of coloring!
O thoughts of syllabled perfume!
O beauty uttered into bloom!
Teach me your language! let me sing!
Along my mind flies suddenly
A wildwood thought that will not die;
That makes me brother to the bee,
And cousin to the butterfly:
A thought, such as gives perfume to
The blushes of the bramble-rose,
And, fixed in quivering crystal, glows
A captive in the prismed dew.
It leads the feet no certain way;
No frequent path of human feet:
Its wild eyes follow me all day;
All day I hear its wild heart beat:
And in the night it sings and sighs
The songs the winds and waters love;
Its wild heart lying tranced above,
And tranced the wildness of its eyes.
Oh, joy, to walk the way that goes
Through woods of sweet-gum and of beech!
Where, like a ruby left in reach,
The berry of the dogwood glows:
Or where the bristling hillsides mass,
'Twixt belts of tawny sassafras,
Brown shocks of corn in wigwam rows!
Where, in the hazy morning, runs
The stony branch that pools and drips,
The red-haws and the wild-rose hips
Are strewn like pebbles; and the sun's
Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
To see, through scintillating seeds,
The hunters steal with glimmering guns!
Oh, joy, to go the path which lies
Through woodlands where the trees are tall!
Beneath the misty moon of fall,
Whose ghostly girdle prophesies
A morn wind-swept and gray with rain;
When, o'er the lonely, leaf-blown lane,
The night-hawk like a dead leaf flies!
To stand within the dewy ring
Where pale death smites the boneset blooms,
And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
Of mint, with aromatic wing!
And hear the creek,-whose sobbing seems
A wild-man murmuring in his dreams,-
And insect violins that sing.
Or where the dim persimmon tree
Rains on the path its frosty fruit,
And in the oak the owl doth hoot,
Beneath the moon and mist, to see
The outcast Year go,-Hagar-wise,-
With far-off, melancholy eyes,
And lips that sigh for sympathy.
Towards evening, where the sweet-gum flung
Its thorny balls among the weeds,
And where the milkweed's sleepy seeds,-
A faery Feast of Lanterns,-swung;
The cricket tuned a plaintive lyre,
And o'er the hills the sunset hung
A purple parchment scrawled with fire.
From silver-blue to amethyst
The shadows deepened in the vale;
And belt by belt the pearly-pale
Aladdin fabric of the mist
Built up its exhalation far;
A jewel on an Afrit's wrist,
One star gemmed sunset's cinnabar.
Then night drew near, as when, alone,
The heart and soul grow intimate;
And on the hills the twilight sate
With shadows, whose wild robes were sown
With dreams and whispers;-dreams, that led
The heart once with love's monotone,
And memories of the living-dead.
All night the rain-gusts shook the leaves
Around my window; and the blast
Rumbled the flickering flue, and fast
The storm streamed from the dripping eaves.
As if-'neath skies gone mad with fear-
The witches' Sabboth galloped past,
The forests leapt like startled deer.
All night I heard the sweeping sleet;
And when the morning came, as slow
As wan affliction, with the woe
Of all the world dragged at her feet,
No spear of purple shattered through
The dark gray of the east; no bow
Of gold shot arrows swift and blue.
But rain, that whipped the windows; filled
The spouts with rushings; and around
The garden stamped, and sowed the ground
With limbs and leaves; the wood-pool filled
With overgurgling.-Bleak and cold
The fields looked, where the footpath wound
Through teasel and bur-marigold.
Yet there's a kindness in such days
Of gloom, that doth console regret
With sympathy of tears, which wet
Old eyes that watch the back-log blaze.-
A kindness, alien to the deep
Glad blue of sunny days that let
No thought in of the lives that weep.
This dawn, through which the Autumn glowers,-
As might a face within our sleep,
With stone-gray eyes that weep and weep,
And wet brows bound with sodden flowers,-
Is sunset to some sister land;
A land of ruins and of palms;
Rich sunset, crimson with long calms,-
Whose burning belt low mountains bar,-
That sees some brown Rebecca stand
Beside a well the camel-band
Winds down to 'neath the evening star.
O sunset, sister to this dawn!
O dawn, whose face is turned away!
Who gazest not upon this day,
But back upon the day that's gone!
Enamored so of loveliness,
The retrospect of what thou wast,
Oh, to thyself the present trust!
And as thy past be beautiful
With hues, that never can grow less!
Waiting thy pleasure to express
New beauty lest the world grow dull.
Down in the woods a sorcerer,
Out of rank rain and death, distills,-
Through chill alembics of the air,-
Aromas that brood everywhere
Among the whisper-haunted hills:
The bitter myrrh of dead leaves fills
Wet valleys (where the gaunt weeds bleach)
With rainy scents of wood-decay;-
As if a spirit all the day
Sat breathing softly 'neath the beech.
With other eyes I see her flit,
The wood-witch of the wild perfumes,
Among her elfin owls,-that sit,
A drowsy white, in crescent-lit
Dim glens of opalescent glooms:-
Where, for her magic, buds and blooms
Mysterious perfumes, while she stands,
A thornlike shadow, summoning
The sleepy odors, that take wing
Like bubbles from her dewy hands.
Among the woods they call to me-
The lights that haunt the wood and stream;
Voices of such white ecstasy
As moves with hushed lips through a dream:
They stand in auraed radiances,
Or flash with nimbused limbs across
Their golden shadows on the moss,
Or slip in silver through the trees.
What love can give the heart in me
More hope and exaltation than
The hand of light that tips the tree
And beckons far from marts of man?
That reaches foamy fingers through
The broken ripple, and replies
With sparkling speech of lips and eyes
To souls who seek and still pursue.
Give me the streams, that counterfeit
The twilight of autumnal skies;
The shadowy, silent waters, lit
With fire like a woman's eyes!
Slow waters that, in autumn, glass
The scarlet-strewn and golden grass,
And drink the sunset's tawny dyes.
Give me the pools, that lie among
The centuried forests! give me those,
Deep, dim, and sad as darkness hung
Beneath the sunset's somber rose:
Still pools, in whose vague mirrors look-
Like ragged gypsies round a book
Of magic-trees in wild repose.
No quiet thing, or innocent,
Of water, earth, or air shall please
My soul now: but the violent
Between the sunset and the trees:
The fierce, the splendid, and intense,
That love matures in innocence,
Like mighty music, give me these!
When thorn-tree copses still were bare
And black along the turbid brook;
When catkined willows blurred and shook
Great tawny tangles in the air;
In bottomlands, the first thaw makes
An oozy bog, beneath the trees,
Prophetic of the spring that wakes,
Sang the sonorous hylodes.
Now that wild winds have stripped the thorn,
And clogged with leaves the forest-creek;
Now that the woods look blown and bleak,
And webs are frosty white at morn;
At night beneath the spectral sky,
A far foreboding cry I hear—
The wild fowl calling as they fly?
Or wild voice of the dying Year?
And still my soul holds phantom tryst,
When chestnuts hiss among the coals,
Upon the Evening of All Souls,
When all the night is moon and mist,
And all the world is mystery;
I kiss dear lips that death hath kissed,
And gaze in eyes no man may see,
Filled with a love long lost to me.
I hear the night-wind's ghostly glove
Flutter the window: then the knob
Of some dark door turn, with a sob
As when love comes to gaze on love
Who lies pale-coffined in a room:
And then the iron gallop of
The storm, who rides outside; his plume
Sweeping the night with dread and gloom.
So fancy takes the mind, and paints
The darkness with eidolon light,
And writes the dead's romance in night
On the dim Evening of All Saints:
Unheard the hissing nuts; the clink
And fall of coals, whose shadow faints
Around the hearts that sit and think,
Borne far beyond the actual's brink.
I heard the wind, before the morn
Stretched gaunt, gray fingers 'thwart my pane,
Drive clouds down, a dark dragon-train;
Its iron visor closed, a horn
Of steel from out the north it wound.-
No morn like yesterday's! whose mouth,
A cool carnation, from the south
Breathed through a golden reed the sound
Of days that drop clear gold upon
Cerulean silver floors of dawn.
And all of yesterday is lost
And swallowed in to-day's wild light-
The birth deformed of day and night,
The illegitimate, who cost
Its mother secret tears and sighs;
Unlovely since unloved; and chilled
With sorrows and the shame that filled
Its parents' love; which was not wise
In passion as the day and night
That married yestermorn with light.
Down through the dark, indignant trees,
On indistinguishable wings
Of storm, the wind of evening swings;
Before its insane anger flees
Distracted leaf and shattered bough:
There is a rushing as when seas
Of thunder beat an iron prow
On reefs of wrath and roaring wreck:
'Mid stormy leaves, a hurrying speck
Of flickering blackness, driven by,
A mad bat whirls along the sky.
Like some sad shadow, in the eve's
As by some strange and twilight spell-
A gaunt girl stands among the leaves,
The night-wind in her dolorous dress:
Symbolic of the life that grieves,
Of toil that patience makes not less,
Her load of fagots fallen there.-
A wilder shadow sweeps the air,
And she is gone…. Was it the dumb
Eidolon of the month to come?
The song birds-are they flown away?
The song birds of the summer time,
That sang their souls into the day,
And set the laughing hours to rhyme.
No catbird scatters through the bush
The sparkling crystals of its song;
Within the woods no hermit-thrush
Thridding with vocal gold the hush.
All day the crows fly cawing past:
The acorns drop: the forests scowl:
At night I hear the bitter blast
Hoot with the hooting of the owl.
The wild creeks freeze: the ways are strewn
With leaves that clog: beneath the tree
The bird, that set its toil to tune,
And made a home for melody,
Lies dead beneath the snow-white moon.
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.