She sits among the iris stalks
Of babbling brooks; and leans for hours
Among the river's lily flowers,
Or on their whiteness walks:
Above dark forest pools, gray rocks
Wall in, she leans with dripping locks,
And listening to the echo, talks
With her own face Iothera.
There is no forest of the hills,
No valley of the solitude,
Nor fern nor moss, that may elude
Her searching step that stills:
She dreams among the wild-rose brakes
Of fountains that the ripple shakes,
And, dreaming of herself, she fills
The silence with 'Iothera.'
And every wind that haunts the ways
Of leaf and bough, once having kissed
Her virgin nudity, goes whist
With wonder and amaze.
There blows no breeze which hath not learned
Her name's sweet melody, and yearned
To kiss her mouth that laughs and says,
No wild thing of the wood, no bird,
Or brown or blue, or gold or gray,
Beneath the sun's or moonlight's ray,
That hath not loved and heard;
They are her pupils; she can say
No new thing but, within a day,
They have its music, word for word,
Harmonious as Iothera.
No man who lives and is not wise
With love for common flowers and trees,
Bee, bird, and beast, and brook, and breeze,
And rocks and hills and skies,
Search where he will, shall ever see
One flutter of her drapery,
One glimpse of limbs, or hair, or eyes
Of beautiful Iothera.
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.
She passed the thorn-trees, whose gaunt branches tossed
Their spider-shadows round her; and the breeze,
Beneath the ashen moon, was full of frost,
And mouthed and mumbled to the sickly trees,
Like some starved hag who sees her children freeze.
Dry-eyed she waited by the sycamore.
Some stars made misty blotches in the sky.
And all the wretched willows on the shore
Looked faded as a jaundiced cheek or eye.
She felt their pity and could only sigh.
And then his skiff ground on the river rocks.
Whistling he came into the shadow made
By that dead tree. He kissed her dark brown locks;
And round her form his eager arms were laid.
Passive she stood, her secret unbetrayed.
And then she spoke, while still his greeting kiss
Ached in her hair. She did not dare to lift
Her eyes to his-her anguished eyes to his,
While tears smote crystal in her throat. One rift
Of weakness humored might set all adrift.
Fields over which a path, overwhelmed with burrs
And ragweeds, noisy with the grasshoppers,
Leads,-lost, irresolute as paths the cows
Wear through the woods,-unto a woodshed; then,
With wrecks of windows, to a huddled house,
Where men have murdered men.
A house, whose tottering chimney, clay and rock,
Is seamed and crannied; whose lame door and lock
Are bullet-bored; around which, there and here,
Are sinister stains.-One dreads to look around.-
The place seems thinking of that time of fear
And dares not breathe a sound.
Within is emptiness: The sunlight falls
On faded journals papering the walls;
On advertisement chromos, torn with time,
Around a hearth where wasps and spiders build.-
The house is dead: meseems that night of crime
It, too, was shot and killed.
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.
Thus have I pictured her:-In Arden old
A white-browed maiden with a falcon eye,
Rose-flushed of face, with locks of wind-blown gold,
Teaching her hawks to fly.
Or, 'mid her boar-hounds, panting with the heat,
In huntsman green, sounding the hunt's wild prize,
Plumed, dagger-belted, while beneath her feet
The spear-pierced monster dies.
Or in Breceliand, on some high tower,
Clad white in samite, last of her lost race,
My soul beholds her, lovelier than a flower,
Gazing with pensive face.
Or, robed in raiment of romantic lore,
Like Oriana, dark of eye and hair,
Riding through realms of legend evermore,
And ever young and fair.
Or now like Bradamant, as brave as just,
In complete steel, her pure face lit with scorn,
At giant castles, dens of demon lust,
Winding her bugle-horn.
Another Una; and in chastity
A second Britomart; in beauty far
O'er her who led King Charles's chivalry
And Paynim lands to war….
Now she, from Avalon's deep-dingled bowers,-
'Mid which white stars and never-waning moons
Make marriage; and dim lips of musk-mouthed flowers
Sigh faint and fragrant tunes,-
Implores me follow; and, in shadowy shapes
Of sunset, shows me,-mile on misty mile
Of purple precipice,-all the haunted capes
Of her enchanted isle.
Where, bowered in bosks and overgrown with vine,
Upon a headland breasting violet seas,
Her castle towers, like a dream divine,
With stairs and galleries.
And at her casement, Circe-beautiful,
Above the surgeless reaches of the deep,
She sits, while, in her gardens, fountains lull
The perfumed wind asleep.
Or, round her brow a diadem of spars,
She leans and hearkens, from her raven height,
The nightingales that, choiring to the stars,
Take with wild song the night.
Or, where the moon is mirrored in the waves,
To mark, deep down, the Sea King's city rolled,
Wrought of huge shells and labyrinthine caves,
Ribbed pale with pearl and gold.
There doth she wait forever; and the kings
Of all the world have wooed her: but she cares
For none but him, the Love, that dreams and sings,
That sings and dreams and dares.
It is not early spring and yet
Of bloodroot blooms along the stream,
And blotted banks of violet,
My heart will dream.
Is it because the windflower apes
The beauty that was once her brow,
That the white memory of it shapes
The April now?
Because the wild-rose wears the blush
That once made sweet her maidenhood,
Its thought makes June of barren bush
And empty wood?
And then I think how young she died-
Straight, barren Death stalks down the trees,
The hard-eyed Hours by his side,
That kill and freeze.
When orchards are in bloom again
My heart will bound, my blood will beat,
To hear the redbird so repeat,
On boughs of rosy stain,
His blithe, loud song,-like some far strain
From out the past,-among the bloom,-
(Where bee and wasp and hornet boom)-
Fresh, redolent of rain.
When orchards are in bloom once more,
Invasions of lost dreams will draw
My feet, like some insistent law,
Through blossoms to her door:
In dreams I'll ask her, as before,
To let me help her at the well;
And fill her pail; and long to tell
My love as once of yore.
I shall not speak until we quit
The farm-gate, leading to the lane
And orchard, all in bloom again,
Mid which the bluebirds sit
And sing; and through whose blossoms flit
The catbirds crying while they fly:
Then tenderly I'll speak, and try
To tell her all of it.
And in my dream again she'll place
Her hand in mine, as oft before,-
When orchards are in bloom once more,-
With all her young-girl grace:
And we shall tarry till a trace
Of sunset dyes the heav'ns; and then-
We'll part; and, parting, I again
Shall bend and kiss her face.
And homeward, singing, I shall go
Along the cricket-chirring ways,
While sunset, one long crimson blaze
Of orchards, lingers low:
And my dead youth again I'll know,
And all her love, when spring is here-
Whose memory holds me many a year,
Whose love still haunts me so!
I would not die when Springtime lifts
The white world to her maiden mouth,
And heaps its cradle with gay gifts,
Breeze-blown from out the singing South:
Too full of life and loves that cling;
Too heedless of all mortal woe,
The young, unsympathetic Spring,
That Death should never know.
I would not die when Summer shakes
Her daisied locks below her hips,
And naked as a star that takes
A cloud, into the silence slips:
Too rich is Summer; poor in needs;
In egotism of loveliness
Her pomp goes by, and never heeds
One life the more or less.
But I would die when Autumn goes,
The dark rain dripping from her hair,
Through forests where the wild wind blows
Death and the red wreck everywhere:
Sweet as love's last farewells and tears
To fall asleep when skies are gray,
In the old autumn of my years,
Like a dead leaf borne far away.
The Vale Of Tempe
All night I lay upon the rocks:
And now the dawn comes up this way,
One great star trembling in her locks
Of rosy ray.
I can not tell the things I've seen;
The things I've heard I dare not speak.
The dawn is breaking gold and green
O'er vale and peak.
My soul hath kept its tryst again
With her as once in ages past,
In that lost life, I know not when,
Which was my last.
When she was Dryad, I was Faun,
And lone we loved in Tempe's Vale,
Where once we saw Endymion
Where once we saw him clasp and meet
Among the pines, with kiss on kiss,
Moon-breasted and most heavenly sweet,
Where often, Bacchus-borne, we heard
The Mænad shout, wild-revelling;
And filled with witchraft, past all word,
The Limnad sing.
Bloom-bodied 'mid the twilight trees
We saw the Oread, who shone
Fair as a form Praxiteles
Carved out of stone.
And oft, goat-footed, in a glade
We marked the Satyrs dance: and great,
Man-muscled, like the oaks that shade
Fierce Centaurs hoof the torrent's bank
With wind-swept manes, or leap the crag,
While swift, the arrow in its flank,
Swept by the stag.
And, minnow-white, the Naiad there
We watched, foam-shouldered, in her stream
Wringing the moisture from her hair
Of emerald gleam.
We saw the oak unclose and, brown,
Sap-scented, from its door of bark
The Hamadryad's form step down:
Or, crouching dark.
Within the oak's deep heart, we felt
Her eyes that pierced the fibrous gloom;
Her breath, that was the nard we smelt,
The wild perfume.
There is no flower, that opens glad
Soft eyes of dawn and sunset hue,
As fair as the Limoniad
We saw there too:
That flow'r-divinity, rose-born,
Of sunlight and white dew, whose blood
Is fragrance, and whose heart of morn
A crimson bud.
There is no star, that rises white
To tip-toe down the deeps of dusk,
Sweet as the moony Nymphs of Night
With breasts of musk.
We met among the mystery
And hush of forests, where, afar,
We watched their hearts beat glimmeringly,
Each heart a star.
There is no beam, that rays the marge
Of mist that trails from cape to cape,
From panther-haunted gorge to gorge,
Bright as the shape.
Of her, the one Auloniad,
That, born of wind and grassy gleams,
Silvered upon our sight, dim-clad
In foam of streams.
All, all of these I saw again,
Or dreamed I saw, as there, ah me!
Upon the cliffs, above the plain,
I lay, while Mount Olympus helmed
Its brow with moon-effulgence deep,
And, far below, vague, overwhelmed
With reedy sleep.
Peneus flowed, and, murmuring, sighed,
Meseemed, for its dead gods, whose ghosts
Through its dark forests seemed to glide
In shadowy hosts.
'Mid whose pale shapes again I spoke
With her, my soul, as I divine,
Dim 'neath some gnarled Olympian oak,
Or Ossan pine.
Till down the slopes of heaven came
Those daughters of the dawn, the Hours,
Clothed on with raiment blue of flame,
And crowned with flowers;
When she, with whom my soul once more
Had trysted limbed of light and air
Whom to my breast, (as oft of yore
In Tempe there.
When she was Dryad, I was Faun,)
I clasped and held, and pressed and kissed,
Within my arms, as broke the dawn,
Became a mist.
Wrapped round of the night, as a monster is wrapped of the ocean,
Down, down through vast storeys of darkness, behold, in the tower
Of the heaven, the thunder! on stairways of cloudy commotion,
Colossal of tread, like a giant, from echoing hour to hour
Goes striding in rattling armor ...
The Nymph, at her billow-roofed dormer
Of foam; and the Sylvan-green-housed-at her window of leaves appears;
-As a listening woman, who hears
The approach of her lover, who comes to her arms in the night;
And, loosening the loops of her locks,
With eyes full of love and delight,
From the couch of her rest in ardor and haste arises.
The Nymph, as if breathed of the tempest, like fire surprises
The riotous bands of the rocks,
That face with a roar the shouting charge of the seas.
The Sylvan,-through troops of the trees,
Whose clamorous clans with gnarly bosoms keep hurling
Themselves on the guns of the wind,-goes wheeling and whirling.
The Nymph, of the waves' exultation upheld, her green tresses
Knotted with flowers of the hollow white foam, dives screaming;
Then bounds to the arms of the storm, who boisterously presses
Her hair and wild form to his breast that is panting and streaming.
The Sylvan,-hard-pressed by the wind, the Pan-footed air,
On the violent backs of the hills,
Like a flame that tosses and thrills
From peak to peak when the world of spirits is out,
Is borne, as her rapture wills,
With glittering gesture and shout:
Now here in the darkness, now there,
From the rain-like sweep of her hair,
Bewilderingly volleyed o'er eyes and o'er lips,
To the lambent swell of her limbs, her breasts and her hips,
She flashes her beautiful nakedness out in the glare
Of the tempest that bears her away,
That bears me away!
Away, over forest and foam, over tree and spray,
Far swifter than thought, far swifter than sound or than flame.
Over ocean and pine,
In arms of tumultuous shadow and shine ...
Though Sylvan and Nymph do not
Exist, and only what
Of terror and beauty I feel and I name
As parts of the storm, the awe and the rapture divine
That here in the tempest are mine,
The two are the same, the two are forever the same.
Beauti ful-bosomed, O night, in thy noon
Move with majesty onward! bearing, as lightly
As a singer may bear the notes of an exquisite tune,
The stars and the moon
Through the clerestories high of the heaven, the firmament's halls;
Under whose sapphirine walls,
June, hesperian June,
Robed in divinity wanders. Daily and nightly
The turquoise touch of her robe, that the violets star,
The silvery fall of her feet, that lilies are,
Fill the land with languorous light and perfume.
Is it the melody mute of burgeoning leaf and of bloom?
The music of Nature, that silently shapes in the gloom
Of spirits that have the flowers and leaves in their keep,
That I hear, that I hear?
Who whisper in leaves and glimmer in blossoms and hover
In color and fragrance and loveliness, breathed from the deep
World-soul of the mother,
Nature;-who, over and over,
Both sweetheart and lover,
Goes singing her songs from one sweet month to the other,
That appear, that appear?
In forest and field, on hill-land and lea,
As crystallized harmony,
An uttered essence peopling far and near
The hyaline atmosphere?...
Behold how it sprouts from the grass and blooms from flower and tree!
In waves of diaphanous moonlight and mist,
In fugue upon fugue of gold and of amethyst,
Around me, above me it spirals; now slower, now faster,
Like symphonies born of the thought of a musical master.
-O music of Earth! O God who the music inspired!
Let me breathe of the life of thy breath!
And so be fulfilled and attired
In resurrection, triumphant o'er time and o'er death!
Beyond the Northern Lights, in regions haunted
Of twilight, where the world is glacier planted,
And pale as Loki in his cavern when
The serpent's slaver burns him to the bones,
I saw the phantasms of gigantic men,
The prototypes of vastness, quarrying stones;
Great blocks of winter, glittering with the morn's
And evening's colors,-wild prismatic tones
Of boreal beauty.-Like the three gray Norns,
Silence and solitude and terror loomed
Around them where they labored. Walls arose,
Vast as the Andes when creation boomed
Insurgent fire; and through the rushing snows
Enormous battlements of tremendous ice,
Bastioned and turreted, I saw arise.
But who can sing the workmanship gigantic
That reared within its coruscating dome
The roaring fountain, hurling an Atlantic
Of streaming ice that flashed with flame and foam?
An opal spirit, various and many formed,-
In whose clear heart reverberant fire stormed,
Seemed its inhabitant; and through pale halls,
And deep diaphanous walls,
And corridors of whiteness.
Auroral colors swarmed,
As rosy-flickering stains,
Or lambent green, or gold, or crimson, warmed
The pulsing crystal of the spirit's veins
With ever-changing brightness.
And through the Arctic night there went a voice,
As if the ancient Earth cried out, 'Rejoice!
My heart is full of lightness!'
Here well might Thor, the god of war,
Harness the whirlwinds to his car,
While, mailed in storm, his iron arm
Heaves high his hammer's lava-form,
And red and black his beard streams back,
Like some fierce torrent scoriac,
Whose earthquake light glares through the night
Around some dark volcanic height;
And through the skies Valkyrian cries
Trumpet, as battleward he flies,
Death in his hair and havoc in his eyes.
Still in my dreams I hear that fountain flowing;
Beyond all seeing and beyond all knowing;
Still in my dreams I see those wild walls glowing
With hues, Aurora-kissed;
And through huge halls fantastic phantoms going.
Vast shapes of snow and mist,
Sonorous clarions of the tempest blowing,
That trail dark banners by,
Cloudlike, underneath the sky
Of the caverned dome on high,
Carbuncle and amethyst.
Still I hear the ululation
Of their stormy exultation,
Multitudinous, and blending
In hoarse echoes, far, unending;
And, through halls of fog and frost,
Howling back, like madness lost
In the moonless mansion of
Its own demon-haunted love.
Still in my dreams I hear the mermaid singing;
The mermaid music at its portal ringing;
The mermaid song, that hinged with gold its door,
And, whispering evermore,
Hushed the ponderous hurl and roar
And vast æolian thunder
Of the chained tempests under
The frozen cataracts that were its floor.
And, blinding beautiful, I still behold
The mermaid there, combing her locks of gold,
While, at her feet, green as the Northern Seas,
Gambol her flocks of seals and walruses;
While, like a drift, her dog-a Polar bear-
Lies by her, glowering through his shaggy hair.
O wondrous house, built by supernal hands
In vague and ultimate lands!
Thy architects were behemoth wind and cloud,
That, laboring loud,
Mountained thy world foundations and uplifted
Thy skyey bastions drifted
Of piled eternities of ice and snow;
Where storms, like ploughmen, go,
Ploughing the deeps with awful hurricane;
Where, spouting icy rain,
The huge whale wallows; and through furious hail
Th' explorer's tattered sail
Drives like the wing of some terrific bird,
Where wreck and famine herd.
Home of the red Auroras and the gods!
He who profanes thy perilous threshold,-where
The ancient centuries lair,
And, glacier-throned, thy monarch, Winter, nods,
Let him beware!
Lest, coming on that hoary presence there,
Whose pitiless hand,
Above that hungry land,
An iceberg wields as sceptre, and whose crown
The North Star is, set in a band of frost,
He, too, shall feel the bitterness of that frown,
And, turned to stone, forevermore be lost.
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.
The North Shore
September On Cape Ann
The partridge-berry flecks with flame the way
That leads to ferny hollows where the bee
Drones on the aster. Far away the sea
Points its deep sapphire with a gleam of grey.
Here from this height where, clustered sweet, the bay
Clumps a green couch, the haw and barberry
Beading her hair, sad Summer, seemingly,
Has fallen asleep, unmindful of the day.
The chipmunk barks upon the old stone wall;
And in the shadows, like a shadow, stirs
The woodchuck where the boneset's blossom creams.
Was that a phoebe with its pensive call?
A sighing wind that shook the drowsy firs?
Or only Summer waking from her dreams?
In An Annisquam Garden
Old phantoms haunt it of the long ago;
Old ghosts of old-time lovers and of dreams:
Within the quiet sunlight there, meseems,
I see them walking where those lilies blow.
The hardy phlox sways to some garment's flow;
The salvia there with sudden scarlet streams,
Caught from some ribbon of some throat that gleams,
Petunia-fair, in flounce and furbelow.
I seem to hear their whispers in each wind
That wanders mid the flowers. There they stand!
Among the shadows of that apple-tree!
They are not dead, whom still it keeps in mind,
This garden, planted by some lovely hand
That keeps it fragrant with its memory.
I saw the spirit of the pines that spoke
With spirits of the ocean and the storm:
Against the tumult rose its tattered form,
Wild rain and darkness round it like a cloak.
Fearful it stood, limbed like some twisted oak,
Gesticulating with one giant arm,
Raised as in protest of the night's alarm,
Defiant still of some impending stroke.
Below it, awful in its majesty,
The spirit of the deep, with rushing locks,
Raved: and above it, lightning-clad and shod,
Thundered the tempest. Thus they stood, the three;
Terror around them; while, upon the rocks,
Destruction danced, mocking at man and God.
Night And Storm At Gloucester
I heard the wind last night that cried and wept
Like some old skipper's ghost outside my door;
And on the roof the rain that tramped and tore
Like feet of seamen on a deck storm-swept.
Against the pane the Night with shudderings crept,
And crouched there wailing; moaning ever more
Its tale of terror; of the wrath on shore,
The rage at sea, bidding all wake who slept.
And then I heard a voice as old as Time;
The calling of the mother of the world,
Ocean, who thundered on her granite crags,
Foaming with fury, meditating crime.
And then, far off, wild minute guns; and, hurled
Through roaring surf, the rush of sails in rags.
The Voice Of Ocean
A cry went through the darkness; and the moon,
Hurrying through storm, gazed with a ghastly face,
Then cloaked herself in scud: the merman race
Of surges ceased; and then th' Æolian croon
Of the wild siren, Wind, within the shrouds
Sunk to a sigh. The ocean in that place
Seemed listening; haunted, for a moment's space,
By something dread that cried against the clouds.
Mystery and night; and with them fog and rain:
And then that cry again as if the deep
Uttered its loneliness in one dark word:
Her horror of herself; her Titan pain;
Her monsters; and the dead that she must keep,
Has kept, alone, for centuries, unheard.
I saw the daughters of the ocean dance
With wind and tide, and heard them on the rocks:
White hands they waved me, tossing sunlit locks,
Green as the light an emerald holds in trance.
Their music bound me as with necromance
Of mermaid beauty, that for ever mocks,
And lured me as destruction lures wild flocks
Of light-led gulls and storm-tossed cormorants.
Nearer my feet they crept: I felt their lips:
Their hands of foam that caught at me, to press,
As once they pressed Leander: and, straightway,
I saw the monster-ending of their hips;
The cruelty hid in their soft caress;
The siren-passion ever more to slay.
A Bit Of Coast
One tree, storm-twisted, like an evil hag,
The sea-wind in its hair, beside a path
Waves frantic arms, as if in wild-witch wrath
At all the world. Gigantic, grey as slag,
Great boulders shoulder through the hills, or crag
The coast with danger, monster-like, that lifts
Huge granite, round which wheel the gulls and swifts,
And at whose base the rotting sea-weeds drag.
Inward the hills are wooded; valley-cleft;
Tangled with berries; vistaed dark with pines;
At whose far end, as 'twere within a frame,
Some trail of water that the ocean left
Gleams like a painting where one white sail shines,
Lit with the sunset's poppy-coloured flame.
Autumn At Annisquam
The bitter-sweet and red-haw in her hands,
And in her hair pale berries of the bay,
She haunts the coves and every Cape Ann way,
The Indian, Autumn, wandered from her bands.
Beside the sea, upon a rock, she stands,
And looks across the foam, and straight the grey
Takes on a sunset tone, and all the day
Murmurs with music of forgotten lands.
Now in the woods, knee-deep among the ferns,
She walks and smiles and listens to the pines,
The sweetheart pines, that kiss and kiss again,
Whispering their love: and now she frowns and turns
And in the west the fog in ragged lines
Rears the wild wigwams of the tribes of rain.
Against the pane the darkness, wet and cold,
Pressed a wild face and raised a ragged arm
Of cloud, clothed on with thunder and alarm
And terrible with elemental gold.
Above the fisher's hut, beyond the wold,
The wind, a Salem witch, rushed shrieking harm,
And swept her mad broom over every farm
To devil-revels in some forest old.
Hell and its-hags, it seemed, held court again
On every rock, trailing a tattered gown
Of surf, and whirling, screaming, to the sea
Elf-locks, fantastic, of dishevelled rain;
While in their midst death hobbled up and down
Monstrous and black, with diabolic glee.
Night and the sea, and heaven overhead
Cloudless and vast, as 'twere of hollowed spar,
Wherein the facets gleamed of many a star,
And the half-moon a crystal radiance shed.
Then suddenly, with burning banners spread,
In pale celestial armour, as for war,
Into the heaven, flaming from afar,
The Northern Lights their phalanxed splendours led.
Night, for the moment, seemed to catch her breath,
And earth gazed, silent with astonishment,
As spear on spear the auroral armies came;
As when, triumphant over hell and death,
The victor angels thronged God's firmament
With sword on sword and burning oriflamme.
Far as the eye can see the land is grey,
And desolation sits among the stones
Looking on ruin who, from rocks like bones,
Stares with a dead face at the dying day.
Mounds, where the barberry and bay hold sway,
Show where homes rose once; where the village crones
Gossiped, and man, with many sighs and groans,
Laboured and loved and went its daily way.
Only the crow now, like a hag returned,
Croaks on the common that its hoarse voice mocks.
Meseems that here the sorrow of the earth
Has lost herself, and, with the past concerned,
Sits with the ghosts of dreams that haunt these rocks,
And old despairs to which man's soul gave birth.
An Abandoned Quarry
The barberry burns, the rose-hip crimsons warm,
And haw and sumach hedge the hill with fire,
Down which the road winds, worn of hoof and tire,
Only the blueberry-picker plods now from the farm.
Here once the quarry-driver, brown of arm,
Wielded the whip when, deep in mud and mire,
The axle strained, and earned his daily hire,
Labouring bareheaded in both sun and storm.
Wild-cherry now and blackberry and bay
Usurp the place: the wild-rose, undisturbed,
Riots, where once the workman earned his wage,
Whose old hands rest now, like this granite grey,
These rocks, whose stubborn will whilom he curbed,
Hard as the toil that was his heritage.
A Pool Among The Rocks
I know a pool, whose crystalline repose
Sleeps under walls of granite, whence the pine
Leans looking at its image, line for line
Repeated with the sumach and wild-rose
That redden on the rocks; where, at day's close,
The sunset dreams, and lights incarnadine
Dark waters and the place seems brimmed with wine,
A giant cup that splendour overflows.
Night, in her livery of stars and moon,
Stoops to its mirror, gazing steadily;
And, saddened by her beauty, drops one tear,
A falling star; while round it sighs the rune
Of winds, conspirators that sweep from sea,
Whispering of things that fill the heart with fear.
High On A Hill
There is a place among the Cape Ann hills
That looks from fir-dark summits on the sea,
Whose surging sapphire changes constantly
Beneath deep heavens, Morning windowsills,
With golden calm, or sunset citadels
With storm, whose towers the winds' confederacy
And bandit thunder hold in rebel fee,
Swooping upon the ilsher's sail that swells.
A place, where Sorrow ceases to complain,
And life's old Cares put all their burdens by,
And Weariness forgets itself in rest.
Would that all life were like it; might obtain
Its pure repose, its outlook, strong and high,
That sees, beyond, far Islands of the Blest.