To The Memory Of George H. Ellwanger True Friend And Lover And Interpreter Of Nature, As A Slight Token Of Esteem And Admiration
Would I could talk as the flowers talk
To my soul! and the stars, in their ceaseless walk
Through Heaven! and tell to the high and low
The things that they say, so all might know
The dreams they dream, and have told to me!
As Nature sees would I could see!
Then might I speak with authority!
I stand below and look above,
And see her busy with life and love,
And can tell the world so little thereof.
Oh, for a soul that could feel much less!
Or, feeling more, could so express
The things it feels and their tenderness:
The very essence, the soul of art,
And all the heavens and hells of heart!
Then might I rise to the very peak,
The summit of song, which poets seek,
And speak with a voice as the masters speak.
The New York Skyscraper
The Woolworth Building
ENORMOUSLY it lifts
Its tower against the splendor of the west;
Like some wild dream that drifts
Before the mind, and at the will's behest,—
Enchantment-based, gigantic steel and stone,—
Is given permanence;
A concrete fact,
Such as no nation here on Earth has known:
That is American, that stands for youth,
And strength and truth;
And beautiful and free,—
Resistless srength and tireless energy.
Even as a cataract,
Its superb fact
Suggests vast forces Nature builds with — Joy,
And Power and Thought,
She to her aid has brought
For eons past, will bring for eons yet to be,
Shaping the world to her desire: the three
Her counsellors constantly,
Her architects, through whom her dreams come true, —
Her workmen, bringing forth,
With toil that shall not cease,
Mountains and plains and seas,
That make the Earth
The glory that it is:
And, one with these,
Such works of man as this,
This building, towering into the blue,
A beacon, round which like an ocean wide,
Circles and flows the restless human tide.
The Yellow Puccoon
Who could describe you, child of mystery
And silence, born among these solitudes?
Within whose look there is a secrecy,
Old as these wanderingwoods,
And knowledge, cousin to the morning-star,
Beyond the things that mar,
And earth itself that on the soul intrudes.
How many eons what antiquity
Went to your making? When the world was young
You yet were old. What mighty company
Of cosmic forces swung
About you! On what wonders have you gazed
Since first your head was raised
To greet the Power that here your seed-spore flung!
The butterfly that woos you, and the bee
That quits the mandrakes' cups to whisper you,
Are in your confidence and sympathy,
As sunlight is and dew,
And the soft music of this woodland stream,
Telling the trees its dream,
That lean attentive its dim face unto.
With bluet, larkspur, and anemone
Your gold conspires to arrest the eye,
Making it prisoner unto Fantasy
And Vision, none'll deny!
That lead the mind (as children lead the blind
Homeward by ways that wind)
To certainties of love that round it lie.
The tanager, in scarlet livery,
Out-flaunts you not in bravery, amber-bright
As is the little moon of Faërie,
That glows with golden light
From out a firmament of green, as you
From out the moss and dew
Glimmer your starry disc upon my sight.
If I might know you, have you, as the bee
And butterfly, in some more intimate sense
Or, like the brook there talking to the tree,
Win to your confidence
Then might I grasp it, solve it, in some wise,
This riddle in disguise
Named Life, through you and your experience.
A Last Word
OH, for some cup of consummating might,
Filled with life's kind conclusion, lost in night!
A wine of darkness, that with death shall cure
This sickness called existence! —Oh to find
Surcease of sorrow! quiet for the mind,
An end of thought in something dark and sure!
Mandrake and hellebore, or poison pure! —
Some drug of death, wherein there are no dreams! —
No more, no more, with patience, to endure
The wrongs of life, the hate of men, it seems;
Or wealth's authority, tyranny of time,
And lamentations and the boasts of man!
To hear no more the wild complaints of toil,
And struggling merit, that, unknown, must starve:
To see no more life's disregard for Art!
Oh God! to know no longer anything!
Nor good, nor evil, or what either means!
Nor hear the changing tides of customs roll
On the dark shores of Time! No more to hear
The stream of Life that furies on the shoals
Of hard necessity! No more to see
The unavailing battle waged of Need
Against adversity! — Merely to lie, at last,
Pulseless and still, at peace beneath the sod!
To think and dream no more! no more to hope!
At rest at last! at last at peace and rest,
Clasped by some kind tree's gnarled arm of root
Bearing me upward in its large embrace
To gentler things and fairer — clouds and winds,
And stars and sun and moon! To undergo
The change the great trees know when Spring comes in
With shoutings and rejoicings of the rain,
To swiftly rise an atom in a host,
The myriad army of the leaves; and stand
A handsbreadth nearer Heaven and what is God!
To pulse in sap that beats unfevered in
The life we call inanimate — the heart
Of some great tree. And so, unconsciously,
As sleeps a child, clasped in its mother's arm,
Be taken back, in amplitudes of grace,
To Nature's heart, and so be lost in her.
The Forest Of Fear
The cut-throat darkness hemmed me 'round:
I waited, helpless in its grasp.
The forest gave no sign or sound:
The wind was dead: no insect's rasp
I heard, nor water's gulp and gasp
Fitting its strength against a stone.
The only sound that there was made
Was my wild heart's that sobbed alone,
Knowing itself to be afraid
Of that vast wood where it had strayed.
I dared not move. There was no star
To indicate where God might be.
Night and his henchmen, without bar,
Had there assumed their empery.
Nothing but prayer was left to me.
Around me seemed to loom the dead
Of ages past, gaunt in the gloom.
And when I heard a stealthy tread
As of one groping from the tomb,
I braced myself to meet my doom.
And then I heard a breathing low
As of a beast that seeks its prey;
And then the footstep, soft and slow,
Approached again from far away.
I held my breath lest it betray
Me to some Death in monstrous guise?
With fang or talon, or a blade
Grasped in a hand of giant size?
Or was't a fiend? And then I prayed,
Who never yet had prayed, for aid.
I closed my eyes. My heart was still.
I did not look. I knew it stood
Glaring upon me all its fill.
When would it strike? The ancient wood
Seemed waiting eager for my blood.
I prayed and prayed. The something there
Stood waiting still a fiend from Hell
Gloating upon my soul's despair?
This was the end, I knew too well;
It pealed within me like a bell.
And then I thought, 'In spite of all,
It is but death. Earth can not go
Further than death, whate'er befall.
With open eyes I'll take the blow,
And face to face now meet my foe.'
'My foe?' Perhaps it was a friend.
What whim put in my heart that thought?
I had no friends. This was the end,
And I would face it: I was caught
In the old gin that sin had wrought.
And then I looked I looked to see
How could it be? serene of eye,
A little Child beneath a tree.
A Child that glimmered starrily;
A Christ-like Child not born to die.
And overhead I saw the night'
Had doffed its cowl of, black, and stood
Revealed in azure and in white,
While all the staring solitude
Looked on the round moon o'er the wood.
I called the Child. It smiling came;
Undid the bonds of my despair,
And led me forth. I said, 'Your name?'
I t smiled and, gazing, answered, 'Prayer.'
And with that word went into air.
An Ode to be read on the laying of the foundation
stone of the new Oglethorpe University,
January, 1915, at Atlanta,
AS when with oldtime passion for this Land
Here once she stood, and in her pride, sent forth
Workmen on every hand,
Sowing the seed of knowledge South and North,
More gracious now than ever, let her rise,
The splendor of a new dawn in her eyes;
Grave, youngest sister of that company,
That smiling wear
Laurel and pine
And wild magnolias in their flowing hair;
The sisters Academe,
With thoughts divine,
Standing with eyes a-dream,
Gazing beyond the world, into the sea,
Where lie the Islands of Infinity.
Now in these stormy days of stress and strain,
When Gospel seems in vain,
And Christianity a dream we've lost,
That once we made our boast;
Now when all life is brought
Face to grim face with naught,
And a condition speaking, trumpet-lipped,
Of works material, leaving Beauty out
Of God's economy; while, horror-dipped,
Lies our buried faith, full near to perish,
'Mid the high things we cherish,
In these tempestuous days when, to and fro
The serpent, Evil, goes and strews his way
With dragon's teeth that play
Their part as once they did in Jason's day;
And War, with menace loud,
And footsteps, metal-slow,
And eyes a crimson hot,
Is seen, against the Heaven a burning blot
Of blood and tears and woe:
Now when no mortal living seems to know
Whither to turn for hope, we turn to thee,
And such as thou art, asking 'What's to be?'
And that thou point the path
Above Earth's hate and wrath,
And Madness, stalking with his torch aglow
Amid the ruins of the Nations slow
Crumbling to ashes with Old Empire there
In Europe's tiger lair.
A temple may'st thou be,
A temple by the everlasting sea,
For the high goddess, Ideality,
Set like a star,
Above the peaks of dark reality:
Above the deeds of War,
Within the shrine of Love, whose face men mar
That is the prism
Through which they gaze with eyes obscured of Greed,
At the white light of God's Eternity,
The comfort of the world, the soul's great need,
That beacons Earth indeed,
Breaking its light intense
With turmoil and suspense
And failing human Sense.
From thee a higher Creed
Shall be evolved.
The broken lights resolved
Into one light again, of glorious light,
Between us and the Everlasting, that is God.—
The all-confusing fragments, that are night,
Lift up thy rod
Of knowledge and from Truth's eyeballs strip
The darkness, and in armor of the Right,
Bear high the standard of imperishable light!
Cry out, 'Awake! — I slept awhile! — Awake!
Again I take
My burden up of Truth for Jesus' sake,
And stand for what he stood for, Peace and Thought,
And all that's Beauty-wrought
Through doubt and dread and ache,
By which the world to good at last is brought!'
No more with silence burdened, when the Land
Was stricken by the hand
Of war, she rises, and assumes her stand
For the Enduring; setting firm her feet
On what is blind and brute:
Still holding fast
With honor to the past,
Speaking a trumpet word,
Which shall be heard
As an authority, no longer mute.
Again, yea, she shall stand
For what Truth means to Man
For science and for Art and all that can
Make life superior to the things that weight
The soul down, things of hate
Instead of love, for which the world was planned;
May she demand
Faith and inspire it; Song to lead her way
Above the crags of Wrong
Into the broader day;
And may she stand
For poets still; poets that now the Land
Needs as it never needed; such an one
As he, large Nature's Son
Lanier, who with firm hand
Held up her magic wand
Directing deep in music such as none
Has ever heard
Such music as a bird
Gives of its soul, when dying,
And unconscious if it's heard.
So let her rise, mother of greatness still,
Above all temporal ill;
Invested with all old nobility,
Teaching the South decision, self control
And strength of mind and soul;
Achieving ends that shall embrace the whole
Through deeds of heart and mind;
And thereby bind
Its effort to an end
And reach its goal.
So shall she win
A wrestler with sin,
Supremely to a place above the years,
And help men rise
To what is wise
And true beyond their mortal finite scan —
The purblind gaze of man;
Aiding with introspective eyes
His soul to see a higher plan
Of life beyond this life; above the gyves
Of circumstance that bind him in his place
Of doubt and keep away his face
From what alone survives;
And what assures
Immortal life to that within, that gives
Of its own self,
And through its giving, lives,
And evermore endures.
The Black Knight
I had not found the road too short,
As once I had in days of youth,
In that old forest of long ruth,
Where my young knighthood broke its heart,
Ere love and it had come to part,
And lies made mockery of truth.
I had not found the road too short.
A blind man, by the nightmare way,
Had set me right when I was wrong.-
I had been blind my whole life long-
What wonder then that on this day
The blind should show me how astray
My strength had gone, my heart once strong.
A blind man pointed me the way.
The road had been a heartbreak one,
Of roots and rocks and tortured trees,
And pools, above my horse's knees,
And wandering paths, where spiders spun
'Twixt boughs that never saw the sun,
And silence of lost centuries.
The road had been a heartbreak one.
It seemed long years since that black hour
When she had fled, and I took horse
To follow, and without remorse
To slay her and her paramour
In that old keep, that ruined tower,
From whence was borne her father's corse.
It seemed long years since that black hour.
And now my horse was starved and spent,
My gallant destrier, old and spare;
The vile road's mire in mane and hair,
I felt him totter as he went:-
Such hungry woods were never meant
For pasture: hate had reaped them bare.
Aye, my poor beast was old and spent.
I too had naught to stay me with;
And like my horse was starved and lean;
My armor gone; my raiment mean;
Bare-haired I rode; uneasy sith
The way I'd lost, and some dark myth
Far in the woods had laughed obscene.
I had had naught to stay me with.
Then I dismounted. Better so.
And found that blind man at my rein.
And there the path stretched straight and plain.
I saw at once the way to go.
The forest road I used to know
In days when life had less of pain.
Then I dismounted. Better so.
I had but little time to spare,
Since evening now was drawing near;
And then I thought I saw a sneer
Enter into that blind man's stare:
And suddenly a thought leapt bare,-
What if the Fiend had set him here!-
I still might smite him or might spare.
I braced my sword: then turned to look:
For I had heard an evil laugh:
The blind man, leaning on his staff,
Still stood there where my leave I took:
What! did he mock me? Would I brook
A blind fool's scorn?-My sword was half
Out of its sheath. I turned to look:
And he was gone. And to my side
My horse came nickering as afraid.
Did he too fear to be betrayed?-
What use for him? I might not ride.
So to a great bough there I tied,
And left him in the forest glade:
My spear and shield I left beside.
My sword was all I needed there.
It would suffice to right my wrongs;
To cut the knot of all those thongs
With which she'd bound me to despair,
That woman with her midnight hair,
Her Circe snares and Siren songs.
My sword was all I needed there.
And then that laugh again I heard,
Evil as Hell and darkness are.
It shook my heart behind its bar
Of purpose, like some ghastly word.
But then it may have been a bird,
An owlet in the forest far,
A raven, croaking, that I heard.
I loosed my sword within its sheath;
My sword, disuse and dews of night
Had fouled with rust and iron-blight.
I seemed to hear the forest breathe
A menace at me through its teeth
Of thorns 'mid which the way lay white.
I loosed my sword within its sheath.
I had not noticed until now
The sun was gone, and gray the moon
Hung staring; pale as marble hewn;-
Like some old malice, bleak of brow,
It glared at me through leaf and bough,
With which the tattered way was strewn.
I had not noticed until now.
And then, all unexpected, vast
Above the tops of ragged pines
I saw a ruin, dark with vines,
Against the blood-red sunset massed:
My perilous tower of the past,
Round which the woods thrust giant spines.
I never knew it was so vast.
Long while I stood considering.-
This was the place and this the night.
The blind man then had set me right.
Here she had come for sheltering.
That ruin held her: that dark wing
Which flashed a momentary light.
Some time I stood considering.
Deep darkness fell. The somber glare
Of sunset, that made cavernous eyes
Of those gaunt casements 'gainst the skies,
Had burnt to ashes everywhere.
Before my feet there rose a stair
Of oozy stone, of giant size,
On which the gray moon flung its glare.
Then I went forward, sword in hand,
Until the slimy causeway loomed,
And huge beyond it yawned and gloomed
The gateway where one seemed to stand,
In armor, like a burning brand,
Sword-drawn; his visor barred and plumed.
And I went toward him, sword in hand.
He should not stay revenge from me.
Whatever lord or knight he were,
He should not keep me long from her,
That woman dyed in infamy.
No matter. God or devil he,
His sword should prove no barrier.-
Fool! who would keep revenge from me!
And then I heard, harsh over all,
That demon laughter, filled with scorn:
It woke the echoes, wild, forlorn,
Dark in the ivy of that wall,
As when, within a mighty hall,
One blows a giant battle-horn.
Loud, loud that laugh rang over all.
And then I struck him where he towered:
I struck him, struck with all my hate:
Black-plumed he loomed before the gate:
I struck, and found his sword that showered
Fierce flame on mine while black he glowered
Behind his visor's wolfish grate.
I struck; and taller still he towered.
A year meseemed we battled there:
A year; ten years; a century:
My blade was snapped; his lay in three:
His mail was hewn; and everywhere
Was blood; it streaked my face and hair;
And still he towered over me.
A year meseemed we battled there.
'Unmask!' I cried. 'Yea, doff thy casque!
Put up thy visor! fight me fair!
I have no mail; my head is bare!
Take off thy helm, is all I ask!
Why dost thou hide thy face?-Unmask!'-
My eyes were blind with blood and hair,
And still I cried, 'Take off thy casque!'
And then once more that laugh rang out
Like madness in the caves of Hell:
It hooted like some monster well,
The haunt of owls, or some mad rout
Of witches. And with battle shout
Once more upon that knight I fell,
While wild again that laugh rang out.
Like Death's own eyes his glared in mine,
As with the fragment of my blade
I smote him helmwise; huge he swayed,
Then crashed, like some cadaverous pine,
Uncasqued, his face in full moonshine:
And I-I saw; and shrank afraid.
For, lo! behold! the face was mine.
What devil's work was here!-What jest
For fiends to laugh at, demons hiss!-
To slay myself? and so to miss
My hate's reward?-revenge confessed!-
Was this knight I?-My brain I pressed.-
Then who was he who gazed on this?-
What devil's work was here!--What jest!
It was myself on whom I gazed-
My darker self!-With fear I rose.-
I was right weak from those great blows.-
I stood bewildered, stunned and dazed,
And looked around with eyes amazed.-
I could not slay her now, God knows!-
Around me there a while I gazed.
Then turned and fled into the night,
While overhead once more I heard
That laughter, like some demon bird
Wailing in darkness.-Then a light
Made clear a woman by that knight.
I saw 'twas she, but said no word,
And silent fled into the night.
Not they the great
Who build authority around a State,
And firm on calumny and party hate
Base their ambition. Nor the great are they
Who with disturbance make their way,
Mindful of but to-day
And individual ends that so compel
They know not what they do, yet do it well.
Butthey the great.
Who sacrifice their honor for the State
And set their seal
Upon the writing, consecrate,
Of time and fate,
That says, 'He suffered for a People's weal:
Or, calm of soul and eye,
Helped to eliminate
The Madness that makes Progress its wild cry,
And for its policy
Self, a divinity,
That on illusions thrives,
And knows not whither its desire drives
Till on the rocks its headlong vessel rives.'
God of the wise,
On whom the People wait,
And who at last all evils wilt abate,
Make Thou more keen men's eyes:
Let them behold how Thou at length wilt bring,
From turmoil and confusion now that cling
About the Nation's feet,
Order and calm and peace
With harmony of purpose, wing to wing
As out of Chaos sprang
Light and its co-mate, Law, when loud Thy summons rang
High instruments of power never to cease,
Spirits of destiny,
Who from their lofty seat
Shall put down hate and strife's insanity,
And all contentions old that eat
The country to the quick:
And Common-Sense, the Lion-Heart now sick,
Forth from his dungeon cell
With Song, his bold Blondél;
And, stretching forth a stalwart arm
To laboring land and sea,
With his glad coming warm
The land to one accord, one sympathy
Of soul; whose strength shall stand
For something more than gold to all the land,
Making more sure the ties
Of freedom and equality
And Progress; who, unto the watchful skies,
Unfurls his banner and, with challenging hand,
Leads on the world's emprise.
God of the just and wise,
Behold! why is it that our mortal eyes
Are not more open to the good that lies
Around our feet? the blessings in disguise
That go with us about our daily deeds
Attending all our needs?
Why is it that, so rich and prodigal,
We will complain
Of Nature her whose liberal hand,
Summer and spring and fall,
Pours out abundance on the Land?
Cotton and oil and grain
O God, make men more sane!
Help them to understand
And trust in her who never failed her due;
Who never camped with Famine and his crew
Or made ally
Of the wild House of old Calamity!
But always faithfully,
Year after generous year,
From forth her barque of plenty, stanch of sail,
Poured big abundance. What did lies avail,
Or what did fear
To make her largess fail? They who descry,
Raising a hue and cry,
Disaster's Harpies darkening the sky
Each month that comes and goes, are they not less
Of insight than the beasts of hill and field,
Who take no worry, knowing Earth will yield
Her usual harvest a sufficiency
For all and more; yea, even enough to bless
The sons of Greed, who make a market of lies
And blacken blessings unto credulous eyes,
Turning them curses, till on every hand
They see, as Speculation sees,
God's benefactions rain, and sun, and snow
Working destruction in the land,
The camping-ground of old hostilities,
Changing all joy to woe
With visitations of her wrath withal,
Proclaiming her, our mother Nature, foe
Undeviating, to our hopes below
Nature, who never yet has failed to bless us all.
By the long leagues of cotton Texas rolls,
And Mississippi bolls;
By the wide seas of wheat
The far Dakotas beat
Against the barriers of the mountainland:
And by the miles of maize
Like a vast carpet in
Her House of Nights and Days,
Where, glittering, in council meet
The Spirits of the Cold and Heat,
With old Fertility whose heart they win:
By all the wealth replete
Within our scan,
From Florida to where the snows begin,
Made manifest of Nature unto Man
The Land is as a mighty scroll unrolled,
Whereon God writes His name
In harvest: green and gold
And russet making fair as oft of old
Each dædal part He decorates the same
With splendors manifold
Of mountains and of rivers, fruits and flowers;
Sealing each passage of the rubric Hours
With esoteric powers
Of life and love, and all their mystery,
Through which men yet may see
The truth that shall refute the fool that cries,
'God has forgot us and our great emprise!'
Of elemental mold
God made our Country, wombing her with gold
And veining her with copper, iron, and coal.
Making her strong for her appointed goal.
High on her eagled peaks His rainbow gleams
Its mighty message: in her mountain streams
His voice is heard: and on the wind and rain
And Portents of His purpose, while she dreams
Of great achievements, great activities,
And, weariless of brain,
From plain to busy plain,
And peak to plateau, with unresting hand,
Along the laboring land,
She speeds swift train on train,
Feeling the urge in her of energies,
That bear her business on
From jubilant dawn to dawn,
From where the snow makes dumb
Alaskan heights, to where, like hives of bees,
The prairies hum
With cities; while around her girdling seas
Ships go and come,
Servants and slaves of her vast industries.
And He, who sits above,
And, watching, sees
Her dreams become great actualities,
Out of His love
Will He continue to bestow
Blessings upon her, even more and more,
Until their store
Shall pass the count of all the dreams we know?
The sordid souls that worship Greed?
The vampire lives that feed,
Feast and grow fat
On what they name the Proletariat;
Wringing with blood and sweat,
From forth the nation's muscle, heart, and brain,
The strength that keeps her sane:
They, too, shall have their day and cease to be.
Ignoble souls, who, for a market, set
Before the People's eyes
A scarecrow train
Of fabrications, rumors, antic lies
Of havoc and calamity,
Panic appearances of Famine, War,
That for the moment bar
The path of Truth and work their selfish gain.
God of the simple and the wise,
Grant us more light; and lead
The great adventure to its mighty end!
From Thy o'erarching skies
Still give us heed,
And make more clear the way that onward lies.
Not wealth now is her need,
The great Republic's, Wealth, the child of Greed,
Nay, nay! O God, but for the dream we plead,
The dream as well as deed,
The Dream of Beauty which shall so descend
From Thee, and with her inmost being blend,
That it shall help her cause
More than all temporal laws. . . .
Now, for her soul's increase,
And spirit's peace,
Curb the bright dæmon Speed;
Grant her release
From strife; and let the joy that springs
From love of lowly things
Possess her soul and plead
For work that counts for something to the heart,
And grows immortal part
Of life the work called Art;
And let Love lead
Her softly all her days; with quiet hand
Sowing the fruitful land
With spiritual seed
Of wisdom from which blossoms shall expand
Of vital beauty, and her fame increase
More than the wealth of all the centuries.
God of the wise,
The meek and humble, who still look to Thee,
Holding to sanity
And truth and purpose of the great emprise,
Keep her secure,
And beautiful and pure
As when in ages past Thou didst devise,
Saying within Thy heart, 'She shall endure!
A great Republic!' Let her course be sure,
O God, and, in detraction's spite,
And in the night,
If night there must be, light a beacon light
To guide her safely through the strife,
The conflict of her soul, with passions rife.
Oh, raise some man of might,
Whose mind shall put down storm and stress of life,
And kindle anew the lamp whose light shall burn,
A Pharos, in the storms,
That shall arise and with confusion shake
Foundations of the walls of Civilization:
A pillar of flame, behold,
Like that of old,
Which Israel followed and its bondage brake,
Leading each night-lost Nation
To refuge in her arms,
Freedom's, away from all the Tyrannies
Of all the Centuries,
Safe on her heart to learn
To hush its heart's alarms.
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.
Here is a tale for children and their grannies:
There was a fool, a man who'd had his chances
But missed them, somehow; lost them, just for fancies,
Tag-ends of things with which he'd crammed crannies
Of his cracked head, as panes are crammed with paper:
Fragments of song and bits of worthless writing,
Which he was never weary of reciting,
Fluttered his mind as night a windy taper.
A witless fool! who lived in some fair Venice
Of his own building where he dreamed of Beauty:
Who swore each weed a flower the sorry pauper!
This would not do. Men said he was a menace
To all mankind; and, as it was their duty,
Clapped him in prison where he died as proper.
Here is a tale for prelates and for parsons:
There was a scarecrow once, a thing of tatters
And sticks and straw, to whom men trusted matters
Of weighty moment murders, thefts and arsons.
None saw he was a scarecrow. Every worship
And honour his. Men set him in high places,
And ladies primped their bodies, tinged their faces,
And kneeled to him as slaves to some great Sirship.
One night a storm, none knew it, blew to pieces
Our jackstraw friend, and the sweet air of heaven
Knew him no more, and was no longer tainted.
Then learned doctors put him in their theses:
The State set up his statue: and thought, even
As thought the Church, perhaps he should be sainted.
Here is a tale for proper men and virgins:
There was a woman once who had a daughter,
A fair-faced wench, as stable as is water,
And frailer than the first spring flower that burgeons.
She did not need to work, but then her mother
Thought it more suitable, and circumspectly
Put her with gentlefolks, where, indirectly,
She rose in service as has many another.
The house she served in soon became divided:
The wife and husband parted, with some scandal:
But she remained and, in the end, was married.
What happened then? You'll say, 'The girl decided
She loved another. 'Nay; not so. The vandal
Wrecked no more homes but lived a life unvaried.
Here is a tale for maidens and for mothers:
There was an ape, a very prince of monkeys,
Who capered in the world of fools and flunkies,
The envy of his set and of all others.
He was the handbook of all social manners:
The beau of beaux, and simian glass of fashion,
To whom all folly functioned, played at passion,
And matrimony waved beleaguering banners.
A girl of girls, one God had given graces
And beauty, more than oft He grants to human,
Captured the creature, and they were united.
And strange to say, she loved him. Saw no traces
Of ape in him. And, like a very woman,
Reformed her countenance, and was delighted.
Here is a tale for uncles and old aunties:
There was a man once who denied the Devil,
Yet in the world saw nothing else but evil;
A pessimist, with face as sour as Dante's.
Still people praised him; men he loathed and hated,
And cursed beneath his breath for wretched sinners,
While still he drank with them and ate their dinners,
And listened to their talk and tolerated.
At last he wrote a book, full of invective
And vile abuse of earth and all its nations,
Denying God and Devil, Heaven and Hades.
Fame followed this. 'His was the right perspective!'
'A great philosopher!' He lost all patience.
But still went out to dine with Lords and Ladies.
Here is a tale for men and women teachers:
There was a girl who'd ceased to be a maiden;
Who walked by night with heart like Lilith's laden;
A child of sin anathemaed of preachers.
She had been lovely once; but dye and scarlet,
On hair and face, had ravaged all her beauty;
Only her eyes still did her girl-soul duty,
Showing the hell that hounded her poor harlot!
One day a fisherman from out the river
Fished her pale body, (like a branch of willlow,
Or golden weed) self-murdered, drowned and broken:
The sight of it had made a strong man shiver;
And on her poor breast, as upon a pillow,
A picture smiled, a baby's, like some token
Here is a tale for gossips and chaste people:
There lived a woman once, a straight-laced lady,
Whose only love was slander. Nothing shady
Escaped her vulture eye. Like some prim steeple
Her course of life pointed to Heaven ever;
And woe unto the sinner, girl or woman,
Whom love undid. She was their fiercest foeman.
No circumstance excused. Misfortune, never....
As she had lived she died. The mourners gathered:
Parson and preacher, this one and another,
And many gossips of most proper carriage.
Her will was read. And then... a child was fathered.
Fat Lechery had his day.... She'd been a mother.
A man was heir.... There'd never been a marriage.
Here is a tale for infants and old nurses:
There was a man who gathered rags; and peddled:
Who lived alone: with no one ever meddled:
And this old man was very fond of verses.
His house, a ruin, so the tale rehearses;
A hovel over-run of rats and vermin;
Not fit for beast to live in. (Like a sermon
Embodying misery and hell and curses.)
There, one grey dawn of rain and windy weather,
They found him dead; starved; o'er a written paper;
Beside a dim and half-expiring taper:
It was a play, the poor fool'd put together,
Of gnomes and fairies, for his own sad pleasure:
And folks destroyed it, saying, 'We seek for treasure.'
Here is a tale for artists and for writers:
There was an ass, in other words, a critic,
Who brayed and balked and kicked most analytic,
And waved long ears above his brother smiters.
He could not tell a rose-tree from a thistle,
But oft mistook the one thing for the other;
Then wagged his ears most wisely at some brother,
Sent him his he-haw for the Penny Whistle.
A poet sent his volume to him' kindly
Asking for criticism. You might know it:
He made one mouthful of it, weed and flower.
There rose a cry that he had done it blindly.
'Twas poetry! What! would he kill a poet!
Not he! The ass had brayed him into power.
Here is a tale for any one who wishes:
There grew a cabbage once among the flowers,
A plain, broad cabbage a good wench, whose hours
Were kitchen-busy with plebeian dishes.
The rose and lily, toilless, without mottle,
Patricians born, despised her: 'How unpleasant!'
They cried;'What odour! Worse than any peasant
Who soils God's air! Give us our smelling- bottle.'
There came a gentleman who owned the garden,
Looking about him at both flower and edible,
Admiring here and there; a simple sinner,
Who sought some bud to be his heart's sweet warden:
But passed the flowers and took it seems incredible!
That cabbage! But a man must have his dinner.
Here is a tale for all who wish to listen:
There was a thief who, in his cut-throat quarter,
Was hailed as chief; he had a way of barter,
Persuasion, masked, behind a weapon's glisten,
That made it cockrow with each good man's riches.
At last he joined the Brotherhood of Murder,
And rose in his profession; lived a herder
Of crime in some dark tavern of the ditches.
There was a war. He went. Became a gunner.
And slew, as soldiers should, his many a hundred,
In authorized and most professional manner.
Here he advanced again. Was starred a oner.
Was captained, pensioned, and nobody wondered;
And lived and died respectable as a tanner.
Death And The Fool
Here is a tale for any man or woman:
A fool sought Death; and braved him with his bauble
Among the graves. At last he heard a hobble,
And something passed him, monstrous, super-human.
And by a tomb, that reared a broken column,
He heard it stop. And then Gargantuan laughter
Shattered the hush. Deep silence followed after,
Filled with the stir of bones, cadaverous, solemn.
Then said the fool:'Come! show thyself, old prancer!
I'll have a bout with thee. I, too, can clatter
My wand and motley. Come now! Death and Folly,
See who's the better man.' There was no answer;
Only his bauble broke; a serious matter
To the poor fool who died of melancholy.
Here is a tale for poets and for players:
There was a bagpipe once, that wheezed and whistled,
And droned vile discords, notes that fairly bristled,
Nasal and harsh, outbraying all the brayers.
And then the thing assumed another bearing:
Boasted itself an organ of God's making,
A world-enduring instrument, Earth-shaking,
Greater than any organ, more sky-daring.
To prove which, lo, upon an elevation
It pranced and blew to its own satisfaction,
Until 'twas heard from Key West far as Fundy.
But while it piped, some schoolboy took occasion
There was a blow; a sudden sharp impaction;
The wind-bag burst... Sic transit gloria mundi.
Here is a tale for farmer and for peasant:
There was an ox, who might have ploughed for Jason,
So strong was he, his huge head like a bason,
A Gothic helmet with enormous crescent.
Stolid of look and slow of hoof and steady,
Meek was the beast and born but to be driven,
Unmindful of the yoke which toil had given,
Toil with his goad and lash for ever ready.
One day a bull, who was the bullock's neighbor,
Proud as a sultan haremed with his women,
Lowed to the ox who had received a beating:
'You are a fool! What have you for your labour?
Blows and bad food! Go to. Why don't you show men?'
The ox was but an ox and went on eating.
Here is a tale for spinsters at their sewing:
There was a goose, a little gosling surely,
Who went her goose-girl way and looked demurely
As every goose should when 'tis wise and knowing.
Proper was she as every gosling should be,
And innocent as Margarete or Gretchen,
And did her duty in the house and kitchen,
And like a goose was happy as she could be.
Smug was she with a sleek and dove-like dimple,
Great gooseberry eyes and cheeks out of the dairy:
A goose, aye, just a goose, a little dumb thing.
One day the goose was gone. The tale is simple.
She had eloped. 'Twas nothing ordinary.
A married man with children. That was something.
Here is a tale for sportsmen when at table:
There was a boar, like that Atalanta hunted,
Who gorged and snored and, unmolested, grunted,
His fat way through the world as such able.
Huge-jowled and paunched and porcine-limbed and marrowed,
King of his kind, deep in his lair he squatted,
And round him fames of many maidens rotted
Where Licence whelped and Lust her monsters farrowed.
There came a damsel, like the one in Spenser,
A Britomart, as sorcerous as Circe,
Who pierced him with a tract, her spear, and ended
The beast's career. Made him a man; a censor
Of public morals; arbiter of mercy;
And led him by the nose and called him splendid.
Here is a tale for ladies with romances:
There was an owl; composer and musician,
Who looked as wise as if he had a mission,
And at all art cast supercilious glances.
People proclaimed him great because he said it;
And, like the great, he never played, nor printed
His compositions, 'though 'twas whispered, hinted
He'd written something but no one had read it.
Owl-eyed he posed at functions of position,
Hirsute, and eye-glassed, looking analytic,
Opening his mouth to worshipping female knowledge:
And then he married. A woman of ambition.
A singer, teacher, and a musical critic.
Just what he wanted. He became a college.
Here is a tale to tell to rich relations:
There was a toad, a Calibanic monster,
In whose squat head ambition had ensconced her
Most bloated jewel, dear to highest stations.
He was received, though mottled as a lichen
In coat and character, because the creature
Croaked as the devil prompted him, or nature,
And said the right thing both in hall and kitchen.
To each he sang according to their liking,
And purred his flattery in the ear of Leisure,
Cringing attendance on the proud and wealthy.
One day a crane, with features of a Viking,
Swallowed him whole and did it with great pleasure:
His system needed such; toads kept him healthy.
Here is a tale for those who sing with reason:
There was a cricket, troubadouring fellow,
Who chirped his lay, or zoomed it like a 'cello,
Day in, day out, no matter what the season.
Great was his love for his own violining;
He never wearied saying, 'What performing!'
And oft, when through, would ask, 'Was not that charming?'
Then play it over, right from the beginning.
A talent, such as his, should be rewarded,
So thought he, all unconscious of intention
Of any one among the violin sects,
Until by some one, lo, he was regarded;
Lifted, examined; given special mention;
And placed within a case with other insects.
Here is a tale for workmen and their masters:
There was a torrent once that down a mountain
Flashed its resistless way; a foaming fountain,
Basaltic-built, 'twixt cataract-hewn pilasters.
Down from its eagle eyrie nearer, nearer,
Its savage beauty born mid rocks and cedars,
Swept free as tempest, wild as mountain leaders,
Of stars and storms the swiftly moving mirror.
Men found it out; and set to work to tame it;
Put it to pounding rock and rafting lumber;
Made it a carrier of the filth of cities:
Harnessed its joy to engines; tried to shame it;
Saying, 'Be civilized!' and piled their cumber
Upon it; bound it. God of all the Pities!