In Black And Red
The hush of death is on the night. The corn,
That loves to whisper to the wind; the leaves,
That dance with it, are silent: one perceives
No motion mid the fields, as dry as horn.
What light is that? It cannot be the morn!
Yet in the east it seems its witchcraft weaves
A fiery rose. Look! how it grows! it heaves
And flames and tosses! 'Tis a burning barn!
And now the night is rent with shouts and shots.
Dark forms and faces hurry past. The gloom
Gallops with riders. Homes are less than straw
Before this madness: human lives, mere lots
Flung in and juggled from the cap of Doom,
Where Crime stamps yelling on the face of Law.
Oh, Mignon's mouth is like a rose,
A red, red rose, that half uncurls
Sweet petals o'er a crimson bee:
Or like a shell, that, opening, shows
Within its rosy curve white pearls,
White rows of pearls,
Is Mignon's mouth that smiles at me.
Oh, Mignon's eyes are like blue gems,
Two azure gems, that gleam and glow,
Soft sapphires set in ivory:
Or like twin violets, whose stems
Bloom blue beneath the covering snow,
The lidded snow,
Are Mignon's eyes that laugh at me.
O mouth of Mignon, Mignon's eyes!
O eyes of violet, mouth of fire!
Within which lies all ecstasy
Of tears and kisses and of sighs:
O mouth, O eyes, and O desire,
O love's desire,
Have mercy on the soul of me!
Above lone woodland ways that led
To dells the stealthy twilights tread
The west was hot geranium red;
And still, and still,
Along old lanes the locusts sow
With clustered pearls the Maytimes know,
Deep in the crimson afterglow,
We heard the homeward cattle low,
And then the far-off, far-off woe
Of 'whippoorwill!' of 'whippoorwill!'
Beneath the idle beechen boughs
We heard the far bells of the cows
Come slowly jangling towards the house;
And still, and still,
Beyond the light that would not die
Out of the scarlet-haunted sky;
Beyond the evening-star's white eye
Of glittering chalcedony,
Drained out of dusk the plaintive cry
Of 'whippoorwill,' of 'whippoorwill.'
And in the city oft, when swims
The pale moon o'er the smoke that dims
Its disc, I dream of wildwood limbs;
And still, and still,
I seem to hear, where shadows grope
Mid ferns and flowers that dewdrops rope,-
Lost in faint deeps of heliotrope
Above the clover-sweetened slope,-
Retreat, despairing, past all hope,
The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.
A Coign Of The Forest
The hills hang woods around, where green, below
Dark, breezy boughs of beech-trees, mats the moss,
Crisp with the brittle hulls of last year's nuts;
The water hums one bar there; and a glow
Of gold lies steady where the trailers toss
Red, bugled blossoms and a rock abuts;
In spots the wild-phlox and oxalis grow
Where beech-roots bulge the loam, protrude across
The grass-grown road and roll it into ruts.
And where the sumach brakes grow dusk and dense,
Among the rocks, great yellow violets,
Blue-bells and wind-flowers bloom; the agaric
In dampness crowds; a Fungus, thick, intense
With gold and crimson and wax-white, that sets
The May-apples along the terraced creek
At bold defiance. Where the old rail-fence
Divides the hollow, there the bee-bird whets
His bill, and there the elder hedge is thick.
No one can miss it; for two cat-birds nest,
Calling all morning, in the trumpet-vine;
And there at noon the pewee sits and floats
A woodland welcome; and his very best
At eve the red-bird sings, as if to sign
The record of its loveliness with notes.
At night the moon stoops over it to rest,
And unreluctant stars. Where waters shine
There runs a whisper as of wind-swept oats.
From 'Wild Thorn and Lily'
Among the white haw-blossoms, where the creek
Droned under drifts of dogwood and of haw,
The redbird, like a crimson blossom blown
Against the snow-white bosom of the Spring,
The chaste confusion of her lawny breast,
Sang on, prophetic of serener days,
As confident as June's completer hours.
And I stood listening like a hind, who hears
A wood nymph breathing in a forest flute
Among the beech-boles of myth-haunted ways:
And when it ceased, the memory of the air
Blew like a syrinx in my brain: I made
A lyric of the notes that men might know:
He flies with flirt and fluting-
As flies a crimson star
From flaming star-beds shooting-
From where the roses are.
Wings past and sings; and seven
Notes, wild as fragrance is,-
That turn to flame in heaven,-
Float round him full of bliss.
He sings; each burning feather
Thrills, throbbing at his throat;
A song of firefly weather,
And of a glowworm boat:
Of Elfland and a princess
Who, born of a perfume,
His music rocks,-where winces
That rosebud's cradled bloom.
No bird sings half so airy,
No bird of dusk or dawn,
Thou masking King of Faery!
Thou red-crowned Oberon!
What The Flowers Saw
She came through shade and shine,
By scarlet trumpetvine
And fragrant buttonbush,
That heaped the wayside hush
The orange-red of the butterfly weed,
And pink of the milkweed's plume,
Nodded as if to give her heed
As she passed through gleam and gloom, heigh-ho!
As she passed through gleam and gloom.
Marybud-gold her hair;
And deep as it was fair;
Her eyes a chicory-blue,
Two wildflowers bright with dew
The flowers knew, as flowers know,
The one she'd come to find;
They read the secret she hid below
In her maiden heart and mind, heigh-ho!
Her maiden heart and mind.
All day with hearts elate,
They watched him from the gate,
Where in the field he mowed
At the end of the old hill-road
They seemed to see with their petaled eyes
The thing he was thinking of,
And whispered the wind, in secret-wise,
All that they knew of love, heigh-ho!
All that they knew of love.
No matter what befell
Not one wildflower will tell;
Not one, that leaned to look
And see the kiss he took
The things they said in the woodland there
You must ask of the wandering breeze,
Who whispers all news of earth and air,
And is gossip of the trees, heigh-ho!
Old gossip of the trees.
Love In A Garden
Between the rose's and the canna's crimson,
Beneath her window in the night I stand;
The jeweled dew hangs little stars, in rims, on
The white moonflowers each a spirit hand
That points the path to mystic shadowland.
Awaken, sweet and fair!
And add to night try grace!
Suffer its loveliness to share
The white moon of thy face,
The darkness of thy hair.
Awaken, sweet and fair!
A moth, like down, swings on th' althæa's pistil,
Ghost of a tone that haunts its bell's deep dome;
And in the August-lily's cone of crystal
A firefly blurs, the lantern of a gnome,
Green as a gem that gleams through hollow foam.
Approach! the moment flies!
Thou sweetheart of the South!
Come! mingle with night's mysteries
The red rose of thy mouth,
The starlight of thine eyes.
Approach! the moment flies!
Dim through the dusk, like some unearthly presence,
Bubbles the Slumber-song of some wild bird;
And with it borne, faint on a breeze-sweet essence,
The rainy murmur of a fountain's heard
As if young lips had breathed a perfumed word.
How long, my love, my bliss!
How long must I await
With night, that all impatience is,
Thy greeting at the gate,
And at the gate thy kiss?
How long, my love, my bliss!
The Wind Of Winter
The Winter Wind, the wind of death,
Who knocked upon my door,
Now through the keyhole entereth,
Invisible and hoar:
He breathes around his icy breath
And treads the flickering floor.
I heard him, wandering in the night,
Tap at my windowpane;
With ghostly fingers, snowy white,
I heard him tug in vain,
Until the shuddering candlelight
Did cringe with fear and strain.
The fire, awakened by his voice,
Leapt up with frantic arms,
Like some wild babe that greets with noise
Its father home who storms,
With rosy gestures that rejoice,
And crimson kiss that warms.
Now in the hearth he sits and, drowned
Among the ashes, blows;
Or through the room goes stealing round
On cautious-creeping toes,
Deep-mantled in the drowsy sound
Of night that sleets and snows.
And oft, like some thin faery-thing,
The stormy hush amid,
I hear his captive trebles sing
Beneath the kettle's lid;
Or now a harp of elfland string
In some dark cranny hid.
Again I hear him, implike, whine,
Cramped in the gusty flue;
Or knotted in the resinous pine
Raise goblin cry and hue,
While through the smoke his eyeballs shine,
A sooty red and blue.
At last I hear him, nearing dawn,
Take up his roaring broom,
And sweep wild leaves from wood and lawn,
And from the heavens the gloom,
To show the gaunt world lying wan,
And morn's cold rose a-bloom.
With a look and a laugh where the stream was flowing,
September led me along the land;
Where the golden-rod and lobelia, glowing,
Seemed burning torches within her hand.
And faint as the thistle's or milk-weed's feather
I glimpsed her form through the sparkling weather.
Now 'twas her hand and now her hair
That tossed me welcome everywhere;
That lured me onward through the stately rooms
Of forest, hung and carpeted with glooms,
And windowed wide with azure, doored with green,
Through which rich glimmers of her robe were seen
Now, like some deep marsh-mallow, rosy gold;
Now, like the great Joe-Pye-weed, fold on fold
Of heavy mauve; and now, like the intense
Massed iron-weed, a purple opulence.
Along the bank in a wild procession
Of gold and sapphire the blossoms blew;
And borne on the breeze came their soft confession
In syllables musk of honey and dew;
In words unheard that their lips kept saying,
Sweet as the lips of children praying.
And so, meseemed, I heard them tell
How here her loving glance once fell
Upon this bank, and from its azure grew
The ageratum mist-flower's happy hue;
How from her kiss, as crimson as the dawn,
The cardinal-flow'r drew its vermilion;
And from her hair's blond touch th' elecampane
Evolved the glory of its golden rain;
While from her starry footsteps, redolent,
The aster pearled its flowery firmament.
The Dance Of Summer
Summer, gowned in catnip-gray,
Goes her weedy wildwood way,
Where with rosehip-buttoned coat,
Cardinal flower-plume afloat,
With the squirrel-folk at play,
Brown September, smiling, stands,
Chieftain of the Romany bands
Of the Fall a gypsy crew,
Glimmering in lobelia-blue,
Gold and scarlet down the lands.
Summer, with a redbird trill,
Dares him follow at her will,
There to romp in tree and vine,
Drink the sunset's crimson wine,
And on beauty feast his fill.
He his Autumn whistle takes,
And his dark hair backward shakes;
Pipes a note, and bids her on,
Dancing like a woodland faun,
And she follows through the brakes.
She must follow: she is bound
By the wildness of the sound.
Is it love or necromance?
Down the world he leads the dance,
And the woods go whirling round.
Wildly briars clutch and hold;
Branches reach out arms of gold;
Naught can stay them. Pipe, and follow
Over hill and over hollow
Till the night fall dark and cold.
Now her gown is torn in shreds,
And her gossamer veil is threads
Streaming round her nakedness;
And the flowers, at her distress,
Weep and hide their drooping heads.
Round her whirl the frightened leaves,
And the stammering water grieves;
Nut and haw the forest throws
At her as she dancing goes
To the pipe that magic weaves.
Death will have her. She must spin
Till, a skeleton, she win
To the land where Winter dwells,
Where shall end Fall's gipsy spells,
And her long white sleep begin.
The Man In Gray
Again, in dreams, the veteran hears
The bugle and the drum;
Again the boom of battle nears,
Again the bullets hum:
Again he mounts, again he cheers,
Again his charge speeds home
O memories of those long gone years!
O years that are to come!
We live in dreams as well as deeds, in thoughts as well as acts;
And life through things we feel, not know, is realized the most;
The conquered are the conquerors, despite the face of facts,
If they still feel their cause was just who fought for it and lost.
Again, in thought, he hears at dawn
The far reveille die;
Again he marches stern and wan
Beneath a burning sky:
He bivouacs; the night comes on;
His comrades 'round him lie
O memories of the years long gone!
O years that now go by!
The vintager of Earth is War, is War whose grapes are men;
Into his wine-vats armies go, his wine-vats steaming red:
The crimson vats of battle where he stalks, as in a den,
Drunk with the must of Hell that spurts beneath his iron tread.
Again, in mind, he's lying where
The trenches slay with heat;
Again his flag floats o'er him, fair
In charge or fierce retreat:
Again all's lost; again despair
Makes death seem three times sweet
O years of tears that crowned his hair
With laurels of defeat!
There is reward for those who dare, for those who dare and do;
Who face the dark inevitable, who fall and know no shame:
Upon their banner triumph sits and in the horn they blew,
Naught's lost if honor be not lost, defeat is but a name.
This was her home; one mossy gable thrust
Above the cedars and the locust trees:
This was her home, whose beauty now is dust,
A lonely memory for melodies
The wild birds sing, the wild birds and the bees.
Here every evening is a prayer: no boast
Or ruin of sunset makes the wan world wroth;
Here, through the twilight, like a pale flower's ghost,
A drowsy flutter, flies the tiger-moth;
And dusk spreads darkness like a dewy cloth.
In vagabond velvet, on the placid day,
A stain of crimson, lolls the butterfly;
The south wind sows with ripple and with ray
The pleasant waters; and the gentle sky
Looks on the homestead like a quiet eye.
Their melancholy quaver, lone and low,
When day is done, the gray tree-toads repeat:
The whippoorwills, far in the afterglow,
Complain to silence: and the lightnings beat,
In one still cloud, glimmers of golden heat.
He comes not yet: not till the dusk is dead,
And all the western glow is far withdrawn;
Not till,-a sleepy mouth love's kiss makes red,-
The baby bud opes in a rosy yawn,
Breathing sweet guesses at the dreamed-of dawn.
When in the shadows, like a rain of gold,
The fireflies stream steadily; and bright
Along the moss the glowworm, as of old,
A crawling sparkle-like a crooked light
In smoldering vellum-scrawls a square of night,-
Then will he come; and she will lean to him,-
She,-the sweet phantom,-memory of that place,-
Between the starlight and his eyes; so dim
With suave control and soul-compelling grace,
He cannot help but speak her, face to face.
A Sleet-Storm In May
On southern winds shot through with amber light,
Breathing soft balm and clothed in cloudy white,
The lily-fingered Spring came o'er the hills,
Waking the crocus and the daffodils.
O'er the cold Earth she breathed a tender sigh
The maples sang and flung their banners high,
Their crimson-tasselled pennons, and the elm
Bound his dark brows with a green-crested helm.
Beneath the musky rot of Autumn's leaves,
Under the forest's myriad naked eaves,
Life woke and rose in gold and green and blue,
Robed in the starlight of the twinkling dew.
With timid tread adown the barren wood
Spring held her way, when, lo! before her stood
White-mantled Winter wagging his white head,
Stormy his brow and stormily he said:
'The God of Terror, and the King of Storm,
Must I remind thee how my iron arm
Raised my red standards 'mid these conquered bowers,
Turning their green to crimson? Thou, with flowers,
Thou wouldst supplant me! nay! usurp my throne!
Audacious one!' And at her breast he tossed
A bitter javelin of ice and frost;
And left her lying on th' unfeeling mould.
The fragile blossoms, gathered in the fold
Of her warm bosom, fell in desolate rows
About her beauty, and, like fragrant snows,
Covered her lovely hands and beautiful feet,
Or on her lips lay like last kisses sweet
That died there. Lilacs, musky of the May,
And bluer violets and snowdrops lay
Entombed in crystal, icy dim and fair,
Like teardrops scattered in her heavenly hair.
Alas! sad heart, break not beneath the pain!
Time changeth all; the Beautiful wakes again.
We should not question such; a higher power
Knows best what bud is ripest or what flower,
And silently plucks it at the fittest hour.
Rose And Redbird - A Faerytale
I had the strangest dream last night:
I dreamed the poppies, red and white,
That over-run the flower-bed,
Changed to wee women, white and red,
Who, jeweled with the twinkling wet,
Joined hands and danced a minuet.
And there, beside the garden walk,
I thought a red-rose stood at talk
With a black cricket; and I heard
The cricket say, 'You are the bird,
Red-crested, who comes every day
To sing his lyric roundelay.'
The rose replied, 'Nay! you must know
That bird and I loved long-ago:
I am a princess, he a prince:
And we were parted ever since
The world of science made us don
The new disguises we have on.'
And then the rose put off disguise
And stood revealed before my eyes,
A faery princess; and, in black,
His tiny fiddle on his back,
An elfin fiddler, long of nose,
The cricket bowed before the rose.
A house of moss and firefly-light
Now seemed to rise within the night
Beside the tree where, bending low,
The flowers stood, a silken row,
Around the rose, a faery band
Before the Queen of Faeryland.
And suddenly I saw the side
Of a great beech-tree open wide,
And there, behold! were wondrous things,
Slim flower-like people bright with wings,
Who bowed before a throne of state,
Whereon the rose and redbird sate.
And then I woke; and there, behold,
Was naught except the moonlight's gold
On tree and garden; and the flowers
Safe snuggled in their beds and bowers:
The rose was gone, but where she'd stood
Lay scattered crimson of her hood.
The cricket still was at his tune
Somewhere between the dawn and moon:
And I'd have sworn it was a dream
Had I not glimpsed a glowworm gleam
And heard a chuckling in the tree,
And seen the dewdropp wink at me.
By The Annisquam
A Far bell tinkles in the hollow,
And heart and soul are fain to follow:
Gone is the rose and gone the swallow:
Autumn is here.
The wild geese draw at dusk their harrow
Above the 'Squam the ebb leaves narrow:
The sea-winds chill you to the marrow:
Sad goes the year.
Among the woods the crows are calling:
The acorns and the leaves are falling:
At sea the fishing-boats are trawling:
Autumn is here.
The jay among the rocks is screaming,
And every way with crimson streaming:
Far up the shore the foam is creaming:
Sleep fills the Year.
The chipmunk on the stones is barking;
The red leaf every path is marking,
Where hills lean to the ocean harking:
Autumn is here.
The fields are starry with the aster,
Where Beauty dreams and dim Disaster
Draws near through mists that gather faster:
Farewell, sweet Year.
Beside the coves driftwood is burning,
And far at sea white sails are turning:
Each day seems filled with deeper yearning:
Autumn is here.
'Good-bye! good-bye!' the Summer's saying:
'Brief was my day as songs of Maying:
The time is come for psalms and praying:
Good-bye, sweet Year.'
Brown bend the ferns by rock and boulder;
The shore seems greyer; ocean older:
The days are misty; nights are colder:
Autumn is here.
The cricket in the grass is crying,
And sad winds in the old woods sighing;
They seem to say, 'Sweet Summer's dying:
Weep for the Year.
'She's wreathed her hair with bay and berry,
And o'er dark pools, the wild-fowl ferry,
Leans dreaming 'neath the wilding cherry:
Autumn is here.
'Good-bye! good-bye to Summer's gladness:
To all her beauty, mirth and madness:
Come sit with us and dream in sadness:
So ends the Year.'
Music Of Summer
Thou sit'st among the sunny silences
Of terraced hills and woodland galleries,
Thou utterance of all calm melodies,
Thou lutanist of Earth's most affluent lute,-
Where no false note intrudes
To mar the silent music,-branch and root,-
Charming the fields ripe, orchards and deep woods,
To song similitudes
Of flower and seed and fruit.
Oft have I seen thee, in some sensuous air,
Bewitch the broad wheat-acres everywhere
To imitated gold of thy deep hair:
The peach, by thy red lips' delicious trouble,
Blown into gradual dyes
Of crimson; and beheld thy magic double-
Dark-blue with fervid influence of thine eyes-
The grapes' rotundities,
Bubble by purple bubble.
Deliberate uttered into life intense,
Out of thy soul's melodious eloquence
Beauty evolves its just preeminence:
The lily, from some pensive-smitten chord
Of purity, a visible hush stands: starred
With splendor, from thy passionate utterance,
The rose writes its romance
In blushing word on word.
As star by star Day harps in Evening,
The inspiration of all things that sing
Is in thy hands and from their touch takes wing:
All brooks, all birds,-whom song can never sate,-
The leaves, the wind and rain,
Green frogs and insects, singing soon and late,
Thy sympathies inspire, thy heart's refrain,
Whose sounds invigorate
With rest life's weary brain.
And as the Night, like some mysterious rune,
Its beauty makes emphatic with the moon,
Thou lutest us no immaterial tune:
But where dim whispers haunt the cane and corn,
By thy still strain made strong,
Earth's awful avatar,-in whom is born
Thy own deep music,-labors all night long
With growth, assuring Morn
Assumes with onward song.
The mellow smell of hollyhocks
And marigolds and pinks and phlox
Blends with the homely garden scents
Of onions, silvering into rods;
Of peppers, scarlet with their pods;
And (rose of all the esculents)
Of broad plebeian cabbages,
Breathing content and corpulent ease.
The buzz of wasp and fly makes hot
The spaces of the garden-plot;
And from the orchard,-where the fruit
Ripens and rounds, or, loosed with heat,
Rolls, hornet-clung, before the feet,-
One hears the veery's golden flute,
That mixes with the sleepy hum
Of bees that drowsily go and come.
The podded musk of gourd and vine
Embower a gate of roughest pine,
That leads into a wood where day
Sits, leaning o'er a forest pool,
Watching the lilies opening cool,
And dragonflies at airy play,
While, dim and near, the quietness
Rustles and stirs her leafy dress.
Far-off a cowbell clangs awake
The noon who slumbers in the brake:
And now a pewee, plaintively,
Whistles the day to sleep again:
A rain-crow croaks a rune for rain,
And from the ripest apple tree
A great gold apple thuds, where, slow,
The red cock curves his neck to crow.
Hens cluck their broods from place to place,
While clinking home, with chain and trace,
The cart-horse plods along the road
Where afternoon sits with his dreams:
Hot fragrance of hay-making streams
Above him, and a high-heaped load
Goes creaking by and with it, sweet,
The aromatic soul of heat.
'Coo-ee! coo-ee!' the evenfall
Cries, and the hills repeat the call:
'Coo-ee! coo-ee!' and by the log
Labor unharnesses his plow,
While to the barn comes cow on cow:
'Coo-ee! coo-ee!'-and, with his dog,
Barefooted boyhood down the lane
'Coo-ees' the cattle home again.
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.
Ere wild-haws, looming in the glooms,
Build bolted drifts of breezy blooms;
And in the whistling hollow there
The red-bud bends, as brown and bare
As buxom Roxy's up-stripped arm;
From some gray hickory or larch,
Sighed o'er the sodden meads of March,
The sad heart thrills and reddens warm
To hear you braving the rough storm,
Frail courier of green-gathering powers;
Rebelling sap in trees and flowers;
Love's minister come heralding
O sweet saint-voice among bleak bowers!
O brown-red pursuivant of Spring!
'Moan' sob the woodland waters still
Down bloomless ledges of the hill;
And gray, gaunt clouds like harpies hang
In harpy heavens, and swoop and clang
Sharp beaks and talons of the wind:
Black scowl the forests, and unkind
The far fields as the near: while song
Seems murdered and all beauty wrong.
One weak frog only in the thaw
Of spawny pools wakes cold and raw,
Expires a melancholy bass
And stops as if bewildered: then
Along the frowning wood again,
Flung in the thin wind's vulture face,
From woolly tassels of the proud,
Red-bannered maples, long and loud,
'The Spring is come! is here! her Grace! her Grace!'
'Her Grace, the Spring! her Grace! her Grace!
Climbs, beautiful and sunny browed,
Up, up the kindling hills and wakes
Blue berries in the berry brakes:
With fragrant flakes, that blow and bleach,
Deep-powders smothered quince and peach:
Eyes dogwoods with a thousand eyes;
Teaches each sod how to be wise
With twenty wildflowers to one weed,
And kisses germs that they may seed.
In purest purple and sweet white
Treads up the happier hills of light,
Bloom, cloudy-borne, song in her hair
And balm and beam of odorous air.
Winds, her retainers; and the rains
Her yeomen strong that sweep the plains:
Her scarlet knights of dawn, and gold
Of eve, her panoply unfold:
Her herald tabarded behold!
Awake to greet! prepare to sing!
She comes, the darling Duchess, Spring!'
“I BELT the morn with ribboned mist;
With baldricked blue I gird the noon,
And dusk with purple, crimson-kissed,
White-buckled with the hunter’s-moon.
“These follow me,” the Season says:
“Mine is the frost-pale hand that packs
Their scrips, and speeds them on their ways,
With gypsy gold that weighs their backs.”
A daybreak horn the Autumn blows,
As with a sun-tanned hand he parts
Wet boughs whereon the berry glows;
And at his feet the red fox starts.
The leafy leash that holds his hounds
Is loosed; and all the noonday hush
Is startled; and the hillside sounds
Behind the fox’s bounding brush.
When red dusk makes the western sky
A fire-lit window through the firs,
He stoops to see the red fox die
Among the chestnut’s broken burrs.
Then fanfaree and fanfaree,
His bugle sounds; the world below
Grows hushed to hear; and two or three
Soft stars dream through the afterglow.
Like some black host the shadows fall,
And blackness camps among the trees;
Each wildwood road, a Goblin Hall,
Grows populous with mysteries.
Night comes with brows of ragged storm,
And limbs of writhen cloud and mist;
The rain-wind hangs upon his arm
Like some wild girl who cries unkissed.
By his gaunt hands the leaves are shed
In headlong troops and nightmare herds;
And, like a witch who calls the dead,
The hill-stream whirls with foaming words.
Then all is sudden silence and
Dark fear—like his who cannot see,
Yet hears, lost in a haunted land,
Death rattling on a gallow’s-tree.
The days approach again; the days
Whose mantles stream, whose sandals drag,
When in the haze by puddled ways
The gnarled thorn seems a crooked hag.
When rotting orchards reek with rain;
And woodlands crumble, leaf and log;
And in the drizzling yard again
The gourd is tagged with points of fog.
Now let me seat my soul among
The woods’ dim dreams, and come in touch
With melancholy, sad of tongue
And sweet, who says so much, so much.
The Road Home
Over the hills, as the pewee flies,
Under the blue of the Southern skies;
Over the hills, where the red-bird wings
Like a scarlet blossom, or sits and sings:
Under the shadow of rock and tree,
Where the warm wind drones with the honey-bee;
And the tall wild-carrots around you sway
Their lace-like flowers of cloudy gray:
By the black-cohosh with its pearly plume
A-nod in the woodland's odorous gloom;
By the old rail-fence, in the elder's shade,
That the myriad hosts of the weeds invade:
Where the butterfly-weed, like a coal of fire,
Blurs orange-red through bush and brier;
Where the pennyroyal and mint smell sweet,
And blackberries tangle the summer heat,
The old road leads; then crosses the creek,
Where the minnow dartles, a silvery streak;
Where the cows wade deep through the blue-eyed grass,
And the flickering dragonflies gleaming pass.
That road is easy, however long,
Which wends with beauty as toil with song;
And the road we follow shall lead us straight
Past creek and wood to a farmhouse gate.
Past hill and hollow, whence scents are blown
Of dew-wet clover that scythes have mown;
To a house that stands with porches wide
And gray low roof on the green hill-side.
Colonial, stately; 'mid shade and shine
Of the locust-tree and the Southern pine;
With its orchard acres and meadowlands
Stretched out before it like welcoming hands.
And gardens, where, in the myrrh-sweet June,
Magnolias blossom with many a moon
Of fragrance; and, in the feldspar light
Of August, roses bloom red and white.
In a woodbine arbor, a perfumed place,
A slim girl sits with a happy face;
Her bonnet by her, a sunbeam lies
On her lovely hair, in her earnest eyes.
Her eyes, as blue as the distant deeps
Of the heavens above where the high hawk sleeps;
A book beside her, wherein she read
Till she saw him coming, she heard his tread.
Come home at last; come back from the war;
In his eyes a smile, on his brow a scar:
To the South come back who wakes from her dream
To the love and peace of a new regime.
The Old Home Ii
They've torn the old house down, that stood,
Like some kind mother, in this place,
Hugged by its orchard and its wood,
Two sturdy children, strong of race.
This formal place makes no appeal.
I miss the old time happiness
And peace, which often here did heal
The cares of life, the heart's distress.
The shrubs, which snowed their blossoms on
The walks, wide-stretching from the doors
Like friendly arms, are dead and gone,
And over all a grand house soars.
Within its front no welcome lies,
But pride's aloofness; wealth, that stares
From windows, cold as haughty eyes,
The arrogance of new-made heirs.
Its very flowers breathe of cast;
And even the Springtide seems estranged,
In that stiff garden, caught, held fast,
All her wild beauty clipped and changed.
'T is not the Spring, that once I knew,
Who made a glory of her face,
And robed in shimmering light and dew
Moved to wild music in this place.
How fair she walked here with her Hours,
Pouring forth colors and perfumes,
And with her bosom heaped with flowers
Climbed by the rose-vines to its rooms.
Or round the old porch, 'mid the trees,
Fluttered a flute of bluebird-song;
Or murmuring with a myriad bees
Drowsed in the garden all day long.
How Summer, with her apron full
Of manna, shook the red peach down;
Or, stretched among the shadows cool,
Wove for her hair a daisy crown.
Or with her crickets, night and day,
Gossiped of many a faery thing,
Her sweet breath warm with scents of hay
And honey, purple-blossoming.
How Autumn, trailing tattered gold
And scarlet, in the orchard mused,
And of the old trees taking hold
Upon the sward their ripeness bruised.
Or, past its sunset window-panes,
Like thoughts that drift before old eyes,
Whirled red leaves and the ragged rains,
And crows, black-blown, about the skies.
How Winter, huddled in her hood
Of snow and sleet, crouched by its flues;
Or, rushing from the stormy wood,
Rapped at its doors with windy news.
Or in the firelight, through the pane,
Watched Comfort crown with cheer the hearth,
Or Love lead in his Yuletide train
Of hospitality and mirth. . . .
It lived. The house was part of us.
It was not merely wood and stone,
But had a soul, a heart, that thus
Grappled and made us all its own.
The lives that with its life were knit,
In some strange way, beyond the sense,
Had gradually given to it
A look of old experience.
A look, which I shall not forget,
No matter where my ways may roam.
I close my eyes: I see it yet
The old house that was once my home.
Deep in her broom-sedge, burs and iron-weeds,
Her frost-slain asters and dead mallow-moons,
Where gray the wilding clematis balloons
The brake with puff-balls: where the slow stream leads
Her sombre steps: decked with the scarlet beads
Of hip and haw: through dolorous maroons
And desolate golds, she goes: the wailing tunes
Of all the winds about her like wild reeds.
The red wrought-iron hues that flush the green
Of blackberry briers, and the bronze that stains
The oak's sere leaves, are in her cheeks: the gray
Of forest pools, clocked thin with ice, is keen
In her cold eyes: and in her hair the rain's
Chill silver glimmers like a winter ray.
Lost in the sleepy grays and drowsy browns
Of woodlands, smoky with the autumn haze,
Where dull the last leafed maples, smouldering, blaze
Like ghosts of wigwam fires, the Month uncrowns
Her frosty hair, and where the forest drowns
The road in shadows, in the rutted ways,
Filled full of freezing rain, her robe she lays
Of tattered gold, and seats herself and frowns.
And at her frown each wood and bushy hill
Darkens with prescience of approaching storm,
Her soul's familiar fiend, who, with wild broom
Of wind and rain, works her resistless will,
Sweeping the world, and driving with mad arm
The clouds, like leaves, through the tumultuous gloom.
The shivering wind sits in the oaks, whose limbs,
Twisted and tortured, nevermore are still;
Grief and decay sit with it, they, whose chill
Autumnal touch makes hectic red the rims
Of all the oak leaves; desolating dims
The ageratum's blue that banks the rill,
And splits the milkweed's pod upon the hill,
And shakes it free of the last seed that swims.
Down goes the day despondent to its close:
And now the sunset's hands of copper build
A tower of brass, behind whose burning bars
The day, in fierce, barbarian repose,
Like some imprisoned Inca sits, hate-filled,
Crowned with the gold corymbus of the stars.
There is a booming in the forest boughs:
Tremendous feet seem trampling through the trees:
The storm is at his wildman revelries,
And earth and heaven echo his carouse.
Night reels with tumult. And from out her house
Of cloud the moon looks, like a face one sees
In nightmare, hurrying with pale eyes that freeze,
Stooping above with white, malignant brows.
The isolated oak upon the hill,
That seemed, at sunset, in terrific lands
A Titan head black in a sea of blood,
Now seems a monster harp, whose wild strings thrill
To the vast fingering of innumerable hands,
The Spirits of Tempest and of Solitude.
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.
Yes, I love the homestead. There
In the spring the lilacs blew
Plenteous perfume everywhere;
There in summer gladioles grew
Parallels of scarlet glare.
And the moon-hued primrose cool
Satin-soft and redolent;
Filling all the air with scent;
Roses red or white as wool.
Roses, glorious and lush,
Rich in tender-tinted dyes,
Like the gay tempestuous rush
Of unnumbered butterflies,
Clustering o'er each bending bush.
Here japonica and box,
And the wayward violets;
Clumps of star-enamelled phlox,
And the myriad flowery jets
Of the twilight four-o'-clocks.
Ah, the beauty of the place!
When the June made one great rose,
Full of musk and mellow grace,
In the garden's humming close,
Of her comely mother face!
Bubble-like, the hollyhocks
Budded, burst, and flaunted wide
Gypsy beauty from their stocks;
Morning glories, bubble-dyed,
Swung in honey-hearted flocks.
Tawny tiger-lilies flung
Doublets slashed with crimson on;
Graceful slave-girls, fair and young,
Like Circassians, in the sun
Alabaster lilies swung.
Ah, the droning of the bee;
In his dusty pantaloons
Tumbling in the fleurs-de-lis;
In the drowsy afternoons
Dreaming in the pink sweet-pea.
Ah, the moaning wildwood-dove!
With its throat of amethyst
Rippled like a shining cove
Which a wind to pearl hath kissed,
Moaning, moaning of its love.
And the insects' gossip thin
From the summer hotness hid
In lone, leafy deeps of green;
Then at eve the katydid
With its hard, unvaried din.
Often from the whispering hills,
Borne from out the golden dusk,
Gold with gold of daffodils,
Thrilled into the garden's musk
The wild wail of whippoorwills.
From the purple-tangled trees,
Like the white, full heart of night,
Solemn with majestic peace,
Swam the big moon, veined with light;
Like some gorgeous golden-fleece.
She was there with me. And who,
In the magic of the hour,
Had not sworn that they could view,
Beading on each blade and flower
Moony blisters of the dew?
And each fairy of our home,
Firefly, its taper lit
In the honey-scented gloam,
Dashing down the dusk with it
Like an instant-flaming foam.
And we heard the calling, calling,
Of the screech-owl in the brake;
Where the trumpet-vine hung, crawling
Down the ledge, into the lake
Heard the sighing streamlet falling.
Then we wandered to the creek
Where the water-lilies, growing
Thick as stars, lay white and weak;
Or against the brooklet's flowing
Bent and bathed a bashful cheek.
And the moonlight, rippling golden,
Fell in virgin aureoles
On their bosoms, half unfolden,
Where, it seemed, the fairies' souls
Dwelt as perfume, unbeholden;
Or lay sleeping, pearly-tented,
Baby-cribbed within each bud,
While the night-wind, piney-scented,
Swooning over field and flood,
Rocked them on the waters dented.
Then the low, melodious bell
Of a sleeping heifer tinkled,
In some berry-briered dell,
As her satin dewlap wrinkled
With the cud that made it swell.
And, returning home, we heard,
In a beech-tree at the gate,
Some brown, dream-behaunted bird,
Singing of its absent mate,
Of the mate that never heard.
And, you see, now I am gray,
Why within the old, old place,
With such memories, I stay;
Fancy out her absent face
Long since passed away.
She was mine yes! still is mine:
And my frosty memory
Reels about her, as with wine
Warmed into young eyes that see
All of her that was divine.
Yes, I loved her, and have grown
Melancholy in that love,
And the memory alone
Of perfection such whereof
She could sanctify each stone.
And where'er the poppies swing
There we walk, as if a bee
Bent them with its airy wing,
Down her garden shadowy
In the hush the evenings bring.
From the lyrical eclogue 'One Day and Another'
Now rests the season in forgetfulness,
Careless in beauty of maturity;
The ripened roses round brown temples, she
Fulfills completion in a dreamy guess.
Now Time grants night the more and day the less:
The gray decides; and brown
Dim golds and drabs in dulling green express
Themselves and redden as the year goes down.
Sadder the fields where, thrusting hoary high
Their tasseled heads, the Lear-like corn-stocks die,
And, Falstaff-like, buff-bellied pumpkins lie.-
Deepening with tenderness,
Sadder the blue of hills that lounge along
The lonesome west; sadder the song
Of the wild redbird in the leafage yellow.-
Deeper and dreamier, aye!
Than woods or waters, leans the languid sky
Above lone orchards where the cider press
Drips and the russets mellow.
Nature grows liberal: from the beechen leaves
The beech-nuts' burrs their little purses thrust,
Plump with the copper of the nuts that rust;
Above the grass the spendthrift spider weaves
A web of silver for which dawn designs
Thrice twenty rows of pearls: beneath the oak,
That rolls old roots in many gnarly lines,-
The polished acorns, from their saucers broke,
Strew oval agates.-On sonorous pines
The far wind organs; but the forest near
Is silent; and the blue-white smoke
Of burning brush, beyond that field of hay,
Hangs like a pillar in the atmosphere:
But now it shakes-it breaks, and all the vines
And tree tops tremble; see! the wind is here!
Billowing and boisterous; and the smiling day
Rejoices in its clamor. Earth and sky
Resound with glory of its majesty,
Impetuous splendor of its rushing by.-
But on those heights the woodland dark is still,
Expectant of its coming…. Far away
Each anxious tree upon each waiting hill
Tingles anticipation, as in gray
Surmise of rapture. Now the first gusts play,
Like laughter low, about their rippling spines;
And now the wildwood, one exultant sway,
Shouts-and the light at each tumultuous pause,
The light that glooms and shines,
Seems hands in wild applause.
How glows that garden!-Though the white mists keep
The vagabonding flowers reminded of
Decay that comes to slay in open love,
When the full moon hangs cold and night is deep;
Unheeding still their cardinal colors leap
Gay in the crescent of the blade of death,-
Spaced innocents whom he prepares to reap,-
Staying his scythe a breath
To mark their beauty ere, with one last sweep,
He lays them dead and turns away to weep.-
Let me admire,-
Before the sickle of the coming cold
Shall mow them down,-their beauties manifold:
How like to spurts of fire
That scarlet salvia lifts its blooms, which heap
With flame the sunlight. And, as sparkles creep
Through charring vellum, up that window's screen
The cypress dots with crimson all its green,
The haunt of many bees.
Cascading dark old porch-built lattices,
The nightshade bleeds with berries; drops of blood
Hanging in clusters 'mid the blue monk's-hood.
There is a garden old,
Where bright-hued clumps of zinnias unfold
Their formal flowers; where the marigold
Lifts a pinched shred of orange sunset caught
And elfed in petals; the nasturtium,
Deep, pungent-leaved and acrid of perfume,
Hangs up a goblin bonnet, pixy-brought
From Gnomeland. There, predominant red,
And arrogant, the dahlia lifts its head,
Beside the balsam's rose-stained horns of honey,
Lost in the murmuring, sunny
Dry wildness of the weedy flower bed;
Where crickets and the weed-bugs, noon and night,
Shrill dirges for the flowers that soon shall die,
And flowers already dead.-
I seem to hear the passing Summer sigh:
A voice, that seems to weep,-
'Too soon, too soon the Beautiful passes by!
And soon, among these bowers
Will dripping Autumn mourn with all her flowers'-
If I, perchance, might peep
Beneath those leaves of podded hollyhocks,
That the bland wind with odorous murmurs rocks,
I might behold her,-white
And weary,-Summer, 'mid her flowers asleep,
Her drowsy flowers asleep,
The withered poppies knotted in her locks.
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.
At The Lane's End
No more to strip the roses from
The rose-boughs of her porch's place!
I dreamed last night that I was home
Beside a rose her face.
I must have smiled in sleep who knows?
The rose aroma filled the lane;
I saw her white hand's lifted rose
That called me home again.
And yet when I awoke so wan,
An old face wet with icy tears!
Somehow, it seems, sleep had misdrawn
A love gone thirty years.
The clouds roll up and the clouds roll down
Over the roofs of the little town;
Out in the hills where the pike winds by
Fields of clover and bottoms of rye,
You will hear no sound but the barking cough
Of the striped chipmunk where the lane leads off;
You will hear no bird but the sapsuckers
Far off in the forest, that seems to purr,
As the warm wind fondles its top, grown hot,
Like the docile back of an ocelot:
You will see no thing but the shine and shade
Of briers that climb and of weeds that wade
The glittering creeks of the light, that fills
The dusty road and the red-keel hills
And all day long in the pennyroy'l
The grasshoppers at their anvils toil;
Thick click of their tireless hammers thrum,
And the wheezy belts of their bellows hum;
Tinkers who solder the silence and heat
To make the loneliness more complete.
Around old rails where the blackberries
Are reddening ripe, and the bumble-bees
Are a drowsy rustle of Summer's skirts,
And the bob-white's wing is the fan she flirts.
Under the hill, through the iron weeds,
And ox-eyed daisies and milkweeds, leads
The path forgotten of all but one.
Where elder bushes are sick with sun,
And wild raspberries branch big blue veins
O'er the face of the rock, where the old spring rains
Its sparkling splinters of molten spar
On the gravel bed where the tadpoles are,
You will find the pales of the fallen fence,
And the tangled orchard and vineyard, dense
With the weedy neglect of thirty years.
The garden there, where the soft sky clears
Like an old sweet face that has dried its tears;
The garden plot where the cabbage grew
And the pompous pumpkin; and beans that blew
Balloons of white by the melon patch;
Maize; and tomatoes that seemed to catch
Oblong amber and agate balls
Thrown from the sun in the frosty falls:
Long rows of currants and gooseberries,
And the balsam-gourd with its honey-bees.
And here was a nook for the princess-plumes,
The snap-dragons and the poppy-blooms,
Mother's sweet-williams and pansy flowers,
And the morning-glories' bewildered bowers,
Tipping their cornucopias up
For the humming-birds that came to sup.
And over it all was the Sabbath peace
Of the land whose lap was the love of these;
And the old log-house where my innocence died,
With my boyhood buried side by side.
Shall a man with a face as withered and gray
As the wasp-nest stowed in a loft away,
Where the hornets haunt and the mortar drops
From the loosened logs of the clap-board tops;
Whom vice has aged as the rotting rooms
The rain where memories haunt the glooms;
A hitch in his joints like the rheum that gnats
In the rasping hinge of the door that jars;
A harsh, cracked throat like the old stone flue
Where the swallows build the summer through;
Shall a man, I say, with the spider sins
That the long years spin in the outs and ins
Of his soul returning to see once more
His boyhood's home, where his life was poor
With toil and tears and their fretfulness,
But rich with health and the hopes that bless
The unsoiled wealth of a vigorous youth;
Shall he not take comfort and know the truth
In its threadbare raiment of falsehood? Yea!
In his crumbled past he shall kneel and pray,
Like a pilgrim come to the shrine again
Of the homely saints that shall soothe his pain,
And arise and depart made clean from stain!
Years of care can not erase
Visions of the hills and trees
Closing in the dam and race;
Not the mile-long memories
Of the mill-stream's lovely place.
How the sunsets used to stain
Mirror of the water lying
Under eaves made dark with rain!
Where the red-bird, westward flying,
Lit to try one song again.
Dingles, hills, and woods, and springs,
Where we came in calm and storm,
Swinging in the grape-vine swings,
Wading where the rocks were warm,
With our fishing-nets and strings.
Here the road plunged down the hill,
Under ash and chinquapin,
Where the grasshoppers would drill
Ears of silence with their din,
To the willow-girdled mill.
There the path beyond the ford
Takes the woodside, just below
Shallows that the lilies sword,
Where the scarlet blossoms blow
Of the trumpet-vine and gourd.
Summer winds, that sink with heat,
On the pelted waters winnow
Moony petals that repeat
Crescents, where the startled minnow
Beats a glittering retreat.
Summer winds that bear the scent
Of the iron-weed and mint,
Weary with sweet freight and spent,
On the deeper pools imprint
Stumbling steps in many a dent.
Summer winds, that split the husk
Of the peach and nectarine,
Trail along the amber dusk
Hazy skirts of gray and green,
Spilling balms of dew and musk.
Where with balls of bursting juice
Summer sees the red wild-plum
Strew the gravel; ripened loose,
Autumn hears the pawpaw drum
Plumpness on the rocks that bruise:
There we found the water-beech,
One forgotten August noon,
With a hornet-nest in reach,
Like a fairyland balloon,
Full of bustling fairy speech.
Some invasion sure it was;
For we heard the captains scold;
Waspish cavalry a-buzz,
Troopers uniformed in gold,
Sable-slashed, to charge on us.
Could I find the sedgy angle,
Where the dragon-flies would turn
Slender flittings into spangle
On the sunlight? or would burn
Where the berries made a tangle
Sparkling green and brassy blue;
Rendezvousing, by the stream,
Bands of elf-banditti, who,
Brigands of the bloom and beam,
Drunken were with honey-dew.
Could I find the pond that lay
Where vermilion blossoms showered
Fragrance down the daisied way?
That the sassafras embowered
With the spice of early May?
Could I find it did I seek
The old mill? Its weather-beaten
Wheel and gable by the creek?
With its warping roof; worm-eaten,
Dusty rafters worn and weak.
Where old shadows haunt old places,
Loft and hopper, stair and bin;
Ghostly with the dust that laces
Webs that usher phantoms in,
Wistful with remembered faces.
While the frogs' grave litanies
Drowse in far-off antiphone,
Supplicating, till the eyes
Of dead friendships, long alone
In the dusky corners, rise.
Moonrays or the splintered slip
Of a star? within the darkling
Twilight, where the fire-flies dip
As if Night a myriad sparkling
Jewels from her hands let slip:
While again some farm-boy crosses,
With a corn-sack for the meal,
O'er the creek, through ferns and mosses
Sprinkled by the old mill-wheel,
Where the water drips and tosses.
Forest And Field
GREEN, watery jets of light let through
The rippling foliage drenched with dew;
And golden glimmers, warm and dim,
That in the vistaed distance swim;
Where, 'round the wood-spring's oozy urn,
The limp, loose fronds of forest fern
Trail like the tresses, green and wet,
A wood-nymph binds with violet.
O'er rocks that bulge and roots that knot
The emerald-amber mosses clot;
From matted walls of brier and brush
The eider nods its plumes of plush;
And, Argus-eyed with many a bloom,
The wild-rose breathes its wild perfume;
May-apples, ripening yellow, lean
With oblong fruit, a lemon-green,
Near Indian-turnips, long of stem,
That bear an acorn-oval gem,
As if some woodland Bacchus there,—
While braiding locks of hyacinth hair
With ivy-tod,—had idly tost
His thyrsus down and so had lost:
And blood-root, that from scarlet wombs
Puts forth, in spring, its milk-white blooms,
That then like starry footsteps shine
Of April under beech and pine;
At which the gnarled eyes of trees
Stare, big as Fauns' at Dryades,
That bend above a fountain's spar
As white and naked as a star.
The stagnant stream flows sleepily
Thick with its lily-pads; the bee,—
All honey-drunk, a Bassarid,—
Booms past the mottled toad, that, hid
In calamus-plants and blue-eyed grass,
Beside the water's pooling glass,
Silenus-like, eyes stolidly
The Mænad-glittering dragonfly.
And pennyroyal and peppermint
Pour dry-hot odours without stint
From fields and banks of many streams;
And in their scent one almost seems
To see Demeter pass, her breath
Sweet with her triumph over death.—
A haze of floating saffron; sound
Of shy, crisp creepings o'er the ground;
The dip and stir of twig and leaf;
Tempestuous gusts of spices brief
Borne over bosks of sassafras
By winds that foot it on the grass;
Sharp, sudden songs and whisperings,
That hint at untold hidden things—
Pan and Sylvanus who of old
Kept sacred each wild wood and wold.
A wily light beneath the trees
Quivers and dusks with every breeze—
A Hamadryad, haply, who,—
Culling her morning meal of dew
From frail, accustomed cups of flowers,—
Now sees some Satyr in the bowers,
Or hears his goat-hoof snapping press
Some brittle branch, and in distress
Shrinks back; her dark, dishevelled hair
Veiling her limbs one instant there.
Down precipices of the dawn
The rivers of the day are drawn,
The soundless torrents, free and far,
Of gold that deluge every star.
There is a sound of brooks and wings
That fills the woods with carollings;
And, dashed on moss and flow'r and fern,
And leaves, that quiver, breathe and burn,
Rose-radiance smites the solitudes,
The dew-drenched hills, the dripping woods,
That twitter as with canticles
Of shade and light; and wind, that smells
Of flowers, and buds, and boisterous bees,
Delirious honey, and wet trees.—
Through briers that trip them, one by one,
With swinging pails, that take the sun,
A troop of girls comes—berriers,
Whose bare feet glitter where they pass
Through dewdrop-trembling tufts of grass.
And, oh! their laughter and their cheers
Wake Echo 'mid her shrubby rocks
Who, answering, from her mountain mocks
With rapid fairy horns; as if
Each mossy vale and weedy cliff
Had its imperial Oberon,
Who, seeking his Titania, hid
In coverts caverned from the sun,
In kingly wrath had called and chid.
Cloud-feathers, oozing orange light,
Make rich the Indian locks of night;
Her dusky waist with sultry gold
Girdled and buckled fold on fold.
One star. A sound of bleating flocks.
Great shadows stretched along the rocks,
Like giant curses overthrown
By some Arthurian champion.
Soft-swimming sorceries of mist
That streak blue glens with amethyst.
And, tinkling in the clover dells,
The twilight sound of cattle-bells.
And where the marsh in reed and grass
Burns, angry as a shattered glass,
The flies make golden blurs, that shine
Like drops of amber-scattered wine
Spun high by reeling Bacchanals,
When Bacchus wreathes his curling hair
With vine-leaves, and from every lair
His worshippers around him calls.
They come, they come, a happy throng,
The berriers with gibe and song;
Their pails brimmed black to tin-bright eaves
With luscious fruit, kept cool with leaves
Of aromatic sassafras;
'Twixt which some sparkling berry slips,
Like laughter, from the purple mass,
Wine-swollen as Silenus' lips.
The tanned and tired noon climbs high
Up burning reaches of the sky;
Below the drowsy belts of pines
The rock-ledged river foams and shines;
And over rainless hill and dell
Is blown the harvest's sultry smell:
While, in the fields, one sees and hears
The brawny-throated harvesters,—
Their red brows beaded with the heat,—
By twos and threes among the wheat
Flash their hot scythes; behind them press
The binders—men and maids that sing
Like some mad troop of piping Pan;—
While all the hillsides swoon and ring
Such sounds of Ariel airiness
As haunted freckled Caliban.
'O ho! O ho! 'tis noon I say.
The roses blow.
Away, away, above the hay,
To the tune o' the bees the roses sway;
The love-songs that they hum all day,
So low! So low!
The roses' Minnesingers they.'
Up velvet lawns of lilac skies
The tawny moon begins to rise
Behind low, blue-black hills of trees,—
As rises up, in Siren seas,
To rock in purple deeps, hip-hid,
A virgin-bosomed Oceanid.—
Gaunt shadows crouch by tree and scaur,
Like shaggy Satyrs waiting for
The moonbeam Nymphs, the Dryads white,
That take with loveliness the night,
And glorify it with their love.
The sweet, far notes I hear, I hear,
Beyond dim pines and mellow ways,
The song of some fair harvester,
The lovely Limnad of the grove,
Whose singing charms me while it slays.
'O deep! O deep! the earth and air
Are sunk in sleep.
Adieu to care! Now everywhere
Is rest; and by the old oak there
The maiden with the nut-brown hair
Doth keep, doth keep
Tryst with her lover the young and fair.'
Like Atalanta's spheres of gold,
Within the orchard, apples rolled
From sudden hands of boughs that lay
Their leaves, like palms, against the day;
And near them pears of rusty brown
Lay bruised; and peaches, pink with down,
And furry as the ears of Pan,
Or, like Diana's cheeks, a tan
Beneath which burnt a tender fire;
Or wan as Psyche's with desire.
And down the orchard vistas,—young,
A hickory basket by him swung,
A straw-hat, 'gainst the sloping sun
Drawn brim-broad o'er his face,—he strode;
As if he looked to find some one,
His eyes far-fixed beyond the road.
Before him, like a living burr,
Rattled the noisy grasshopper.
And where the cows' melodious bells
Trailed music up and down the dells,
Beside the spring, that o'er the ground
Went whimpering like a fretful hound,
He saw her waiting, fair and slim,
Her pail forgotten there, for him.
Yellow as sunset skies and pale
As fairy clouds that stay or sail
Through azure vaults of summer, blue
As summer heavens, the wildflowers grew;
And blossoms on which spurts of light
Fell laughing, like the lips one might
Feign for a Hebe, or a girl
Whose mouth is laughter-lit with pearl.
Long ferns, in murmuring masses heaped;
And mosses. moist, in beryl steeped
And musk aromas of the wood
And silence of the solitude:
And everything that near her blew
The spring had showered thick with dew.—
Across the rambling fence she leaned,
Her fresh, round arms all white and bare;
Her artless beauty, bonnet-screened,
Rich-coloured with its auburn hair.
A wood-thrush gurgled in a vine—
Ah! 'tis his step, 'tis he she hears;
The wild-rose smelt like some rare wine—
He comes, ah, yes! 'tis he who nears.
And her brown eyes and all her face
Said welcome. And with rustic grace
He leant beside her; and they had
Some talk with youthful laughter glad:
I know not what; I know but this
Its final period was a kiss.
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.
A March Voluntary (Wind And Cloud)
Winds that cavern heaven and the clouds
And canyon with cerulean blue,
Great rifts down which the stormy sunlight crowds
Like some bright seraph, who,
Mailed in intensity of silver mail,
Flashes his splendor over hill and vale,
Now tramp, tremendous, the loud forest through:
Or now, like mighty runners in a race,
That swing, long pace to pace,
Sweep 'round the hills, fresh as, at dawn's first start,
They swept, dew-dripping, from
The crystal-crimson ruby of her heart,
Shouting the dim world dumb.
And with their passage the gray and green
Of the earth 's washed clean;
And the cleansing breath of their might is wings
And warm aroma, we know as Spring's,
And sap and strength to her bourgeonings.
My brow I bare
To the cool, clean air,
That blows from the crests of the clouds that roll,
Pearl-piled and berged as floes of Northern Seas,
Banked gray and thunder-low
Big in the heaven's peace;
Clouds, borne from nowhere that we know,
With nowhere for their goal;
With here and there a silvery glow
Of sunlight chasming deeps of sombre snow,
Great gulfs that overflow
With sky, a sapphire-blue,
Or opal, sapphire-kissed,
Wide-welled and deep and swiftly rifting through
Stratas of streaming mist;
Each opening like a pool,
Set 'round with crag-like clouds 'mid which its eye gleams cool.
What blue is bluer than the bluebird's blue!
'T is as if heaven itself sat on its wings;
As if the sky in miniature it bore
The fields and forests through,
Bringing the very heaven to our door;
The daybreak of its back soft-wedded to
The sunset-auburn of its throat that sings.
The dithyrambics of the wind and rain
Strive to, but cannot, drown its strain:
Again, and yet again
I hear it where the maples tassel red,
And blossoms of the crab round out o'erhead,
And catkins make the willow-brake
A gossamer blur around the lake
That lately was a stream,
A little stream locked in its icy dream.
Invisible crystals of aerial ring,
Against the wind I hear the bluebird fling
Its notes; and where the oak's mauve leaves uncurl
I catch the skyey glitter of its wing;
Its wing that lures me, like some magic charm,
Far in the woods
And shadowy solitudes:
And where the purple hills stretch under purple and pearl
Of clouds that sweep and swirl,
Its music seems to take material form;
A form that beckons with cerulean arm
And bids me see and follow,
Where, in the violet hollow,
There at the wood's far turn,
On starry moss and fern,
She shimmers, glimmering like a rainbowed shower,
The Spirit of Spring,
Diaphanous-limbed, who stands
With honeysuckle hands
Sowing the earth with many a firstling flower,
Footed with fragrance of their blossoming,
And clad in heaven as is the bluebird's wing.
The tumult and the booming of the trees,
Shaken with shoutings of the winds of March
No mightier music have I heard than these,
The rocking and the rushing of the trees,
The organ-thunder of the forest's arch.
And in the wind their columned trunks become,
Each one, a mighty pendulum,
Swayed to and fro as if in time
To some vast song, some roaring rhyme,
Wind-shouted from sonorous hill to hill
The woods are never still:
The dead leaves frenzy by,
Innumerable and frantic as the dance
That whirled its madness once beneath the sky
In ancient Greece, like withered Corybants:
And I am caught and carried with their rush,
Their countless panic borne away,
A brother to the wind, through the deep gray
Of the old beech-wood, where the wild Marchday
Sits dreaming, filling all the boisterous hush
With murmurous laughter and swift smiles of sun;
Conspiring in its heart and plotting how
To load with leaves and blossoms every bough,
And whispering to itself, 'Now Spring's begun!
And soon her flowers shall golden through these leaves!
Away, ye sightless things and sere!
Make room for that which shall appear!
The glory and the gladness of the year;
The loveliness my eye alone perceives,
Still hidden there beneath the covering leaves,
My song shall waken! flowers, that this floor
Of whispering woodland soon shall carpet o'er
For my sweet sisters' feet to tread upon,
Months kinder than myself, the stern and strong,
Whose soul is full of wild, tumultuous song;
And whose rough hand now thrusts itself among
The dead leaves; groping for the flowers that lie
Huddled beneath, each like a sleep-closed eye:
Gold adder's-tongue and pink
Oxalis; snow-pale bloodroot blooms;
May-apple hoods, that parasol the brink,
Screening their moons, of the slim woodland stream:
And the wild iris; trillium, white as stars
And bluebells, dream on dream:
With harsh hand groping in the glooms,
I grasp their slenderness and shake
Their lovely eyes awake,
Dispelling from their souls the sleep that mars;
With heart-disturbing jars
Clasping their forms, and with rude finger-tips,
Through the dark rain that drips
Lifting them shrinking to my stormy lips,
'Already spicewood and the sassafras,
Like fragrant flames, begin
To tuft their boughs with topaz, ere they spin
Their beryl canopies a glimmering mass,
Mist-blurred, above the deepening grass.
Already where the old beech stands
Clutching the lean soil as it were with hands
Taloned and twisted, on its trunk a knot,
A huge excrescence, a great fungous clot,
Like some enormous and distorting wart,
My eyes can see how, blot on beautiful blot
Of blue, the violets blur through.
The musky and the loamy rot
Of leaf-pierced leaves; and, heaven in their hue,
The little bluets, crew on azure crew,
Prepare their myriads for invasion too.
'And in my soul I see how, soon, shall rise,
Still hidden to men's eyes,
Dim as the wind that 'round them treads,
Hosts of spring-beauties, streaked with rosy reds,
And pale anemones, whose airy heads,
As to some fairy rhyme,
All day shall nod in delicate time:
And now, even now, white peal on peal
Of pearly bells, that in bare boughs conceal
Themselves, like snowy music, chime on chime,
The huckleberries to my gaze reveal
Clusters, that soon shall toss
Above this green-starred moss,
That, like an emerald fire, gleams across
This forest-side, and from its moist deeps lifts
Slim, wire-like stems of seed;
Or, lichen-colored, glows with many a bead
Of cup-like blossoms: carpets where, I read,
When through the night's dark rifts
The moonlight's glimpsing splendor sifts,
The immaterial forms
With moonbeam-beckoning arms,
Of Fable and Romance,
Myths that are born of whispers of the wind
And foam of falling waters, music-twinned,
Shall lead the legendary dance;
The dance that never stops,
Of Earth's wild beauty on the green hill-tops.'
The youth, the beauty and disdain
Of birth, death does not know,
Compel my heart with longing like to pain
When the spring breezes blow,
The fragrance and the heat
Of their soft breath, whose musk makes sweet
Each woodland way, each wild retreat,
Seem saying in my ear, 'Hark, and behold!
Before a week be gone
This barren woodside and this leafless wold
A million flowers shall invade
With argent and azure, pearl and gold,
Like rainbow fragments scattered of the dawn,
Here making bright, here wan
Each foot of earth, each glen and glimmering glade,
Each rood of windy wood,
Where late gaunt Winter stood,
Shaggy with snow and howling at the sky;
Where even now the Springtime seems afraid
To whisper of the beauty she designs,
The flowery campaign that she now outlines
Within her soul; her heart's conspiracy
To take the world with loveliness; defy
And then o'erwhelm the Death that Winter throned
Amid the trees, with love that she hath owned
Since God informed her of His very breath,
Giving her right triumphant over Death.
Her heart's deep ecstasy shall swell,
Taking the form of flower, leaf, and blade,
Invading every dell,
And sweeping, surge on surge,
Around the world, like some exultant raid,
Even to the heaven's verge.
Soon shall her legions storm
Death's ramparts, planting Life's fair standard there,
The banner which her beauty hath in care,
Beauty, that shall eventuate
With all the pomp and pageant and the state,
That are apart of power, and that wait
On majesty, to which it, too, is heir.'
Already purplish pink and green
The bloodroot's buds and leaves are seen
Clumped in dim cirques; one from the other
Hardly distinguished in the shadowy smother
Of last year's leaves blown brown between.
And, piercing through the layers of dead leaves,
The searching eye perceives
The dog's-tooth violet, pointed needle-keen,
Lifting its beak of mottled green;
While near it heaves
The May-apple its umbrous spike, a ball,
Like to a round, green bean,
That folds its blossom, topping its tight-closed parasol:
The clustered bluebell near
Hollows its azure ear,
Low leaning to the earth as if to hear
The sound of its own growing and perfume
Flowing into its bloom:
And softly there
The twin-leaf's stems prepare
Pale tapers of transparent white,
As if to light
The Spirit of Beauty through the wood's green night.
Why does Nature love the number five?
Five-whorled leaves and five-tipped flowers?
Haply the bee that sucks i' the rose,
Laboring aye to store its hive,
And humming away the long noon hours,
Haply it knows as it comes and goes:
Or haply the butterfly,
Or moth of pansy-dye,
Flitting from bloom to bloom
In the forest's violet gloom,
It knows why:
Or the irised fly; to whom
Each bud, as it glitters near,
Lends eager and ardent ear.
And also tell
Why Nature loves so well
To prank her flowers in gold and blue.
Haply the dew,
That lies so close to them the whole night through,
Hugged to each honeyed heart,
Perhaps the dew the secret could impart:
Or haply now the bluebird there that bears,
God's sapphire on its wings,
O' the clean, clear sky,
The heav'n of which he sings,
Haply he, too, could tell me why:
Or the maple there that swings,
To the wind's soft sigh,
Its winglets, crystal red,
A rainy ruby twinkling overhead:
Or haply now the wind, that breathes of rain
Amid the rosy boughs, it could explain:
And even now, in words of mystery,
That haunt the heart of me,
Low-whispered, dim and bland,
Tells me, but tells in vain,
And strives to make me see and understand,
The feldspar fire of the violet breaks,
And the starred myrtle aches
With heavenly blue; and the frail windflower shakes
Its trembling tresses in the opal air.
Intimations Of The Beautiful
The hills are full of prophecies
And ancient voices of the dead;
Of hidden shapes that no man sees,
Pale, visionary presences,
That speak the things no tongue hath said,
No mind hath thought, no eye hath read.
The streams are full of oracles,
And momentary whisperings;
An immaterial beauty swells
Its breezy silver o'er the shells
With wordless speech that sings and sings
The message of diviner things.
No indeterminable thought is theirs,
The stars', the sunsets' and the flowers';
Whose inexpressible speech declares
Th' immortal Beautiful, who shares
This mortal riddle which is ours,
Beyond the forward-flying hours.
It holds and beckons in the streams;
It lures and touches us in all
The flowers of the golden fall-
The mystic essence of our dreams:
A nymph blows bubbling music where
Faint water ripples down the rocks;
A faun goes dancing hoiden locks,
And piping a Pandean air,
Through trees the instant wind shakes bare.
Our dreams are never otherwise
Than real when they hold us so;
We in some future life shall know
Them parts of it and recognize
Them as ideal substance, whence
The actual is-(as flowers and trees,
From color sources no one sees,
Draw dyes, the substance of a sense)-
Material with intelligence.
What intimations made them wise,
The mournful pine, the pleasant beech?
What strange and esoteric speech?-
(Communicated from the skies
In runic whispers)-that invokes
The boles that sleep within the seeds,
And out of narrow darkness leads
The vast assemblies of the oaks.
Within his knowledge, what one reads
The poems written by the flowers?
The sermons, past all speech of ours,
Preached by the gospel of the weeds?-
O eloquence of coloring!
O thoughts of syllabled perfume!
O beauty uttered into bloom!
Teach me your language! let me sing!
Along my mind flies suddenly
A wildwood thought that will not die;
That makes me brother to the bee,
And cousin to the butterfly:
A thought, such as gives perfume to
The blushes of the bramble-rose,
And, fixed in quivering crystal, glows
A captive in the prismed dew.
It leads the feet no certain way;
No frequent path of human feet:
Its wild eyes follow me all day;
All day I hear its wild heart beat:
And in the night it sings and sighs
The songs the winds and waters love;
Its wild heart lying tranced above,
And tranced the wildness of its eyes.
Oh, joy, to walk the way that goes
Through woods of sweet-gum and of beech!
Where, like a ruby left in reach,
The berry of the dogwood glows:
Or where the bristling hillsides mass,
'Twixt belts of tawny sassafras,
Brown shocks of corn in wigwam rows!
Where, in the hazy morning, runs
The stony branch that pools and drips,
The red-haws and the wild-rose hips
Are strewn like pebbles; and the sun's
Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
To see, through scintillating seeds,
The hunters steal with glimmering guns!
Oh, joy, to go the path which lies
Through woodlands where the trees are tall!
Beneath the misty moon of fall,
Whose ghostly girdle prophesies
A morn wind-swept and gray with rain;
When, o'er the lonely, leaf-blown lane,
The night-hawk like a dead leaf flies!
To stand within the dewy ring
Where pale death smites the boneset blooms,
And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
Of mint, with aromatic wing!
And hear the creek,-whose sobbing seems
A wild-man murmuring in his dreams,-
And insect violins that sing.
Or where the dim persimmon tree
Rains on the path its frosty fruit,
And in the oak the owl doth hoot,
Beneath the moon and mist, to see
The outcast Year go,-Hagar-wise,-
With far-off, melancholy eyes,
And lips that sigh for sympathy.
Towards evening, where the sweet-gum flung
Its thorny balls among the weeds,
And where the milkweed's sleepy seeds,-
A faery Feast of Lanterns,-swung;
The cricket tuned a plaintive lyre,
And o'er the hills the sunset hung
A purple parchment scrawled with fire.
From silver-blue to amethyst
The shadows deepened in the vale;
And belt by belt the pearly-pale
Aladdin fabric of the mist
Built up its exhalation far;
A jewel on an Afrit's wrist,
One star gemmed sunset's cinnabar.
Then night drew near, as when, alone,
The heart and soul grow intimate;
And on the hills the twilight sate
With shadows, whose wild robes were sown
With dreams and whispers;-dreams, that led
The heart once with love's monotone,
And memories of the living-dead.
All night the rain-gusts shook the leaves
Around my window; and the blast
Rumbled the flickering flue, and fast
The storm streamed from the dripping eaves.
As if-'neath skies gone mad with fear-
The witches' Sabboth galloped past,
The forests leapt like startled deer.
All night I heard the sweeping sleet;
And when the morning came, as slow
As wan affliction, with the woe
Of all the world dragged at her feet,
No spear of purple shattered through
The dark gray of the east; no bow
Of gold shot arrows swift and blue.
But rain, that whipped the windows; filled
The spouts with rushings; and around
The garden stamped, and sowed the ground
With limbs and leaves; the wood-pool filled
With overgurgling.-Bleak and cold
The fields looked, where the footpath wound
Through teasel and bur-marigold.
Yet there's a kindness in such days
Of gloom, that doth console regret
With sympathy of tears, which wet
Old eyes that watch the back-log blaze.-
A kindness, alien to the deep
Glad blue of sunny days that let
No thought in of the lives that weep.
This dawn, through which the Autumn glowers,-
As might a face within our sleep,
With stone-gray eyes that weep and weep,
And wet brows bound with sodden flowers,-
Is sunset to some sister land;
A land of ruins and of palms;
Rich sunset, crimson with long calms,-
Whose burning belt low mountains bar,-
That sees some brown Rebecca stand
Beside a well the camel-band
Winds down to 'neath the evening star.
O sunset, sister to this dawn!
O dawn, whose face is turned away!
Who gazest not upon this day,
But back upon the day that's gone!
Enamored so of loveliness,
The retrospect of what thou wast,
Oh, to thyself the present trust!
And as thy past be beautiful
With hues, that never can grow less!
Waiting thy pleasure to express
New beauty lest the world grow dull.
Down in the woods a sorcerer,
Out of rank rain and death, distills,-
Through chill alembics of the air,-
Aromas that brood everywhere
Among the whisper-haunted hills:
The bitter myrrh of dead leaves fills
Wet valleys (where the gaunt weeds bleach)
With rainy scents of wood-decay;-
As if a spirit all the day
Sat breathing softly 'neath the beech.
With other eyes I see her flit,
The wood-witch of the wild perfumes,
Among her elfin owls,-that sit,
A drowsy white, in crescent-lit
Dim glens of opalescent glooms:-
Where, for her magic, buds and blooms
Mysterious perfumes, while she stands,
A thornlike shadow, summoning
The sleepy odors, that take wing
Like bubbles from her dewy hands.
Among the woods they call to me-
The lights that haunt the wood and stream;
Voices of such white ecstasy
As moves with hushed lips through a dream:
They stand in auraed radiances,
Or flash with nimbused limbs across
Their golden shadows on the moss,
Or slip in silver through the trees.
What love can give the heart in me
More hope and exaltation than
The hand of light that tips the tree
And beckons far from marts of man?
That reaches foamy fingers through
The broken ripple, and replies
With sparkling speech of lips and eyes
To souls who seek and still pursue.
Give me the streams, that counterfeit
The twilight of autumnal skies;
The shadowy, silent waters, lit
With fire like a woman's eyes!
Slow waters that, in autumn, glass
The scarlet-strewn and golden grass,
And drink the sunset's tawny dyes.
Give me the pools, that lie among
The centuried forests! give me those,
Deep, dim, and sad as darkness hung
Beneath the sunset's somber rose:
Still pools, in whose vague mirrors look-
Like ragged gypsies round a book
Of magic-trees in wild repose.
No quiet thing, or innocent,
Of water, earth, or air shall please
My soul now: but the violent
Between the sunset and the trees:
The fierce, the splendid, and intense,
That love matures in innocence,
Like mighty music, give me these!
When thorn-tree copses still were bare
And black along the turbid brook;
When catkined willows blurred and shook
Great tawny tangles in the air;
In bottomlands, the first thaw makes
An oozy bog, beneath the trees,
Prophetic of the spring that wakes,
Sang the sonorous hylodes.
Now that wild winds have stripped the thorn,
And clogged with leaves the forest-creek;
Now that the woods look blown and bleak,
And webs are frosty white at morn;
At night beneath the spectral sky,
A far foreboding cry I hear—
The wild fowl calling as they fly?
Or wild voice of the dying Year?
And still my soul holds phantom tryst,
When chestnuts hiss among the coals,
Upon the Evening of All Souls,
When all the night is moon and mist,
And all the world is mystery;
I kiss dear lips that death hath kissed,
And gaze in eyes no man may see,
Filled with a love long lost to me.
I hear the night-wind's ghostly glove
Flutter the window: then the knob
Of some dark door turn, with a sob
As when love comes to gaze on love
Who lies pale-coffined in a room:
And then the iron gallop of
The storm, who rides outside; his plume
Sweeping the night with dread and gloom.
So fancy takes the mind, and paints
The darkness with eidolon light,
And writes the dead's romance in night
On the dim Evening of All Saints:
Unheard the hissing nuts; the clink
And fall of coals, whose shadow faints
Around the hearts that sit and think,
Borne far beyond the actual's brink.
I heard the wind, before the morn
Stretched gaunt, gray fingers 'thwart my pane,
Drive clouds down, a dark dragon-train;
Its iron visor closed, a horn
Of steel from out the north it wound.-
No morn like yesterday's! whose mouth,
A cool carnation, from the south
Breathed through a golden reed the sound
Of days that drop clear gold upon
Cerulean silver floors of dawn.
And all of yesterday is lost
And swallowed in to-day's wild light-
The birth deformed of day and night,
The illegitimate, who cost
Its mother secret tears and sighs;
Unlovely since unloved; and chilled
With sorrows and the shame that filled
Its parents' love; which was not wise
In passion as the day and night
That married yestermorn with light.
Down through the dark, indignant trees,
On indistinguishable wings
Of storm, the wind of evening swings;
Before its insane anger flees
Distracted leaf and shattered bough:
There is a rushing as when seas
Of thunder beat an iron prow
On reefs of wrath and roaring wreck:
'Mid stormy leaves, a hurrying speck
Of flickering blackness, driven by,
A mad bat whirls along the sky.
Like some sad shadow, in the eve's
As by some strange and twilight spell-
A gaunt girl stands among the leaves,
The night-wind in her dolorous dress:
Symbolic of the life that grieves,
Of toil that patience makes not less,
Her load of fagots fallen there.-
A wilder shadow sweeps the air,
And she is gone…. Was it the dumb
Eidolon of the month to come?
The song birds-are they flown away?
The song birds of the summer time,
That sang their souls into the day,
And set the laughing hours to rhyme.
No catbird scatters through the bush
The sparkling crystals of its song;
Within the woods no hermit-thrush
Thridding with vocal gold the hush.
All day the crows fly cawing past:
The acorns drop: the forests scowl:
At night I hear the bitter blast
Hoot with the hooting of the owl.
The wild creeks freeze: the ways are strewn
With leaves that clog: beneath the tree
The bird, that set its toil to tune,
And made a home for melody,
Lies dead beneath the snow-white moon.