MASTER of human harmonies, where gong
And harp and violin and flute accord;
Each instrument confessing you its lord,
Within the deathless orchestra of Song.
Albeit at times your music may sound wrong
To our dulled senses, and its meaning barred
To Earth's slow understanding, never marred
Your message brave: clear, and of trumpet tongue.
Poet-revealer, who, both soon and late,
Within an age of doubt kept clean your faith,
Crying your cry of 'With the world all's well!'
How shall we greet you from our low estate,
Keys in the keyboard that is life and death,
The organ whence we hear your music swell?
The Cry Of Earth
THE Season speaks this year of life
Confusing words of strife,
Suggesting weeds instead of fruits and flowers
In all Earth's bowers.
With heart of Jael, face of Ruth,
She goes her way uncouth
Through hills and fields, where fog and sunset seem
Wild smoke and steam.
Around her, spotted as a leopard skin,
She draws her cloak of whin,
And through the dark hills sweeps dusk's last red glare
Wild on her hair.
Her hands drip leaves, like blood, and burn
With frost; her moony urn
She lifts, where Death, 'mid driving stress and storm,
Rears his gaunt form.
And all night long she seems to say
'Come forth, my Winds, and slay! —
And everywhere is heard the wailing cry
Of dreams that die.
Child And Father
A LITTLE child, one night, awoke and cried,
'Oh, help me, father! there is something wild
Before me! help me!' Hurrying to his side
I answered, 'I am here. You dreamed, my child.'
'A dream? —' he questioned. 'Oh, I could not see!
It was so dark! — Take me into your bed!'—
And I, who loved him, held him soothingly,
And smiling on his terror, comforted.
He nestled in my arms. I held him fast;
And spoke to him and calmed his childish fears,
Until he smiled again, asleep at last,
Upon his lashes still a trace of tears….
How like a child the world! who, in this night
Of strife, beholds strange monsters threatening;
And with black fear, having so little light,
Cries to its Father, God, for comforting.
And well for it, if, answering the call,
The Father hear and soothe its dread asleep! —
How many though, whom thoughts and dreams appall,
Must lie awake and in the darkness weep.
Out Of The Depths
Let me forget her face!
So fresh, so lovely! the abiding place
Of tears and smiles that won my heart to her;
Of dreams and moods that moved my soul's dim deeps,
As strong winds stir
Dark waters where the starlight glimmering sleeps.
In every lineament the mind can trace,
Let me forget her face!
Let me forget her form!
Soft and seductive, that contained each charm,
Each grace the sweet word maidenhood implies;
And all the sensuous youth of line and curve,
That makes men's eyes
Bondsmen of beauty eager still to serve.
In every part that memory can warm,
Let me forget her form!
Let me forget her, God!
Her who made honeyed love a bitter rod
To scourge my heart with, barren with despair;
To tear my soul with, sick with vain desire!
Oh, hear my prayer!
Out of the hell of love's unquenchable fire
I cry to thee, with face against the sod,
Let me forget her, God!
The Name On The Tree
I saw a name carved on a tree —
A simpler name there could not be—
But seeing it I seemed to see
A Devon garden,— pleasantly
About a parsonage, — the bee
Made drowsy-sweet; where rosemary
And pink and phlox and peony
Bowed down to one
Whom Herrick made to bloom in Poetry.
A moment there I saw her stand,—
A gillyflower in her hand,—
And then, kind-faced and big and bland,
As raised by some magician's wand,
Herrick himself passed by, sun-tanned,
And smiling; and the quiet land
Seemed to take on and understand
A dream long dreamed,
And for the lives of two some gladness planned.
And then I seemed to hear a sigh,—
And someone softly walking nigh,—
The leaves shook; and a butterfly
Trailed past; and through the sleepy sky
A bird flew, crying strange its cry —
Then suddenly before my eye
Two lovers strolled — They knew not why
I looked amazed,—
But I had seen old ghosts of long dead loves go by.
The Child At The Gate
THE sunset was a sleepy gold,
And stars were in the skies
When down a weedy lane he strolled
In vague and thoughtless wise.
And then he saw it, near a wood,
An old house, gabled brown,
Like some old woman, in a hood,
Looking toward the town.
A child stood at its broken gate,
Singing a childish song,
And weeping softly as if Fate
Had done her child's heart wrong.
He spoke to her: —'Now tell me, dear,
Why do you sing and weep?'—
But she — she did not seem to hear,
But stared as if asleep.
Then suddenly she turned and fled
As if with soul of fear.
He followed; but the house looked dead,
And empty many a year.
The light was wan: the dying day
Grew ghostly suddenly:
And from the house he turned away,
Wrapped in its mystery.
They told him no one dwelt there now:
It was a haunted place.—
And then it came to him, somehow,
The memory of a face.
That child's — like hers, whose name was Joy —
For whom his heart was fain:
The face of her whom, when a boy,
He played with in that lane.
Oh, I am going home again,
Back to the old house in the lane,
And mother! who still sits and sews,
With cheeks, each one, a winter rose,
A-watching for her boy, you know,
Who left so many years ago,
To face the world, its stress and strain
Oh, I am going home again.
Yes, I am going home once more,
And mother 'll meet me at the door
With smiles that rainbow tears of joy,
And arms that reach out for her boy,
And draw him to her happy breast,
On which awhile his head he 'll rest,
And care no more, if rich or poor,
At home with her, at home once more.
Yes, I am going home to her,
Whose welcome evermore is sure:
I have been thinking, night and day,
How tired I am of being away!
How homesick for her gentle face,
And welcome of the oldtime place,
And memories of the days that were
Oh, I am going home to her.
Oh, just to see her face again
A-smiling at the windowpane!
To see her standing at the door
And offering her arms once more,
As oft she did when, just a child,
She took me to her heart and smiled,
And hushed my cry and cured my pain
I'm going home to her again.
The Old Remain, The Young Are Gone
The old remain, the young are gone.
The farm dreams lonely on the hill:
From early eve to early dawn
A cry goes with the whippoorwill
'The old remain, the young are gone.'
Where run the roads they wander on?
The young, whose hearts romped shouting here:
Whose feet thrilled rapture through this lawn,
Where sadness walks now all the year.
The old remain, the young are gone.
To what far glory are they drawn?
And do they weary of the quest?
And serve they now a king or pawn
There in the cities of unrest?
The old remain, the young are gone.
They found the life here gray and wan,
Too kind, too poor, too full of peace:
The great mad world of brain and brawn
Called to their young hearts without cease.
The old remain, the young are gone.
They left us to our Avalon,
The ancient fields, the house and trees,
Where we at sunset and at dawn
May sit with dreams and memories.
The old remain, the young are gone.
Dear Heart, draw near and lean upon
My heart, and gaze no more through tears:
We have our love; our work well done,
To help us face the wistful years.
The old remain, the young are gone.
When my mother is n't here,
And I just won't go to bed,
And it's cold outside and near
Christmas; and the kitchen-shed
'S covered thick with frost and snow;
Then my nurse she says, 'Oh! oh!
Better get to bed! My Laws!
Think I hear Old Santa Claus!'
Then I hurry; never kick,
Squirm or cry or anything:
But jump into bed right quick:
'Fraid to look around; and cling
Fast to nurse; and close my eyes
Tight: she looking just as wise!
Scared, too, don't you know? because
She fast heard Old Santa Claus.
Why in goodness I'm afraid
I don't know. For Santa's good,
So they say, and brings much aid
To all folks. It's understood
Specially to girls and boys,
Christmas-trees and cakes and toys;
But there must be some good cause
Makes one 'fraid of Santa Claus.
It's his whiskers, I suppose;
Gray and big about his chin,
Where you just can see his nose
And his eyes, each like a pin:
And his clothes all made of hair
Twinkling thick with frost. Declare
If I saw him I'd have cause
To be scared of Santa Claus.
One night, week from Christmas, I
Looked out through the window-pane;
And right in our back-yard, why,
Some one walked in wind and rain,
Swishing, splashing with a whip.
Did n't I just hop and skip
Into bed? because, because
Guess it was Old Santa Claus.
And I am all shivery
When I wake up winter nights,
And it's dark and I can't see,
And the black wind fights and fights
Round the chimney; then right quick
Under cover my head I stick,
Crying, 'Mother! wake up! 'cause
Think I hear Old Santa Claus!'
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.'
Let down the bars; drive in the cows:
The west is barred with burning rose.
Unhitch the horses from the ploughs,
And from the cart the ox that lows,
And light the lamp within the house:
The whippoorwill is calling,
Where the locust blooms are falling
On the hill;
The sunset's rose is dying,
And the whippoorwill is crying,
Soft, now shrill,
The whippoorwill is crying,
Unloose the watch-dog from his chain:
The first stars wink their drowsy eyes:
A sheep-bell tinkles in the lane,
And where the shadow deepest lies
A lamp makes bright the window-pane:
The whippoorwill is calling,
Where the berry-blooms are falling
On the rill;
The first faint stars are springing,
And the whippoorwill is singing,
The whippoorwill is singing,
The cows are milked; the cattle fed;
The last far streaks of evening fade:
The farm-hand whistles in the shed,
And in the house the table's laid;
Its lamp streams on the garden-bed:
The whippoorwill is calling,
Where the dogwood blooms are falling
On the hill;
The afterglow is waning
And the whippoorwill's complaining,
Wild and shrill,
The whippoorwill's complaining,
The moon blooms out, a great white rose;
The stars wheel onward toward the west:
The barnyard-cock wakes once and crows;
The farm is wrapped in peaceful rest;
The cricket chirs; the firefly glows
The whippoorwill is calling,
Where the bramble-blooms are falling
On the rill;
The moon her watch is keeping
And the whippoorwill is weeping,
The whippoorwill is weeping,
Mother, mother, what is that gazing through the darkness?
What is that that looks at me with its awful eyes?
Tell me, mother, what it is, freezing me to starkness?
Through the house it seems to go with its icy sighs,
What is that, oh, what is that, mother, in the darkness?
Child, my child! my little child! 'tis a waving willow,
That the night wind bows and sways near the window-pane:
Here's my breast, my little son. Let it be your pillow.
Have no fear, love, in my arms. Go to sleep again.
Go to sleep and turn your face from the windy willow.
Mother, mother, what is that? going round and round there?
Round the house and at the door stops and turns the knob.
Hold me close, O mother love! keep me from that sound there!
Hear it how it's knocking now? Don't you hear it sob?
Guard me from the ghostly thing that goes round and round there.
Child, my child! my little child! 'tis the wind that wanders:
'Tis the wandering wind that knocks, crying at the door.
Hark no more and heed no more what the night wind maunders.
Rest your head on mother's heart, list its faery lore.
Go to sleep and have no fear of the wind that wanders.
Mother, mother, look and see! what is that that stands there?
With its lantern face and limbs, mantled all in black!
Gaunt and grim and horrible with its knuckled hands there!
Now before me! now beside me! now behind my back!
Mother! mother! face it now! ask it why it stands there!
Child, my child! my little child! 'tis a shadow only!
Shadow of the lamp-shade here near your little bed!
No! it will not come again when the night lies lonely.
Sleep, oh, sleep, my little son. See! the thing is fled.
Mother will not leave her boy with that shadow only....
Will he live? or will he die? Answer; fearful Shadow!
O thou Death who hoverest near, hold thy hands away!
Oh, that night were past and light lay on hill and meadow!
Does he sleep? or is he dead? God! that it were day!
Light to help my love to fight with that crouching shadow!
And I told the boy next door
What Jack Frost had done; and he
Said, 'Ah shucks! that's nothing; see?
I have seen all that before.
You just come along with me;
I will show you something more.'
And he took me to a lot
Where there was a shallow pool;
And this pool was frozen; full
Of the slickest ice. I got
On it, but he said, 'You fool!
It will break. You'd better not.'
And right then it broke. O my!
In I went above my knees.
Thought that I would surely freeze.
Old Jack Frost just caught me by
Both my legs; began to squeeze;
And then I began to cry.
I just helloed, and the boy
Helloed too; until a man,
With a dinner-pail or can,
Heard us, and cried out, 'Ahoy!
What 've you run into?' Then ran
Till he got there, to our joy.
He just took me round the waist,
Lifted me as easy; so;
Then he said, 'I think, by Joe!
You two boys were both in haste
To go skating, don't you know?
Better wait till summer's chased.
'Where you live, eh?' And I told.
'Well, we'll have to hurry. Come.
Old Jack Frost has nipped my thumb.
I shall have an awful cold;
And suppose that you'll have some.
Can't be helped. Hope Ma won't scold.
'My! but you're a mighty fine
Little boy! Remind me of
One at home my own I love.
Eyes just like yours clear as wine.
There now! I have lost my glove.
You're just like that boy of mine.
'Wish he knew you. Got blue eyes
Same as yours and same brown hair.
But he's crippled. Has a chair
Where he sits all day, or lies.
'He's our only love and care'
So his mother says, then cries.
'Here's your street and here's your home.
Run 'long to your mother. Then
I'll be seeing you again.
So long. Hope the day will come
My boy'll be like you young men,
Straight and strong and mettlesome.'
Then he went and, man alive!
I felt sorrier for that man
With his battered dinner-can,
And his crippled boy, than I've
Ever felt. And I began
Crying; and then made a dive
For the back-door. Won't forget
All the fuss there: first they told
Mother, and how she did scold!
Father said, 'This getting wet
Will, I'm sure, give you a cold.'
But I have n't had it yet.
The Haunted House
The shadows sit and stand about its door
Like uninvited guests and poor;
And all the long, hot summer day
The grating locust dins its roundelay
In one old sycamore.
The squirrel leaves upon its rotting roof,
In empty hulls, its tracks;
And in its clapboard cracks
The spider weaves a windy woof;
Its cells the mud-wasp packs.
The she-fox whelps upon its floor;
The owlet roosts above its door;
And where the musty mosses run,
The freckled snake basks in the sun.
The children of what fathers sleep
Beneath these melancholy pines?
The slow slugs crawl among their graves where creep
The doddered poison-vines.
The orchard, near the meadow deep,
Lifts up decrepit arms,
Gray-lichened in a withering heap.
No sap swells up to make it leap
As once in calms and storms;
No blossom lulls its age asleep;
Each breeze brings sad alarms.
Big, bell-round pears and apples, russet-red,
No maiden gathers now;
The worm-bored trunks weep gum, like tears, instead,
From each decaying bough.
The woodlands around it are solitary
And fold it like gaunt hands;
The sunlight is sad and the moonlight is dreary,
And the hum of the country is weary, so weary!
And the bees go by in bands
To other lovelier lands.
The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;
The lonesomeness,-dank and rank
As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
An old-man's corpse with many a flower,-
Is hushed and blank.
And even the birds have passed it by,
To sing their songs to a happier sky,
A happier sky and bank.
In its desolate halls are lying,
Gold, blood-red and browned,
Drifted leaves of summer dying;
And the winds, above them sighing,
Turn them round and round,
Make a ghostly sound
As of footsteps failing, flying,
Voices through the chambers crying,
Of the haunted house.
Gazing down in her white shroud,
Shroud of windy cloud,
Comes at night the phantom moon;
Comes and all the shadows soon,
Crowding in the rooms, arouse;
Shadows, ghosts, her rays lead on,
Till beneath the cloud
Like a ghost she's gone,
In her gusty shroud,
O'er the haunted house.
The Ballad Of The Rose
Booted and spurred he rode toward the west,
A rose, from the woman who loved him best,
Lay warm with her kisses there in his breast,
And the battle beacons were burning.
As over the draw he galloping went,
She, from the gateway's battlement,
With a wafted kiss and a warning bent
'Beware of the ford at the turning!'
An instant only he turned in his sell,
And lightly fingered his petronel,
Then settled his sword in its belt as well,
And the horns to battle were sounding.
She watched till he reached the beacon there,
And saw its gleam on his helm and hair,
Then turned and murmured, 'God keep thee, Clare!
From that wolf of the hills and his hounding.'
And on he rode till he came to the hill,
Where the road turned off by the ruined mill,
Where the stream flowed shallow and broad and still,
And the battle beacon was burning.
Into the river with little heed,
Down from the hill he galloped his steed
The water whispered on rock and reed,
'Death hides by the ford at the turning!'
And out of the night on the other side,
Their helms and corselets dim descried,
He saw ten bandit troopers ride,
And the horns to battle were blaring.
Then he reined his steed in the middle ford,
And glanced behind him and drew his sword,
And laughed as he shouted his battle-word,
'Clare! Clare! and my steel needs airing!'
Then down from the hills at his back there came
Ten troopers more. With a face of flame
Red Hugh of the Hills led on the same,
In the glare of the beacon's burning.
Again the cavalier turned and gazed,
Then quick to his lips the rose he raised,
And kissed it, crying, 'Now God be praised!
And help her there when mourning!'
Then he rose in his stirrups and loosened rein,
And shouting his cry spurred on amain
Into the troopers to slay and be slain,
While the horns to battle were blowing.
With ten behind him and ten before,
And the battle beacon to light the shore,
Small doubt of the end in his mind he bore,
With her rose in his bosom glowing.
One trooper he slew with his petronel,
And one with his sword when his good steed fell,
And they haled him, fighting, from horse and sell
In the light of the beacon's burning.
Quoth Hugh of the Hills, 'To yonder tree
Now hang him high where she may see;
Then bear this rose and message from me
'The ravens feast at the turning.''
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.
Romaunt Of The Oak
'I rode to death, for I fought for shame
The Lady Maurine of noble name,
'The fair and faithless!-Though life be long
Is love the wiser?-Love made song
'Of all my life; and the soul that crept
Before, arose like a star and leapt:
'Still leaps with the love that it found untrue,
That it found unworthy.-Now run me through!
'Yea, run me through! for meet and well,
And a jest for laughter of fiends in hell,
'It is that I, who have done no wrong,
Should die by the hand of Hugh the Strong,
'Of Hugh her leman!-What else could be
When the devil was judge twixt thee and me?
'He splintered my lance, and my blade he broke-
Now finish me thou 'neath the trysting oak!' ...
The crest of his foeman,-a heart of white
In a bath of fire,-stooped i' the night;
Stooped and laughed as his sword he swung,
Then galloped away with a laugh on his tongue....
But who is she in the gray, wet dawn,
'Mid the autumn shades like a shadow wan?
Who kneels, one hand on her straining breast,
One hand on the dead man's bosom pressed?
Her face is dim as the dead's; as cold
As his tarnished harness of steel and gold.
O Lady Maurine! O Lady Maurine!
What boots it now that regret is keen?
That his hair you smooth, that you kiss his brow
What boots it now? what boots it now?...
She has haled him under the trysting oak,
The huge old oak that the creepers cloak.
She has stood him, gaunt in his battered arms,
In its haunted hollow.-'Be safe from storms,'
She laughed as his cloven casque she placed
On his brow, and his riven shield she braced.
Then sat and talked to the forest flowers
Through the lonely term of the day's pale hours.
And stared and whispered and smiled and wept,
While nearer and nearer the evening crept.
And, lo, when the moon, like a great gold bloom
Above the sorrowful trees did loom,
She rose up sobbing, 'O moon, come see
My bridegroom here in the old oak-tree!
'I have talked to the flowers all day, all day,
For never a word had he to say.
'He would not listen, he would not hear,
Though I wailed my longing into his ear.
'O moon, steal in where he stands so grim,
And tell him I love him, and plead with him.
'Soften his face that is cold and stern
And brighten his eyes and make them burn,
'O moon, O moon, so my soul can see
That his heart still glows with love for me!' ...
When the moon was set, and the woods were dark,
The wild deer came and stood as stark
As phantoms with eyes of fire; or fled
Like a ghostly hunt of the herded dead.
And the hoot-owl called; and the were-wolf snarled;
And a voice, in the boughs of the oak-tree gnarled,
Like the whining rush of the hags that ride
To the witches' sabboth,-crooned and cried.
And wrapped in his mantle of wind and cloud
The storm-fiend stalked through the forest loud.
When she heard the dead man rattle and groan
As the oak was bent and its leaves were blown,
And the lightning vanished and shimmered his mail,
Through the swirling sweep of the rain and hail,
She seemed to hear him, who seemed to call,-
'Come hither, Maurine, the wild leaves fall!
'The wild leaves rustle, the wild leaves flee;
Come hither, Maurine, to the hollow tree!
'To the trysting tree, to the tree once green;
Come hither, Maurine! come hither, Maurine!' ...
They found her closed in his armored arms-
Had he claimed his bride on that night of storms?
The Land Of Illusion
So we had come at last, my soul and I,
Into that land of shadowy plain and peak,
On which the dawn seemed ever about to break
On which the day seemed ever about to die.
Long had we sought fulfillment of our dreams,
The everlasting wells of Joy and Youth;
Long had we sought the snow-white flow'r of Truth,
That blooms eternal by eternal streams.
And, fonder still, we hoped to find the sweet
Immortal presence, Love; the bird Delight
Beside her; and, eyed with sidereal night,
Faith, like a lion, fawning at her feet.
But, scorched and barren, in its arid well,
We found our dreams' forgotten fountain-head;
And by black, bitter waters, crushed and dead,
Among wild weeds, Truth's trampled asphodel.
And side by side with pallid Doubt and Pain,
Not Love, but Grief did meet us there: afar
We saw her, like a melancholy star,
Or pensive moon, move towards us o'er the plain.
Sweet was her face as song that sings of home;
And filled our hearts with vague, suggestive spells
Of pathos, as sad ocean fills its shells
With sympathetic moanings of its foam.
She raised one hand and pointed silently,
Then passed; her eyes, gaunt with a thirst unslaked,
Were worlds of woe, where tears in torrents ached,
Yet never fell. And like a winter sea,-
Whose caverned crags are haunts of wreck and wrath,
That house the condor pinions of the storm,-
My soul replied; and, weeping, arm in arm,
To'ards those dim hills, by that appointed path,
We turned and went. Arrived, we did discern
How Beauty beckoned, white 'mid miles of flowers,
Through which, behold, the amaranthine Hours
Like maidens went each holding up an urn;
Wherein, it seemed-drained from long chalices
Of those slim flow'rs-they bore mysterious wine;
A poppied vintage, full of sleep divine
And pale forgetting of all miseries.
Then to my soul I said, 'No longer weep.
Come, let us drink; for hateful is the sky,
And earth is full of care, and life's a lie.
So let us drink; yea, let us drink and sleep.'
Then from their brimming urns we drank sweet must,
While, all around us, rose-crowned faces laughed
Into our eyes; but hardly had we quaffed
When, one by one, these crumbled into dust.
And league on league the eminence of blooms,
That flashed and billowed like a summer sea,
Rolled out a waste of thorns and tombs; where bee
And butterfly and bird hung dead in looms
Of worm and spider. And through tomb and brier,
A thin wind, parched with thirsty dust and sand,
Went wailing as if mourning some lost land
Of perished empire, Babylon or Tyre.
Long, long with blistered feet we wandered in
That land of ruins, through whose sky of brass
Hate's Harpy shrieked; and in whose iron grass
The Hydra hissed of undestroyable Sin.
And there at last, behold, the House of Doom,-
Red, as if Hell had glared it into life,
Blood-red, and howling with incessant strife,-
With burning battlements, towered in the gloom.
And throned within sat Darkness.-Who might gaze
Upon that form, that threatening presence there,
Crowned with the flickering corpse-lights of Despair,
And yet escape sans madness and amaze?
And we had hoped to find among these hills
The House of Beauty!-Curst, yea, thrice accurst,
The hope that lures one on from last to first
With vain illusions that no time fulfills!
Why will we struggle to attain, and strive,
When all we gain is but an empty dream?-
Better, unto my thinking, doth it seem
To end it all and let who will survive;
To find at last all beauty is but dust;
That love and sorrow are the very same;
That joy is only suffering's sweeter name;
And sense is but the synonym of lust.
Far better, yea, to me it seems to die;
To set glad lips against the lips of Death-
The only thing God gives that comforteth,
The only thing we do not find a lie.
An Ode to be read on the laying of the foundation
stone of the new Oglethorpe University,
January, 1915, at Atlanta,
AS when with oldtime passion for this Land
Here once she stood, and in her pride, sent forth
Workmen on every hand,
Sowing the seed of knowledge South and North,
More gracious now than ever, let her rise,
The splendor of a new dawn in her eyes;
Grave, youngest sister of that company,
That smiling wear
Laurel and pine
And wild magnolias in their flowing hair;
The sisters Academe,
With thoughts divine,
Standing with eyes a-dream,
Gazing beyond the world, into the sea,
Where lie the Islands of Infinity.
Now in these stormy days of stress and strain,
When Gospel seems in vain,
And Christianity a dream we've lost,
That once we made our boast;
Now when all life is brought
Face to grim face with naught,
And a condition speaking, trumpet-lipped,
Of works material, leaving Beauty out
Of God's economy; while, horror-dipped,
Lies our buried faith, full near to perish,
'Mid the high things we cherish,
In these tempestuous days when, to and fro
The serpent, Evil, goes and strews his way
With dragon's teeth that play
Their part as once they did in Jason's day;
And War, with menace loud,
And footsteps, metal-slow,
And eyes a crimson hot,
Is seen, against the Heaven a burning blot
Of blood and tears and woe:
Now when no mortal living seems to know
Whither to turn for hope, we turn to thee,
And such as thou art, asking 'What's to be?'
And that thou point the path
Above Earth's hate and wrath,
And Madness, stalking with his torch aglow
Amid the ruins of the Nations slow
Crumbling to ashes with Old Empire there
In Europe's tiger lair.
A temple may'st thou be,
A temple by the everlasting sea,
For the high goddess, Ideality,
Set like a star,
Above the peaks of dark reality:
Above the deeds of War,
Within the shrine of Love, whose face men mar
That is the prism
Through which they gaze with eyes obscured of Greed,
At the white light of God's Eternity,
The comfort of the world, the soul's great need,
That beacons Earth indeed,
Breaking its light intense
With turmoil and suspense
And failing human Sense.
From thee a higher Creed
Shall be evolved.
The broken lights resolved
Into one light again, of glorious light,
Between us and the Everlasting, that is God.—
The all-confusing fragments, that are night,
Lift up thy rod
Of knowledge and from Truth's eyeballs strip
The darkness, and in armor of the Right,
Bear high the standard of imperishable light!
Cry out, 'Awake! — I slept awhile! — Awake!
Again I take
My burden up of Truth for Jesus' sake,
And stand for what he stood for, Peace and Thought,
And all that's Beauty-wrought
Through doubt and dread and ache,
By which the world to good at last is brought!'
No more with silence burdened, when the Land
Was stricken by the hand
Of war, she rises, and assumes her stand
For the Enduring; setting firm her feet
On what is blind and brute:
Still holding fast
With honor to the past,
Speaking a trumpet word,
Which shall be heard
As an authority, no longer mute.
Again, yea, she shall stand
For what Truth means to Man
For science and for Art and all that can
Make life superior to the things that weight
The soul down, things of hate
Instead of love, for which the world was planned;
May she demand
Faith and inspire it; Song to lead her way
Above the crags of Wrong
Into the broader day;
And may she stand
For poets still; poets that now the Land
Needs as it never needed; such an one
As he, large Nature's Son
Lanier, who with firm hand
Held up her magic wand
Directing deep in music such as none
Has ever heard
Such music as a bird
Gives of its soul, when dying,
And unconscious if it's heard.
So let her rise, mother of greatness still,
Above all temporal ill;
Invested with all old nobility,
Teaching the South decision, self control
And strength of mind and soul;
Achieving ends that shall embrace the whole
Through deeds of heart and mind;
And thereby bind
Its effort to an end
And reach its goal.
So shall she win
A wrestler with sin,
Supremely to a place above the years,
And help men rise
To what is wise
And true beyond their mortal finite scan —
The purblind gaze of man;
Aiding with introspective eyes
His soul to see a higher plan
Of life beyond this life; above the gyves
Of circumstance that bind him in his place
Of doubt and keep away his face
From what alone survives;
And what assures
Immortal life to that within, that gives
Of its own self,
And through its giving, lives,
And evermore endures.
The sunset-crimson poppies are departed,
The dusky-centred, sultry-smelling poppies,
That burnt like flames along the garden coppice:
The ruby-cupped and opium-brimming poppies,
That slumber wedded,
The sunset-crimson poppies are departed.
Oh, heavy, heavy are the hours that fall,
The lonesome hours of the lonely days!
No poppy strews oblivion by the wall,
Where lone the last pod sways,
Oblivion that was hers of old that happier made her days.
Oh, weary, weary is the sky o'er all,
The days that creep, the hours that crawl,
And weary all the ways
She leans her face against the old stone wall,
The lichened wall, the mildewed wall,
And dreams, the long, long days,
Of one who will not come again whatever may befall.
. . . . .
All night it blew. The rain streamed down
And drowned the world in misty wet.
At morning, 'round the sunflower's crown
A row of glimmering drops was set;
The candytuft, heat shrivelled brown,
And beds of drought-dried mignonette,
Were beat to earth: but wearier, oh,
The rain was than the sun's fierce glow
That in the garth had wrought such woe:
That killed the moss-rose ere it bloomed,
And scorched the double-hollyhocks;
And bred great, poisonous weeds that doomed
The snapdragon and standing-phlox;
'Mid which gaunt spiders wove and loomed
Their dusty webs 'twixt rows of box;
And rotted into sleepy ooze
The lilied moat, that, lined with yews,
Lay scummed with many sickly hues.
How oft she longed and prayed for rain!
To blot the hateful landscape out!
To hem her heart, so parched with pain,
With sounds of coolth and broken drought;
And cure with change her stagnant brain,
And soothe to sleep all care and doubt.
At last when many days had past
And she had ceased to care at last
The longed-for rain came, falling fast.
At night, as late she lay awake,
And thought of him who had not come,
She heard the gray wind, moaning, shake
Her lattice; then the steady drum
Of storm upon the leads.. . The ache
Within her heart, so burdensome,
Grew heavier with the moan of rain.
The house was still, save, at her pane
The wind cried; hushed, then cried again.
All night she lay awake and wept:
There was no other thing to do:
At dawn she rose and, silent, crept
Adown the stairs that led into
The dripping garth, the storm had swept
With ruin; where, of every hue,
The flowers lay rotting, stained with mould;
Where all was old, unkempt and old,
And ragged as a marigold.
She sat her down, where oft she sat,
Upon a bench of marble, where,
In lines she oft would marvel at,
A Love was carved. She did not dare
Look on it then, remembering that
Here in past time he kissed her hair,
And murmured vows while, soft above,
The full moon lit the forth thereof,
The slowly crumbling form of Love.
She could but weep, remembering hours
Like these. Then in the drizzling rain.,
That weighed with wet the dying flowers,
She sought the old stone dial again;
The dial, among the moss-rose bowers,
Where often she had read, in vain,
Of time and change, and love and loss,
Rude-lettered and o'ergrown with moss,
That slow the gnomon moved across.
Remembering this she turned away,
The rain and tears upon her face.
There was no thing to do or say.
She stood a while, a little space,
And watched the rain bead, round and gray,
Upon the cobweb's tattered lace,
And tag the toadstool's spongy brim
With points of mist; and, orbing, dim
With fog the sunflower's ruined rim.
With fog, through which the moon at night
Would glimmer like a spectre sail;
Or, sullenly, a blur of light,
Like some huge glow-worm dimly trail;
'Neath which she 'd hear, wrapped deep in white,
The far sea moaning on its shale:
While in the garden, pacing slow,
And listening to its surge and flow,
She'd seem to hear her own heart's woe.
Now as the fog crept in from sea,
A great, white darkness, like a pall,
The yews and huddled shrubbery,
That dripped along the weedy wall,
Turned phantoms; and as shadowy
She too seemed, wandering 'mid it all
A phantom, pale and sad and strange,
And hopeless; doomed for aye to range
About the melancholy grange.
. . . . .
The pansies too are dead, the violet-varied,
The raven-dyed and fire-fretted pansies,
To memory married;
That from the grass, like forms in old romances,
Raised fairy faces:
All dead they lie, the violet-velvet pansies,
In many places,
The pansies too are dead, the violet-varied.
Oh, hateful, hateful are the hours that pass,
The lonely hours of the lonesome nights!
No pansy scatters heartsease through the grass,
That autumn sorrow blights,
The heartsease that was hers of old that happier made her nights.
Oh, barren, barren is her life, alas!
Its youth and beauty, all it has,
And barren all delights
She lays her face against the withered grass,
The sodden grass, the autumn grass,
And thinks, the long, long nights,
Of one who will not come again whatever comes to pass.
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.
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.