I gave my thoughts a golden peach,
A silver citron tree;
They clustered dumbly out of reach
And would not sing for me.
I built my thoughts a roof of rush,
A little byre beside;
They left my music to the thrush
And flew at eveningtide.
I went my way and would not care
If they should come and go;
A thousand birds seemed up in air,
My thoughts were singing so.
HERE where the bee slept and the orchis lifted
Her honeying pipes of pearl, her velvet lip,
Only the swart leaves of the oak lie drifted
In sombre fellowship.
Here where the flame-weed set the lands alight,
Lies the bleak upland, webbed and crowned with white.
Build high the logs, O love, and in thine eyes
Let me believe the summer lingers late.
We shall not miss her passive pageantries,
We are not desolate,
When on the sill, across the window bars,
Kind winter flings her flowers and her stars.
'SING of the things we know and love.'
But the singer made reply,
'There are greater lands to tell you of
And stars to steer you by.'
So he sang of worlds austere and strange,
Of seas so wildly wide
That only the journeying swan might range
The marches of the tide.
Men heard the thunder and the rain,
The tempest in his song,
They turned to their hearth fires again
And thought the night too long.
And only one man dared to hear
The deeds that singer told;
Against the stars he swung his spear
And died ere he was old.
A Child’s Song
WHEN the Child played in Galilee,
He had no wine-clear maple leaves,
No west winds singing of the sea
Over the frosted sheaves;
But with pale myrrh His head was bound
When the Child lived in Nazareth,
He watched the golden anise seed,
With daisies white in the wind's breath,
And hyssop flowering for His need,
While the late crocus from the sod
Flamed for her God.
When the Child dwelt in Palestine,
Over the brooks the willow grew,
Olive and aspen, oak and pine,
Sweet sycamore and yew,
But one dark Tree of all the seven
Stood high as heaven.
I shall not go with pain
Whether you hold me, whether you forget
My little loss and my immortal gain.
O flower unseen, O fountain sealed apart!
Give me one look, one look remembering yet,
I shall not go with grief,
Whether you call me, whether you deny
The crowning vintage and the golden sheaf.
O, April hopes that blossom but to close!
Give me one look, one look and so good-bye,
I shall not go with sighs,
But as full-crowned the warrior leaves the fight,
Dawn on his shield and death upon his eyes.
O, life so bitter-sweet and heaven so far!
Give me one look, one look and so good night,
A Child’s Song Of Christmas
MY counterpane is soft as silk,
My blankets white as creamy milk.
The hay was soft to Him, I know,
Our little Lord of long ago.
Above the roof the pigeons fly
In silver wheels across the sky.
The stable-doves they cooed to them,
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.
Bright shines the sun across the drifts,
And bright upon my Christmas gifts.
They brought Him incense, myrrh, and gold,
Our little Lord who lived of old.
O, soft and clear our mother sings
Of Christmas joys and Christmas things.
God's holy angels sang to them,
Mary and Christ in Bethlehem.
Our hearts they hold all Christmas dear,
And earth seems sweet and heaven seems near.
O, heaven was in His sight, I know,
That little Child of long ago.
FROM the clouded belfry calling,
Hear my soft ascending swells;
Hear my notes like swallows falling;
I am Bega, least of bells.
When great Turkeful rolls and rings
All the storm-touched turret swings,
Echoing battle, loud and long.
When great Tatwin wakening roars
To the far-off shining shores,
All the seamen know his song.
I am Bega, least of bells:
In my throat my message swells.
I with all the winds a-thrill,
Murmuring softly, murmuring still,
'God around me, God above me,
God to guard me, God to love me.'
I am Bega, least of bells,
Weaving wonder, wind-born spells.
High above the morning mist,
Wreathed in rose and amethyst,
Still the dreams of music float
Silver from my silver throat,
Whispering beauty, whispering peace.
When great Tatwin's golden voice
Bids the listening land rejoice,
When great Turkeful rings and rolls
Thunder down to trembling souls,
Then my notes like curlews flying,
Lifting, falling, sinking, sighing,
Softly answer, softly cease.
I with all the airs at play
Murmuring sweetly, murmuring say,
'God around me, God above me,
God to guard me, God to love me.'
WHO goes down through the slim green sallows,
Soon, so soon ?
Dawn is hard on the heels of the moon,
But never a lily the day-star knows
Is white, so white as the one who goes
Armed and shod, when the hyacinths darken.
Then hark, O harken !
And rouse the moths from the deep rose-mallows,
Call the wild hares down from the fallows,
Gather the silk of the young sea-poppies,
The bloom of the thistle, the bells of the foam;
Bind them all with a brown owl's feather,
Snare the winds in a golden tether,
Chase the clouds from the gipsy's weather, and follow, O follow, the white spring home.
Who goes past with the wind that chilled us,
Late, so late ?
Fortune leans on the farmer's gate,
Watching the round sun low in the south,
With a plume in his cap and a rose at his mouth.
But O, for the folk who were free and merry
There's never so much as a red rose-berry.
But old earth's warm as the wine that filled us,
And the fox and the little gray mouse skull build us
Walls of the sweet green gloom of the cedar,
A roof of bracken, a curtain of whin;
One more rouse ere the bowl reposes
Low in the dust of our lost red roses,
One more song ere the cold night closes, and welcome, O welcome the dark death in !
IN the streets of Bethlehem sang the children
So merry and so shrill,
'He shall have sweet cedars in his garden
And a house on Hermon Hill.
He shall have the king's daughter for his fellow,
A king's crown to bind upon his head.'
And with bracken buds and straw, brown and yellow,
Mary made His bed.
In the streets of Nazareth sang the children
So clearly and so sweet,
'He shall lead us to the spoiling of the nations,
He shall bruise them with his feet.
His standards shall outface the stars for number,
Red as field-lilies when the rains are done.'
And Mary heard them singing in her slumber.
And woke to kiss her Son.
In the streets of Jerusalem the children
Sang, passing to their play,
'The king's daughter waits in her apparel
All glorious as day.
We charge you, O ye watchmen, of your pity
Reveal us our belovéd, call his name.'
And the shadow of a cross beyond the city
Fell softly o'er their game.
In the ways of all the world sing the children,
'We know Him, we have named Him, He is ours,
Like leaves we have fluttered to His shadow,
He has gathered us as flowers.
And when the bud falls all too soon for blossom
And when the play has wearied of its charm,
He bears the tired lambs within His bosom
And the young lambs in His arm.'
The Little Fauns To Proserpine
BROWNER than the hazel-husk, swifter than the wind,
Though you turn from heath and hill, we are hard behind,
Singing, 'Ere the sorrows rise, ere the gates unclose
Bind above your wistful eyes the memory of a rose.'
Dark Iacchus pipes the kine shivering from the whin,
Wraps him in a she-goat's fell above the panther skin.
Now we husk the corn for bread, turn the mill for hire,
Hoof by hoof and head by head about the herdsman's fire.
Ai, Adonis, where he gleams, slender and at rest,
One has built a roof of dreams where the white doves nest.
Ere they bring the wine-dark bowl, ere the gates unbar,
Take, O take within your soul the shadow of a star.
Now the vintage feast is done, now the melons glow
Gold along the raftered thatch beneath a thread of snow.
Dian's bugle bids the dawn sweep the upland clear,
Where we snared the silken fawn, where we ran the deer.
Through the dark reeds wet with rain, past the singing foam
Went the light-foot Mysian maids, calling Hylas home.
Syrinx felt the silver spell fold her at her need.
Hear, ere yet you say farewell, the wind along the reed.
Golden as the earliest leaf loosened from the spray,
Grave Alcestis drank of grief for her lord's delay.
Ere you choose the bitter part, learn the changeless wrong,
Bind above your breaking heart the echo of a song.
Now the chestnut burrs are down; aspen-shaws are pale;
Now across the plunging reef reels the last red sail.
Ere the wild, black horses cry, ere the night has birth,
Take, ere yet you say good-bye, the love of all the earth.
I LIFT the Lord on high,
Under the murmuring hemlock boughs, and see
The small birds of the forest lingering by
And making melody.
These are mine acolytes and these my choir,
And this mine altar in the cool green shade,
Where the wild soft-eyed does draw nigh
Wondering, as in the byre
Of Bethlehem the oxen heard Thy cry
And saw Thee, unafraid.
My boatmen sit apart,
Wolf-eyed, wolf-sinewed, stiller than the trees.
Help me, O Lord, for very slow of heart
And hard of faith are these.
Cruel are they, yet Thy children. Foul are they,
Yet wert Thou born to save them utterly.
Then make me as I pray,
Just to their hates, kind to their sorrows, wise
After their speech, and strong before their free
Do the French lilies reign
O'er Mont Royal and Stadacona still ?
Up the St. Lawrence comes the spring again,
Crowning each southward hill
And blossoming pool with beauty, while I roam
Far from the perilous folds that are my home,
There where we built St. Ignace for our needs,
Shaped the rough roof tree, turned the first sweet sod,
St. Ignace and St. Louis, little beads
On the rosary of God.
Pines shall Thy pillars be,
Fairer than those Sidonian cedars brought
By Hiram out of Tyre, and each birch-tree
Shines like a holy thought.
But come no worshippers; shall I confess,
St. Francis-like, the birds of the wilderness?
O, with Thy love my lonely head uphold.
A wandering shepherd I, who hath no sheep;
A wandering soul, who hath no scrip, nor gold,
Nor anywhere to sleep.
My hour of rest is done;
On the smooth ripple lifts the long canoe;
The hemlocks murmur sadly as the sun
Slants his dim arrows through.
Whither I go I know not, nor the way,
Dark with strange passions, vexed with heathen charms,
Holding I know not what of life or death;
Only be Thou beside me day by day,
Thy rod my guide and comfort, underneath
Thy everlasting arms.
O KEEP the world forever at the dawn,
Ere yet the opals, cobweb-strung, have dried,
Ere yet too bounteous gifts have marred the morn
Or fading stars have died.
O, keep the eastern gold no wider than
An angel's finger-span,
And hush the increasing thunder of the sea
To murmuring melody
In those fair coves where tempests ne'er should be.
Hold back the line of shoreward-sweeping surge
And veil each deep sea-pool in pearlier mist,
Ere yet the silver ripples on the verge
Have turned to amethyst.
Fling back the chariot of encroaching day
And call the winds away
Ere yet they sigh, and let the hastening sun
Along his path in heaven no higher run,
But show through all the years his golden rim
With shadows lingering dim
Forever o'er the world awaiting him.
Hold every bird with still and drowsy wing,
That in the breathless hush no clamorous throat
Shall break the peace that hangs on everything
With shrill awakening note;
Keep fast the half-seen beauties of the rose
In undisturbed repose,
Check all the iris buds where they unfold
Impatient from their hold,
And close the cowslips' cups of honeyed gold.
Keep all things hushed, so hushed we seem to hear
The sounds of low-swung clouds that sweep the trees;
Let now no harsher music reach the ear,
No earthlier sounds than these,
When whispering shadows move within the grass,
And airy tremors pass
Through all the earth with life awakening thrilled,
And so forever stilled,
Too sweet in promise e'er to be fulfilled.
O keep the world forever at the dawn,
Yet, keeping so, let nothing lifeless seem,
But hushed, as if the miracle of morn
Were trembling in its dream.
Some shadowy moth may pass with downy flight
And fade before the sight,
While in the unlightened darkness of the wall
The chirping crickets call;
From forest pools where fragrant lilies are
A breath shall pass afar,
And o'er the crested pine shall hang one star.
MOSES, JOSHUA, THE THREE ANGELS OF THE UNIVERSE
Evening: a slope of Pisgah
Moses –Our span of life is lessening with the years,
Our little sun rolls swiftlier to its end
Among the eternal stars. It is a feather
Blown from a careless lip into the dark,
A fallen feather, the lily of a day,
Brimming with blood and tears instead of dew,
And dying with its sleep. Having known life,
Having known day, I pass into the night;
Having long spoken with God, I hold my peace;
Having long held the sword, I lay it down,
And the new watch believes me. Is all well ?
Joshua –O father of my soul, I cannot tell.
The burden of the Lord is heavy on me,
And I am broken beneath it.
Moses – Since I knew,
All my desires and cares have gone from me.
Rather I think on old forgotten things–
A song within the temple-court, to her,
Isis, the Lady of Love. How white she sat
Above the crowded gate ! I was a boy:
I ran and laid a lotus on her knees,
Dreaming she smiled in answer. Ah, those dreams
Far on the shining level of the sands,–
Thebes and old Tanis builded of a cloud !
The reeds beside the river, those sweet trees
Full of warm buds that ripen and unclose
At eve; the barges passing on the Nile
Like golden water-fowl with ivory wings;
The gardens and the great pomegranate flowers,
And she, my gentle mother in Mizraim,
Calling me, 'Mesu, Mesu.'
Joshua – I cannot think.
My sorrow stays me and my grief prevents.
Yet there are heathen foes and wars to come.
I take thy sword. I cannot take thy soul,
Master of Law, unshaken friend of God,
But I can fight for Israel.
Moses – Fight, and stand
Firmly for God. Jehovah is salvation.
And now, beloved son in all but blood,
Go, get you down again.
Joshua – A little longer,
Leave me a little longer with you, lord !
Moses –No longer, for the gates of life are lonely.
Out of the dark man cometh to his life,
Into the dark he goeth.
Down, look down,
Down to the clustered tents, each with its lives
Of foolish children, vexed with many fears,
Agonies, hopes, beliefs inherited,
Dark hates, fond dreams, divine humilities.
Shall they go leaderless from stream to stream,
Following the far-flung visions of despair,
These that have been my sheep ?
Joshua – I cannot, father..
I am a man of war and not of wisdom.
They will not know my voice nor follow me.
Moses –Man, is it thy faint voice shall be uplifted,
To soothe the fearful and uphold the strong.
To lead the unshaken tribes to victory
Against the men of Amalek and Ai,
Lords of the plain and coast ? Is it thy strength ?
Nay, but Jehovah's in thee. As the cloud
Filling the empty valley of the hills,
As the white flood along the water courses
That once were barren, so His strength will pass
Into the pits and runnels of thy soul.
Fight, for the Lord is with thee. Stand thou firm.
Joshua –Lo, I would rather stay and die with thee
Than pass with shining banners and with song
Of silver shawms and trumpets, in thy place
Over the river Jordan.
Moses – Nay, I pass
Over a deeper river, with no songs,
No mighty trumpetings, no pride of banners.
Toil have I borne but triumph is not mine.
Once, once mine eyes shall see the Promised Land,
Her forts and towers, cities and pleasant fields,
Her palms and cedars, vines and olive trees,
And then be darkened. Here's my heritage,
Here by these mighty chasms, these Godward peaks,
My last resort, my lone abiding place.
See, the night comes. How is it with thee, son?
Joshua –A cloud has drawn between us and the plain,
A darkness moves between us and the sky,
Full of vague voices, mighty whisperings,
Wings, and the sound of them.
O, never man
Has breathed such chilling air as this which blows
Out of the dark. O, never man has heard
Such sounds as these which beat upon my soul,
Known, yet unknown; familiar, yet most dread !
Lord, must I go ?
Moses – This is the wind of death,
And this the cold that lies without the world,
And these the sounds that thrill the untrodden void
Beyond the lonelier stars. Go down, go down
To darknened Israel mourning in his tents.
I can no longer see thee. Stand thou firm.
(Joshua goes; the cloud surrounds Moses.)
O ye celestial presences, great shapes
With terrible fair faces, towering wings,–
Wings with the wine-deep glow of amethyst,
Sheath over sheath like folded waterbuds
Lit with an inward flame; wings pale as foam,
Faint plumes showered with silver; wings serene
Uplifted in a radiant arc of dawn,–
Unchain the prisoned pinions of this soul,
Say to the blind bird, Fly. Bid life recede,
A bubble before the advancing wave of death.
From my youth upward I have spoken of death,
Nor knew the word so sweet. There's music in it,
Music to break the heart. O, heavenly guards,
Looking so long in your immortal eyes
I am grown old. Death calls me as a sleep,
A rest desired, a rich forgetfulness,
After too much of life.
Angel of Darkness – Life is no more.
A little flame soon swallowed in the night,
A harp that hath no voice, a bow unstrung.
Pride of the grass and power of the reed,
Life is as swift in breaking. Peace be on thee;
Mine are the wings of peace. Men call me death,
But so God hath not named me.
Angel of Light – Life is past,
Thy ground is taken, thy tent is pitched forever.
Drink of these wells and be forsworn of sorrow,
Forsaken of weeping. Men have called me death,
Yet am I less and greater.
Angel of Dreams – Peace be on thee.
Peace and good rest. Mine are the wings of silence
Folded in silver sleep before my face;
This in my hand is golden fruit of Eden,
Whose scent is sleep; its flame-white flower grew
Along the glades where Adam walked with God.
Death have men called me, yet I am not death
Take thy last look on life.
Moses – O, Land of Promise.
From the great plains of Moab to the sea,–
Thy blossoming orchards, streams, and palaces
Like golden beads threaded on silver strings,
Thy towering walls and pinnacles of pride,–
A fruitful field it is, ripe for the harvest,
The harvest of the sword.
I shall not reap it,
The winepress of His wrath I shall not tread.
Plighted am I to silence; I go down,
Dead, to the dead, and am no more remembered
Upon the lips of men.
Those sceptred kings,
The solemn dead of old Mizraim, who sit
Forever in the sun beside their tombs,
With blank eyes smiling on eternity,
Crowned with the reed and lotus, do they live
More than their grass and lilies? Those I knew,
Princes and scribes, lords of the desert, priests
Learned above the wit of common minds,
Captains and merchants, rulers over gold,
Feathers and spices, emeralds, ivories,
Brought to the feet of Pharaoh: what of them ?
What of the King, Lord of the North and South,
Son of the Sun, like to the Sun forever?
A sun? A darkened light, a star o'erwhelmed,
When his fierce horsemen sank beneath that surge
Whose crest was blood and terror,–when there died
On one hushed night, all the firstborn of Egypt.
O night divine, I set thine excellence
Above the twice-crowned noon. Here is no star,
No slenderest crescent poised above the world,
No lingering love of day. But the soft dark
Folds inward as a flower, enfolding me,
My length of little days, wisdom and grief,
Light as a drop of rain.
Angel of Dreams – Tender is night,
But tenderer far the limits of this death,
This dream-encompassed city. Here no sound
Shall wake thee, from thy sleep no storm disturb,
Though here all storms are born. Tempest and cloud,
Thunder and hail, the mightiest airs of God,
The hosts of night, the hot triumphant dawn,
Seasons, and times, and days, unknown shall march
O'er thy surrendered head.
Moses – O loneliest rest !
On my lost grave only the winds shall mourn,
The white rain do me service, the sad stars
Age after age with endless circling eyes
View this last desolation. In thy hands,
Into thy hands, O death. Break the worn thread
That binds the rifted pattern of the loom.
O King of kings, forsake not now Thy servant.
Angel of Darkness – Lo, the black crags leap to the vaulted cloud,
Towering without a sound. The dark takes substance
In domes and depths of mightiest design
And seals him from the world. Pillared like Thebes,
Straight as the tall palm-orchard lift the walls
Of this vast grave. Life has no meaning here,
Light has no name nor place. O human heart,
Fain for the little shows of grief, for tears
And kindlier sepulchre, no king shall sleep
So royally housed as thou.
Moses – Draw near, draw near.
The string is all but parted. Shape thy wings
Into a roof of silver silences,
A dome of deep repose. O murmuring flood,
O tide of death lifting the weed of life,
O passive arbiter, indifferent power
In whose still hand the kingdoms of the world
Lie like a beggar's coin, beneath whose heel
Nations are drifted dust, accept thou me.
The bubble of life is broken.
Angel of Light – Life begins
Cover his face, kind Darkness, with thy wings
Smooth as the wild swan's breast. Let no wind wake
An echo in this holy solitude.
Let the enduring seasons with soft tread
Circle these sacred hills; no falling star
Shiver the fine perfection of repose.
God hath his life. Guard Thou his mighty dust.
Angel of Darkness – I am the firstborn angel. Ere this world
Was shapen, I endured within the void
Waiting the word of God. Beyond this world
I shall endure, when the young stars are driven
Outworn in dust along the roads of space,
Blown by the breath of chaos. When this plan,
This present firmament, vision and light,
Princes of heaven, dominions, powers, are past,
I shall remain about the eternal throne
Veiling the thoughts of God. Leave him with me,
Ye younger spirits; such silence is too old
For your bright souls to bear. Leave me my dead.
(The angels of Light and Dreams take flight.
The angel of Darkness covers Moses with his wings.)
The dead are mine. Swift they come down to me.
The little life they suffer, their frail dream
Is past. Here is no memory, here no hope,
No reason, no despair nor happiness.
Only the dust and I. It is His will.
Voices of Israel –Who now shall stand between us and our God ?