Oh ! why is the world as it is, we ask,
With tears in our voice, and a sigh :
For nothing remains but an unfinished task,
While beauty is only hypocrisy's mask,
The end of it all—but to die.

Believe me, the world is a place full of joy,
And happiness stretches afar:
Alas ! that the workings of man should destroy
The meaning of God, with the deeds they employ,
Oh ! why are we all as we are?

This valley now in sun, and now in shade,
Is like the musings of your tender mind,
That pauses, bathed in joy, yet half afraid
To look before, and then to gaze behind.

Along the fragrant meadows slowly steal,
The pensive, drifting shadows, purple blue,
As o'er your heart, that shrinks the while to feel
The kiss of promise wonderful and new.

Look upward. Child, to where across the skies
Float happy clouds, aglow with morning light!
It is their shadow that before you lies
Upon the plain, and see, the clouds are white !

To meet almost as strangers, who have been
Such lovers in the past ! no glad delight
To thrill our senses, till the wrong seems right,
For very joy—I wonder will your mien
Be happy ? it seems years since I have seen
You smiling! I shall take you to the light,
And trace new lines upon your brow, and right
Above them may be some gray hairs, your clean
Strong profile, will it look the very same?
Are your hands wrinkled? Oh! my perfect hands!
Be not less lovely now that passion stands
Aloof, and dare not kiss you into flame—
I could not bear it ! Time can never blight
Such marvels, so divinely slim and white.

A Night In Italy

Time hangs suspended 'mid the perfumed dusk,
With limpid wings, o'er which the first pale star
Gleams like a tear, within the tender, far
Desirous eyes of love-lorn Destiny.
The earth is dumb, the scents of many flowers
Flow out from petalled lips upon her breast,
In one unending sigh of happy rest.
The halting pageant of the passing hours
Unfurls its misty pennants to the sea.
The Nightingale has swooned for ecstasy,
And hides away amid the vine-clad bowers
Upon the terrace; Oh! impassioned dusk!
Speechless with longing, throbbing with delight
To fling thy beauty in the arms of night,
Thy rare, dim beauty sweet with breath of musk,
Thou shalt not know thy joy nor him requite
With tender ardour, ere there comes to me
Adown thy paths from out eternity,
My soul's twin soul, mine embodied bliss,
Torn from the countless ages by a kiss.

White Butterflies

Schwartz Wald

The heat of the mid-day has smitten the forest-land dumb !
The mountains are closing their eyes in a languorous dream,
The boulders stand stark, where the torrents once hastened to come,
For Earth in her passion is wholly consuming their stream.

The ardour and terror of living is rife in the air,
The air that is breathless, and stranger to motion or sound,
A rapture so potent it seems near akin to despair
Is drawing the life-blood in mist, from the sunravished ground.

And out thro' this region grown tense with creation's desire,
Inconsequent, fragile as thistledown wafted by breeze,
Two butterflies flutter, like snow-flakes that fall upon fire,
Far into the flame-land, that stretches away from the trees.

White butterflies, innocent-looking and soft as a sigh,
In quest of what blossoms, what mystical pleasures, who knows?
Close one to the other they hover now low and now high,
Like thoughts that are breathed from the heart of an opening rose.

Vague spirits that drift o'er the infinite tide of the earth,
As jewels of foam, on the passion-torn breast of the sea,
They know not the hour of their ending, the cause of their birth,
A moment of time or a year, they rejoice but to be !

Around them the problem of life, with its pain and its joy,
Impregnates the noon with a sense of some marvellous power,
Above them, grown potent with strength to create or destroy,
The shafts of the sun, that have smitten and withered the flower.

And still with frail bodies unmoved by the vastness of things
These fairy white butterflies flutter like spirits of light,
They pause for an instant, then spreading their tremulous wings,
Fly into the infinite, fading away from my sight.

Winter On The Zuyder Zee

The world has grown unreal to-day
Far out upon the Zuyder Zee !
We drift towards a mystic isle,
With scarce a breath of wind the while.
I hear the murmur of the tide,
I hear you breathing at my side,
Far out upon the Zuyder Zee.

The drearness of this inland sea!
Doomed thus to lie eternally
A fettered slave, grown old between
The dykes and marshes low and green,
Devoid of wind to stir the deep
Forgotten heart, so long asleep,
Oh! sorrow-ladened Zuyder Zee!

This awful hush engulfing things !
The noon-tide hangs with outspread wings
Above the ship, all motionless.
The penitential sails confess
Their sad inertness, damp and brown,
From silent masts they ripple down
Towards the lifeless Zuyder Zee.

I almost think that you and I
Are floating on a haze of sky,
This is an unknown sphere of dreams,
Or else some region where the beams
Of daylight that have died unblessed
By some kind thought stray seeking rest,
Along the wastes of Zuyder Zee.

How strange to know that youth is ours !
That do we choose a world of flowers
And sunlight waiting to our hand
Is calling for some gladder land,
So easy to attain, yet lo !
We drift amid the mist and woe
Of winter on the Zuyder Zee.

Is there a subtle charm, when sad
Despairing nature makes the glad
Rejoicing spirit pause to think,
Of those dim depths to which may sink
The soul immortal? Where the mind
May grow as sodden as a wind
That dies upon the Zuyder Zee?

When all our loving and our will
To love for ever can't fulfil
Love's promises for age and death?
That like a hushed, unwholesome breath,
From off the marshes in the night
Steals forth, and all our past delight
Is colder than the Zuyder Zee?

The very thought that death is near
Perchance makes life seem doubly dear,
And love more urgent, since they two
May some day fade away, and you
Become a spectral memory,
Devoid of joy ! and what of me
Oh! wise, world-weary Zuyder Zee?

Your endless depth of stark despair
But renders sunlit things more fair,
But makes the craving heart more strong
To grasp its pleasures, short or long,
While yet it is To-day, nor wait
Upon the will of doubtful fate,
Lest all emotion rendered numb
With long suppression should become
As you are, soulless Zuyder Zee !


The world 's a beautiful world to-day,
A flame of gold and a dusk of gray,

Where Autumn leaves toss their gaudy crests
O'er still deep lanes, where the twilight rests.

Just overhead as I ride along
A hopeful thrush charms his thought to song,

And all that 's joyous within me springs
To meet the promise of which he sings.

Away to Heaven the melting view
Is soft with raptures of endless blue;

The trees and meadows, the hills and plains,
Like music woven of countless strains

Submerge, entwine, till the eye can see
No shade that is not a harmony.

As part of nature's most perfect whole
Each humble object conceives a soul,

No tiny flower in the distance lost,
But gives its colour, nor counts the cost ;

No drop of dew, but its feeble ray
An atom cast in the pearly gray

Is shining there, unperceived, content,
A dim star set in earth's firmament.

My horse treads gently, and makes scarce sound,
His hoofs sink deep in the marshy ground,

Yet 'neath the touch of my curbing rein
I feel the youth in his veins complain,

He lifts his head, and his eager eyes
Gaze far away where the moorland lies,

He whinnies often, as though to say
I would be free on this perfect day !

He too is filled with a happiness
His dumb soul treasures but can't express,

And in that gladness of wind and sun
I know my beast and myself are one.

The way is lonely, no passer by
Disturbs the stillness, my horse and l

Possess the earth, and the rippling air
Divine elixir to banish care

Has brought new strength to my heart and mind,
And swept all sorrowful things behind.

Oh ! Joy of living when youth is ours!
Oh ! Earth my Mother, thy fragrant bowers

Could they be fairer if Angels trod
Beneath their trees at the will of God?

Could fabled Heaven e'er compensate
For one such day, when the year is late,

And all the Summer has come to dwell
In long warm moments of dim farewell?

When skies are pale with the tears that bless
The soil, in falling for happiness?

And winds are fragrant with scent that flows
From out the bosom of some lone rose?

And brooks are drowsy with dusty gleams,
And languid thoughts of their winter dreams?

The fields are vital, and nude, and gray
With future promise of fruitful clay?

Ah ! no, my being could not believe,
My heart desire, nor my soul conceive,

A world more perfect, more dear, more true,
Than this fair Eden I'm riding through.

Crush these voluptuous grapes between your teeth,
Your small, strong teeth ! and let their purple pain
Be offered in a sacrificial rain
Of sun-warmed essence; while I twine a wreath
Of all their leaves, and place it just beneath
Your high-combed curls, to rest upon the plain
Of your white temples : though the Nymphs disdain
To grace our modern banquet, they bequeath
A sylvan fancy to my wayward dream.
This glint of candles on the silver round
Is yellow moonlight, mirrored in lone stream,
These flowers are springing from the sensuous ground,
And we are Dryads, 'tis a fitting theme
For you to sing; come—thrill the night with sound.

The shaded lamps that make the room seem dim
Scarcely revealing pictures on the wall;
Yet one so placed to let a halo fall
Upon your hair; you smile! yes, it's a whim
A Poet's fancy with a moonlit rim
Perhaps—and yet a harmless wish withal.
Don't quarrel with it, just sit there, those tall
White lilies make a background for your slim
Young body. Let the blinds be up, and night
Gaze through the windows with her purple eyes,
Dropping some ardent star from out its height
For very eagerness of glad surprise
At so much beauty, till your song's delight
Shall waft it back into the listening skies !

Where shall I find a corner in this room
Almost in darkness? Ah! that deep recess
Of languid cushions, eager to caress
My weary limbs ! from out its dreaming gloom
Made holy by the incense of perfume,
All unobserved and happy I'll confess
My senses to those roses, passionless,
And listening in their bowl of silver doom.
Sing, sing, sweet friend, but soft, though eagerly !
With tender pauses in between the notes
Filled up with little sighs, unconsciously—
These rose-dropped petals, they are fairy boats
Our souls may sail on lakes of melody
Adown whose ripples youth eternal floats.

Oh ! burning silence ! when the very air
Is warm with memories of sounds we love!
You cease to sing, yet from below, above,
Around me, in me, of me, everywhere,
That Music's spirit, tremulously fair
Flutters and flutters, like a wounded dove,
And cannot fly beyond this earthly groove !
Midway it pauses, hanging throbbing there.
I will not speak, lest it should seem profane
In such a presence; idle words of praise
Ye are but mortal sounds, with no refrain
That can endure beyond our passing days,
And so be silent ! silent with the pain
Of all deep feeling, that can find no phrase.

Kiss me good night, sweet minstrel, on the stairs !
I love your lips, they're neither pale nor red,
But like an after-glow, when day lies dead
Upon the mountains. Do they say soft prayers,
Those languid lips? to God, a God who cares,
And gathers such dear follies thread by thread
As each is woven in your mind, and shed
Like gold spun silk upon His field of tares?
You're silent! let it pass; who knows but you,
So strong in weakness, may compel God's ear
To listen for the smallest drop of dew
That all our thunders would disdain to hear :
And so, Sweet, if you pray, repeat anew
To God, that while you sang I wept a tear !

This morning while I light my cigarette
In this dim study with its endless view
Stretching away to hills whose eyes are blue
With secret thoughts, my thoughts are all regret,
Regret for broken interludes! and yet—
If it were otherwise, who knows but you
Might grow to pall, as things familiar do,
While now it seems worth while to not forget !
And so good-bye, my friend, drift out in smoke,
Vague, and intangible, a fleeting joy
That some stray match of fate in passing woke,
To burn awhile, like this small soothing toy
Between my lips: Time's galling iron yoke
Is not for us, we made and we'll destroy.

And so we closed the book, wherein we wrote
How many words of ecstasy and pain,
How oft repeated passion's deep refrain,
Like ebb and flow of tide, whose echo smote
Upon the hearing of our listening sense.
These pages will become the prey of years,
And time, who stretches forth an envious hand,
Shall make impossible to understand
Our burning words, that shine with unshed tears,
Ay, and we two may offer no defence !

The early mornings of awakening Spring
That smote our inspiration and desire
They still shall call, yet find no answering fire
Within the eyes of two at least, who bring
But wormwood, from the once so flowering path.
And limpid winter twilights when we gazed
Thro' frosted panes across the purpling snow,
Or turned our eyes towards the cheerful glow
Of logs, whose kindly voices cracked and blazed
With invitation to the sheltered hearth—

They too shall come in season as before,
Yet we be absent, and within the room
Our vacant places cast a little gloom ;
Then shall there fall a shadow on the floor,
As of one passing, who is yet unseen.
Perchance a pilgrim wind will pause to look
Within this volume where our tale unfolds,
And sorry at the text he there beholds,
Rustle with sighs the vellum of this book,
But leave no trace of where his breath has been.

Perchance a rose that through the casement bent,
Might cast her ardent eyes upon this lay,
And being touched, hide one soft leaf away
Between its pages, out of sentiment,
Then toss her wanton fragrance to the South.
Aye, many roses shall be born to grace
The garden, and the day will still rejoice,
Yet never at the echo of thy voice,
Nor shall a rose lift up its longing face
That we may cool our lips upon its mouth.

And side by side with petals and with sighs,
With overweening tenderness and trust,
Shall rest the deadly layer of choking dust :
A weary skull, its sockets bare of eyes,
With grinning pathos from the title page
Will bear stark record of its master Death.
Sightless, yet seeing all Eternity,
With silent voice that rings more truthfully
Than any words we quickened with our breath
More full of wisdom than the speech of sage.

We two have loved, and have outlived the laws
Of love, e'en as these bones survive their flesh
With awful vigour gleaming strangely fresh
Amid the ruin of their natal cause,
A peg on which the gods may hang their wit !
We two have cast each other in the flame
Of searing passion, that we deemed was life.
Alas ! those fiery billows flowing rife
Upon the sand, they have defaced love's name,
And there remains no smallest trace of it.

And yet we live, and walk upon the earth,
Beneath the pall of dusk the dome of dawn,
And all created creatures being born
Must do, and thus atone their hour of birth,
A living sacrifice to what! Who knows?
Poor futile things, we make our little moan,
And clasp our puny hands in useless prayers
To that which neither wots of us nor cares,
And in our grief behold, we stand alone,
Till our complaining lips in anguish close.

My eyes shall still behold the stars above,
And you, how oft will count the hosts of night,
But never, never can we feel delight
In them together, swearing that our love
Is more enduring than eternal things !
Oh ! blessed madness that possessed the heart,
Oh ! sweet unreason that could cloud the mind,
Alas ! that we have left you far behind,
And growing wise must lose the dearer part,
Of which not even the faintest perfume clings.

What would we not surrender overjoyed,
To hear once more the music that is still;
We sweep the strings, but lo ! no answering thrill
From shattered harps, that eager hands destroyed,
From souls whom ravishment has smitten dumb.
Oh ! for one hour snatched from the throbbing past,
Replete with its embodied ecstasy!
How little would we count Eternity,
How ready be, to know that hour, our last,
No matter what the penalty to come.

Oh ! bitterness, that we ourselves did write
These pages with heart's blood, yet cannot feel
To-day one little tremor o'er us steal
Save of regret for so much past delight !
The cup is spilt of which we two partook.
For this last time, oh ! once beloved, stay
Close here beside me, while my drying pen
Has still the strength to write our last Amen.
'Tis written .... there is nothing left to say,
And so together .... thus, we close the book.