Hands And Lips
Give me your hands to hold,
For the night and the wind are cold,
And the year 's growing sad and old,
So give me your hands to hold.
Give me your lips to press,
For the light of the moon grows less,
And the sky 's full of dreariness,
So give me your lips to press.
Dear hands, dear lips, all mine !
Let the moon and her beams decline,
Let the night and the storm combine,
If your hands and your lips are mine.
I made a little funeral pyre,
And on it laid my youthful rhymes,
Those thoughts of innocent desire,
Dear foolish words of childhood times.
Poor things they were, misspelt and crude,
Yet void of guile or vain pretence,
They seemed like children thin and nude,
And unashamed through innocence.
And so, the while I struck the light
That should consume their humble bier
I kissed them, and as funeral rite
I mingled with the flame a tear.
Thoughts At Ajaccio
Kind Earth, upon whose mother breast
The fruitful trees in time of spring,
Put forth their endless blossoming
From North to South, from East to West,
Whose sweet deep-furrowed soil is blest
With striving seeds and budding flowers,
And all the potent toil of hours.
From sunrise until even's rest—
Stretch forth thy leafy arms at dawn,
And touch me, compass me around.
Fill me with scent of upturned ground.
Soft perfume from thy bosom drawn.
The gifts I bring thou wilt not scorn,
Poor though they must be while I live,
For in my hour of death I give
My heart, that one rose may be bom !
A Windy June
The wind has shaken the lilac trees,
And scattered their purple bloom,
The wind has harassed the honey bees,
And robbed the flowers of their melodies,
The wind has gathered a host of clouds,
And smitten the earth with gloom.
The wind has blown out the golden lights
That hang from laburnum boughs,
Till nude and stripped of their past delights
The branches sigh through the stormy nights,
Like nuns who weep for their buried youth,
And murmur their mournful vows.
The wind has covered the hills with mist,
And hidden my favourite view,
The wind has torn at my garden beds
Where sad young roses have hung their heads,
And ah! the pity, that one slim stem
Is withered, and snapped right through.
The wind has driven the birds afar,
The starling who reared her young
Above the door in the empty cot
Has flown away, and to-day there 's not
A single twitter from hungry throats,
One minstrel, of all who sung.
The wind has stolen the warmth of June,
So how shall I pass my time?
I'll go indoors with my pen and book,
Beside the fire seek a cosy nook,
Then when I'm sure that he can't get in,
I'll write of his sins in rhyme!
On The Potomac River U.S.A.
At close of June's most burning day,
We took a ship and sailed away :
In mid-Potomac stream sailed we.
To Old Point Comfort by the sea.
The heavy hanging air of dusk
Was thick with scent of fainting musk.
And through the tired willow trees
Stirred never sound or breath of breeze.
So still it was, that from afar
We seemed to hear a falling star,
And every drop we heard, that dript
From off the paddle as it dipped.
The fireflies lit their yellow lamps.
And danced along the marshy damps ;
They skimmed and shot, and skimmed again.
While beetles droned a dance-refrain.
The old ship pushed the mists apart,
And crawled along with throbbing heart,
Pausing from time to time for breath
Beside some jetty, still as death.
The moon rose up all reddish gold.
And lit the swirhng misty fold
Of fog along the river bank,
Where grew the creepers dark and rank.
Sometimes the lonely 'look-out' cried
'All's well': the water swished and sighed
An endless and protesting song,
As stealthily we crept along.
Until at last the wind blew free.
Where the Potomac met the sea ;
And not so very far away
The shores of Old Point Comfort lay.
The Two Angels
Once Youth and Innocence, side by side,
With flaming swords at a garden gate
Stood forth in silence, to watch and wait,
Lest lust and evil their might defied.
Love's rarest fruits in that garden grew,
And lo ! a Pilgrim of pain and sin
Grown tired, would gladly have entered in,
And washed his soul in the gleaming dew.
He looked at Youth, and the Angel said :
' Behold me young, and behold me weak :
If you but crush me, the joy you seek
Shall quench desire on a rose-strewn bed,
'Yet oh! I pray you another hour,
For should you enter this Holy place,
My soul is given again to space,
And I must die as a blighted flower.'
Then all the sorrow and all the shame,
That life had taught him to understand,
Rose up, and fettered the Pilgrim's hand,
And murmur'd: 'Youth is a sacred name.'
He looked at Innocence, nude and white,
And all unconscious she met his gaze;
Her eyes were soft as an evening haze,
Her red lips fashioned to give delight.
She sighed,'I know not the boon you ask,
But Nature sent me to guard the way
That leads to realms of Eternal day;
I may not shrink from the Mother's task.
'Yet these fair limbs that are pure as snow,
Should you but sully by thought or deed
Must droop and fade as a broken reed,
That every wind of the earth may blow.'
Then all the goodness that he had missed,
Each dream of sweetness that passed him by,
Rose up, and cried: 'Thou shalt still deny
Thyself'—and Innocence stood unkissed.
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 Laying Of Ghosts
Oh ! weary ghosts, be still !
Sad spectres of long dead delights,
Wan spirits of the days and nights
Wherein of joy we drank our fill,
Lie deep beneath the sod of years.
To-day, to-day is mine !
Ye shall not blight its fragrant flowers,
Nor mar the passing of its hours,
That love has rendered all divine,
By woeful sighs and falling tears.
This is the sphere of life,
Wherein the long forgotten dead
Unwelcome should forbear to tread,
Within my veins hot blood runs rife,
But ye are colder than the grave !
What would ye have of me?
What price that penance did not pay,
What sacrifice of human clay?
Must my delight again set free
Be tethered to a witless slave?
While still upon this earth
Ye lived, and 'neath the joyous sun
Were warm and fair to look upon,
I blest the hour that gave ye birth,
And all my life laid at your feet.
The homage of my youth
I daily offered at your shrine,
Nor counted dear those gifts of mine
Which sapped the very strength of truth,
And left her poor and incomplete.
Nor did condemn the lust,
The soul destroying tyranny,
With which ye wrought my misery,
For in my heart was endless trust,
My spirit, dauntless, knew no fear.
Ye cry that ye were slain
Alas ! it was not I who slew,
For all my hopes were buried too
Within that hour of death and pain,
And there remained not e'en a tear.
Nay, it was fate whose hand
Upraised to strike the awful blow
Decreed that ye must die, and go
Lamented to that shadow land
Of lost illusions perished soon !
Wherein the once-time-young
Thro' countless ages seek, nor find,
Their vanished youth ; with wandering mind
They sing the songs that once they sung,
But never may complete the tune.
Hence—hence ! it is not yet
The hour wherein I too must pass,
The sand runs still within the glass,
And I would live and fain forget
Those bygone things that once ye were.
My lips have touched the rose,
And in its perfumed breast the dew
Has quenched my thirst; and lo! anew
The petals of my heart unclose,
My pulses throb, my senses stir.
Ye shall not steal this day,
For love has risen to my aid,
See, I am brave and undismayed!
Hence—hence ! all things must pass away,
Back to your graves, obscure and deep !
I read aloud love's prayer,
Lift not again your haunting eyes
T'wards my new-found Paradise,
Lie still beside my lost despair,
And I command you—Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!
An Autumn Ride
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.
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.