I am wild, I will sing to the trees,
I will sing to the stars in the sky,
I love, I am loved, he is mine,
Now at last I can die!
I am sandaled with wind and with flame,
I have heart-fire and singing to give,
I can tread on the grass or the stars,
Now at last I can live!
I am free of love as a bird flying south in the autumn,
Swift and intent, asking no joy from another,
Glad to forget all of the passion of April
Ere it was love-free.
I am free of love, and I listen to music lightly,
But if he returned, if he should look at me deeply,
I should awake, I should awake and remember
I am my lover's.
If he could know my songs are all for him,
At silver dawn or in the evening glow,
Would he not smile and think it but a whim,
If he could know?
Or would his heart rejoice and overflow,
As happy brooks that break their icy rim
When April's horns along the hillsides blow?
I may not speak till Eros' torch is dim,
The god is bitter and will have it so;
And yet to-night our fate would seem less grim
If he could know.
Child, child, love while you can
The voice and the eyes and the soul of a man,
Never fear though it break your heart -
Out of the wound new joy will start;
Only love proudly and gladly and well
Though love be heaven or love be hell.
Child, child, love while you may,
For life is short as a happy day;
Never fear the thing you feel -
Only by love is life made real;
Love, for the deadly sins are seven,
Only through love will you enter heaven.
I'm happy, I'm happy,
I saw my love to-day.
He came along the crowded street,
By all the ladies gay,
And oh, he smiled and spoke to me
Before he went his way.
My throat was tight with happiness,
I couldn't say a word,
My heart was beating fast, so fast
I'm sure he must have heard;
And when he passed, I trembled like
A little frightened bird.
I wish I were the flower-girl
Who waits beside the way —
I'd give my flowers all to him
And see him every day;
I wish I were the flower-girl
Who waits beside the way.
IN the last year I have learned
How few men are worth my trust;
I have seen the friend I loved
Struck by death into the dust,
And fears I never knew before
Have knocked and knocked upon my door—
'I shall hope little and ask for less,'
I said, 'There is no happiness.'
I have grown wise at last—but how
Can I hide the gleam on the willow-bough,
Or keep the fragrance out of the rain
Now that April is here again?
When maples stand in a haze of fire
What can I say to the old desire,
What shall I do with the joy in me
That is born out of agony?
Lo, I am happy, for my eyes have seen
Joy glowing here before me, face to face;
His wings were arched above me for a space,
I kissed his lips, no bitter came between.
The air is vibrant where his feet have been,
And full of song and color is his place.
His wondrous presence sheds about a grace
That lifts and hallows all that once was mean.
I may not sorrow for I saw the light,
Tho' I shall walk in valley ways for long,
I still shall hear the echo of the song,—
My life is measured by its one great height.
Joy holds more grace than pain can ever give,
And by my glimpse of joy my soul shall live.
To Sappho I
Impassioned singer of the happy time.
When all the world was waking into morn,
And dew still glistened on the tangled thorn,
And lingered on the branches of the lime —
Oh peerless singer of the golden rhyme,
Happy wert thou to live ere doubt was born —
Before the joy of life was half out-worn,
And nymphs and satyrs vanished from your clime.
Then maidens bearing parsley in their hands
Wound thro' the groves to where the goddess stands,
And mariners might sail for unknown lands
Past sea-clasped islands veiled in mystery —
And Venus still was shining from the sea,
And Ceres had not lost Persephone.
Oh Litis, little slave, why will you sleep?
These long Egyptian noons bend down your head
Bowed like the yarrow with a yellow bee.
There, lift your eyes no man has ever kindled,
Dark eyes that wait like faggots for the fire.
See how the temple's solid square of shade
Points north to Lesbos, and the splendid sea
That you have never seen, oh evening-eyed.
Yet have you never wondered what the Nile
Is seeking always, restless and wild with spring
And no less in the winter, seeking still?
How shall I tell you? Can you think of fields
Greater than Gods could till, more blue than night
Sown over with the stars; and delicate
With filmy nets of foam that come and go?
It is more cruel and more compassionate
Than harried earth. It takes with unconcern
And quick forgetting, rapture of the rain
And agony of thunder, the moon's white
Soft-garmented virginity, and then
The insatiable ardor of the sun.
And me it took. But there is one more strong,
Love, that came laughing from the eider seas,
The Cyprian, the mother of the world;
She gave me love who only asked for death —
I who had seen much sorrow in men's eyes
And in my own too sorrowful a fire.
I was a sister of the stars, and yet
Shaken with pain; sister of birds and yet
The wings that bore my soul were very tired.
I watched the careless spring too many times
Light her green torches in a hungry wind;
Too many times I watched them flare, and then
Fall to forsaken embers in the autumn.
And I was sick of all things — even song.
In the dull autumn dawn I turned to death,
Buried my living body in the sea,
The strong cold sea that takes and does not give —
But there is one more strong, the Cyprian.
Litis, to wake from sleep and find your eyes
Met in their first fresh upward gaze by love,
Filled with love's happy shame from other eyes,
Dazzled with tenderness and drowned in light
As tho' you looked unthinking at the sun,
Oh Litis, that is joy! But if you came
Not from the sunny shallow pool of sleep,
But from the sea of death, the strangling sea
Of night and nothingness, and waked to find
Love looking down upon you, glad and still,
Strange and yet known forever, that is peace.
So did he lean above me. Not a word
He spoke; I only heard the morning sea
Singing against his happy ship, the keen
And straining joy of wind-awakened sails
And songs of mariners, and in myself
The precious pain of arms that held me fast.
They warmed the cold sea out of all my blood;
I slept, feeling his eyes above my sleep.
There on the ship with wines and olives laden,
Led by the stars to far invisible ports,
Egypt and islands of the inner seas,
Love came to me, and Cercolas was love.
I was a queen, and I have lost my crown;
A wife, and I have broken all my vows;
A lover, and I ruined him I loved: --
There is no other havoc left to do.
A little month ago I was a queen,
And mothers held their babies up to see
When I came riding out of Camelot.
The women smiled, and all the world smiled too.
And now, what woman's eyes would smile on me?
I still am beautiful, and yet what child
Would think of me as some high, heaven-sent thing,
An angel, clad in gold and miniver?
The world would run from me, and yet am I
No different from the queen they used to love.
If water, flowing silver over stones,
Is forded, and beneath the horses' feet
Grows turbid suddenly, it clears again,
And men will drink it with no thought of harm.
Yet I am branded for a single fault.
I was the flower amid a toiling world,
Where people smiled to see one happy thing,
And they were proud and glad to raise me high;
They only asked that I should be right fair,
A little kind, and gowned wondrously,
And surely it were little praise to me
If I had pleased them well throughout my life.
I was a queen, the daughter of a king.
The crown was never heavy on my head,
It was my right, and was a part of me.
The women thought me proud, the men were kind,
And bowed right gallantly to kiss my hand,
And watched me as I passed them calmly by,
Along the halls I shall not tread again.
What if, to-night, I should revisit them?
The warders at the gates, the kitchen-maids,
The very beggars would stand off from me,
And I, their queen, would climb the stairs alone,
Pass through the banquet-hall, a loathed thing,
And seek my chambers for a hiding-place,
And I should find them but a sepulchre,
The very rushes rotted on the floors,
The fire in ashes on the freezing hearth.
I was a queen, and he who loved me best
Made me a woman for a night and day,
And now I go unqueened forevermore.
A queen should never dream on summer eves,
When hovering spells are heavy in the dusk: --
I think no night was ever quite so still,
So smoothly lit with red along the west,
So deeply hushed with quiet through and through.
And strangely clear, and deeply dyed with light,
The trees stood straight against a paling sky,
With Venus burning lamp-like in the west.
I walked alone amid a thousand flowers,
That drooped their heads and drowsed beneath the dew,
And all my thoughts were quieted to sleep.
Behind me, on the walk, I heard a step --
I did not know my heart could tell his tread,
I did not know I loved him till that hour.
Within my breast I felt a wild, sick pain,
The garden reeled a little, I was weak,
And quick he came behind me, caught my arms,
That ached beneath his touch; and then I swayed,
My head fell backward and I saw his face.
All this grows bitter that was once so sweet,
And many mouths must drain the dregs of it.
But none will pity me, nor pity him
Whom Love so lashed, and with such cruel thongs.
I cannot heed the words they say,
The lights grow far away and dim,
Amid the laughing men and maids
My eyes unbidden seek for him.
I hope that when he smiles at me
He does not guess my joy and pain,
For if he did, he is too kind
To ever look my way again.
I have a secret in my heart
No ears have ever heard,
And still it sings there day by day
Most like a caged bird.
And when it beats against the bars,
I do not set it free,
For I am happier to know
It only sings for me.
I wrote his name along the beach,
I love the letters so.
Far up it seemed and out of reach,
For still the tide was low.
But oh, the sea came creeping up,
And washed the name away,
And on the sand where it had been
A bit of sea-grass lay.
A bit of sea-grass on the sand,
Dropped from a mermaid's hair --
Ah, had she come to kiss his name
And leave a token there?
What am I that he should love me,
He who stands so far above me,
What am I?
I am like a cowslip turning
Toward the sky,
Where a planet's golden burning
Breaks the cowslip's heart with yearning,
What am I that he should love me,
What am I?
O dreams that flock about my sleep,
I pray you bring my love to me,
And let me think I hear his voice
Again ring free.
And if you care to please me well,
And live to-morrow in my mind,
Let him who was so cold before,
To-night seem kind.
I plucked a daisy in the fields,
And there beneath the sun
I let its silver petals fall
One after one.
I said, "He loves me, loves me not,"
And oh, my heart beat fast,
The flower was kind, it let me say
"He loves me," last.
I kissed the little leafless stem,
But oh, my poor heart knew
The words the flower had said to me,
They were not true.
I sent my love a letter,
And if he loves me not,
He shall not find my love for him
In any line or dot.
But if he loves me truly,
He'll find it hidden deep,
As dawn gleams red thro' chilly clouds
To eyes awaked from sleep.
The world is cold and gray and wet,
And I am heavy-hearted, yet
When I am home and look to see
The place my letters wait for me,
If I should find one letter there,
I think I should not greatly care
If it were rainy or were fair,
For all the world would suddenly
Seem like a festival to me.
I hid three words within my heart,
That longed to fly to him,
At dawn they woke me with a start,
They sang till day was dim.
And now at last I let them fly,
As little birds should do,
And he will know the first is "I",
The others "Love" and "You".
Across the twilight's violet
His curtained window glimmers gold;
Oh happy light that round my love
Oh happy book within his hand,
Oh happy page he glorifies,
Oh happy little word beneath
But oh, thrice happy, happy I
Who love him more than songs can tell,
For in the heaven of his heart
From The Sea
All beauty calls you to me, and you seem,
Past twice a thousand miles of shifting sea,
To reach me. You are as the wind I breathe
Here on the ship's sun-smitten topmost deck,
With only light between the heavens and me.
I feel your spirit and I close my eyes,
Knowing the bright hair blowing in the sun,
The eager whisper and the searching eyes.
Listen, I love you. Do not turn your face
Nor touch me. Only stand and watch awhile
The blue unbroken circle of the sea.
Look far away and let me ease my heart
Of words that beat in it with broken wing.
Look far away, and if I say too much,
Forget that I am speaking. Only watch,
How like a gull that sparkling sinks to rest,
The foam-crest drifts along a happy wave
Toward the bright verge, the boundary of the world.
I am so weak a thing, praise me for this,
That in some strange way I was strong enough
To keep my love unuttered and to stand
Altho' I longed to kneel to you that night
You looked at me with ever-calling eyes.
Was I not calm? And if you guessed my love
You thought it something delicate and free,
Soft as the sound of fir-trees in the wind,
Fleeting as phosphorescent stars in foam.
Yet in my heart there was a beating storm
Bending my thoughts before it, and I strove
To say too little lest I say too much,
And from my eyes to drive love's happy shame.
Yet when I heard your name the first far time
It seemed like other names to me, and I
Was all unconscious, as a dreaming river
That nears at last its long predestined sea;
And when you spoke to me, I did not know
That to my life's high altar came its priest.
But now I know between my God and me
You stand forever, nearer God than I,
And in your hands with faith and utter joy
I would that I could lay my woman's soul.
Oh, my love
To whom I cannot come with any gift
Of body or of soul, I pass and go.
But sometimes when you hear blown back to you
My wistful, far-off singing touched with tears,
Know that I sang for you alone to hear,
And that I wondered if the wind would bring
To him who tuned my heart its distant song.
So might a woman who in loneliness
Had borne a child, dreaming of days to come,
Wonder if it would please its father's eyes.
But long before I ever heard your name,
Always the undertone's unchanging note
In all my singing had prefigured you,
Foretold you as a spark foretells a flame.
Yet I was free as an untethered cloud
In the great space between the sky and sea,
And might have blown before the wind of joy
Like a bright banner woven by the sun.
I did not know the longing in the night--
You who have waked me cannot give me sleep.
All things in all the world can rest, but I,
Even the smooth brief respite of a wave
When it gives up its broken crown of foam,
Even that little rest I may not have.
And yet all quiet loves of friends, all joy
In all the piercing beauty of the world
I would give up--go blind forevermore,
Rather than have God blot from out my soul
Remembrance of your voice that said my name.
For us no starlight stilled the April fields,
No birds awoke in darkling trees for us,
Yet where we walked the city's street that night
Felt in our feet the singing fire of spring,
And in our path we left a trail of light
Soft as the phosphorescence of the sea
When night submerges in the vessel's wake
A heaven of unborn evanescent stars.