Oh Day Of Fire And Sun
Oh day of fire and sun,
Pure as a naked flame,
Blue sea, blue sky and dun
Sands where he spoke my name;
Laughter and hearts so high
That the spirit flew off free,
Lifting into the sky
Diving into the sea;
Oh day of fire and sun
Like a crystal burning,
Slow days go one by one,
But you have no returning.
As kings, seeing their lives about to pass,
Take off the heavy ermine and the crown,
So had the trees that autumn-time laid down
Their golden garments on the dying grass,
When I, who watched the seasons in the glass
Of my own thoughts, saw all the autumn's brown
Leap into life and wear a sunny gown
Of leafage fresh as happy April has.
Great spring came singing upward from the south;
For in my heart, far carried on the wind,
Your words like winged seeds took root and grew,
And all the world caught music from your mouth;
I saw the light as one who had been blind,
And knew my sun and song and spring were you.
The birds are all a-building,
They say the world's a-flower,
And still I linger lonely
Within a barren bower.
I weave a web of fancies
Of tears and darkness spun.
How shall I sing of sunlight
Who never saw the sun?
I hear the pipes a-blowing,
But yet I may not dance,
I know that Love is passing,
I cannot catch his glance.
And if his voice should call me
And I with groping dim
Should reach his place of calling
And stretch my arms to him,
The wind would blow between my hands
For Joy that I shall miss,
The rain would fall upon my mouth
That his will never kiss.
Paris In Spring
The city's all a-shining
Beneath a fickle sun,
A gay young wind's a-blowing,
The little shower is done.
But the rain-drops still are clinging
And falling one by one --
Oh it's Paris, it's Paris,
And spring-time has begun.
I know the Bois is twinkling
In a sort of hazy sheen,
And down the Champs the gray old arch
Stands cold and still between.
But the walk is flecked with sunlight
Where the great acacias lean,
Oh it's Paris, it's Paris,
And the leaves are growing green.
The sun's gone in, the sparkle's dead,
There falls a dash of rain,
But who would care when such an air
Comes blowing up the Seine?
And still Ninette sits sewing
Beside her window-pane,
When it's Paris, it's Paris,
And spring-time's come again.
Over The Roofs
Oh chimes set high on the sunny tower
Ring on, ring on unendingly,
Make all the hours a single hour,
For when the dusk begins to flower,
The man I love will come to me! . . .
But no, go slowly as you will,
I should not bid you hasten so,
For while I wait for love to come,
Some other girl is standing dumb,
Fearing her love will go.
Oh white steam over the roofs, blow high!
Oh chimes in the tower ring clear and free !
Oh sun awake in the covered sky,
For the man I love, loves me I . . .
Oh drifting steam disperse and die,
Oh tower stand shrouded toward the south,--
Fate heard afar my happy cry,
And laid her finger on my mouth.
The dusk was blue with blowing mist,
The lights were spangles in a veil,
And from the clamor far below
Floated faint music like a wail.
It voiced what I shall never speak,
My heart was breaking all night long,
But when the dawn was hard and gray,
My tears distilled into a song.
I said, "I have shut my heart
As one shuts an open door,
That Love may starve therein
And trouble me no more."
But over the roofs there came
The wet new wind of May,
And a tune blew up from the curb
Where the street-pianos play.
My room was white with the sun
And Love cried out in me,
"I am strong, I will break your heart
Unless you set me free."
The Princess In The Tower
The Princess sings:
I am the princess up in the tower
And I dream the whole day thro'
Of a knight who shall come with a silver spear
And a waving plume of blue.
I am the princess up in the tower,
And I dream my dreams by day,
But sometimes I wake, and my eyes are wet,
When the dusk is deep and gray.
For the peasant lovers go by beneath,
I hear them laugh and kiss,
And I forget my day-dream knight,
And long for a love like this.
The Minstrel sings:
I lie beside the princess' tower,
So close she cannot see my face,
And watch her dreaming all day long,
And bending with a lily's grace.
Her cheeks are paler than the moon
That sails along a sunny sky,
And yet her silent mouth is red
Where tender words and kisses lie.
I am a minstrel with a harp,
For love of her my songs are sweet,
And yet I dare not lift the voice
That lies so far beneath her feet.
The Knight sings:
O princess cease your dreams awhile
And look adown your tower's gray side --
The princess gazes far away,
Nor hears nor heeds the words I cried.
Perchance my heart was overbold,
God made her dreams too pure to break,
She sees the angels in the air
Fly to and fro for Mary's sake.
Farewell, I mount and go my way,
-- But oh her hair the sun sifts thro' --
The tilts and tourneys wait my spear,
I am the Knight of the Plume of Blue.
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.
The Mother Of A Poet
She is too kind, I think, for mortal things,
Too gentle for the gusty ways of earth;
God gave to her a shy and silver mirth,
And made her soul as clear
And softly singing as an orchard spring's
In sheltered hollows all the sunny year--
A spring that thru the leaning grass looks up
And holds all heaven in its clarid cup,
Mirror to holy meadows high and blue
With stars like drops of dew.
I love to think that never tears at night
Have made her eyes less bright;
That all her girlhood thru
Never a cry of love made over-tense
Her voice's innocence;
That in her hands have lain,
Flowers beaten by the rain,
And little birds before they learned to sing
Drowned in the sudden ecstasy of spring.
I love to think that with a wistful wonder
She held her baby warm against her breast;
That never any fear awoke whereunder
She shuddered at her gift, or trembled lest
Thru the great doors of birth
Here to a windy earth
She lured from heaven a half-unwilling guest.
She caught and kept his first vague flickering smile,
The faint upleaping of his spirit's fire;
And for a long sweet while
In her was all he asked of earth or heaven--
But in the end how far,
Past every shaken star,
Should leap at last that arrow-like desire,
His full-grown manhood's keen
Ardor toward the unseen
Dark mystery beyond the Pleiads seven.
And in her heart she heard
His first dim-spoken word--
She only of them all could understand,
Flushing to feel at last
The silence over-past,
Thrilling as tho' her hand had touched God's hand.
But in the end how many words
Winged on a flight she could not follow,
Farther than skyward lark or swallow,
His lips should free to lands she never knew;
Braver than white sea-faring birds
With a fearless melody,
Flying over a shining sea,
A star-white song between the blue and blue.
Oh I have seen a lake as clear and fair
As it were molten air,
Lifting a lily upward to the sun.
How should the water know the glowing heart
That ever to the heaven lifts its fire,
A golden and unchangeable desire?
The water only knows
The faint and rosy glows
Of under-petals, opening apart.
Yet in the soul of earth,
Deep in the primal ground,
Its searching roots are wound,
And centuries have struggled toward its birth.
So, in the man who sings,
All of the voiceless horde
>From the cold dawn of things
Have their reward;
All in whose pulses ran
Blood that is his at last,
>From the first stooping man
Far in the winnowed past.
Out of the tumult of their love and mating
Each one created, seeing life was good--
Dumb, till at last the song that they were waiting
Breaks like brave April thru a wintry wood.
I. Off Gilbatrar
BEYOND the sleepy hills of Spain,
The sun goes down in yellow mist,
The sky is fresh with dewy stars
Above a sea of amethyst.
Yet in the city of my love
High noon burns all the heavens bare —
For him the happiness of light,
For me a delicate despair.
II. Off Algeirs
Oh give me neither love nor tears,
Nor dreams that sear the night with fire,
Go lightly on your pilgrimage
Unburdened by desire.
Forget me for a month, a year,
But, oh, beloved, think of me
When unexpected beauty burns
Like sudden sunlight on the sea.
Nisida and Prosida are laughing in the light,
Capri is a dewy flower lifting into sight,
Posilipo kneels and looks in the burnished sea,
Naples crowds her million roofs close as close can be;
Round about the mountain's crest a flag of smoke is hung-
Oh when God made Italy he was gay and young!
When beauty grows too great to bear
How shall I ease me of its ache,
For beauty more than bitterness
Makes the heart break.
Now while I watch the dreaming sea
With isles like flowers against her breast,
Only one voice in all the world
Could give me rest.
V. Night Song at Amalfi
I asked the heaven of stars
What I should give my love —
It answered me with silence,
I asked the darkened sea
Down where the fishers go —
It answered me with silence,
Oh, I could give him weeping,
Or I could give him song —
But how can I give silence
My whole life long?
VI. Ruins of Paestum
On lowlands where the temples lie
The marsh-grass mingles with the flowers,
Only the little songs of birds
Link the unbroken hours.
So in the end, above my heart
Once like the city wild and gay,
The slow white stars will pass by night,
The swift brown birds by day.
Oh for the rising moon
Over the roofs of Rome,
And swallows in the dusk
Circling a darkened dome!
Oh for the measured dawns
That pass with folded wings —
How can I let them go
With unremembered things?
The bells ring over the Arno,
Midnight, the long, long chime;
Here in the quivering darkness
I am afraid of time.
Oh, gray bells cease your tolling,
Time takes too much from me,
And yet to rock and river
He gives eternity.
Villa Serbelloni, Bellaggio
The fountain shivers lightly in the rain,
The laurels drip, the fading roses fall,
The marble satyr plays a mournful strain
That leaves the rainy fragrance musical.
Oh dripping laurel, Phoebus sacred tree,
Would that swift Daphne's lot might come to me,
Then would I still my soul and for an hour
Change to a laurel in the glancing shower.
The moon grows out of the hills
A yellow flower,
The lake is a dreamy bride
Who waits her hour.
Beauty has filled my heart,
It can hold no more,
It is full, as the lake is full,
From shore to shore.
The day that I come home,
What will you find to say,—
Words as light as foam
With laughter light as spray?
Yet say what words you will
The day that I come home;
I shall hear the whole deep ocean
Beating under the foam.