A Vision Of Youth

A horseman on a hilltop green
Drew rein, and wound his horn;
So bright he looked he might have been
The Herald of the Morn.
His steed was of the sovran strain
In Fancy’s meadows bred—
And pride was in his tossing mane,
And triumph in his tread.

The rider’s eyes like jewels glowed—
The World was in his hand—
As down the woodland way he rode
When Spring was in the land.

From golden hour to golden hour
For him the woodland sang.
And from the heart of every flower
A singing fairy sprang.

He rode along with rein so free,
And, as he rode, the Blue
Mysterious Bird of Fantasy
Ever before him flew.

He rode by cot and castle dim
Through all the greenland gay;
Bright eyes through casements glanced at him:
He laughed—and rode away.

The world with sunshine was aflood,
And glad were maid and man,
And through his throbbing veins the blood
In keen, sweet shudders ran.


His steed tossed head with fiery scorn,
And stamped, and snuffed the air—
As though he heard a sudden horn
Of far-off battle blare.
Erect the rider sat awhile
With flashing eyes, and then
Turned slowly, sighing, with a smile,
“0 weary world of men!”

For aye the Bird of Fantasy
Sang magic songs to him,
And deeper and deeper still rode he
Into the Forest Dim.


That rider with his face aglow
With joy of life I see
In dreams. Ah, years and years ago
He parted ways with me!
Yet, sometimes, when the days are drear
And all the world forlorn,
From out the dim wood’s heart I hear
The echo of his horn.

Ah! that God once would touch my lips with song
To pierce, as prayer doth heaven, earth’s breast of iron,
So that with sweet mouth I might sing to thee,
O sweet dead singer buried by the sea,
A song, to woo thee, as a wooing siren,
Out of that silent sleep which seals too long
Thy mouth of melody.
For, if live lips might speak awhile to dead,
Or any speech could reach the sad world under
This world of ours, song surely should awake
Thee who didst dwell in shadow for song’s sake!
Alas! thou canst not hear the voice of thunder,
Nor low dirge over thy low-lying head
The winds of morning make.

Down through the clay there comes no sound of these;
Down in the grave there is no sign of Summer,
Nor any knowledge of the soft-eyed Spring;
But Death sits there, with outspread ebon wing,
Closing with dust the mouth of each new-comer
To that mute land, where never sound of seas
Is heard, and no birds sing.

Now thou hast found the end of all thy days
Hast thou found any heart a vigil keeping
For thee among the dead—some heart that heard
Thy singing when thou wert a brown, sweet bird
Gray Æons gone, in some old forest sleeping
Beneath the seas long since? in Death’s dim ways
Has thy heart any word?

For surely those in whom the deathless spark
Of song is kindled, sang from the beginning
If life were always? But the old desires—
Do they exist when sad-eyed Hope expires?
How live the dead? what crowns have they for winning?
Have they, to warm them in the dreamless dark,
For sun earth’s central fires?

Are the dead dead indeed whom we call dead?
Has God no life but this of ours for giving?—
When that they took thee by each well-known place,
Stark in thy coffin with a cold white face,
What thought, O Brother, hadst thou of the living?
What of the sun that round thee glory shed?
What of the fair day’s grace?

Is thy new life made up of memories
Or dreams that lull the dead, bright visions bringing
Of Spring above! Are thy days short or long?
Thou who wert master of our singing throng
Mayhap in death thou hast not lost thy singing,
But chauntst unheard, beside the moaning sea,
A solitary song.

The chance spade turns up skulls. God help the dead
And thee whose singing days have all passed over—
Thee, whom the gold-haired Spring shall seek in vain
When at the glad year’s doors she stands again,
Remembering the song-garlands thou hast wove her
In years gone by: but all these years have fled
With all their joy and pain.

My soul laughed out to hear my heart speak so,
And sprang forth skyward, as an eagle, hoping
To look upon thy soul with living eyes,
Until it came to where our dim life dies,
And dead suns darkly for a grave are groping
Through cycles of immeasurable woe,
Stone-blind in the blind skies.
The stars walk shuddering on that awful verge
From which my soul, with swift and fearless motion,
Clove the black depths, and sought for God and thee;
But God dwells where nor stars nor suns there be—
No shore there is to His Eternal Ocean;
A thousand systems are a fringe of surge
On that great starless sea.

And thou wert not. So that, with weary plumes,
My soul through the great void its way came winging
To earth again. “What hope for him who sings
Is there?” it sighed. “Death ends all sweetest things.”
When lo! there came a swell of mighty singing,
Flooding all space, and swift athwart the glooms
A flash of sudden wings.


Dreamer of dreams, thy songs and dreams are done.
Down where thou sleepest in earth’s secret bosom
There is no sorrow and no joy for thee,
Who canst not see what stars at eve there be,
Nor evermore at morn the green dawn blossom
Into the golden king-flower of the sun
Across the golden sea.
But haply there shall come in days to be
One who shall hear his own heart beating faster,
Plucking a rose sprung from thy heart beneath,
And from his soul, as sword from out its sheath,
Song shall leap forth where now, O silent master,
On thy lone grave beside the sounding sea,
I lay this laurel-wreath.

At Dawn And Dusk

At Dawn and Dusk
Love-Laurel
IN MEMORY OF HENRY KENDALL

AH! that God once would touch my lips with song
To pierce, as prayer doth heaven, earth’s breast of iron,
So that with sweet mouth I might sing to thee,
O sweet dead singer buried by the sea,
A song, to woo thee, as a wooing siren,
Out of that silent sleep which seals too long
Thy mouth of melody.
For, if live lips might speak awhile to dead,
Or any speech could reach the sad world under
This world of ours, song surely should awake
Thee who didst dwell in shadow for song’s sake!
Alas! thou canst not hear the voice of thunder,
Nor low dirge over thy low-lying head
The winds of morning make.

Down through the clay there comes no sound of these;
Down in the grave there is no sign of Summer,
Nor any knowledge of the soft-eyed Spring;
But Death sits there, with outspread ebon wing,
Closing with dust the mouth of each new-comer
To that mute land, where never sound of seas
Is heard, and no birds sing.

Now thou hast found the end of all thy days
Hast thou found any heart a vigil keeping
For thee among the dead—some heart that heard
Thy singing when thou wert a brown, sweet bird
Gray Æons gone, in some old forest sleeping
Beneath the seas long since? in Death’s dim ways
Has thy heart any word?

For surely those in whom the deathless spark
Of song is kindled, sang from the beginning
If life were always? But the old desires—
Do they exist when sad-eyed Hope expires?
How live the dead? what crowns have they for winning?
Have they, to warm them in the dreamless dark,
For sun earth’s central fires?

Are the dead dead indeed whom we call dead?
Has God no life but this of ours for giving?—
When that they took thee by each well-known place,
Stark in thy coffin with a cold white face,
What thought, O Brother, hadst thou of the living?
What of the sun that round thee glory shed?
What of the fair day’s grace?

Is thy new life made up of memories
Or dreams that lull the dead, bright visions bringing
Of Spring above! Are thy days short or long?
Thou who wert master of our singing throng
Mayhap in death thou hast not lost thy singing,
But chauntst unheard, beside the moaning sea,
A solitary song.

The chance spade turns up skulls. God help the dead
And thee whose singing days have all passed over—
Thee, whom the gold-haired Spring shall seek in vain
When at the glad year’s doors she stands again,
Remembering the song-garlands thou hast wove her
In years gone by: but all these years have fled
With all their joy and pain.

. . . . .
My soul laughed out to hear my heart speak so,
And sprang forth skyward, as an eagle, hoping
To look upon thy soul with living eyes,
Until it came to where our dim life dies,
And dead suns darkly for a grave are groping
Through cycles of immeasurable woe,
Stone-blind in the blind skies.
The stars walk shuddering on that awful verge
From which my soul, with swift and fearless motion,
Clove the black depths, and sought for God and thee;
But God dwells where nor stars nor suns there be—
No shore there is to His Eternal Ocean;
A thousand systems are a fringe of surge
On that great starless sea.

And thou wert not. So that, with weary plumes,
My soul through the great void its way came winging
To earth again. “What hope for him who sings
Is there?” it sighed. “Death ends all sweetest things.”
When lo! there came a swell of mighty singing,
Flooding all space, and swift athwart the glooms
A flash of sudden wings.

. . . . .
Dreamer of dreams, thy songs and dreams are done.
Down where thou sleepest in earth’s secret bosom
There is no sorrow and no joy for thee,
Who canst not see what stars at eve there be,
Nor evermore at morn the green dawn blossom
Into the golden king-flower of the sun
Across the golden sea.
But haply there shall come in days to be
One who shall hear his own heart beating faster,
Plucking a rose sprung from thy heart beneath,
And from his soul, as sword from out its sheath,
Song shall leap forth where now, O silent master,
On thy lone grave beside the sounding sea,
I lay this laurel-wreath.

The River Maiden

Her gown was simple woven wool,
But, in repayment,
Her body sweet made beautiful
The simplest raiment:
For all its fine, melodious curves
With life a-quiver
Were graceful as the bends and swerves
Of her own river.

Her round arms, from the shoulders down
To sweet hands slender,
The sun had kissed them amber-brown
With kisses tender.

For though she loved the secret shades
Where ferns grow stilly,
And wild vines droop their glossy braids,
And gleams the lily,

And Nature, with soft eyes that glow
In gloom that glistens,
Unto her own heart, beating slow,
In silence listens:

She loved no less the meadows fair,
And green, and spacious;
The river, and the azure air,
And sunlight gracious.

I saw her first when tender, wan,
Green light enframed her;
And, in my heart, the Flower of Dawn
I softly named her.

The bright sun, like a king in state,
With banners streaming,
Rode through the fair auroral gate
In mail gold-gleaming.

The witch-eyed stars before him paled—
So high his scorning!—
And round the hills the rose-clouds sailed,
And it was morning.

The light mimosas bended low
To do her honour,
As in that rosy morning glow
I gazed upon her.

My boat swung bowward to the stream
Where tall reeds shiver;
We floated onward, in a dream,
Far down the River.

The River that full oft has told
To Ocean hoary
A many-coloured, sweet, and old
Unending story:

The story of the tall, young trees,
For ever sighing
To sail some day the rolling seas
’Neath banners flying.

The Ocean hears, and through his caves
Roars gusty laughter;
And takes the River, with his waves
To roll thereafter.

But Love deep waters cannot drown;
To its old fountains
The stream returns in clouds that crown
Its parent mountains.

The River was to her so dear
She seemed its daughter;
Her deep translucent eyes were clear
As sunlit water;

And in her bright veins seemed to run,
Pulsating, glowing,
The music of the wind and sun,
And waters flowing.

The secrets of the trees she knew:
Their growth, their gladness,
And, when their time of death was due,
Their stately sadness.

Gray gums, like old men warped by time,
She knew their story;
And theirs that laughed in pride of prime
And leafy glory;

And theirs that, where clear waters run,
Drooped dreaming, dreaming;
And theirs that shook against the sun
Their green plumes gleaming.

All things of gladness that exist
Did seem to woo her,
And well that woodland satirist,
The lyre-bird, knew her.

And there were hidden mossy dells
That she knew only,
Where Beauty born of silence dwells
Mysterious, lonely.

No sounds of toil their stillness taunt,
No hearth-smoke sullies
The air: the Mountain Muses haunt
Those lone, green gullies.

And there they weave a song of Fate
That never slumbers:
A song some bard shall yet translate
In golden numbers.

A blue haze veiled the hills’ huge shapes
A misty lustre—
Like rime upon the purple grapes,
When ripe they cluster:

’Twas noon, and all the Vale was gold—
An El Dorado:
The damask river seaward rolled,
Through shine and shadow.

And, gazing on its changing glow,
I saw, half-sighing,
The wondrous Fairyland below
Its surface lying.

There all things shone with paler sheen:
More softly shimmered
The fern-fronds, and with softer green
The myrtles glimmered:

And—like that Fisher gazing in
The sea-depths, pining
For days gone by, who saw Julin
Beneath him shining,

With many a wave-washed corridor,
And sea-filled portal,
And plunged below, and nevermore
Was seen of mortal—

So I, long gazing at the gleam
Of fern and flower,
Felt drawn down to that World of Dream
By magic power:

For there, I knew, in silence sat,
With breasts slow-heaving,
Illusion’s Queen Rabesquerat,
Her web a-weaving.

But when the moon shone, large and low,
Against Orion,
Then, as from some pale portico
Might issue Dian,

She came through tall tree-pillars pale,
A silver vision,
A nymph strayed out of Ida’s vale
Or fields Elysian.

White stars shone out with mystic gleams
The woods illuming:
It seemed as if the trees in dreams
Once more were blooming.

And all beneath those starry blooms,
By bends and beaches,
We floated on through glassy glooms,
Down moonlit reaches.

Ah, that was in the glad years when
Joys ne’er were sifted,
But I on wilder floods since then
Have darkly drifted.

Yet, River of Romance, for me
With pictures glowing,
Through dim, green fields of Memory
Thou still art flowing.

And still I hear, thy shores along,
All faintly ringing,
The notes of ghosts of birds that long
Have ceased their singing.

Was she, who then my heart did use
To touch so purely,
A mortal maiden—or a Muse?
I know not, surely.

But still in dreams I see her stand,
A fairer Flora,
Serene, immortal, by the strand
Of clear Narora.

The night is young yet; an enchanted night
In early summer: calm and darkly bright.

I love the Night, and every little breeze
She brings, to soothe the sleep of dreaming trees.

Hearst thou the Voices? Sough! Susurrus!— Hark!
’Tis Mother Nature whispering in the dark!

Burden of cities, mad turmoil of men,
That vex the daylight—she forgets them then.

Her breasts are bare; Grief gains from them surcease:
She gives her restless sons the milk of Peace.

To sleep she lulls them—drawn from thoughts of pelf—
By telling sweet old stories of herself.

All secrets deep—yea, all I hear and see
Of things mysterious—Night reveals to me.
I know what every flower, with drowsy head
Down-drooping, dreams of—and the seeming dead.

I know how they, escaped from care and strife,
Ironically moralise on Life.

And know what—when the moon walks on the waves—
They whisper to each other in their graves.

I know that white clouds drifting from stark coasts
Across the sky at midnight are the ghosts

Of sailors drowned at sea, who yearn to win
A quiet grave beside their kith and kin

In still green graveyards, where they lie at ease
Far from the sound of surge and roar of seas.

I know the message of the mournful rain
That beats upon the widow’s window-pane.

I know the meaning of the roar of seas;
I know the glad Spring sap-song of the trees;

And that great chant to which in tuneful grooves
The green round earth upon its axis moves;

And that still greater chant the Bright Sun sings—
Fire-crowned Apollo—the great chant that brings

All things to life, and draws through spaces dim,
And star-sown realms, his planets after him.

I know the tune that led, since Life began,
The upward, downward, onward March of Man.

I hear the whispers that the Angels twain
Of Death and Life exchange in meeting—fain

Are they to pause and greet, yet may not stay.
“Never!” “For ever.” This is all they say.

I hear the twitterings inarticulate
Of souls unborn that press around the Gate

Of Birth, each striving which shall first escape
From formless vapour into human shape.

I know the tale the bird of passionate heart,
The nightingale, tries ever to impart

To men, though vainly—for I well believe
That in her brown breast beats the heart of Eve,

Who with her sweet, sad, wistful music tries
To tell her sons of their lost Paradise,

And solemn secrets Man had grace to know,
When God walked in the Garden long ago.

Yea, I have seen, methought, on nights of awe,
The vision terrible Lucretius saw:
The trembling Universe—suns, stars, grief, bliss—
Plunging for ever down a black abyss.

But more I love good Bishop Jeremy,
Who likens all the star-worlds that we see—

Which seem to run an everlasting race—
Unto a snowstorm sweeping on through space.

Suns, planets, stars, in glorious array
They march, melodious, on their unknown way.

Thought, seraph-winged and swifter than the light,
Unto the dim verge of the Infinite,

Pursues them, through that strange ethereal flood
In which they swim (mayhap it is the blood

Of Universal God wherein they are
But corpuscles—sun, satellite, and star—

And their great stream of glory but a dim,
Small pulse in the remotest vein of Him)

Pursues in vain, and from lone, awful glooms
Turns back to earth again with weary plumes.

Through glacial gulfs of Space the soul must roam
To feel the comfort of its earthly home.
Ah, Mother dear! broad-bosomed Mother Earth!
Mother of all our Joy, Grief, Madness, Mirth!—

Mother of flower and fruit, of stream and sea!—
We are thy children and must cling to thee.

I lay my head upon thy breast and hear—
Small, small and faint, yet strangely sweet and clear—

The hum and clash of little worlds below,
Each on its own path moving, swift or slow.

And listening, ever with intenter ear,
Through din of wars invisible I hear

A Homer—genius is not gauged by mass—
Singing his Iliad on a blade of grass.

And nations hearken: his great song resounds
Unto the tussock’s very utmost bounds.

States rise and fall, each blade of grass upon,
But still his song from blade to blade rolls on

Through all the tussock-world, and Helen still
Is Fairest Fair, and Ajax wild of will—

An Ajax whose huge size, when measured o’er,
Is full ten-thousandth of an inch or more—

Still hurls defiance at the gods whose home
Is in the distant, awful, dew-drop dome

That trembling hangs, suspended from a spray
An inch above him—worlds of space away.

Old prophecies foretell—but Time proves all—
The day will come when it, like Troy, shall fall.

Lo! through this small great wondrous song there runs
The marching melody of stars and suns.

I know these things, yet cannot speak and tell
Their meanings. Over all is cast a spell.
Secrets they are, sealed with a sevenfold seal;
My soul knows what my tongue may not reveal.

I love the Night! Bright Day the soul shuts in;
Night sends it soaring to its starry kin.
If I must leave at last my place of birth—
This homely, gracious, green, familiar Earth,

With all it holds of sorrow and delight—
I pray my parting-hour may be at night,

And that her curtain dark may softly fall
On scenes I love, ere I depart from all.

Then shall I haply, journeying through the Vast
Mysterious Silences, take one long, last

Fond look at Earth, and watch from depths afar
The dear old planet dwindling to a star;

And sigh farewell unto the friends of yore,
Whose kindly faces I shall see no more.

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