The Poems of Madison Cawein, Volume 3 (of 5) by Madison Julius Cawein

THE POEMS OF
M A D I S O N C A W E I N

Volume III

NATURE POEMS
Illustrated
WITH PHOTOGRAVURES AFTER PAINTINGS
BY ERIC PAPE

INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS

Copyright 1887, 1888, 1889, 1890, 1892, 1893, 1896, 1898,
1899, 1901, 1902 and 1907, by Madison
Cawein

Copyright 1896, by Copeland and Day; 1898, by
R. H. Russell

PRESS OF
BRAUNWORTH & CO.
BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS
BROOKLYN, N. Y.

 

TO

DOCTOR HENRY A. COTTELL

WHOSE KIND WORDS OF FRIENDSHIP AND APPROVAL

HAVE ENCOURAGED ME WHEN I MOST

NEEDED ENCOURAGEMENT

PROLOGUE
There is a poetry that speaks
Through common things: the grasshopper,
That in the hot weeds creaks and creaks,
Says all of summer to my ear:
And in the cricket’s cry I hear
The fireside speak, and feel the frost
Work mysteries of silver near
On country casements, while, deep lost
In snow, the gatepost seems a sheeted ghost.
And other things give rare delight:
The guttural harps the green-frogs tune,
Those minstrels of the falling night,
That hail the sickle of the moon
From grassy pools that glass her lune:
Or,—all of August in its loud
Dry cry,—the locust’s call at noon,
That emphasizes heat, no cloud
Of lazy white makes less with its cool shroud.
The rain,—whose cloud dark-lids the moon,
That great white eyeball of the night,—
Makes music for me; to its tune
I hear the flowers unfolding white,
The mushroom growing, and the slight
Green sound of grass that dances near;
The melon ripening with delight;
And in the orchard, soft and clear,
The apple redly rounding out its sphere.
The grigs make music as of old,
To which the fairies whirl and shine
Within the moonlight’s prodigal gold,
On woodways wild with many a vine:
When all the wilderness with wine
Of stars is drunk, I hear it say—
“Is God restricted to confine
His wonders only to the day,
That yields the abstract tangible to clay?”
And to my ear the wind of Morn,—
When on her rubric forehead far
One star burns big,—lifts a vast horn
Of wonder where all murmurs are:
In which I hear the waters war,
The torrent and the blue abyss,
And pines,—that terrace bar on bar
The mountain side,—like lovers kiss,
And whisper words where all of grandeur is.
The jutting crags,—dark, iron-veined
With ore,—the peaks, where eagles scream,
That pour their cataracts, rainbow-stained,
Like hair, in many a mountain stream,
Can lift my soul beyond the dream
Of all religions; make me scan
No mere external or extreme,
But inward pierce the outward plan
And learn that rocks have souls as well as man.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE BEECHES{1}
In the shadow of the beeches,
Where the fragile wildflowers bloom;
Where the pensive silence pleaches
Green a roof of cool perfume,
Have you felt an awe imperious
As when, in a church, mysterious
Windows paint with God the gloom?
In the shadow of the beeches,
Where the rock-ledged waters flow;
Where the sun’s slant splendor bleaches
Every wave to foaming snow,
Have you felt a music solemn
As when minster arch and column
Echo organ worship low?
In the shadow of the beeches,
Where the light and shade are blent;
Where the forest-bird beseeches,
And the breeze is brimmed with scent,—{2}
Is it joy or melancholy
That o’erwhelms us partly, wholly,
To our spirit’s betterment?
In the shadow of the beeches
Lay me where no eye perceives;
Where,—like some great arm that reaches
Gently as a love that grieves,—
One gnarled root may clasp me kindly
While the long years, working blindly,
Slowly change my dust to leaves.
{3}

A FALLEN BEECH
Nevermore at doorways that are barken
Shall the madcap wind knock and the moonlight;
Nor the circle which thou once didst darken,
Shine with footsteps of the neighboring moonlight,
Visitors for whom thou oft didst hearken.
Nevermore, gallooned with cloudy laces,
Shall the morning, like a fair freebooter,
Make thy leaves his richest treasure-places;
Nor the sunset, like a royal suitor,
Clothe thy limbs with his imperial graces.
And no more, between the savage wonder
Of the sunset and the moon’s up-coming,
Shall the storm, with boisterous hoof-beats, under
Thy dark roof dance, Faun-like, to the humming
Of the Pan-pipes of the rain and thunder.
Oft the Satyr-spirit, beauty-drunken,
Of the Spring called; and the music measure
Of thy sap made answer; and thy sunken{4}
Veins grew vehement with youth, whose pressure
Swelled thy gnarly muscles, winter-shrunken.
And the germs, deep down in darkness rooted,
Bubbled green from all thy million oilets,
Where the spirits, rain and sunbeam suited,
Of the April made their whispering toilets,
Or within thy stately shadow footed.
Oft the hours of blonde Summer tinkled
At the windows of thy twigs, and found thee
Bird-blithe; or, with shapely bodies, twinkled
Lissom feet of naked flowers around thee,
Where thy mats of moss lay sunbeam-sprinkled.
And the Autumn with his gypsy-coated
Troop of days beneath thy branches rested,
Swarthy-faced and dark of eye; and throated
Songs of hunting; or with red hand tested
Every nut-burr that above him floated.
Then the Winter, barren-browed, but rich in
Shaggy followers of frost and freezing,
Made the floor of thy broad boughs his kitchen,
Trapper-like, to camp in; grimly easing
Limbs snow-furred and moccasined with lichen.{5}
Now, alas! no more do these invest thee
With the dignity of whilom gladness!
They—unto whose hearts thou once confessed thee
Of thy dreams—now know thee not! and sadness
Sits beside thee where, forgot, dost rest thee.
{6}

A COIGNE OF THE FOREST
The hills hang woods around, where green, below
Dark, breezy boughs of beech-trees, mats the moss,
Crisp with the brittle hulls of last year’s nuts;
The water hums one bar there; and a glow
Of gold lies steady where the trailers toss
Red, bugled blossoms and a rock abuts;
In spots the wild-phlox and oxalis grow
Where beech-roots bulge the loam, and welt across
The grass-grown road and roll it into ruts.
And where the sumach brakes grow dusk and dense,
Among the rocks, great yellow violets,
Blue-bells and windflowers bloom; the agaric
In dampness crowds; a fungus, thick, intense
With gold and crimson and wax-white, that sets
The May-apples along the terraced creek
At bold defiance. Where the old rail-fence
Divides the hollow, there the bee-bird whets
His bill, and there the elder hedge is thick.{7}
No one can miss it; for two cat-birds nest,
Calling all morning, in the trumpet-vine;
And there at noon the pewee sits and floats
A woodland welcome; and his very best
At eve the red-bird sings, as if to sign
The record of its loveliness with notes.
At night the moon stoops over it to rest,
And unreluctant stars, in whose faint shine
There runs a whisper as of wind-swept oats.
{8}

A HOUSE IN THE HILLS
Old hearts that hold the saddest memories
Are the most beautiful; and such make sweet
Light, happy moods of younger natures which
Their sadness contacts and so sanctifies.
And such to me is an old gabled house,
Deserted, and neglected, and unknown,
Lost in the tangled hollow of its hills,
Dark, cedared hills, and dreamy orchard-lands;
With but its host of shrouded memories
Haunting its ruined rooms and desolate halls,—
Pathetic with their fallen finery,—
And whispering through its cob-webbed crevices
And roomy hearths, that sigh with ceaseless wind,
Undreamed of things that happened long ago.
Here in gray afternoons I love to sit,
And hear the running rain along the roof;
The creak and crack of noises that are born
Of silence or mysterious agencies;{9}
The fitful footfalls of the wind adown
Grand, winding stairways, massy banistered;
A clapping door and then a sudden hush
As if the old house held its breath to see,—
Invisible to me,—a presence pass,
That brings a pleasant terror stiffening through
The tingling veins and staring from the eyes.
Then comes the rain again along the roof;
And in rain-rotted room and rain-stained hall
The drip and whisper of the wind and rain
Seem viewless footsteps of the sometime lords
And mistresses who lived here in the past.
And could the state material but assume
A state clairvoyant, then the dream-drugged eyes,
Perhaps, might see, from room to dusty room,
The ghosts of stately gentlemen glide by,
And glimmering ladies, all beruffled, trail
Long, haughty silks miraculously stiff.
{10}

THE WIND
“Wind of the East, if thou pass by the land where my loved ones dwell, I pray,
The fullest of greetings bear to them from me, their lover, and say
That I am the pledge of passion still.”—
FROM THE ARABIC.
The ways of the wind are eerie,
And I love them all:
The blithe, the mad, and the dreary,
Spring, winter, and fall.
When it tells to the waiting crocus
Its beak to show;
And hangs on the wayside locust
Bloom-bunches of snow.
When it comes like a balmy blessing
From the musky wood,
The half-grown roses caressing
Till their cheeks burn blood.{11}
When it roars in the autumn season,
And whines with rain,
Or sleet, like a mind without reason,
Or a soul in pain.
When the woodways, once so spicy
With bud and bloom,
Are desolate, dead and icy
As the icy tomb.
When the puffed owl, crouched and frowsy,
In the hollow tree,
Sobs, dolorous, cold, and drowsy,
Its shuddering melody.
Then I love to sit in December
Where the big hearth sings,
And, dreaming, forget and remember
A host of things.
And the wind—I hear how it strangles,
And wails and sighs
On the roof’s sharp, shivering angles
That front the skies.
How it shouts and romps and tumbles
In attics o’erhead;
In the great-throated chimney rumbles,
Then all at once falls dead;{12}
Then comes like the footsteps stealing
Of a child on the stair,
Or a bent, old gentleman feeling
His slippered way with care.
And my soul grows anxious-hearted
For those once dear—
The long-lost loves, departed,
In the wind draw near.
And I seem to see their faces—
Not one estranged—
In their old accustomed places
Round the wide hearth ranged.
And the wind, that waits and poises
Where the shadows sway,
Seems their visionary voices
Calling me far away.
Then I wake in tears and hear it
Wailing outside my door,—
Or is it some wandering spirit
Weeping upon the moor?
{13}

RAIN IN THE WOODS
When on the leaves the rain persists,
And every gust brings showers down;
When copse and woodland smoke with mists,
I take the old road out of town
Into the hills through which it twists.
I find the vale where catnip grows,
Where boneset blooms, with moisture bowed;
The vale through which the red creek flows,
Turbid with hill-washed clay, and loud
As some wild horn a huntsman blows.
Around the root the beetle glides,
A burnished beryl; and the ant,
Large, agate-red, a garnet, slides
Beneath the rock; and every plant
Is roof for some frail thing that hides.
Like knots against the trunks of trees
The lichen-colored moths are pressed;
And, wedged in hollow blooms, the bees
Hang pollen-clotted; in its nest
The wasp has crawled and lies at ease.{14}
The locust harsh, that sharply saws
The silence of the summer noon;
The katydid, that thinly draws
Its fine file o’er the bars of moon;
And grasshopper that drills each pause:
The mantis, long-clawed, furtive, lean—
Fierce feline of the insect hordes—
And dragonfly, gauze-winged and green,
Beneath the wild-grape’s leaves and gourd’s,
Have housed themselves and rest unseen.
The butterfly and forest-bird
Are huddled on the same gnarled bough,
From which, like some rain-voweled word
That dampness hoarsely utters now,
The tree-toad’s guttural voice is heard.
I crouch and listen: and again
The woods are filled with phantom forms—
With shapes, grotesque in cloudy train,
That rise and reach to me cool arms
Of mist: dim, wandering wraiths of rain.
I see them come; fantastic, fair;
Chill, mushroom-colored: sky and earth
Grow ghostly with their floating hair
And trailing limbs, that have their birth
In wetness—fungi of the air.{15}
O wraiths of rain! O ghosts of mist!
Still fold me, hold me, and pursue!
Still let my lips by yours be kissed!
Still draw me with your hands of dew
Unto the tryst, the dripping tryst.
{16}

HEAT
I
Now is it as if Spring had never been,
And Winter but a memory and a dream,
Here where the Summer stands, her lap of green
Heaped high with bloom and beam,
Among her blackberry-lilies, low that lean
To kiss her feet; or, freckle-browed, that stare
Upon the dragonfly which, slimly seen,
Like a blue jewel flickering in her hair,
Sparkles above them there.
II
Knee-deep among the tepid pools the cows
Chew a slow cud or switch a slower tail,
Half-sunk in sleep beneath the beechen boughs,
Where thin the wood-gnats ail.
From bloom to bloom the languid butterflies drowse;
The sleepy bees make hardly any sound;{17}
The only things the sun-rays can arouse,
It seems, are two black beetles rolling round
Upon the dusty ground.
III
Within its channel glares the creek and shrinks,
Beneath whose rocks the furtive crawfish hides
In stagnant places, where the green frog blinks,
And water-strider glides.
Far hotter seems it for the bird that drinks,
The startled kingfisher that screams and flies;
Hotter and lonelier for the purples and pinks
Of weeds that bloom, whose sultry perfumes rise
Stifling the swooning skies.
IV
From ragweed fallows, rye-fields, heaped with sheaves,
From blistering rocks, no moss or lichens crust,
And from the road, where every hoof-stroke heaves
A cloud of burning dust,
The hotness quivers, making limp the leaves,
That loll like panting tongues. The pulsing heat{18}
Seems a wan wimple that the Summer weaves,
A veil, in which she wraps,—as in a sheet,—
The shriveling corn and wheat.
V
Furious, incessant in the weeds and briers
The sawing weed bugs sing: and, heat-begot,
The grasshoppers, so many strident wires,
Staccato stinging hot:
A lash of whirling sound that never tires,
The locust flails the noon, where harnessed Thirst,
Beside the road-spring, many a shod hoof mires,
Into the trough thrusts his hot head; immersed,
Round which cool bubbles burst.
VI
The sad, sweet voice of some wood-spirit who
Laments while watching a loved oak-tree die,
From the deep forest comes the wood-dove’s coo,
A long, lost, lonely cry.—
Oh, for a breeze! a mighty wind to woo
The woods to stormy laughter; sow like grain
The world with freshness of invisible dew,
And pile above far, fevered hill and plain
Cloud-bastions, black with rain.
{19}

YOUNG SEPTEMBER
I
With a look and a laugh where the stream was flowing,
September led me along the land;
Where the goldenrod and lobelia, glowing,
Seemed burning torches within her hand.
And faint as the thistle’s or milkweed’s feather
I glimpsed her form in the sparkling weather.
II
Now ’twas her hand and now her hair
That tossed me welcome everywhere;
That lured me onward through the stately rooms
Of forest, hung and carpeted with glooms,
And windowed wide with azure, doored with green,
Through which rich glimmers of her robe were seen—
Now, like some deep marsh-mallow, rosy-gold;{20}
Now, like the great Joe-Pye-weed, fold on fold
Of heavy mauve; and now, like the intense
Massed ironweed, a purple opulence.
III
Along the bank in a wild procession
Of gold and sapphire the blossoms blew;
And borne on the breeze came their soft confession
In syllabled musk and honey-dew;
In words unheard that their lips kept saying,
Sweet as the lips of children praying.
IV
And so, meseemed, I heard them tell
How here her loving glance once fell
Upon this bank, and from its azure grew
The ageratum mist-flower’s happy hue;
How from her kiss, as crimson as the dawn,
The cardinal-flow’r drew its vermilion;
And from her hair’s blond touch th’ elecampane
Evolved the glory of its golden rain;
While from her starry footsteps, redolent,
The aster pearled its flowery firmament.
{21}

THE VINTAGER
Among the fragrant grapes she bows;
Long violet clusters heap her hands:
And, with bright brows, on him bestows
Sweet looks, like soft commands.
And from her sunburnt throat, at times,
As bubbles burst on new-made wine,
A happy fit of merry rhymes
Rings down the hills of vine.
And in his heart, remorseless, sweet,
Grew big the red-grape, passion, there;
His heart, that, ever at her feet,
Was filled with love’s despair.
But she, who ne’er the honeyed must
Of love had drained, a grown-up child,
Saw in him—merely one to trust,
And broke his heart, and smiled.
{22}

BLACK VESPER’S PAGEANTS
The day, all fierce with carmine, turns
An Indian face towards Earth and dies;
The west, like some gaunt vase, inurns
Its ashes under smoldering skies;
Athwart whose bowl one red cloud streams,
Wild as some dream an Aztec dreams.
Now shadows mass above the world,
And night comes on with wind and rain;
The mulberry-colored leaves are hurled
Like frantic hands against the pane.
And through the forests, bending low,
Night stalks like some gigantic Woe.
In hollows where the thistle shakes
A hoar bloom like a witch’s light,
From weed and flower the rain-wind rakes
Dead sweetness—as a wildman might,
From autumn leaves, the woods among,
Dig some dead woman, fair and young.{23}
Now let me walk the woodland ways,
Alone! except for thoughts, that are
Akin to such wild nights and days—
A portion of the storm that far
Fills Heaven and Earth tumultuously,
And my own soul with ecstasy.
{24}

A TWILIGHT MOTH
Dusk is thy dawn; when Eve puts on her state
Of gold and purple in the marbled west,
Thou comest forth like some embodied trait,
Or dim conceit, a lily-bud confessed;
Or, of a rose, the visible wish; that, white,
Goes softly messengering through the night,
Whom each expectant flower makes its guest.
All day the primroses have thought of thee,
Their golden heads close-haremed from the heat;
All day the mystic moonflowers silkenly
Veiled snowy faces,—that no bee might greet
Or butterfly that, weighed with pollen, passed;—
Keeping Sultana-charms for thee, at last,
Their lord, who comest to salute each sweet.
Cool-throated flowers that avoid the day’s
Too fervid kisses; every bud that drinks
The tipsy dew and to the starlight plays
Nocturnes of fragrance, thy wing’d shadow links{25}
In bonds of secret brotherhood and faith;
O bearer of their order’s shibboleth,
Like some pale symbol fluttering o’er these pinks.
What dost thou whisper in the balsam’s ear
That sets it blushing, or the hollyhock’s,—
A syllabled silence that no man may hear,—
As dreamily upon its stem it rocks?
What spell dost bear from listening plant to plant,
Like some white witch, some ghostly ministrant,
Some spectre of some perished flower of phlox?
O voyager of that universe which lies
Between the four walls of this garden fair,—
Whose constellations are the fireflies
That wheel their instant courses everywhere,—
’Mid fairy firmaments wherein one sees
Mimic Boötes and the Pleiades,
Thou steerest like some fairy ship-of-air.
Gnome-wrought of moonbeam-fluff and gossamer,
Silent as scent, perhaps thou chariotest{26}
Mab or King Oberon; or, haply, her
His queen, Titania, on some midnight quest.—
Oh for the herb, the magic euphrasy,
That should unmask thee to mine eyes, ah me!
And all that world at which my soul hath guessed!
{27}

THE GRASSHOPPER
I
What joy you take in making hotness hotter,
In emphasizing dullness with your buzz,
Making monotony more monotonous!
When summer comes, and drouth hath dried the water
In all the creeks, we hear your ragged rasp
Filing the stillness. Or,—as urchins beat
A stagnant pond whereon the bubbles gasp,—
Your switch-like music whips the midday heat.
O burr of sound caught in the Summer’s hair,
We hear you everywhere.
II
We hear you in the vines and berry-brambles,
Along the unkempt lanes, among the weeds,
Amid the shadeless meadows, gray with seeds,
And by the wood, round which the rail-fence rambles,{28}
Sawing the sunlight with your sultry saw.
Or,—like to tomboy truants, at their play
With noisy mirth among the barn’s deep straw,—
You sing away the careless summer-day.
O brier-like voice that clings in idleness
To Summer’s drowsy dress.
III
You tramp of insects, vagrant and unheeding,
Improvident, who of the summer make
One long green meal-time, and for winter take
No care, aye singing or just merely feeding!
Happy-go-lucky vagabond,—though frost
Shall pierce, ere long, your coat of green or brown,
And pinch your body,—let no song be lost,
But as you lived, into your grave go down—
Like some small poet with his little rhyme,
Forgotten of all time.
{29}

FOREST AND FIELD
I
Green, watery jets of light let through
The rippling foliage drenched with dew;
And golden glimmers, warm and dim,
That in the vistaed distance swim;
Where, round the wood-spring’s oozy urn,
The limp, loose fronds of forest fern
Trail like the tresses, green and wet,
A wood-nymph binds with violet.
O’er rocks that bulge and roots that knot
The emerald-amber mosses clot;
From matted walls of brier and brush
The elder nods its plumes of plush;
And, Argus-eyed with bloom on bloom,
The wild-rose breathes its wild perfume;
May-apples, ripening yellow, lean
With oblong fruit, a lemon-green,
Near Indian-turnips, long of stem,
That bear an acorn-oval gem,
As if some woodland Bacchus there,—
While braiding locks of hyacinth hair{30}
With ivy-tod,—had idly tossed
His thyrsus down and so had lost:
And blood-root, that from scarlet wombs
Puts forth, in spring, its milk-white blooms,
That then like starry footsteps shine
Of April under beech and pine;
At which the gnarléd eyes of trees
Stare, big as Fauns’, at Dryadës,
That bend above a fountain’s spar,
As white and naked as a star.
The stagnant stream flows sleepily
Thick-paved with lily-pads; the bee,—
Brown, honey-drunk, a Bassarid,—
Booms past the mottled toad, that, hid
In calamus and blue-eyed grass,
Beside the water’s pooling glass,
Silenus-like, eyes stolidly
The Mænad-glittering dragonfly.
And pennyroyal and peppermint
Pour dry-hot odors without stint
From fields and banks of many streams;
And in their scent one almost seems
To see Demeter pass, her breath
Sweet with her triumph over death.—
A haze of floating saffron; sound
Of shy, crisp creepings o’er the ground;{31}
The dip and stir of twig and leaf;
Tempestuous gusts of spices brief
Borne over bosks of sassafras
By winds that foot it on the grass;
Sharp, sudden songs and whisperings,
That hint at untold, hidden things—
Pan and Sylvanus who of old
Kept sacred each wild wood and wold.
A wily light beneath the trees
Quivers and dusks with every breeze—
A Hamadryad, haply, who,—
Culling her morning meal of dew
From frail, accustomed cups of flowers,—
Now sees some Satyr in the bowers,
Or hears his goat-hoof snapping press
A brittle branch, and in distress
Shrinks back; her dark, dishevelled hair
Veiling her limbs one instant there.
II
Down precipices of the dawn
The rivers of the day are drawn,
The soundless torrents, free and far,
Of gold that deluge every star.
There is a sound of winds and wings
That fills the woods with carollings;{32}
And, dashed on moss and flower and fern,
And leaves, that quiver, breathe and burn,
Rose-radiance smites the solitudes,
The dew-drenched hills, the dripping woods
That twitter as with canticles
Of bird and brook; and air that smells
Of flowers, and buds, and boisterous bees,
Delirious honey and wet trees.—
Through briers that trip them, one by one,
With swinging pails, that flash the sun,
A troop of girls comes—berriers,
Whose bare feet glitter where they pass
Through dewdrop-trembling tufts of grass.
And, oh! their laughter and their cheers
Wake Echo on her shrubby rocks
Who, answering, from her mountain mocks
With rapid fairy horns—as if
Each mossy vale and weedy cliff
Had its imperial Oberon,
Who, seeking his Titania, hid
In coverts caverned from the sun,
In kingly wrath had called and chid.
Cloud-feathers, oozing orange light,
Make rich the Indian locks of Night;
Her dusky waist with sultry gold
Girdled and buckled fold on fold.{33}
One star. A sound of bleating flocks.
Great shadows stretched along the rocks,
Like giant curses overthrown
By some Arthurian champion.
Soft-swimming sorceries of mist
That streak blue glens with amethyst.
And, tinkling in the clover dells,
The twilight sound of cattle-bells.
And where the marsh in reed and grass
Burns, angry as a shattered glass,
The flies blur sudden gold, and shine
Like drops of amber-scattered wine
Spun high by reeling Bacchanals,
When Bacchus wreathes his curling hair
With vine-leaves, and from every lair
His worshippers around him calls.
They come, they come, a happy throng,
The berriers with lilt and song;
Their pails brimmed black to tin-bright eaves
With luscious fruit, kept cool with leaves
Of aromatic sassafras;
’Twixt which a berry often slips,
Like laughter, from the purple mass,
Wine-swollen as Silenus’ lips.
{34}

III
The tanned and tired Noon climbs high
Up burning reaches of the sky;
Below the drowsy belts of pines
The rock-ledged river leaps and shines;
And over rainless hill and dell
Is blown the harvest’s sultry smell:
While, in the fields, one sees and hears
The brawny-throated harvesters,—
Their red brows beaded with the heat,—
By twos and threes among the wheat
Flash their hot scythes; behind them press
The binders—men and maids who sing
Like some mad troop of piping Pan;—
While all the hillsides, echoing, ring
Such sounds of Ariel airiness
As haunted freckled Caliban.
“O ho! O ho! ’tis noon I say.
The roses blow.
Away, away, above the hay,
To the song o’ the bees the roses sway;
The love-lays that they hum all day,
So low! so low!
The roses’ Minnesingers they.”{35}
Up velvet lawns of lilac skies
The tawny moon begins to rise
Behind low, blue-black hills of trees,—
As rises up, in siren seas,
To rock in purple deeps, hip-hid,
A virgin-bosomed Oceanid.—
Gaunt shadows crouch by tree and scaur,
Dusk’s shaggy Satyrs waiting for
The Nymphs of moon, the Dryads white,
Who take with loveliness the night,
And glorify it with their love.
The sweet, far notes I hear, I hear,
Beyond dim pines and mellow ways;
The song of some fair harvester,
The lovely Limnad of the grove,
Whose singing charms me while it slays.
“O deep! O deep! the earth and air
Are sunk in sleep.
Adieu to care! Now everywhere
Is rest; and by the old oak there
The maiden with the nut-brown hair
Doth keep, doth keep
Tryst with her lover the young and fair.”{36}
IV
Like Atalanta’s spheres of gold,
Within the orchard, apples rolled
From sudden hands of boughs that lay
Their leaves, like palms, against the day;
And near them pears of rusty brown
Rolled bruised; and peaches, pink with down,
And furry as the ears of Pan;
Or, like Diana’s cheeks, a tan
Beneath which burnt a tender fire;
Or wan as Psyche’s with desire.
And down the orchard vistas,—young,
A hickory basket by him swung,
A hat of straw against the sun
Drawn shadowy o’er his face,—he strode;
As if he looked to find some one,
His eyes searched every bend of road.
Before him, like a living burr,
Rattled the noisy grasshopper.
And where the cows’ melodious bells
Trailed music up and down the dells,
Beside the spring, that o’er the ground
Went whimpering like a fretful hound,
He saw her waiting, fair and slim,
Her pail forgotten there, for him.{37}
Yellow as sunset skies and pale
As fairy clouds that stay or sail
Through azure vaults of summer, blue
As summer heavens, the wildflowers grew;
And blossoms on which spurts of light
Fell laughing—like the lips one might
Feign once were Hebe’s, or a girl’s
That laughter lights with rows of pearls.
Long ferns, in murmuring masses heaped;
And mosses moist, in beryl steeped
And musk aromas of the wood
And silence of the solitude:
And everything that near her blew
The spring had showered thick with dew.—
Across the rambling fence she leaned,
Her fresh, round arms all white and bare;
Her artless beauty, bonnet-screened,
Simplicity from feet to hair.
A wood-thrush gurgled in a vine—
Ah! ’tis his step, ’tis he she hears;
The wild-rose smelt like some rare wine—
He comes, ah, yes! ’tis he who nears.
And her brown eyes and happy face
Said welcome. And with rustic grace
He leant beside her; and they had
Some talk with youthful laughter glad:
I know not what: I know but this—
Its final period was a kiss.
{38}

SUMMER
I
Hang out your loveliest star, O Night! O Night!
Your richest rose, O Dawn!
To greet sweet Summer, her, who, clothed in light,
Leads Earth’s best hours on.
Hark! how the wild birds of the woods
Throat it within the dewy solitudes!
The brook sings low and soft,
The trees make song,
As, from her heaven aloft,
Comes blue-eyed Summer like a girl along.
II
And as the Day, her lover, leads her in,
How bright his beauty glows!
How red his lips, that ever try to win
Her mouth’s delicious rose!
And from the beating of his heart{39}
Warm winds arise and sighing thence depart:
And from his eyes and hair
The light and dew
Fall round her everywhere,
And heaven above her is an arch of blue.
III
Come to the forest, or the treeless meadows
Deep with their hay or grain;
Come where the hills lift high their thrones of shadows,
And tawny orchards reign.
Come where the reapers whet the scythe;
Where golden sheaves are heaped; where berriers blithe,
With willow-basket and with pail,
Swarm knoll and plain;
Where flowers freckle every vale,
And Beauty goes with hands of berry-stain.
IV
Come where the dragonflies, a brassy blue,
Flit round the wildwood streams,
And, sucking at some horn of honey-dew,
The wild-bee hums and dreams.{40}
Come where the butterfly waves wings of sleep,
Gold-disked and mottled, over blossoms deep:
Come where beneath the rustic bridge
The creek-frog cries;
Or in the shade the rainbowed midge,
Above the emerald pools, with murmurings flies.
V
Come where the cattle browse within the brake,
As red as oak and strong;
Where cattle-bells the echoes faintly wake,
And milkmaids sing their song.
Come where the vine-trailed rocks, with waters hoary,
Tell to the sun some legend old or story;
Or where the sunset to the land
Speaks words of gold;
Where Ripeness walks, a wheaten band
About her brow, making the buds unfold.
VI
Come where the woods lift up their stalwart arms
Unto the star-sown skies;
Knotted and gnarled, that to the winds and storms{41}
Fling mighty rhapsodies:
Or to the moon repeat what they have seen,
When Night upon their shoulders vast doth lean.
Come where the dew’s clear syllable
Slips from the rose;
And where the fireflies fill
The dark with golden music of their glows.
VII
Now while the dingles and the vine-roofed glens
Whisper their flowery tale
Unto the silence; and the lakes and fens
Unto the moonlight pale
Murmur their rapture, let us seek her out,
Her of the honey throat and peach-sweet pout,
Summer! and at her feet,
The love of old
Lay like a sheaf of wheat,
And of our hearts the purest gold of gold.
{42}

INDIAN SUMMER
The dawn is a warp of fever,
The eve is a woof of fire;
And the month is a singing weaver
Weaving a red desire.
With stars Dawn dices with Even
For the rosy gold they heap
On the blue of the day’s broad heaven,
On the black of the night’s wide deep.
It’s—“Reins to the blood!” and “Marry!”
The Season’s a prince who burns
With the teasing lusts that harry
His heart for a wench who spurns.
It’s—“Crown us a beaker with sherry,
To drink to the doxy’s heels;
A tankard of wine o’ the berry,
To lips like a cloven peel’s.{43}
“’S death! if a king be saddened,
Right so let a fool laugh lies:
But wine! when a king is gladdened,
And a woman’s waist and her eyes.”
He hath shattered the loom of the weaver,
And left but a leaf that flits,
He hath seized heaven’s gold, and a fever
Of mist and of frost is its.
He hath tippled the buxom beauty,
And gotten her hug and her kiss—
The wide world’s royal booty
To pile at her feet for this.
{44}

TO SORROW
I
O dark-eyed spirit of the marble brow,
Whose look is silence and whose touch is night,
Who walkest lonely through the world, O thou,
Who sittest lonely with Life’s blown-out light;
Who in the hollow hours of night’s noon
Criest like some lost child;
Whose anguish-fevered eyeballs seek the moon
To cool their pulses wild.
Thou who dost bend to kiss Joy’s sister cheek,
Turning its rose to alabaster; yea,
Thou who art terrible and mad and meek,
Why in my heart art thou enshrined to-day?
Sorrow, O say! O say!
II
Now Spring is here and all the world is white,
I will go forth, and where the forest robes
Itself in green, and every hill and height{45}
Crowns its fair head with blossoms,—spirit globes
Of hyacinth and crocus dashed with dew,—
I will forget my grief,
And thee, O Sorrow, gazing at the blue,
Beneath a last year’s leaf,
Of some brief violet the south-wind woos,
Or bluet, whence the west-wind raked the snow;
The baby eyes of love, the darling hues
Of happiness, that thou canst never know,
Mother of pain and woe.
III
On some hoar upland, hoar with clustered thorns,
Hard by a river’s windy white of waves,
I shall sit down with Spring,—whose eyes are morns
Of light; whose cheeks the rose of health enslaves,—
And so forget thee, braiding in Spring’s hair
The snowdrop, tipped with green,
The cool-eyed primrose and the trillium fair,
And moony celandine.
Contented so to lie within her arms,{46}
Forgetting all the sere and sad and wan,
Remembering Love alone, who, o’er earth’s storms,
High on the mountains of perpetual dawn,
Leads the glad Hours on.
IV
Or in the peace that follows storm, when Even,
Within the west, stands dreaming, lone and far,
Clad on with green and silver, and the Heaven
Is brightly brooched with one gold-glittering star,
I will lie down beside a mountain lake,
Round which the tall pines sigh,
And, breathing musk of rain from boughs that shake
Storm balsam, blowing by,
Make friends of Dream and Contemplation high,
And Music, listening to the mocking-bird,—
Who through the hush sends its melodious cry,—
And so forget a while that other word,
That all loved things must die.
{47}

NIGHT
Out of the East, as from an unknown shore,
Thou comest with thy children in thine arms,—
Slumber and Dream,—whom mortals so adore,—
Their flowing raiment sculptured to their charms:
Soft on thy breast thy lovely children rest,
Laid like two roses in one balmy nest.
Silent thou comest, swiftly too and slow.
There is no other presence like to thine,
When thou approachest with thy babes divine,
Thy shadowy face above them bending low,
Blowing the ringlets from their brows of snow.
Oft have I taken Sleep from thy dark arms,
And fondled her fair head, with poppies wreathed,
Within my bosom’s depths, until its storms
With her were hushed and I but faintly breathed:
And then her sister, Dream, with frolic art{48}
Arose from rest, and in my sleeping heart
Blew bubbles of dreams where elfin worlds were lost;
Worlds where my stranger soul looked down at me,
Or walked with spirits by a rainbowed sea,
Or smiled, an unfamiliar shape of frost,
Floating on gales of breathless melody.
Day comes to us in garish glory garbed;
But thou, thou bringest to the tired heart
Rest and sweet silence, wherein are absorbed
All the vain tumults of the mind and mart.
Whether thou comest with hands full of stars,
Or clothed in storm and cloud, the lightning bars,
Rolling the thunder like a mighty dress,
God moves with thee; we seem to hear His feet,
Wind-like, along the floors of Heaven beat;
To see His face, revealed in awfulness,
Through thee, O Night, to ban us or to bless.
{49}

THE HAUNTED HOUSE
I
The shadows sit and stand about its door
Like uninvited guests and poor;
And all the long, hot summer day
The ceaseless locust dins its roundelay
In one old sycamore.
The squirrel leaves upon its rotting roof
Its wandering tracks
In empty hulls; and in its clapboard cracks
The spider weaves a windy woof,
And cells of clay the mud-wasp packs.
The she-fox whelps upon its floor;
And o’er its sun warped door
The owlet roosts; and where the mosses run,
The freckled snake basks in the sun.
II
The children of what fathers sleep
Beneath those melancholy pines?{50}
The slow slugs slime their headstones there where creep
The doddered poison-vines.
The orchard, near the meadow deep,
Lifts up decrepit arms,
Black-lichened in a withering heap.
No sap swells up to make it leap
And shout against spring’s storms;
No blossom lulls its age asleep;
The winds bring sad alarms.
Big, bell-round pears and pippins, russet-red,
No maiden gathers now;
The worm-bored trunks weep tears of gum instead,
Oozing from each old bough.
III
The woodlands around it are solitary
And fold it like gaunt hands;
The sunlight is sad and the moonlight is dreary,
The hum of the country is lonesome and weary,
And the bees go by in bands
To gladder and lovelier lands.
The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;{51}
The loneliness,—dank and rank
As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
An old-man’s corpse with many a flower,—
Is hushed and blank.
And even the birds have passed it by,
Gone with their songs to a happier sky,
A happier sky and bank.
IV
In its desolate halls are lying,
Gold, blood-red, and browned,
Drifted leaves of autumn dying;
And the winds, above them sighing,
Turn them round and round,
Make a ghostly sound
As of footsteps falling, flying,
Ghostly footsteps, faintly flying
Through the haunted house.
V
Gazing down in her white shroud,
Wov’n of windy cloud,
Comes at night the phantom moon;
Comes, and all the shadows soon,
Crowding chambers of the house,
Haunting whispering rooms, arouse;—{52}
Shadows, ghosts, her rays lead on,
Till beneath the cloud
Like a ghost she’s gone,
In her gusty shroud,
O’er the haunted house.
{53}

AUTUMN
I oft have met her slowly wandering
Beside a leafy stream, her locks blown wild,
Her cheeks a hectic flush, more fair than Spring,
As if on her the scarlet copse had smiled:
Or I have seen her sitting, dark and tall,—
Her gentle eyes with foolish weeping dim,—
Beneath a twisted oak from whose red leaves
She wound great drowsy wreaths and let them fall;
The west-wind in her hair, that made it swim
Far out behind, brown as the rustling sheaves.
Or in the hill-lands I have often seen
The marvel of her passage; glimpses faint
Of glimmering woods that glanced the hills between,
Like Indian faces, fierce with forest paint.
Or I have met her ’twixt two beechen hills,
Within a dingled valley near a fall,{54}
Held in her nut-brown hand one cardinal flower;
Or wading dimly where the leaf-dammed rills
Went babbling through the wildwood’s arrased hall,
Where burned the beech and maples glared their power.
Or I have met her by a ruined mill,
Where trailed the crimson creeper, serpentine,
On fallen leaves that stirred and rustled, chill,
And watched her swinging in the wildgrapevine.
While Beauty, sad among the vales and mountains,
More sad than death, or all that death can teach,
Dreamed of decay and stretched appealing arms,
Where splashed the murmur of the forest’s fountains:
With all her loveliness did she beseech,
And all the sorrow of her wildwood charms.
Once only in a hollow, girt with trees,
A-dream amid wild asters filled with rain,
I glimpsed her cheeks, red-berried by the breeze,
In her dark eyes the night’s sidereal stain.{55}
And once upon an orchard’s tangled path,
Where all the goldenrod had turned to brown,
Where russets rolled and leaves lay sweet of breath,
I did behold her ’mid her aftermath
Of blossoms standing, in her gypsy gown,
Within her gaze the dreams of life and death.
{56}

ALONG THE OHIO
Athwart a sky of brass long welts of gold;
A river of flame the wide Ohio lies;
Beneath the sunset, billowing manifold,
The dark-blue hill-tops rise.
And, westering, dips the crescent of the moon
Through great cloud-feathers, flushed with rosy ray,
That close around the crystal of her lune
The redbird wings of Day.
A little skiff slips o’er the burnished stream;
A wake of flame, that broadens far behind,
Follows in ripples; and the paddles gleam
Against the evening wind.
Was it the boat, the solitude, and hush,
That with dead Indians peopled all the glooms?
That made each bank, meseemed, and every bush,
Start into eagle-plumes?{57}
That made me seem to hear the breaking brush,
And, as the stag’s great antlers swelled in view,
To hear the arrow twang from cane and rush,
That dipped to the canoe?
To see the glimmering wigwams by the waves?
And, wildly clad, around the camp-fires’ glow,
The Shawnee chieftains with their painted braves,
Each with his battle-bow?…
But now the vision like the sunset fades,
The clouds of ribbéd gold have oozed their light;
And from the west, like sombre sachem shades,
Gallop the shades of night.
The broad Ohio glitters to the stars;
And many murmurs wander through its woods—
Is it the mourning of dead warriors
For their lost solitudes?
The moon is set; but, like another moon,
The crescent of the river shimmers there,
Unchanged as when the eyes of Daniel Boone
Beheld it flowing fair.
{58}

THE OLD INN
Red-winding from the sleepy town,
One takes the lone, forgotten lane
Straight through the hills. A brush-bird brown
Bubbles in thorn-flowers sweet with rain,
Where breezes bend the gleaming grain
And cautious drip of higher leaves
The lower dips that drip again,
Above the tangled trees it heaves
Its gables and its haunted eaves.
One creeper, gnarled and blossomless,
O’erforests all its eastern wall;
The sighing cedars rake and press
Dark boughs along the panes they sprawl;
While, where the sun beats, drone and drawl
The mud-wasps; and one bushy bee,
Gold-dusty, hurls along the hall
To crowd into a crack.—To me
The shadows seem too scared to flee.{59}
Of ragged chimneys martins make
Huge pipes of music; twittering, here
They build and brood.—My footfalls wake
Strange stealing echoes, till I fear
I’ll see my pale self drawing near,
My phantom self as in a glass;
Or one, men murdered, buried—where?—
Dim in gray, stealthy glimmer, pass
With lips that seem to moan “Alas!”{60}
THE MILL-WATER
The water-flag and wild cane grow
Round banks whereon the sunbeams sow
Ephemeral gold when, on its shores,
The wind sighs through the sycamores.
In one green angle, just in reach,
Between a willow-tree and beech,
Moss-grown and leaky lies a boat
The thick-grown lilies keep afloat.
And through its waters, half-awake,
Slow swims the spotted water-snake;
And near its edge, like some gray streak,
Stands gaunt the still fly-up-the-creek.
Between the lily-pads and blooms
The water-spirits set their looms,
And weave the lace-like light that dims
The glimmering leaves of under limbs.
Each lily is the hiding-place
Of some dim wood-thing’s elvish face,{61}
That watches you with gold-green eyes
Where bubbles of its breathing rise.
I fancy, when the waxing moon
Leans through the trees and dreams of June;
And when the black bat slants its wing,
And lonelier the green-frogs sing;
I fancy, when the whippoorwill
In some old tree sings wildly shrill,
With glow-worm eyes that dot the dark,—
Each holding high a firefly spark,
To torch its way,—the wood-imps come:
And some float rocking here; and some
Unmoor the lily-leaves and oar
Around the old boat by the shore.
They climb through oozy weeds and moss;
They swarm its rotting sides and toss
Their firefly torches o’er its edge
Or hang them in the tangled sedge.
The boat is loosed. The moon is pale.
Around the dam they slowly sail.
Upon its bow, to pilot it,
A jack-o’-lantern flame doth sit.{62}
Yes; I have seen it all in dreams:
Naught is forgotten—naught, it seems—
The strangled face, the matted hair,
Drown’d, of the woman trailing there.
{63}

THE DREAM
Thus did I dream:
It seemed the afternoon
Of some deep, tropic day; and yet the moon
Hung, round and bright with golden alchemy,
High in a heaven sapphire as the sea.
Long, lawny lengths of perishable cloud
Templed the west, o’er rolling forests bowed;
Clouds raining colors, gold and violet,
That, opening, seemed from inner worlds to let
Down hints of Parian beauty and lost charms
Of old romance, peopled with fairy forms.
And all about me fruited orchards grew,
Pear, quince, and peach, and plums of dusty blue;
Rose-apricots, and apples streaked with fire,
Kissed into ripeness by some sun’s desire,
And big with juice. And on far, fading hills,
Down which it seemed a hundred torrent rills
Flashed silent silver, vines and vines and vines
Terraced the world with vintage, cooling wines,{64}
Pleasant and fragrant as the heart of June,
Their delicate tang drawn from the wine-white moon.
And from the clouds o’er this sweet world there dripped
An odorous music, strange and feverish-lipped,
That swung and swooned and panted as with sighs;
Investing at each throb the air with eyes
And forms of sensuous spirits, limpid white,
Clad on with raiment as of starry night;
Fair, frail embodiments of melody,
From out whose hearts of crystal one could see
The music stream like light through delicate hands
Hollowing a lamp. And as on sounding sands
The ocean murmur haunts the rosy shells,—
Within whose convolutions beauty dwells,—
My soul became a harp of vibrant love
Reëchoing all the harmony above.
{65}

SPRING TWILIGHT
The sun set late; and left along the west
A furious ruby; o’er which billowy snows
Of clouds unrolled; each cloud a mighty breast
Blooming with almond-rose.
The sun set late; and wafts of wind beat down,
And cuffed the blossoms from the blossoming quince;
Scattered the petals of the poppy’s crown,
And made the clover wince.
By dusking forests, through whose fretful boughs
In flying fragments shot the evening’s flame,
Adown the tangled lane the quiet cows
With dreamy tinklings came.
The sun set late; but scarcely had he gone
When o’er the moon’s gold-litten crescent there,
Bright Phosphor, polished as a precious stone,
Burned in fair deeps of air.{66}
As from faint stars the glory waned and waned,
The crickets made the old-time garden shrill;
Beyond the luminous pasture-lands complained
The first far whippoorwill.
{67}

A SLEET-STORM IN MAY
On southern winds shot through with amber light,
Breathing soft balm and clothed in cloudy white,
The lily-fingered Spring came o’er the hills,
Waking the crocus and the daffodils.
O’er the cold Earth she breathed a tender sigh—
The maples sang and flung their banners high,
Their crimson tasselled pennons, and the elm
Bound his dark brows with a green-crested helm.
Beneath the musky rot of last year’s leaves,
Under the forest’s myriad naked eaves,
Life woke and rose in gold and green and blue,
Robed in the starlight of the twinkling dew.
With timid tread adown the barren wood
Spring held her way, when, lo! before her stood
White-mantled Winter nodding his white head,
Stormy his brow and stormily he said:
“The God of Terror, and the King of Storm,
Must I remind thee how my iron arm
Raised rebel standards ’mid these conquered bowers,{68}
Turning their green to crimson?—Thou, with flowers,
Thou wouldst supplant me! nay! usurp my throne!—
Audacious one!”—
And at her breast he tossed
A glittering spear of ice and piercing frost,
And struck her down, dead on th’ unfeeling mold.
The fragile blossoms, gathered in the fold
Of her young bosom, fell in desolate rows
About her beauty; and, like fragrant snows,
Covered her lovely hands and beautiful feet,
Or on her lips lay like last kisses sweet
That died there. Lilacs, musky of the May,
And bluer violets and snowdrops lay
Entombed in crystal, icy faint and fair,
Like teardrops scattered through her heavenly hair.
Alas! sad heart, break not beneath the pain!
Time changeth all; the Beautiful wakes again.—
We should not question such; a higher power
Knows best what bud is ripest, or what flower,
Silently plucks it at the fittest hour.
{69}

THE HEART O’ SPRING
Whiten, oh, whiten, O clouds of lawn!
Lily-like clouds that whiten above,
Now like a dove, and now like a swan,
But never, oh, never—pass on! pass on!—
Never as white as the throat of my love.
Blue-black night on the mountain peaks—
Oh, not so black as the locks o’ my love!
Stars that shine through the evening’s streaks
Over the torrent that flashes and breaks,
Brighter the eyes of my love, my love!
Moon in a cloud, as white as snow,
Mist in the vale where the rivulet bounds,
Dropping from ledge to ledge below,
Turning to gold in the sunset’s glow,
Softer and sweeter her footstep sounds.
Sound o’ May winds in the blossoming trees,
Oh, not so sweet as her laugh that rings;
Song o’ wild birds on the morning breeze,
Birds and brooks and murmur o’ bees,
Sweeter her voice when she laughs or sings.{70}
The rose o’ my heart is she; my dawn!
My star o’ the east, my moon above!
My soul takes ship for the Avalon
Of her heart of hearts, and shall sail on
Till it anchors safe in its haven of love.
{71}

“A BROKEN RAINBOW ON THE SKIES OF MAY”
A broken rainbow on the skies of May,
Touching the dripping roses and low clouds,
And in wet clouds like scattered jewels lost:—
So in the sorrow of her soul the ghost
Of one great love, of iridescent ray,
Spanning the roses gray of memory,
Against the tumult of life’s rushing crowds—
A broken rainbow on the skies of May.
A flashing humming-bird among the flowers,
Deep-colored blooms; its slender tongue and bill
Sucking the calyxed and the honeyed myrrhs,
Till, sick of sweets, to other flow’rs it whirrs:—
Such was his love that won her heart’s full bowers
To yield to him their all, their sweets in showers,
The flower from which he drank his body’s fill—
A flashing humming-bird among the flowers.{72}
A moon, moth-white, that through far mists, like fleece,
Moves amber-girt into a bulk of black,
And, lost to sight, rims all the black with froth:—
A love that swept its moon, like some great moth,
Across the heaven of her soul’s young peace;
And, smoothly passing, in the clouds did cease
Of time, through which its burning light comes back—
A moon, moth-white, that moves through mists like fleece.
A bolt of living thunder downward hurled,
Momental blazing from the piled-up storm,
That etches out the mountains and the ocean,
The towering rocks, then blots the sight’s commotion:—
Love, love that swiftly coming bared the world,
The deeps of life, round which fate’s clouds are curled,
And, ceasing, left all night and black alarm—
A bolt of living thunder downward hurled.
{73}

ORGIE
On nights like this, when bayou and lagoon
Swoon in the moonlight’s mystic radiance,
I seem to walk like one deep in a trance
With old-world myths born of the mist and moon.
Lascivious eyes and mouths of sensual rose
Smile into mine: and breasts of luring light,
And tresses streaming golden to the night,
Persuade me onward where the forest glows.
And then it seems along the haunted hills
There falls a flutter as of beautiful feet,
As if tempestuous troops of Mænads meet
To drain deep bowls and shout and have their wills.
And then I feel her limbs will be revealed
Like some great snow-white moth among the trees;
Her vampire beauty, waiting there to seize
And drag me downward where my doom is sealed.
{74}

THE FARMSTEAD
Yes, I love the Farmstead. There
In the spring the lilacs blew
Plenteous perfume everywhere;
There in summer gladioles drew
Parallels of scarlet glare.
And the moon-hued primrose cool,
Satin-soft and redolent;
Honeysuckles beautiful,
Filling all the air with scent;
Roses red or white as wool.
Roses, glorious and lush,
Rich in tender-tinted dyes,
Like the gay tempestuous rush
Of unnumbered butterflies,
Clustering o’er each bending bush.
Here japonica and box,
And the wayward violets;
Clumps of star-enameled phlox,
And the myriad flowery jets
Of the twilight four-o’-clocks.{75}
Ah, the beauty of the place!
When the June made one great rose,
Full of musk and mellow grace,
In the garden’s humming close,
Of her comely mother face!
Bubble-like the hollyhocks
Budded, burst, and flaunted wide
Gypsy beauty from their stocks;
Morning-glories, bubble-dyed,
Swung in honey-hearted flocks.
Tawny tiger-lilies flung
Doublets slashed with crimson on;
Graceful slave-girls, fair and young,
Like Circassians, in the sun
Alabaster lilies swung.
Ah, the droning of the bee;
In his dusty pantaloons
Tumbling in the fleurs-de-lis;
In the drowsy afternoons
Dreaming in the pink sweet-pea.
Ah, the moaning wildwood dove!
With its throat of amethyst{76}
Rippled like a shining cove
Which a wind to pearl hath kissed,
Moaning, moaning of its love.
And the insects’ gossip thin—
From the summer hotness hid—
In lone, leafy deeps of green;
Then at eve the katydid
With its hard, unvaried din.
Often from the whispering hills,
Borne from out the golden dusk,—
Gold with gold of daffodils,—
Thrilled into the garden’s musk
The wild wail of whippoorwills.
From the purple-tangled trees,
Like the white, full heart of night,
Solemn with majestic peace,
Swam the big moon, veined with light,
Like some gorgeous golden-fleece.
She was there with me.—And who,
In the magic of the hour,
Had not sworn that they could view,
Beading on each blade and flower
Moony blisters of the dew?{77}
And each fairy of our home,—
Firefly,—its taper lit
In the honey-scented gloam,
Dashing down the dusk with it
Like an instant-flaming foam.
And we heard the calling, calling,
Of the brown owl in the brake;
Where the trumpet-vine hung, crawling
Down the ledge, into the lake
Heard the sighing streamlet falling.
Then we wandered to the creek
Where the water-lilies, growing
Thick as stars, lay white and weak;
Or against the brooklet’s flowing
Stooped and bathed a bashful cheek.
And the moonlight, rippling golden,
Fell in virgin aureoles
On their bosoms, half-unfolden,
Where, it seemed, the fairies’ souls
Dreamed as perfume,—unbeholden;—
Lying sleeping, pearly-tented,
Baby-cribbed within each bud,{78}
While the night-wind, pinewood-scented,
Swooning over field and flood,
Rocked them on the waters dented.
Then the low, melodious bell
Of a sleeping heifer tinkled,
In some berry-briered dell,
As her satin dewlap wrinkled
With the cud that made it swell.
And, returning home, we heard,
In a beech-tree at the gate,
Some brown, dream-behaunted bird,
Singing of its absent mate,
Of the mate that never heard.
And, you see, now I am gray,
Why within the old, old place,
With such memories, I stay:
Fancy out her absent face
Long since passed away.
She was mine—yes! still is mine:
And my frosty memory
Reels about her, as with wine
Warmed into young eyes that see
All the past that was divine.{79}
Yes, I loved her, and have grown
Melancholy in that love,
And the memory alone
Of her loveliness whereof
She did sanctify each stone.
And where’er her flowers swing,
There she walks,—as if a bee
Fanned them with its airy wing,—
Down her garden, shadowy
In the hush the evenings bring.
{80}

THE BOY COLUMBUS
And he had mused on lands each bird,—
That winged from realms of Falerina,
O’er seas of the Enchanted Sword,—
In romance sang him, till he heard
Far foam on Islands of Alcina.
For rich Levant and old Castile
Let other seamen freight their galleys;
With Polo he and Mandeville
Through stranger seas a dreamy keel
Sailed into wonder-peopled valleys.
Far continents of flow’r and fruit,
Of everlasting spring; where fountains
’Mid flow’rs, with human faces, shoot;
Where races dwell, both man and brute,
In cities under golden mountains.
Where cataracts their thunders hurl
From heights the tempest has at mercy;
Vast peaks that touch the moon, and whirl
Wild torrents down of gold and pearl;
And forests strange as those of Circe.{81}
Let rapiered Love lute, in the shade
Of royal gardens, to the Palace
And Court, that haunt the balustrade
Of terraces and still parade
Their vanity and guile and malice.
Him something calls, diviner yet
Than Love, more mighty than a lover;
Heroic Truth, that will not let
Deed lag; a purpose, westward set,
In eyes far-seeing to discover.
{82}

NORTH BEACH, FLORIDA
Surge upon surge, the miles of surf uncurl
Volutes of murmur; and the far shore foams;
The thundering billows, boiling into pearl,
The sea-wind clouds and combs.
Wave upon wave,—as when the Nereids pour,
With streaming tresses, landward, when the arms
Of Tritons reach them, racing towards the shore,—
Bursts on the beach that storms.
Oh, thou primeval solitude! that rolled
Out of creation when the world was young!
That shall roll on when man is not, and old
The ages yet unsung!
Time shall not flaw thy music!—thou hast heard
God’s spirit on thy waters, and no night
Annuls the memory of that one Word
Which blossomed into light.{83}
With such impression as upon thy face
The soaring seagulls make, man comes and came;
And countless myriads, race on warring race,
Have found thee thus—the same.
Thy part is—to destroy, and still remain
Immutable ’midst mutability:
The symbol of all change, that clothes again
Mystery in mystery.
{84}

THE STORM
Thor, Thor is out on the hills!
The frown of his fierce brow showing;
His breath through his red beard blowing,
With rain, through his beard that it fills.
The forests are taken;
The mightiest oaks
Are twisted and shaken
As by chariot-spokes,
Where mountains awaken
To th’ hoofs of his yokes,
Reined sheer with the strength of his arm—
Ride forth, O Spirit of Storm!
What hope for the sparrow,
Or nest of the bird!
Where fords were once narrow,
What hope for the herd!
When arrow on arrow
He empties the third
Of his quiver against their alarm—
Descend, O Spirit of Storm!{85}
You may measure the might that he brings
By the welkin that echoes his felloes;
By the fork of the lightning,—that yellows
The darkness,—the hammer he swings.
The cattle are scattered
And low from the shore;
The roses are shattered
That grew at the door;
The swallows look tattered,
And twitter and soar,
Made glad with the force of his form—
Rejoice, O Spirit of Storm!
On levels that sunder
The roar of the main
He ploughs with the thunder,
And sows with the rain:
No sunbeam shall blunder
Through black till the plain
Is planted with storm as a farm—
Sweep on, O Spirit of Storm!
His path is the abysm, which heaps
The wild wind behind him, and hovers
A whirlwind before, that uncovers
The hurricane-lair where he sleeps.{86}
At night,—through the wrestle
Of winds that contend,—
To guard the good vessel
From rocks that would rend,
Like a star let it nestle,
The light, to defend
The seaman and his from all harm—
From thee, O Spirit of Storm!
{87}

ON THE JELLICO SPUR OF THE CUMBERLANDS
To …

You remember how the mist,
When we climbed to Devil’s Den,
Pearl-white in the mountain glen,
And above us, amethyst,
Throbbed and circled? then away,
Through the wildwoods opposite,
Torn and scattered, morning-lit,
Vanished into dewy gray?—
Vague as in romance we saw,
From the fog one riven trunk,
Talon-like with branches shrunk,
Thrust a monster dragon claw.
And we climbed for hours through
The dawn-dripping Jellicoes,
To a wooded rock, whence those
Undulating leagues of blue{88}
Summits,—mountain-chains that lie
Dark with forest, bar on bar,—
Ranged their wild, irregular,
Purple peaks beneath a sky
Ocean-azure. Range on range
Billowed their enormous spines,
Where the rocks and priestly pines
Sat eternal, without change.
We were sons of Nature then:
She had taken us to her,
Drawn us, bound with brier and burr,
Closer her than other men:
Intimates of all her moods,
From her bloom-anointed looks,
Wisdom of no man-made books
Learned we in those solitudes:
How the seed contained the flower;
How the acorn held the oak;
How within the vine awoke
The wild impulse still to tower:
How in fantasy or mirth,
Springing when she summoned there,{89}
Sponge-like fungi everywhere
Bulged, exuded from the earth:
Coral-vegetable things,
That the underworld exhaled,
Bulbous, fluted, ribbed, and scaled,
Many colored and in rings,
Like the Indian-Pipe that grew
Pink and white in loamy cracks,
Flowers of a natural wax,
She had turned her fancy to.—
On that laureled precipice,
Where the chestnuts dropped their burrs,
Warm with balsam of the firs,
First we felt her mother-kiss
Full of heaven and the wind;
While the forests, wood on wood,
Murmured like a multitude
Giving praise where none hath sinned.—
Freedom met us there; we saw
Freedom giving audience;
In her face the eloquence,
Lightning-like, of love and law:{90}
Round her, on majestic hips,
Lounged the giant mountains, where
Streaming cataracts tossed their hair,
God and thunder on their lips.—
Oft an eagle, or a hawk,
Or a scavenger, we knew
Winged above us through the blue
By its shadow on the rock.
Or a cloud of templed white
Moved, a lazy berg of pearl,
Through the sky’s pacific swirl,
Shot with cool, cerulean light.
So we dreamed an hour upon
That high rock the lichens mossed,
While around us, glimmering, tossed
Golden mintings of the sun:
Then arose; and a ravine,
Which a torrent once had worn,
Made our roadway to the corn
In the valley, deep and green;
And the farm-house with its bees,
Where old-fashioned flowers spun{91}
Gay rag-carpets in the sun,
Gray among the apple-trees.
Here we watched the evening fall:
O’er Wolf Mountain sunset made,
Huge, a rhododendron, rayed
Round the sun’s cloud-calyxed ball.
Then through scents of herb and soil,
To the mining-camp we turned,
In the twinkling dusk discerned
With its white-washed homes of toil.
. . . . . . . . . .
Ah, those nights!—We wandered forth
On some haunted mountain path,
When the moon rose late; and rathe
The large stars, sowed south and north,
Splashed with gold the purple skies;
And the milky zodiac,
Rolled athwart the belted black,
Seemed a path to Paradise.
And we walked or tarried till,
In the valley-land beneath,
Like the vapor of a breath
Breathed in frost, arose the still{92}
Architecture of the mist:
And the moon-dawn’s necromance
Touched the mist and made it glance
Terraced pearl and amethyst.
Then around us, sharp and brusque,
Night’s shrill insects strident strung
Fairy viols that buzzed and sung,
Pixy music of the dusk.
And we seemed to hear soft sighs,
And hushed steps of ghostly things,
Fluttered feet and rustled wings
All around us. Fireflies,
Gleaming in the tangled glade,
Seemed the eyes of warriors,
Stealing under watching stars
To some phantom ambuscade;
To the tepees there that gloomed,
Wigwams of the mist, that slept
By the woodland side, whence crept
Shadowy Shawnees moonbeam-plumed.
When the moon rose, like a cup
Lay the valley, brimming shine{93}
Of mesmeric mist, like wine,
To the sky’s dim face held up.
As she rose from out the mines
Of the nacreous darkness, Night
Met her, clad in dewy light
’Mid Pine Mountain’s sachem pines.
As through fragmentary fleece
Of the clouds her circle broke,
Orey-seamed, about us woke
Myths of Italy and Greece.
As, an orb of sparry quartz,
Her serene circumference grew,
Home we turned. And all night through
Slept the sleep of happy hearts.
{94}

THE WHIPPOORWILL
I
Above lone woodland ways that led
To dells the stealthy twilights tread
The west was hot geranium red;
And still, and still,
Along old lanes the locusts sow
With clustered pearls the Maytimes blow,
Deep in the crimson afterglow,
We heard the homeward cattle low,
And then, far off, like some far woe,
The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.
II
Beneath the idle beechen boughs
We heard the slow bells of the cows
Come softly, jangling towards the house;
And still, and still,
Beyond the light that would not die
Out of the scarlet-haunted sky,
Beyond the evening-star’s white eye{95}
Of glittering chalcedony,
Drained out of dusk the plaintive cry
Of “whippoorwill,” of “whippoorwill.”
III
And in the city oft, when swims
The pale moon o’er the smoke that dims
Its disc, I dream of wildwood limbs,
And still, and still,
I seem to hear, where shadows grope
’Midst ferns and flowers that dewdrops rope,—
Lost in faint deeps of heliotrope
Above the clover-sweetened slope,—
Retreat, despairing, past all hope,
The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.
{96}

IN THE WILDWOOD
I lie where silence sleeps,
And twilight dreams and sighs;
Where all heaven’s azure peeps
Blue from one wildflower’s eyes;
Where, in reflecting deeps,
A world, inverted, lies,
Of dimmer woods and skies:
Divining God from things
Humble as weed and bee;
From songs the wild bird sings
Guessing at poetry;
And from each flower that swings,
Each star-familiar tree,
Learning philosophy.
{97}

A HOLLOW OF THE HILLS
I
How oft the swallow darted
Above its deeps of blue,
Where leaves close clung or parted
To let the sunlight through!
Where roses, honey-hearted,
Hung full of living dew!
II
How oft, from out the heaven,
Upon me blew the balm
Of soft winds, summer-driven
From continents of calm!
With rustlings as of riven,
Sea-sounding pine and palm!
III
Oft from its leafy cover
I watched the red-bird slip;{98}
And marked, like some rude lover,
The bee, with robber lip,
Bend down the snowy clover,
Or make the wild-rose dip.
IV
Still darts the soaring swallow
Above it; and the rose
Still blooms within its hollow
Where still the runnel flows;
The brook,—that I shall follow
No more,—that seaward goes.
V
There still the white moon shineth
At night through rifted trees;
Upon the stream that twineth
Through blooms that no one sees;
And on,—as I divineth,—
My soul that sighs for these.
{99}

BENEATH THE BEECHES
I
I long, oh, long to lie
’Neath beechen branches, twisted,
Green ’twixt the summer sky;
The woodland shadows nigh
Like dryads sunbeam-wristed:
The livelong day to dream
Beside a wildwood stream.
II
I long, oh, long to hear
The claustral forest breathing,
Sound soothing to the ear;
To see the wild-vine near
Its scarlet blooms unsheathing:
The livelong day to cross
Slow o’er the nut-strewn moss.
{100}

III
I long, oh, long to see
The nesting red-bird singing
Glad on the wood-rose tree:
To watch the breezy bee,
Half in the wildflower, swinging:
God’s livelong day to pass
Deep in cool forest grass.
IV
Oh, soul, so builded in
With mart and booth and steeple,
Brick alley-ways of sin,
What hope for you to win
Ways free of pelf and people!
Ways of the leaf and root
And soft Mygdonian flute!
{101}

THE BRIDLE-PATH
I
Through meadows of the ironweeds,
Whose purple blooms hang, slipping
The morning dew in twinkling beads,
The thin path twists and, winding, leads
Through woodland hollows dripping;
Down to a creek of rocks and reeds;
On to a lilied dam that feeds
A mill, whose wheel through willow-bredes
Winks, the white water whipping.
II
It wends through meads of mint and brush
Where silvery seeds drift drowsy,
Or swoon along the heatful hush;
And where the bobwhite, in the bush,
The elder, blooming frowsy,
Keeps calling clear: then through a crush{102}
Of crowded saplings, low and lush;
Then by a pool of flag and rush
With brier-rose petaled blowsy.
III
Thence, o’er the ragweed fallow-lot,
Whose low rail-fence encumbers
The dense-packed berries ripening hot;
Where, in the heaven, one far spot
Of gray, the gray hawk slumbers;
Then through the greenwood where the rot
Of leaves and loam smells cool; and, shot
With dotting dark, the touch-me-not
Swings curling horns in numbers.
IV
It winds round rocks that bulge and lie
Deep in damp ferns and mosses,—
Each like a giant on his thigh
Watching some forest quarry die;—
And thence it frailly crosses
A bramble-bridge; whence, whirring high,
A partridge startles,—’thwart the sky
A jarring light,—where, babbling by,
The brook its diamonds tosses.
{103}

V
And here the cohosh swings its snow,
Gaunt from the forest springing;
There gold the sorrel blossoms blow;
Here vari-colored toadstools sow,
Or swell the soil; and, swinging,
The trumpet-vine hangs red and low
Near boughs,—on which the beech-burrs glow,—
The woodland wind sways to and fro,
O’er waters wildly ringing.
VI
It leads us deep into the cane
Through spice-bush belts, where “tinkle”
One stray bell sounds, and then again,
Lost in some lone and leafy lane
Where smooth the clay ruts wrinkle …
A cloud looms up,—a grayish stain
Against the blue;—and wet with rain
The wind blows, denting down the grain
And leaves, the first drops sprinkle.
VII
The dust is drilled with raindrops.—One,
Then two quick gleams, then thunder;{104}
And, scurrying with the dust, we run
Into a whiff of hay and sun,
Of cribs and barns; and under
Low martin-builded eaves,—where dun
The sparrows shelter,—watch the spun
Blue rain sweep down, that seems to stun
The world with wind and wonder.
VIII
A crashing wedge of stormy light,
Vibrating, blinds, and dashes
A monster elm to splinters white:
Then roaring rain: then, blinding bright,
A bolt again that crashes….
The storm is over. Left and right
The clouds break; and, with green delight,
Fresh rain scents blow from wood and height
Where each blade drips and flashes.
IX
A ghostly gold burns slowly through
The chasm’d clouds; and blended
With rainy rose and rainy blue,
The heavens, pearled with many a hue,
Die like a dolphin splendid….{105}
High-buoyed in wrack, now one or two
Slight stars peep out—the pirate clue
To night’s rich hoard.—In dusk and dew
Here is our pathway ended.
{106}

THE OLD FARM
Dormered and verandaed, cool,
Locust-girdled on the hill,
Stained with weather-wear; at Yule
And Midsummer every sill
Thresholding the beautiful,
Still I see it standing there,
Brown above the woodland deep,
Wrapped in lights of lavender,
And slow shadows, rocked asleep
By the warm wind everywhere.
I remember how the spring,
Liberal-lapped, bewildered its
Acred orchards, murmuring,
With the blossoms’ budded bits,
Where the wood-thrush came to sing.
Barefoot Spring, at first who trod,
Like a beggarmaid, adown{107}
The wet woodland, where the god,
With the bright sun for a crown
And the firmament for rod,
Met her; clothed her; wedded her;
Her Cophetua: when, lo!
All the hill, one breathing blur,
Burst in blossom, gleam and glow,
Peach and pearl and lavender.
Seckel, blackheart, palpitant,
Rained their bleaching strays; and white
Snowed the damson, bent aslant;
Rambow-tree and romanite
Seemed beneath deep drifts to pant.
And it stood there, brown and gray,
In the bee-boom and the bloom,
In the shadow and the ray,
In the passion and perfume,
Grave as age among the gay.
Sweet with laughter romped the clear
Boyish voices round its walls;
Rare wild-roses were the dear
Girlish faces in its halls,
Music-haunted all the year.{108}
Far before it meadows full
Of green pennyroyal sank;
Clover-dotted as with wool
Here and there; and now a bank
Of wild color: and the cool
Dark blue shadows undefined
Of the clouds rolled overhead;
Clouds, from which the summer wind
Blew with rain, and freshly shed
Dew upon the flowerkind.
Where, through mint and gypsy-lily,
Runs the rocky brook away,
Musical among the hilly
Solitudes,—its flashing spray
Sunbeam-dashed or shadow-stilly,—
Buried in thick sassafras,
Memory follows up the hill
Still some cowbell’s mellow brass,
Where the ruined water-mill
Looms, half-hid in cane and grass.
Ah, the old farm! is it set
On the hilltop still? ’mid musk{109}
Of the meads? where, violet,
Deepens all the dreaming dusk,
And the locust trees hang wet?
While the sunset, far and low,
On its westward windows dashes
Primrose or pomegranate glow?
And above, in lilac splashes,
Faint, first stars the heavens sow?
Sleeps it still among its roses,
Yellow roses? while the choir
Of the lonesome insects dozes?
And the white moon, filled with fire,
O’er its mossy roof reposes—
Sleeps it still among its roses?
{110}

TO SUMMER
I
Thou sit’st among the sunny silences
Of terraced hills and woodland galleries,
Thou utterance of all calm melodies,
Thou lutanist of Earth’s most fecund lute,—
Where no false note intrudes
To mar the silent music,—branch and root,
Playing the fields ripe, orchards and deep woods,
To song similitudes
Of flower and seed and fruit.
II
Oft have I felt thee, in some sensuous air,
Bewitch the wide wheat-acres everywhere
To imitated gold of thy rich hair:
The peach, by thy red lips’ delicious trouble,
Blown into gradual dyes
Of crimson, have I seen: have watched thee double—{111}
With interluded music of thine eyes—
The grapes’ rotundities,
Bubble by purple bubble.
III
Deliberate uttered into life intense,
Out of thy song’s melodious eloquence
Beauty evolves its just preëminence:
The lily, from some pensive-smitten chord
Drawing significance
Of purity, a visible hush stands: starred
With splendor, from thy passionate utterance,
The rose tells its romance
In blushing word on word.
IV
As star by star day harps in evening,
The inspiration of all things that sing
Is in thy hands and from their touch takes wing:
All brooks, all birds,—whom song can never sate,—
Even the wind and rain,
And frogs and insects, singing soon and late,
Thy sympathies inspire, thy heart’s refrain,
Whose sounds invigorate
With rest life’s weary brain.
{112}

V
And as the night, like some mysterious rune,
Its beauty makes emphatic with the moon,
Thou lutest us no immaterial tune:
But where dim whispers haunt the cane and corn,
By thy still strain made strong,
Earth’s awful avatar,—in whom is born
Thy own deep music,—labors all night long
With growth, assuring morn
Assumes like onward song.
{113}

A GRAY DAY
I
Long volleys of wind and of rain,
And the rain on the drizzled pane,
And the day ends chill and murk;
But on yesterday’s eve, I trow,
The new-moon’s thorn-thin bow
Stabbed rosy through gold and through glow,
Like a rich, barbaric dirk.
II
The throats of the snapdragons,—
Cool-colored with gold like the dawns
That come with spring o’er the hills,—
Are filled with a sweet rain, fine,
Of starry, scintillant shine,
A faery vat of thin wine,
That the rain for the elfins fills.
{114}

III
Dabbled the poppies shrink,
And the coxcomb and the pink;
And the candytuft’s damp crown
Droops, dribbled, low bowed i’ the wet;
And rows of the mignonette
Little musk-sacks open set,
Which the weight o’ the dew drags down.
IV
Stretched taunt ’twixt the blades of grass,
A gossamer-fibered glass,
That the garden-spider spun,
The web, where the round rain clings
In the sag o’ its middle, swings—
A hammock for elfin things
When the stars succeed the sun.
V
And, mark, where the pale gourd grows
As high as the climbing rose,
How the tiger-moth is pressed
To that wide leaf’s under side.—
And I know where the red wasps hide,
And the brown bees,—that defied
The first strong gusts,—distressed.
{115}

VI
Yet I feel that the gray will blow
Aside for an afterglow;
And the wind, on a sudden, toss
Drenched boughs; a pattering shower
Athwart the red dusk in a glower,
Big drops heard hard on each flower,
The grass and the flowering moss.
VII
And then for a minute, may be,—
A pearl, hollow-worn, of the sea,—
A glimmer of moon will smile,
And a star, rinsed clean, through the dusk:
And a freshness of moonlit musk
O’er the showery lawns blow brusque
As spice from an Indian Isle.
{116}

THE MOOD O’ THE EARTH
My heart is high as the day is clear,
As the wind in the wood that blows;
My heart is high with a mood that’s cheer,
And glows like a sun-blown rose.
My heart is high, and up and away
Like a bird in the skies’ deep blue;
My heart goes singing through the day,
As glad as a bee i’ the dew.
My heart, my heart is high; its beat
Is wild as the scent o’ the wood,
The wild sweet wind, with its pulse of heat,
And its musk of blossom and bud.
My heart is high; and it leads my feet
Where the sense of summer is full,
To woods and waters where lovers meet
To hills where the creeks run cool.{117}
My heart is one, is one with the heart,
With the joy o’ the bee that comes
And sucks i’ the flowers, that dip apart
For his dusty body that hums.
My heart is glad as the glad redstart,
The flame-flecked bird, the spotted bird,
Whose lilt my soul has got by heart,
Fitting each note with a word.
God’s love! I tread the wind and air!
Am one with the hoiden wind;
And the stars that swim in the blue, I swear,
Right soon in my hair I’ll find.
To live high up, a life o’ the mist,
With the cloud-things in white skies,—
With their limbs of pearl and of amethyst,—
That laugh cerulean eyes!
To creep and to suck, like an elfin thing,
In the aching heart of a rose;
In the bluebell’s ear to cling and swing,
And whisper what no one knows!
To live on wild-honey, as fresh, as thin
As the rain that’s left in a flower!{118}
And roll forth, golden from feet to chin,
In the pollen’s Danaë-shower!
Or free, bird-hearted, bend back the throat,
With a vigorous look at the blue,
And launch from my soul one wild, true note,
Is the thing that my heart would do!
God’s life! the blood o’ the earth is mine!
And the mood o’ the earth I’ll take,
And brim my soul with her wonderful wine,
And sing till my heart doth break!
{119}

NOONING
I
Weak winds that make the waters wink;
White clouds that sail from lands of Fable
To white Utopias, vague, that brink
Sky-gulfs of blue unfathomable:
Their rolling shadows, drifting
O’er hills of forest, lifting
Wild peaks of purple range, that loom and sink.
II
Warm knolls, whereon the Summer dreams;
And droning dells, where all her brightness
Lies, lulled with hymns of mountain-streams’
Far-foaming falls of windy whiteness:
Where, from the glooming hollow,
With cawing crows that follow,
The hunted hawk wings wearily and screams.
{120}

III
Dry-buzzing heat and drought that shrills
With one harsh locust’s lonesome whirring;
No voice amid the answering hills
Recedes in echoes far-recurring;
As when, with twilight wimpled,
The Morning, rosy dimpled,
From dewy tops called o’er responding rills.
IV
Wan with sweet summer hangs the deep
Hot heaven with the high sun hearted—
A great, wide bluebell bloom asleep
With golden-pistiled petals parted.—
So lone, one would not startle
If from yon wood should dartle
Some wildwood Dream, some Myth the wildwoods keep.
{121}

THE LOG-BRIDGE
I
Last month, where the old log-bridge is laid
O’er the woodland creek, in the belts o’ the shade,
To the right and the left, pink-packed, was made
A gloaming glory of scented tangle
By the bramble roses there—that wade,
High-heaped, from the banks—with many a braid
That, wilting, powdered the ruts, and swayed,
To the waters beneath, loose loops of spangle;
Where the breeze that blew and the beam that rayed
Were murmurous-soft with the bees awrangle.
II
This month—’tis August—the lane that leads
To the bramble-bridge runs waste with weeds,
That bloom bright saffron, or satin seeds{122}
Of thistle-fleece blow at you, hazy:
Starry the lane with the thousand bredes
Of the yellow daisy, and bud-like beads
Of marigold eyes, around which speeds
The butterfly, sumptuous with mottle and lazy;
Whereunder the pewee picks and pleads,
On the sumach’s tassel that dips to the daisy.
III
All golden the spot in the noon’s gold shine,
Where the yellow-bird sits with eyes like wine
And swings and whistles; where, line on line,
In coils of warmth the sunbeams nestle;
Where cool by the pool (where the crawfish, fine
As a shadow’s shadow, darts dim) to mine
The wet creek-clay with their peevish whine,
Come mason-hornets; and roll and wrestle
With balls of clay they carry, and twine
In hollow nests on the joists o’ the trestle.
IV
Where the horsemint shoots through the grasses,—high
On the root-thick rivage that roofs,—a dry{123}
Gray knob that bristles with pink, the sigh
Of crickets is heard; and the leaves’ deep bosoms
Are pierced, at dusk, with a bird’s quick cry,
A passing bird that twitters by:
And the frogs’ grave antiphons rise and die;
And here, to drink, come the wild opossums:
And here, to-night, will you and I
Linger and lean while the great moon blossoms.
{124}

AMONG THE KNOBS
There is a place embanked with brush
Three wooded knobs beyond,
Lost, in a valley, where the lush
Wild eglantine blows blond.
Where light the dogwoods earliest
Their torches of white fires,
And, bee-bewildered, east and west
The red haws build their spires.
The wild crab-apples’ flowery sprays
Blur through the pensive gloom
A fragrant pink; and by lone ways
The close blackberries bloom.
I love the spot: a shallow brook
Slips from the forest, near
A cane-brake and a violet nook;
Its rustling depths so clear{125}
The minnows glimmer where they glide
Above its rocky bed:
A boyhood-haunted brook, not wide,
That has its sparkling head
Among the rainy hills; and drops
By five low waterfalls—
Wild music of a hundred stops—
Between the forests’ walls:
Down to a water-gate, that hangs
Across the stream; a dull
Portcullis rude, whose wooden fangs
The moss makes beautiful.
The brass-bright dragonflies about
Its seeding grasses swim;
The streaked wasps, worrying in and out,
Dart sleepily and slim.
Here in the moon-gold moss, that glows
Like pools of moonlight, dies
The pale anemone; and blows
The bluet, blue as skies.
And, where in April tenderly
The wild geranium made{126}
A thin, peculiar fragrance, we,
Cool in pellucid shade,
Found wild strawberries just a-bud;
Wild berries, tart and fresh,—
Pale scarlet as a wood-bird’s blood,—
That May’s low vines would mesh.
Once from that hill a farm-house ’mid
Deep orchards—cozy brown,—
In lilacs and old roses hid,—
With picket-fence looked down.
O’er ruins now the roses guard;
The plum and seckel-pear
And apricot rot on the sward
Their wasted ripeness there.
Again when huckleberries blow
Their waxen bells I’ll tread
That dear accustomed way; and go
Adown that orchard; led
To that avoided spot, which seems
The haunt of vanished springs;
Lost as the hills in drowsy dreams
Of visionary things.
{127}

THE FALLS OF THE OHIO
Here on this jutting headland, where the trees
Spread a dusk carpet for the sun to cast
And count his golden guineas on, we’ll rest.
Behold th’ Ohio Falls: see how it seethes!
Though hardly heard from this high, wooded point,
Yet how it still confuses tongue and ear
With its subdued and low monotonous roar!
Not as it did, however, when we stood
And marked it from the spanning of the bridge
Rushing beneath, impetuous as a herd,—
A tameless herd, with manes of flying spray,—
Between the pillars towering above.
No more does it confound us and confuse;
Its clamor here is softened to a sound,
Incessant and subdued, like that which haunts
The groves of spring, when, like some dim surprise,
A wind, precursor of the rain, rides down
From a gray cloud and sets the leafy tongues
Cool-gossiping of the approaching shower.{128}
There runs the dam; and where its dark line cuts
The river’s sheen, already you may see
The ripples glancing to the summer sun,
As if a host had couched a thousand spears
And tossed a thousand plumes of fleecy foam,
In answer to the challenge of the Falls,
Blown from his limestone battlements, and cried
From his wave-builded city’s roaring walls.
And there, you see, the waves like champions charge;
Crowding, wild form on form, their foam-hoofs beat
The ragged rocks that roll them on their way:
Billowing they come; knight-like, to ringing lists,
With shout on shout, tossing a thousand plumes,
A thousand spears in sparkling tournament;
Lifting, opposing each, a silvery shield
Or shining pennon, now that sinks or soars,
And many a glittering sword of twinkling foam,
And many a helmet, shattered in flakes of froth,
That, to the trumpeting wind, hisses away:
While, o’er it all, swell out the rush and roar
Of onset, as of battle borne afar.—
On, on they come, a beautiful, mad troop!
On, on, along the sandy banks that fling
Red pebble-freckled arms far out to stay{129}
Their ruinous rush, the knightly strife of waves,
Warring, and winding wild their watery horns.
Look, where a thousand oily eddies whirl,
And turn and turn like wheels of liquid steel
Below this headland! ’Tis a place that none
Has bottomed yet with sounding lead and line.
Like some huge kraken, coiling vast its length,
The Eddy sleeps; and, bending from the shores,
The spotted sycamores have gazed and gazed,
Watching its slumber as gray giants might
A dragon in the hollow of gaunt hills,
Its serpent bulk wound round some magic hoard.
So long they’ve watched, their ancient backs have grown
Humped, gnarled, and bent, but still they gaze and gaze,
Leaning above; and from the glassy waves
Their images stare back their wonderment.
Haply they see the guardian Genius lie
At the dark bottom in an oozy cave
Of coral; webbed, recumbent on his mace
Of mineral; his locks of dripping green
Circling a crown of ore; his fishy eyes
Dull with the aqueous dullness of his realms.{130}
But when the storm’s abroad and whips the waves
With stinging lashes of the myriad rain,
Or scars with thunder some ancestral oak,
Sire of a forest, then he wakes in wrath,
And on the dark foundation of the stream
Rises, a monarch, crowned with iron crown,
And hurls his challenge upward at the storm,
And rages through the waters; heaves and breaks
Through the wild waves, whose round and murky bulks,
Ribbed white with foam, wallow their monster way,
Like giant herds, along yon edge of rock
O’erstrewn with petrifactions of far time;
Mollusk and trilobite and honeycomb
Of whitest coral; and with mass on mass
Of root-like reptiles; writhings turned to rock;
Huge saurian bulks that, haply, sported there,
Convolved; and, in a moment, when the change,—
Which made and unmade continents and seas,
That teemed and groaned with mammoth and plesiosaur,—
Came, with upheaval of the universe,{131}
Thro’ all their monster spines were struck to stone.
There where uprises a wild knoll, o’erstrewn
With wrecks of ancient forest, in mid-stream
Once rose an island, green and beautiful
With willow and beech, poplar and sycamore;
A river-island where the woodman built,—
Stream-guarded from the savage-haunted shore,—
His rude log cabin. Here he sowed his maize;
Here saw it tassel in the summer heat,
And glance like ranks of feathered Indians through
The glimmering vistas of the broken wood;
Here reaped and sheaved its stalks, all ivory-eared,
In shocks like wigwam rows, when like a maid,
An Indian maid, ruddy in dogwood beads,
The autumn came, soft o’er the sunset hills,
That blushed for love, and underneath her feet
Cast untold gold in leaves and yellow fruit.
Here dwelt the pioneer and here he died,
And mingled his rough dust with the raw earth
And loam of what was once an island; now
A bed of limestone rock and water pools,—
Where, in the quarry, you may see the blast{132}
Spout heavenward the dust and dirt and stone,
And flap and pound its echoes round the hills
In giant strokes as of some Titan hammer;—
A mound of stump-pierced soil where once an isle,—
As rich and fair in forest and in field
As any isle that rises to a sail
In tropic seas,—arose to kiss the sun.
There lies the other half of what was once
Corn Island: broad the channel beats between.
Lower it lies, and mantled with dwarf brakes
Of willow and of cottonwood and beech,
Degenerate offsprings of the mighty boles
That once o’erbrowed the stream in majesty
Of tall primeval beauty. In the morn,
Ere yet the east assumes its faintest blush,
Here you may hear the melancholy snipe
Piping, or see her paddling in the pools
That splash the low bed of the rocky soil.
Here once the Indian stole in natural craft
From wahoo-bush to bush, from tree to tree,
His head plumes like a bird, below, above,
Fluttering and nodding ’mid the undergrowth;
In his brown hand the pliant, polished bow,
And at his back his gaudy quiver filled{133}
With tufted arrows headed blue with flint.
And while the deep flamingo-colored west
Flamed on his ruddy cheek, and airy fire
Struck rosy ’thwart the stream, he, swift as thought,
Strung his quick bow and through the gray wild goose,
That rose with clamor from the rushy pool,
Sent a fleet arrow; crested with the quills
Which yesterday, perhaps, its mate’s gray wing
Made beautiful; and plucked to decorate
The painted shaft that should to-day speed home
And redden all their white with kindred blood:
It falling, gasping at his moccasined feet,
Breathed out its wild life, while the lonely brave
Whooped to the sunset, and yon faint blue hills
Answered his exultation with a whoop.
1885.{134}

FALL FANCIES
Far off a wind blew, and I heard
Wild echoes of the woods reply—
The herald of some royal word,
With bannered trumpet, blown on high,
Meseemed, then passed me by:
Who summoned marvels there to meet,
In pomp, upon a cloth of gold;
Where berries of the bitter-sweet,
That, splitting, showed the coals they hold,
Sowed garnets through the wold:
Where, under tents of maples, seeds
Of smooth carnelian, oval red,
The spice-bush spangled: where, like beads,
The dogwood’s rounded rubies—fed
With fire—blazed and bled.
And there I saw amid the rout
Of months, in richness cavalier,
A minnesinger—lips apout;
A gypsy face; straight as a spear;
A rose stuck in his ear:{135}
Eyes, sparkling like old German wine,
All mirth and moonlight; naught to spare
Of slender beard, that lent a line
Unto his lip; October there,
With chestnut curling hair.
His blue baretta swept its plume
White through the leaves; his purple hose,
Puffed at the thighs, made gleam of gloom;
His tawny doublet, slashed with rose,
And laced with crimson bows,
Outshone the wahoo’s scarlet pride,
The haw, in rich vermilion dressed:
A dagger dangling at his side,
A slim lute, banded to his breast,
Whereon his hands did rest,
I saw him come…. And, lo, to hear
The lilt of his approaching lute,
No wonder that the regnant Year
Bent down her beauty, blushing mute,
Her heart beneath his foot.
{136}

LATE OCTOBER
Bulged from its cup the dark brown acorn falls,
And by its gnarly saucer, in the stream’s
Clear puddles, swells; the sweet-gum’s spike-crowned balls
Beside them lie; and, opening all their seams,
Beneath the chestnut-tree the hurry hulls
Split, and, within, each nut like copper gleams.
Burst silver white, nods,—an exploded husk
Of snowy, woolly smoke,—the milk-weed’s puff
Along the orchard’s fence; where in the dusk
And ashen weeds,—as some grim Satyr’s rough
Red, breezy cheeks burn through his beard,—the brusque
Crab-apples glow, wind-tumbled from above.
And under withered leaves the crickets’ clicks
Seem some dim dirge sighed into memory’s ears;{137}
One bird sits in the sumach, flits and picks
Its sour seeds. Thro’ all the wood one hears
The dropping hickories. Round the hay’s railed ricks,
Among the fields, gather the lowing steers.
Some slim, bud-bound Leimoniad hath flocked,
Like birds, the flowers, herding from their homes
To warmer woods and skies. Where once were rocked
Unnumbered bees within unnumbered blooms,
One feeble bee clings to one bloom, or, locked
Within it, dreams of summer’s oozing combs.
Winds shake the maples, and all suddenly
A storm of leafy stars around you freaks,—
Some Dryad’s tattered raiment. To her knee
Wading, the Naiad haunts her stream that streaks
Through woodland waifs. Hark! Pan for Helike
Flutes in the forest, while he seeks and seeks.
{138}

A NOVEMBER WALK
I

Morning
The hoar frost crisps beneath the feet;
And, sparkling in the morning’s strength,
The fence, along its straggling length,
Gleams as if wrought of virgin sleet.
On broom-sedge fields and sassafras
Neglectfully the dim wind lifts
The dead leaves; and around me drifts
The milkweed, shaken from the grass.
Reluctantly and one by one
The useless leaves drift slowly down;
And, seen through woodland vistas, brown
The nut-tree patters in the sun.
Where pools the brook beneath its fall
With scales of ice its edge is bound;
And on the pebbles scattered round
The ooze is frozen; each a ball,{139}
It seems, of crystal fallen there.
And now the wind sweeps through the wood
With sighings, and the solitude
Seems shaken with a mighty care.
Decay and melancholy drape
The near-by hills in mysteries
Of mist, through which the rocks and trees
Loom, hazy, each a phantom shape.
To sullenness the surly crow
All his derisive being yields,
And o’er the barren stubble-fields
Flaps, cawless, wrapped in hungry woe.
II

Evening
As eve comes on the teasel stoops
Its spike-crowned cone before the blast:
The tattered leaves drive whirling past
In frantic and fantastic troops.
The matted elder-copses sigh;
Their broad, blue combs, with berries weighed,
Like heavy pendulums are swayed
With every gust that wanders by.{140}
Through broken walls of tangled brier,
That hedge the lane, the sumachs thrust
Their scarlet torches, red as rust,
Lit with the sunset’s stolid fire.
The eve is here: Cold, hard, and drear
The cloudless west with livid white
Of flaming silver walls the night
Far as one star’s thin rays appear.
Wedged ’thwart the west’s white luridness
The wild geese wing; from roseless domes
The far “honk” of the leader comes
Lonely and harsh and colorless.
The west dies down; and in its cup,
Shadow on shadow, pours the night;
The east glows with a mystic light;
The stars are keen; the moon comes up.
{141}

THE WHITE EVENING
On hills, beneath the steely skies,
The wind-tossed forests rock and roar:
Along the river’s ringing shore
Homeward the skimming skater flies.
On windy meads of icy brakes,
Where, sheathed in sleet, the haw-tree stands,
The moon looks down on glistening lands,
Where with the cold each bramble shakes.
Last night the sleet made white the world:
All day the wind moaned in the pines:
Now like a wolf, that whines and whines,
Like some wild wolf its hate is hurled
Against the hut upon the wold,
And the one willow by the stream:
Where, huddled, in the moon’s chill gleam,
The houseless hare leaps through the cold.
The moon sinks low, the thin new-moon,
And with it, like a bit of spar,{142}
Sinks down the large white evening-star,
Beneath which earth seems crystal-hewn.
Slim o’er the tree-tops, weighed with white,
The country church’s spire doth swell,
A scintillating icicle;
While fitfully the village light
Stabs, stains with sallow stars the dark:
Homeward the creaking wagons strain:
The smithy glares: the tavern’s vane
Points northward in its ghostly sark.
And from the north, with stinging lash,
Driving his herds of snow and sleet,
Upon his steed of wind, whose feet
Hurl through the iron woods and crash
Along the hills, with blow on blow,
The tempest sweeps; before his shout
The moon and stars are blotted out,
And fold on fold rolls down the snow.
{143}

DREAMS
My thoughts have borne me far away
To beauties of an older day,
Where, crowned with roses, stands the Dawn,
Striking her seven-stringed barbiton
Of flame, whose chords give being to
The seven colors, hue for hue;
The music of the color-dream
She builds the day from, beam by beam.
My thoughts have borne me far away
To myths of a diviner day,
Where, sitting on the mountain, Noon
Sings to the pines a sun-soaked tune
Of rest and shade and clouds and skies,
Wherein her calm dreams idealize
Light as a presence, heavenly fair,
Sleeping with all her beauty bare.
My thoughts have borne me far away
To visions of a wiser day,
Where, stealing through the wilderness,{144}
Night walks, a sad-eyed votaress,
And prays with mystic words she hears
Behind the thunder of the spheres,
The starry utterance that is hers
With which she fills the universe.
{145}

THE BROOK
To it the forest tells
The mystery that haunts its heart and folds
Its form in cogitation deep, that holds
The shadow of each myth that dwells
In nature—be it Nymph or Fay or Faun—
And whispering of them to the dales and dells,
It wanders on and on.
To it the heaven shows
The secret of its soul; true images
Of dreams that form its aspect; and with these
Reflected in its countenance it goes,
With pictures of the skies, the dusk and dawn,
Within its breast, as every blossom knows,
For them to gaze upon.
Through it the world-soul sends
Its heart’s creating pulse that beats and sings
The music of maternity whence springs
All life; and shaping earthly ends,—
From the deep sources of the heavens drawn,—
Planting its ways with beauty, on it wends,
On and for ever on.
{146}

THE OLD SWING
Under the boughs of spring
She swung in the old rope-swing.
Her cheeks, with their happy blood,
Glowed pink as the apple-bud.
Her eyes, with their deep delight,
Shone glad as the stars of night.
Her curls, with their romp and fun,
Tossed hoiden to wind and sun.
Her lips, with their laughter shrill,
Rippled like some wild rill.
Under the boughs of spring
She swung in the old rope-swing.
And I,—who leaned on the fence,
Watching her innocence,{147}
As, under the boughs that bent,
Now high, now low, she went,
In her soul the ecstasies
Of the stars, the brooks, the breeze,—
Had given the rest of my years,
With their, blessings, and hopes, and fears,
To have been as she was then;
And, just for a moment, again
A boy in the old rope-swing
Under the boughs of spring.
{148}

TO AUTUMN
I feel thee as one feels a flower’s,
A dead flower’s fragrance in a room,—
A dim, gray grief that haunts the hours
With sad perfume.
Thou charm’st me as a ghostly lily
Might charm a garden’s withered space,
With the pale pathos and the chilly
Hush of thy face.
I hearken in thy fogs; I hearken
When, like the phantom of dead Night,
With immaterial limbs they darken
The day with white.
With wrecks of rain and mad winds, heaping
Red ruins of riven rose and leaf,
Make sad my heart, O Autumn! sweeping
The world with grief.
{149}

WINTER DREAMS
How does it come that now I go
Down ways made blue with bluets’ eyes?
Along the creek-road as the crow
With mocking laughter flies?
A wild bird beats a crippled wing
To lure me from its brush-built nest;
Then, like a brook, I hear it sing
Its wildwood happiest.
Beyond the orchard hills are dells
Of knee-deep huckleberries, white
With little bell-blooms, May-time swells
With sweetness and delight.
The faun wakes in me, wild and keen,
And, with the joy the rathe months hold,
Kicks happy heels in deeps of green
And rolls in deeper gold.
My Shakespeare falls: I wake: and frost
And ice seam every flower-bed:{150}
Where once each stalk, an Edgar, tossed,
Poor Tom now shakes instead.
Where once th’ gladiole, gleaming, shook
A wand of folly at the sun,
The humped stock hath a withered look—
The poor, pale Fool is done.
A great, gray beard the rose-bush hath,—
An old king’s,—where hangs many a tear,
Near the dead lily by the path—
Cordelia and Lear.
{151}

TANSY AND SWEET-ALYSSUM
{152}

{153}

A FLOWER OF THE FIELDS
Bee-bitten in the orchard hung
The peach; or, fallen in the weeds,
Lay rotting, where still sucked and sung
The gray bee, boring to the seed’s
Pink pulp and honey blackly stung.
The orchard-path, which wound around
The garden,—with its heat one twinge
Of dinning locusts,—picket-bound
And ragged, brought me where one hinge
Held up the gate that scraped the ground.
All seemed the same: the martin-box—
Sun-warped, with pygmy balconies—
Still stood, with all its twittering flocks,
Perched on its pole above the peas
And silvery-seeded onion-stocks.
The clove-pink and the rose; the clump
Of coppery sunflowers, with the heat
Sick to the heart: the garden stump,
Red with geranium-pots, and sweet
With moss and ferns, this side the pump.{154}
I rested with one hesitant hand
Upon the gate. The lonesome day,
Droning with insects, made the land
One dry stagnation. Soaked with hay
And scents of weeds the hot wind fanned.
I breathed the sultry scents, my eyes
Parched as my lips. And yet I felt
My limbs were ice.—As one who flies
To some wild woe.—How sleepy smelt
The hay-hot heat that soaked the skies!
Noon nodded; dreamier, lonesomer
For one long, plaintive, forest-side
Bird-quaver.—And I knew me near
Some heartbreak anguish…. She had died.
I felt it, and no need to hear.
I passed the quince-and pear-tree; where,
All up the porch, a grape-vine trails.—
How strange that fruit, whatever air
Or earth it grows in, never fails
To find its native flavor there!
And she was as a flower, too,
That grows its proper bloom and scent{155}
No matter what the soil: she, who,
Born better than her place, still lent
Grace to the lowliness she knew….
They met me at the porch and were
Gaunt-eyed with weeping.—Then the room
Shut out the country’s heat and purr,
And left light stricken into gloom—
So love and I might look on her.
{156}

ON STONY-RUN
O cheerly, cheerly by the road,
And merrily down the hillet,
And where the bottom-lands are sowed
With bristle-bearded millet;
Then o’er a pebbled path it goes
Through woodland dale and dingle,
Unto a farmstead’s windowed rose,
And roof of moss and shingle.
Then darkly, darkly through the brush,
And dimly round the boulder,
Where cane and water-weeds grow lush,
Its current clear flows colder.
Then by the cedared way that leads,
Through burr and bramble-thickets,
Unto a burial-ground of weeds
Fenced in with broken pickets.{157}
Then slowly, slowly down the vale,
And wearily through the rushes,
Where sunlight of the noon is pale,
Its shadowy water hushes.
For oft her young face smiled upon
Its deeps here, willow-shaded;
And oft with bare feet in the sun
Its shallows there she waded.
No more beneath the twinkling leaves
Shall stand the farmer’s daughter!—
softly past the cottage eaves,
O memory-haunted water!
No more shall bend her laughing face
Above it where the rose is!—
Sigh softly past the burial-place
Where all her youth reposes.
{158}

HOME
Among the fields the camomile
Seems blown mist in the lightning’s glare:
Cool, rainy odors drench the air;
Night speaks above; the angry smile
Of storm within her stare.
The way that I shall take to-night
Is through the wood whose branches fill
The road with double darkness, till,
Between the boughs, a window’s light
Shines out upon the hill.
The fence; and then the path that goes
Around a trailer-tangled rock,
Through puckered pink and hollyhock,
Unto a latch-gate’s unkempt rose,
And door whereat I knock.
Bright on the old-time flower-place
The lamp streams through the foggy pane
The door is opened to the rain:
And in the door—her happy face
And outstretched hands again.
{159}

DUSK IN THE WOODS
Three miles of trees it is: and I
Came through the woods that waited, dumb,
For the cool summer dusk to come;
And lingered there to watch the sky
Up which the gradual sunset clomb.
A tree-toad quavered in a tree;
And then a sudden whippoorwill
Called overhead, so wildly shrill
The sleeping wood, it seemed to me,
Cried out and then again was still.
Then through dark boughs its stealthy flight
An owl took; and, at drowsy strife,
The cricket tuned its fairy fife;
And like a ghostflower, silent white,
The wood-moth glimmered into life.
And in the punk-wood everywhere
The insects ticked, or bored below
The rotted bark; and, glow on glow,
The lambent fireflies here and there
Lit up their jack-o’-lantern show.{160}
I heard a vesper-sparrow sing,
Withdrawn, it seemed, into the far
Slow sunset’s tranquil cinnabar;
The crimson, softly smouldering
Behind gaunt trunks, with its one star.
A dog barked: and down ways that gleamed,
Through dew and clover, faint the noise
Of cow-bells moved. And then a voice,
That sang a-milking, so it seemed,
Made glad my heart as some glad boy’s.
And then the lane: and, full in view,
A farm-house with a rose-grown gate,
And honeysuckle paths, await
For night, the moon, and love and you—
These are the things that made me late.
{161}

COMRADES
Down through the woods, along the way
That fords the stream; by rock and tree,
Where in the bramble-bell the bee
Swings; and through twilights green and gray
The red-bird flashes suddenly,
My thoughts went wandering to-day.
I found the fields where, row on row,
The blackberries hang black their fruit;
Where, nesting at the elder’s root,
The partridge whistles soft and low;
The fields, that billow to the foot
Of those old hills we used to know.
There lay the pond, still willow-bound,
On whose bright surface, when the hot
Noon burnt above, we chased the knot
Of water-striders; while around
Our heads, like bits of rainbow, shot
The dragon-flies without a sound.{162}
The pond, above which evening bent
To gaze upon her gypsy face;
Wherein the twinkling night would trace
A vague, inverted firmament;
In which the green frogs tuned their bass,
And firefly sparkles came and went.
The old-time woods we often ranged,
When we were playmates, you and I;
The old-time fields, with boyhood’s sky
Still blue above them!—Naught was changed!
Nothing!—Alas! then tell me why
Should we be? whom the years estranged.
{163}

THE ROCK
Here, at its base, in dingled deeps
Of spice-bush, where the ivy creeps,
The cold spring scoops its hollow;
And there, three mossy stepping-stones
Make ripple murmurs; undertones
Of foam, whose low falls follow
A voice far in the wood that drones.
The quail pipes here when noons are hot;
And here, in coolness sunlight-shot,
Beneath a roof of briers,
The red fox skulks at close of day;
And here, at night, the shadows gray
Stand like Franciscan friars,
With moonbeam beads whereon they pray.
Here yawns the woodchuck’s dark-dug hole;
And there the tunnel of the mole
Heaves under weed and flower;
A sandy pit-fall here and there{164}
The ant-lion digs and lies a-lair
And here, for sun and shower,
The spider weaves a silvery snare.
The poison-oak’s rank tendrils twine
The rock’s south side; the trumpet-vine,
With crimson bugles sprinkled,
Makes green its eastern side; the west
Is rough with lichens; and, gray-pressed
Into an angle wrinkled,
The hornets hang an oblong nest.
The north is hid from sun and star,
And here,—like an Inquisitor
Of Faëry Inquisition,
Who roots out Elfland heresy,—
Deep in the rock, cowled shadowy
And grave as his commission,
The owl sits magisterially.
{165}

STANDING-STONE CREEK
A weed-grown slope, whereon the rain
Has washed the brown rocks bare,
Leads tangled from a lonely lane
Down to a creek’s broad stair
Of stone, that, through the solitude,
Winds onward to a quiet wood.
An intermittent roof of shade
The beech above it throws;
Along its steps a balustrade
Of beauty builds the rose;
In which, a stately lamp of green,
At intervals, the cedar’s seen.
The water, carpeting each ledge
Of rock that runs across,
Glints ’twixt a flow’r-embroidered edge
Of ferns and grass and moss;
And in its deeps the wood and sky
Seem patterns of the softest dye.{166}
Long corridors of pleasant dusk
Within the house of leaves
It reaches; where, on looms of musk,
The ceaseless locust weaves
A web of summer; and perfume
Trails a sweet gown from room to room.
Green windows of the boughs, that swing,
It passes, where the notes
Of birds are glad thoughts entering,
And butterflies are motes;
And now a vista where the day
Opens a door of wind and ray.
It is a stairway for all sounds
That haunt the woodland sides;
On which, boy-like, the Southwind bounds,
Girl-like, the sunbeam glides;
And, like fond parents, following these,
The old-time dreams of rest and peace.
{167}

“CLOUDS OF THE AUTUMN NIGHT”
Clouds of the autumn night,
Under the hunter’s-moon,—
Ghostly and windy white,—
Whither, like leaves wild strewn,
Take ye your stormy flight?
Out of the west, where dusk,
From her red window-sill,
Leaned with a wand of tusk,
Witch-like, and wood and hill
Phantomed with mist and musk
Into the east, where morn
Sleeps in a shadowy close,
Shut with a gate of horn,
Round which the dreams she knows
Flutter with rose and thorn.
Blow from the west! oh, blow,
Clouds that the tempest steers!{168}
And with your rain and snow
Bear of my heart the tears,
And of my soul the woe.
Into the east then pass,
Clouds that the night-winds sweep!
And on her grave’s sere grass,
There where she lies asleep,
There let them fall, alas!
{169}

[Image
unavailable: Ghostly and windy white Page 168]
Ghostly and windy white Page 168
Clouds of the Autumn Night
THEN AND NOW
When my old heart was young, my dear,
The earth and heaven were so near
That in my dreams I oft could hear
The steps of airy races;
In woodlands, where bright waters ran,
On hills, God’s rainbows used to span,
I followed voices not of man,
And smiled in spirit faces.
Now my old heart is old, my sweet,
No longer earth and heaven meet;
All life is grown to one dull street
Where fact with fancy clashes;
The voices now that speak to me
Are prose instead of poetry;
And in the faces now I see
Is less of flame than ashes.
{170}

BY THE TRYSTING-BEECH
Deep in the west a berry-colored bar
Of sunset gleams; against which one tall fir
Stands outlined dark; above which—courier
Of dew and dreams—burns dusk’s appointed star.
And flash on flash, as when the elves wage war
In Goblinland, the fireflies bombard
The silence; and, like spirits, o’er the sward
The twilight winds bring fragrance from afar.
And now, withdrawn into the hill-wood belts,
A whippoorwill; while, with attendant states
Of pearl and silver, slow the great moon melts
Into the night—to show me where she waits,—
Like some slim moonbeam,—by the old beech-tree,
Who keeps her lips, fresh as a flower, for me.
{171}

AFTER LONG GRIEF AND PAIN
There is a place hung o’er of summer boughs
And dreamy skies wherein the gray hawk sleeps;
Where waters flow, within whose lazy deeps,
Like silvery prisms where the sunbeams drowse,
The minnows twinkle; where the bells of cows
Tinkle the stillness; and the bob-white keeps
Calling from meadows where the reaper reaps,
And children’s laughter haunts an old-time house:
A place where life wears ever an honest smell
Of hay and honey, sun and elder-bloom—
Like some sweet, modest girl—within her hair;
Where, with our love for comrade, we may dwell
Far from the city’s strife, whose cares consume—
Oh, take my hand and let me lead you there.
{172}

THE HAUNTED WOODLAND
Here in the golden darkness
And green night of the woods,
A flitting form I follow,
A shadow that eludes—
Or is it but the phantom
Of former forest moods?
The phantom of some fancy
I knew when I was young,
And in my dreaming boyhood,
The wildwood flow’rs among,
Young face to face with Faëry
Spoke in no unknown tongue.
Blue were her eyes, and golden
The nimbus of her hair;
And scarlet as a flower
Her mouth that kissed me there;
That kissed and bade me follow,
And smiled away my care.{173}
A magic and a marvel
Lived in her word and look,
As down among the blossoms
She sate me by the brook,
And read me wonder-legends
In Nature’s Story Book.
Loved fairy-tales forgotten,
She never reads again,
Of beautiful enchantments
That haunt the sun and rain,
And, in the wind and water,
Chant a mysterious strain.
And so I search the forest,
Wherein my spirit feels,
In stream, or tree, or flower
Herself she still conceals—
But now she flies who followed,
Whom Earth no more reveals.
{174}

COMRADERY
With eyes hand-arched he looks into
The morning’s face, then turns away
With school-boy feet, all wet with dew,
Out for a holiday.
The hill brook sings; incessant stars,
Foam-fashioned, on its restless breast;
And where he wades its water-bars
Its song is happiest.
A comrade of the chinquapin,
He looks into its knotty eyes
And sees its heart; and, deep within,
Its soul that makes him wise.
The wood-thrush knows and follows him,
Who whistles up the birds and bees;
And round him all the perfumes swim
Of woodland loam and trees.{175}
Where’er he pass the supple springs’
Foam-people sing the flowers awake;
And sappy lips of bark-clad things
Laugh ripe each fruited brake.
His touch is a companionship;
His word, an old authority:
He comes, a lyric on his lip,
Unstudied Poesy.
{176}

OCCULT
Unto the soul’s companionship
Of things that only seem to be,
Earth points with magic finger-tip
And bids thee see
How Fancy keeps thee company.
For oft at dawn hast not beheld
A spirit of prismatic hue
Blow wide the buds, which night hath swelled?
And stain them through
With heav’n’s ethereal gold and blue?
While at her side another went
With gleams of enigmatic white?
A spirit who distributes scent,
To vale and height,
In footsteps of the rosy light?
And oft at dusk hast thou not seen
The star-fays bring their caravans{177}
Of dew, and glitter all the green,
Night’s shadow tans,
With drops the rain-hung cobweb spans?
Nor watched with these the elfins go
Who tune faint instruments—that sound
Like that moon-music insects blow?—
Then haunted ground
Thou hast not trodden, never found!
{178}

WOOD-WORDS
I
The spirits of the forest,
That to the winds give voice—
I lie the livelong April day
And wonder what it is they say
That makes the leaves rejoice.
The spirits of the forest,
That breathe in bud and bloom—
I walk within the haw-tree brake
And wonder how it is they make
The bubbles of perfume.
The spirits of the forest,
That dwell in every spring—
I lean above the brook’s bright blue
And wonder what it is they do
That makes the water sing.
The spirits of the forest,
That haunt the sun’s green glow—{179}
Down fungus ways of fern I steal
And would surprise what they conceal,
In dew, that twinkles so.
O spirits of the forest,
Here are my heart and hand!—
Oh, send a gleam or glow-worm ray
To guide my soul the firefly way
That leads to Fairyland.
II
The time when dog-tooth violets
Hold up inverted horns of gold,—
The elvish cups that Spring upsets
With dripping feet, when April wets
The sun-and-shadow-marbled wold,—
Is come. And by each leafing way
The sorrel drops pale blots of pink;
And, like an angled star a fay
Sets on her forehead’s pallid day,
The blossoms of the trillium wink.
Within the vale, by rock and stream,—
A fragile, fairy porcelain,—
Blue as a baby’s eyes a-dream,{180}
The bluets blow; and gleam in gleam
The sun-shot dogwoods flash with rain.
It is the time to cast off care;
To make glad intimates of these:—
The frank-faced sunbeam laughing there:
The great-heart wind, that bids us share
The optimism of the trees.
III
The white ghosts of the flowers,
The gray ghosts of the trees,
Rise when the April showers,
And haunt the wildwood bowers,
And trail along the breeze:
The white ghosts of the flowers,
The gray ghosts of the trees.
Oft in the woodless places
I feel their dim control;
The wildflowers’ perished faces,
The great trees’ vanished races,
That meet me soul to soul:
Oft in the woodless places
I feel their dim control.
{181}

IV
Crab-apple buds, whose bells
The mouth of April kissed;
That hang,—like rosy shells
Around a Naiad’s wrist,—
Pink as dawn-tinted mist.
And paw-paw buds, whose dark
Deep auburn blossoms shake
On boughs,—as ’neath the bark
A dryad’s eyes awake,—
Brown as a midnight lake.
These, with symbolic blooms
Of wind-flower and wild-phlox,
I found among the glooms
Of hill-lost woods and rocks,
Lairs of the hare and fox.
The beetle in the brush,
The bird about the creek,
The bee within the hush,
And I, whose love was meek,
Stood still to hear these speak{182}
The language that records,
In flower-syllables,
The hieroglyphic words
Of beauty, who enspells
The world and aye compels.
{183}

THE WIND AT NIGHT
I
Not till the wildman wind is shrill,
Howling upon the hill
In every wolfish tree, whose boisterous boughs,
Like desperate arms, gesture and beat the night,
And down huge clouds, in chasms of stormy white,
The frightened moon hurries above the house,
Shall I lie down; and, deep,—
Letting the mad wind keep
Its shouting revel round me,—fall asleep.
II
Not till its dark halloo is hushed,
And where wild waters rushed,—
Like some hoof’d terror underneath its whip
And spur of foam,—remains
A ghostly glass, hill-framed; whereover stains
Of moony mists and rains,
And stealthy starbeams, still as spectres, slip;
Shall I—with thoughts that take
Unto themselves the ache
Of silence as a sound—from sleep awake.
{184}

AIRY TONGUES
I
There is a song the wet leaves lisp
When Morn comes down the woodland way;
And misty as a thistle-wisp
Her gown gleams, windy gray:
A song that seems to say,
“Awake! ’tis day!”
There is a sigh when Day sits down
Beside the sunlight-lulled lagoon;
While on her glistening hair and gown
The rose of rest is strew:
A sigh, that seems to croon,
“Come rest! ’tis noon!”
There is a whisper when the stars,
Above an evening-purpled height,
Crown the dead Day with nenuphars
Of fire, gold and white:
A voice, that seems t’ invite,
“Come love! ’tis night!”{185}
II
Before the rathe song-sparrow sings
Among the haw-trees in the lane,
And to the wind the locust flings
Its early clusters fresh with rain;
Beyond the morning-star, that swings
Its rose of fire above the spire,
Between the morning’s watchet wings,
A wild voice rings o’er brooks and boughs—
“Arouse! arouse!”
Before the first brown owlet cries
Among the grape-vines on the hill,
And in the dam with half-shut eyes
The lilies rock above the mill;
Beyond the oblong moon, that flies,
A pearly flower, above the tower,
Between the twilight’s primrose skies,
A soft voice sighs, from east to west—
“To rest! to rest!”{186}
RAIN AND WIND
I hear the hoofs of horses
Galloping over the hill,
Galloping on and galloping on,
When all the night is shrill
With wind and rain that beats the pane—
And my soul with awe is still.
For every dripping window
Their headlong rush makes bound,
Galloping up, and galloping by,
Then back again and around,
Till the gusty roofs ring with their hoofs,
And the draughty cellars sound.
And then I hear black horsemen
Hallooing in the night;
Hallooing and hallooing,
They ride o’er vale and height,
And the branches snap and the shutters clap
With the fury of their flight.{187}
Then at each door a horseman,—
With burly bearded lip
Hallooing through the keyhole,—
Pauses with cloak a-drip;
And the door-knob shakes and the panel quakes
’Neath the anger of his whip.
All night I hear their gallop,
And their wild halloo’s alarm;
The tree-tops sound and the vanes go round
In forest and on farm;
But never a hair of a thing is there—
Only the wind and storm.
{188}

UNDER ARCTURUS
I
“I belt the morn with ribboned mist;
With baldricked blue I gird the noon,
And dusk with purple, crimson-kissed,
White-buckled with the hunter’s-moon.
“These follow me,” the Season says:
“Mine is the frost-pale hand that packs
Their scrips, and speeds them on their ways,
With gipsy gold that weighs their backs.”
II
A daybreak horn the Autumn blows,
As with a sun-tanned hand he parts
Wet boughs whereon the berry glows;
And at his feet the red fox starts.
The leafy leash that holds his hounds
Is loosed; and all the noonday hush
Is startled; and the hillside sounds
Behind the fox’s bounding brush.{189}
When red dusk makes the western sky
A fire-lit window through the firs,
He stoops to see the red fox die
Among the chestnut’s broken burrs.
Then fanfaree and fanfaree,
His bugle sounds; the world below
Grows hushed to hear; and two or three
Soft stars dream through the afterglow.
III
Like some black host the shadows fall,
And blackness camps among the trees;
Each wildwood road, a Goblin Hall,
Grows populous with mysteries.
Night comes with brows of ragged storm,
And limbs of writhen cloud and mist;
The rain-wind hangs upon his arm
Like some wild girl who cries unkissed.
By his gaunt hands the leaves are shed
In headlong troops and nightmare herds;
And, like a witch who calls the dead,
The hill-stream whirls with foaming words.{190}
Then all is sudden silence and
Dark fear—like his who can not see,
Yet hears, lost in a haunted land,
Death rattling on a gallow’s-tree.
IV
The days approach again; the days
Whose mantles stream, whose sandals drag
When in the haze by puddled ways
The gnarled thorn seems a crookéd hag.
When rotting orchards reek with rain;
And woodlands crumble, leaf and log;
And in the drizzling yard again
The gourd is tagged with points of fog.
Now let me seat my soul among
The woods’ dim dreams, and come in touch
With melancholy, sad of tongue
And sweet, who says so much, so much.
{191}

BARE BOUGHS
O heart,—that beat the bird’s blithe blood,
The blithe bird’s strain, and understood
The song it sang to leaf and bud,—
What dost thou in the wood?
O soul,—that kept the brook’s glad flow,
The glad brook’s word to sun and moon,—
What dost thou here where song lies low,
Dead as the dreams of June?
Where once was heard a voice of song,
The hautboys of the mad winds sing;
Where once a music flowed along,
The rain’s wild bugles ring.
The weedy water frets and ails,
And moans in many a sunless fall;
And, o’er the melancholy, trails
The black crow’s eldritch call.{192}
Unhappy brook! O withered wood!
O days, whom death makes comrades of!
Where are the birds that thrilled the blood
When Life struck hands with Love?
A song, one soared against the blue;
A song, one bubbled in the leaves:
A song, one threw where orchards grew
Red-appled to the eaves.
The birds are flown; the flowers are dead;
And sky and earth are bleak and gray;
The wild winds hang i’ the boughs instead,
And wild leaves strew the way.
{193}

A THRENODY
I
The rainy smell of a ferny dell,
Whose shadow no sun-ray flaws,
When Autumn sits in the wayside weeds
Telling her beads
Of haws.
II
The phantom mist, that is moonbeam-kissed,
On hills where the trees are thinned,
When Autumn leans at the oak-root’s scarp,
Touching a harp
Of wind.
III
The cricket’s chirr ’neath brier and burr,
By leaf-strewn pools and streams,
When Autumn stands ’mid the dropping nuts,
With the book, she shuts,
Of dreams.
{194}

IV
The gray “Alas” of the days that pass,
And the hope that says “Adieu,”
A parting sorrow, a shriveled flower,
And one ghost’s hour
With you.
{195}

SNOW
The moon, like a round device
On a shadowy shield of war,
Hangs white in a heaven of ice
With a solitary star.
The wind is sunk to a sigh,
And the waters are steeled with frost;
And gray in the eastern sky
The last snow-cloud is lost.
White fields, that are winter-starved;
Black woods, that are winter-fraught;
And Earth like a face death-carved
With the iron of some black thought.
{196}

AN OLD SONG
I
It’s, Oh, for the hills, where the wind’s some one
With a vagabond foot that follows!
And a cheer-up hand that he claps upon
Your arm with the hearty words, “Come on!
We’ll soon be out of the hollows,
My heart!
We’ll soon be out of the hollows!”
II
It’s, Oh, for the songs, where the hope’s some one
With a renegade foot that doubles!
And a kindly look that he turns upon
Your face with the friendly laugh, “Come on!
We’ll soon be out of the troubles,
My heart!
We’ll soon be out of the troubles!”{197}
BABY MARY
Deep in baby Mary’s eyes,
Baby Mary’s sweet blue eyes,
Dwell the golden memories
Of the music once her ears
Heard in far-off Paradise:
So she has no time for tears,—
Baby Mary,—
Listening to the songs she hears.
Soft in baby Mary’s face,
Baby Mary’s lovely face,
If you watch, you, too, may trace
Dreams her spirit-self hath seen
In some far-off Eden-place,
Whence her soul she can not wean,—
Baby Mary,—
Dreaming in a world between.
{198}

A SUNSET FANCY
Wide in the west a lake
Of flame that seems to shake
As if the Midgard snake
Deep down did breathe:
An isle of purple glow,
Where rosy rivers flow
Down peaks of cloudy snow
With fire beneath.
And there the Tower-of-Night,
With windows all a-light,
Frowns on a burning height,
Wherein she sleeps,—
Young through the years of doom,—
Veiled with her hair’s gold gloom,
She, the Valkyrie, whom
Enchantment keeps.
{199}

THE FEN-FIRE
The misty rain makes dim my face,
The night’s black cloak is o’er me;
I tread the dripping cypress-place,
A flickering light before me.
Out of the death of leaves that rot
And ooze and weedy water,
My form was breathed to haunt this spot,
Death’s immaterial daughter.
The owl that whoops upon the yew,
The snake that lairs within it,
Have seen my wild face flashing blue
For one fantastic minute.
But should you follow where my eyes
Like some pale lamp decoy you,
Beware! lest suddenly I rise
With love that shall destroy you.
{200}

THE WOOD
Witch-hazel, dogwood, and the maple here;
And there the oak and hickory;
Linn, poplar, and the beech-tree, far and near
As the eased eye can see.
Wild-ginger; wahoo, with its flat balloons;
And brakes of briers of a twilight green;
And fox-grapes plumed with summer; and strung moons
Of mandrake flowers between.
Deep gold-green ferns, and mosses green and gray,—
Mats for what naked myth’s white feet?—
And, cool and calm, a cascade far away
With ever-even beat.
Old logs, made sweet with death; rough bits of bark;
And tangled twig and knotted root;
And sunshine splashes and great pools of dark;
And many a wild-bird’s flute.{201}
Here let me sit until the Indian, Dusk,
With copper-colored face, comes down;
Sowing the wildwood with star-fire and musk,
And shadows blue and brown.
Then side by side with some magician Dream,
I’ll take the owlet-haunted lane,—
Half-roofed with vines,—led by a firefly gleam,
That brings me home again.
{202}

WOOD NOTES
I
There is a flute that follows me
From tree to tree:
A water flute a spirit sets
To silver lips in waterfalls,
And through the breath of violets
A sparkling music calls:—
“Hither! halloo! Oh, follow!
Down leafy hill and hollow,
Where, through clear swirls,
With feet like pearls,
Wade down the blue-eyed country girls.
Hither! halloo! Oh, follow!”
II
There is a pipe that plays to me
From tree to tree:
A bramble pipe an elfin holds
To golden lips in berry brakes,{203}
And, swinging o’er the elder wolds,
A flickering music makes:—
“Come over! Come over
The new-mown clover!
Come over the fresh-cut hay!
Where, there by the berries,
With cheeks like cherries,
And locks with which the warm wind merries,
Brown girls are hilling the hay,
All day!
Come over the fields and away!—
Come over! Come over!”{204}
HILLS OF THE WEST
Hills of the west, that gird
Forest and farm,
Home of the nesting bird,
Housing from harm,
When, on your tops, is heard
Storm.
Hills of the west, that bar
Belts of the gloam,
Under the twilight’s star,
Where the mists roam,
Take ye the wanderer
Home.
Hills of the west, that dream
Under the moon,
Making of wind and stream,
Late heard and soon,
Parts of your lives that seem
Tune.{205}
Hills of the west, that take
Silence to ye,
Be it for sorrow’s sake
Or memory,
Part of such silence make
Me.
{206}

THE WIND OF SPRING
The wind that breathes of columbines
And celandines that crowd the rocks;
That shakes the balsam of the pines
With music from his airy locks,
Stops at my city door and knocks.
He calls me far a-forest, where
The twin-leaf and the blood-root bloom;
And, circled by the amber air,
Life sits with beauty and perfume
Weaving the new web of her loom.
He calls me where the waters run
Through fronding fern where wades the hern;
And, sparkling in the equal sun,
Song leans beside her brimming urn,
And dreams the dreams that love shall learn.
The wind has summoned, and I go:
To con God’s meaning in each line
The wildflow’rs write; and, walking slow,
God’s purpose, of which song is sign,—
The wind’s great, gusty hand in mine.
{207}

THE WILLOW BOTTOM
Lush green the grass that grows between
The willows of the bottom-land;
Edged by the careless water, tall and green
The brown-topped cat-tails stand.
The cows come gently here to browse,
Slow through the great-leafed sycamores:
You hear a dog bark from a low-roofed house
With cedars round its doors.
Then all is quiet as the wings
Of the one buzzard floating there:
Anon a woman’s high-pitched voice that sings
An old camp-meeting air.
A cock that flaps and crows; and then—
Heard drowsy through the rustling corn—
A flutter, and the cackling of a hen
Within a hay-sweet barn.{208}
How still again! no water stirs:
No wind is heard: although the weeds
Are waved a little: and from silk-filled burrs
Drift by a few soft seeds.
So drugged with dreams the place, that you
Expect to see her gliding by,—
Hummed round of bees, through blossoms spilling dew,—
The Spirit of July.
{209}

THE RED-BIRD
Red clouds and reddest flowers,
And now two redder wings
Swim through the rosy hours;
Red wings among the flowers;
And now the red-bird sings.
God makes the red clouds ripples
Of flame that seem to split
In rubies and in dripples
Of rose where rills and ripples
The singing flame that lit.
Red clouds of sundered splendor;
God whispered one small word,
Rich, sweet, and wild and tender—
Straight, in the vibrant splendor,
The word became a bird.
He flies beneath the garnet
Of clouds that flame and float,—
When summer hears the hornet
Hum round the plum, turned garnet,—
Heaven’s music in his throat.
{210}

CLEARING
Before the wind, with rain-drowned stocks,
The pleated, crimson hollyhocks
Are bending;
And, smouldering in the breaking brown,
Above the hills that rim the town,
The day is ending.
The air is heavy with the damp;
And, one by one, each cottage lamp
Is lighted;
Infrequent passers of the street
Stroll on or stop to talk or greet,
Benighted.
I look beyond my city yard,
And watch the white moon struggling hard,
Cloud-buried;
The wind is driving toward the east,
A wreck of pearl, all cracked and creased
And serried.{211}
At times the moon, erupting, streaks
Some long cloud, raised in mountain peaks
Of shadow,—
That, seamed with silver, vein on vein,
Grows to a far volcano chain
Of Eldorado.
The wind, that blows from out the hills,
Is like a woman’s touch that stills
A sorrow:
The moon sits high with many a star
In the deep calm: and fair and far
Abides to-morrow.
{212}

AUTUMN SORROW
Ah me! too soon the Autumn comes
Among these purple-plaintive hills!
Too soon among the forest gums
Premonitory flame she spills,
Bleak, melancholy flame that kills.
Her white fogs veil the morn, that rims
With wet the moon-flow’r’s elfin moons;
And, like exhausted starlight, dims
The last slim lily-disk; and swoons
With scents of hazy afternoons.
Her gray mists haunt the sunset skies,
And build the west’s cadaverous fire,
Where Sorrow sits with lonely eyes,
And hands that wake her ancient lyre,
Beside the ghost of dead Desire.
{213}

A DARK DAY OF SUMMER
Though Summer walks the world to-day
With corn-crowned hours for her guard,
Her thoughts have clad themselves in gray,
And wait in Autumn’s weedy yard.
And where the larkspur and the phlox
Spread carpets for her feet to pass,
She stands with sombre, dripping locks
Bound bleak with fog-washed zinnias.
Sad terra-cotta-colored flowers,
Whose disks the trickling wet has tinged
With dingy lustre, like the bowers,
Flame-flecked with leaves, the frost has singed.
She, with slow feet,—’mid gaunt gold blooms
Of marigolds her fingers twist,—
Passes, dim-swathed in Fall’s perfumes
And dreams of sullen rain and mist.
{214}

DAYS AND DAYS
The days that clothed white limbs with heat,
And rocked the red rose on their breast,
Have passed with amber-sandaled feet,
Into the ruby-gated west.
These were the days that filled the heart
With overflowing riches of
Life; in whose soul no dream shall start
But hath its origin in love.
Now come the days gray-huddled in
The haze; whose foggy footsteps drip;
Who pin beneath a gypsy chin
The frosty marigold and hip.—
The days, whose forms fall shadowy
Athwart the heart; whose misty breath
Shapes saddest sweets of memory
Out of the bitterness of death.
{215}

DROUTH IN AUTUMN
Gnarled acorn-oaks against a west
Of copper, cavernous with fire;
A wind of frost that gives no rest
To such lean leaves as haunt the brier,
And hide the cricket’s vibrant wire.
Sere, shivering shocks, and stubble blurred
With bramble-blots of dull maroon;
And creekless hills whereon no herd
Finds pasture, and whereo’er the loon
Flies, haggard as the rainless moon.
{216}

IN SUMMER
When in dry hollows, hilled with hay,
The vesper-sparrow sings afar;
And golden gray dusk dies away
Beneath the amber evening-star:
There, where a warm and shadowy arm
The woodland lays around the farm,
I’ll meet you at the tryst, the tryst!
And kiss your lips no man hath kissed!
I’ll meet you at the twilight tryst,—
With a hey and a ho!—
Sweetheart!
I’ll kiss you at the tryst!
When clover fields smell cool with dew,
And crickets cry, and roads are still;
And faint and few the fireflies strew
The dark where calls the whippoorwill;
There, in the lane, where sweet again
The petals of the wild-rose rain,{217}
I’ll take in mine your hand, your hand!
And say the words you’ll understand!
Your soft hand nestling in my hand,—
With a hey and a ho!—
Sweetheart!
All loving hand in hand!
{218}

IN WINTER
I
When black frosts pluck the acorns down,
And in the lane the waters freeze;
And ’thwart red skies the wild-fowl flies,
And death sits grimly in the trees;
When home-lights glitter through the brown
Of dusk like shaggy eyes,—
Before the door his feet, sweetheart,
And two white arms that greet, sweetheart,
And two white arms that greet.
II
When ways are drifted with the leaves,
And winds make music in the thorns;
And lone and lost above the frost
The new-moon shows its silver horns;
When underneath the lamplit eaves
The opened door is crossed,—
A happy heart and light, sweetheart,
And lips that kiss good night, sweetheart,
And lips that kiss good night.
{219}

ON THE FARM
I
He sang a song as he sowed the field,
Sowed the field at break of day:
“When the pursed-up leaves are as lips that yield
Balm and balsam, and Spring,—concealed
In the odorous green,—is so revealed,
Halloo and oh!
Hallo for the woods and the far away!”
II
He trilled a song as he mowed the mead,
Mowed the mead as noon begun:
“When the hills are gold with the ripened seed,
As the sunset stairs of the clouds that lead
To the sky where Summer knows naught of need,
Halloo and oh!
Hallo for the hills and the harvest sun!”{220}
III
He hummed a song as he swung the flail,
Swung the flail in the afternoon:
“When the idle fields are a wrecker’s tale,
That the Autumn tells to the twilight pale,
As the Year turns seaward a crimson sail,
Halloo and oh!
Hallo for the fields and the hunter’s-moon!”
IV
He whistled a song as he shouldered his axe,
Shouldered his axe in the evening storm:
“When the snow of the road shows the rabbit’s tracks,
And the wind is a whip that the Winter cracks,
With a herdsman’s cry, o’er the clouds black backs,
Halloo and oh!
Hallo for home and a fire to warm!”{221}
PATHS
I
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?—
The path that takes me, in the spring,
Past quince-trees where the bluebirds sing,
Where peonies are blossoming,
Unto a porch, wistaria-hung,
Around whose steps May-lilies blow,
A fair girl reaches down among,
Her arm more white than their sweet snow.
II
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?—
Another path that leads me, when
The summer-time is here again,
Past hollyhocks that shame the west
When the red sun has sunk to rest;
To roses bowering a nest,{222}
A lattice, ’neath which mignonette
And deep geraniums surge and sough,
Where, in the twilight, starless yet,
A fair girl’s eyes are stars enough.
III
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?—
A path that takes me, when the days
Of autumn wrap the hills in haze,
Beneath the pippin-pelting tree,
’Mid flitting butterfly and bee;
Unto a door where, fiery,
The creeper climbs; and, garnet-hued,
The cock’s-comb and the dahlia flare,
And in the door, where shades intrude,
Gleams bright a fair girl’s sunbeam hair.
IV
What words of mine can tell the spell
Of garden ways I know so well?—
A path that brings me through the frost
Of winter, when the moon is tossed
In clouds; beneath great cedars, weak
With shaggy snow; past shrubs blown bleak{223}
With shivering leaves; to eaves that leak
The tattered ice, whereunder is
A fire-flickering window-space;
And in the light, with lips to kiss,
A fair girl’s welcome-giving face.
{224}

A SONG IN SEASON
I
When in the wind the vane turns round,
And round, and round;
And in his kennel whines the hound:
When all the gable eaves are bound
With icicles of ragged gray,
A tattered gray;
There is little to do, and much to say,
And you hug your fire and pass the day
With a thought of the springtime, dearie.
II
When late at night the owlet hoots,
And hoots, and hoots;
And wild winds make of keyholes flutes:
When to the door the goodman’s boots
Stamp through the snow the light strains red,
The firelight’s red;
There is nothing to do, and all is said,
And you quaff your cider and go to bed
And dream of the summer, dearie.
{225}

III
When, nearing dawn, the black cock crows,
And crows, and crows;
And from the barn the milch-cow lows:
And the milkmaid’s cheeks have each a rose,
And the still skies show a star or two,
Or one or two;
There is little to say, and much to do,
And the heartier done the happier you,
With a song of the winter, dearie.
{226}

BEFORE THE END
How does the Autumn in her mind conclude
The tragic masque her frosty pencil writes,
Broad on the pages of the days and nights,
In burning lines of orchard, wold, and wood?
What lonelier forms—that at the year’s door stood
At spectral wait—with wildly wasted lights
Shall enter? and with melancholy rites
Inaugurate their sadder sisterhood?—
Sorrow, who lifts a signal hand, and slow
The green leaf fevers, falling ere it dies;
Regret, whose pale lips summon: and gaunt Woe
Wakes the wild wind-harps with sonorous sighs;
And Sleep, who sits with poppied eyes and sees
The earth and sky grow dream-accessories.
{227}

HOAR-FROST
The frail eidolons of all blossoms Spring,
Year after year, about the forest tossed,
The magic touch of the enchanter, Frost,
Back from the Heaven of the Flow’rs doth bring;
Each branch and bush in silence visiting
With phantom beauty of its blooms long lost:
Each dead weed bends, white-haunted of its ghost,
Each dead flower stands ghostly with blossoming.
This is the wonder-legend Nature tells
To the gray moon and mist a winter’s night;
The fairy-tale which from her fancy wells
With all the glamour of her soul’s delight:
Before the summoning sorcery of her eyes
Rising, as might a dream materialize.
{228}

COLD
A mist that froze beneath the moon and shook
Minutest frosty crystals in the air.
All night the wind was still as lonely Care
Who sighs before her shivering inglenook.
The face of Winter wore a cruder look
Than when he shakes the icicles from his hair,
And, in the boisterous pauses, lets his stare
Freeze through the forest, fettering bough and brook.
He is the despot now who sits and dreams
Of desolation and despair, and smiles
At poverty, who hath no place to rest,
Who wanders o’er Life’s snow-made-pathless miles,
And sees the Home-of-Comfort’s window gleams,
Hugging her rag-wrapped baby to her breast.
{229}

THE WINTER MOON
Deep in the dell I watched her as she rose,
A face of icy fire, o’er the hills;
With snow-sad eyes that froze the forest rills,
And snow-sad feet that bleached the meadow snows:
Pale as some young witch who, a-listening, goes
To her first meeting with the Fiend; whose fears
Fix demon eyes behind each bush she nears;
Stops, yet must on, fearful of following foes.
And so I chased her, startled in the wood
Like a discovered oread, who flies
The faun who found her sleeping, each nude limb
Glittering betrayal through the solitude;
Till in a frosty cloud I saw her swim
Like a drowned face, a blur beneath the ice.
{230}

THE HILLSIDE GRAVE
Ten-thousand deep the drifted daisies break
Here at the hill’s foot; on its top, the wheat
Hangs meagre-bearded; and, in vague retreat,
The wisp-like blooms of the moth-mulleins shake.
And where the wild-pink drops a crimson flake,
And morning-glories, like young lips, make sweet
The shadowed hush, low in the honeyed heat,
The wild-bees hum—as if afraid to wake
One sleeping here, with no white stone to tell
If it be youth or maiden. Just the stem
Of one wild rose, towering o’er brier and weed,
Where all the day the wild-birds requiem;
Within whose shade the timid violets spell
An epitaph, the stars alone can read.
{231}

THE COVERED BRIDGE
There, from its entrance, lost in matted vines,—
Where in the valley foams a waterfall,—
Is glimpsed a ruined mill’s remaining wall;
Here, by the road, the black-eyed Susan mines
Hot brass and bronze; the trumpet-trailer shines
Red as the plumage of the cardinal.
Faint from the forest comes the rain-crow’s call
Where dusty Summer dreams among the pines.
This is the spot where Spring writes wildflower verses
In primrose pink, while, drowsing o’er his reins,
The ploughman, all unnoticing, plods along:
And where the Autumn opens weedy purses
Of sleepy silver, while the corn-piled wains
Rumble the bridge like some deep throat of song.
{232}

THE CREEK-ROAD
Calling, the heron flies athwart the blue
That sleeps above it; reach on rocky reach
Of water sings by sycamore and beech,
In whose warm shade bloom lilies not a few.
It is a page whereon the sun and dew
Scrawl sparkling words in dawn’s delicious speech;
A laboratory where the wood-winds teach,
Dissect each scent and analyze each hue.
Not otherwise than beautiful, doth it
Record the happenings of each summer day;
Where we may read, as in a catalogue,
When passed a thresher; when a load of hay;
Or when a rabbit; or a bird, that lit;
And now a barefoot truant and his dog.
{233}

ABANDONED
The hornets build in plaster dropping rooms,
And on its mossy porch the lizard lies;
Around its chimneys slow the swallow flies,
And on its roof the locusts snow their blooms.
Like some sad thought that broods here, old perfumes
Haunt its dim stairs; the cautious zephyr tries
Each gusty door, like some dead hand, then sighs
With ghostly lips among the attic glooms.
And now a heron, now a kingfisher,
Flits in the willows where the riffle seems
At each faint fall to hesitate to leap,
Fluttering the silence with a little stir.
Here Summer seems a placid face asleep,
And the near world a figment of her dreams.
{234}

OMENS
Sad on the hills the poppied sunset died.
Slow as a fungus breaking through the crusts
Of forest leaves, the waning half-moon thrusts
Through gray-brown clouds one milky silver side;
In her vague light the dogwoods, dim-descried,
Seem dying torches flourished by the gusts;
The apple-orchards seem the restless dusts
Of wind-thinned mists upon the hills they hide.
It is a night of omens whom late May
Meets, like a wraith, among her train of hours;
An apparition with appealing eye
And hesitant foot, that walks a willowed way,
And, speaking through the fading moon and flowers,
Bids her prepare her gentle soul to die.
{235}

IMPERFECTION
Not as the eye hath seen shall we behold
Romance and beauty when we’ve passed away;
That robed the dull facts of the intimate day
In life’s wild raiment of unusual gold:
Not as the ear hath heard shall we be told,
Hereafter, myth and legend once that lay
Warm at the heart of Nature, clothing clay
In attributes of no material mold.
These were imperfect of necessity,
That wrought through imperfection for far ends
Of perfectness—as calm philosophy,
Teaching a child, from his high heaven descends
To earth’s familiar things; informingly
Vesting his thoughts in that it comprehends.
{236}

ARCANA
Earth hath her images of utterance,
Her hieroglyphic meanings which elude;
A symbol language of similitude,
Into whose secrets science may not glance;
In which the Mind-in-Nature doth romance
In miracles that baffle if pursued—
No guess shall search them and no thought intrude
Beyond the limits of her sufferance.
So doth the great Intelligence above
Hide His own thought’s creations; and attire
Forms in the dream’s ideal, which He dowers
With immaterial loveliness and love—
As essences of fragrance and of fire—
Preaching th’ evangels of the stars and flowers.
{237}

FULFILLMENT
There are some souls who may look in on these
Essential peoples of the earth and air—
That have the stars and flowers in their care—
And read their soul-suggestive secrecies:
Heart-intimates and comrades of the trees,
Who from them learn, what no known schools declare,
God’s knowledge; and from winds, that, singing, fare,
God’s gospel, filled with mighty harmonies.
Souls, unto whom the waves impart a word
Of fuller faith; the sunset and the dawn
Preach sermons more inspired even than
The tongues of Pentecost; as, distant heard
In forms of change, through Nature upward drawn,
God doth address th’ immortal part of Man.
{238}

TOO LATE
I looked upon a dead girl’s face and heard
What seemed the voice of Death cry out to me,
Deep in her heart, all of the agony
Of her lost dreams, complaining word on word:—
How on her soul no soul had touched, or stirred
Her life’s sad depths to rippling melody,
Or made the imaged longing, there, to be
The realization of a hope deferred.
So in her life had Love behaved to her.
Between the lonely chapters of her years
And her young eyes making no golden blur
With god-bright face and hair; who led me to
Her side at last, and bade me, through my tears,
With Death’s dumb lips, too late, to see and know.
{239}

THE WITCH
She gropes and hobbles, where the dropsied rocks
Are hairy with the lichens and the twist
Of knotted wolf’s-bane, mumbling in the mist,
Hawk-nosed and wrinkle-eyed with scrawny locks.
At her bent back the moon, slow-sinking, mocks,
Like some lewd evil whom the Fiend hath kissed;
Once at her feet the slipping serpent hissed,
And once the owl called to the forest fox.—
What Sabboth brew does she intend? What root
Now seek for, seal for what satanic spell
Of incantations and demonic fire?—
From her rude hut, hill-huddled in the brier,
What dark Familiar points her sure pursuit,
There, with gaunt eyes, red with the glow of Hell?
{240}

THE SOMNAMBULIST
Oaks and a water. By the water—eyes,
Ice-green and steadfast as still stars; and hair
Yellow as eyes deep in a she-wolf’s lair;
And limbs—like mist the lightning’s flicker dyes.
The humped oaks huddle under iron skies;
The dry wind whirls the dead leaves everywhere;
White on the water falls a vulture-glare
Of moon, and black the circling raven flies.
Again the power of this thing hath laid
Compulsion on me: and I seem to hear
A sweet voice calling me beyond the gates
To longed-for love: I come: each forest glade
Seems reaching out white arms to draw me near—
Nearer and nearer to the death that waits.
{241}

OPIUM
On reading De Quincey’s “Confessions of an Opium Eater.”

I seemed to stand before a temple walled
From shadows and night’s unrealities;
Filled with dark music of dead memories,
And voices,—lost in darkness,—deep that called.
I entered. And beneath the dome’s high-halled
Immensity one forced me to my knees
Before a blackness—throned ’mid semblances
And spectres—crowned with flames of emerald.
Then, lo! two shapes that thundered at mine ears
The names of Horror and Oblivion,—
Priests of this god,—and bade me die and dream.
Then, in the heart of Hell, a thousand years
Meseemed I lay—dead! while the iron stream
Of Time beat out the seconds, one by one.
{242}

MUSIC AND SLEEP
These have a life that hath no part in death:
These circumscribe the soul and make it strong:
Between the breathing of a dream and song,
Building a world of beauty in a breath.
Unto the heart the voice of this one saith
Ideals, its emotions live among;
Unto the mind the other speaks a tongue
Of visions, where the guess,—men christen Faith,—
May face the fact of immortality—
As may a rose its unembodied scent,
Or star its own reflected radiance.
We do not know these save subconsciously,
To whose mysterious shadows God hath lent
No certain shape, no certain countenance.
{243}

AMBITION
Now to my lips lift thou some opiate
Of dull forgetfulness! while in thy gaze
Still lures the loveless beauty that betrays,
And in thy mouth the music that is hate.
No promise more hast thou to make me wait;
No smile to cozen my sick heart with praise!
Far, far behind thee stretch laborious days,
And far before thee, labors soon and late.
Thine is the fen-fire that we deem a star,
Flying before us, ever fugitive,
Thy mocking policy still holds afar:
And thine the voice to which our longings give
Hope’s siren face, that speaks us sweet and fair,
Only at last to whelm us with despair.
{244}

DESPONDENCY
Not all the bravery that day puts on
Of gold and azure, ardent or austere,
Shall ease my soul of sorrow; grief, more dear
Than all the joy that heavenly hope may don.
Far up the skies the rumor of the dawn
May run, and eve like some wild torch appear;
These shall not change the darkness, gathered here,
Of thought that rusts like an old sword undrawn.
Oh, for a place far-sunken from the sun!
A wildwood cave of primitive rocks and moss!
Where Sleep and Silence—breast to married breast—
Lie with their child, night-eyed Oblivion;
Where, freed from all the burden of my cross,
I might forget, I might forget—and rest!
{245}

DESPAIR
Shut in with phantoms of life’s hollow hopes,
And shadows of old sins satiety slew,
And the young ghosts of the dead dreams love knew,
Out of the day into the night she gropes.
Behind her, high the silvered summit slopes
Of hope and faith, she will not turn to view;
But towards the cave of heartbreak, harsh of hue,
She goes, where all the dropsied horror ropes.
There is a voice of waters in her ears,
And on her brow a wind that never dies:
One is the anguish of desired tears;
One is the sorrow of unuttered sighs;
And, burdened with the immemorial years,
Downward she goes with never lifted eyes.
{246}

QUATRAINS
I

Penury
Above his misered embers, gaunt and gray,
With toil-gnarled limbs he stoops: around his hut,
Want, like a hobbling hag, goes, night and day,
Trying the windows and the doors tight-shut.
II

Strategy
Craft’s silent sister and the daughter deep
Of Contemplation, she, who spreads below
A hostile tent soft comfort for her foe,
With eyes of Jael watching till he sleep.
III

Tempest
With helms of lightning, glittering in the skies,
On steeds of thunder, form on cloudy form,
Terrific beauty in their hair and eyes,
Sweep down the wild Valkyries of the storm.
{247}

IV

The Locust Blossom
The spirit Spring, in rainy raiment, met
The spirit Summer for a moonlit hour:
Sweet from their greeting kisses, warm and wet,
Was born the fragrant beauty of this flower.
V

Melancholy
With shadowy immortelles of memory
About her brow, she sits with eyes that look
Upon the stream of Lethe wearily,
In hesitant hands Death’s partly-opened book.
VI

Content
Among the meadows of Life’s sad unease—
In labor still renewing her soul’s youth—
With trust, for patience, and with love, for peace,
Singing she goes with the calm face of Ruth.
{248}

VII

Life and Death
Of our own selves God makes a glass, wherein
Two shades are imaged, passing like a breath:
And one is Life, whose other name is Sin;
And one is Love, whose other name is Death.
VIII

Sorrow
Death takes her hand and leads her through the waste
Of her own soul, wherein she hears the voice
Of lost Love’s tears, and, famishing, can but taste
The dead-sea fruit of Life’s remembered joys.
{249}

A LAST WORD
Not for myself, but for the sake of Song,
Would I succeed as others have who gave
Their lives unto her, shaping sure and strong
Her lovely limbs that made them god and slave.
Not for myself, but for the sake of Art,
Would I advance beyond the others’ best,
Winning a deeper secret from her heart
To hang it moonlike ’mid the starry rest.
{251}

{250}

NATURE POEMS
(SECOND SERIES)
{252}

{253}

FOREWORD
In the first rare Spring of song,
In my heart’s young hours,
In my youth ’twas thus I sang,
Choosing ’mid the flowers:—
“Fair the Dandelion is,
But for me too lowly;
And the winsome Violet
Is, forsooth, too holy.
‘But the Touch-me-not?’—Go to!
What! a face that’s speckled
Like a common milking-maid’s,
Whom the sun hath freckled.
Then the Wild-Rose is a flirt;
And the Trillium-Lily,
In her spotless gown, ’s a prude,
Sanctified and silly.
By her cap the Columbine,
To my mind, ’s too merry—
Gossips, I would sooner woo
Some plebeian Berry.{254}
And the shy Anemone—
Well, her face shows sorrow;
Pale, goodsooth! alive to-day,
Dead and gone to-morrow.
Then that hold-eyed, buxom wench,
Big and blond and lazy,—
She’s been chosen over oft!—
Sirs, I mean the Daisy.
Pleasant persons are they all,
And their virtues many;
Faith! I know but good of each,
And naught ill of any.
But I choose a May-Apple;
She shall be my Lady;
Blooming, hidden and refined,
Sweet in places shady.”
In my youth ’twas thus I sang,
In my heart’s young hours,
In the first rare Spring of song,
Choosing ’mid the flowers.
So I hesitated when
Time alone was reckoned
By the hours that Fancy smiled,
Love and Beauty beckoned.
Hard it was for me to choose
From the flowers that flattered;{255}
And the blossom that I chose
Soon lay dead and scattered.
Hard I found it then, ah me!
Hard I found the choosing;
Harder, harder since I’ve found,
All too hard, the losing.
Haply had I chosen then
From the weeds that tangle
Wayside, woodland, and the wall
Of my garden’s angle,
I had chosen better, yea,
For these later hours—
Longer live the weeds, and oft
Sweeter are than flowers.
{257}

{256}

WEEDS BY THE WALL
{258}

{259}

THE CRICKET
I
First of the insect choir, in the spring
We hear his faint voice fluttering in the grass,
Beneath some blossom’s rosy covering,
Or frond of fern, upon a wildwood pass.
When in the marsh, in clamorous orchestras,
The shrill hylodes pipe; when, in the haw’s
Bee-swarming blooms, or tasseling sassafras,
Sweet threads of silvery song the sparrow draws,
Bow-like, athwart the vibrant atmosphere,—
Like some dim dream low-breathed in slumber’s ear,—
We hear his Cheer, cheer, cheer.
II
All summer long the mellowing meadows thrill
To his blithe music. Be it day or night,
Close gossip of the grass, on field and hill
He serenades the silence with delight:{260}
Silence, that hears the melon slowly split
With ripeness; and the plump peach, hornet-bit,
Loosen and fall; and everywhere the white,
Warm, silk-like stir of leafy lights that flit
As breezes blow; above which, loudly clear,—
Like joy who sings of life and has no fear,—
We hear his Cheer, cheer, cheer.
III
Then in the autumn, by the waterside,
Leaf-huddled; or along the weed-grown walks,
He dirges low the flowers that have died,
Or with their ghosts holds solitary talks.
Lover of warmth, all day above the click
And crunching of the sorghum-press, through thick
Sweet steam of juice; all night when, white as chalk,
The hunter’s-moon hangs o’er the rustling rick,
Within the barn ’mid munching cow and steer,—
Soft as a memory the heart holds dear,—
We hear his Cheer, cheer, cheer.
{261}

IV
Kinsman and cousin of the Faëry Race,
All winter long he sets his sober mirth,—
That brings good-luck to many a fireplace,—
To folk-lore song and saga of the hearth.
Between the back-log’s bluster and the slim
High twittering of the kettle,—sounds that hymn
Home-comforts,—when, outside, the starless earth
Is icicled in every laden limb,—
Defying frost and all the sad and sere,—
Like love that dies not and is always near,—
We hear his Cheer, cheer, cheer.
{262}

THE TREE TOAD
I
Secluded, solitary on some underbough
Or cradled in a leaf, ’mid glimmering light,
Like Puck thou crouchest: Haply watching how
The slow toadstool comes bulging, moony white,
Through loosening loam; or how, against the night,
The glow-worm gathers silver to endow
The darkness with; or how the dew conspires
To hang at dusk with lamps of chilly fires
Each blade that shrivels now.
II
O vague confederate of the whippoorwill,
Of owl and cricket and the katydid!
Thou gatherest up the silence in one shrill
Vibrating note and send’st it where, half hid
In cedars, twilight sleeps—each azure lid{263}
Drooping a line of golden eyeball still.—
Afar, yet near, I hear thy dewy voice
Within the Garden of the Hours apoise
On dusk’s deep daffodil.
III
Minstrel of moisture! silent when high noon
Shows her tanned face among the thirsting clover
And parching meadows, thy tenebrious tune
Wakes with the dew or when the rain is over.
Thou troubadour of wetness and damp lover
Of all cool things! admitted comrade boon
Of twilight’s hush, and little intimate
Of eve’s first fluttering star and delicate
Round rim of rainy moon!
IV
Art trumpeter of Dwarfland? does thy horn
Inform the gnomes and goblins of the hour
When they may gambol under haw and thorn,
Straddling each winking web and twinkling flower?
Or bell-ringer of Elfland? whose tall tower
The liriodendron is? from whence is borne
The elfin music of thy bell’s deep bass,
To summon Fairies to their starlit maze,
To summon them or warn.
{264}

THE SCREECH-OWL
I
When, one by one, the stars have trembled through
Eve’s shadowy hues of violet, rose, and fire—
As on a pansy-bloom the limpid dew
Orbs its bright beads;—and, one by one, the choir
Of insects wakes on nodding bush and brier:
Then through the woods—where wandering winds pursue
A ceaseless whisper—like an eery lyre
Struck in the Erl-king’s halls, where ghosts and dreams
Hold revelry, your goblin music screams,
Shivering and strange as some strange thought come true.
II
Brown as the agaric that frills dead trees,
Or those fantastic fungi of the woods
That crowd the dampness—are you kin to these{265}
In some mysterious way that still eludes
My fancy? you, who haunt the solitudes
With hag-like wailings? voice, that seems to freeze
Out of the darkness,—like the scent which broods,
Rank and rain-sodden, over autumn nooks,—
That, to the mind, might well suggest such looks,
Ghastly and gray, as pale clairvoyance sees.
III
You people night with weirdness: lone and drear,
Beneath the stars, you cry your wizard runes;
And in the haggard silence, filled with fear,
Your shuddering hoot seems some wild grief that croons
Mockery and terror; or,—beneath the moon’s
Cloud-hurrying glimmer,—to the startled ear,
Crazed, madman snatches of old, perished tunes,
The witless wit of outcast Edgar there
In the wild night; or, wan with all despair,
The mirthless laughter of the Fool in Lear.
{266}

THE CHIPMUNK
I
He makes a roadway of the crumbling fence,
Or on the fallen tree,—brown as a leaf
Fall stripes with russet,—gambols down the dense
Green twilight of the woods. We see not whence
He comes, nor whither—’tis a time too brief!—
He vanishes;—swift carrier of some Fay,
Some pixy steed that haunts our child-belief—
A goblin glimpse from woodland way to way.
II
What harlequin mood of nature qualified
Him so with happiness? and limbed him with
Such young activity as winds, that ride
The ripples, have, that dance on every side?
As sunbeams know, that urge the sap and pith{267}
Through hearts of trees? yet made him to delight,
Gnome-like, in darkness,—like a moonlight myth,—
Lairing in labyrinths of the under night.
III
Here, by a rock, beneath the moss, a hole
Leads to his home, the den wherein he sleeps;
Lulled by near noises of the cautious mole
Tunnelling its mine—like some ungainly Troll
—Or by the tireless cricket there that keeps
Picking its drowsy and monotonous lute;
Or slower sounds of grass that creeps and creeps,
And trees unrolling mighty root on root.
IV
Such is the music of his sleeping hours.
Day hath another—’tis a melody
He trips to, made by the assembled flowers,
And light and fragrance laughing ’mid the bowers,
And ripeness busy with the acorn-tree.
Such strains, perhaps, as filled with mute amaze—
The silent music of Earth’s ecstasy—
The Satyr’s soul, the Faun of classic days.
{268}

THE WILD IRIS
That day we wandered ’mid the hills,—so lone
Clouds are not lonelier,—the forest lay
In emerald darkness round us. Many a stone
And gnarly root, gray-mossed, made wild our way:
And many a bird the glimmering light along
Showered the golden bubbles of its song.
Then in the valley, where the brook went by,
Silvering the ledges that it rippled from,—
An isolated slip of fallen sky,
Epitomizing heaven in its sum,—
An iris bloomed—blue, as if, flower-disguised,
The gaze of Spring had there materialized.
I have forgotten many things since then—
Much beauty and much happiness and grief;{269}
And toiled and dreamed among my fellow-men,
Rejoicing in the knowledge life is brief.
“’Tis winter now,” so says each barren bough;
And face and hair proclaim ’tis winter now.
I would forget the gladness of that spring!
I would forget that day when she and I,
Between the bird-song and the blossoming,
Went hand in hand beneath the soft spring sky!—
Much is forgotten, yea—and yet, and yet,
The things we would we never can forget.—
Nor I how May then minted treasuries
Of crowfoot gold; and molded out of light
The sorrel’s cups, whose elfin chalices
Of limpid spar were streaked with rosy white.
Nor all the stars of twinkling spiderwort,
And mandrake moons with which her brows were girt.
But most of all, yea, it were well for me,
Me and my heart, that I forget that flower,{270}
The blue wild-iris, azure fleur-de-lis,
That she and I together found that hour.
Its recollection can but emphasize
The pain of loss, remindful of her eyes.
{271}

THE PATH BY THE CREEK
There is a path that leads
Through purple ironweeds,
By button-bush and mallow
Along a creek;
A path that wildflowers hallow,
That wild-birds seek;
Roofed thick with eglantine
And grape and trumpet-vine.
This side, the blackberries sweet
Glow cobalt in the heat;
That side, a creamy yellow,
In summer-time
The pawpaws slowly mellow:
And autumn’s prime
Strews red the Chickasaw,
Persimmon brown and haw.
The glittering dragon-fly,
A wingéd gem, goes by;
And tawny wasp and hornet
Make drowsy drone;{272}
The beetle, like a garnet,
Basks on the stone;
And butterflies float there,
Spangling with gold the air.
Here the brown thrashers hide,
And chat and cat-bird chide;
The blue kingfisher houses
Above the stream,
And here the heron drowses,
Lost in his dream;
The vireo’s flitting note
Makes woodlands more remote.
And now a cow’s slow bell
Tinkles from dale to dell;
Where breeze-dropped petals winnow
From blossomy limbs
On waters, where the minnow,
Faint-twinkling, swims;
Where, in the root-arched shade,
Slim prisms of light are laid.
When in the tangled thorn
The new-moon hangs a horn,
Or, ’mid the sunset’s islands,
Guides her canoe,{273}
The brown owl in the silence
Calls, and the dew
Beads glimmering orbs of damp,
Each one a glow-worm lamp.
Then when the night is still
Here sings the whippoorwill;
And stealthy sounds of crickets,
And winds that pass,
Whispering, through bramble thickets
Along the grass,
Faint with warm scents of hay,
Seem feet of dreams astray.
And where the water shines
Dark through tree-twisted vines,
Some water-spirit, dreaming,
Braids in her hair
A star’s reflection; seeming
A jewel there;
While all the sweet night long
Ripples her quiet song….
Would I could imitate,
O path, thy happy state!
Making my life all beauty,
All bloom and beam;{274}
Knowing no other duty
But just to dream,
And far from pain and woe
Lead feet that come and go.
Leading to calm content,
O’er ways the Master went,
Through lowly things and humble,
To peace and love;
Teaching the lives that stumble
To look above,
Forget the world of toil
And all its mad turmoil.
{275}

ALONG THE STREAM
Where the violet shadows brood
Under cottonwoods and beeches,
Through whose leaves the restless reaches
Of the river glance, I’ve stood,
While the red-bird and the thrush
Set to song the morning hush.
There,—when wakening woods encroach
On the shadowy winding waters,
And the bluets, April’s daughters,
At the darling Spring’s approach,
Star their myriads through the trees,—
All the land is one with peace.
Under some imposing cliff,
That, with bush and tree and boulder,
Thrusts a gray, gigantic shoulder
O’er the stream, I’ve oared a skiff,
While great clouds of iceberg hue
Lounged along the noonday blue.{276}
There,—when harvest heights impend
Over shores of rippling summer,
And to greet the fair new-comer,—
June,—the wildrose thickets bend
In a million blossoms dressed,—
All the land is one with rest.
On some rock, where gaunt the oak
Reddens and the sombre cedar
Darkens, like a sachem leader,
I have lain and watched the smoke
Of the steamboat, far-away,
Trailed along the dying day.
There,—when margin waves reflect
Autumn colors, gay and sober,
And the Indian-girl, October,
Wampum-like in berries decked,
Leans above the leaf-strewn streams,—
All the land is one with dreams.
Through the bottoms where,—out-tossed
By the wind’s wild hands,—ashiver
Bend the willows o’er the river,
I have walked in sleet and frost,
While beneath the cold round moon,
Frozen, gleamed the long lagoon.{277}
There,—when leafless woods uplift
Spectral arms the storm-blasts splinter,
And the hoary trapper, Winter,
Builds his camp of ice and drift,
With his snow-pelts furred and shod,—
All the land is one with God.
{278}

VOICES
When blood-root blooms and trillium flowers
Unclasp their stars to sun and rain,
My heart strikes hands with winds and showers
And wanders in the woods again.
O urging impulse, born of spring!
That makes glad April of my soul,
No bird, however wild of wing,
Is more impatient of control.
Impetuous of pulse it beats
Within my blood and bears me hence;
Above the housetops and the streets
I hear its happy eloquence.
It tells me all that I would know,
Of birds and buds, of blooms and bees;
I seem to hear the blossoms blow,
And leaves unfolding on the trees.{279}
I seem to hear the bluebells ring
Faint purple peals of perfume; and
The honey-throated poppies fling
Their golden laughter o’er the land.
It calls to me; it sings to me;
I hear its far voice night and day;
I can not choose but go when tree
And flower clamor, “Come away!”{280}
THE ROAD HOME
Over the hills as the pewee flies,
Under the blue of the southern skies;
Over the hills where the red-bird wings,
Like a scarlet blossom, or sits and sings;
Under the shadow of rock and tree,
Where the warm wind drones with the honeybee;
And the tall wild-carrots around you sway
Their lace-like flowers of cloudy gray:
By the black-cohosh and its pearl-white plume
A-nod in the woodland’s odorous gloom;
By the old rail-fence, in the elder’s shade,
That the myriad hosts of the weeds invade:
Where the butterfly-weed, like a coal of fire,
Blurs orange-red through brush and brier;
Where the pennyroyal and mint smell sweet,
And blackberries tangle the humming heat,{281}
The old road leads; then crosses the creek,
Where the minnow dartles, a silvery streak;
Where the cows wade deep through the blue-eyed grass,
And the flickering dragon-flies gleaming pass.
That road is easy, however long,
Which wends with beauty as toil with song;
And the road we follow shall lead us straight
Past creek and wood to a farm-house gate.
Past hill and hollow, whence scents are blown
Of dew-wet clover that scythes have mown;
To a house that stands with porches wide
And gray low roof on the green hill-side.
Colonial, stately; ’mid shade and shine
Of the locust tree and the southern pine;
With its orchard acres and meadowlands
Stretched out before it like welcoming hands.
And gardens, where, in the myrrh-sweet June,
Magnolias blossom with many a moon
Of fragrance; and, in the feldspar light
Of August, roses bloom red and white.
In a woodbine arbor, a perfumed place,
A slim girl sits with listening face;{282}
Her bonnet by her, a sunbeam lies
On her lovely hair, in her earnest eyes.
Her eyes, as blue as the distant deeps
Of the heavens above where the high hawk sleeps;
A book beside her, wherein she read
Till she saw him coming, she heard his tread.
Come home at last; come back from the war;
In his eyes a smile, on his brow a scar:
To the South come back—who wakes from her dream
To the love and the peace of a new regime.
{283}

DROUTH
I
The hot sunflowers by the glaring pike
Lift shields of sultry brass; the teasel tops,
Pink-thorned, advance with bristling spike on spike
Against the furious sunlight. Field and copse
Are sick with summer: now, with breathless stops,
The locusts cymbal; now grasshoppers beat
Their castanets: and rolled in dust, a team,—
Like some mean life wrapped in its sorry dream,—
An empty wagon rattles through the heat.
II
Where now the blue, blue flags? the flow’rs whose mouths
Are moist and musky? Where the sweet-breathed mint,{284}
That made the brook-bank herby? Where the South’s
Wild morning-glories, rich in hues, that hint
At coming showers that the rainbows tint?
Where all the blossoms that the wildwood knows?
The frail oxalis hidden in its leaves;
The Indian-pipe, pale as a soul that grieves;
The freckled touch-me-not and forest rose.
III
Dead! dead! all dead beside the drouth-burnt brook,
Shrouded in moss or in the shriveled grass.
Where waved their bells,—from which the wild-bee shook
The dew-drop once,—gaunt, in a nightmare mass,
The rank weeds crowd; through which the cattle pass,
Thirsty and lean, seeking some meagre spring,
Closed in with thorns, on which stray bits of wool
The panting sheep have left, that sought the cool,
From morn till evening wearily wandering.
{285}

IV
No bird is heard; no throat to whistle awake
The sleepy hush; to let its music leak
Fresh, bubble-like, through bloom-roofs of the brake:
Only the green-blue heron, famine-weak,—
Searching the stale pools of the minnowless creek,—
Utters its call; and then the rain-crow, too,
False prophet now, croaks to the stagnant air;
While overhead,—still as if painted there,—
A buzzard hangs, black on the burning blue.
{286}

THE BROKEN DROUTH
It seemed the listening forest held its breath
Before some vague and unapparent form
Of fear, approaching with the wings of death,
On the impending storm.
Above the hills, big, bellying clouds loomed, black
And ominous; yet silent as the blue
That pools calm heights of heaven, deepening back
’Twixt clouds of snowdrift hue.
Then instantly, as when a multitude
Shout riot and war through some tumultous town,
Innumerable voices swept the wood
As wild the wind rushed down.
And fierce and few, as when a strong man weeps,
Great rain-drops dashed the dust; and, overhead,
Ponderous and vast down the prodigious deeps,
Went slow the thunder’s tread.{287}
And swift and furious, as when giants fence,
The lightning foils of tempest went insane;
Then far and near sonorous Earth grew dense
With long sweet sweep of rain.
{288}

FEUD
A mile of lane,—hedged high with ironweeds
And dying daisies,—white with sun, that leads
Downward into a wood; through which a stream
Steals like a shadow; over which is laid
A bridge of logs, worn deep with many a team,
Sunk in the tangled shade.
Far off a wood-dove lifts its lonely cry;
And in the sleepy silver of the sky
A gray hawk wheels scarce larger than a hand.—
From point to point the road grows worse and worse,
Until that place is reached where all the land
Seems burdened with some curse.
A ragged fence of pickets, warped and sprung,—
On which the fragments of a gate are hung,—
Divides a hill, the fox and ground-hog haunt,
A wilderness of briers; o’er whose tops
A battered barn is seen, low-roofed and gaunt,
’Mid fields that know no crops.{289}
Fields over which a path, o’erwhelmed with burrs
And ragweeds, noisy with the grasshoppers,
Leads,—lost, irresolute as paths the cows
Wear through the woods,—unto a woodshed; then,
With wrecks of windows, to a huddled house,
Where men have murdered men.
A house, whose tottering chimney, clay and rock,
Is seamed and crannied; whose lame door and lock
Are bullet-bored; around which, there and here,
Are sinister stains.—One dreads to look around.—
The place seems thinking of that time of fear
And dares not breathe a sound.
Within, is emptiness: the sunlight falls
On faded journals papering its walls;
On advertisement chromos, torn with time
Around a hearth where wasps and spiders build.—
The house is dead: meseems that night of crime
It, too, was shot and killed.
{290}

UNANOINTED
I
Upon the Siren-haunted seas, between Fate’s mythic shores,
Within a world of moon and mist, where dusk and daylight wed,
I see a phantom galley and its hull is banked with oars,
With ghostly oars that move to song, a song of dreams long dead:—
“Oh, we are sick of rowing here!
With toil our arms are numb;
With smiting year on weary year
Salt-furrows of the foam:
Our journey’s end is never near,
And will no nearer come—
Beyond our reach the shores appear
Of far Elysium.”{291}
II
Within a land of cataracts and mountains old, and sand,
Beneath whose heavens ruins rise, o’er which the stars burn red,
I see a spectral cavalcade with crucifix in hand
And shadowy armor march and sing, a song of dreams long dead:—
“Oh, we are weary marching on!
Our limbs are travel-worn;
With cross and sword from dawn to dawn
We wend with raiment torn:
The leagues to go, the leagues we’ve gone
Are sand and rock and thorn—
The way is long to Avalon
Beyond the deeps of morn.”
III
They are the curs’d! the souls who yearn and evermore pursue
The vision of a vain desire, a splendor far ahead;
To whom God gives the poet’s dream without the grasp to do,
The artist’s hope without the scope between the quick and dead:—{292}
I, too, am weary toiling where
The winds and waters beat;
When shall I ease the oar I bear
And rest my tired feet?
When will the white moons cease to glare,
The red suns veil their heat?
And from the heights blow sweet the air
Of Love’s divine retreat?
{293}

SUNSET AND STORM
Deep with divine tautology,
The sunset’s mighty mystery
Again has traced the scroll-like west
With hieroglyphs of burning gold:
Forever new, forever old,
Its miracle is manifest.
Time lays the scroll away. And now
Above the hills a giant brow
Night lifts of cloud; and from her arm,
Barbaric black, upon the world,
With thunder, wind and fire, is hurled
Her awful argument of storm.
What part, O man, is yours in such?
Whose awe and wonder are in touch
With Nature,—speaking rapture to
Your soul,—yet leaving in your reach
No human word of thought or speech
Expressive of the thing you view.
{294}

BEECH BLOOMS
Among the valleys
The wild oxalis
Lifts up its chalice
Of pink and pearl;
And, balsam-breathing
From out their sheathing,
The myriad wreathing
Green leaves uncurl.
The whole world brightens
With spring, that lightens
The foot that frightens
The building thrush;
Where water tosses
On ferns and mosses
The squirrel crosses
The beechen hush.
And vision on vision,—
Like ships elysian
On some white mission,—
Sails cloud on cloud;{295}
With scents of clover
The winds brim over,
And in the cover
The stream is loud.
’Twixt bloom that blanches
The orchard branches
Old farms and ranches
Gleam in the gloam:
Through fields for sowing,
’Mid blossoms blowing,
The cows come lowing,
The cows come home.
Where ways are narrow,
A vesper-sparrow
Flits like an arrow
Of living rhyme;
The red sun poises,
And farm-yard noises
Mix with glad voices
Of milking-time.
When dusk disposes
Of all its roses,
And darkness closes,
And work is done,{296}
A moon’s white feather
In starry weather
And two together
Whose hearts are one.
{297}

WORSHIP
I
The mornings raise
Voices of gold in the Almighty’s praise;
The sunsets soar
In choral crimson from far shore to shore:
Each is a blast,
Reverberant, of color,—seen as vast
Concussions,—that the vocal firmament
In worship sounds o’er every continent.
II
Not for our ears
The cosmic music of the rolling spheres,
That sweeps the skies!
Music we hear, but only with our eyes.
For all too weak
Our mortal frames to bear the words these speak,
Those detonations that we name the dawn
And sunset—hues Earth’s harmony puts on.
{298}

UNHEARD
All things are wrought of melody,
Unheard, yet full of speaking spells;
Within the rock, within the tree,
A soul of music dwells.
A mute symphonic sense that thrills
The silent frame of mortal things;
Its heart beats in the ancient hills,
And in each flow’r sings.
To harmony all growth is set—
Each seed is but a music mote,
From which each plant, each violet,
Evolves its purple note.
Compact of melody, the rose
Woos the soft wind with strain on strain
Of crimson; and the lily blows
Its white bars to the rain.
The trees are pæans; and the grass
One long green fugue beneath the sun—
Song is their life; and all shall pass,
Shall end, when song is done.
{299}

REINCARNATION
High in the place of outraged Liberty,
He ruled the world, an emperor and god:
His iron armies swept the land and sea,
And conquered nations trembled at his nod.
By him the love that fills man’s soul with light,
And makes a heaven of earth, was crucified;
Lust-crowned he lived, yea, lived in God’s despite,
And old in infamies, a king he died.
Justice begins now.—Many centuries
In some vile body must his soul atone
As slave, as beggar, loathsome with disease,
Less than the dog at which we fling a stone.
{300}

ON CHENOWETH’S RUN
I thought of the road through the glen,
With its hawk’s nest high in the pine;
With its rock, where the fox had his den,
’Mid tangles of sumach and vine,
Where she swore to be mine.
I thought of the creek and its banks,
Now glooming, now gleaming with sun;
The rustic bridge builded of planks,
The bridge over Chenoweth’s Run,
Where I wooed her and won.
I thought of the house in the lane,
With its pinks and its sweet mignonette;
Its fence, and the gate with its chain,
Its porch where the roses hung wet,
Where I kissed her and met.
Then I thought of the family graves,
Walled rudely with stone, in the West,{301}
Where the sorrowful cedar-tree waves,
And the wind is a spirit distressed,
Where they laid her to rest.
And my soul, overwhelmed with despair,
Cried out on the city and mart!—
How I longed, how I longed to be there,
Away from the struggle and smart,
By her and my heart.
By her and my heart in the West,—
Laid sadly together as one;—
On her grave for a moment to rest,
Far away from the noise and the sun,
On Chenoweth’s Run.
{302}

REQUIESCAT
The roses mourn for her who sleeps
Within the tomb;
For her each lily-flower weeps
Dew and perfume.
In each neglected flower-bed
Each blossom droops its lovely head,—
They miss her touch, they miss her tread,
Her face of bloom,
Of happy bloom.
The very breezes grieve for her,
A lonely grief;
For her each tree is sorrower,
Each blade and leaf.
The foliage rocks itself and sighs,
And to its woe the wind replies,—
They miss her girlish laugh and cries,
Whose life was brief,
Was all too brief.{303}
The sunlight, too, seems pale with care,
Or sick with woe;
The memory haunts it of her hair,
Its golden glow.
No more within the bramble-brake
The sleepy bloom is kissed awake—
The sun is sad for her dear sake,
Whose head lies low,
Lies dim and low.
The bird, that sang so sweet, is still
At dusk and dawn;
No more it makes the silence thrill
Of wood and lawn.
In vain the buds, when it is near,
Open each pink and perfumed ear,—
The song it sings she will not hear
Who now is gone,
Is dead and gone.
Ah, well she sleeps who loved them well,
The birds and bowers;
The fair, the young, the lovable,
Who once was ours.
Alas! that loveliness must pass!
Must come to lie beneath the grass!
That youth and joy must fade, alas!
And die like flowers,
Earth’s sweetest flowers!
{304}

THE QUEST
I
First I asked the honey-bee,
Busy in the balmy bowers;
Saying, “Sweetheart, tell it me:
Have you seen her, honey-bee?
She is cousin to the flowers—
All the sweetness of the south
In her wild-rose face and mouth.”—
But the bee passed silently.
II
Then I asked the forest-bird,
Warbling by the woodland waters;
Saying, “Dearest, have you heard,
Have you heard her, forest-bird?
She is one of Music’s daughters—
Never song so sweet by half
As the music of her laugh.”—
But the bird said not a word.
{305}

III
Next I asked the evening-sky,
Hanging out its lamps of fire;
Saying, “Loved one, passed she by?
Tell me, tell me, evening-sky!
She, the star of my desire—
Sister whom the Pleiads lost,
And my soul’s high pentecost.”—
But the sky made no reply.
IV
Where is she? ah, where is she?
She to whom both love and duty
Bind me, yea, immortally.—
Where is she? ah, where is she?
Symbol of the Earth-soul’s beauty.
I have lost her. Help my heart
Find her! her, who is a part
Of the pagan soul of me!
{306}

BEFORE THE RAIN
Before the rain, low in the obscure east,
Weak and morose the moon hung, sickly gray;
Around its disc the storm mists, cracked and creased,
Wove an enormous web, wherein it lay
Like some white spider hungry for its prey.
Vindictive looked the scowling firmament,
In which each star, that flashed a dagger ray,
Seemed filled with malice of some dark intent.
The marsh-frog croaked; and underneath the stone
The peevish cricket raised a creaking cry.
Within the world these sounds were heard alone,
Save when the ruffian wind swept from the sky,
Making each tree like some sad spirit sigh;
Or shook the clumsy beetle from its weed,
That, in the drowsy darkness, bungling by,
Sharded the silence with its feverish speed.{307}
Slowly the tempest gathered. Hours passed
Before was heard the thunder’s sullen drum
Rumbling night’s hollow; and the Earth at last,
Restless with waiting,—like a woman, dumb
With doubting of the love that should have clomb
Her casement hours ago,—avowed again,
’Mid protestations, joy that he had come.
And all night long I heard the Heavens explain.
{308}

AFTER RAIN
Behold the blossom-bosomed Day again,
With all the star-white Hours in her train,
Laughs out of pearl-lights through a golden ray,
That, leaning on the woodland wildness, blends
A sprinkled amber with the showers that lay
Their oblong emeralds on the leafy ends.
Behold her bend with maiden-braided brows
Above the wildflower, sidewise with its strain
Of dewy happiness, to kiss again
Each drop to death; or, under rainy boughs,
With fingers, fragrant as the woodland rain,
Gather the sparkles from the sycamore,
To set within the core
Of crimson roses girdling her hips,
Where each bud dreams and drips.
Smoothing her blue-black hair,—where many a tusk
Of iris flashes,—like the falchions keen
Of Faery round blue banners of their Queen,—
Is it a Naiad singing in the dusk,{309}
That haunts the spring, where all the moss is musk
With footsteps of the flowers on the banks?
Or but a wild-bird voluble with thanks?
Balm for each blade of grass: the Hours prepare
A festival each weed’s invited to.
Each bee is drunken with the honied air:
And all the heaven is eloquent with blue.
The wet hay glitters, and the harvester
Tinkles his scythe,—as twinkling as the dew,—
That shall not spare
Blossom or brier in its sweeping path;
And, ere it cut one swath,
Rings them they die, and tells them to prepare.
What is the spice that haunts each glen and glade?
A Dryad’s lips, who slumbers in the shade?
A Faun, who lets the heavy ivy-wreath
Slip to his thigh as, reaching up, he pulls
The chestnut blossoms in whole bosomfuls?
A sylvan Spirit, whose sweet mouth doth breathe
Her viewless presence near us, unafraid?
Or troops of ghosts of blooms, that whitely wade
The brook? whose wisdom knows no other song
But that the bird sings where it builds beneath
The wild-rose and sits singing all day long.{310}
Oh, let me sit with silence for a space,
A little while forgetting that fierce part
Of man that struggles in the toiling mart;
Where God can look into my heart’s own heart
From unsoiled heights made amiable with grace;
And where the sermons that the old oaks keep
Can steal into me.—And what better then
Than, turning to the moss a quiet face,
To fall asleep? a little while to sleep
And dream of wiser worlds and wiser men.
{311}

SUNSET CLOUDS
Low clouds, the lightning veins and cleaves,
Torn from the wilderness of storm,
Sweep westward like enormous leaves
O’er field and farm.
And in the west, on burning skies,
Their wrath is quenched, their hate is hushed,
And deep their drifted thunder lies
With splendor flushed.
The black turns gray, the gray turns gold;
And sea’d in deeps of radiant rose,
Summits of fire, manifold,
They now repose.
What dreams they bring! what thoughts reveal!
That have their source in loveliness,
Through which the doubts I often feel
Grow less and less.
Through which I see that other night,
That cloud called Death, transformed of Love
To flame, and pointing with its light
To life above.
{312}

RICHES
What mines the morning heavens unfold!
What far Alaskas of the skies!
That, veined with elemental gold,
Sierra on Sierra rise.
Heap up the gold of all the world,
The ore that makes men fools and slaves:
What is it to the gold, cloud-curled,
That rivers through the sunset’s caves.
Search Earth for riches all who will,
The gold that soils, that turns to dust—
Mine be the wealth no thief can steal,
The gold of Beauty naught can rust.
{313}

THE AGE OF GOLD
The clouds that tower in storm, that beat
Arterial thunder in their veins;
The wildflowers lifting, shyly sweet,
Their perfect faces from the plains,—
All high, all lowly things of Earth
For no vague end have had their birth.
Low strips of mist, that mesh the moon
Above the foaming waterfall;
And mountains that God’s hand hath hewn,
And forests where the great winds call,—
Within the grasp of such as see
Are parts of a conspiracy;
To seize the soul with beauty; hold
The heart with love: and thus fulfill
Within ourselves the Age of Gold,
That never died, and never will,—
As long as one true nature feels
The wonders that the world reveals.
{314}

A SONG FOR LABOR
I
Oh, the morning meads, the dewy meads,
Where he ploughs and harrows and sows the seeds,
Singing a song of manly deeds,
In the blossoming springtime weather:
The heart in his bosom as high as the word
Said to the sky by the mating bird,
While the beat of an answering heart is heard,
His heart and hers together.
II
Oh, the noonday heights, the sunlit heights,
Where he stoops to the harvest his keen scythe smites,
Singing a song of the work that requites,
In the ripening summer weather:
The soul in his body as light as the sigh
Of the little cloud-breeze that cools the sky,
While he hears an answering soul reply,
His soul and hers together.
{315}

III
Oh, the evening vales, the twilight vales,
Where he labors and sweats to the thud of flails,
Singing a song of the toil that he hails,
In the fruitful autumn weather:
In heart and in soul as free from fears
As the first white star in the sky that appears,
While the music of life and of love he hears,
Her life and his together.
{316}

THE LOVE OF LOVES
I have not seen her face, and yet
She is more sweet than anything
Of earth—than rose or violet
That winds of May and sunbeams bring.
Of all we know, past or to come,
That beauty holds within its net,
She is the high compendium:
And yet—
I have not touched her robe, and still
She is more dear than lyric words
And music; or than strains that fill
The throbbing throats of forest birds.
Of all we mean by poetry,
That rules the soul and charms the will,
She is the deep epitome:
And still—
She is my world: ah, pity me!
A dream that flies whom I pursue:{317}
Whom all pursue, whoe’er they be,
Who toil for Art and dare and do.
The shadow-love for whom they sigh,
The far ideal affinity,
For whom they live and gladly die—
Ah me!
{318}

THREE THINGS
There are three things of Earth
That help us more
Than those of heavenly birth
That all implore—
Than Love or Faith or Hope,
For which we strive and grope.
The first one is Desire,—
Who takes our hand
And fills our hearts with fire
None may withstand;—
Through whom we’re lifted far
Above both moon and star.
The second one is Dream,—
Who leads our feet
By an immortal gleam
To visions sweet;—
Through whom our forms put on
Dim attributes of dawn.{319}
The last of these is Toil,—
Who maketh true,
Within the world’s turmoil
The other two;—
Through whom we may behold
Ourselves with kings enrolled.
{320}

IMMORTELLES
I
As some warm moment of repose
In one rich rose
Sums all the summer’s lovely bloom
And pure perfume—
So did her soul epitomize
All hopes that make life wise,
Who lies before us now with lidded eyes,
Faith’s amaranth of truth
Crowning her youth.
II
As some melodious note or strain
May so contain
All of sweet music in one chord,
Or lyric word—
So did her loving heart suggest
All dreams that make life blessed,
Who lies before us now with pulseless breast,
Love’s asphodel of duty
Crowning her beauty.
{321}

A LULLABY
I
In her wimple of wind and her slippers of sleep
The twilight comes like a little goose-girl,
Herding her owls with many “Tu-whoos,”
Her little brown owls in the forest deep,
Where dimly she walks in her whispering shoes,
And gown of glimmering pearl.
Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep:
This is the road to Rockaby Town.
Rockaby, lullaby, where dreams are cheap;
Here you can buy any dream for a crown.
Sleep, sleep, little one, sleep;
The cradle you lie in is soft and is deep,
The wagon that takes you to Rockaby Town.
Now you go up, sweet, now you go down,
Rockaby, lullaby, now you go down.
{322}

II
And after the twilight comes midnight, who wears
A mantle of purple so old, so old!
Who stables the lily-white moon, it is said,
In a wonderful chamber with violet stairs,
Up which you can see her come, silent of tread,
On hoofs of pale silver and gold.
Dream, dream, little one, dream:
This is the way to Lullaby Land.
Lullaby, rockaby, where, white as cream,
Sugar-plum bowers drop sweets in your hand.
Dream, dream, little one, dream;
The cradle you lie in is tight at each seam,
The boat that goes sailing to Lullaby Land.
Over the sea, sweet, over the sand,
Lullaby, rockaby, over the sand.
III
The twilight and midnight are lovers, you know,
And each to the other is true, is true!
And there on the moon through the heavens they ride,{323}
With the little brown owls all huddled a-row,
Through meadows of heaven where, every side,
Blossom the stars and the dew.
Rest, rest, little one, rest:
Rockaby Town is in Lullaby Isle.
Rockaby, lullaby, set like a nest
Deep in the heart of a song and a smile.
Rest, rest, little one, rest;
The cradle you lie in is warm as my breast,
The white bird that bears you to Lullaby Isle.
Out of the East, sweet, into the West,
Rockaby, lullaby, into the West.
{324}

PESTILENCE
High on a throne of noisome ooze and heat,
’Mid rotting trees of bayou and lagoon,
Ghastly she sits beneath the skeleton moon,
A tawny horror coiling at her feet—
Fever, whose eyes keep watching, serpent-like,
Until her eyes shall bid him rise and strike.
{325}

MUSINGS
I

Inspiration
All who have toiled for Art, who’ve won or lost,
Sat equal priests at her high Pentecost;
Only the chrism and sacrament of flame,
Anointing all, inspired not all the same.
II

Apportionment
How often in our search for joy below
Hoping for happiness we chance on woe.
III

Victory
They who take courage from their own defeat
Are victors too, no matter how much beat.
{326}

IV

Preparation
How often hope’s fair flower blooms richest where
The soul was fertilized with black despair.
V

Disillusion
Those unrequited in their love who die
Have never drained life’s chief illusion dry.
VI

Success
Success allures us in the earth and skies:
We seek to win her, but, too amorous,
Mocking, she flees us.—Haply, were we wise,
We should not strive and she would come to us.
VII

Science
Miranda-like, above the world she waves
The wand of Prospero; and, beautiful,{327}
Ariel the airy, Caliban the dull,—
Lightning and Steam,—are her unwilling slaves.
VIII

The Universal Wind
Wild son of Heav’n, with laughter and alarm,
Now east, now west, now north, now south he goes,
Bearing in one harsh hand dark death and storm,
And in the other, sunshine and a rose.
IX

Compensation
Yea, whom He loves the Lord God chasteneth
With disappointments, so that this side death,
Through suffering and failure, they know Hell
To make them worthy in that Heaven to dwell
Of Love’s attainment, where they come to be
Parts of its beauty and divinity.
X

Poppies
Summer met Sleep at sunset,
Dreaming within the south,—{328}
Drugged with his soul’s deep slumber,
Red with her heart’s hot drouth,
These are the drowsy kisses
She pressed upon his mouth.
XI

Her Eyes and Mouth
There is no Paradise like that which lies
Deep in the heavens of her azure eyes:
There is no Eden here on Earth that glows
Like that which smiles rich in her mouth’s red rose.
XII

Her Soul
To me not only does her soul suggest
Palms and the peace of tropic shore and wood,
But, oceaned far beyond the golden West,
The Fortunate Islands of true Womanhood.
XIII

Her Face
The gladness of our Southern spring; the grace
Of summer; and the dreaminess of fall
Are parts of her sweet nature.—Such a face
Was Ruth’s, methinks, divinely spiritual.
{329}

THE MESSAGE OF THE LILIES
My soul and I went walking
Beneath the moon of spring;
The lilies pale were talking,
We heard them murmuring.
From dimly moonlit places
They thrust long throats of white,
And lifted fairy faces
Of fragrant snow and light.
Their language was an essence,
Yet clear as any bird’s;
And from it grew a presence,
As music grows from words.
A spirit born of silence
And chastity and dew
Among Elysian islands
Were not more white to view.{330}
A spirit born of fire
And holiness and snow,
Within the Heaven’s desire,
Were not more pure to know.
He smiled among them, lifting
Pale hands of prayer and peace—
And through the moonlight, drifting,
Came words to me like these:—
“We are His lilies, lilies,
Whose praises here we sing!
We are the lilies, lilies
Of Christ our Lord and King!”{331}
ANTHEM OF DAWN
I
Then up the orient heights to the zenith that balanced the crescent,—
Up and far up and over,—the heaven grew erubescent,
Vibrant with rose and with ruby from hands of the harpist Dawn,
Smiting symphonic fire on the firmament’s barbiton;
And the East was a priest who adored with offerings of gold and of gems,
And a wonderful carpet unrolled for the inaccessible hems
Of the glittering robes of her limbs; that, lily and amethyst,
Swept glorying on and on through temples of cloud and mist.
{332}

II
Then out of the splendor and richness, that burned like a magic stone,
The torrent suffusion that deepened and dazzled and broadened and shone,
The pomp and the pageant of color, triumphal procession of glare,
The sun, like a king in armor, breathing splendor from feet to hair,
Stood forth with majesty girdled, as a hero who towers afar
Where the bannered gates are bristling hells and the walls are roaring war:
And broad on the back of the world, like a Cherubin’s fiery blade,
The effulgent gaze of his aspect fell in glittering accolade.
III
Then billowing blue, like an ocean, rolled from the shores of dawn to even:
And the stars like rafts went down; and the moon, like a ghost-ship driven,
A feather of foam, from port to port of the cloud-built isles that dotted,{333}
With pearl and cameo, bays of the day,—her canvas webbed and rotted,—
Lay lost in the gulf of heaven; while over her mixed and melted
The beautiful children of Morn, whose bodies are opal-belted;
The beautiful daughters of Dawn, who, over and under and after
The rivered radiance wrestled; and rainbowed heaven with laughter
Of halcyon sapphire.—O Dawn! thou visible mirth,
Thou hallelujah of heaven! hosanna of Earth!
{334}

AT THE LANE’S END
I
No more to strip the roses from
The rose-sprays of her porch’s place!—
I dreamed last night that I was home
Kissing a rose—her face.
I must have smiled in sleep—who knows?—
The rose-aroma filled the lane;
I saw her white hand’s lifted rose
That welcomed home again.
And yet when I awoke—so wan,
My old face wet with icy tears—
Somehow, it seems, she was not gone,
Though dead now thirty years.
II
The clouds roll up and the clouds roll down
Over the roofs of the little town;{335}
Out in the hills, where the pike winds by
Fields of clover and bottoms of rye,
You will hear no sound but the barking cough
Of the striped chipmunk where the lane leads off;
You will hear no bird but the sapsuckér
Far off in the forest,—that seems to purr,
As the warm wind fondles its top, grown hot,
Like the docile back of an ocelot:
You will see no thing but the shine and shade
Of briers that climb and of weeds that wade
The glittering creeks of the heat, that fills
The dusty road and the red-keel hills.—
And all day long in the pennyroyal
The grasshoppers at their anvils toil;
Thick click of their tireless hammers thrum,
And the wheezy belts of their bellows hum;
Tinkers who solder the silence and heat
To make the loneliness more complete.
Around old rails where the blackberries
Are reddening ripe, and the bumblebees
Are a drowsy rustle of Summer’s skirts,
And the bob-white’s wing is the fan she flirts;
Under the hill, through the ironweeds
And ox-eyed daisies and milkweeds, leads
The path forgotten of all but one.
Where elder-bushes are sick with sun,
And wild raspberries branch big, blue veins{336}
O’er the face of the rock where the old spring rains
Its sparkling splinters of molten spar
On the gravel bed where the tadpoles are,—
You will find the pales of a fallen fence,
And the tangled orchard and vineyard, dense
With the weedy neglect of thirty years.
The garden there,—where the soft sky clears
Like an old sweet face that has dried its tears;—
The garden-plot where the cabbage grew
And the pompous pumpkin; and beans that blew
Balloons of white by the melon patch;
Maize; and tomatoes that seemed to catch
Oblong amber and agate balls
Globed of the sun in the frosty falls:
Long rows of currants and gooseberries,
And the balsam-gourd with its honey-bees.
And here was a nook for the princess-plumes,
The snapdragons and the poppy-blooms,
Quaint sweet-williams and pansy-flowers,
And the morning-glories’ bewildered bowers,
Tipping their cornucopias up
For the humming-birds that came to sup.
And over it all was the Sabbath peace
Of the land whose lap was the love of these;
And the old log-house where my innocence died,
With my boyhood buried side by side.{337}
Shall a man with a face as withered and gray
As the wasp-nest stowed in a loft away,—
Where the hornets haunt and the mortar drops
From the loosened logs of the clapboard tops;—
Whom vice has aged as the rotting rooms
The rain where memories haunt the glooms;
A hitch in his joints like the rheum that gnars
In the rasping hinge of the door that jars;
A harsh, cracked throat like the old stone flue
Where the swallows build the summer through;—
Shall a man, I say, with the spider sins
That the long years spin in the outs and ins
Of his soul, returning to see once more
His boyhood’s home, where his life was poor
With toil and tears and their fretfulness,
But rich with health and the hopes that bless
The unsoiled wealth of a vigorous youth;
Shall he not take comfort and know the truth
In its threadbare raiment of falsehood?—Yea!
In his crumbled past he shall kneel and pray,
Like a pilgrim come to the shrine again
Of the homely saints that shall soothe his pain,
And arise and depart made clean again!
{338}

III
Years of care can not efface
Visions of the hills and trees
Closing in its dam and race;
Nor the mile-long memories
Of the mill-stream’s lovely place.
How the sunsets used to stain
Mirrors of the waters lying
Under eaves made dark with rain!
Where the red-bird, westward flying,
Lit to try its song again.
Dingles, hills and woods, and springs,
Where we came in calm and storm,
Swinging in the grapevine swings,
Wading where the rocks were warm,
With our fishing-nets and strings.
Here the road plunged down the hill,
Under ash and chinquapin,—
Where the grasshoppers would drill
Ears of silence with their din,—
To the willow-girdled mill.
There the path beyond the ford
Takes the woodside; just below{339}
Shallows that the lilies sword,
Where the scarlet blossoms blow
Of the trumpet-vine and gourd.
Summer winds, that sink with heat,
On the pelted waters winnow
Moony petals that repeat
Crescents, where the startled minnow
Beats a glittering retreat.
Summer winds that bear the scent
Of the ironweed and mint,
Weary with sweet freight and spent,
On the deeper pools imprint
Stumbling steps, whose ripples dent.
Summer winds, that split the husk
Of the peach and nectarine,
Trail along the amber dusk
Hazy skirts of gold and green,
Spilling balms of dew and musk.
Where with balls of bursting juice
Summer sees the red wild-plum
Strew the gravel; ripened loose,
Autumn hears the pawpaw drum
Plumpness on the rocks that bruise:{340}
There we found the water-beech,
One forgotten August noon,
With a hornet-nest in reach,—
Like a fairyland balloon,
Full of bustling fairy speech.
Some invasion, sure, it was;
For we heard the captains scold;
Waspish cavalry a-buzz,—
Troopers uniformed in gold,
Sable-slashed,—to charge on us.
Could I find the sedgy angle,
Where the dragon-flies would turn
Slender flittings into spangle
On the sunlight? or would burn—
Where the berries made a tangle—
Sparkling green and brassy blue;
Rendezvousing, by the stream,
Bands of elf-banditti, who,
Brigands of the bloom and beam,
Drunken were with honey-dew.
Could I find the pond that lay
Where vermilion blossoms showered
Fragrance down the daisied way?{341}
That the sassafras embowered
With the spice of early May?
Could I find it—should I seek—
The old mill? Its weather-beaten
Wheel and gable by the creek?
With its warping roof; worm-eaten,
Dusty rafters worn and weak.
Where old shadows haunt old places,
Loft and hopper, stair and bin;
Ghostly with the dust that laces
Webs that usher phantoms in,
Wistful with remembered faces.
While the frogs’ grave litanies
Drowse in far-off antiphone,
Supplicating, till the eyes
Of dead friendships, long alone
In the dusky corners,—rise.
Moonbeams? or the twinkling tip
Of a star? or, in the darkling
Twilight, fireflies? there that dip—
As if Night a myriad sparkling
Jewels from her hands let slip.{342}
Where, I dream, my youth still crosses,
With a corn-sack for the meal,
Through the sprinkled ferns and mosses,
To the gray mill’s lichened wheel,
Where the water drips and tosses.
{343}

ENCHANTMENT
The deep seclusion of this forest path,—
O’er which the green boughs weave a canopy;
Along which bluet and anemone
Spread a dim carpet; where the Twilight hath
Her dark abode; and, sweet as aftermath,
Wood-fragrance roams,—has so enchanted me,
That yonder blossoming bramble seems to be
Some Sylvan resting, rosy from her bath:
Has so enspelled me with tradition’s dreams,
That every foam-white stream that, twinkling, flows,
And every bird that flutters wings of tan,
Or warbles hidden, to my fancy seems
A Naiad dancing to a Faun who blows
Wild woodland music on the pipes of Pan.
{344}

IN THE FOREST
One well might deem, among these miles of woods,
Such were the Forests of the Holy Grail,—
Brocéliand and Dean: where, clothed in mail,
The Knights of Arthur rode, and all the broods
Of legend laired.—And, where no sound intrudes
Upon the ear, except the glimmering wail
Of some far bird; or, in some flowery swale,
A brook that murmurs to the solitudes,
Might think he hears the laugh of Vivien
Blent with the moan of Merlin, muttering bound
By his own magic to one stony spot:
And, in the cloud that looms above the glen,—
In which the sun burns like the Table Round,—
Might dream he sees the towers of Camelot.
{345}

CAN SUCH THINGS BE
Meseemed that while she played, while lightly yet
Her fingers fell, as roses bloom by bloom,
I listened—dead within a mighty room
Of some old palace where great casements let
Gaunt moonlight in, that glimpsed a parapet
Of statued marble: in the arrased gloom
Majestic pictures towered, dim as doom,
The dreams of Titian and of Tintoret.
And then, it seemed, along a corridor,
A mile of oak, a stricken footstep came,
Hurrying, yet slow…. I thought long centuries
Passed ere she entered—she, I loved of yore,
For whom I died, who wildly wailed my name
And bent and kissed me on the mouth and eyes.
{346}

KNIGHT-ERRANT
Onward he gallops through enchanted gloom.—
The phantoms of the forest, dark and dim,
And shadows of vast death environ him—
Onward he spurs victorious over doom.
Before his eyes that love’s far fires illume—
Where courage sits, impregnable and grim—
The form and features of her beauty swim,
Beckoning him on with looks that fears consume.
The thought of her distress, her lips to kiss,
Mails him in triple might; and so at last
To Lust’s huge keep he comes; its giant wall,
Wild-towering, frowning from the precipice:
And through its gate, borne like a bugle-blast,
O’er night and hell he thunders to his all.
{347}

THE ARTIST
In story books, when I was very young,
I knew her first, one of the Fairy Race;
And then it was her picture took its place,
Framed round with love’s deep gold, and draped and hung
High in my heart’s red room: no song was sung,
No tale of passion told, I did not grace
With her associated form and face,
And intimated charm of touch and tongue.
As years went on she grew to more and more,
Until each thing, symbolic to my heart
Of beauty,—such as honor, truth, and fame,—
Within the studio of my soul’s thought wore
Her lineaments, whom I, with all my art,
Strove to embody and to give a name.
{348}

POETRY AND PHILOSOPHY
Out of the past the dim leaves spake to me
The thoughts of Pindar with a voice so sweet
Hyblæan bees seemed swarming my retreat
Around the reedy well of Poesy.
I closed the book. Then, knee to neighbor knee,
Sat with the soul of Plato, to repeat
Doctrines, till mine seemed some Socratic seat
High on the summit of Philosophy.
Around the wave of one Religion taught
Her first rude children. From the stars that burned
Above the mountained ether, Science learned
The first vague lessons of the work she wrought.
Daughters of God, in whom we still behold
The Age of Iron and the Age of Gold.
{349}

“QUO VADIS”
It is as if imperial trumpets broke
Again the silence on War’s iron height;
And Cæsar’s armored legions marched to fight,
While Rome, blood-red upon her mountain-yoke,
Blazed like an awful sunset. At a stroke,
Again I see the living torches light
The horrible revels, and the bloated, white,
Bayed brow of Nero smiling through the smoke:
And here and there a little band of slaves
Among dark ruins; and the form of Paul,
Bearded and gaunt, expounding still the Word:
And towards the North the tottering architraves
Of empire; and, wild-waving over all,
The flaming figure of a Gothic sword.
{350}

TO A CRITIC
R. H. S.

Song hath a catalogue of lovely things
Thy kind hath oft defiled,—whose spite misleads
The world too often!—where the poet reads,
As in a fable, of old envyings,
Crows, such as thou, which hush the bird that sings,
Or kill it with their cawings: thorns and weeds,
Such as thyself, ’midst which the wind sows seeds
Of flow’rs, these crush before one blossom swings.
But here and there the wisdom of a School
Unknown to these hath often written down
“Fame” in white ink the future hath turned brown;
When every beauty, heaped with ridicule,
In their ignoble prose, proved their renown,
Making each famous—as an ass or fool.
{351}

QUATRAINS
I

Poetry
Who hath beheld the goddess face to face,
Blind with her beauty, all his days shall go
Climbing lone mountains towards her temple’s place,
Weighed with Song’s sweet, inexorable woe.
II

The Unimaginative
Each form of beauty’s but the new disguise
Of thoughts more beautiful than forms can be;
Sceptics, who search with unanointed eyes,
Never the Earth’s wild Fairy-dance shall see.
III

Music
God-born before the Sons of God, she hurled,
With awful symphonies of flood and fire,{352}
God’s name on rocking chaos—world by world
Flamed as the universe rolled from her lyre.
IV

The Three Elements
They come as couriers of Heaven: their feet
Sonorous-sandaled with majestic awe;
In raiment of swift foam and wind and heat,
Blowing the trumpets of God’s wrath and law.
V

Rome
Above the Circus of the World she sat,
Beautiful and base, a harlot crowned with pride:
Fierce Nations, upon whom she sneered and spat,
Shrieked at her feet and for her pastime died.
VI

On Reading the Life of Haroun er Reshid
Down all the lanterned Bagdad of our youth
He steals, with golden justice for the poor:
Within his palace—you shall know the truth!—
A blood-smeared headsman hides behind each door.
{353}

VII

Mnemosyne
In classic beauty, cold, immaculate,
A voiceful sculpture, stern and still she stands,
Upon her brow deep-chiselled love and hate,
That sorrow o’er dead roses in her hands.
VIII

Beauty
High as a star, yet lowly as a flower,
Unknown she takes her unassuming place
At Earth’s proud masquerade—the appointed hour
Strikes, and, behold! the marvel of her face.
IX

The Stars
These—the bright symbols of man’s hope and fame,
In which he reads his blessing or his curse—
Are syllables with which God speaks His name
In the vast utterance of the universe.
{354}

X

Echo
Dweller in hollow places, hills and rocks,
Daughter of Silence and old Solitude,
Tip-toe she stands within her cave or wood,
Her only life the noises that she mocks.
{355}

THE DREAMER
Even as a child he loved to thrid the bowers,
And mark the loafing sunlight’s lazy laugh;
Or, on each season, spell the epitaph
Of its dead months repeated in their flowers;
Or list the music of the strolling showers,
Whose vagabond notes strummed through a twinkling staff,
Or read the day’s delivered monograph
Through all the chapters of its dædal hours.
Still with the same child-faith and child regard
He looks on Nature, hearing, at her heart,
The Beautiful beat out the time and place,
Through which no lesson of this life is hard,
No struggle vain of science or of art,
That dies with failure written on its face.
{356}

WINTER
The flute, whence Summer’s dreamy finger-tips
Drew music,—ripening the cramped kernels in
The burly chestnut and the chinquapin,
Red-rounding-out the oval haws and hips,—
Now Winter crushes to his stormy lips,
And surly songs whistle around his chin;
Now the wild days and wilder nights begin
When, at the eaves, the lengthening icicle drips.
Thy songs, O Summer, are not lost so soon!
Still dwells a memory in thy hollow flute,
Which unto Winter’s masculine airs doth give
Thy own creative qualities of tune,
Through which we see each bough bend white with fruit,
Each branch with bloom, in snow commemorative.
{357}

MID-WINTER
All day the clouds hung ashen with the cold;
And through the snow the muffled waters fell;
The day seemed drowned in grief too deep to tell,
Like some old hermit whose last bead is told.
At eve the wind woke, and the snow clouds rolled
Aside to leave the fierce sky visible;
Harsh as an iron landscape of wan Hell
The dark hills hung framed in with gloomy gold.
And then, towards night, the wind seemed some one at
My window, wailing: now a little child
Crying outside my door; and now the long
Howl of some starved beast down the flue.—I sat
And knew ’twas Winter with his madman song
Of miseries on which he stared and smiled.
{358}

SPRING
First came the rain, loud, with sonorous lips;
A pursuivant who heralded a prince:
And dawn put on her livery of tints,
And dusk bound gold about her hair and hips:
And, all in silver mail, the sunlight came,
A knight, who bade the winter let him pass;
And freed imprisoned beauty, naked as
The Court of Love, in all her wildflower shame.
And so she came, in breeze-borne loveliness,
Across the hills; and heav’n bent down to bless:
Above her head the birds were as a choir;
And at her feet, like some strong worshiper,
The shouting water pæan’d praise of her,
Who, with blue eyes, set the wild world on fire.
{359}

TRANSFORMATION
It is the time when, by the forest falls,
The touch-me-nots hang faery folly-caps;
When ferns and flowers fill the lichened laps
Of rocks with color, rich as orient shawls:
And in my heart I hear a voice that calls
Me woodward, where the hamadryad wraps
Her limbs in bark, and, bubbling in the saps,
Sings the sweet Greek of Pan’s old madrigals:
There is a gleam that lures me up the stream—
A Naiad swimming with wet limbs of light?
Perfume that leads me on from dream to dream—
An oread’s footprints flowering into flight?
And, lo! meseems I am a Faun again,
One with the myths that I pursue in vain.
{360}

RESPONSE
There is a music of immaculate love,
That beats within the virginal veins of Spring,—
And trillium blossoms, (like the stars that cling
To fairies’ wands;) and, strung on sprays above,
White-hearts and mandrake blooms, (that look enough
Like the elves’ washing—white with laundering
Of May-moon dews;) and all pale-opening
Wildflowers of the woods are born thereof.
There is no sod Spring’s white foot brushes but
Must feel the music that vibrates within,
And thrill to the communicated touch
Responsive harmonies, that must unshut
The heart of Beauty for Song’s concrete kin,
Emotions—that are flowers—born of such.
{361}

THE SWASHBUCKLER
Squat-nosed and broad, of big and pompous port;
A tavern visage, apoplexy haunts,
All pimple-puffed: the Falstaff-like resort
Of fat debauchery, whose veined cheek flaunts
A flabby purple: rusty-spurred he stands
In rakehell boots and belt, and hanger that
Claps when, with greasy gauntlets on his hands,
He swaggers past in cloak and slouch-plumed hat.
Aggression marches armies in his words;
And in his oaths great deeds ride cap-à-pie;
His looks, his gestures breathe the breath of swords;
And in his carriage camp all wars to be:—
With him, of battles there shall be no lack
While buxom wenches are and stoops of sack.
{362}

SIMULACRA
Dark in the west the sunset’s sombre wrack
Unrolled vast walls the rams of war had split,
Along whose battlements the battle lit
Tempestuous beacons; and, with gates hurled back,
A mighty city, red with ruin and sack,
Through burning breaches, crumbling bit by bit,
Showed where the God of Slaughter seemed to sit
With Conflagration glaring at each crack.—
Who knows? perhaps as sleep unto us makes
Our dreams as real as our waking seems
With recollections time can not destroy,
So in the mind of Nature now awakes,
Haply, some wilder memory, and she dreams
The stormy story of the fall of Troy.
{363}

THE BLUEBIRD
From morn till noon upon the window-pane
The tempest tapped with rainy finger-nails,
And all the afternoon the blustering gales
Beat at the door with furious feet of rain.
The rose, near which the lily’s bloom lay slain,
Like some red wound dripped by the garden rails,
On which the sullen slug left silvery trails—
It seemed the sun would never shine again.
Then in the drench, long, loud, and clarion-clear,—
A skyey herald tabarded in blue,—
A bluebird warbled … and at once a bow
Was bent in heaven, and I seemed to hear
God’s sapphire spaces crystallizing through
The strata’d clouds in azure tremolo.
{364}

CAVERNS
Written of Colossal Cave, Kentucky.

Aisles and abysses; leagues, no man explores,
Of rock that labyrinths and night that drips;
Where everlasting silence broods, with lips
Of adamant, o’er earthquake-builded floors.
Where forms, such as the Dæmon-World adores,
Laborious water carves; whence echo slips
Wild-tongued o’er pools where petrifaction strips
Her breasts of crystal from which crystal pours.—
Here where primordial fear, the Gorgon, sits,
Staring all life to stone in ghastly mirth,
I seem to tread, with awe no tongue can tell,—
Beneath vast domes, by torrent-tortured pits,
’Mid wrecks terrific of the ruined Earth,—
An ancient causeway of forgotten Hell.
{365}

A VOICE ON THE WIND
{366}

{367}

PROEM
Oh, for a soul that fulfills
Music like that of a bird!
Thrilling with rapture the hills,
Heedless if any one heard.
Or, like the flower that blooms
Lone in the midst of the trees,
Filling the woods with perfumes,
Careless if any one sees.
Or, like the wandering wind,
Over the meadows that swings,
Bringing wild sweets to mankind,
Knowing not that which it brings.
Oh, for a way to impart
Beauty, no matter how hard!
Like unto Nature, whose art
Never once dreams of reward.
{369}

{368}

A VOICE ON THE WIND
I
She walks with the wind on the windy height
When the rocks are loud and the waves are white,
And all night long she calls through the night,
“O my children, come home!”
Her bleak gown, torn as a tattered cloud,
Tosses around her like a shroud,
While over the deep her voice rings loud,—
“O my children, come home, come home!
O my children, come home!”
II
Who is she who wanders alone,
When the wind drives sheer and the rain is blown?
Who walks all night and makes her moan,
“O my children, come home!”
Whose face is raised to the blinding gale;{370}
Whose hair blows black and whose eyes are pale,
While over the world goes by her wail,—
“O my children, come home, come home!
O my children, come home!”
III
She walks with the wind in the windy wood;
The dark rain drips from her hair and hood,
And her cry sobs by, like a ghost pursued,
“O my children, come home!”
Where the trees loom gaunt and the rocks stretch drear,
The owl and the fox crouch back in fear,
As wild through the wood her voice they hear,—
“O my children, come home, come home!
O my children, come home!”
IV
Who is she who shudders by
When the boughs blow bare and the dead leaves fly?
Who walks all night with her wailing cry,
“O my children, come home!”
Who, strange of look, and wild of tongue,
With wan feet wounded and hands wild-wrung,{371}
Sweeps on and on with her cry, far-flung,—
“O my children, come home, come home!
O my children, come home!”
V
’Tis the Spirit of Autumn, no man sees,
The mother of Death and of Mysteries,
Who cries on the wind all night to these,
“O my children, come home!”
The Spirit of Autumn, pierced with pain,
Calling her children home again,
Death and Dreams, through ruin and rain,—
“O my children, come home, come home!
O my children, come home!”{372}
THE LAND OF HEARTS MADE WHOLE
Do you know the way that goes
Over fields of rue and rose,—
Warm of scent and hot of hue,
Roofed with heaven’s bluest blue,—
To the Vale of Dreams Come True?
Do you know the path that twines,
Banked with elder bosks and vines,
Under boughs that shade a stream,
Hurrying, crystal as a gleam,
To the Hills of Love a-Dream?
Tell me, tell me, have you gone
Through the fields and woods of dawn,
Meadowlands and trees that roll,
Great of grass and huge of bole,
To the Land of Hearts Made Whole?
On the way, among the fields,
Poppies lift vermilion shields,
In whose hearts the golden Noon,
Murmuring her drowsy tune,
Rocks the sleepy bees that croon.{373}
On the way, amid the woods,
Mandrakes muster multitudes,
’Mid whose blossoms, white as tusk,
Glides the glimmering Forest-Dusk,
With her moths of fluttering musk.
Here you hear the stealthy stir
Of shy lives of hoof and fur;
Harmless things that hide and peer,
Hearts that sucked the milk of fear—
Fox and rabbit, squirrel and deer.
Here you see the mossy flight
Of faint forms that love the night—
Whippoorwill and owlet-things,
Whose weird call before you brings
Wonder-worlds of happenings.
Now in sunlight, now in shade,
Water, like a brandished blade,
Foaming forward, wild of flight,
Startles, then arrests the sight,
Whirling steely loops of light.
Through the tree-tops, down the vale,
Breezes roam, and leave a trail
Of cool music that the birds,—{374}
Following in happy herds,—
Gather up in twittering words.
Blossoms, frail and manifold,
Shower the way with pearl and gold;
Blurs, that seem the darling print
Of the Springtime’s feet, or glint
Of her twinkling gown’s torn tint.
There the Myths of old endure:
Dreams that are the world-soul’s cure;
Things that have no place or play
In the facts of Everyday
Round your presence smile and sway.
Suddenly your eyes may see,
Stepping softly from a tree,—
Slim of form and wet with dew,—
The brown Dryad; lips the hue
Of a berry bit into.
You may mark the Naiad rise
From her pool’s reflected skies;
In her gaze the heaven that dreams,
Starred, in twilight-haunted streams,
Mixed with water’s grayer gleams.{375}
You may see the laurel’s girth,
Big with bloom, give fragrant birth
To the Oread whose hair,—
Musk and darkness, light and air,—
Fills the hush with wonder there.
You may mark the rocks divide,
And the Faun before you glide,
Piping on a magic reed,
Sowing many a music-seed,
From which bloom and mushroom bead.
Of the rain and sunlight born,
Young of beard and young of horn,
You may see the Satyr lie,
With a very knowing eye,
Teaching fledgeling birds to fly.
These shall cheer and follow you
Through the Vale of Dreams Come True:
Wind-like voices, leaf-like feet;
Forms of mist and hazy heat,
In whose pulses sunbeams beat.
Lo! you tread enchanted ground!
From the hollows all around
Elf and spirit, gnome and fay,{376}
Guide your feet along the way
Till the dewy close of day.
Then beside you, jet on jet,
Emerald-hued and violet,
Flickering, floats a firefly light,
Aye to guide your steps aright
From the valley to the height.
Steep the way is; when at last,
Vale and wood and stream are passed,
From the heights you shall behold
Panther heavens of spotted gold
Tiger-tawny deeps unfold.
You shall see on stocks and stones
Sunset’s bell-deep color tones
Fallen; and the valleys filled
With dusk’s purple music, spilled
On the silence, rapture-thrilled.
Then, as answering bell greets bell,
Night ring in her miracle
Of the doméd dark, o’er-rolled,
Note on note, with starlight cold,
’Twixt the moon’s broad peal of gold.{377}
On the hill-top Love-a-Dream
Shows you then her window-gleam;
Brings you home and folds your soul
In the peace of vale and knoll,
In the Land of Hearts Made Whole.
{378}

THE WIND OF SUMMER
From the hills and far away
All the long, warm summer day
Comes the Wind and seems to say:
“Come, oh, come! and let us go
Where the meadows bend and blow,
Waving with the white-tops’ snow.
“’Neath the hyssop-colored sky
’Mid the meadows we will lie
Watching the white clouds roll by;
“While your hair my hands shall press
With a cooling tenderness
Till your grief grows less and less:
“Come, oh, come! and let us roam
Where the rock-cut waters comb
Flowing crystal into foam.{379}
“Under trees whose trunks are brown,
On the banks that violets crown,
We will watch the fish flash down;
“While my voice your ear shall soothe
With a whisper soft and smooth
Till your care shall wax uncouth.
“Come! where forests, line on line,—
Armies of the oak and pine,—
Scale the hills and shout and shine.
“We will wander, hand in hand,
Ways where tall the toadstools stand,
Mile-stones white of Fairyland.
“While your eyes my lips shall kiss,
Dewy as a wild-rose is,
Till they gaze on naught but bliss.
“On the meadows you will hear,
Leaning low your spirit ear,
Cautious footsteps drawing near.
“You will deem it but a bee,
Murmuring soft and sleepily,
Till your inner sight shall see{380}
“’Tis a presence passing slow,
All its shining hair ablow,
Through the white-tops’ tossing snow.
“By the waters, if you will,
And your inmost soul is still,
Melody your ears shall fill.
“You will deem it but the stream
Rippling onward in a dream,
Till upon your gaze shall gleam
“Arm of spray and throat of foam—
’Tis a spirit there a-roam
Where the radiant waters comb.
“In the forest, if you heed,
You shall hear a magic reed
Sow sweet notes like silver seed.
“You will deem your ears have heard
Stir of tree or song of bird,
Till your startled eyes are blurred
“By a vision, instant seen,
Naked gold and naked green,
Glimmering the boughs between.{381}
“Follow me! and you shall see
Wonder-worlds of mystery
That are only known to me!”
Thus outside my city door
Speaks the Wind its wildwood lore,
Speaks, and lo! I go once more.
{382}

THE WIND OF WINTER
The Winter Wind, the wind of death,
Who knocked upon my door,
Now through the key-hole entereth,
Invisible and hoar:
He breathes around his icy breath
And treads the flickering floor.
I heard him, wandering in the night,
Tap at my window pane,
With ghostly fingers, snowy white,
I heard him tug in vain,
Until the shuddering candle-light
Did cringe with fear and strain.
The fire, awakened by his voice,
Leapt up with frantic arms,
Like some wild babe that greets, with noise,
Its father home who storms,
With rosy gestures that rejoice
And crimson kiss that warms.{383}
Now in the hearth he sits and, drowned
Among the ashes, blows;
Or through the room goes stealing round
On cautious-stepping toes,
Deep-mantled in the drowsy sound
Of night that sleets and snows.
And oft, like some thin fairy-thing,
The stormy hush amid,
I hear his captive trebles ring
Beneath the kettle’s lid;
Or now a harp of elfland string
In some dark cranny hid.
Again I hear him, imp-like, whine,
Cramped in the gusty flue;
Or knotted in the resinous pine
Raise goblin cry and hue,
While through the smoke his eyeballs shine,
A sooty red and blue.
At last I hear him, nearing dawn,
Take up his roaring broom,
And sweep wild leaves from wood and lawn,
And from the heavens the gloom,
To show the gaunt world lying wan,
And morn’s cold rose a-bloom.
{384}

THE LEAF-CRICKET
I
Small twilight singer
Of dew and mist: thou ghost-gray, gossamer winger
Of dusk’s dim glimmer,
How cool thy note sounds; how thy wings of shimmer
Vibrate, soft-sighing,
Meseems, for Summer that is dead or dying.
I stand and listen,
And at thy song the garden-beds, that glisten
With rose and lily,
Seem touched with sadness; and the tuberose chilly,
Breathing around its cold and colorless breath,
Fills the pale evening with wan hints of death.
II
I see thee quaintly
Beneath the leaf; thy shell-shaped winglets faintly—{385}
As thin as spangle
Of cobwebbed rain—held up at airy angle;
I hear thy tinkle,
Thy fairy notes, the silvery stillness sprinkle;
Investing wholly
The moonlight with divinest melancholy:
Until, in seeming,
I see the Spirit of the Summer dreaming
Amid her ripened orchards, apple-strewn,
Her great, grave eyes fixed on the harvest-moon.
III
As dewdrops beady,
As mist minute, thy notes ring low and reedy:
The vaguest vapor
Of melody, now near; now, like some taper
Of sound, far fading—
Thou will-o’-wisp of music aye evading.
Among the bowers,
The fog-washed stalks of Autumn’s weeds and flowers,
By hill and hollow,
I hear thy murmur and in vain I follow—
Thou jack-o’-lantern voice, thou elfin cry,
Thou dirge, that tellest Beauty she must die.
{386}

IV
And when the frantic
Wild winds of Autumn with the dead leaves antic;
And walnuts scatter
The mire of lanes; and dropping acorns patter
In grove and forest,
Like some frail grief, with the rude blast thou warrest,
Sending thy slender
Far cry against the gale, that, rough, untender,
Untouched of sorrow,
Sweeps thee aside, where, haply, I to-morrow
Shall find thee lying, tiny, cold and crushed,
Thy weak wings folded and thy music hushed.
{387}

THE OWLET
I
When dusk is drowned in drowsy dreams,
And slow the hues of sunset die;
When firefly and moth go by,
And in still streams the new-moon gleams,
A sickle in the sky:
Then from the hills there comes a cry,
The owlet’s cry:
A shivering voice that sobs and screams,
That, frightened, screams:—
“Who is it, who is it, who?
Who rides through the dusk and dew,
With a pair of horns,
As thin as thorns,
And face a bubble-blue?
Who, who, who!
Who is it, who is it, who?”{388}
II
When night has dulled the lily’s white,
And opened wide the moonflower’s eyes,
When pale mists rise and veil the skies,
And round the height in whispering flight
The night wind sounds and sighs:
Then in the woods again it cries,
The owlet cries:
A shivering voice that calls in fright,
In maundering fright:—
“Who is it, who is it, who?
Who walks with a shuffling shoe,
’Mid the gusty trees,
With a face none sees,
And a form as ghostly too?
Who, who, who!
Who is it, who is it, who?”
III
When midnight leans a listening ear
And tinkles on her insect lutes;
When ’mid the roots the cricket flutes,
And marsh and mere, now far, now near,
A jack-o’-lantern foots:{389}
Then o’er the pool again it hoots,
The owlet hoots:
A voice that shivers as with fear,
That cries in fear:—
“Who is it, who is it, who?
Who creeps with his glow-worm crew
Above the mire
With a corpse-light fire,
As only dead men do?
Who, who, who!
Who is it, who is it, who?”{390}
THE POET
He stands above all worldly schism,
And, gazing over life’s abysm,
Beholds, within the starry range
Of heaven, laws of death and change,
That, through his soul’s prophetic prism,
Are turned to rainbows wild and strange.
Through nature is his hope made surer
Of that ideal, his allurer,
By whom his life is upward drawn
To mount pale pinnacles of dawn,
’Mid which all that is fairer, purer
Of love and lore it comes upon.
An alkahest, that makes gold metal
Of dross, his mind is—where one petal
Of one wild-rose will well outweigh
The piled-up facts of every-day—
Where commonplaces, there that settle,
Are changed to things of heavenly ray.{391}
He climbs by steps of stars and flowers,
Companioned of the spirit Hours,
And sets his feet in pastures where
No merely mortal feet may fare;
And higher than the stars he towers
Though lowly as the flowers there.
His comrades are his own high fancies
And thoughts in which his soul romances;
And every part of heaven or earth
He visits, lo, assumes new worth;
And touched with loftier traits and trances
Reshines as with a lovelier birth.
He is the play, also the player;
The word that’s said, likewise the sayer;
And in the books of heart and head
There is no thing he has not read;
Of time and tears he is the weigher,
And mouthpiece ’twixt the quick and dead.
He dies: but, mounting ever higher,
Wings Phœnix-like from out his pyre
Above our mortal day and night,
Clothed on with sempiternal light;
And raimented in thought’s fine fire
Flames on in everlasting flight.{392}
Unseen, yet seen, on heights of visions,
Above all praise and world derisions,
His spirit and his deathless brood
Of dreams fare on, a multitude,
While on the pillar of great missions
His name and place are granite-hewed.
{393}

SUMMER NOONTIDE
The slender snail clings to the leaf
Gray on its silvered underside;
And slowly, slowlier than the snail, with brief
Bright steps, whose ripening touch foretells the sheaf,
Her warm hands berry-dyed,
Comes down the tanned Noontide.
The pungent fragrance of the mint
And pennyroyal drench her gown,
That leaves long shreds of trumpet-blossom tint
Among the thorns, and everywhere the glint
Of gold and white and brown
Her flowery steps waft down.
The leaves, like hands with emerald veined,
Along her way try their wild best
To reach the jewel—whose hot hue was drained
From some rich rose that all the June contained—
The butterfly, soft pressed
Upon her sunny breast.{394}
Her shawl, the lace-like elder bloom,
She hangs upon the hillside brake,
Smelling of warmth and of her breast’s perfume,
And, lying in the citron-colored gloom
Beside the lilied lake,
She stares the buds awake.
Or, with a smile, through watery deeps
She leads the oaring turtle’s legs;
Or guides the crimson fin, that swims and sleeps,
From pad to pad, from which the young frog leaps;
And to its nest’s green eggs
The reed-bird there that begs.
Then ’mid the fields of unmown hay
She shows the bees where sweets are found;
And points the butterflies, at airy play,
And dragon-flies, along the water-way,
Where honeyed flowers abound
For them to flicker round.
Or where ripe apples pelt with gold
Some barn—around which, coned with snow,
The wild-potato blooms—she mounts its old
Mossed roof, and through warped sides, the knots have holed,{395}
Lets her long glances glow
Into the loft below.
To show the mud-wasp at its cell
Slenderly busy: swallows, too,
Packing against a beam their nest’s clay shell;
And crouching in the dark the owl as well
With all her downy crew
Of owlets gray of hue.
These are her joys; and until dusk
Lounging she walks where reapers reap,
From sultry raiment shaking scents of musk,
Rustling the corn within its silken husk,
And driving down heav’n’s deep
White herds of clouds like sheep.
{396}

TO THE LOCUST
Thou pulse of hotness, who, with reed-like breast,
Makest meridian music, long and loud,
Accentuating summer!—dost thy best
To make the sunbeams fiercer, and to crowd
With lonesomeness the long, close afternoon—
When Labor leans, swart-faced and beady-browed,
Upon his sultry scythe—thou tangible tune
Of heat, whose waves incessantly arise
Quivering and clear beneath the cloudless skies.
Thou singest, and upon his haggard hills
Drouth yawns and rubs his heavy eyes and wakes;
Brushes the hot hair from his face; and fills
The land with death as sullenly he takes
Downward his dusty way: ’midst woods and fields
At every pool his burning thirst he slakes;{397}
No grove so deep, no bank so high it shields
A spring from him; no creek evades his eye;
He needs but look and they are withered dry.
Thou singest, and thy song is as a spell
Of somnolence to charm the land with sleep;
A thorn of sound that pierces dale and dell,
Diffusing slumber over vale and steep.
Sleepy the forest, nodding sleepy boughs;
Sleepy the pastures with their sleepy sheep;
Sleepy the creek where sleepily the cows
Stand knee-deep, and the very heaven seems
Sleepy and lost in undetermined dreams.
Art thou a rattle that Monotony,
Summer’s dull nurse, old sister of slow Time,
Shakes for Day’s peevish pleasure, who in glee
Takes its discordant music for sweet rhyme?
Or oboe that the Summer Noontide plays,
Sitting with Ripeness ’neath the orchard-tree,
Trying repeatedly the same shrill phrase,
Until the musky peach with weariness
Drops, and the hum of murmuring bees grows less?
{398}

JULY
Now ’tis the time when, tall,
The long blue torches of the bellflower gleam
Among the trees; and, by the wooded stream,
In many a fragrant ball,
Blooms of the button-bush fall.
Let us go forth and seek
Woods where the wild plums redden and the beech
Plumps its stout burrs; and, swelling, just in reach,
The pawpaw, emerald-sleek,
Ripens along the creek.
Now ’tis the time when ways
Of glimmering green flaunt white the giant plumes
Of the black-cohosh; and through bramble glooms,—
A blur of orange rays,—
The butterfly-blossoms blaze.{399}
Let us go forth and hear
The spiral music that the locusts beat,
And that small spray of sound, so grassy sweet,
Dear to a country ear,
The cricket’s summer cheer.
Now golden celandine
Is hairy hung with silvery sacs of seeds,
And bugled o’er with freckled gold, like beads,
Beneath the fox-grape vine,
The jewel-weed’s blossoms shine.
Let us go forth and see
The dragon-and the butterfly, like gems,
Spangling the sunbeams; and the clover stems,
Weighed down with many a bee,
Nodding mellifluously.
Now morns are full of song;
The cat-bird and the red-bird and the jay
Upon the hilltops rouse the ruddy day,
Who, dewy, blithe, and strong,
Lures their wild wings along.
Now noons are full of dreams;
The clouds of heaven and the wandering breeze
Follow a vision; and the flowers and trees,{400}
The hills and fields and streams,
Are lapped in mystic gleams.
The nights are full of love;
The stars and moon take up the golden tale
Of the sunk sun, and passionate and pale,
Mixing their fires above,
Grow eloquent thereof.
Such days are like a sigh
That beauty heaves from a full heart of bliss:
Such nights are like the sweetness of a kiss
On lips that half deny—
The warm lips of July.
{401}

EVENING ON THE FARM
From out the hills where twilight stands,
Above the shadowy pasture-lands,
With strained and strident cry,
Beneath pale skies that sunset bands,
The bull-bats fly.
A cloud hangs over, strange of shape,
And, colored like the half-ripe grape,
Seems some uneven stain
On heaven’s azure, thin as crape,
And blue as rain.
By ways, that sunset’s sardonyx
O’erflares, and gates the farm-boy clicks,
Through which the cattle came,
The mullein stalks seem giant wicks
Of downy flame.
From woods no glimmer enters in,
Above the streams that, wandering, win
From out the violet hills,
Those haunters of the dusk begin,
The whippoorwills.{402}
Adown the dark the firefly marks
Its flight in golden-emerald sparks;
And, loosened from his chain,
The shaggy watch-dog bounds and barks,
And barks again.
Each breeze brings scents of hill-heaped hay;
And now an owlet, far away,
Cries twice or thrice, “T-o-o-w-h-o-o”;
And cool dim moths of mottled gray
Flit through the dew.
The silence sounds its frog-bassoon,
Where, on the woodland creek’s lagoon,
Pale as a ghostly girl
Lost ’mid the trees, looks down the moon
With face of pearl.
Within the shed where logs, late hewed,
Smell forest-sweet, and chips of wood
Make blurs of white and brown,
The brood-hen cuddles her warm brood
Of teetering down.
The clattering guineas in the tree
Din for a time; and quietly
The hen-house, near the fence,
Sleeps, save for some brief rivalry
Of cocks and hens.{403}
A cow-bell tinkles by the rails,
Where, streaming white in foaming pails,
Milk makes an uddery sound;
While overhead the black bat trails
Around and round.
The night is still. The slow cows chew
A drowsy cud. The bird that flew
And sang is in its nest.
It is the time of falling dew,
Of dreams and rest.
The brown bees sleep; and round the walk,
The garden path, from stalk to stalk
The bungling beetle booms,
Where two soft shadows stand and talk
Among the blooms.
The stars are thick: the light is dead
That dyed the west: and Drowsyhead,
Tuning his cricket-pipe,
Nods, and some apple, round and red,
Drops over-ripe.
Now down the road, that shambles by,
A window, shining like an eye
Through climbing rose and gourd,
Shows where Toil sups and these things lie—
His heart and hoard.
{404}

UNDER THE HUNTER’S MOON
White from her chrysalis of cloud,
The moth-like moon swings upward through the night;
And all the bee-like stars that crowd
Heav’n’s hollow hive wane in her silvery light.
Along the distance folds of mist
Hang frost-pale, ridging all the dark with gray;
Tinting the trees with amethyst,
Touching with pearl and purple every spray.
All night the stealthy frost and fog
Conspire to slay the rich-robed weeds and flowers;
To strip the woods of wealth, and clog
With piled-up gold of leaves the creek that cowers.
I seem to see their Spirits stand,
Molded of moonlight, faint of form and face,{405}
Now reaching high a chilly hand
To pluck some walnut from its spicy place:
Now with fine fingers, phantom-cold,
Splitting the wahoo’s pods of rose, and thin
The bittersweet’s globes of gold,
To show the coal-red berries packed within:
Now on frail threads of gossamer
Stringing slim pearls of moisture; necklacing
The flow’rs; and spreading cobweb fur,
Crystalled with stardew, over everything;
While ’neath the moon, with moon-white feet,
They wander and a moon-chill music draw
From thin leaf-cricket flutes—the sweet,
Dim dirge of Autumn dying in the shaw.
{406}

IN THE LANE
When the hornet hangs in the hollyhock,
And the brown bee drones i’ the rose,
And the west is a red-streaked four-o’-clock,
And summer is near its close—
It’s—Oh, for the gate and the locust lane
And dusk and dew and home again!
When the katydid sings and the cricket cries,
And ghosts of the mists ascend,
And the evening-star is a lamp i’ the skies,
And summer is near its end—
It’s—Oh, for the fence and the leafy lane,
And the twilight peace and the tryst again!
When the owlet hoots in the dogwood-tree,
That leans to the rippling Run,
And the wind is a wildwood melody,
And summer is almost done—
It’s—Oh, for the bridge and the bramble lane,
And the fragrant hush and her hands again!{407}
When fields smell moist with the dewy hay,
And woods are cool and wan,
And a path for dreams is the Milky-way,
And summer is nearly gone—
It’s—Oh, for the rock and the woodland lane,
And the silence and stars and her lips again!
When the weight of the apples breaks down the limbs,
And musk-melons split with sweet,
And the moon’s broad boat in the heaven swims,
And summer has spent its heat—
It’s—Oh, for the lane, the trysting lane,
And the deep-mooned night and her love again!
{408}

EPIPHANY
There is nothing that eases my heart so much
As the wind that blows from the great green hills;
’Tis a hand of balsam whose healing touch
Unburdens my bosom of ills.
There is nothing that maketh my soul to rejoice
Like the sunset flaming without a flaw:
’Tis a burning bush whence God’s own voice
Addresses my spirit with awe.
There is nothing that hallows my mind, meseems,
Like the night with its moon and its starry slope:
’Tis a mystical lily whose golden gleams
Fulfill my being with hope.
There is nothing, no, nothing, we see and feel,
That speaks to our souls some beautiful thought,
That was not created to help us and heal
Our lives that are overwrought.
{409}

LIFE
I

Pessimist
There is never a thing we dream or do
But was dreamed and done in the ages gone;
Everything’s old; there is nothing that’s new,
And so it will be while the world goes on.
The thoughts we think have been thought before;
The deeds we do have long been done;
We pride ourselves on our love and lore
And both are as old as the moon and sun.
We strive and struggle and swink and sweat,
And the end for each is one and the same;
Time and the sun and the frost and wet
Will wear from its pillar the greatest name.
No answer comes for our prayer or curse,
No word replies though we shriek in air;{410}
Ever the taciturn universe
Stretches unchanged for our curse or prayer.
With our mind’s small light in the dark we crawl,—
Glow-worm glimmers that creep about,—
Till the Power that made us, over us all
Poises His foot and treads us out.
Unasked He fashions us out of clay,
A little water, a little dust,
And then in our holes He thrusts us away,
With never a word, to rot and rust.
’Tis a sorry play with a sorry plot,
This life of hate and of lust and pain,
Where we play our parts and are soon forgot,
And all that we do is done in vain.
II

Optimist
There is never a dream but it shall come true,
And never a deed but was wrought by plan;
And life is filled with the strange and new,
And ever has been since the world began.{411}
As mind develops and soul matures
These two shall parent Earth’s mightier acts;
Love is a fact, and ’tis love endures
‘Though the world make wreck of all other facts.
Through thought alone shall our age obtain
Above all ages gone before;
The tribes of sloth, of brawn, not brain,
Are the tribes that perish, are known no more.
Within ourselves is a voice of Awe,
And a hand that points to balanced Scales;
The one is Love, and the other, Law,
And their presence alone it is avails.
For every shadow about our way
There is a glory of moon and sun;
But the hope within us hath more of ray
Than the light of the sun and the moon made one.
Behind all being a purpose lies,
Undeviating as God hath willed;
And he alone it is who dies,
Who leaves that purpose unfulfilled.{412}
Life is an epic the Master sings,
Whose theme is Man, and whose music, Soul,
Where each is a word in the Song of Things,
That shall roll on while the ages roll.
{413}

MEETING IN THE WOODS
Through ferns and moss the path wound to
A hollow where the touch-me-nots
Swung horns of honey filled with dew;
And where—like footprints—violets blue
And bluets made sweet sapphire blots,
’Twas there that she had passed I knew.
The grass, the very wilderness
On either side, breathed rapture of
Her passage: ’twas her hand or dress
That touched some tree—a slight caress—
That made the wood-birds sing above;
Her step that woke the flowers, I guess.
I hurried, till across my way,
Foam-footed, bounding through the wood,
A brook, like some wild child at play,
Went laughing loud its roundelay;
And there upon its bank she stood,
A sunbeam clad in forest gray.{414}
And when she saw me, all her face
Bloomed like a wild-rose by the stream;
And to my breast a moment’s space
I gathered her; and all the place
Seemed conscious of some happy dream
Come true to add to Earth its grace:
Some union, that was Heav’n’s intent—
For which God made the world—the bliss,
The love, that raised her innocent
Young face to mine that, smiling, bent
And sealed her first words with a kiss—
As Love might close his testament.
{415}

ROSE AND RUE
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
Do you remember where
The willows used to screen
The water flowing fair?
The mill-stream’s banks of green
Where first our love begun,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one?
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
Do you remember how
From th’ old bridge we would lean—
The bridge that’s broken now—
To watch the minnows sheen
Through ripples of the Run,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one?
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
Do you remember, too,
The old beech-tree, between
Whose roots the windflowers grew?{416}
Where oft we sat at E’en,
When stars were few or none,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one?
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
The bark is grown around
The names I cut therein,
And the true-love knot that bound;
The love-knot, clear and clean,
I carved when our love begun,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one.
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
The roof of the farm-house gray
Is fallen and mossy green;
Its rafters rot away:
The old path scarce is seen
Where oft our feet would run,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one.
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
Through each old tree and bough
The lone winds cry and keen—
The place is haunted now{417}
With ghosts of what-has-been,
And dreams of love-long-done,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one.
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
There, in your world of wealth,
There, where you move a queen,
Broken in heart and health,
Does there ever rise a scene
Of days, your thought would shun,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one?
Mamie Dean, ah, Mamie Dean,
Here, ’mid the rose and rue,
Would God that your grave were green,
And I were lying, too!
Here on the hill, I mean,
Where oft we laughed in the sun,
When you were seventeen,
And I was twenty-one.
{418}

A MAID WHO DIED OLD
Frail, shrunken face, so pinched and worn,
That life has carved with care and doubt!
So weary waiting, night and morn,
For that which never came about!
Pale lamp, so utterly forlorn,
In which God’s light at last is out.
Gray hair, that lies so thin and prim
On either side the sunken brows!
And soldered eyes, so deep and dim,
No word of man could now arouse!
And hollow hands, so virgin slim,
Forever clasped in silent vows!
Poor breasts! that God designed for love,
For baby lips to kiss and press!
That never felt, yet dreamed thereof,
The human touch, the child caress—
That lie like shriveled blooms above
The heart’s long-perished happiness.{419}
O withered body, Nature gave
For purposes of death and birth,
That never knew, and could but crave
Those things perhaps that make life worth—
Rest now, alas! within the grave,
Sad shell that served no end of Earth.
{420}

COMMUNICANTS
Who knows the things they dream, alas!
Or feel, who lie beneath the ground?
Perhaps the flowers, the leaves and grass
That close them round.
In spring the violets may spell
The moods of them we know not of;
Or lilies sweetly syllable
Their thoughts of love.
Haply, in summer, dew and scent
Of all they feel may be a part;
Each red rose be the testament
Of some rich heart.
The winds of fall be utterance,
Perhaps, of saddest things they say;
Wild leaves may word some dead romance
In some dim way.
In winter all their sleep profound
Through frost may speak to grass and stream,
Stilling them with the silent sound
Of all they dream.
{421}

THE DEAD DAY
The west builds high a sepulchre
Of cloudy granite and of gold,
Where twilight’s priestly hours inter
The day like some great king of old.
A censer, rimmed with silver fire,
The new moon swings above his tomb;
While, organ-stops of God’s own choir,
Star after star throbs in the gloom.
And night draws near, the sadly sweet—
A nun whose face is calm and fair—
And kneeling at the dead day’s feet
Her soul goes up in silent prayer.
In prayer, we feel through dewy gleam
And flowery fragrance, and—above
All Earth—the ecstasy and dream
That haunt the mystic heart of love.
{422}

ALLUREMENT
Across the world she sends me word,
From gardens fair as Falerina’s,
Now by a blossom, now a bird,
To come to her, who long has lured
With magic sweeter than Alcina’s.
I know not what her word may mean,
I know not what may mean the voices
She sends as messengers unseen,
That through the hush around me lean,
And whisper till my heart rejoices.
Soon must I go. I must away.
Must take the path that is appointed.
God grant I reach her realm some day,
Where by her love, as by a ray,
My soul shall be anointed.
{423}

AUGUST
I
Clad on with glowing beauty and the peace,
Benign, of calm maturity, she stands
Among her meadows and her orchard-lands,
And on her mellowing gardens and her trees,
Out of the ripe abundance of her hands
Bestows increase
And fruitfulness, as, wrapped in sunny ease,
Blue-eyed and blonde she goes,
Upon her bosom Summer’s richest rose.
II
And he who follows where her footsteps lead,
By hill and rock, by forest-side and stream,
May glimpse the glory of her visible dream,
In flower and fruit, in rounded nut and seed:
She, in whose path the very shadows gleam;
Whose humblest weed{424}
Seems lovelier than June’s loveliest flower, indeed,
And sweeter to the smell
Than April’s self within a rainy dell.
III
Hers is a sumptuous simplicity
Within the fair Republic of her flowers,
Where you may see her standing hours on hours,
Breast-deep in gold, soft-holding up a bee
To her hushed ear; or sitting under bowers
Of greenery,
A butterfly a-tilt upon her knee;
Or lounging on her hip,
Dancing a cricket on her finger-tip.
IV
Ay, let me breathe hot scents that tell of you:
The hoary catnip and the meadow-mint,
On which the honor of your touch doth print
Itself as odor. Let me drink the hue
Of ironweed and mist-flower here that hint
With purple and blue,
The rapture that your presence doth imbue
Their inmost essence with,
Immortal, though as transient as a myth.
{425}

V
Yea, let me feed on sounds that still assure
Me where you hide: the brooks’, whose happy din
Tells where, the deep, retired woods within,
Disrobed, you bathe; the birds’, whose drowsy lure
Tells where you slumber, your warm, nestling chin
Soft on the pure,
Pink cushion of your palm…. What better cure
For care and memory’s ache
Than to behold you thus, and watch you wake.
{426}

THE BUSH-SPARROW
I
Ere wild-haws, looming in the glooms,
Build bolted drifts of breezy blooms;
And in the whistling hollow there
The red-bud bends, as brown and bare
As buxom Roxy’s up-stripped arm;
From some gray hickory or larch,
Sighed o’er the sodden meads of March,
The sad heart thrills and reddens warm
To hear you braving the rough storm,
Frail courier of green-gathering powers;
Rebelling sap in trees and flowers;
Love’s minister come heralding—
O sweet saint-voice among bleak bowers!
O brown-red pursuivant of Spring!
II
“Moan,” sob the woodland waters still
Down bloomless ledges of the hill;
And gray, gaunt clouds like harpies hang{427}
In harpy heavens, and swoop and clang
Sharp beaks and talons of the wind:
Black scowl the forests, and unkind
The far fields as the near: while song
Seems murdered and all beauty wrong.
One weak frog only in the thaw
Of spawny pools wakes cold and raw,
Expires a melancholy bass
And stops as if bewildered: then
Along the frowning wood again,
Flung in the thin wind’s vulture face,
From woolly tassels of the proud,
Red-bannered maples, long and loud,
“The Spring is come! is here! her Grace! her Grace!
III
“Her Grace, the Spring! her Grace! her Grace!
Climbs, beautiful and sunny browed,
Up, up the kindling hills and wakes
Blue berries in the berry brakes:
With fragrant flakes, that blow and bleach,
Deep-powders smothered quince and peach:
Eyes dogwoods with a thousand eyes:
Teaches each sod how to be wise
With twenty wildflowers to one weed,
And kisses germs that they may seed.{428}
In purest purple and sweet white
Treads up the happier hills of light,
Bloom-, cloudy-borne, song in her hair
And balm and beam of odorous air.
Winds, her retainers; and the rains
Her yeomen strong who sweep the plains:
Her scarlet knights of dawn, and gold
Of eve, her panoply unfold:
Her herald tabarded behold!
Awake to greet! prepare to sing!
She comes, the darling Duchess, Spring!”{429}
QUIET
A log-hut in the solitude,
A clapboard roof to rest beneath!
This side, the shadow-haunted wood;
That side, the sunlight-haunted heath.
At daybreak Morn will come to me
In raiment of the white winds spun;
Slim in her rosy hand the key
That opes the gateway of the sun.
Her smile will help my heart enough
With love to labor all the day,
And cheer the road, whose rocks are rough,
With her smooth footprints, each a ray.
At dusk a voice will call afar,
A lone voice like the whippoorwill’s;
And, on her shimmering brow one star,
Night will descend the western hills.
She at my door till dawn will stand,
With gothic eyes, that, dark and deep,
Are mirrors of a mystic land,
Fantastic with the towns of sleep.
{430}

MUSIC
Thou, oh, thou!
Thou of the chorded shell and golden plectrum, thou
Of the dark eyes and pale pacific brow!
Music, who by the plangent waves,
Or in the echoing night of labyrinthine caves,
Or on God’s mountains, lonely as the stars,
Touchest reverberant bars
Of immemorial sorrow and amaze;—
Keeping regret and memory awake,
And all the immortal ache
Of love that leans upon the past’s sweet days
In retrospection!—now, oh, now,
Interpreter and heart-physician, thou
Who gazest on the heaven and the hell
Of life, and singest each as well,
Touch with thy all-mellifluous finger-tips
Or thy melodious lips,
This sickness named my soul,
Making it whole
As is an echo of a chord,{431}
Or some symphonic word,
Or sweet vibrating sigh,
That deep, resurgent, still doth rise and die
On thy voluminous roll;
Part of the beauty and the mystery
That axles Earth with music; as a slave,
Swinging it round and round on each sonorous pole,
’Mid spheric harmony,
And choral majesty,
And diapasoning of wind and wave;
Speeding it on its far elliptic way
’Mid vasty anthemings of night and day.—
O cosmic cry
Of two eternities, wherein we see
The phantasms, Death and Life,
At endless strife
Above the silence of a monster grave.
{432}

A DREAM SHAPE
With moon-white hearts that held a gleam
I gathered wildflowers in a dream,
And shaped a woman, whose sweet blood
Was odor of the wildwood bud.
From dew, the starlight arrowed through,
I wrought a woman’s eyes of blue;
The lids that on her eyeballs lay
Were rose-pale petals of the May.
Out of a rosebud’s veins I drew
The fragrant crimson beating through
The languid lips of her, whose kiss
Was as a poppy’s drowsiness.
Out of the moonlight and the air
I wrought the glory of her hair,
That o’er her eyes’ blue heaven lay
Like some gold cloud o’er dawn of day.
{433}

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My spirit saw her pass Page 432
A Dream Shape
I took the music of the breeze
And water, whispering in the trees,
And shaped the soul that breathed below
A woman’s blossom breasts of snow.
A shadow’s shadow in the glass
Of sleep, my spirit saw her pass:
And thinking of it now, meseems
We only live within our dreams.
For in that time she was to me
More real than our reality;
More real than Earth, more real than I—
The unreal things that pass and die.
{434}

THE OLD BARN
Low, swallow-swept and gray,
Between the orchard and the spring,
All its wide windows overflowing hay,
And crannied doors a-swing,
The old barn stands to-day.
Deep in its hay the Leghorn hides
A round white nest; and, humming soft
On roof and rafter, or its log-rude sides,
Black in the sun-shot loft,
The building hornet glides.
Along its corn-crib, cautiously
As thieving fingers, skulks the rat;
Or in warped stalls of fragrant timothy,
Gnaws at some loosened slat,
Or passes shadowy.
A dream of drouth made audible
Before its door, hot, harsh, and shrill{435}
All day the locust sings…. What other spell
Shall hold it, lazier still
Than the long day’s, now tell:—
Dusk and the cricket and the strain
Of tree-toad and of frog; and stars
That burn above the rich west’s ribbéd stain;
And dropping pasture bars,
And cowbells up the lane.
Night and the moon and katydid,
And leaf-lisp of the wind-touched boughs;
And mazy shadows that the fireflies thrid;
And sweet breath of the cows,
And the lone owl here hid.
{436}

THE WOOD WITCH
There is a woodland witch who lies
With bloom-bright limbs and beam-bright eyes,
Among the water-flags that rank
The slow brook’s heron-haunted bank.
The dragonflies, in brass and blue,
Are signs she works her sorcery through;
Weird, wizard characters she weaves
Her spells with under forest leaves,—
These wait her word, like imps, upon
The gray flag-pods; their wings, of lawn
And gauze; their bodies, gleaming green.
While o’er the wet sand,—left between
The running water and the still,—
In pansy hues and daffodil,
The fancies that she doth devise
Assume the forms of butterflies,
Rich-colored.—And ’tis she you hear,
Whose sleepy rune, hummed in the ear
Of silence, bees and beetles purr,
And the dry-droning locusts whirr;
Till, where the wood is very lone,{437}
Vague monotone meets monotone,
And Slumber is begot and born,
A faery child beneath the thorn.
There is no mortal who may scorn
The witchery she spreads around
Her dim demesne, wherein is bound
The beauty of abandoned time,
As some sweet thought ’twixt rhyme and rhyme.
And through her spells you shall behold
The blue turn gray, the gray turn gold
Of hollow heaven; and the brown
Of twilight vistas twinkled down
With fireflies; and in the gloom
Feel the cool vowels of perfume
Slow-syllabled of weed and bloom.
But, in the night, at languid rest,—
When like a spirit’s naked breast
The moon slips from a silver mist,—
With star-bound brow, and star-wreathed wrist,
If you should see her rise and wave
You welcome—ah! what thing could save
You then? forevermore her slave!
{438}

MAY
The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed,
That spangle the woods and dance—
No gleam of gold that the twilights hold
Is strong as their necromance:
For, under the oaks where the woodpaths lead,
The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed
Are the May’s own utterance.
The azure stars of the bluet bloom,
That sprinkle the woodland’s trance—
No blink of blue that a cloud lets through
Is sweet as their countenance:
For, over the knolls that the woods perfume,
The azure stars of the bluet bloom
Are the light of the May’s own glance.
With her wondering words and her looks she comes,
In a sunbeam of a gown;
She needs but think and the blossoms wink,
But look, and they shower down.
By orchard ways, where the wild bee hums,
With her wondering words and her looks she comes
Like a little maid to town.
{439}

RAIN
I
Around, the stillness deepened; then the grain
Went wild with wind; and every briery lane
Was swept with dust; and then, tempestuous black,
Hillward the tempest heaved a monster back,
That on the thunder leaned as on a cane;
And on huge shoulders bore a cloudy pack,
That gullied gold from many a lightning crack:
One great drop splashed and wrinkled down the pane,
And then field, hill, and wood were lost in rain.
II
At last, through clouds,—as from a cavern hewn
Into night’s heart,—the sun burst, angry roon;
And every cedar, with its weight of wet,
Against the sunset’s fiery splendor set,
Startled to beauty, seemed with rubies strewn:
Then in drenched gardens, like sweet phantoms met,
Dim odors rose of pink and mignonette;
And in the east a confidence, that soon
Grew to the calm assurance of the moon.
{440}

FALL
Sad-hearted Spirit of the solitudes,
Who comest through the ruin-wedded woods!
Gray-gowned in fog, gold-girdled with the gloom
Of tawny sunsets; burdened with perfume
Of rain-wet uplands, chilly with the mist;
And all the beauty of the fire-kissed
Cold forests crimsoning thy indolent way,
Odorous of death and drowsy with decay.
I think of thee as seated ’mid the showers
Of languid leaves that cover up the flowers,—
The little flower-sisterhoods, whom June
Once gave wild sweetness to, as to a tune
A singer gives her soul’s wild melody,—
Watching the squirrel store his granary.
Or, ’mid old orchards, I have pictured thee:
Thy hair’s profusion blown about thy back;
One lovely shoulder bathed with gypsy black;
Upon thy palm one nestling cheek, and sweet
The rosy russets tumbled at thy feet.
Was it a voice lamenting for the flowers?
Or heart-sick bird that sang of happier hours?
A cricket dirging days that soon must die?
Or did the ghost of Summer wander by?
{441}

SUNSET IN AUTUMN
Blood-colored oaks, that stand against a sky of gold and brass;
Gaunt slopes, on which the bleak leaves glow of brier and sassafras,
And broom-sedge strips of smoky pink and pearl-gray clumps of grass
In which, beneath the ragged sky, the rain pools gleam like glass.
From west to east, from wood to wood, along the forest-side,
The winds,—the sowers of the Lord,—with thunderous footsteps stride;
Their stormy hands rain acorns down; and mad leaves, wildly dyed,
Like tatters of their rushing cloaks, stream round them far and wide.
The frail leaf-cricket in the weeds sounds its far fairy-bell;
And like a torch of phantom ray the milkweed’s windy shell{442}
Glimmers; while, wrapped in withered dreams, the wet, autumnal smell
Of loam and leaf, like Fall’s own ghost, steals over field and dell.
The oaks, against a copper sky—o’er which, like some black lake
Of Dis, bronze clouds, (like surges fringed with sullen fire) break—
Loom sombre as Doom’s citadel above the vales that make
A pathway to a land of mist the moon’s pale feet shall take.
Now, dyed with burning carbuncle, a limbo-litten pane,
Red in wild walls of storm, the west opens to hill and plain,
On which the wild-geese ink themselves, a far triangled train;
And then the shuttering clouds close down—and night it comes again.
{443}

CONTENT
When I behold how some pursue
Fame that is Care’s embodiment,
Or fortune, whose false face looks true,—
An humble home with sweet content
Is all I ask for me and you.
An humble home, where pigeons coo,
Whose path leads under breezy lines
Of frosty-berried cedars to
A gate, one mass of trumpet-vines,
Is all I ask for me and you.
A garden, which, all summer through,
The roses old make redolent,
And morning-glories, gay of hue,
And tansy with its homely scent,
Is all I ask for me and you.
An orchard, that the pippins strew,
From whose bruised gold the juices spring;
A vineyard, where the grapes hang blue,{444}
Wine-big and ripe for vintaging,
Is all I ask for me and you.
A lane, that leads to some far view
Of forest or of fallow-land,
Bloomed o’er of rose and meadow-rue,
Each with a bee in its hot hand,
Is all I ask for me and you.
At morn, a pathway deep with dew,
And birds that vary time and tune;
At eve, a sunset avenue,
And whippoorwills that haunt the moon,
Is all I ask for me and you.
Dear heart, with wants so small and few,
And faith, that’s better far than gold,
A lowly friend; a child or two,
To care for us when we are old,
Is all I ask for me and you.
{445}

OCTOBER
Long hosts of sunlight, and the bright wind blows
A tourney-trumpet on the listed hill;
Past is the splendor of the royal rose
And duchess daffodil.
Crowned queen of beauty, in the garden’s space,
Strong daughter of a bitter race and bold,
A ragged beggar with a lovely face,
Reigns the sad marigold.
And I, who sought June’s butterfly for days,
Now find it—like a coreopsis bloom—
Amber and seal, rain-murdered ’neath the blaze
Of this sunflower’s plume.
Here drones the bee; and there, sky-voyaging wings
Dare the blue gulfs of heaven: the last song
The red-bird flings me as adieu, still rings
Upon that pear-tree’s prong.{446}
No angry sunset brims with rubier red
The bowl of heaven than the days, indeed,
Pour in the blossoms of this salvia-bed
Where each leaf seems to bleed.
And where the wood-gnats dance, a little mist,
Above the efforts of the weedy stream,
The girl, October, tired of the tryst,
Dreams a diviner dream.
One foot just dipping the caressing wave,
One knee at languid angle; locks that drown
Hands nut-stained; hazel-eyed, she lies, and grave,
Watching the leaves drift down.
{447}

DISCOVERY
What is it now that I shall seek
Where woods dip downward, in the hills?—
A mossy nook, a ferny creek,
And May among the daffodils.
Or in the valley’s vistaed glow,
Past rocks of terraced trumpet-vines,
Shall I behold her coming slow,
Sweet May, among the columbines?
With red-bud cheeks and bluet eyes,
Big eyes, the homes of happiness,
To meet me with the old surprise,
Her hoiden hair all bonnetless.
Who waits for me, where, note for note,
The birds make glad the forest trees?
A dogwood blossom at her throat,
My May among th’ anemones.
As sweetheart breezes kiss the blooms,
And dewdrops drink the moon’s bright beams,
My soul shall kiss her lips’ perfumes,
And drain the magic of her dreams.
{448}

THE OLD SPRING
I
Under rocks whereon the rose
Like a strip of morning glows;
Where the azure-throated newt
Drowses on the twisted root;
And the brown bees, humming homeward,
Stop to suck the honeydew;
Fern and leaf-hid gleaming gloamward,
Drips the wildwood spring I knew,
Drips the spring my boyhood knew.
II
Myrrh and music everywhere
Haunt its cascades—like the hair
That a Naiad tosses cool,
Swimming strangely beautiful,
With white fragrance for her bosom,
And her mouth a breath of song:—
Under leaf and branch and blossom
Flows the woodland spring along,
Sparkling, singing flows along.
{449}

III
Still the wet wan mornings touch
Its gray rocks, perhaps; and such
Slender stars as dusk may have
Pierce the rose that roofs its wave;
Still the thrush may call at noontide
And the whippoorwill at night;
Nevermore, by sun or moontide,
Shall I see it gliding white,
Falling, flowing, wild and white.
{450}

THE FOREST SPRING
Push back the brambles, berry-blue;
The hollowed spring is full in view:
Deep-tangled with luxuriant fern
Ripples its rock-embedded urn.
Not for the loneliness that keeps
The coigne wherein its crystal sleeps;
Not for wild butterflies that sway
Their pansy pinions all the day
Above its mirror; nor the bee,
Nor dragon-fly, that, passing, see
Themselves reflected in its spar;
Not for the one white liquid star
That twinkles in its firmament;
Nor moon-shot clouds, so slowly sent
Athwart it when the kindly night
Beads its long grasses with the light
Small jewels of the dimpled dew:
Not for the day’s inverted blue,
Nor the quaint, dimly colored stones
That dance within it where it moans;{451}
Not for all these I love to sit
In silence and to gaze in it.
But, lo! a nymph with merry eyes
Greets mine within its laughing skies;
A glimmering, shimmering nymph who plays
All the long fragrant summer days
With instant sights of bees and birds,
And talks with them in water-words;
And for whose nakedness the air
Weaves moony mists; and on whose hair,
Unfilleted, the night will set
That lone star as a coronet.
{452}

THE HILLS
There is no joy of earth that thrills
My bosom like the far-off hills!
Th’ unchanging hills, that, shadowy,
Beckon our mutability
To follow and to gaze upon
Foundations of the dusk and dawn.
Meseems the very heavens are massed
Upon their shoulders, vague and vast
With all the skyey burden of
The winds and clouds and stars above.
Lo, how they sit before us, seeing
The laws that give all Beauty being!
Behold! to them, when dawn draws near,
The nomads of the air appear,
Unfolding crimson camps of day
In brilliant bands; then march away;
And under burning battlements
Of evening plant their tinted tents.
The truth of olden myths, that brood
By haunted stream and haunted wood,
They see; and feel the happiness{453}
Of old at which we only guess:
The dreams, the ancients loved and knew,
Still as their rocks and trees are true:
Not otherwise than presences
The tempest and the calm to these:
One, shouting on them all the night,
Black-limbed and veined with lambent light:
The other, with the ministry
Of all soft things that company
With music—whose embodied form
Fills all the solitude with charm
Of leaves and waters and the peace
Of bird-begotten melodies—
And who at night doth still confer
With the mild moon, that telleth her
Pale tale of lonely love, until
Wan shadows of her passion fill
The heights with shapes that glimmer by
Clad on with sleep and memory.
{454}

THE SONG OF THE THRUSH
Overhead, overhead a wood thrush flutes,
And it seems to me
All the sweet words in the world,
Married to melody, could not express
What its few, wild notes,
Inspired, and simple, and free, express,
Say to me
Of expectation and woodland mystery,
Dreams, and wonder-visions never appearing,
Remote and unattainably beautiful—
O indescribable song!
Song of the wild brown thrush!
O June! O love! O youth!
Of you, of you it speaks to me!
Of the lost, the irremediable,
The indescribably fair and far and yet to be found;
The mysteriously hidden, too:
The lure of the undiscoverable calling, calling,
Bidding me on and on,
In the voice of all my longings,
Down the dim, the deep, the cadenced aisles of the forest.
{455}

TRANSMUTATION
To me all beauty that I see
Is melody made visible:
An earth-translated state, may be,
Of music heard in Heaven or Hell.
Out of some love-impassioned strain
Of saints, the rose evolved its bloom;
And, dreaming of it here again,
Perhaps relives it as perfume.
Out of some chant, that demons sing
Of hate and pain, the sunset grew;
And, haply, still remembering,
Relives it here as some wild hue.
{456}

FROST
Magician he, who, autumn nights,
Down from the starry darkness whirls;
Heav’n’s harlequin, whose spangled tights
And wand are powdered thick with pearls.
Through him each pane presents a scene,
A Lilliputian landscape, where
The world is white instead of green,
And trees and houses hang in air.
Where Elfins gambol and delight,
And bow the jewelled bells of flowers;
Where upside-down we see the night
With many moons and meteor showers.
And surely in his wand and hand
Lies Midas magic, for, behold,
Some morn we wake and find the land,
Both field and forest, turned to gold.
{457}

ADVENTURERS
Seemingly over the hilltops,
Possibly under the hills,
A tireless wing that never drops,
And a song that never stills.
Epics heard on the stars’ lips?
Lyrics read in the dew?—
To sing the song at our finger-tips,
And live the world anew!
Cavaliers of the Cortés kind,
Bold and free and strong,—
And, oh, for a fine and muscular mind
To sing a New-World’s song!
Sailing seas of the silver morn,
Blown of its balm and spice,
To put the Old-World art to scorn
At the price of any price!
Danger, death, but the hope high!
God’s, though the purpose fail!—
Into the deeds of a vaster sky
Sailing a dauntless sail.
{458}

INVOCATION
I
O Life! O Death; O God!
Have we not striven?
Have we not known Thee, God,
As Thy stars know Heaven?
Have we not held Thee true,
True as Thy deepest,
Sweet and immaculate blue
Heaven whence rains Thy dew!
Have we not known Thee true,
O God who keepest!
II
O God, our Father, God!—
Who gav’st us fire,
To rise above the sod,
To soar, aspire—
What though we strive and strive,
And all our soul says “live”?
Will not the scorn of men,{459}
Like some wild bird, again
Falcon it down with sneers,
As often in past years?
And, O sun-centered high,
Thou, too, who ’rt Poet,
Beneath Thy seeing sky
Each day new Keatses die,
Crying, “Why should we try!
That which we seek ’s a lie!”—
Why is this so?—O why?—
Thou who dost know it!
III
We know Thee beautiful,
We know Thee bitter!
Help Thou!—Men’s eyes are dull,
O God most beautiful!
Make Thou their souls less full
Of things mere glitter.
Dost Thou not see our tears?
Dost Thou not hear the years
Treading our hearts to shards,
O Lord of all the Lords?—
Give heed, O God of Hosts,
There ’mid Thy glorious ghosts,
Most high and holy!{460}
Have mercy on our tears!
Have mercy on our years!
Our strivings and our fears,
O Lord of lordly peers,
On us, so lowly!
IV
On us, so fondly fain
To tell what mother-pain
Of Nature haunts the rain.
On us, so glad to show
What sorrow wings the snow,
And her wild winds that blow.
Us, who interpret right
Her mystic rose of light,
Her moony rune of night.
Us, who have utterance for
Each warm, flame-hearted star
That stammers from afar.
Who hear the tears and sighs
Of every bud that dies
While heav’n’s dew on it lies.{461}
Who see the power that dowers
The wildwood bosks and bowers
With musk and sap of flowers.
Who see what no man sees
In water, earth and breeze,
And in the hearts of trees.
Turn not away Thy light,
O God!—Our strength is slight!
Help us who breast the height!
Have mercy, Infinite!
Have mercy!
{462}

THE DEATH OF LOVE
So Love is dead, the Love we knew of old!
And in the sorrow of our heart’s hushed halls
A lute lies broken and a rose-flower falls;
Love’s house stands empty and his hearth lies cold.
Lone in dim places, where sweet vows were told,
In walks grown desolate, by ruined walls
Beauty decays; and on their pedestals
Dreams crumble, and th’ immortal gods are mold.
Music is slain or sleeps; one voice alone,
One voice awakes, and like a wandering ghost
Haunts all the echoing chambers of the Past—
The voice of Memory, that stills to stone
The soul that hears; the mind, that, utterly lost,
Before its beautiful presence stands aghast.
{463}

UNANSWERED
How long ago it is since we went Maying!
Since she and I went Maying long ago!
The years have left my forehead lined, I know,
Have thinned my hair around the temples graying.
Ah, time will change us: yea, I hear it saying—
“She, too, grows old: the face of rose and snow
Has lost its freshness: in the hair’s brown glow
Some strands of silver sadly, too, are straying.
The form you knew, whose beauty so enspelled,
Has lost the litheness of its loveliness:
And all the gladness that her blue eyes held
Tears and the world have hardened with distress.”—
“True! true!” I answer, “O ye years that part!
These things are changed—but is her heart, her heart?”{464}
LOVE, THE INTERPRETER
Thou art the music that I hear in sleep,
The poetry that lures me on in dreams;
The magic, thou, that holds my thought with themes
Of young romance in revery’s mystic keep.—
The lily’s aura, and the damask deep
That clothes the rose; the whispering soul that seems
To haunt the wind; the rainbow light that streams,
Like some wild spirit, ’thwart the cataract’s leap—
Are glimmerings of thee and thy loveliness,
Pervading all my world; interpreting
The marvel and the wonder these disclose:
For, lacking thee, to me were meaningless
Life, love, and hope, the joy of everything,
And all the beauty that the wide world knows.
{465}

LOVE DESPISED
Why not resolve and hunt it from one’s heart?
This love, this god and fiend, that makes a hell
Of all one’s life, in ways no tongue can tell,
No mind divine, nor any word impart.
Would not one think the slights that make hearts smart,
The ice of love’s disdain, the wintry well
Of love’s disfavor, otherwise would quell?
Or school one’s nature, too, to its own art?
Why will men cringe and cry forever here
For that which, once obtained, may prove a curse?
Why not remember that, however fair,
Decay is wed to Beauty? that each year
Robs somewhat from the riches of her purse,
Until at last her house of pride stands bare?
{466}

PEARLS
Baroque, but beautiful, between the lunes,
The valves of nacre of a mussel-shell,
Behold, a pearl! shaped like the burnished bell
Of some strange blossom that long afternoons
Of summer coax to open: all the moon’s
Chaste lustre in it; hues that only dwell
With purity…. It takes me, like a spell,
Back to a day when, whistling truant tunes,
A barefoot boy I waded ’mid the rocks,
Searching for shells strewn in the creek’s slow swirl,
Unconscious of the pearls that round me lay:
While, ’mid wild-roses,—all her tomboy locks
Blond-blowing,—stood, unnoticed then, a girl,
My sweetheart once, the pearl I flung away.
{467}

THE WOMAN SPEAKS
Why have you come?—To see me in my shame?
A thing to spit upon, despise and scorn?—
You, you who ask me! You, by whom was torn,
Then cast aside, like some vile rag, my name!
What shelter could you give me, now, that blame
And loathing would not share? that wolves of vice
Would not besiege with eyes of glaring ice?
Wherein Sin sat not with her face of flame?
“You love me”?—God!—If yours be love, for lust
Hell must invent another synonym!
If yours be love, then whoredom is the way
To Heaven and God! and not with soul but dust
Must burn the faces of the Cherubim,—
O beast of beasts, if yours be love, I say!
{468}

OF THE SLUMS
Red-faced as old carousal, and with eyes
A hard, hot blue; her hair a frowsy flame,
Bold, dowdy bosomed, from her window-frame
She leans, her mouth all insult and all lies.
Or slattern-slippered and in sluttish gown,
With ribald mirth and words too vile to name,
A new Doll Tearsheet, glorying in her shame,
Armed with her Falstaff now she takes the town.
The flaring lights of alley-way saloons,
The reek of hideous gutters and black oaths
Of drunkenness from vice-infested dens,
Are to her senses what the silvery moon’s
Chaste splendor is, and what the blossoming growths
Of Earth and bird-song are to Innocence.
{469}

LIGHT AND WIND
Where, through the myriad leaves of many trees,
The daylight falls, beryl and chrysoprase,
The glamour and the glimmer of its rays
Seem visible music, tangible melodies:
Light that is music; music that one sees—
Wagnerian music—where forever sways
The spirit of romance, and gods and fays
Take form, clad on with dreams and mysteries.
And now the wind’s transmuting necromance
Touches the light and makes it fall and rise,
Vocal, a harp of multitudinous waves
That speaks as ocean speaks—an utterance
Of far-off whispers, mermaid-murmuring sighs—
Pelagian, vast, deep down in coral caves.
{470}

THE WINDS
Those hewers of the clouds, the Winds,—that lair
At the four compass-points,—are out to-night;
I hear their sandals trample on the height,
I hear their voices trumpet through the air:
Builders of Storm, God’s workmen, now they bear,
Up the steep stair of sky, on backs of might,
Huge tempest bulks, while,—sweat that blinds their sight,—
The rain is shaken from tumultuous hair:
Now, sweepers of the firmament, they broom,
Like gathered dust, the rolling mists along
Heaven’s floors of sapphire; all the beautiful blue
Of skyey corridor and aëry room
Preparing, with large laughter and loud song,
For the white moon and stars to wander through.
{471}

TOUCHES
In heavens of rivered blue, that sunset dyes
With glaucous flame, deep in the west the day
Stands Midas-like; or, wading on his way,
Touches with splendor all the twilight skies.
Each cloud that, like a stepping-stone, he tries
With rosy foot, transforms its sober gray
To blazing gold; while, ray on crystal ray,
Within his wake the stars like bubbles rise.
So should the artist in his work accord
All things with beauty, and communicate
His soul’s high magic and divinity
To all he does; and, hoping no reward,
Toil onward, making darkness aureate
With light of worlds that be and are to be.
{472}

EARTH AND MOON
I saw the day like some great monarch die,
Gold-couched, behind the clouds’ rich tapestries.
Then, purple-sandaled, clothed in silences
Of sleep, through halls of skyey lazuli,
The twilight, like a mourning queen, trailed by,
Dim-paged of dreams and shadowy mysteries;
And now the night, the star-robed child of these,
In meditative loveliness draws nigh.
Earth,—like to Romeo,—deep in dew and scent,
Beneath Heaven’s window, watching till a light,
Like some white blossom, in its square be set,—
Lifts a faint face unto the firmament,
That, with the moon, grows gradually bright,
Bidding him climb and clasp his Juliet.
{473}

DUSK
Corn-colored clouds upon a sky of gold,
And ’mid their sheaves,—where, like a daisy-bloom
Left by the reapers to the gathering gloom,
The star of twilight flames,—as Ruth, ’tis told,
Dreamed homesick ’mid the harvest fields of old,
The Dusk goes gleaning color and perfume
From Bible slopes of heaven, that illume
Her pensive beauty deep in shadows stoled.
Hushed is the forest; and blue vale and hill
Are still, save for the brooklet, sleepily
Stumbling the stone with one foam-fluttering foot:
Save for the note of one far whippoorwill,
And in my heart her name,—like some sweet bee
Within a rose,—blowing a fairy flute.
{474}

SEPTEMBER
The bubbled blue of morning-glory spires,
Balloon-blown foam of moonflowers, and sweet snows
Of clematis, through which September goes,
Song-hearted, rich in realized desires,
Are flanked with hotter hues: with tawny fires
Of acrid marigolds,—that light long rows
Of lamps,—and salvias, red as day’s red close,—
That torches seem,—by which the Month attires
Barbaric beauty; like some Asian queen,
Towering imperial in her two-fold crown
Of harvest and of vintage; all her form
Gold and majestic purple: in her mien
The might of motherhood; her baby brown,
Abundance, high on one exultant arm.
{475}

THE END OF SUMMER
Pods are the poppies, and slim spires of pods
The hollyhocks; the balsam’s pearly bredes
Of rose-stained snow are little sacs of seeds
Collapsing at a touch; the lote, that sods
The pond with green, has changed its flowers to rods
And discs of vesicles; and all the weeds,
Around the sleepy water and its reeds,
Are one white smoke of seeded silk that nods.
Summer is dead, ay me! sweet Summer’s dead!
The sunset clouds have built her funeral pyre,
Through which, e’en now, runs subterranean fire:
While from the East, as from a garden-bed,
Mist-vined, the Dusk lifts her broad moon—like some
Great golden melon—saying, “Fall has come.”{476}
THE PASSING GLORY
Slow sinks the sun,—a great carbuncle ball
Red in the cavern of a sombre cloud,—
And in her garden, where the dense weeds crowd,
Among her dying asters stands the Fall,
Like some lone woman in a ruined hall,
Dreaming of desolation and the shroud;
Or through decaying woodlands goes, down-bowed,
Hugging the tatters of her gipsy shawl.
The gaunt wind rises, like an angry hand,
And sweeps the sprawling spider from its web,
Smites frantic music in the twilight’s ear;
And all around, like melancholy sand,
Rains dead leaves down—wild leaves, that mark the ebb,
In Earth’s dark hour-glass, of another year.
{477}

PROTOTYPES
Whether it be that we in letters trace
The pure exactness of a woodbird’s strain,
And name it song; or with the brush attain
The high perfection of a wildflower’s face;
Or mold in difficult marble all the grace
We know as man; or from the wind and rain
Catch elemental rapture of refrain
And mark in music to due time and place:
The aim of art is Nature; to unfold
Her truth and beauty to the souls of men
In close suggestions; in whose forms is cast
Nothing so new but ’tis long eons old;
Nothing so old but ’tis as young as when
The mind conceived it in the ages past.
{478}

SUPERSTITION
In the waste places, in the sinister night,
When the wood whispers like a wandering mind,
And silence sits and listens to the wind,
Or, ’mid the rocks, to some wild torrent’s flight;
Bat-browed thou wadest with thy wisp of light
Among black pools the moon can never find;
Or, owlet-eyed, thou hootest to the blind
Deep darkness from some cave or haunted height.
He who beholds but once thy fearsome face,
Never again shall walk alone! but wan
And terrible attendants shall be his—
Unutterable things that have no place
In God or Beauty—that compel him on,
Against all hope, where endless horror is.
{479}

A. D. NINETEEN HUNDRED
War and Disaster, Famine and Pestilence,
Vaunt-couriers of the Century that comes,
Behold them shaking their tremendous plumes
Above the world! Lo, all the air grows dense
With rumors of destruction and a sense,
Cadaverous, of corpses and of tombs
Predestined; while,—like monsters in the glooms,—
Bristling with battle, shadowy and immense,
The Nations rise in dread apocalypse.—
Where now the boast Earth makes of civilization?
Its brag of Christianity?—In vain
We seek to see them in the wild eclipse
Of hell and horror and the devastation
Of Death triumphant on his hills of slain.
{480}

UNCALLED
As one, who, journeying westward with the sun,
Beholds at length from the up-towering hills,
Far-off, a land unspeakable beauty fills,
Circeän peaks and vales of Avalon:
And, sinking weary, watches, one by one,
The big seas beat between; and knows it skills
No more to try; that now, as Heaven wills,
This is the helpless end, that all is done:
So ’tis with him, whom long a vision led
In quest of Beauty—and who finds at last,
She lies beyond his effort; all the waves
Of all the world between them: while the dead,
The myriad dead, who populate the Past
With failure, hail him from forgotten graves.
{481}

QUATRAINS
I

Moths and Fireflies
Since Fancy taught me in her school of spells
I know her tricks: These are not moths at all,
Nor fireflies; but masking Elfland belles
Whose link-boys torch them to Titania’s ball.
II

Autumn Wildflowers
Like colored lanterns swung in Elfin towers,
Wild morning-glories light the tangled ways,
And, like the rosy rockets of the Fays,
Burns the sloped crimson of the cardinal-flowers.
III

The Wind in the Pines
When winds go organing through the pines
On hill and headland, darkly gleaming,{482}
Meseems I hear sonorous lines
Of Iliads that the woods are dreaming.
IV

Opportunity
Behold a hag whom Life denies a kiss
As he rides questward in knighterrant-wise;
Only when he hath passed her is it his
To know, too late, the Fairy in disguise.
V

Dreams
They mock the present and they haunt the past,
And in the future there is naught agleam
With hope, the soul desires, that at last
The heart, pursuing, does not find a dream.
{483}

AFTERWORD
What vague traditions do the golden eves,
What legends do the dawns
Inscribe in fire on Heaven’s azure leaves,
The red sun colophons?
What ancient stories do the waters verse?
What tales of war and love
Do winds within the Earth’s vast house rehearse,
God’s stars stand guard above?
Would I could know them as they are expressed
In hue and melody!
And say, in words, the beauties they suggest,
Language their mystery!
And in one song magnificently rise,
The music of the spheres,
That more than marble should immortalize
My name in after years.