Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Poems of Sidney Lanier.

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"I would thou left'st me free, to live with love,
And faith, that through the love of love doth find
My Lord's dear presence in the stars above,
The clods below, the flesh without, the mind
Within, the bread, the tear, the smile.
Opinion, damned Intriguer, gray with guile,
Let me alone."

Baltimore, 1878-9.

II. The Ship of Earth.

"Thou Ship of Earth, with Death, and Birth, and Life, and Sex aboard,
And fires of Desires burning hotly in the hold,
I fear thee, O! I fear thee, for I hear the tongue and sword
At battle on the deck, and the wild mutineers are bold!

"The dewdrop morn may fall from off the petal of the sky,
But all the deck is wet with blood and stains the crystal red.
A pilot, GOD, a pilot! for the helm is left awry,
And the best sailors in the ship lie there among the dead!"

Prattville, Alabama, 1868.

III. How Love Looked for Hell.

"To heal his heart of long-time pain
One day Prince Love for to travel was fain
With Ministers Mind and Sense.
`Now what to thee most strange may be?'
Quoth Mind and Sense. `All things above,
One curious thing I first would see --
Hell,' quoth Love.

"Then Mind rode in and Sense rode out:
They searched the ways of man about.
First frightfully groaneth Sense.
`'Tis here, 'tis here,' and spurreth in fear
To the top of the hill that hangeth above
And plucketh the Prince: `Come, come, 'tis here --'
`Where?' quoth Love --

"`Not far, not far,' said shivering Sense
As they rode on. `A short way hence,
-- But seventy paces hence:
Look, King, dost see where suddenly
This road doth dip from the height above?
Cold blew a mouldy wind by me'
(`Cold?' quoth Love)

"`As I rode down, and the River was black,
And yon-side, lo! an endless wrack
And rabble of souls,' sighed Sense,
`Their eyes upturned and begged and burned
In brimstone lakes, and a Hand above
Beat back the hands that upward yearned --'
`Nay!' quoth Love --

"`Yea, yea, sweet Prince; thyself shalt see,
Wilt thou but down this slope with me;
'Tis palpable,' whispered Sense.
-- At the foot of the hill a living rill
Shone, and the lilies shone white above;
`But now 'twas black, 'twas a river, this rill,'
(`Black?' quoth Love)

"`Ay, black, but lo! the lilies grow,
And yon-side where was woe, was woe,
-- Where the rabble of souls,' cried Sense,
`Did shrivel and turn and beg and burn,
Thrust back in the brimstone from above --
Is banked of violet, rose, and fern:'
`How?' quoth Love:

"`For lakes of pain, yon pleasant plain
Of woods and grass and yellow grain
Doth ravish the soul and sense:
And never a sigh beneath the sky,
And folk that smile and gaze above --'
`But saw'st thou here, with thine own eye,
Hell?' quoth Love.

"`I saw true hell with mine own eye,
True hell, or light hath told a lie,
True, verily,' quoth stout Sense.
Then Love rode round and searched the ground,
The caves below, the hills above;
`But I cannot find where thou hast found
Hell,' quoth Love.

"There, while they stood in a green wood
And marvelled still on Ill and Good,
Came suddenly Minister Mind.
`In the heart of sin doth hell begin:
'Tis not below, 'tis not above,
It lieth within, it lieth within:'
(`Where?' quoth Love)

"`I saw a man sit by a corse;
`Hell's in the murderer's breast: remorse!'
Thus clamored his mind to his mind:
Not fleshly dole is the sinner's goal,
Hell's not below, nor yet above,
'Tis fixed in the ever-damned soul --'
`Fixed?' quoth Love --

"`Fixed: follow me, would'st thou but see:
He weepeth under yon willow tree,
Fast chained to his corse,' quoth Mind.
Full soon they passed, for they rode fast,
Where the piteous willow bent above.
`Now shall I see at last, at last,
Hell,' quoth Love.

"There when they came Mind suffered shame:
`These be the same and not the same,'
A-wondering whispered Mind.
Lo, face by face two spirits pace
Where the blissful willow waves above:
One saith: `Do me a friendly grace --'
(`Grace!' quoth Love)

"`Read me two Dreams that linger long,
Dim as returns of old-time song
That flicker about the mind.
I dreamed (how deep in mortal sleep!)
I struck thee dead, then stood above,
With tears that none but dreamers weep;'
`Dreams,' quoth Love;

"`In dreams, again, I plucked a flower
That clung with pain and stung with power,
Yea, nettled me, body and mind.'
`'Twas the nettle of sin, 'twas medicine;
No need nor seed of it here Above;
In dreams of hate true loves begin.'
`True,' quoth Love.

"`Now strange,' quoth Sense, and `Strange,' quoth Mind,
`We saw it, and yet 'tis hard to find,
-- But we saw it,' quoth Sense and Mind.
Stretched on the ground, beautiful-crowned
Of the piteous willow that wreathed above,
`But I cannot find where ye have found
Hell,' quoth Love."

Baltimore, 1878-9.

IV. Tyranny.

"Spring-germs, spring-germs,
I charge you by your life, go back to death.
This glebe is sick, this wind is foul of breath.
Stay: feed the worms.

"Oh! every clod
Is faint, and falters from the war of growth
And crumbles in a dreary dust of sloth,
Unploughed, untrod.

"What need, what need,
To hide with flowers the curse upon the hills,
Or sanctify the banks of sluggish rills
Where vapors breed?

"And -- if needs must --
Advance, O Summer-heats! upon the land,
And bake the bloody mould to shards and sand
And dust.

"Before your birth,
Burn up, O Roses! with your dainty flame.
Good Violets, sweet Violets, hide shame
Below the earth.

"Ye silent Mills,
Reject the bitter kindness of the moss.
O Farms! protest if any tree emboss
The barren hills.

"Young Trade is dead,
And swart Work sullen sits in the hillside fern
And folds his arms that find no bread to earn,
And bows his head.

"Spring-germs, spring-germs,
Albeit the towns have left you place to play,
I charge you, sport not. Winter owns to-day,
Stay: feed the worms."

Prattville, Alabama, 1868.

V. Life and Song.

"If life were caught by a clarionet,
And a wild heart, throbbing in the reed,
Should thrill its joy and trill its fret,
And utter its heart in every deed,

"Then would this breathing clarionet
Type what the poet fain would be;
For none o' the singers ever yet
Has wholly lived his minstrelsy,

"Or clearly sung his true, true thought,
Or utterly bodied forth his life,
Or out of life and song has wrought
The perfect one of man and wife;

"Or lived and sung, that Life and Song
Might each express the other's all,
Careless if life or art were long
Since both were one, to stand or fall:

"So that the wonder struck the crowd,
Who shouted it about the land:
`His song was only living aloud,
His work, a singing with his hand!'"


VI. To Richard Wagner.

"I saw a sky of stars that rolled in grime.
All glory twinkled through some sweat of fight,
From each tall chimney of the roaring time
That shot his fire far up the sooty night
Mixt fuels -- Labor's Right and Labor's Crime --
Sent upward throb on throb of scarlet light
Till huge hot blushes in the heavens blent
With golden hues of Trade's high firmament.

"Fierce burned the furnaces; yet all seemed well,
Hope dreamed rich music in the rattling mills.
`Ye foundries, ye shall cast my church a bell,'
Loud cried the Future from the farthest hills:
`Ye groaning forces, crack me every shell
Of customs, old constraints, and narrow ills;
Thou, lithe Invention, wake and pry and guess,
Till thy deft mind invents me Happiness.'

"And I beheld high scaffoldings of creeds
Crumbling from round Religion's perfect Fane:
And a vast noise of rights, wrongs, powers, needs,
-- Cries of new Faiths that called `This Way is plain,'
-- Grindings of upper against lower greeds --
-- Fond sighs for old things, shouts for new, -- did reign
Below that stream of golden fire that broke,
Mottled with red, above the seas of smoke.

"Hark! Gay fanfares from halls of old Romance
Strike through the clouds of clamor: who be these
That, paired in rich processional, advance
From darkness o'er the murk mad factories
Into yon flaming road, and sink, strange Ministrants!
Sheer down to earth, with many minstrelsies
And motions fine, and mix about the scene
And fill the Time with forms of ancient mien?

"Bright ladies and brave knights of Fatherland;
Sad mariners, no harbor e'er may hold,
A swan soft floating tow'rds a magic strand;
Dim ghosts, of earth, air, water, fire, steel, gold,
Wind, grief, and love; a lewd and lurking band
Of Powers -- dark Conspiracy, Cunning cold,
Gray Sorcery; magic cloaks and rings and rods;
Valkyries, heroes, Rhinemaids, giants, gods!

* * * * *

"O Wagner, westward bring thy heavenly art,
No trifler thou: Siegfried and Wotan be
Names for big ballads of the modern heart.
Thine ears hear deeper than thine eyes can see.
Voice of the monstrous mill, the shouting mart,
Not less of airy cloud and wave and tree,
Thou, thou, if even to thyself unknown,
Hast power to say the Time in terms of tone."


VII. A Song of Love.

"Hey, rose, just born
Twin to a thorn;
Was't so with you, O Love and Scorn?

"Sweet eyes that smiled,
Now wet and wild;
O Eye and Tear -- mother and child.

"Well: Love and Pain
Be kinsfolk twain:
Yet would, Oh would I could love again."

To Beethoven.

In o'er-strict calyx lingering,
Lay music's bud too long unblown,
Till thou, Beethoven, breathed the spring:
Then bloomed the perfect rose of tone.

O Psalmist of the weak, the strong,
O Troubadour of love and strife,
Co-Litanist of right and wrong,
Sole Hymner of the whole of life,

I know not how, I care not why, --
Thy music sets my world at ease,
And melts my passion's mortal cry
In satisfying symphonies.

It soothes my accusations sour
'Gainst thoughts that fray the restless soul:
The stain of death; the pain of power;
The lack of love 'twixt part and whole;

The yea-nay of Freewill and Fate,
Whereof both cannot be, yet are;
The praise a poet wins too late
Who starves from earth into a star;

The lies that serve great parties well,
While truths but give their Christ a cross;
The loves that send warm souls to hell,
While cold-blood neuters take no loss;

Th' indifferent smile that nature's grace
On Jesus, Judas, pours alike;
Th' indifferent frown on nature's face
When luminous lightnings strangely strike

The sailor praying on his knees
And spare his mate that's cursing God;
How babes and widows starve and freeze,
Yet Nature will not stir a clod;

Why Nature blinds us in each act
Yet makes no law in mercy bend,
No pitfall from our feet retract,
No storm cry out `Take shelter, friend;'

Why snakes that crawl the earth should ply
Rattles, that whoso hears may shun,
While serpent lightnings in the sky,
But rattle when the deed is done;

How truth can e'er be good for them
That have not eyes to bear its strength,
And yet how stern our lights condemn
Delays that lend the darkness length;

To know all things, save knowingness;
To grasp, yet loosen, feeling's rein;
To waste no manhood on success;
To look with pleasure upon pain;

Though teased by small mixt social claims,
To lose no large simplicity,
And midst of clear-seen crimes and shames
To move with manly purity;

To hold, with keen, yet loving eyes,
Art's realm from Cleverness apart,
To know the Clever good and wise,
Yet haunt the lonesome heights of Art;

O Psalmist of the weak, the strong,
O Troubadour of love and strife,
Co-Litanist of right and wrong,
Sole Hymner of the whole of life,

I know not how, I care not why,
Thy music brings this broil at ease,
And melts my passion's mortal cry
In satisfying symphonies.

Yea, it forgives me all my sins,
Fits life to love like rhyme to rhyme,
And tunes the task each day begins
By the last trumpet-note of Time.


An Frau Nannette Falk-Auerbach.

Als du im Saal mit deiner himmlischen Kunst
Beethoven zeigst, und seinem Willen nach
Mit den zehn Fingern fuehrst der Leute Gunst,
Zehn Zungen sagen was der Meister sprach.
Schauend dich an, ich seh', dass nicht allein
Du sitzest: jetzt herab die Toene ziehn
Beethovens Geist: er steht bei dir, ganz rein:
Fuer dich mit Vaters Stolz sein' Augen gluehn:
Er sagt, "Ich hoerte dich aus Himmelsluft,
Die kommt ja naeher, wo ein Kuenstler spielt:
Mein Kind (ich sagte) mich zur Erde ruft:
Ja, weil mein Arm kein Kind im Leben hielt,
Gott hat mir dich nach meinem Tod gegeben,
Nannette, Tochter! dich, mein zweites Leben!"

Baltimore, 1878.

To Nannette Falk-Auerbach.

Oft as I hear thee, wrapt in heavenly art,
The massive message of Beethoven tell
With thy ten fingers to the people's heart
As if ten tongues told news of heaven and hell, --
Gazing on thee, I mark that not alone,
Ah, not alone, thou sittest: there, by thee,
Beethoven's self, dear living lord of tone,
Doth stand and smile upon thy mastery.
Full fain and fatherly his great eyes glow:
He says, "From Heaven, my child, I heard thee call
(For, where an artist plays, the sky is low):
Yea, since my lonesome life did lack love's all,
In death, God gives me thee: thus, quit of pain,
Daughter, Nannette! in thee I live again."

Baltimore, 1878.

To Our Mocking-Bird.

Died of a cat, May, 1878.


Trillets of humor, -- shrewdest whistle-wit, --
Contralto cadences of grave desire
Such as from off the passionate Indian pyre
Drift down through sandal-odored flames that split
About the slim young widow who doth sit
And sing above, -- midnights of tone entire, --
Tissues of moonlight shot with songs of fire; --
Bright drops of tune, from oceans infinite
Of melody, sipped off the thin-edged wave
And trickling down the beak, -- discourses brave
Of serious matter that no man may guess, --
Good-fellow greetings, cries of light distress --
All these but now within the house we heard:
O Death, wast thou too deaf to hear the bird?


Ah me, though never an ear for song, thou hast
A tireless tooth for songsters: thus of late
Thou camest, Death, thou Cat! and leap'st my gate,
And, long ere Love could follow, thou hadst passed
Within and snatched away, how fast, how fast,
My bird -- wit, songs, and all -- thy richest freight
Since that fell time when in some wink of fate
Thy yellow claws unsheathed and stretched, and cast
Sharp hold on Keats, and dragged him slow away,
And harried him with hope and horrid play --
Ay, him, the world's best wood-bird, wise with song --
Till thou hadst wrought thine own last mortal wrong.
'Twas wrong! 'twas wrong! I care not, WRONG's the word --
To munch our Keats and crunch our mocking-bird.


Nay, Bird; my grief gainsays the Lord's best right.
The Lord was fain, at some late festal time,
That Keats should set all Heaven's woods in rhyme,
And thou in bird-notes. Lo, this tearful night,
Methinks I see thee, fresh from death's despite,
Perched in a palm-grove, wild with pantomime,
O'er blissful companies couched in shady thyme,
-- Methinks I hear thy silver whistlings bright
Mix with the mighty discourse of the wise,
Till broad Beethoven, deaf no more, and Keats,
'Midst of much talk, uplift their smiling eyes,
And mark the music of thy wood-conceits,
And halfway pause on some large, courteous word,
And call thee "Brother", O thou heavenly Bird!

Baltimore, 1878.

The Dove.

If haply thou, O Desdemona Morn,
Shouldst call along the curving sphere, "Remain,
Dear Night, sweet Moor; nay, leave me not in scorn!"
With soft halloos of heavenly love and pain; --

Shouldst thou, O Spring! a-cower in coverts dark,
'Gainst proud supplanting Summer sing thy plea,
And move the mighty woods through mailed bark
Till mortal heart-break throbbed in every tree; --

Or (grievous `if' that may be `yea' o'er-soon!),
If thou, my Heart, long holden from thy Sweet,
Shouldst knock Death's door with mellow shocks of tune,
Sad inquiry to make -- `When may we meet?'

Nay, if ye three, O Morn! O Spring! O Heart!
Should chant grave unisons of grief and love;
Ye could not mourn with more melodious art
Than daily doth yon dim sequestered dove.

Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, 1877.

To ----, with a Rose.

I asked my heart to say
Some word whose worth my love's devoir might pay
Upon my Lady's natal day.

Then said my heart to me:
`Learn from the rhyme that now shall come to thee
What fits thy Love most lovingly.'

This gift that learning shows;
For, as a rhyme unto its rhyme-twin goes,
I send a rose unto a Rose.

Philadelphia, 1876.

On Huntingdon's "Miranda".

The storm hath blown thee a lover, sweet,
And laid him kneeling at thy feet.
But, -- guerdon rich for favor rare!
The wind hath all thy holy hair
To kiss and to sing through and to flare
Like torch-flames in the passionate air,
About thee, O Miranda.

Eyes in a blaze, eyes in a daze,
Bold with love, cold with amaze,
Chaste-thrilling eyes, fast-filling eyes
With daintiest tears of love's surprise,
Ye draw my soul unto your blue
As warm skies draw the exhaling dew,
Divine eyes of Miranda.

And if I were yon stolid stone,
Thy tender arm doth lean upon,
Thy touch would turn me to a heart,
And I would palpitate and start,
-- Content, when thou wert gone, to be
A dumb rock by the lonesome sea
Forever, O Miranda.

Baltimore, 1874.

Ode to the Johns Hopkins University.

Read on the Fourth Commemoration Day, February, 1880.

How tall among her sisters, and how fair, --
How grave beyond her youth, yet debonair
As dawn, 'mid wrinkled Matres of old lands
Our youngest Alma Mater modest stands!
In four brief cycles round the punctual sun
Has she, old Learning's latest daughter, won
This grace, this stature, and this fruitful fame.
Howbeit she was born
Unnoised as any stealing summer morn.
From far the sages saw, from far they came
And ministered to her,
Led by the soaring-genius'd Sylvester
That, earlier, loosed the knot great Newton tied,
And flung the door of Fame's locked temple wide.
As favorable fairies thronged of old and blessed
The cradled princess with their several best,
So, gifts and dowers meet
To lay at Wisdom's feet,
These liberal masters largely brought --
Dear diamonds of their long-compressed thought,
Rich stones from out the labyrinthine cave
Of research, pearls from Time's profoundest wave
And many a jewel brave, of brilliant ray,
Dug in the far obscure Cathay
Of meditation deep --
With flowers, of such as keep
Their fragrant tissues and their heavenly hues
Fresh-bathed forever in eternal dews --
The violet with her low-drooped eye,
For learned modesty, --
The student snow-drop, that doth hang and pore
Upon the earth, like Science, evermore,
And underneath the clod doth grope and grope, --
The astronomer heliotrope,
That watches heaven with a constant eye, --
The daring crocus, unafraid to try
(When Nature calls) the February snows, --
And patience' perfect rose.
Thus sped with helps of love and toil and thought,
Thus forwarded of faith, with hope thus fraught,
In four brief cycles round the stringent sun
This youngest sister hath her stature won.

Nay, why regard
The passing of the years? Nor made, nor marr'd,
By help or hindrance of slow Time was she:
O'er this fair growth Time had no mastery:
So quick she bloomed, she seemed to bloom at birth,
As Eve from Adam, or as he from earth.
Superb o'er slow increase of day on day,
Complete as Pallas she began her way;
Yet not from Jove's unwrinkled forehead sprung,
But long-time dreamed, and out of trouble wrung,
Fore-seen, wise-plann'd, pure child of thought and pain,
Leapt our Minerva from a mortal brain.

And here, O finer Pallas, long remain, --
Sit on these Maryland hills, and fix thy reign,
And frame a fairer Athens than of yore
In these blest bounds of Baltimore, --
Here, where the climates meet
That each may make the other's lack complete, --
Where Florida's soft Favonian airs beguile
The nipping North, -- where nature's powers smile, --
Where Chesapeake holds frankly forth her hands
Spread wide with invitation to all lands, --
Where now the eager people yearn to find
The organizing hand that fast may bind
Loose straws of aimless aspiration fain
In sheaves of serviceable grain, --
Here, old and new in one,
Through nobler cycles round a richer sun
O'er-rule our modern ways,
O blest Minerva of these larger days!
Call here thy congress of the great, the wise,
The hearing ears, the seeing eyes, --
Enrich us out of every farthest clime, --
Yea, make all ages native to our time,
Till thou the freedom of the city grant
To each most antique habitant
Of Fame, --
Bring Shakespeare back, a man and not a name, --
Let every player that shall mimic us
In audience see old godlike Aeschylus, --
Bring Homer, Dante, Plato, Socrates, --
Bring Virgil from the visionary seas
Of old romance, -- bring Milton, no more blind, --
Bring large Lucretius, with unmaniac mind, --
Bring all gold hearts and high resolved wills
To be with us about these happy hills, --
Bring old Renown
To walk familiar citizen of the town, --
Bring Tolerance, that can kiss and disagree, --
Bring Virtue, Honor, Truth, and Loyalty, --
Bring Faith that sees with undissembling eyes, --
Bring all large Loves and heavenly Charities, --
Till man seem less a riddle unto man
And fair Utopia less Utopian,
And many peoples call from shore to shore,
`The world has bloomed again, at Baltimore!'

Baltimore, 1880.

To Dr. Thomas Shearer.

Presenting a portrait-bust of the author.

Since you, rare friend! have tied my living tongue
With thanks more large than man e'er said or sung,
So let the dumbness of this image be
My eloquence, and still interpret me.

Baltimore, 1880.

Martha Washington.

Written for the "Martha Washington Court Journal".

Down cold snow-stretches of our bitter time,
When windy shams and the rain-mocking sleet
Of Trade have cased us in such icy rime
That hearts are scarcely hot enough to beat,
Thy fame, O Lady of the lofty eyes,
Doth fall along the age, like as a lane
Of Spring, in whose most generous boundaries
Full many a frozen virtue warms again.
To-day I saw the pale much-burdened form
Of Charity come limping o'er the line,
And straighten from the bending of the storm
And flush with stirrings of new strength divine,
Such influence and sweet gracious impulse came
Out of the beams of thine immortal name!

Baltimore, February 22d, 1875.

Psalm of the West.

Land of the willful gospel, thou worst and thou best;
Tall Adam of lands, new-made of the dust of the West;
Thou wroughtest alone in the Garden of God, unblest
Till He fashioned lithe Freedom to lie for thine Eve on thy breast --
Till out of thy heart's dear neighborhood, out of thy side,
He fashioned an intimate Sweet one and brought thee a Bride.
Cry hail! nor bewail that the wound of her coming was wide.
Lo, Freedom reached forth where the world as an apple hung red;
`Let us taste the whole radiant round of it,' gayly she said:
`If we die, at the worst we shall lie as the first of the dead.'
Knowledge of Good and of Ill, O Land! she hath given thee;
Perilous godhoods of choosing have rent thee and riven thee;
Will's high adoring to Ill's low exploring hath driven thee --
Freedom, thy Wife, hath uplifted thy life and clean shriven thee!
Her shalt thou clasp for a balm to the scars of thy breast,
Her shalt thou kiss for a calm to thy wars of unrest,
Her shalt extol in the psalm of the soul of the West.
For Weakness, in freedom, grows stronger than Strength with a chain;
And Error, in freedom, will come to lamenting his stain,
Till freely repenting he whiten his spirit again;
And Friendship, in freedom, will blot out the bounding of race;
And straight Law, in freedom, will curve to the rounding of grace;
And Fashion, in freedom, will die of the lie in her face;
And Desire flame white on the sense as a fire on a height,
And Sex flame white in the soul as a star in the night,
And Marriage plight sense unto soul as the two-colored light
Of the fire and the star shines one with a duplicate might;
And Science be known as the sense making love to the All,
And Art be known as the soul making love to the All,
And Love be known as the marriage of man with the All --
Till Science to knowing the Highest shall lovingly turn,
Till Art to loving the Highest shall consciously burn,
Till Science to Art as a man to a woman shall yearn,
-- Then morn!
When Faith from the wedding of Knowing and Loving shall purely be born,
And the Child shall smile in the West, and the West to the East give morn,
And the Time in that ultimate Prime shall forget old regretting and scorn,
Yea, the stream of the light shall give off in a shimmer
the dream of the night forlorn.

Once on a time a soul
Too full of his dole
In a querulous dream went crying from pole to pole --
Went sobbing and crying
For ever a sorrowful song of living and dying,
How `life was the dropping and death the drying
Of a Tear that fell in a day when God was sighing.'
And ever Time tossed him bitterly to and fro
As a shuttle inlaying a perilous warp of woe
In the woof of things from terminal snow to snow,
Till, lo!
And he sank on the grass of the earth as a lark on its nest,
And he lay in the midst of the way from the east to the west.
Then the East came out from the east and the West from the west,
And, behold! in the gravid deeps of the lower dark,
While, above, the wind was fanning the dawn as a spark,
The East and the West took form as the wings of a lark.
One wing was feathered with facts of the uttermost Past,
And one with the dreams of a prophet; and both sailed fast
And met where the sorrowful Soul on the earth was cast.
Then a Voice said: `Thine, if thou lovest enough to use;'
But another: `To fly and to sing is pain: refuse!'
Then the Soul said: `Come, O my wings! I cannot but choose.'
And the Soul was a-tremble like as a new-born thing,
Till the spark of the dawn wrought a conscience in heart as in wing,
Saying, `Thou art the lark of the dawn; it is time to sing.'

Then that artist began in a lark's low circling to pass;
And first he sang at the height of the top of the grass
A song of the herds that are born and die in the mass.
And next he sang a celestial-passionate round
At the height of the lips of a woman above the ground,
How `Love was a fair true Lady, and Death a wild hound,
And she called, and he licked her hand and with girdle was bound.'
And then with a universe-love he was hot in the wings,
And the sun stretched beams to the worlds as the shining strings
Of the large hid harp that sounds when an all-lover sings;
And the sky's blue traction prevailed o'er the earth's in might,
And the passion of flight grew mad with the glory of height
And the uttering of song was like to the giving of light;
And he learned that hearing and seeing wrought nothing alone,
And that music on earth much light upon Heaven had thrown,
And he melted-in silvery sunshine with silvery tone;
And the spirals of music e'er higher and higher he wound
Till the luminous cinctures of melody up from the ground
Arose as the shaft of a tapering tower of sound --
Arose for an unstricken full-finished Babel of sound.
But God was not angry, nor ever confused his tongue,
For not out of selfish nor impudent travail was wrung
The song of all men and all things that the all-lover sung.
Then he paused at the top of his tower of song on high,
And the voice of the God of the artist from far in the sky
Said, `Son, look down: I will cause that a Time gone by
Shall pass, and reveal his heart to thy loving eye.'

Far spread, below,
The sea that fast hath locked in his loose flow
All secrets of Atlantis' drowned woe
Lay bound about with night on every hand,
Save down the eastern brink a shining band
Of day made out a little way from land.
Then from that shore the wind upbore a cry:
`Thou Sea, thou Sea of Darkness! why, oh why
Dost waste thy West in unthrift mystery?'
But ever the idiot sea-mouths foam and fill,
And never a wave doth good for man or ill,
And Blank is king, and Nothing hath his will;
And like as grim-beaked pelicans level file
Across the sunset toward their nightly isle
On solemn wings that wave but seldomwhile,
So leanly sails the day behind the day
To where the Past's lone Rock o'erglooms the spray,
And down its mortal fissures sinks away.

Master, Master, break this ban:
The wave lacks Thee.
Oh, is it not to widen man
Stretches the sea?
Oh, must the sea-bird's idle van
Alone be free?

Into the Sea of the Dark doth creep
Bjoerne's pallid sail,
As the face of a walker in his sleep,
Set rigid and most pale,
About the night doth peer and peep
In a dream of an ancient tale.

Lo, here is made a hasty cry:
`Land, land, upon the west! --
God save such land! Go by, go by:
Here may no mortal rest,
Where this waste hell of slate doth lie
And grind the glacier's breast.'

The sail goeth limp: hey, flap and strain!
Round eastward slanteth the mast;
As the sleep-walker waked with pain,
White-clothed in the midnight blast,
Doth stare and quake, and stride again
To houseward all aghast.

Yet as, `A ghost!' his household cry:
`He hath followed a ghost in flight.
Let us see the ghost' -- his household fly
With lamps to search the night --
So Norsemen's sails run out and try
The Sea of the Dark with light.

Stout Are Marson, southward whirled
From out the tempest's hand,
Doth skip the sloping of the world
To Huitramannaland,
Where Georgia's oaks with moss-beards curled
Wave by the shining strand,

And sway in sighs from Florida's Spring
Or Carolina's Palm --
What time the mocking-bird doth bring
The woods his artist's-balm,
Singing the Song of Everything
Consummate-sweet and calm --

Land of large merciful-hearted skies,
Big bounties, rich increase,
Green rests for Trade's blood-shotten eyes,
For o'er-beat brains surcease,
For Love the dear woods' sympathies,
For Grief the wise woods' peace,

For Need rich givings of hid powers
In hills and vales quick-won,
For Greed large exemplary flowers
That ne'er have toiled nor spun,
For Heat fair-tempered winds and showers,
For Cold the neighbor sun.

Land where the Spirits of June-Heat
From out their forest-maze
Stray forth at eve with loitering feet,
And fervent hymns upraise
In bland accord and passion sweet
Along the Southern ways: --

"O Darkness, tawny Twin whose Twin hath ceased,
Thou Odor from the day-flower's crushing born,
Thou visible Sigh out of the mournful East,
That cannot see her lord again till morn:
O Leaves, with hollow palms uplifted high
To catch the stars' most sacred rain of light:
O pallid Lily-petals fain to die
Soul-stung by subtle passion of the night:
O short-breath'd Winds beneath the gracious moon
Running mild errands for mild violets,
Or carrying sighs from the red lips of June
What wavering way the odor-current sets:
O Stars wreathed vinewise round yon heavenly dells,
Or thrust from out the sky in curving sprays,
Or whorled, or looped with pendent flower-bells,
Or bramble-tangled in a brilliant maze,
Or lying like young lilies in a lake
About the great white Lily of the moon,
Or drifting white from where in heaven shake
Star-portraitures of apple trees in June,
Or lapp'd as leaves of a great rose of stars,
Or shyly clambering up cloud-lattices,
Or trampled pale in the red path of Mars,
Or trim-set quaint in gardeners'-fantasies:
O long June Night-sounds crooned among the leaves;
O whispered confidence of Dark and Green;
O murmurs in old moss about old eaves;
O tinklings floating over water-sheen."

Then Leif, bold son of Eric the Red,
To the South of the West doth flee --
Past slaty Helluland is sped,
Past Markland's woody lea,
Till round about fair Vinland's head,
Where Taunton helps the sea,

The Norseman calls, the anchor falls,
The mariners hurry a-strand:
They wassail with fore-drunken skals
Where prophet wild grapes stand;
They lift the Leifsbooth's hasty walls
They stride about the land --

New England, thee! whose ne'er-spent wine
As blood doth stretch each vein,
And urge thee, sinewed like thy vine,
Through peril and all pain
To grasp Endeavor's towering Pine,
And, once ahold, remain --

Land where the strenuous-handed Wind
With sarcasm of a friend
Doth smite the man would lag behind
To frontward of his end;
Yea, where the taunting fall and grind
Of Nature's Ill doth send

Such mortal challenge of a clown
Rude-thrust upon the soul,
That men but smile where mountains frown
Or scowling waters roll,
And Nature's front of battle down
Do hurl from pole to pole.

Now long the Sea of Darkness glimmers low
With sails from Northland flickering to and fro --
Thorwald, Karlsefne, and those twin heirs of woe,
Hellboge and Finnge, in treasonable bed
Slain by the ill-born child of Eric Red,
Freydisa false. Till, as much time is fled,
Once more the vacant airs with darkness fill,
Once more the wave doth never good nor ill,
And Blank is king, and Nothing works his will;
And leanly sails the day behind the day
To where the Past's lone Rock o'erglooms the spray,
And down its mortal fissures sinks away,
As when the grim-beaked pelicans level file
Across the sunset to their seaward isle
On solemn wings that wave but seldomwhile.

Master, Master, poets sing;
The Time calls Thee;
Yon Sea binds hard on everything
Man longs to be:
Oh, shall the sea-bird's aimless wing
Alone move free?

`Santa Maria', well thou tremblest down the wave,
Thy `Pinta' far abow, thy `Nina' nigh astern:
Columbus stands in the night alone, and, passing grave,
Yearns o'er the sea as tones o'er under-silence yearn.
Heartens his heart as friend befriends his friend less brave,
Makes burn the faiths that cool, and cools the doubts that burn: --


"'Twixt this and dawn, three hours my soul will smite
With prickly seconds, or less tolerably
With dull-blade minutes flatwise slapping me.
Wait, Heart! Time moves. -- Thou lithe young Western Night,
Just-crowned king, slow riding to thy right,
Would God that I might straddle mutiny
Calm as thou sitt'st yon never-managed sea,
Balk'st with his balking, fliest with his flight,
Giv'st supple to his rearings and his falls,
Nor dropp'st one coronal star about thy brow
Whilst ever dayward thou art steadfast drawn!
Yea, would I rode these mad contentious brawls
No damage taking from their If and How,
Nor no result save galloping to my Dawn!


"My Dawn? my Dawn? How if it never break?
How if this West by other Wests is pieced,
And these by vacant Wests on Wests increased --
One Pain of Space, with hollow ache on ache
Throbbing and ceasing not for Christ's own sake? --
Big perilous theorem, hard for king and priest:
`Pursue the West but long enough, 'tis East!'
Oh, if this watery world no turning take!
Oh, if for all my logic, all my dreams,
Provings of that which is by that which seems,
Fears, hopes, chills, heats, hastes, patiences, droughts, tears,
Wife-grievings, slights on love, embezzled years,
Hates, treaties, scorns, upliftings, loss and gain, --
This earth, no sphere, be all one sickening plane!


"Or, haply, how if this contrarious West,
That me by turns hath starved, by turns hath fed,
Embraced, disgraced, beat back, solicited,
Have no fixed heart of Law within his breast,
Or with some different rhythm doth e'er contest
Nature in the East? Why, 'tis but three weeks fled
I saw my Judas needle shake his head
And flout the Pole that, east, he Lord confessed!
God! if this West should own some other Pole,
And with his tangled ways perplex my soul
Until the maze grow mortal, and I die
Where distraught Nature clean hath gone astray,
On earth some other wit than Time's at play,
Some other God than mine above the sky!


"Now speaks mine other heart with cheerier seeming:
`Ho, Admiral! o'er-defalking to thy crew
Against thyself, thyself far overfew
To front yon multitudes of rebel scheming?'
Come, ye wild twenty years of heavenly dreaming!
Come, ye wild weeks since first this canvas drew
Out of vexed Palos ere the dawn was blue,
O'er milky waves about the bows full-creaming!
Come set me round with many faithful spears
Of confident remembrance -- how I crushed
Cat-lived rebellions, pitfalled treasons, hushed
Scared husbands' heart-break cries on distant wives,
Made cowards blush at whining for their lives,
Watered my parching souls, and dried their tears.


"Ere we Gomera cleared, a coward cried,
`Turn, turn: here be three caravels ahead,
From Portugal, to take us: we are dead!'
`Hold Westward, pilot,' calmly I replied.
So when the last land down the horizon died,
`Go back, go back!' they prayed: `our hearts are lead.' --
`Friends, we are bound into the West,' I said.
Then passed the wreck of a mast upon our side.
`See' (so they wept) `God's Warning! Admiral, turn!' --
`Steersman,' I said, `hold straight into the West.'
Then down the night we saw the meteor burn.
`So do the very heavens in fire protest:
Good Admiral, put about! O Spain, dear Spain!' --
`Hold straight into the West,' I said again.


"Next drive we o'er the slimy-weeded sea.
`Lo! herebeneath' (another coward cries)
`The cursed land of sunk Atlantis lies:
This slime will suck us down -- turn while thou'rt free!' --
`But no!' I said, `Freedom bears West for me!'
Yet when the long-time stagnant winds arise,
And day by day the keel to westward flies,
My Good my people's Ill doth come to be:
`Ever the winds into the West do blow;
Never a ship, once turned, might homeward go;
Meanwhile we speed into the lonesome main.
For Christ's sake, parley, Admiral! Turn, before
We sail outside all bounds of help from pain!' --
`Our help is in the West,' I said once more.


"So when there came a mighty cry of `Land!'
And we clomb up and saw, and shouted strong
`Salve Regina!' all the ropes along,
But knew at morn how that a counterfeit band
Of level clouds had aped a silver strand;
So when we heard the orchard-bird's small song,
And all the people cried, `A hellish throng
To tempt us onward by the Devil planned,
Yea, all from hell -- keen heron, fresh green weeds,
Pelican, tunny-fish, fair tapering reeds,
Lie-telling lands that ever shine and die
In clouds of nothing round the empty sky.
Tired Admiral, get thee from this hell, and rest!' --
`Steersman,' I said, `hold straight into the West.'


"I marvel how mine eye, ranging the Night,
From its big circling ever absently
Returns, thou large low Star, to fix on thee.
`Maria!' Star? No star: a Light, a Light!
Wouldst leap ashore, Heart? Yonder burns -- a Light.
Pedro Gutierrez, wake! come up to me.
I prithee stand and gaze about the sea:
What seest? `Admiral, like as land -- a Light!'
Well! Sanchez of Segovia, come and try:
What seest? `Admiral, naught but sea and sky!'
Well! But *I* saw It. Wait! the Pinta's gun!
Why, look, 'tis dawn, the land is clear: 'tis done!
Two dawns do break at once from Time's full hand --
God's, East -- mine, West: good friends, behold my Land!"

Master, Master! faster fly
Now the hurrying seasons by;
Now the Sea of Darkness wide
Rolls in light from side to side;
Mark, slow drifting to the West
Down the trough and up the crest,
Yonder piteous heartsease petal
Many-motioned rise and settle --
Petal cast a-sea from land
By the awkward-fingered Hand
That, mistaking Nature's course,
Tears the love it fain would force --
Petal calm of heartsease flower
Smiling sweet on tempest sour,
Smiling where by crest and trough
Heartache Winds at heartsease scoff,
Breathing mild perfumes of prayer
'Twixt the scolding sea and air.

Mayflower, piteous Heartsease Petal!
Suavely down the sea-troughs settle,
Gravely breathe perfumes of prayer
'Twixt the scolding sea and air,
Bravely up the sea-hills rise --
Sea-hills slant thee toward the skies.
Master, hold disaster off
From the crest and from the trough;
Heartsease, on the heartache sea
God, thy God, will pilot thee.

Mayflower, Ship of Faith's best Hope!
Thou art sure if all men grope;
Mayflower, Ship of Hope's best Faith!
All is true the great God saith;
Mayflower, Ship of Charity!
Love is Lord of land and sea.
Oh, with love and love's best care
Thy large godly freightage bear --
Godly Hearts that, Grails of gold,
Still the blood of Faith do hold.

Now bold Massachusetts clear
Cuts the rounding of the sphere.
`Out the anchor, sail no more,
Lay us by the Future's shore --
Not the shore we sought, 'tis true,
But the time is come to do.
Leap, dear Standish, leap and wade;
Bradford, Hopkins, Tilley, wade:
Leap and wade ashore and kneel --
God be praised that steered the keel!
Home is good and soft is rest,
Even in this jagged West:
Freedom lives, and Right shall stand;
Blood of Faith is in the land.'

Then in what time the primal icy years
Scraped slowly o'er the Puritans' hopes and fears,
Like as great glaciers built of frozen tears,
The Voice from far within the secret sky
Said, `Blood of Faith ye have? So; let us try.'
And presently
The anxious-masted ships that westward fare,
Cargo'd with trouble and a-list with care,
Their outraged decks hot back to England bear,
Then come again with stowage of worse weight,
Battle, and tyrannous Tax, and Wrong, and Hate,
And all bad items of Death's perilous freight.

O'er Cambridge set the yeomen's mark:
Climb, patriot, through the April dark.
O lanthorn! kindle fast thy light,
Thou budding star in the April night,
For never a star more news hath told,
Or later flame in heaven shall hold.
Ay, lanthorn on the North Church tower,
When that thy church hath had her hour,
Still from the top of Reverence high
Shalt thou illume Fame's ampler sky;
For, statured large o'er town and tree,
Time's tallest Figure stands by thee,
And, dim as now thy wick may shine
The Future lights his lamp at thine.

Now haste thee while the way is clear,
Paul Revere!
Haste, Dawes! but haste thou not, O Sun!
To Lexington.

Then Devens looked and saw the light:
He got him forth into the night,
And watched alone on the river-shore,
And marked the British ferrying o'er.

John Parker! rub thine eyes and yawn:
But one o'clock and yet 'tis Dawn!
Quick, rub thine eyes and draw thy hose:
The Morning comes ere darkness goes.
Have forth and call the yeomen out,
For somewhere, somewhere close about
Full soon a Thing must come to be
Thine honest eyes shall stare to see --
Full soon before thy patriot eyes
Freedom from out of a Wound shall rise.

Then haste ye, Prescott and Revere!
Bring all the men of Lincoln here;
Let Chelmsford, Littleton, Carlisle,
Let Acton, Bedford, hither file --
Oh hither file, and plainly see
Out of a wound leap Liberty.

Say, Woodman April! all in green,
Say, Robin April! hast thou seen
In all thy travel round the earth
Ever a morn of calmer birth?
But Morning's eye alone serene
Can gaze across yon village-green
To where the trooping British run
Through Lexington.

Good men in fustian, stand ye still;
The men in red come o'er the hill.
`Lay down your arms, damned Rebels!' cry
The men in red full haughtily.
But never a grounding gun is heard;
The men in fustian stand unstirred;
Dead calm, save maybe a wise bluebird
Puts in his little heavenly word.
O men in red! if ye but knew
The half as much as bluebirds do,
Now in this little tender calm
Each hand would out, and every palm
With patriot palm strike brotherhood's stroke
Or ere these lines of battle broke.

O men in red! if ye but knew
The least of the all that bluebirds do,
Now in this little godly calm
Yon voice might sing the Future's Psalm --
The Psalm of Love with the brotherly eyes
Who pardons and is very wise --
Yon voice that shouts, high-hoarse with ire,
The red-coats fire, the homespuns fall:
The homespuns' anxious voices call,
`Brother, art hurt?' and `Where hit, John?'
And, `Wipe this blood,' and `Men, come on,'
And, `Neighbor, do but lift my head,'
And `Who is wounded? Who is dead?'
`Seven are killed.' `My God! my God!'
`Seven lie dead on the village sod.
Two Harringtons, Parker, Hadley, Brown,
Monroe and Porter, -- these are down.'
`Nay, look! Stout Harrington not yet dead!'
He crooks his elbow, lifts his head.
He lies at the step of his own house-door;
He crawls and makes a path of gore.
The wife from the window hath seen, and rushed;
He hath reached the step, but the blood hath gushed;
He hath crawled to the step of his own house-door,
But his head hath dropped: he will crawl no more.
Clasp, Wife, and kiss, and lift the head:
Harrington lies at his doorstep dead.

But, O ye Six that round him lay
And bloodied up that April day!
As Harrington fell, ye likewise fell --
At the door of the House wherein ye dwell;
As Harrington came, ye likewise came
And died at the door of your House of Fame.


Go by, old Field of Freedom's hopes and fears;
Go by, old Field of Brothers' hate and tears:
Behold! yon home of Brothers' Love appears
Set in the burnished silver of July,
On Schuylkill wrought as in old broidery
Clasped hands upon a shining baldric lie,
New Hampshire, Georgia, and the mighty ten
That lie between, have heard the huge-nibbed pen
Of Jefferson tell the rights of man to men.
They sit in the reverend Hall: `Shall we declare?'
Floats round about the anxious-quivering air
'Twixt narrow Schuylkill and broad Delaware.
Already, Land! thou HAST declared: 'tis done.
Ran ever clearer speech than that did run
When the sweet Seven died at Lexington?
Canst legibler write than Concord's large-stroked Act,
Or when at Bunker Hill the clubbed guns cracked?
Hast ink more true than blood, or pen than fact?
Nay, as the poet mad with heavenly fires
Flings men his song white-hot, then back retires,
Cools heart, broods o'er the song again, inquires,
`Why did I this, why that?' and slowly draws
From Art's unconscious act Art's conscious laws;
So, Freedom, writ, declares her writing's cause.
All question vain, all chill foreboding vain.
Adams, ablaze with faith, is hot and fain;
And he, straight-fibred Soul of mighty grain,
Deep-rooted Washington, afire, serene --
Tall Bush that burns, yet keeps its substance green --
Sends daily word, of import calm yet keen,
Warm from the front of battle, till the fire
Wraps opposition in and flames yet higher,
And Doubt's thin tissues flash where Hope's aspire;
And, `Ay, declare,' and ever strenuous `Ay'
Falls from the Twelve, and Time and Nature cry
Consent with kindred burnings of July;
And delegate Dead from each past age and race,
Viewless to man, in large procession pace
Downward athwart each set and steadfast face,
Responding `Ay' in many tongues; and lo!
Manhood and Faith and Self and Love and Woe
And Art and Brotherhood and Learning go
Rearward the files of dead, and softly say
Their saintly `Ay', and softly pass away
By airy exits of that ample day.
Now fall the chill reactionary snows
Of man's defect, and every wind that blows
Keeps back the Spring of Freedom's perfect Rose.
Now naked feet with crimson fleck the ways,
And Heaven is stained with flags that mutinies raise,
And Arnold-spotted move the creeping days.
Long do the eyes that look from Heaven see
Time smoke, as in the spring the mulberry tree,
With buds of battles opening fitfully,
Till Yorktown's winking vapors slowly fade,
And Time's full top casts down a pleasant shade
Where Freedom lies unarmed and unafraid.


Master, ever faster fly
Now the vivid seasons by;
Now the glittering Western land
Twins the day-lit Eastern Strand;
Now white Freedom's sea-bird wing
Roams the Sea of Everything;
Now the freemen to and fro
Bind the tyrant sand and snow,
Snatching Death's hot bolt ere hurled,
Flash new Life about the world,
Sun the secrets of the hills,
Shame the gods' slow-grinding mills,
Prison Yesterday in Print,
Read To-morrow's weather-hint,
Haste before the halting Time,
Try new virtue and new crime,
Mould new faiths, devise new creeds,
Run each road that frontward leads,
Driven by an Onward-ache,
Scorning souls that circles make.
Now, O Sin! O Love's lost Shame!
Burns the land with redder flame:
North in line and South in line
Yell the charge and spring the mine.
Heartstrong South would have his way,
Headstrong North hath said him nay:
O strong Heart, strong Brain, beware!
Hear a Song from out the air:


"Lists all white and blue in the skies;
And the people hurried amain
To the Tournament under the ladies' eyes
Where jousted Heart and Brain.


"`Blow, herald, blow!' There entered Heart,
A youth in crimson and gold.
`Blow, herald, blow!' Brain stood apart,
Steel-armored, glittering, cold.


"Heart's palfrey caracoled gayly round,
Heart tra-li-raed merrily;
But Brain sat still, with never a sound --
Full cynical-calm was he.


"Heart's helmet-crest bore favors three
From his lady's white hand caught;
Brain's casque was bare as Fact -- not he
Or favor gave or sought.


"`Blow, herald, blow!' Heart shot a glance
To catch his lady's eye;
But Brain looked straight a-front, his lance
To aim more faithfully.


"They charged, they struck; both fell, both bled;
Brain rose again, ungloved;
Heart fainting smiled, and softly said,
`My love to my Beloved.'"

Heart and Brain! no more be twain;
Throb and think, one flesh again!
Lo! they weep, they turn, they run;
Lo! they kiss: Love, thou art one!


Now the Land, with drying tears,
Counts him up his flocks of years,
"See," he says, "my substance grows;
Hundred-flocked my Herdsman goes,
Hundred-flocked my Herdsman stands
On the Past's broad meadow-lands,
Come from where ye mildly graze,
Black herds, white herds, nights and days.
Drive them homeward, Herdsman Time,
From the meadows of the Prime:
I will feast my house, and rest.
Neighbor East, come over West;
Pledge me in good wine and words
While I count my hundred herds,
Sum the substance of my Past
From the first unto the last,
Chanting o'er the generous brim
Cloudy memories yet more dim,
Ghostly rhymes of Norsemen pale
Staring by old Bjoerne's sail,
Strains more noble of that night
Worn Columbus saw his Light,
Psalms of still more heavenly tone,
How the Mayflower tossed alone,
Olden tale and later song
Of the Patriot's love and wrong,
Grandsire's ballad, nurse's hymn --
Chanting o'er the sparkling brim
Till I shall from first to last
Sum the substance of my Past."


Then called the Artist's God from in the sky:
"This Time shall show by dream and mystery
The heart of all his matter to thine eye.
Son, study stars by looking down in streams,
Interpret that which is by that which seems,
And tell thy dreams in words which are but dreams."


The Master with His lucent hand
Pinched up the atom hills and plains
O'er all the moiety of land
The ocean-bounded West contains:
The dust lay dead upon the calm
And mighty middle of His palm.


And lo! He wrought full tenderly,
And lo! He wrought with love and might,
And lo! He wrought a thing to see
Was marvel in His people's sight:
He wrought His image dead and small,
A nothing fashioned like an All.


Then breathed He softly on the dead:
"Live Self! -- thou part, yet none, of Me;
Dust for humility," He said,
"And my warm breath for Charity.
Behold my latest work, thou Earth!
The Self of Man is taking birth."


Then, Land, tall Adam of the West,
Thou stood'st upon the springy sod,
Thy large eye ranging self-possest,
Thy limbs the limbs of God's young god,
Thy Passion murmuring `I will' --
Lord of the Lordship Good-and-Ill.


O manful arms, of supple size
To clasp a world or a waist as well!
O manful eyes, to front the skies
Or look much pity down on hell!
O manful tongue, to work and sing,
And soothe a child and dare a king!


O wonder! Now thou sleep'st in pain,
Like as some dream thy soul did grieve:
God wounds thee, heals thee whole again,
And calls thee trembling to thine Eve.
Wide-armed, thou dropp'st on knightly knee:
`Dear Love, Dear Freedom, go with me!'


Then all the beasts before thee passed --
Beast War, Oppression, Murder, Lust,
False Art, False Faith, slow skulking last --
And out of Time's thick-rising dust
Thy Lord said, "Name them, tame them, Son;
Nor rest, nor rest, till thou hast done."


Ah, name thou false, or tame thou wrong,
At heart let no man fear for thee:
Thy Past sings ever Freedom's Song,
Thy Future's voice sounds wondrous free;
And Freedom is more large than Crime,
And Error is more small than Time.


Come, thou whole Self of Latter Man!
Come o'er thy realm of Good-and-Ill,
And do, thou Self that say'st `I can,'
And love, thou Self that say'st `I will;'
And prove and know Time's worst and best,
Thou tall young Adam of the West!

Baltimore, 1876.

At First. To Charlotte Cushman.

My crippled sense fares bow'd along
His uncompanioned way,
And wronged by death pays life with wrong
And I wake by night and dream by day.

And the Morning seems but fatigued Night
That hath wept his visage pale,
And the healthy mark 'twixt dark and light
In sickly sameness out doth fail.

And the woods stare strange, and the wind is dumb,
-- O Wind, pray talk again --
And the Hand of the Frost spreads stark and numb
As Death's on the deadened window-pane.

Still dumb, thou Wind, old voluble friend?
And the middle of the day is cold,
And the heart of eve beats lax i' the end
As a legend's climax poorly told.

Oh vain the up-straining of the hands
In the chamber late at night,
Oh vain the complainings, the hot demands,
The prayers for a sound, the tears for a sight.

No word from over the starry line,
No motion felt in the dark,
And never a day gives ever a sign
Or a dream sets seal with palpable mark.

And O my God, how slight it were,
How nothing, thou All! to thee,
That a kiss or a whisper might fall from her
Down by the way of Time to me:

Or some least grace of the body of love,
-- Mere wafture of floating-by,
Mere sense of unseen smiling above,
Mere hint sincere of a large blue eye,

Mere dim receipt of sad delight
From Nearness warm in the air,
What time with the passing of the night
She also passed, somehow, somewhere.

Baltimore, 1876.

A Ballad of Trees and the Master.

Into the woods my Master went,
Clean forspent, forspent.
Into the woods my Master came,
Forspent with love and shame.
But the olives they were not blind to Him,
The little gray leaves were kind to Him:
The thorn-tree had a mind to Him
When into the woods He came.

Out of the woods my Master went,
And He was well content.
Out of the woods my Master came,
Content with death and shame.
When Death and Shame would woo Him last,
From under the trees they drew Him last:
'Twas on a tree they slew Him -- last
When out of the woods He came.

Baltimore, November, 1880.

A Florida Sunday.

From cold Norse caves or buccaneer Southern seas
Oft come repenting tempests here to die;
Bewailing old-time wrecks and robberies,
They shrive to priestly pines with many a sigh,
Breathe salutary balms through lank-lock'd hair
Of sick men's heads, and soon -- this world outworn --
Sink into saintly heavens of stirless air,
Clean from confessional. One died, this morn,
And willed the world to wise Queen Tranquil: she,
Sweet sovereign Lady of all souls that bide
In contemplation, tames the too bright skies
Like that faint agate film, far down descried,
Restraining suns in sudden thoughtful eyes
Which flashed but now. Blest distillation rare
Of o'er-rank brightness filtered waterwise
Through all the earths in heaven -- thou always fair,
Still virgin bride of e'er-creating thought --
Dream-worker, in whose dream the Future's wrought --
Healer of hurts, free balm for bitter wrongs --
Most silent mother of all sounding songs --
Thou that dissolvest hells to make thy heaven --
Thou tempest's heir, that keep'st no tempest leaven --
But after winds' and thunders' wide mischance
Dost brood, and better thine inheritance --
Thou privacy of space, where each grave Star
As in his own still chamber sits afar
To meditate, yet, by thy walls unpent,
Shines to his fellows o'er the firmament --
Oh! as thou liv'st in all this sky and sea
That likewise lovingly do live in thee,
So melt my soul in thee, and thine in me,
Divine Tranquillity!

Gray Pelican, poised where yon broad shallows shine,
Know'st thou, that finny foison all is mine
In the bag below thy beak -- yet thine, not less?
For God, of His most gracious friendliness,
Hath wrought that every soul, this loving morn,
Into all things may be new-corporate born,
And each live whole in all: I sail with thee,
Thy Pelican's self is mine; yea, silver Sea,
In this large moment all thy fishes, ripples, bights,
Pale in-shore greens and distant blue delights,
White visionary sails, long reaches fair
By moon-horn'd strands that film the far-off air,
Bright sparkle-revelations, secret majesties,
Shells, wrecks and wealths, are mine; yea, Orange-trees,
That lift your small world-systems in the light,
Rich sets of round green heavens studded bright
With globes of fruit that like still planets shine,
Mine is your green-gold universe; yea, mine,
White slender Lighthouse fainting to the eye
That wait'st on yon keen cape-point wistfully,
Like to some maiden spirit pausing pale,
New-wing'd, yet fain to sail
Above the serene Gulf to where a bridegroom soul
Calls o'er the soft horizon -- mine thy dole
Of shut undaring wings and wan desire --
Mine, too, thy later hope and heavenly fire
Of kindling expectation; yea, all sights,
All sounds, that make this morn -- quick flights
Of pea-green paroquets 'twixt neighbor trees,
Like missives and sweet morning inquiries
From green to green, in green -- live oaks' round heads,
Busy with jays for thoughts -- grays, whites and reds
Of pranked woodpeckers that ne'er gossip out,
But alway tap at doors and gad about --
Robins and mocking-birds that all day long
Athwart straight sunshine weave cross-threads of song,
Shuttles of music -- clouds of mosses gray
That rain me rains of pleasant thoughts alway
From a low sky of leaves -- faint yearning psalms
Of endless metre breathing through the palms
That crowd and lean and gaze from off the shore
Ever for one that cometh nevermore --
Palmettos ranked, with childish spear-points set
Against no enemy -- rich cones that fret
High roofs of temples shafted tall with pines --
Green, grateful mangroves where the sand-beach shines --
Long lissome coast that in and outward swerves,
The grace of God made manifest in curves --
All riches, goods and braveries never told
Of earth, sun, air and heaven -- now I hold
Your being in my being; I am ye,
And ye myself; yea, lastly, Thee,
God, whom my roads all reach, howe'er they run,
My Father, Friend, Beloved, dear All-One,
Thee in my soul, my soul in Thee, I feel,
Self of my self. Lo, through my sense doth steal
Clear cognizance of all selves and qualities,
Of all existence that hath been or is,
Of all strange haps that men miscall of chance,
And all the works of tireless circumstance:
Each borders each, like mutual sea and shore,
Nor aught misfits his neighbor that's before,
Nor him that's after -- nay, through this still air,
Out of the North come quarrels, and keen blare
Of challenge by the hot-breath'd parties blown;
Yet break they not this peace with alien tone,
Fray not my heart, nor fright me for my land,
-- I hear from all-wards, allwise understand,
The great bird Purpose bears me twixt her wings,
And I am one with all the kinsmen things
That e'er my Father fathered. Oh, to me
All questions solve in this tranquillity:
E'en this dark matter, once so dim, so drear,
Now shines upon my spirit heavenly-clear:
Thou, Father, without logic, tellest me
How this divine denial true may be,
-- How `All's in each, yet every one of all
Maintains his Self complete and several.'

Tampa, Florida, 1877.

To My Class: On Certain Fruits and Flowers Sent Me in Sickness.

If spicy-fringed pinks that blush and pale
With passions of perfume, -- if violets blue
That hint of heaven with odor more than hue, --
If perfect roses, each a holy Grail
Wherefrom the blood of beauty doth exhale
Grave raptures round, -- if leaves of green as new
As those fresh chaplets wove in dawn and dew
By Emily when down the Athenian vale
She paced, to do observance to the May,
Nor dreamed of Arcite nor of Palamon, --
If fruits that riped in some more riotous play
Of wind and beam that stirs our temperate sun, --
If these the products be of love and pain,
Oft may I suffer, and you love, again.

Baltimore, Christmas, 1880.

On Violet's Wafers, Sent Me When I Was Ill.

Fine-tissued as her finger-tips, and white
As all her thoughts; in shape like shields of prize,
As if before young Violet's dreaming eyes
Still blazed the two great Theban bucklers bright
That swayed the random of that furious fight
Where Palamon and Arcite made assize
For Emily; fresh, crisp as her replies,
That, not with sting, but pith, do oft invite
More trial of the tongue; simple, like her,
Well fitting lowlihood, yet fine as well,
-- The queen's no finer; rich (though gossamer)
In help to him they came to, which may tell
How rich that him SHE'LL come to; thus men see,
Like Violet's self e'en Violet's wafers be.

Baltimore, 1881.


Written for the Art Autograph during the Irish Famine, 1880.

Heartsome Ireland, winsome Ireland,
Charmer of the sun and sea,
Bright beguiler of old anguish,
How could Famine frown on thee?

As our Gulf-Stream, drawn to thee-ward,
Turns him from his northward flow,
And our wintry western headlands
Send thee summer from their snow,

Thus the main and cordial current
Of our love sets over sea, --
Tender, comely, valiant Ireland,
Songful, soulful, sorrowful Ireland, --
Streaming warm to comfort thee.

Baltimore, 1880.

Under the Cedarcroft Chestnut.

Trim set in ancient sward, his manful bole
Upbore his frontage largely toward the sky.
We could not dream but that he had a soul:
What virtue breathed from out his bravery!

We gazed o'erhead: far down our deepening eyes
Rained glamours from his green midsummer mass.
The worth and sum of all his centuries
Suffused his mighty shadow on the grass.

A Presence large, a grave and steadfast Form
Amid the leaves' light play and fantasy,
A calmness conquered out of many a storm,
A Manhood mastered by a chestnut-tree!

Then, while his monarch fingers downward held
The rugged burrs wherewith his state was rife,
A voice of large authoritative Eld
Seemed uttering quickly parables of life:

`How Life in truth was sharply set with ills;
A kernel cased in quarrels; yea, a sphere
Of stings, and hedge-hog-round of mortal quills:
How most men itched to eat too soon i' the year,

`And took but wounds and worries for their pains,
Whereas the wise withheld their patient hands,
Nor plucked green pleasures till the sun and rains
And seasonable ripenings burst all bands

`And opened wide the liberal burrs of life.'
There, O my Friend, beneath the chestnut bough,
Gazing on thee immerged in modern strife,
I framed a prayer of fervency -- that thou,

In soul and stature larger than thy kind,
Still more to this strong Form might'st liken thee,
Till thy whole Self in every fibre find
The tranquil lordship of thy chestnut tree.

Tampa, Florida, February, 1877.

An Evening Song.

Look off, dear Love, across the sallow sands,
And mark yon meeting of the sun and sea,
How long they kiss in sight of all the lands.
Ah! longer, longer, we.

Now in the sea's red vintage melts the sun,
As Egypt's pearl dissolved in rosy wine,
And Cleopatra night drinks all. 'Tis done,
Love, lay thine hand in mine.

Come forth, sweet stars, and comfort heaven's heart;
Glimmer, ye waves, round else unlighted sands.
O night! divorce our sun and sky apart
Never our lips, our hands.


| "A Sunrise Song" leads a group of seven short poems |
| overlooked in earlier editions. Six of these, beginning with |
| "On a Palmetto", were unrevised pencillings of late date, |
| excepting the lines of 1866 to J. D. H. |

Book of the day: