Part 4 out of 7
Of the fields so green and the sky so blue.
Riding there in his sorry trim,
Like an Indian idol glum and grim,
Scarcely he seemed the sound to hear
Of voices shouting, far and near:
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!"
"Hear me, neighbors!" at last he cried,"--
What to me is this noisy ride?
What is the shame that clothes the skin
To the nameless horror that lives within?
Waking or sleeping, I see a wreck,
And hear a cry from a reeling deck!
Hate me and curse me,--I only dread
The hand of God and the face of the dead!"
Said old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea
Said, God has touched him! why should we?"
Said an old wife mourning her only son,
"Cut the rogue's tether and let him run!"
So with soft relentings and rude excuse,
Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose,
And gave him a cloak to hide him in,
And left him alone with his shame and sin.
Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!
THE DOUBLE-HEADED SNAKE OF NEWBURY
Far away in the twilight time
Of every people, in every clime,
Dragons and griffins and monsters dire,
Born of water, and air, and fire,
Or nursed, like the Python, in the mud
And ooze of the old Deucalion flood,
Crawl and wriggle and foam with rage,
Through dusk tradition and ballad age.
So from the childhood of Newbury town
And its time of fable the tale comes down
Of a terror which haunted bush and brake,
The Amphisbaena, the Double Snake!
Thou who makest the tale thy mirth,
Consider that strip of Christian earth
On the desolate shore of a sailless sea,
Full of terror and mystery,
Half-redeemed from the evil hold
Of the wood so dreary, and dark, and old,
Which drank with its lips of leaves the dew
When Time was young, and the world was new,
And wove its shadows with sun and moon,
Ere the stones of Cheops were squared and hewn.
Think of the sea's dread monotone,
Of the mournful wail from the pine-wood blown,
Of the strange, vast splendors that lit the North,
Of the troubled throes of the quaking earth,
And the dismal tales the Indian told,
Till the settler's heart at his hearth grew cold,
And he shrank from the tawny wizard's boasts,
And the hovering shadows seemed full of ghosts,
And above, below, and on every side,
The fear of his creed seemed verified;--
And think, if his lot were now thine own,
To grope with terrors nor named nor known,
How laxer muscle and weaker nerve
And a feebler faith thy need might serve;
And own to thyself the wonder more
That the snake had two heads, and not a score!
Whether he lurked in the Oldtown fen
Or the gray earth-flax of the Devil's Den,
Or swam in the wooded Artichoke,
Or coiled by the Northman's Written Rock,
Nothing on record is left to show;
Only the fact that he lived, we know,
And left the cast of a double head
in the scaly mask which he yearly shed.
For he earned a head where his tail should be,
And the two, of course, could never agree,
But wriggled about with main and might,
Now to the left and now to the right;
Pulling and twisting this way and that,
Neither knew what the other was at.
A snake with two heads, lurking so near!--
Judge of the wonder, guess at the fear!
Think what ancient gossips might say,
Shaking their heads in their dreary way,
Between the meetings on Sabbath-day!
How urchins, searching at day's decline
The Common Pasture for sheep or kine,
The terrible double-ganger heard
In the leafy rustle or whir of bird!
Think what a zest it gave to the sport,
In berry-time, of the younger sort,
As over pastures blackberry-twined,
Reuben and Dorothy lagged behind,
And closer and closer, for fear of harm,
The maiden clung to her lover's arm;
And how the spark, who was forced to stay,
By his sweetheart's fears, till the break of day,
Thanked the snake for the fond delay!
Far and wide the tale was told,
Like a snowball growing while it rolled.
The nurse hushed with it the baby's cry;
And it served, in the worthy minister's eye,
To paint the primitive serpent by.
Cotton Mather came galloping down
All the way to Newbury town,
With his eyes agog and his ears set wide,
And his marvellous inkhorn at his side;
Stirring the while in the shallow pool
Of his brains for the lore he learned at school,
To garnish the story, with here a streak
Of Latin, and there another of Greek:
And the tales he heard and the notes he took,
Behold! are they not in his Wonder-Book?
Stories, like dragons, are hard to kill.
If the snake does not, the tale runs still
In Byfield Meadows, on Pipestave Hill.
And still, whenever husband and wife
Publish the shame of their daily strife,
And, with mid cross-purpose, tug and strain
At either end of the marriage-chain,
The gossips say, with a knowing shake
Of their gray heads, "Look at the Double Snake!
One in body and two in will,
The Amphisbaena is living still!"
MAUD MULLER, on a summer's day,
Raked the meadow sweet with hay.
Beneath her torn hat glowed the wealth
Of simple beauty and rustic health.
Singing, she wrought, and her merry glee
The mock-bird echoed from his tree.
But when she glanced to the far-off town,
White from its hill-slope looking down,
The sweet song died, and a vague unrest
And a nameless longing filled her breast,
A wish, that she hardly dared to own,
For something better than she had known.
The Judge rode slowly down the lane,
Smoothing his horse's chestnut mane.
He drew his bridle in the shade
Of the apple-trees, to greet the maid,
And ask a draught from the spring that flowed
Through the meadow across the road.
She stooped where the cool spring bubbled up,
And filled for him her small tin cup,
And blushed as she gave it, looking down
On her feet so bare, and her tattered gown.
"Thanks!" said the Judge; "a sweeter draught
From a fairer hand was never quaffed."
He spoke of the grass and flowers and trees,
Of the singing birds and the humming bees;
Then talked of the haying, and wondered whether
The cloud in the west would bring foul weather.
And Maud forgot her brier-torn gown,
And her graceful ankles bare and brown;
And listened, while a pleased surprise
Looked from her long-lashed hazel eyes.
At last, like one who for delay
Seeks a vain excuse, he rode away.
Maud Muller looked and sighed: "Ah me!
That I the Judge's bride might be!
"He would dress me up in silks so fine,
And praise and toast me at his wine.
"My father should wear a broadcloth coat;
My brother should sail a painted boat.
"I'd dress my mother so grand and gay,
And the baby should have a new toy each day.
"And I'd feed the hungry and clothe the poor
And all should bless me who left our door."
The Judge looked back as he climbed the hill,
And saw Maud Muller standing still.
"A form more fair, a face more sweet
Ne'er hath it been my lot to meet.
"And her modest answer and graceful air
Show her wise and good as she is fair.
"Would she were mine, and I to-day,
Like her, a harvester of hay
"No doubtful balance of rights and wrongs,
Nor weary lawyers with endless tongues,
"But low of cattle and song of birds,
And health and quiet and loving words."
But he thought of his sisters, proud and cold,
And his mother, vain of her rank and gold.
So, closing his heart, the Judge rode on,
And Maud was left in the field alone.
But the lawyers smiled that afternoon,
When he hummed in court an old love-tune;
And the young girl mused beside the well,
Till the rain on the unraked clover,
He wedded a wife of richest dower,
Who lived for fashion, as he for power.
Yet oft, in his marble hearth's bright glow,
He watched a picture come and go;
And sweet Maud Muller's hazel eyes
Looked out in their innocent surprise.
Oft, when the wine in his glass was red,
He longed for the wayside well instead;
And closed his eyes on his garnished rooms
To dream of meadows and clover-blooms.
And the proud man sighed, with a secret pain,
"Ah, that I were free again!
"Free as when I rode that day,
Where the barefoot maiden raked her hay."
She wedded a man unlearned and poor,
And many children played round her door.
But care and sorrow, and childbirth pain,
Left their traces on heart and brain.
And oft, when the summer sun shone hot
On the new-mown hay in the meadow lot,
And she heard the little spring brook fall
Over the roadside, through the wall;
In the shade of the apple-tree again
She saw a rider draw his rein.
And gazing down with timid grace
She felt his pleased eyes read her face.
Sometimes her narrow kitchen walls
Stretched away into stately halls;
The weary wheel to a spinnet turned,
The tallow candle an astral burned,
And for him who sat by the chimney lug,
Dozing and grumbling o'er pipe and mug,
A manly form at her side she saw,
And joy was duty and love was law.
Then she took up her burden of life again,
Saying only, "it might have been."
Alas for maiden, alas for Judge,
For rich repiner and household drudge!
God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
Ah, well! for us all some sweet hope lies
Deeply buried from human eyes;
And, in the hereafter, angels may
Roll the stone from its grave away!
ON RECEIVING A SPRIG OF HEATHER IN BLOSSOM
No more these simple flowers belong
To Scottish maid and lover;
Sown in the common soil of song,
They bloom the wide world over.
In smiles and tears, in sun and showers,
The minstrel and the heather,
The deathless singer and the flowers
He sang of five together.
Wild heather-bells and Robert Burns!
The moorland flower and peasant!
How, at their mention, memory turns
Her pages old and pleasant!
The gray sky wears again its gold
And purple of adorning,
And manhood's noonday shadows hold
The dews of boyhood's morning.
The dews that washed the dust and soil
From off the wings of pleasure,
The sky, that flecked the ground of toil
With golden threads of leisure.
I call to mind the summer day,
The early harvest mowing,
The sky with sun and clouds at play,
And flowers with breezes blowing.
I hear the blackbird in the corn,
The locust in the haying;
And, like the fabled hunter's horn,
Old tunes my heart is playing.
How oft that day, with fond delay,
I sought the maple's shadow,
And sang with Burns the hours away,
Forgetful of the meadow!
Bees hummed, birds twittered, overhead
I heard the squirrels leaping;
The good dog listened while I read,
And wagged his tail in keeping.
I watched him while in sportive mood
I read "The Two Dogs" story,
And half believed he understood
The poet's allegory.
Sweet day, sweet songs!--The golden hours
Grew brighter for that singing,
From brook and bird and meadow flowers
A dearer welcome bringing.
New light on home-seen Nature beamed,
New glory over Woman;
And daily life and duty seemed
No longer poor and common.
I woke to find the simple truth
Of fact and feeling better
Than all the dreams that held my youth
A still repining debtor:
That Nature gives her handmaid, Art,
The themes of sweet discoursing;
The tender idyls of the heart
In every tongue rehearsing.
Why dream of lands of gold and pearl,
Of loving knight and lady,
When farmer boy and barefoot girl
Were wandering there already?
I saw through all familiar things
The romance underlying;
The joys and griefs that plume the wings
Of Fancy skyward flying.
I saw the same blithe day return,
The same sweet fall of even,
That rose on wooded Craigie-burn,
And sank on crystal Devon.
I matched with Scotland's heathery hills
The sweet-brier and the clover;
With Ayr and Doon, my native rills,
Their wood-hymns chanting over.
O'er rank and pomp, as he had seen,
I saw the Man uprising;
No longer common or unclean
The child of God's baptizing!
With clearer eyes I saw the worth
Of life among the lowly;
The Bible at his Cotter's hearth
Had made my own more holy.
And if at times an evil strain,
To lawless love appealing,
Broke in upon the sweet refrain
Of pure and healthful feeling,
It died upon the eye and ear,
No inward answer gaining;
No heart had I to see or hear
The discord and the staining.
Let those who never erred forget
His worth, in vain bewailings;
Sweet Soul of Song!--I own my debt
Uncancelled by his failings!
Lament who will the ribald line
Which tells his lapse from duty,
How kissed the maddening lips of wine
Or wanton ones of beauty;
But think, while falls that shade between
The erring one and Heaven,
That he who loved like Magdalen,
Like her may be forgiven.
Not his the song whose thunderous chime
Eternal echoes render,--
The mournful Tuscan's haunted rhyme,
And Milton's starry splendor!
But who his human heart has laid
To Nature's bosom nearer?
Who sweetened toil like him, or paid
To love a tribute dearer?
Through all his tuneful art, how strong
The human feeling gushes!
The very moonlight of his song
Is warm with smiles and blushes!
Give lettered pomp to teeth of Time,
So "Bonnie Doon" but tarry;
Blot out the Epic's stately rhyme,
But spare his Highland Mary
"O Fox a knight like Bayard,
Without reproach or fear;
My light glove on his casque of steel,
My love-knot on his spear!
"O for the white plume floating
Sad Zutphen's field above,
The lion heart in battle,
The woman's heart in love!
"O that man once more were manly,
Woman's pride, and not her scorn
That once more the pale young mother
Dared to boast `a man is born'!
"But, now life's slumberous current
No sun-bowed cascade wakes;
No tall, heroic manhood
The level dulness breaks.
"O for a knight like Bayard,
Without reproach or fear!
My light glove on his casque of steel
My love-knot on his spear!"
Then I said, my own heart throbbing
To the time her proud pulse beat,
"Life hath its regal natures yet,--
True, tender, brave, and sweet!
"Smile not, fair unbeliever!
One man, at least, I know,
Who might wear the crest of Bayard
Or Sydney's plume of snow.
"Once, when over purple mountains
Died away the Grecian sun,
And the far Cyllenian ranges
Paled and darkened, one by one,--
"Fell the Turk, a bolt of thunder,
Cleaving all the quiet sky,
And against his sharp steel lightnings
Stood the Suliote but to die.
"Woe for the weak and halting!
The crescent blazed behind
A curving line of sabres
Like fire before the wind!
"Last to fly, and first to rally,
Rode he of whom I speak,
When, groaning in his bridle path,
Sank down like a wounded Greek.
"With the rich Albanian costume
Wet with many a ghastly stain,
Gazing on earth and sky as one
Who might not gaze again!
"He looked forward to the mountains,
Back on foes that never spare,
Then flung him from his saddle,
And place the stranger there.
"'Allah! hu!' Through flashing sabres,
Through a stormy hail of lead,
The good Thessalian charger
Up the slopes of olives sped.
"Hot spurred the turbaned riders;
He almost felt their breath,
Where a mountain stream rolled darkly down
Between the hills and death.
"One brave and manful struggle,--
He gained the solid land,
And the cover of the mountains,
And the carbines of his band!"
"It was very great and noble,"
Said the moist-eyed listener then,
"But one brave deed makes no hero;
Tell me what he since hath been!"
"Still a brave and generous manhood,
Still and honor without stain,
In the prison of the Kaiser,
By the barricades of Seine.
"But dream not helm and harness
The sign of valor true;
Peace bath higher tests of manhood
Than battle ever knew.
"Wouldst know him now? Behold him,
The Cadmus of the blind,
Giving the dumb lip language,
The idiot clay a mind.
"Walking his round of duty
Serenely day by day,
With the strong man's hand of labor
And childhood's heart of play.
"True as the knights of story,
Sir Lancelot and his peers,
Brave in his calm endurance
As they in tilt of spears.
"As waves in stillest waters,
As stars in noonday skies,
All that wakes to noble action
In his noon of calmness lies.
"Wherever outraged Nature
Asks word or action brave,
Wherever struggles labor,
Wherever groans a slave,--
"Wherever rise the peoples,
Wherever sinks a throne,
The throbbing heart of Freedom finds
An answer in his own.
"Knight of a better era,
Without reproach or fear!
Said I not well that Bayards
And Sidneys still are here?
THE ETERNAL GOODNESS
O friends! with whom my feet have trod
The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
And love of man I bear.
I trace your lines of argument;
Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
And fears a doubt as wrong.
But still my human hands are weak
To hold your iron creeds;
Against the words ye bid me speak
My heart within me pleads.
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not
The poor device of man.
I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
Ye tread with boldness shod:
I dare not fix with mete and bound
The love and power of God.
Ye praise His justice; even such
His pitying love I deem
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
The robe that hath no seam.
Ye see the curse which overbroods
A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord's beatitudes
And prayer upon the cross.
The wrong that pains my soul below
I dare not throne above:
I know not of His hate,--I know
His goodness and His love.
I dimly guess from blessings known
Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own
His judgments too are right.
I long for household voices gone,
For vanished smiles I long,
But God bath led my dear ones on,
And He can do no wrong.
I know not what the future hath
Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
His mercy underlies.
And if my heart and flesh are weak
To bear an untried pain,
The bruised reed He will not break,
But strengthen and sustain.
No offering of my own I have,
Nor works my faith to prove;
I can but give the gifts He gave,
And plead His love for love.
And so beside the Silent Sea
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me
On ocean or on shore.
I know not where His islands lift
Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
Beyond His love and care.
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
The sure and safer way.
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen
Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
My human heart on Thee!
THE PIPES AT LUCKNOW
Pipes of the misty moorlands
Voice of the glens and hills;
The droning of the torrents,
The treble of the rills!
Not the braes of broom and heather,
Nor the mountains dark with rain,
Nor maiden bower, nor border tower,
Have heard your sweetest strain!
Dear to the Lowland reaper,
And plaided mountaineer,--
To the cottage and the castle
The Scottish pipes are dear;--
Sweet sounds the ancient pibroch
O'er mountain, loch, and glade;
But the sweetest of all music
The Pipes at Lucknow played.
Day by day the Indian tiger
Louder yelled, and nearer crept;
Round and round the jungle-serpent
Near and nearer circles swept.
"Pray for rescue, wives and mothers,--
Pray to-day!" the soldier said;
"To-morrow, death's between us
And the wrong and shame we dread."
O, they listened, looked, and waited,
Till their hope became despair;
And the sobs of low bewailing
Filled the pauses of their prayer.
Then up spake a Scottish maiden,
With her ear unto the ground
"Dinna ye hear it?--dinna ye hear it?
The pipes o' Havelock sound!"
Hushed the wounded man his groaning;
Hushed the wife her little ones;
Alone they heard the drum-roll
And the roar of Sepoy guns.
But to sounds of home and childhood
The Highland ear was true;
As her mother's cradle-crooning
The mountain pipes she knew.
Like the march of soundless music
Through the vision of the seer,
More of feeling than of hearing,
Of the heart than of the ear,
She knew the droning pibroch,
She knew the Campbell's call
"Hark! hear ye no' MacGregor's,--
The grandest o' them all!"
O, they listened, dumb and breathless,
And they caught the sound at last;
Faint and far beyond the Goomtee
Rose and fell the piper's blast!
Then a burst of wild thanksgiving
Mingled woman's voice and man's
"God be praised!--the March of Havelock!
The piping of the clans!"
Louder, nearer, fierce as vengeance,
Sharp and shrill as swords at strife,
Came the wild MacGregor's clan-call,
Stinging all the air to life.
But when the far-off dust-cloud
To plaided legions grew,
Full tenderly and blithesomely
The pipes of rescue blew!
Round the silver domes of Lucknow,
Moslem mosque and Pagan shrine,
Breathed the air to Britons dearest,
The air of Auld Lang Syne.
O'er the cruel roll of war-drums
Rose that sweet and homelike strain;
And the tartan clove the turban,
As the Goomtee cleaves the plain.
Dear to the corn-land reaper
And plaided mountaineer,--
To the cottage and the castle
The piper's song is dear.
Sweet sounds the Gaelic pibroch
O'er mountain, glen, and glade,
But the sweetest of all music
The Pipes at Lucknow played!
COBBLER KEEZAR'S VISION
The beaver cut his timber
With patient teeth that day,
The minks were fish-wards, and the crows
Surveyors of high way,--
When Keezar sat on the hillside
Upon his cobbler's form,
With a pan of coals on either hand
To keep his waxed-ends warm.
And there, in the golden weather,
He stitched and hammered and sung;
In the brook he moistened his leather,
In the pewter mug his tongue.
Well knew the tough old Teuton
Who brewed the stoutest ale,
And he paid the good-wife's reckoning
In the coin of song and tale.
The songs they still are singing
Who dress the hills of vine,
The tales that haunt the Brocken
And whisper down the Rhine.
Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
The swift stream wound away,
Through birches and scarlet maples
Flashing in foam and spray,--
Down on the sharp-horned ledges
Plunging in steep cascade,
Tossing its white-maned waters
Against the hemlock's shade.
Woodsy and wild and lonesome,
East and west and north and south;
Only the village of fishers
Down at the river's mouth;
Only here and there a clearing,
With its farm-house rude and new,
And tree-stumps, swart as Indians,
Where the scanty harvest grew.
No shout of home-bound reapers,
No vintage-song he heard,
And on the green no dancing feet
The merry violin stirred.
"Why should folk be glum," said Keezar,
"When Nature herself is glad,
And the painted woods are laughing
At the faces so sour and sad?"
Small heed had the careless cobbler
What sorrow of heart was theirs
Who travailed in pain with the births of God
And planted a state with prayers,--
Hunting of witches and warlocks,
Smiting the heathen horde,--
One hand on the mason's trowel
And one on the soldier's sword!
But give him his ale and cider,
Give him his pipe and song,
Little he cared for Church or State,
Or the balance of right and wrong.
"'Tis work, work, work," he muttered--
"And for rest a snuffle of psalms!"
He smote on his leathern apron
With his brown and waxen palms.
"O for the purple harvests
Of the days when I was young!
For the merry grape-stained maidens,
And the pleasant songs they sung
"O for the breath of vineyards,
Of apples and nuts and wine!
For an oar to row and a breeze to blow
Down the grand old river Rhine!"
A tear in his blue eye glistened
And dropped on his beard so gray.
"Old, old am I," said Keezar,
"And the Rhine flows far away!"
But a cunning man was the cobbler;
He could call the birds from the trees,
Charm the black snake out of the ledges,
And bring back the swarming bees.
All the virtues of herbs and metals,
All the lore of the woods, he knew,
And the arts of the Old World mingled
With the marvels of the New.
Well he knew the tricks of magic,
And the lapstone on his knee
Had the gift of the Mormon's goggles
Or the stone of Doctor Dee.
For the mighty master Agrippa
Wrought it with spell and rhyme
From a fragment of mystic moonstone
In the tower of Nettesheim.
To a cobbler Minnesinger
The marvellous stone gave he,
And he gave it, in turn, to Keezar,
Who brought it over the sea.
He held up that mystic lapstone,
He held it up like a lens,
And he counted the long years coming,
By twenties and by tens.
"One hundred years," quoth Keezar.
"And fifty have I told
Now open the new before me,
And shut me out the old!"
Like a cloud of mist, the blackness
Rolled from the magic stone,
And a marvellous picture mingled
The unknown and the known.
Still ran the stream to the river,
And river and ocean joined;
And there were the bluffs and the blue sea-line.
And cold north hills behind.
But the mighty forest was broken
By many a steepled town,
By many a white-walled farm-house,
And many a garner brown.
Turning a score of mill-wheels,
The stream no more ran free;
White sails on the winding river,
White sails on the far-off sea.
Below in the noisy village
The flags were floating gay,
And shone on a thousand faces
The light of a holiday.
Swiftly the rival ploughmen
Turned the brown earth from their shares;
Here were the farmer's treasures,
There were the craftsman's wares.
Golden the good-wife's butter,
Ruby her currant-wine;
Grand were the strutting turkeys,
Fat were the beeves and swine.
Yellow and red were the apples,
And the ripe pears russet-brown,
And the peaches had stolen blushes
From the girls who shook them down.
And with blooms of hill and wildwood,
That shame the toil of art,
Mingled the gorgeous blossoms
Of the garden's tropic heart.
"What is it I see?" said Keezar:
"Am I here or am I there?
Is it a fete at Bingen?
Do I look on Frankfort fair?
"But where are the clowns and puppets,
And imps with horns and tail?
And where are the Rhenish flagons?
And where is the foaming ale?
"Strange things, I know, will happen,--
Strange things the Lord permits;
But that droughty folk should be dolly
Puzzles my poor old wits.
"Here are smiling manly faces,
And the maiden's step is gay;
Nor sad by thinking, nor mad by drinking,
Nor mopes, nor fools, are they.
"Here's pleasure without regretting,
And good without abuse,
The holiday and the bridal
Of beauty and of use.
"Here's a priest and there is a Quaker,
Do the cat and the dog agree?
Have they burned the stocks for oven-wood?
Have they cut down the gallows-tree?
"Would the old folk know their children?
Would they own the graceless town,
With never a ranter to worry
And never a witch to drown?"
Loud laughed the cobbler Keezar,
Laughed like a school-boy gay;
Tossing his arms above him,
The lapstone rolled away.
It rolled down the rugged hillside,
It spun like a wheel bewitched,
It plunged through the leaning willows,
And into the river pitched.
There, in the deep, dark water,
The magic stone lies still,
Under the leaning willows
In the shadow of the hill.
But oft the idle fisher
Sits on the shadowy bank,
And his dreams make marvellous pictures
Where the wizard's lapstone sank.
And still, in the summer twilights.
When the river seems to run
Out from the inner glory,
Warm with the melted sun,
The weary mill-girl lingers
Beside the charmed stream,
And the sky and the golden water
Shape and color her dream.
Fair wave the sunset gardens,
The rosy signals fly;
Her homestead beckons from the cloud,
And love goes sailing by!
Sad Mayflower! watched by winter stars,
And nursed by winter gales,
With petals of the sleeted spars,
And leaves of frozen sails
What had she in those dreary hours,
Within her ice-rimmed bay,
In common with the wild-wood flowers,
The first sweet smiles of May?
Yet, "God be praised!" the Pilgrim said,
Who saw the blossoms peer
Above the brown leaves, dry anal dead
"Behold our Mayflower here!"
"God wills it: here our rest shall be
Our years of wandering o'er;
For us the Mayflower of the sea,
Shall spread her sails no more."
O sacred flowers of faith and hope,
As sweetly now as then
Ye bloom on many a birchen slope,
In many a pine-dark glen.
Behind the sea-wall's rugged length,
Unchanged, your, leaves unfold
Like love behind the manly strength
Of the brave hearts of old.
So live the fathers in their sons,
Their sturdy faith be ours,
And ours the love that overruns
Its rocky strength with flowers.
The Pilgrim's wild and wintry day
Its shadow round us draws;
The Mayflower of his stormy bay,
Our Freedom's struggling cause.
But warmer suns erelong shall bring
To life the frozen sod;
And, through dead leaves of hope, shall spring
Afresh the flowers of Cod!
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home
Thou art not my friend, and I'm not thine.
Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I've been tossed like the driven foam;
But now, proud world! I'm going home.
Good-bye to Flattery's fawning face;
To Grandeur with his wise grimace;
To upstart Wealth's averted eye;
To supple Office, low and high;
To crowded halls, to court and street;
To frozen hearts and hasting feet;
To those who go, and those who come;
Good-bye, proud world! I'm going home.
I am going to my own hearth-stone,
Bosomed in yon green hills alone,--
A secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned;
Where arches green, the livelong day,
Echo the blackbird's roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and Cod.
O, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome;
And when I am stretched beneath the pines,
Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man
At the sophist schools and the learned clan;
For what are they all, in their high conceit,
Where man in the bush with God may meet?
EACH AND ALL
Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland faun,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight,
Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;
Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now,
For I did not bring home the river and sky;--
He sang to my ear,--they sang to my eye.
The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home,
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar.
The lover watched his graceful maid,
As 'mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty's best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage;--
The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none.
Then I said, "I covet truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat;
I leave it behind with the games of youth:--
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet's breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Over me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;--
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
I like a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains, or pensive smiles;
Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowled churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure,
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought;
Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle;
Out from the heart of nature rolled
The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came,
Like the volcano's tongue of flame,
Up from the burning core below,--
The canticles of love and woe
The hand that rounded Peter's dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome;
Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He budded better than he knew; -
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know'st thou what wove yon woodbird's nest
Of leaves, and feathers from her breast?
Or how the fish outbuilt her shell,
Painting with morn each annual cell?
Or how the sacred pine-tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads?
Such and so grew these holy piles,
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles.
Earth proudly wears the Parthenon,
As the best gem upon her zone,
And Morning opes with haste her lids
To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O'er England's abbeys bends the sky,
As on its friends, with kindred eye;
For out of Thought's interior sphere
These wonders rose to upper air;
And Nature gladly gave them place,
Adopted them into her race,
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and With Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass;4s
Art might obey, but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned;
And the same power that reared the shrine
Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host,
Trances the heart through chanting choirs,
And through the priest the mind inspires.
The word unto the prophet spoken
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told,
In groves of oak, or fanes of gold,
Still floats upon the morning wind,
Still whispers to the willing mind.
One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost.
I know what say the fathers wise,
The book itself before me lies,
Old Chrysostom, best Augustine,
And he who blent both in his line,
The younger Golden Lips or mines,
Taylor, the Shakspeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear,
I see his cowled portrait dear;
And yet, for all his faith could see,
I would not the good bishop be.
ON BEING ASKED, WHENCE IS THE FLOWER?
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the Woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook,
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being
Why thou went there, O rival of the rose!
I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
Burly, dozing humble-bee,
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique,
Far-off heats through seas to seek;
I will follow thee alone,
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer,
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer, me thy hearer,
Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon;
Epicurean of June;
Wait, I prithee, till I come
Within earshot of thy hum,--
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind, in May days,
With a net of shining haze
Silvers the horizon wall,
And with softness touching all,
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance,
And infusing subtle heats,
Turns the sod to violets,
Thou, in sunny solitudes,
Rover of the underwoods,
The green silence dolt displace
With thy mellow, breezy bass.
Hot midsummer's petted crone,
Sweet to me thy drowsy tone
Tells of countless sunny hours,
Long days, and solid banks of flowers;
Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found;
Of Syrian peace, immortal leisure,
Firmest cheer, and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells,
Maple-sap and daffodels,
Grass with green flag half-mast high,
Succory to match the sky,
Columbine with horn of honey,
Scented fern, and agrimony,
Clover, catchfly, adder's-tongue
And brier-roses, dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste,
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer,
Seeing only what is fair,
Sipping only what is sweet,
Thou dost mock at fate and care,
Leave the chaff, and take the wheat.
When the fierce northwestern blast,
Cools sea and land so far and fast,
Thou already slumberest deep;
Woe and want thou canst outsleep;
Want and woe, which torture us,
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden's end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come and see the north wind's masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.
The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter "Little Prig";
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere.
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll snot deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."
Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
At rich men's tables eaten bread and pulse?
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
And loved so well a high behavior,
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobility more nobly to repay?
O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!
SUNG AT THE COMPLETION OF THE BATTLE MONUMENT,
APRIL 19, 1836
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creep.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
The word of the Lord by night
To the watching Pilgrims came,
As they sat beside the seaside,
And filled their hearts with flame.
Cod said, I am tired of kings,
I suffer them no more;
Up to my ear the morning brings
The outrage of the poor.
Think ve I made this ball
A field of havoc and war,
Where tyrants great and tyrants small
Might harry the weak and poor?
My angel,--his name is Freedom,
Choose him to be your king;
He shall cut pathways east and west
And fend you with his wing.
Lo! I uncover the land
Which I hid of old time in the West,
As the sculptor uncovers the statue
When he has wrought his best;
I show Columbia, of the rocks
Which dip their foot in the seas
And soar to the air-borne flocks
Of clouds and the boreal fleece.
I will divide my goods;
Call in the wretch and slave
None shall rule but the humble,
And none but Toil shall have.
I will have never a noble,
No lineage counted great;
Fishers and choppers and ploughmen
Shall constitute a state.
Go, cut down trees in the forest
And trim the straightest boughs;
Cut down trees in the forest
And build me a wooden house.
Call the people together,
The young men and the sires,
The digger in the harvest-field,
Hireling and him that hires;
And here in a pine state-house
They shall choose men to rule
In every needful faculty,
In church and state and school.
Lo, now! if these poor men
Can govern the land and the sea
And make just laws below the sun,
As planets faithful be.
And ye shall succor men;
'Tis nobleness to serve;
Help them who cannot help again
Beware from right to swerve.
I break your bonds and masterships,
And I unchain the slave
Free be his heart and hand henceforth
As wind and wandering wave.
I cause from every creature
His proper good to flow
As much as he is and doeth,
So much he shall bestow.
But, laying hands on another
To coin his labor and sweat,
He goes in pawn to his victim
For eternal years in debt.
To-day unbind the captive,
So only are ye unbound;
Lift up a people from the dust,
Trump of their rescue, sound!
Pay ransom to the owner
And fill the bag to the brim.
Who is the owner? The slave is owner,
And ever was. Pay him.
O North! give him beauty for rags,
And honor, O South! for his shame;
Nevada! coin thy golden crags
With Freedom's image and name.
Up! and the dusky race
That sat in darkness long,--
Be swift their feet as antelopes,
And as behemoth strong.
Come, East and West and North,
By races, as snow-flakes,
And carry my purpose forth,
Which neither halts nor shakes.
My will fulfilled shall be,
For, in daylight or in dark,
My thunderbolt has eyes to see
His way home to the mark.
You shall not be overbold
When you deal with arctic cold,
As late I found my lukewarm blood
Chilled wading in the snow-choked wood.
How should I fight? my foeman fine
Has million arms to one of mine
East, west, for aid I looked in vain,
East, west, north, south, are his domain,
Miles off, three dangerous miles, is home;
Must borrow his winds who there would come.
Up and away for life! be fleet!--
The frost-king ties my fumbling feet,
Sings in my ears, my hands are stones
Curdles the blood to the marble bones,
Tugs at the heart-strings, numbs the sense,
And hems in life with narrowing fence.
Well, in this broad bed lie and sleep,--
The punctual stars will vigil keep,--
Embalmed by purifying cold;
The winds shall sing their dead-march old,
The snow is no ignoble shroud,
The moon thy mourner, and the cloud.
Softly--but this way fate was pointing,
'Twas coming fast to such anointing,
When piped a tiny voice hard by,
Gay and polite, a cheerful cry,
Chic-chic-a-dee-dee! saucy note
Out of sound heart and merry throat,
As if it said, "Good day, good sir!
Fine afternoon, old passenger!
Happy to meet you in these places
Where January brings few faces."
This poet, though he lived apart,
Moved by his hospitable heart,
Sped, when I passed his sylvan fort,
To do the honors of his court,
As fits a feathered lord of land;
Flew near, with soft wing grazed my hand,
Hopped on the bough, then, darting low,
Prints his small impress on the snow,
Shows feats of his gymnastic play,
Head downward, clinging to the spray.
Here was this atom in full breath,
Hurling defiance at vast death;
This scrap of valor just for play
Fronts the north-wind in waistcoat gray,
As if to shame my weak behavior;
I greeted loud my little savior,
"You pet! what dost here? and what for?
In these woods, thy small Labrador,
At this pinch, wee San Salvador!
What fire burns in that little chest
So frolic, stout and self-possest?
Henceforth I wear no stripe but thine;
Ashes and jet all hues outshine.
Why are not diamonds black and gray,
To ape thy dare-devil array?
And I affirm, the spacious North
Exists to draw thy virtue forth.
I think no virtue goes with size;
The reason of all cowardice
Is, that men are overgrown,
And, to be valiant, must come down
To the titmouse dimension."
'Tis good will makes intelligence,
And I began to catch the sense
Of my bird's song: "Live out of doors
In the great woods, on prairie floors.
I dine in the sun; when he sinks in the sea,
I too have a hole in a hollow tree;
And I like less when Summer beats
With stifling beams on these retreats,
Than noontide twilights which snow makes
With tempest of the blinding flakes.
For well the soul, if stout within,
Can arm impregnably the skin;
And polar frost my frame defied,
Made of the air that blows outside."
With glad remembrance of my debt,
I homeward turn; farewell, my pet!
When here again thy pilgrim comes,
He shall bring store of seeds and crumbs,
Doubt not, so long as earth has bread,
Thou first and foremost shah be fed;
The Providence that is most large
Takes hearts like throe in special charge,
Helps who for their own need are strong,
And the sky dotes on cheerful song.
Henceforth I prize thy wiry chant
O'er all that mass and minster vaunt;
For men mis-hear thy call in Spring,
As 'twould accost some frivolous wing,
Crying out of the hazel copse, Phe-be!
And, in winter, Chic-a-dee-dee!
I think old Caesar must have heard
In northern Gaul my dauntless bird,
And, echoed in some frosty wold,
Borrowed thy battle-numbers bold.
And I will write our annals new,
And thank thee for a better clew,
I, who dreamed not when I came her
To find the antidote of fear,
Now hear thee say in Roman key.
Paean! Veni, vidi, vici.
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
Then Thorstein looked at Hakon, where he sate,
Mute as a cloud amid the stormy hall,
And said: "O Skald, sing now an olden song,
Such as our fathers heard who led great lives;
And, as the bravest on a shield is borne
Along the waving host that shouts him king,
So rode their thrones upon the thronging seas!"
Then the old man arose; white-haired he stood,
White-bearded with eyes that looked afar
From their still region of perpetual snow,
Over the little smokes and stirs of men:
His head was bowed with gathered flakes of years,
As winter bends the sea-foreboding pine,
But something triumphed in his brow and eye,
Which whoso saw it, could not see and crouch:
Loud rang the emptied beakers as he mused,
Brooding his eyried thoughts; then, as an eagle
Circles smooth-winged above the wind-vexed woods,
5o wheeled his soul into the air of song
High o'er the stormy hall; and thus he sang:
"The fletcher for his arrow-shaft picks out
Wood closest-grained, long-seasoned, straight as light;
And, from a quiver full of such as these,
The wary bow-man, matched against his peers,
Long doubting, singles yet once more the best.
Who is it that can make such shafts as Fate?
What archer of his arrows is so choice,
Or hits the white so surely? They are men,
The chosen of her quiver; nor for her
Will every reed suffice, or cross-grained stick
At random from life's vulgar fagot plucked:
Such answer household ends; but she will have
Souls straight and clear, of toughest fibre, sound
Down to the heart of heart; from these she strips
All needless stuff, all sapwood; hardens them;
From circumstance untoward feathers plucks
Crumpled and cheap; and barbs with iron will:
The hour that passes is her quiver-boy;
When she draws bow, 'tis not across the wind,
Nor 'gainst the sun, her haste-snatched arrow sings,
For sun and wind have plighted faith to her
Ere men have heard the sinew twang, behold,
In the butt's heart her trembling messenger!
"The song is old and simple that I sing;
Good were the days of yore, when men were tried
By ring of shields, as now by ring of gold;
But, while the gods are left, and hearts of men,
And the free ocean, still the days are good;
Through the broad Earth roams Opportunity
And knocks at every door of but or hall,
Until she finds the brave soul that she wants."
He ceased, and instantly the frothy tide
Of interrupted wassail roared along;
But Leif, the son of Eric, sat apart
Musing, and, with his eyes upon the fire,
Saw shapes of arrows, lost as soon as seen;
lint then with that resolve his heart was bent,
Which, like a humming shaft, through many a stripe
Of day and night across the unventured seas,
Shot the brave prow to cut on Vinland sands
The first rune in the Saga of the West.
O poet! above all men blest,
Take heed that thus thou store them;
Love, Hope, and Faith shall ever rest,
Sweet birds (upon how sweet a nest!)
Watchfully brooding o'er them.
And from those flowers of Paradise
Scatter thou many a blessed seed,
Wherefrom an offspring may arise
To cheer the hearts and light the eyes
Of after-voyagers in their need.
They shall not fall on stony ground,
But, yielding all their hundred-fold,
Shall shed a peacefulness around,
Whose strengthening joy may not be told!
So shall thy name be blest of all,
And thy remembrance never die;
For of that seed shall surely fall
In the fair garden of Eternity,
Exult then m the nobleness
Of this thy work so holy,
Yet be not thou one jot the less
Humble and meek and lowly,
But let throe exultation be
The reverence of a bended knee;
And by thy life a poem write,
Built strongly day by day--
on the rock of Truth and Right
Its deep foundations lay.
I cannot say a scene is fair
Because it is beloved of thee
But I shall love to linger there,
For sake of thy dear memory;
I would not be so coldly just
As to love only what I must.
I cannot say a thought is good
Because thou foundest joy in it;
Each soul must choose its proper food
Which Nature hath decreed most fit;
But I shall ever deem it so
Because it made thy heart o'erflow.
I love thee for that thou art fair;
And that thy spirit joys in aught
Createth a new beauty there,
With throe own dearest image fraught;
And love, for others' sake that springs,
Gives half their charm to lovely things.
I not as all other women are
Is she that to my soul is dear;
Her glorious fancies come from far,
Beneath the silver evening-star,
And yet her heart is ever near.
Great feelings has she of her own,
Which lesser souls may never know;
God giveth them to her alone,
And sweet they are as any tone
Wherewith the wind may choose to blow.
Yet in herself she dwelleth not,
Although no home were half so fair;
No simplest duty is forgot,
Life hath no dim and lowly spot
That doth not in her sunshine share.
She doeth little kindnesses,
Which most leave undone, or despise;
For naught that sets one heart at ease,
And giveth happiness or peace,
Is low-esteemed m her eyes.
She hath no scorn of common things,
And, though she seem of other birth,
Round us her heart entwines and clings,
And patiently she folds her wings
To tread the humble paths of earth.
Blessing she is: God made her so,
And deeds of week-day holiness
Fall from her noiseless as the snow,
Nor hath she ever chanced to know
That aught were easier than to bless.
She is most fair, and thereunto
Her life loth rightly harmonize;
Feeling or thought that was not true
Ne'er made less beautiful the blue
Unclouded heaven of her eyes.
She is a woman: one in whom
The spring-time of her childish years
Hath never lost its fresh perfume,
Though knowing well that life bath room
For many blights and many tears.
I love her with a love as still
As a broad river's peaceful might,
Which, by high tower and lowly mill,
Goes wandering at its own will,
And yet doth ever flow aright.
And, on its full, deep breast serene,
Like quiet isles my duties lie;
It flows around them and between,
And makes them fresh and fair and green,
Sweet homes wherein to live and die.
Into the sunshine,
Full of the light,
Leaping and flashing
From morn till night!
Into the moonlight,
Whiter than snow,
Waving so flower-like
When the winds blow!
Into the starlight,
Rushing in spray,
Happy at midnight,
Happy by day!
Ever in motion,
Blithesome and cheery.
Still climbing heavenward,
Glad of all weathers,
Still seeming best,
Upward or downward,
Motion thy rest;--
Full of a nature
Nothing can tame,
Changed every moment,
Ever the same;--
Darkness or sunshine
Let my heart be
Fresh, changeful, constant,
Upward, like thee!
THE SHEPHERD OF KING ADMETUS
There came a youth upon the earth,
Some thousand years ago,
Whose slender hands were nothing worth,
Whether to plow, to reap, or sow.
Upon an empty tortoise-shell
He stretched some chords, and drew
Music that made men's bosoms swell
Fearless, or brimmed their eyes with dew.
Then King Admetus, one who had
Pure taste by right divine,
Decreed his singing not too bad
To hear between the cups of wine
And so, well-pleased with being soothed
Into a sweet half-sleep,
Three times his kingly beard he smoothed,
And made him viceroy o'er his sheep.
His words were simple words enough,
And yet he used them so,
That what in other mouths was rough
In his seemed musical and low.
Men called him but a shiftless youth,
In whom no good they saw;
And yet, unwittingly, in truth,
They made his careless words their law.
They knew not how he learned at all,
For idly, hour by hour,
He sat and watched the dead leaves fall,
Or mused upon a common flower.
It seemed the loveliness of things
Did teach him all their use,
For, in mere weeds, and stones, and springs,
He found a healing power profuse.
Men granted that his speech was wise,
But, when a glance they caught
Of his slim grace and woman's eyes,
They laughed, and called him good-for-naught.
Yet after he was dead and gone,
And e'en his memory dim,
Earth seemed more sweet to live upon,
More full of love, because of him.
And day by day more holy grew
Each spot where he had trod,
Till after--poets only knew