Part 13 out of 21
In some dark corner shall be leant.
The robin sings, as of old, from the limb!
The cat-bird croons in the lilac-bush!
Through the dim arbor, himself more dim,
Silently hops the hermit-thrush,
The withered leaves keep dumb for him;
The irreverent buccaneering bee
Hath stormed and rifled the nunnery 30
Of the lily, and scattered the sacred floor
With haste-dropt gold from shrine to door;
There, as of yore,
The rich, milk-tingeing buttercup
Its tiny polished urn holds up,
Filled with ripe summer to the edge,
The sun in his own wine to pledge;
And our tall elm, this hundredth year
Doge of our leafy Venice here,
Who, with an annual ring, doth wed 40
The blue Adriatic overhead,
Shadows with his palatial mass
The deep canals of flowing grass.
O unestranged birds and bees!
O face of Nature always true!
O never-unsympathizing trees!
O never-rejecting roof of blue,
Whose rash disherison never falls
On us unthinking prodigals,
Yet who convictest all our ill, 50
So grand and unappeasable!
Methinks my heart from each of these
Plucks part of childhood back again,
Long there imprisoned, as the breeze
Doth every hidden odor seize
Of wood and water, hill and plain:
Once more am I admitted peer
In the upper house of Nature here,
And feel through all my pulses run
The royal blood of wind and sun. 60
Upon these elm-arched solitudes
No hum of neighbor toil intrudes;
The only hammer that I hear
Is wielded by the woodpecker,
The single noisy calling his
In all our leaf-hid Sybaris;
The good old time, close-hidden here,
Persists, a loyal cavalier,
While Roundheads prim, with point of fox,
Probe wainscot-chink and empty box; 70
Here no hoarse-voiced iconoclast,
Insults thy statues, royal Past;
Myself too prone the axe to wield,
I touch the silver side of the shield
With lance reversed, and challenge peace,
A willing convert of the trees.
How chanced it that so long I tost
A cable's length from this rich coast,
With foolish anchors hugging close
The beckoning weeds and lazy ooze, 80
Nor had the wit to wreck before
On this enchanted island's shore,
Whither the current of the sea,
With wiser drift, persuaded me?
Oh, might we but of such rare days
Build up the spirit's dwelling-place!
A temple of so Parian stone
Would brook a marble god alone,
The statue of a perfect life,
Far-shrined from earth's bestaining strife. 90
Alas! though such felicity
In our vext world here may not be,
Yet, as sometimes the peasant's hut
Shows stones which old religion cut
With text inspired, or mystic sign
Of the Eternal and Divine,
Torn from the consecration deep
Of some fallen nunnery's mossy sleep,
So, from the ruins of this day
Crumbling in golden dust away, 100
The soul one gracious block may draw,
Carved with, some fragment of the law,
Which, set in life's prosaic wall,
Old benedictions may recall,
And lure some nunlike thoughts to take
Their dwelling here for memory's sake.
IN THE BRANCACCI CHAPEL
He came to Florence long ago,
And painted here these walls, that shone
For Raphael and for Angelo,
With secrets deeper than his own,
Then shrank into the dark again,
And died, we know not how or when.
The shadows deepened, and I turned
Half sadly from the fresco grand;
'And is this,' mused I, 'all ye earned,
High-vaulted brain and cunning hand,
That ye to greater men could teach
The skill yourselves could never reach?'
'And who were they,' I mused, 'that wrought
Through pathless wilds, with labor long,
The highways of our daily thought?
Who reared those towers of earliest song
That lift us from the crowd to peace
Remote in sunny silences?'
Out clanged the Ave Mary bells,
And to my heart this message came:
Each clamorous throat among them tells
What strong-souled martyrs died in flame
To make it possible that thou
Shouldst here with brother sinners bow.
Thoughts that great hearts once broke for, we
Breathe cheaply in the common air;
The dust we trample heedlessly
Throbbed once in saints and heroes rare,
Who perished, opening for their race
New pathways to the commonplace.
Henceforth, when rings the health to those
Who live in story and in song,
O nameless dead, that now repose,
Safe in Oblivion's chambers strong,
One cup of recognition true
Shall silently be drained to you!
WITHOUT AND WITHIN
My coachman, in the moonlight there,
Looks through the side-light of the door;
I hear him with his brethren swear,
As I could do,--but only more.
Flattening his nose against the pane,
He envies me my brilliant lot,
Breathes on his aching fists in vain,
And dooms me to a place more hot.
He sees me in to supper go,
A silken wonder by my side,
Bare arms, bare shoulders, and a row
Of flounces, for the door too wide.
He thinks how happy is my arm
'Neath its white-gloved and jewelled load;
And wishes me some dreadful harm,
Hearing the merry corks explode.
Meanwhile I inly curse the bore
Of hunting still the same old coon,
And envy him, outside the door,
In golden quiets of the moon.
The winter wind is not so cold
As the bright smile he sees me win,
Nor the host's oldest wine so old
As our poor gabble sour and thin.
I envy him the ungyved prance
With which his freezing feet he warms,
And drag my lady's chains and dance
The galley-slave of dreary forms.
Oh, could he have my share of din,
And I his quiet!--past a doubt
'Twould still be one man bored within,
And just another bored without.
Nay, when, once paid my mortal fee,
Some idler on my headstone grim
Traces the moss-blurred name, will he
Think me the happier, or I him?
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
WRITTEN IN AID OF A CHIME OF BELLS FOR CHRIST CHURCH, CAMBRIDGE
Godminster? Is it Fancy's play?
I know not, but the word
Sings in my heart, nor can I say
Whether 'twas dreamed or heard;
Yet fragrant in my mind it clings
As blossoms after rain,
And builds of half-remembered things
This vision in my brain.
Through aisles of long-drawn centuries
My spirit walks in thought,
And to that symbol lifts its eyes
Which God's own pity wrought;
From Calvary shines the altar's gleam,
The Church's East is there,
The Ages one great minster seem,
That throbs with praise and prayer.
And all the way from Calvary down
The carven pavement shows
Their graves who won the martyr's crown
And safe in God repose;
The saints of many a warring creed
Who now in heaven have learned
That all paths to the Father lead
Where Self the feet have spurned.
And, as the mystic aisles I pace,
By aureoled workmen built,
Lives ending at the Cross I trace
Alike through grace and guilt;
One Mary bathes the blessed feet
With ointment from her eyes,
With spikenard one, and both are sweet,
For both are sacrifice.
Moravian hymn and Roman chant
In one devotion blend,
To speak the soul's eternal want
Of Him, the inmost friend;
One prayer soars cleansed with martyr fire,
One choked with sinner's tears,
In heaven both meet in one desire,
And God one music hears.
Whilst thus I dream, the bells clash out
Upon the Sabbath air,
Each seems a hostile faith to shout,
A selfish form of prayer:
My dream is shattered, yet who knows
But in that heaven so near
These discords find harmonious close
In God's atoning ear?
O chime of sweet Saint Charity,
Peal soon that Easter morn
When Christ for all shall risen be,
And in all hearts new-born!
That Pentecost when utterance clear
To all men shall be given,
When all shall say _My Brother_ here,
And hear _My Son_ in heaven!
THE PARTING OF THE WAYS
Who hath not been a poet? Who hath not,
With life's new quiver full of winged years,
Shot at a venture, and then, following on,
Stood doubtful at the Parting of the Ways?
There once I stood in dream, and as I paused,
Looking this way and that, came forth to me
The figure of a woman veiled, that said,
'My name is Duty, turn and follow me;'
Something there was that chilled me in her voice;
I felt Youth's hand grow slack and cold in mine, 10
As if to be withdrawn, and I exclaimed:
'Oh, leave the hot wild heart within my breast!
Duty comes soon enough, too soon comes Death;
This slippery globe of life whirls of itself,
Hasting our youth away into the dark;
These senses, quivering with electric heats,
Too soon will show, like nests on wintry boughs
Obtrusive emptiness, too palpable wreck,
Which whistling north-winds line with downy snow
Sometimes, or fringe with foliaged rime, in vain, 20
Thither the singing birds no more return.'
Then glowed to me a maiden from the left,
With bosom half disclosed, and naked arms
More white and undulant than necks of swans;
And all before her steps an influence ran
Warm as the whispering South that opens buds
And swells the laggard sails of Northern May.
'I am called Pleasure, come with me!' she said,
Then laughed, and shook out sunshine from her hair,
Nor only that, but, so it seemed, shook out 30
All memory too, and all the moonlit past,
Old loves, old aspirations, and old dreams,
More beautiful for being old and gone.
So we two went together; downward sloped
The path through yellow meads, or so I dreamed,
Yellow with sunshine and young green, but I
Saw naught nor heard, shut up in one close joy;
I only felt the hand within my own,
Transmuting all my blood to golden fire,
Dissolving all my brain in throbbing mist. 40
Suddenly shrank the hand; suddenly burst
A cry that split the torpor of my brain,
And as the first sharp thrust of lightning loosens
From the heaped cloud its rain, loosened my sense:
'Save me!' it thrilled; 'oh, hide me! there is Death!
Death the divider, the unmerciful,
That digs his pitfalls under Love and Youth,
And covers Beauty up in the cold ground;
Horrible Death! bringer of endless dark;
Let him not see me! hide me in thy breast!' 50
Thereat I strove to clasp her, but my arms
Met only what slipped crumbling down, and fell,
A handful of gray ashes, at my feet.
I would have fled, I would have followed back
That pleasant path we came, but all was changed;
Rocky the way, abrupt, and hard to find;
Yet I toiled on, and, toiling on, I thought,
'That way lies Youth, and Wisdom, and all Good;
For only by unlearning Wisdom comes
And climbing backward to diviner Youth; 60
What the world teaches profits to the world,
What the soul teaches profits to the soul,
Which then first stands erect with Godward face,
When she lets fall her pack of withered facts,
The gleanings of the outward eye and ear,
And looks and listens with her finer sense;
Nor Truth nor Knowledge cometh from without.'
After long, weary days I stood again
And waited at the Parting of the Ways;
Again the figure of a woman veiled 70
Stood forth and beckoned, and I followed now:
Down to no bower of roses led the path,
But through the streets of towns where chattering Cold
Hewed wood for fires whose glow was owned and fenced,
Where Nakedness wove garments of warm wool
Not for itself;--or through the fields it led
Where Hunger reaped the unattainable grain,
Where idleness enforced saw idle lands,
Leagues of unpeopled soil, the common earth,
Walled round with paper against God and Man. 80
'I cannot look,' I groaned, 'at only these;
The heart grows hardened with perpetual wont,
And palters with a feigned necessity,
Bargaining with itself to be content;
Let me behold thy face.'
The Form replied:
'Men follow Duty, never overtake;
Duty nor lifts her veil nor looks behind.'
But, as she spake, a loosened lock of hair
Slipped from beneath her hood, and I, who looked
To see it gray and thin, saw amplest gold; 90
Not that dull metal dug from sordid earth,
But such as the retiring sunset flood
Leaves heaped on bays and capes of island cloud.
'O Guide divine,' I prayed, 'although not yet
I may repair the virtue which I feel
Gone out at touch of untuned things and foul
With draughts of Beauty, yet declare how soon!'
'Faithless and faint of heart,' the voice returned,
'Thou seest no beauty save thou make it first;
Man, Woman, Nature each is but a glass 100
Where the soul sees the image of herself,
Visible echoes, offsprings of herself.
But, since thou need'st assurance of how soon,
Wait till that angel comes who opens all,
The reconciler, he who lifts the veil,
The reuniter, the rest-bringer, Death.'
I waited, and methought he came; but how,
Or in what shape, I doubted, for no sign,
By touch or mark, he gave me as he passed;
Only I knew a lily that I held 110
Snapt short below the head and shrivelled up;
Then turned my Guide and looked at me unveiled,
And I beheld no face of matron stern,
But that enchantment I had followed erst,
Only more fair, more clear to eye and brain,
Heightened and chastened by a household charm;
She smiled, and 'Which is fairer,' said her eyes,
'The hag's unreal Florimel or mine?'
When I was a beggarly boy
And lived in a cellar damp,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
But I had Aladdin's lamp;
When I could not sleep for the cold,
I had fire enough in my brain,
And builded, with roofs of gold,
My beautiful castles in Spain!
Since then I have toiled day and night,
I have money and power good store,
But I'd give all my lamps of silver bright
For the one that is mine no more;
Take, Fortune, whatever you choose,
You gave, and may snatch again;
I have nothing 'twould pain me to lose,
For I own no more castles in Spain!
TO J[OHN] F[RANCIS] H[EATH]
Nine years have slipt like hour-glass sand
From life's still-emptying globe away,
Since last, dear friend, I clasped your hand,
And stood upon the impoverished land,
Watching the steamer down the bay.
I held the token which you gave,
While slowly the smoke-pennon curled
O'er the vague rim 'tween sky and wave,
And shut the distance like a grave,
Leaving me in the colder world; 10
The old, worn world of hurry and heat,
The young, fresh world of thought and scope;
While you, where beckoning billows fleet
Climb far sky-beaches still and sweet,
Sank wavering down the ocean-slope.
You sought the new world in the old,
I found the old world in the new,
All that our human hearts can hold,
The inward world of deathless mould,
The same that Father Adam knew. 20
He needs no ship to cross the tide,
Who, in the lives about him, sees
Fair window-prospects opening wide
O'er history's fields on every side,
To Ind and Egypt, Rome and Greece.
Whatever moulds of various brain
E'er shaped the world to weal or woe,
Whatever empires' wax and wane
To him that hath not eyes in vain,
Our village-microcosm can show. 30
Come back our ancient walks to tread,
Dear haunts of lost or scattered friends,
Old Harvard's scholar-factories red,
Where song and smoke and laughter sped
The nights to proctor-haunted ends.
Constant are all our former loves,
Unchanged the icehouse-girdled pond,
Its hemlock glooms, its shadowy coves,
Where floats the coot and never moves,
Its slopes of long-tamed green beyond. 40
Our old familiars are not laid,
Though snapt our wands and sunk our books;
They beckon, not to be gainsaid,
Where, round broad meads that mowers wade,
The Charles his steel-blue sickle crooks.
Where, as the cloudbergs eastward blow,
From glow to gloom the hillsides shift
Their plumps of orchard-trees arow,
Their lakes of rye that wave and flow,
Their snowy whiteweed's summer drift. 50
There have we watched the West unfurl
A cloud Byzantium newly born,
With flickering spires and domes of pearl,
And vapory surfs that crowd and curl
Into the sunset's Golden Horn.
There, as the flaming occident
Burned slowly down to ashes gray,
Night pitched o'erhead her silent tent,
And glimmering gold from Hesper sprent
Upon the darkened river lay, 60
Where a twin sky but just before
Deepened, and double swallows skimmed,
And from a visionary shore
Hung visioned trees, that more and more
Grew dusk as those above were dimmed.
Then eastward saw we slowly grow
Clear-edged the lines of roof and spire,
While great elm-masses blacken slow,
And linden-ricks their round heads show
Against a flush of widening fire. 70
Doubtful at first and far away,
The moon-flood creeps more wide and wide;
Up a ridged beach of cloudy gray,
Curved round the east as round a bay,
It slips and spreads its gradual tide.
Then suddenly, in lurid mood,
The disk looms large o'er town and field
As upon Adam, red like blood,
'Tween him and Eden's happy wood,
Glared the commissioned angel's shield. 80
Or let us seek the seaside, there
To wander idly as we list,
Whether, on rocky headlands bare,
Sharp cedar-horns, like breakers, tear
The trailing fringes of gray mist,
Or whether, under skies full flown,
The brightening surfs, with foamy din,
Their breeze-caught forelocks backward blown,
Against the beach's yellow zone
Curl slow, and plunge forever in. 90
And, as we watch those canvas towers
That lean along the horizon's rim,
'Sail on,' I'll say; 'may sunniest hours
Convoy you from this land of ours,
Since from my side you bear not him!'
For years thrice three, wise Horace said,
A poem rare let silence bind;
And love may ripen to the shade,
Like ours, for nine long seasons laid
In deepest arches of the mind. 100
Come back! Not ours the Old World's good,
The Old World's ill, thank God, not ours;
But here, far better understood,
The days enforce our native mood,
And challenge all our manlier powers.
Kindlier to me the place of birth
That first my tottering footsteps trod;
There may be fairer spots of earth,
But all their glories are not worth
The virtue in the native sod. 110
Thence climbs an influence more benign
Through pulse and nerve, through heart and brain;
Sacred to me those fibres fine
That first clasped earth. Oh, ne'er be mine
The alien sun and alien rain!
These nourish not like homelier glows
Or waterings of familiar skies,
And nature fairer blooms bestows
On the heaped hush of wintry snows,
In pastures dear to childhood's eyes, 120
Than where Italian earth receives
The partial sunshine's ampler boons,
Where vines carve friezes 'neath the eaves,
And, in dark firmaments of leaves,
The orange lifts its golden moons.
What Nature makes in any mood
To me is warranted for good,
Though long before I learned to see
She did not set us moral theses,
And scorned to have her sweet caprices
Strait-waistcoated in you or me.
I, who take root and firmly cling,
Thought fixedness the only thing;
Why Nature made the butterflies,
(Those dreams of wings that float and hover 10
At noon the slumberous poppies over,)
Was something hidden from mine eyes,
Till once, upon a rock's brown bosom,
Bright as a thorny cactus-blossom,
I saw a butterfly at rest;
Then first of both I felt the beauty;
The airy whim, the grim-set duty,
Each from the other took its best.
Clearer it grew than winter sky
That Nature still had reasons why; 20
And, shifting sudden as a breeze,
My fancy found no satisfaction,
No antithetic sweet attraction,
So great as in the Nomades.
Scythians, with Nature not at strife,
Light Arabs of our complex life,
They build no houses, plant no mills
To utilize Time's sliding river,
Content that it flow waste forever,
If they, like it, may have their wills. 30
An hour they pitch their shifting tents
In thoughts, in feelings, and events;
Beneath the palm-trees, on the grass,
They sing, they dance, make love, and chatter,
Vex the grim temples with their clatter,
And make Truth's fount their looking-glass.
A picnic life; from love to love,
From faith to faith they lightly move,
And yet, hard-eyed philosopher,
The flightiest maid that ever hovered 40
To me your thought-webs fine discovered,
No lens to see them through like her.
So witchingly her finger-tips
To Wisdom, as away she trips,
She kisses, waves such sweet farewells
To Duty, as she laughs 'To-morrow!'
That both from that mad contrast borrow
A perfectness found nowhere else.
The beach-bird on its pearly verge
Follows and flies the whispering surge, 50
While, in his tent, the rock-stayed shell
Awaits the flood's star-timed vibrations,
And both, the flutter and the patience,
The sauntering poet loves them well.
Fulfil so much of God's decree
As works its problem out in thee,
Nor dream that in thy breast alone
The conscience of the changeful seasons,
The Will that in the planets reasons
With space-wide logic, has its throne. 60
Thy virtue makes not vice of mine,
Unlike, but none the less divine;
Thy toil adorns, not chides, my play;
Nature of sameness is so chary,
With such wild whim the freakish fairy
Picks presents for the christening-day.
A presence both by night and day,
That made my life seem just begun,
Yet scarce a presence, rather say
The warning aureole of one.
And yet I felt it everywhere;
Walked I the woodland's aisles along,
It seemed to brush me with its hair;
Bathed I, I heard a mermaid's song.
How sweet it was! A buttercup
Could hold for me a day's delight,
A bird could lift my fancy up
To ether free from cloud or blight.
Who was the nymph? Nay, I will see,
Methought, and I will know her near;
If such, divined, her charm can be,
Seen and possessed, how triply dear!
So every magic art I tried,
And spells as numberless as sand,
Until, one evening, by my side
I saw her glowing fulness stand.
I turned to clasp her, but 'Farewell,'
Parting she sighed, 'we meet no more;
Not by my hand the curtain fell
That leaves you conscious, wise, and poor.
'Since you nave found me out, I go;
Another lover I must find,
Content his happiness to know,
Nor strive its secret to unwind.'
PICTURES FROM APPLEDORE
A heap of bare and splintery crags
Tumbled about by lightning and frost,
With rifts and chasms and storm-bleached jags,
That wait and growl for a ship to be lost;
No island, but rather the skeleton
Of a wrecked and vengeance-smitten one,
Where, aeons ago, with half-shut eye,
The sluggish saurian crawled to die,
Gasping under titanic ferns;
Ribs of rock that seaward jut, 10
Granite shoulders and boulders and snags,
Round which, though the winds in heaven be shut,
The nightmared ocean murmurs and yearns,
Welters, and swashes, and tosses, and turns,
And the dreary black seaweed lolls and wags;
Only rock from shore to shore,
Only a moan through the bleak clefts blown,
With sobs in the rifts where the coarse kelp shifts,
Falling and lifting, tossing and drifting,
And under all a deep, dull roar, 20
Dying and swelling, forevermore,--
Rock and moan and roar alone,
And the dread of some nameless thing unknown,
These make Appledore.
These make Appledore by night:
Then there are monsters left and right;
Every rock is a different monster;
All you have read of, fancied, dreamed,
When you waked at night because you screamed,
There they lie for half a mile, 30
Jumbled together in a pile,
And (though you know they never once stir)
If you look long, they seem to be moving
Just as plainly as plain can be,
Crushing and crowding, wading and shoving
Out into the awful sea,
Where you can hear them snort and spout
With pauses between, as if they were listening,
Then tumult anon when the surf breaks glistening
In the blackness where they wallow about. 40
All this you would scarcely comprehend,
Should you see the isle on a sunny day;
Then it is simple enough in its way,--
Two rocky bulges, one at each end,
With a smaller bulge and a hollow between;
Patches of whortleberry and bay;
Accidents of open green,
Sprinkled with loose slabs square and gray,
Like graveyards for ages deserted; a few
Unsocial thistles; an elder or two, 50
Foamed over with blossoms white as spray;
And on the whole island never a tree
Save a score of sumachs, high as your knee.
That crouch in hollows where they may,
(The cellars where once stood a village, men say,)
Huddling for warmth, and never grew
Tall enough for a peep at the sea;
A general dazzle of open blue;
A breeze always blowing and playing rat-tat
With the bow of the ribbon round your hat; 60
A score of sheep that do nothing but stare
Up or down at you everywhere;
Three or four cattle that chew the cud
Lying about in a listless despair;
A medrick that makes you look overhead
With short, sharp scream, as he sights his prey,
And, dropping straight and swift as lead,
Splits the water with sudden thud;--
This is Appledore by day.
A common island, you will say; 70
But stay a moment: only climb
Up to the highest rock of the isle,
Stand there alone for a little while,
And with gentle approaches it grows sublime,
Dilating slowly as you win
A sense from the silence to take it in.
So wide the loneness, so lucid the air,
The granite beneath you so savagely bare,
You well might think you were looking down
From some sky-silenced mountain's crown, 80
Whose waist-belt of pines is wont to tear
Locks of wool from the topmost cloud.
Only be sure you go alone,
For Grandeur is inaccessibly proud,
And never yet has backward thrown
Her veil to feed the stare of a crowd;
To more than one was never shown
That awful front, nor is it fit
That she, Cothurnus-shod, stand bowed
Until the self-approving pit 90
Enjoy the gust of its own wit
In babbling plaudits cheaply loud;
She hides her mountains and her sea
From the harriers of scenery,
Who hunt down sunsets, and huddle and bay,
Mouthing and mumbling the dying day.
Trust me, 'tis something to be cast
Face to face with one's Self at last,
To be taken out of the fuss and strife,
The endless clatter of plate and knife, 100
The bore of books and the bores of the street,
From the singular mess we agree to call Life,
Where that is best which the most fools vote is,
And planted firm on one's own two feet
So nigh to the great warm heart of God,
You almost seem to feel it beat
Down from the sunshine and up from the sod;
To be compelled, as it were, to notice
All the beautiful changes and chances
Through which the landscape flits and glances, 110
And to see how the face of common day
Is written all over with tender histories,
When you study it that intenser way
In which a lover looks at his mistress.
Till now you dreamed not what could be done
With a bit of rock and a ray of sun:
But look, how fade the lights and shades
Of keen bare edge and crevice deep!
How doubtfully it fades and fades,
And glows again, yon craggy steep, 120
O'er which, through color's dreamiest grades,
The musing sunbeams pause and creep!
Now pink it blooms, now glimmers gray,
Now shadows to a filmy blue,
Tries one, tries all, and will not stay,
But flits from opal hue to hue,
And runs through every tenderest range
Of change that seems not to be change,
So rare the sweep, so nice the art,
That lays no stress on any part, 130
But shifts and lingers and persuades;
So soft that sun-brush in the west,
That asks no costlier pigments' aids,
But mingling knobs, flaws, angles, dints,
Indifferent of worst or best,
Enchants the cliffs with wraiths and hints
And gracious preludings of tints,
Where all seems fixed, yet all evades,
And indefinably pervades
Perpetual movement with perpetual rest! 140
Away northeast is Boone Island light;
You might mistake it for a ship,
Only it stands too plumb upright,
And like the others does not slip
Behind the sea's unsteady brink;
Though, if a cloud-shade chance to dip
Upon it a moment, 'twill suddenly sink,
Levelled and lost in the darkened main,
Till the sun builds it suddenly up again,
As if with a rub of Aladdin's lamp. 150
On the mainland you see a misty camp
Of mountains pitched tumultuously:
That one looming so long and large
Is Saddleback, and that point you see
Over yon low and rounded marge,
Like the boss of a sleeping giant's targe
Laid over his breast, is Ossipee;
That shadow there may be Kearsarge;
That must be Great Haystack; I love these names,
Wherewith the lonely farmer tames 160
Nature to mute companionship
With his own mind's domestic mood,
And strives the surly world to clip
In the arms of familiar habitude.
'Tis well he could not contrive to make
A Saxon of Agamenticus:
He glowers there to the north of us,
Wrapt in his blanket of blue haze,
Unconvertibly savage, and scorns to take
The white man's baptism or his ways. 170
Him first on shore the coaster divines
Through the early gray, and sees him shake
The morning mist from his scalp-lock of pines;
Him first the skipper makes out in the west,
Ere the earliest sunstreak shoots tremulous,
Plashing with orange the palpitant lines
Of mutable billow, crest after crest,
And murmurs _Agamenticus!_
As if it were the name of a saint.
But is that a mountain playing cloud, 180
Or a cloud playing mountain, just there, so faint?
Look along over the low right shoulder
Of Agamenticus into that crowd
Of brassy thunderheads behind it;
Now you have caught it, but, ere you are older
By half an hour, you will lose it and find it
A score of times; while you look 'tis gone,
And, just as you've given it up, anon
It is there again, till your weary eyes
Fancy they see it waver and rise, 190
With its brother clouds; it is Agiochook,
There if you seek not, and gone if you look,
Ninety miles off as the eagle flies.
But mountains make not all the shore
The mainland shows to Appledore:
Eight miles the heaving water spreads
To a long, low coast with beaches and heads
That run through unimagined mazes,
As the lights and shades and magical hazes
Put them away or bring them near, 200
Shimmering, sketched out for thirty miles
Between two capes that waver like threads,
And sink in the ocean, and reappear,
Crumbled and melted to little isles
With filmy trees, that seem the mere
Half-fancies of drowsy atmosphere;
And see the beach there, where it is
Flat as a threshing-floor, beaten and packed
With the flashing flails of weariless seas,
How it lifts and looms to a precipice, 210
O'er whose square front, a dream, no more,
The steepened sand-stripes seem to pour,
A murmurless vision of cataract;
You almost fancy you hear a roar,
Fitful and faint from the distance wandering;
But 'tis only the blind old ocean maundering,
Raking the shingle to and fro,
Aimlessly clutching and letting go
The kelp-haired sedges of Appledore,
Slipping down with a sleepy forgetting, 220
And anon his ponderous shoulder setting,
With a deep, hoarse pant against Appledore.
Eastward as far as the eye can see,
Still eastward, eastward, endlessly,
The sparkle and tremor of purple sea
That rises before you, a flickering hill,
On and on to the shut of the sky,
And beyond, you fancy it sloping until
The same multitudinous throb and thrill
That vibrate under your dizzy eye 230
In ripples of orange and pink are sent
Where the poppied sails doze on the yard,
And the clumsy junk and proa lie
Sunk deep with precious woods and nard,
'Mid the palmy isles of the Orient.
Those leaning towers of clouded white
On the farthest brink of doubtful ocean,
That shorten and shorten out of sight,
Yet seem on the selfsame spot to stay,
Receding with a motionless motion, 240
Fading to dubious films of gray,
Lost, dimly found, then vanished wholly,
Will rise again, the great world under,
First films, then towers, then high-heaped clouds,
Whose nearing outlines sharpen slowly
Into tall ships with cobweb shrouds,
That fill long Mongol eyes with wonder,
Crushing the violet wave to spray
Past some low headland of Cathay;--
What was that sigh which seemed so near, 250
Chilling your fancy to the core?
'Tis only the sad old sea you hear,
That seems to seek forevermore
Something it cannot find, and so,
Sighing, seeks on, and tells its woe
To the pitiless breakers of Appledore.
How looks Appledore in a storm?
I have seen it when its crags seemed frantic,
Butting against the mad Atlantic,
When surge on surge would heap enorme, 260
Cliffs of emerald topped with snow,
That lifted and lifted, and then let go
A great white avalanche of thunder,
A grinding, blinding, deafening ire
Monadnock might have trembled under;
And the island, whose rock-roots pierce below
To where they are warmed with the central fire,
You could feel its granite fibres racked,
As it seemed to plunge with a shudder and thrill
Right at the breast of the swooping hill, 270
And to rise again snorting a cataract
Of rage-froth from every cranny and ledge,
While the sea drew its breath in hoarse and deep,
And the next vast breaker curled its edge,
Gathering itself for a mightier leap.
North, east, and south there are reefs and breakers
You would never dream of in smooth weather,
That toss and gore the sea for acres,
Bellowing and gnashing and snarling together;
Look northward, where Duck Island lies, 280
And over its crown you will see arise,
Against a background of slaty skies,
A row of pillars still and white,
That glimmer, and then are gone from sight,
As if the moon should suddenly kiss,
While you crossed the gusty desert by night,
The long colonnades of Persepolis;
Look southward for White Island light,
The lantern stands ninety feet o'er the tide;
There is first a half-mile of tumult and fight, 290
Of dash and roar and tumble and fright,
And surging bewilderment wild and wide,
Where the breakers struggle left and right,
Then a mile or more of rushing sea,
And then the lighthouse slim and lone;
And whenever the weight of ocean is thrown
Full and fair on White Island head,
A great mist-jotun you will see
Lifting himself up silently
High and huge o'er the lighthouse top, 300
With hands of wavering spray outspread,
Groping after the little tower,
That seems to shrink and shorten and cower,
Till the monster's arms of a sudden drop,
And silently and fruitlessly
He sinks back into the sea.
You, meanwhile, where drenched you stand,
Awaken once more to the rush and roar,
And on the rock-point tighten your hand,
As you turn and see a valley deep, 310
That was not there a moment before,
Suck rattling down between you and a heap
Of toppling billow, whose instant fall
Must sink the whole island once for all,
Or watch the silenter, stealthier seas
Feeling their way to you more and more;
If they once should clutch you high as the knees,
They would whirl you down like a sprig of kelp,
Beyond all reach of hope or help;--
And such in a storm is Appledore. 320
'Tis the sight of a lifetime to behold
The great shorn sun as you see it now,
Across eight miles of undulant gold
That widens landward, weltered and rolled,
With freaks of shadow and crimson stains;
To see the solid mountain brow
As it notches the disk, and gains and gains,
Until there comes, you scarce know when,
A tremble of fire o'er the parted lips
Of cloud and mountain, which vanishes; then 330
From the body of day the sun-soul slips
And the face of earth darkens; but now the strips
Of western vapor, straight and thin,
From which the horizon's swervings win
A grace of contrast, take fire and burn
Like splinters of touchwood, whose edges a mould
Of ashes o'er feathers; northward turn
For an instant, and let your eye grow cold
On Agamenticus, and when once more
You look, 'tis as if the land-breeze, growing, 340
From the smouldering brands the film were blowing,
And brightening them down to the very core;
Yet, they momently cool and dampen and deaden,
The crimson turns golden, the gold turns leaden,
Hardening into one black bar
O'er which, from the hollow heaven afar,
Shoots a splinter of light like diamond,
Half seen, half fancied; by and by
Beyond whatever is most beyond
In the uttermost waste of desert sky, 350
Grows a star;
And over it, visible spirit of dew,--
Ah, stir not, speak not, hold your breath,
Or surely the miracle vanisheth,--
The new moon, tranced in unspeakable blue!
No frail illusion; this were true,
Rather, to call it the canoe
Hollowed out of a single pearl,
That floats us from the Present's whirl
Back to those beings which were ours, 360
When wishes were winged things like powers!
Call it not light, that mystery tender,
Which broods upon the brooding ocean,
That flush of ecstasied surrender
To indefinable emotion,
That glory, mellower than a mist
Of pearl dissolved with amethyst,
Which rims Square Rock, like what they paint
Of mitigated heavenly splendor
Round the stern forehead of a Saint! 370
No more a vision, reddened, largened,
The moon dips toward her mountain nest,
And, fringing it with palest argent,
Slow sheathes herself behind the margent
Of that long cloud-bar in the West,
Whose nether edge, erelong, you see
The silvery chrism in turn anoint,
And then the tiniest rosy point
Touched doubtfully and timidly
Into the dark blue's chilly strip,
As some mute, wondering thing below, 381
Awakened by the thrilling glow,
Might, looking up, see Dian dip
One lucent foot's delaying tip
In Latmian fountains long ago.
Knew you what silence was before?
Here is no startle of dreaming bird
That sings in his sleep, or strives to sing;
Here is no sough of branches stirred,
Nor noise of any living thing, 390
Such as one hears by night on shore;
Only, now and then, a sigh,
With fickle intervals between,
Sometimes far, and sometimes nigh,
Such as Andromeda might have heard,
And fancied the huge sea-beast unseen
Turning in sleep; it is the sea
That welters and wavers uneasily.
Round the lonely reefs of Appledore.
I treasure in secret some long, fine hair
Of tenderest brown, but so inwardly golden
I half used to fancy the sunshine there,
So shy, so shifting, so waywardly rare,
Was only caught for the moment and holden
While I could say _Dearest!_ and kiss it, and then
In pity let go to the summer again.
I twisted this magic in gossamer strings
Over a wind-harp's Delphian hollow;
Then called to the idle breeze that swings
All day in the pine-tops, and clings, and sings
'Mid the musical leaves, and said, 'Oh, follow
The will of those tears that deepen my words,
And fly to my window to waken these chords.'
So they trembled to life, and, doubtfully
Feeling their way to my sense, sang, 'Say whether
They sit all day by the greenwood tree,
The lover and loved, as it wont to be,
When we--' But grief conquered, and all together
They swelled such weird murmur as haunts a shore
Of some planet dispeopled,--'Nevermore!'
Then from deep in the past, as seemed to me,
The strings gathered sorrow and sang forsaken,
'One lover still waits 'neath the greenwood tree,
But 'tis dark,' and they shuddered, 'where lieth she,
Dark and cold! Forever must one be taken?'
But I groaned, 'O harp of all ruth bereft,
This Scripture is sadder,--"the other left"!'
There murmured, as if one strove to speak,
And tears came instead; then the sad tones wandered
And faltered among the uncertain chords
In a troubled doubt between sorrow and words;
At last with themselves they questioned and pondered,
'Hereafter?--who knoweth?' and so they sighed
Down the long steps that lead to silence and died.
The little gate was reached at last,
Half hid in lilacs down the lane;
She pushed it wide, and, as she past,
A wistful look she backward cast,
And said,--'_Auf wiedersehen!_'
With hand on latch, a vision white
Lingered reluctant, and again
Half doubting if she did aright,
Soft as the dews that fell that night,
She said,--'_Auf wiedersehen!_'
The lamp's clear gleam flits up the stair;
I linger in delicious pain;
Ah, in that chamber, whose rich air
To breathe in thought I scarcely dare,
Thinks she,--'_Auf wiedersehen?_' ...
'Tis thirteen years; once more I press
The turf that silences the lane;
I hear the rustle of her dress,
I smell the lilacs, and--ah, yes,
I hear '_Auf wiedersehen!_'
Sweet piece of bashful maiden art!
The English words had seemed too fain,
But these--they drew us heart to heart,
Yet held us tenderly apart;
She said, '_Auf wiedersehen!_'
Still thirteen years: 'tis autumn now
On field and hill, in heart and brain;
The naked trees at evening sough;
The leaf to the forsaken bough
Sighs not,--'_Auf wiedersehen!_'
Two watched yon oriole's pendent dome,
That now is void, and dank with rain,
And one,--oh, hope more frail than foam!
The bird to his deserted home
Sings not,--'_Auf wiedersehen!_'
The loath gate swings with rusty creak;
Once, parting there, we played at pain:
There came a parting, when the weak
And fading lips essayed to speak
Somewhere is comfort, somewhere faith,
Though thou in outer dark remain;
One sweet sad voice ennobles death,
And still, for eighteen centuries saith
If earth another grave must bear,
Yet heaven hath won a sweeter strain,
And something whispers my despair,
That, from an orient chamber there,
Floats down, '_Auf wiedersehen!_'
AFTER THE BURIAL
Yes, faith is a goodly anchor;
When skies are sweet as a psalm,
At the bows it lolls so stalwart,
In its bluff, broad-shouldered calm.
And when over breakers to leeward
The tattered surges are hurled,
It may keep our head to the tempest,
With its grip on the base of the world.
But, after the shipwreck, tell me
What help in its iron thews,
Still true to the broken hawser,
Deep down among sea-weed and ooze?
In the breaking gulfs of sorrow,
When the helpless feet stretch out
And find in the deeps of darkness
No footing so solid as doubt,
Then better one spar of Memory,
One broken plank of the Past,
That our human heart may cling to,
Though hopeless of shore at last!
To the spirit its splendid conjectures,
To the flesh its sweet despair,
Its tears o'er the thin-worn locket
With its anguish of deathless hair!
Immortal? I feel it and know it,
Who doubts it of such as she?
But that is the pang's very secret,--
Immortal away from me.
There's a narrow ridge in the graveyard
Would scarce stay a child in his race,
But to me and my thought it is wider
Than the star-sown vague of Space.
Your logic, my friend, is perfect,
Your moral most drearily true;
But, since the earth clashed on _her_ coffin,
I keep hearing that, and not you.
Console if you will, I can bear it;
'Tis a well-meant alms of breath;
But not all the preaching since Adam
Has made Death other than Death.
It is pagan; but wait till you feel it,--
That jar of our earth, that dull shock
When the ploughshare of deeper passion
Tears down to our primitive rock.
Communion in spirit! Forgive me,
But I, who am earthly and weak,
Would give all my incomes from dreamland
For a touch of her hand on my cheek.
That little shoe in the corner,
So worn and wrinkled and brown,
With its emptiness confutes you,
And argues your wisdom down.
THE DEAD HOUSE
Here once my step was quickened,
Here beckoned the opening door,
And welcome thrilled from the threshold
To the foot it had known before.
A glow came forth to meet me
From the flame that laughed in the grate,
And shadows adance on the ceiling,
Danced blither with mine for a mate.
'I claim you, old friend,' yawned the arm-chair,
'This corner, you know, is your seat;'
'Best your slippers on me,' beamed the fender,
'I brighten at touch of your feet.'
'We know the practised finger,'
Said the books, 'that seems like brain;'
And the shy page rustled the secret
It had kept till I came again.
Sang the pillow, 'My down once quivered
On nightingales' throats that flew
Through moonlit gardens of Hafiz
To gather quaint dreams for you.'
Ah me, where the Past sowed heart's-ease.
The Present plucks rue for us men!
I come back: that scar unhealing
Was not in the churchyard then.
But, I think, the house is unaltered,
I will go and beg to look
At the rooms that were once familiar
To my life as its bed to a brook.
Unaltered! Alas for the sameness
That makes the change but more!
'Tis a dead man I see in the mirrors,
'Tis his tread that chills the floor!
To learn such a simple lesson,
Need I go to Paris and Rome,
That the many make the household,
But only one the home?
'Twas just a womanly presence,
An influence unexprest,
But a rose she had worn, on my gravesod
Were more than long life with the rest!
'Twas a smile, 'twas a garment's rustle,
'Twas nothing that I can phrase.
But the whole dumb dwelling grew conscious,
And put on her looks and ways.
Were it mine I would close the shutters,
Like lids when the life is fled,
And the funeral fire should wind it,
This corpse of a home that is dead.
For it died that autumn morning
When she, its soul, was borne
To lie all dark on the hillside
That looks over woodland and corn.
I go to the ridge in the forest
I haunted in days gone by,
But thou, O Memory, pourest
No magical drop in mine eye,
Nor the gleam of the secret restorest
That hath faded from earth and sky:
A Presence autumnal and sober
Invests every rock and tree,
And the aureole of October
Lights the maples, but darkens me.
Pine in the distance,
Patient through sun or rain,
Meeting with graceful persistence,
With yielding but rooted resistance,
The northwind's wrench and strain,
No memory of past existence
Brings thee pain;
Right for the zenith heading,
Friendly with heat or cold,
Thine arms to the influence spreading
Of the heavens, just from of old,
Thou only aspirest the more,
Unregretful the old leaves shedding
That fringed thee with music before,
And deeper thy roots embedding
In the grace and the beauty of yore;
Thou sigh'st not, 'Alas, I am older,
The green of last summer is sear!'
But loftier, hopefuller, bolder,
Winnest broader horizons each year.
To me 'tis not cheer thou art singing:
There's a sound of the sea,
O mournful tree,
In thy boughs forever clinging,
And the far-off roar
Of waves on the shore
A shattered vessel flinging.
As thou musest still of the ocean
On which thou must float at last,
And seem'st to foreknow
The shipwreck's woe
And the sailor wrenched from the broken mast,
Do I, in this vague emotion,
This sadness that will not pass,
Though the air throb with wings,
And the field laughs and sings,
Do I forebode, alas!
The ship-building longer and wearier,
The voyage's struggle and strife,
And then the darker and drearier
Wreck of a broken life?
THE VOYAGE TO VINLAND
Now Bioern, the son of Heriulf, had ill days
Because the heart within him seethed with blood
That would not be allayed with any toil,
Whether of war or hunting or the oar,
But was anhungered for some joy untried:
For the brain grew not weary with the limbs,
But, while they slept, still hammered like a Troll,
Building all night a bridge of solid dream
Between him and some purpose of his soul,
Or will to find a purpose. With the dawn 10
The sleep-laid timbers, crumbled to soft mist,
Denied all foothold. But the dream remained,
And every night with yellow-bearded kings
His sleep was haunted,--mighty men of old,
Once young as he, now ancient like the gods,
And safe as stars in all men's memories.
Strange sagas read he in their sea-blue eyes
Cold as the sea, grandly compassionless;
Like life, they made him eager and then mocked.
Nay, broad awake, they would not let him be; 20
They shaped themselves gigantic in the mist,
They rose far-beckoning in the lamps of heaven,
They whispered invitation in the winds,
And breath came from them, mightier than the wind,
To strain the lagging sails of his resolve,
Till that grew passion which before was wish,
And youth seemed all too costly to be staked
On the soiled cards wherewith men played their game,
Letting Time pocket up the larger life,
Lost with base gain of raiment, food, and roof. 30
'What helpeth lightness of the feet?' they said,
'Oblivion runs with swifter foot than they;
Or strength of sinew? New men come as strong,
And those sleep nameless; or renown in war?
Swords grave no name on the long-memoried rock
But moss shall hide it; they alone who wring
Some secret purpose from the unwilling gods
Survive in song for yet a little while
To vex, like us, the dreams of later men,
Ourselves a dream, and dreamlike all we did.' 40
So Bioern went comfortless but for his thought,
And by his thought the more discomforted,
Till Erle Thurlson kept his Yule-tide feast:
And thither came he, called among the rest,
Silent, lone-minded, a church-door to mirth;
But, ere deep draughts forbade such serious song
As the grave Skald might chant nor after blush,
Then Eric looked at Thorwald where he sat
Mute as a cloud amid the stormy hall,
And said: 'O Skald, sing now an olden song, 50
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, and with eyes that looked afar
From their still region of perpetual snow,
Beyond the little smokes and stirs of men:
His head was bowed with gathered flakes of years,
As winter bends the sea-foreboding pine, 60
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,
So 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 70
The wary bowman, matched against his peers,
Long doubting, singles yet once more the best.
Who is it needs such flawless 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 80
Down to the heart of heart; from these she strips
All needless stuff, all sapwood; seasons 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! 90
'The song is old and simple that I sing;
But old and simple are despised as cheap,
Though hardest to achieve of human things:
Good were the days of yore, when men were tried
By ring of shields, as now by ring of words;
But while the gods are left, and hearts of men,
And wide-doored ocean, still the days are good.
Still o'er the earth hastes Opportunity,
Seeking the hardy soul that seeks for her.
Be not abroad, nor deaf with household cares 100
That chatter loudest as they mean the least;
Swift-willed is thrice-willed; late means nevermore;
Impatient is her foot, nor turns again.'
He ceased; upon his bosom sank his beard
Sadly, as one who oft had seen her pass
Nor stayed her: and forthwith the frothy tide
Of interrupted wassail roared along.
But Bioern, the son of Heriulf, sat apart
Musing, and, with his eyes upon the fire,
Saw shapes of arrows, lost as soon as seen. 110
'A ship,' he muttered,'is a winged bridge
That leadeth every way to man's desire,
And ocean the wide gate to manful luck.'
And then with that resolve his heart was bent,
Which, like a humming shaft, through many a stripe
Of day and night, across the unpathwayed seas
Shot the brave prow that cut on Vinland sands
The first rune in the Saga of the West.
Four weeks they sailed, a speck in sky-shut seas,
Life, where was never life that knew itself, 120
But tumbled lubber-like in blowing whales;
Thought, where the like had never been before
Since Thought primeval brooded the abyss;
Alone as men were never in the world.
They saw the icy foundlings of the sea,
White cliffs of silence, beautiful by day,
Or looming, sudden-perilous, at night
In monstrous hush; or sometimes in the dark
The waves broke ominous with paly gleams
Crushed by the prow in sparkles of cold fire. 130
Then came green stripes of sea that promised land
But brought it not, and on the thirtieth day
Low in the west were wooded shores like cloud.
They shouted as men shout with sudden hope;
But Bioern was silent, such strange loss there is
Between the dream's fulfilment and the dream,
Such sad abatement in the goal attained.
Then Gudrida, that was a prophetess,
Rapt with strange influence from Atlantis, sang:
Her words: the vision was the dreaming shore's. 140
Looms there the New Land;
Locked in the shadow
Long the gods shut it,
Niggards of newness
They, the o'er-old.
Little it looks there,
Slim as a cloud-streak;
It shall fold peoples
Even as a shepherd
Foldeth his flock. 150
Silent it sleeps now;
Great ships shall seek it,
Swarming as salmon;
Noise of its numbers
Two seas shall hear.
Men from the Northland,
Men from the Southland,
No more than manhood
Bring they, and hands. 160
Dark hair and fair hair,
Red blood and blue blood,
There shall be mingled;
Force of the ferment
Makes the New Man.
Pick of all kindreds,
Kings' blood shall theirs be,
Shoots of the eldest
Stock upon Midgard,
Sons of the poor. 170
Them waits the New Land;
They shall subdue it,
Leaving their sons' sons
Space for the body,
Space for the soul.
Leaving their sons' sons
All things save song-craft,
Plant long in growing,
Thrusting its tap-root
Deep in the Gone. 180
Here men shall grow up
Strong from self-helping;
Eyes for the present
Bring they as eagles',
Blind to the Past.
They shall make over
Creed, law, and custom:
Builders of empire,
Builders of men. 190
Here is no singer;
What should they sing of?
They, the unresting?
Labor is ugly,
Loathsome is change.
These the old gods hate,
Dwellers in dream-land,
Out of the empty
Skull of the Past. 200
These hate the old gods,
Warring against them;
Fatal to Odin,
Here the wolf Fenrir
Lieth in wait.
Here the gods' Twilight
Blackness of battle,
Fierce till the Old World
Flare up in fire. 210
Doubt not, my Northmen;
Fate loves the fearless;
Fools, when their roof-tree
Falls, think it doomsday;
Firm stands the sky.
Over the ruin
See I the promise;
Crisp waves the cornfield,
Peace-walled, the homestead
Waits open-doored. 220
There lies the New Land;
Yours to behold it,
Not to possess it;
Slowly Fate's perfect
Fulness shall come.
Then from your strong loins
Seed shall be scattered,
Men to the marrow,
Walkers of waves. 230
Jealous, the old gods
Shut it in shadow,
Wisely they ward it,
Egg of the serpent,
Bane to them all.
Stronger and sweeter
New gods shall seek it.
Fill it with man-folk
Wise for the future,
Wise from the past. 240
Here all is all men's,
Save only Wisdom;
King he that wins her;
Him hail they helmsman,
Highest of heart.
Might makes no master
Here any longer;
Sword is not swayer;
Here e'en the gods are
Selfish no more. 250
Walking the New Earth,
Lo, a divine One
Greets all men godlike,
Calls them his kindred,
He, the Divine.
Is it Thor's hammer
Rays in his right hand?
Weaponless walks he;
It is the White Christ,
Stronger than Thor. 260
Here shall a realm rise
Mighty in manhood;
Justice and Mercy
Here set a stronghold
Safe without spear.
Weak was the Old World,
Out of its ashes,
Strong as the morning,
Springeth the New. 270
Beauty of promise,
Promise of beauty,
Safe in the silence
Sleep thou, till cometh
Light to thy lids!
Thee shall awaken
Flame from the furnace,
Bath of all brave ones,
Cleanser of conscience,
Welder of will. 280
Lowly shall love thee,
Stalwart shall shield thee,
Thee, worth their best blood,
Waif of the West!
Then shall come singers,
Singing no swan-song,
Meet for the mail child
Mighty of bone. 290
MAHMOOD THE IMAGE-BREAKER
Old events have modern meanings; only that survives
Of past history which finds kindred in all hearts and lives.
Mahmood once, the idol-breaker, spreader of the Faith,
Was at Sumnat tempted sorely, as the legend saith.
In the great pagoda's centre, monstrous and abhorred,
Granite on a throne of granite, sat the temple's lord,
Mahmood paused a moment, silenced by the silent face
That, with eyes of stone unwavering, awed the ancient place.
Then the Brahmins knelt before him, by his doubt made bold,
Pledging for their idol's ransom countless gems and gold.
Gold was yellow dirt to Mahmood, but of precious use,
Since from it the roots of power suck a potent juice.
'Were yon stone alone in question, this would please me well,'
Mahmood said; 'but, with the block there, I my truth must sell.
'Wealth and rule slip down with Fortune, as her wheel turns round;
He who keeps his faith, he only cannot be discrowned.
'Little were a change of station, loss of life or crown,
But the wreck were past retrieving if the Man fell down.'
So his iron mace he lifted, smote with might and main,
And the idol, on the pavement tumbling, burst in twain.
Luck obeys the downright striker; from the hollow core,
Fifty times the Brahmins' offer deluged all the floor.
The Bardling came where by a river grew
The pennoned reeds, that, as the west-wind blew,
Gleamed and sighed plaintively, as if they knew
What music slept enchanted in each stem,
Till Pan should choose some happy one of them,
And with wise lips enlife it through and through.
The Bardling thought, 'A pipe is all I need;
Once I have sought me out a clear, smooth reed,
And shaped it to my fancy, I proceed
To breathe such strains as, yonder mid the rocks,
The strange youth blows, that tends Admetus' flocks.
And all the maidens shall to me pay heed.'
The summer day he spent in questful round,
And many a reed he marred, but never found
A conjuring-spell to free the imprisoned sound;
At last his vainly wearied limbs he laid
Beneath a sacred laurel's flickering shade,
And sleep about his brain her cobweb wound.
Then strode the mighty Mother through his dreams,
Saying: 'The reeds along a thousand streams
Are mine, and who is he that plots and schemes
To snare the melodies wherewith my breath
Sounds through the double pipes of Life and Death,
Atoning what to men mad discord seems?
'He seeks not me, but I seek oft in vain
For him who shall my voiceful reeds constrain,
And make them utter their melodious pain;
He flies the immortal gift, for well he knows
His life of life must with its overflows
Flood the unthankful pipe, nor come again.
'Thou fool, who dost my harmless subjects wrong,
'Tis not the singer's wish that makes the song:
The rhythmic beauty wanders dumb, how long,
Nor stoops to any daintiest instrument,
Till, found its mated lips, their sweet consent
Makes mortal breath than Time and Fate more strong.'
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
'Tis a woodland enchanted!
By no sadder spirit
Than blackbirds and thrushes,
That whistle to cheer it
All day in the bushes.
This woodland is haunted:
And in a small clearing,
Beyond sight or hearing
Of human annoyance,
The little fount gushes, 10
First smoothly, then dashes
And gurgles and flashes,
To the maples and ashes
Confiding its joyance;
Then, silent and glossy,
Slips winding and hiding
Through alder-stems mossy,
Through gossamer roots
Fine as nerves, 20
That tremble, as shoots
Through their magnetized curves
The allurement delicious
Of the water's capricious
Thrills, gushes, and swerves.
'Tis a woodland enchanted!
I am writing no fiction;
And this fount, its sole daughter,
To the woodland was granted
To pour holy water 30
And win benediction;
In summer-noon flushes,
When all the wood hushes,
Blue dragon-flies knitting
To and fro in the sun,
With sidelong jerk flitting
Sink down on the rashes,
And, motionless sitting,
Hear it bubble and run,
Hear its low inward singing, 40
With level wings swinging
On green tasselled rushes,
To dream in the sun.
'Tis a woodland enchanted!
The great August noonlight!
Through myriad rifts slanted,
Leaf and bole thickly sprinkles
With flickering gold;
There, in warm August gloaming,
With quick, silent brightenings, 50
From meadow-lands roaming,
The firefly twinkles
His fitful heat-lightnings;
There the magical moonlight
With meek, saintly glory
Steeps summit and wold;
There whippoorwills plain in the solitudes hoary
With lone cries that wander
Now hither, now yonder,
Like souls doomed of old 60
To a mild purgatory;
But through noonlight and moonlight
The little fount tinkles
Its silver saints'-bells,
That no sprite ill-boding
May make his abode in
Those innocent dells.
'Tis a woodland enchanted!
When the phebe scarce whistles
Once an hour to his fellow. 70
And, where red lilies flaunted,
Balloons from the thistles
Tell summer's disasters,
The butterflies yellow,
As caught in an eddy
Of air's silent ocean,
Sink, waver, and steady
O'er goats'-beard and asters,
Like souls of dead flowers,
With aimless emotion 80
Still lingering unready
To leave their old bowers;
And the fount is no dumber,
But still gleams and flashes,
And gurgles and plashes,
To the measure of summer;
The butterflies hear it,
And spell-bound are holden,
Still balancing near it
O'er the goats' beard so golden. 90
'Tis a woodland enchanted!
A vast silver willow,
I know not how planted,
(This wood is enchanted,
And full of surprises.)
Stands stemming a billow,
A motionless billow
Of ankle-deep mosses;
Two great roots it crosses
To make a round basin. 100
And there the Fount rises;
Ah, too pure a mirror
For one sick of error
To see his sad face in!
No dew-drop is stiller
In its lupin-leaf setting
Than this water moss-bounded;
But a tiny sand-pillar
From the bottom keeps jetting,
And mermaid ne'er sounded 110
Through the wreaths of a shell,
Down amid crimson dulses
In some cavern of ocean,
A melody sweeter
Than the delicate pulses,
The soft, noiseless metre,
The pause and the swell
Of that musical motion:
I recall it, not see it;