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The Second Book of Modern Verse

Part 4 out of 5

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And despairingly wheel
When the bugles bade us retire
From the terrible odds.

As we ebbed with the battle-tide,
Fingers of red-hot steel
Suddenly closed on my side.
I fell, and began to pray.
I crawled on my hands and lay
Where a shallow crater yawned wide;
Then I swooned. . . .

When I woke, it was yet day.
Fierce was the pain of my wound,
But I saw it was death to stir,
For fifty paces away
Their trenches were.
In torture I prayed for the dark
And the stealthy step of my friend
Who, stanch to the very end,
Would creep to the danger zone
And offer his life as a mark
To save my own.

Night fell. I heard his tread,
Not stealthy, but firm and serene,
As if my comrade's head
Were lifted far from that scene
Of passion and pain and dread;
As if my comrade's heart
In carnage took no part;
As if my comrade's feet
Were set on some radiant street
Such as no darkness might haunt;
As if my comrade's eyes,
No deluge of flame could surprise,
No death and destruction daunt,
No red-beaked bird dismay,
Nor sight of decay.

Then in the bursting shells' dim light
I saw he was clad in white.
For a moment I thought that I saw the smock
Of a shepherd in search of his flock.
Alert were the enemy, too,
And their bullets flew
Straight at a mark no bullet could fail;
For the seeker was tall and his robe was bright;
But he did not flee nor quail.
Instead, with unhurrying stride
He came,
And gathering my tall frame,
Like a child, in his arms . . .

I slept,
And awoke
From a blissful dream
In a cave by a stream.
My silent comrade had bound my side.
No pain now was mine, but a wish that I spoke, --
A mastering wish to serve this man
Who had ventured through hell my doom to revoke,
As only the truest of comrades can.
I begged him to tell me how best I might aid him,
And urgently prayed him
Never to leave me, whatever betide;
When I saw he was hurt --
Shot through the hands that were clasped in prayer!
Then, as the dark drops gathered there
And fell in the dirt,
The wounds of my friend
Seemed to me such as no man might bear.
Those bullet-holes in the patient hands
Seemed to transcend
All horrors that ever these war-drenched lands
Had known or would know till the mad world's end.
Then suddenly I was aware
That his feet had been wounded, too;
And, dimming the white of his side,
A dull stain grew.
"You are hurt, White Comrade!" I cried.
His words I already foreknew:
"These are old wounds," said he,
"But of late they have troubled me."

Smith, of the Third Oregon, dies. [Mary Carolyn Davies]

Autumn in Oregon is wet as Spring,
And green, with little singings in the grass,
And pheasants flying,
Gold, green and red,
Great, narrow, lovely things,
As if an orchid had snatched wings.
There are strange birds like blots against a sky
Where a sun is dying.
Beyond the river where the hills are blurred
A cloud, like the one word
Of the too-silent sky, stirs, and there stand
Black trees on either hand.
Autumn in Oregon is wet and new
As Spring,
And puts a fever like Spring's in the cheek
That once has touched her dew --
And it puts longing too
In eyes that once have seen
Her season-flouting green,
And ears that listened to her strange birds speak.

Autumn in Oregon -- I'll never see
Those hills again, a blur of blue and rain
Across the old Willamette. I'll not stir
A pheasant as I walk, and hear it whirr
Above my head, an indolent, trusting thing.
When all this silly dream is finished here,
The fellows will go home to where there fall
Rose-petals over every street, and all
The year is like a friendly festival.
But I shall never watch those hedges drip
Color, not see the tall spar of a ship
In our old harbor. -- They say that I am dying,
Perhaps that's why it all comes back again:
Autumn in Oregon and pheasants flying --

Song. [Edward J. O'Brien]

She goes all so softly
Like a shadow on the hill,
A faint wind at twilight
That stirs, and is still.

She weaves her thoughts whitely,
Like doves in the air,
Though a gray mound in Flanders
Clouds all that was fair.

Lonely Burial. [Stephen Vincent Benet]

There were not many at that lonely place,
Where two scourged hills met in a little plain.
The wind cried loud in gusts, then low again.
Three pines strained darkly, runners in a race
Unseen by any. Toward the further woods
A dim harsh noise of voices rose and ceased.
-- We were most silent in those solitudes --
Then, sudden as a flame, the black-robed priest,
The clotted earth piled roughly up about
The hacked red oblong of the new-made thing,
Short words in swordlike Latin -- and a rout
Of dreams most impotent, unwearying.
Then, like a blind door shut on a carouse,
The terrible bareness of the soul's last house.

I have a Rendezvous with Death. [Alan Seeger]

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air --
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath --
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

Rouge Bouquet. [Joyce Kilmer]

In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing:
"Go to sleep!
Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell.
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Danger's past;
Now at last,
Go to sleep!"

There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael's sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael's blood runs.
And up to Heaven's doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet,
A delicate cloud of buglenotes
That softly say:
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear,
Shield us here.

Francis Ledwidge. [Grace Hazard Conkling]

(Killed in action July 31, 1917)

Nevermore singing
Will you go now,
Wearing wild moonlight
On your brow.
The moon's white mood
In your silver mind
Is all forgotten.
Words of wind
From off the hedgerow
After rain,
You do not hear them;
They are vain.
There is a linnet
Craves a song,
And you returning
Before long.
Now who will tell her,
Who can say
On what great errand
You are away?
You whose kindred
Were hills of Meath,
Who sang the lane-rose
From her sheath,
What voice will cry them
The grief at dawn
Or say to the blackbird
You are gone?

April on the Battlefields. [Leonora Speyer]

April now walks the fields again,
Trailing her tearful leaves
And holding all her frightened buds against her heart:
Wrapt in her clouds and mists,
She walks,
Groping her way among the graves of men.

The green of earth is differently green,
A dreadful knowledge trembles in the grass,
And little wide-eyed flowers die too soon:
There is a stillness here --
After a terror of all raving sounds --
And birds sit close for comfort upon the boughs
Of broken trees.

April, thou grief!
What of thy sun and glad, high wind,
Thy valiant hills and woods and eager brooks,
Thy thousand-petalled hopes?
~The sky forbids thee sorrow, April!~
And yet --
I see thee walking listlessly
Across those scars that once were joyous sod,
Those graves,
Those stepping-stones from life to life.

Death is an interruption between two heart-beats,
That I know --
Yet know not how I know --
But April mourns,
Trailing her tender green,
The passion of her green,
Across the passion of those fearful fields.

~Yes, all the fields!~
No barrier here,
No challenge in the night,
No stranger-land;
She passes with her perfect countersign,
Her green;
She wanders in her mournful garden,
Dropping her buds like tears,
Spreading her lovely grief upon the graves of man.

Earth's Easter. [Robert Haven Schauffler]


Earth has gone up from its Gethsemane,
And now on Golgotha is crucified;
The spear is twisted in the tortured side;
The thorny crown still works its cruelty.
Hark! while the victim suffers on the tree,
There sound through starry spaces, far and wide,
Such words as in the last despair are cried:
"My God! my God! Thou hast forsaken me!"

But when earth's members from the cross are drawn,
And all we love into the grave is gone,
This hope shall be a spark within the gloom:
That, in the glow of some stupendous dawn,
We may go forth to find, where lilies bloom,
Two angels bright before an empty tomb.

The Fields. [Witter Bynner]

Though wisdom underfoot
Dies in the bloody fields,
Slowly the endless root
Gathers again and yields.

In fields where hate has hurled
Its force, where folly rots,
Wisdom shall be unfurled
Small as forget-me-nots.

In Spite of War. [Angela Morgan]

In spite of war, in spite of death,
In spite of all man's sufferings,
Something within me laughs and sings
And I must praise with all my breath.
In spite of war, in spite of hate
Lilacs are blooming at my gate,
Tulips are tripping down the path
In spite of war, in spite of wrath.
"Courage!" the morning-glory saith;
"Rejoice!" the daisy murmureth,
And just to live is so divine
When pansies lift their eyes to mine.

The clouds are romping with the sea,
And flashing waves call back to me
That naught is real but what is fair,
That everywhere and everywhere
A glory liveth through despair.
Though guns may roar and cannon boom,
Roses are born and gardens bloom;
My spirit still may light its flame
At that same torch whence poppies came.
Where morning's altar whitely burns
Lilies may lift their silver urns
In spite of war, in spite of shame.

And in my ear a whispering breath,
"Wake from the nightmare! Look and see
That life is naught but ecstasy
In spite of war, in spite of death!"

Wide Haven. [Clement Wood]

Tired of man's futile, petty cry,
Of lips that lie and flout,
I saw the slow sun dim and die
And the slim dusk slip out . . .
Life held no room for doubt.

What though Death claim the ones I prize
In War's insane crusade,
Last night I saw Orion rise
And the great day-star fade,
And I am not dismayed.

To Any one. [Witter Bynner]

Whether the time be slow or fast,
Enemies, hand in hand,
Must come together at the last
And understand.

No matter how the die is cast
Nor who may seem to win,
You know that you must love at last --
Why not begin?

Peace. [Agnes Lee]

Suddenly bells and flags!
Suddenly -- door to door --
Tidings! Can we believe,
We, who were used to war?

Yet we have dreamed her face,
Knowing her light must be,
Knowing that she must come.
Look -- she comes, it is she!

Tattered her raiment floats,
Blood is upon her wings.
Ah, but her eyes are clear!
Ah, but her voice outrings!

Soon where the shrapnel fell
Petals shall wake and stir.
Look -- she is here, she lives!
Beauty has died for her.

The Kings are passing Deathward. [David Morton]

The Kings are passing deathward in the dark
Of days that had been splendid where they went;
Their crowns are captive and their courts are stark
Of purples that are ruinous, now, and rent.
For all that they have seen disastrous things:
The shattered pomp, the split and shaken throne,
They cannot quite forget the way of Kings:
Gravely they pass, majestic and alone.

With thunder on their brows, their faces set
Toward the eternal night of restless shapes,
They walk in awful splendor, regal yet,
Wearing their crimes like rich and kingly capes . . .
Curse them or taunt, they will not hear or see;
The Kings are passing deathward: let them be.

Jerico. [Willard Wattles]

Jerico, Jerico,
Round and round the walls I go
Where they watch with scornful eyes,
Where the captained bastions rise;
Heel and toe, heel and toe,
Blithely round the walls I go.

Jerico, Jerico,
Round and round the walls I go . . .
All the golden ones of earth
Regal in their lordly mirth . . .
Heel and toe, heel and toe,
Round and round the walls I go.

Jerico, Jerico,
Blithely round the walls I go,
With a broken sword in hand
Where the mighty bastions stand;
Heel and toe, heel and toe,
Hear my silly bugle blow.

Heel and toe, heel and toe,
Round the walls of Jerico . . .
Past the haughty golden gate
Where the emperor in state
Smiles to see the ragged show,
Round and round the towers go.

Jerico, Jerico,
Round and round and round I go . . .
All their sworded bodies must
Lie low in their tower's dust . . .
Heel and toe, heel and toe,
Blithely round the walls I go.

Heel and toe, heel and toe, --
I will blow a thunder note
From my brazen bugle's throat
Till the sand and thistle know
The leveled walls of Jerico,
Jerico, Jerico, Jerico. . . .

Students. [Florence Wilkinson]

John Brown and Jeanne at Fontainebleau --
'T was Toussaint, just a year ago;
Crimson and copper was the glow
Of all the woods at Fontainebleau.
They peered into that ancient well,
And watched the slow torch as it fell.
John gave the keeper two whole sous,
And Jeanne that smile with which she woos
John Brown to folly. So they lose
The Paris train. But never mind! --
All-Saints are rustling in the wind,
And there's an inn, a crackling fire --
(It's `deux-cinquante', but Jeanne's desire);
There's dinner, candles, country wine,
Jeanne's lips -- philosophy divine!

There was a bosquet at Saint Cloud
Wherein John's picture of her grew
To be a Salon masterpiece --
Till the rain fell that would not cease.
Through one long alley how they raced! --
'T was gold and brown, and all a waste
Of matted leaves, moss-interlaced.
Shades of mad queens and hunter-kings
And thorn-sharp feet of dryad-things
Were company to their wanderings;
Then rain and darkness on them drew.
The rich folks' motors honked and flew.
They hailed an old cab, heaven for two;
The bright Champs-Elysees at last --
Though the cab crawled it sped too fast.

Paris, upspringing white and gold:
Flamboyant arch and high-enscrolled
War-sculpture, big, Napoleonic --
Fierce chargers, angels histrionic;
The royal sweep of gardened spaces,
The pomp and whirl of columned Places;
The Rive Gauche, age-old, gay and gray;
The impasse and the loved cafe;
The tempting tidy little shops;
The convent walls, the glimpsed tree-tops;
Book-stalls, old men like dwarfs in plays;
Talk, work, and Latin Quarter ways.

May -- Robinson's, the chestnut trees --
Were ever crowds as gay as these?
The quick pale waiters on a run,
The round, green tables, one by one,
Hidden away in amorous bowers --
Lilac, laburnum's golden showers.
Kiss, clink of glasses, laughter heard,
And nightingales quite undeterred.
And then that last extravagance --
O Jeanne, a single amber glance
Will pay him! -- "Let's play millionaire
For just two hours -- on princely fare,
At some hotel where lovers dine
A deux and pledge across the wine!"
They find a damask breakfast-room,
Where stiff silk roses range their bloom.
The garcon has a splendid way
Of bearing in grand dejeuner.
Then to be left alone, alone,
High up above Rue Castiglione;
Curtained away from all the rude
Rumors, in silken solitude;
And, John, her head upon your knees --
Time waits for moments such as these.

Tampico. [Grace Hazard Conkling]

Oh, cut me reeds to blow upon,
Or gather me a star,
But leave the sultry passion-flowers
Growing where they are.

I fear their sombre yellow deeps,
Their whirling fringe of black,
And he who gives a passion-flower
Always asks it back.

Which. [Corinne Roosevelt Robinson]

We ask that Love shall rise to the divine,
And yet we crave him very human, too;
Our hearts would drain the crimson of his wine,
Our souls despise him if he prove untrue!
Poor Love! I hardly see what you can do!
We know all human things are weak and frail,
And yet we claim that very part of you,
Then, inconsistent, blame you if you fail.
When you would soar, 't is we who clip your wings,
Although we weep because you faint and fall.
Alas! it seems we want so many things,
That no dear love could ever grant them all!
Which shall we choose, the human or divine,
The crystal stream, or yet the crimson wine?

Apology. [Amy Lowell]

Be not angry with me that I bear
Your colours everywhere,
All through each crowded street,
And meet
The wonder-light in every eye,
As I go by.

Each plodding wayfarer looks up to gaze,
Blinded by rainbow haze,
The stuff of happiness,
No less,
Which wraps me in its glad-hued folds
Of peacock golds.

Before my feet the dusty, rough-paved way
Flushes beneath its gray.
My steps fall ringed with light,
So bright,
It seems a myriad suns are strown
About the town.

Around me is the sound of steepled bells,
And rich perfumed smells
Hang like a wind-forgotten cloud,
And shroud
Me from close contact with the world.
I dwell impearled.

You blazon me with jewelled insignia.
A flaming nebula
Rims in my life. And yet
You set
The word upon me, unconfessed
To go unguessed.

The Great Hunt. [Carl Sandburg]

I cannot tell you now;
When the wind's drive and whirl
Blow me along no longer,
And the wind's a whisper at last --
Maybe I'll tell you then --
some other time.

When the rose's flash to the sunset
Reels to the wrack and the twist,
And the rose is a red bygone,
When the face I love is going
And the gate to the end shall clang,
And it's no use to beckon or say, "So long" --
Maybe I'll tell you then --
some other time.

I never knew any more beautiful than you:
I have hunted you under my thoughts,
I have broken down under the wind
And into the roses looking for you.
I shall never find any
greater than you.

Dialogue. [Walter Conrad Arensberg]

Be patient, Life, when Love is at the gate,
And when he enters let him be at home.
Think of the roads that he has had to roam.
Think of the years that he has had to wait.

~But if I let Love in I shall be late.
Another has come first -- there is no room.
And I am thoughtful of the endless loom --
Let Love be patient, the importunate.~

O Life, be idle and let Love come in,
And give thy dreamy hair that Love may spin.

~But Love himself is idle with his song.
Let Love come last, and then may Love last long.~

Be patient, Life, for Love is not the last.
Be patient now with Death, for Love has passed.

Song. [Margaret Widdemer]

The Spring will come when the year turns,
As if no Winter had been,
But what shall I do with a locked heart
That lets no new year in?

The birds will go when the Fall goes,
The leaves will fade in the field,
But what shall I do with an old love
Will neither die nor yield?

Oh! youth will turn as the world turns,
And dim grow laughter and pain,
But how shall I hide from an old dream
I never may dream again?

The Bitter Herb. [Jeanne Robert Foster]

O bitter herb, Forgetfulness,
I search for you in vain;
You are the only growing thing
Can take away my pain.

When I was young, this bitter herb
Grew wild on every hill;
I should have plucked a store of it,
And kept it by me still.

I hunt through all the meadows
Where once I wandered free,
But the rare herb, Forgetfulness,
It hides away from me.

O bitter herb, Forgetfulness,
Where is your drowsy breath?
Oh, can it be your seed has blown
Far as the Vales of Death?

Behind the House is the Millet Plot. [Muna Lee]

Behind the house is the millet plot,
And past the millet, the stile;
And then a hill where melilot
Grows with wild camomile.

There was a youth who bade me goodby
Where the hill rises to meet the sky.
I think my heart broke; but I have forgot
All but the smell of the white melilot.

Men of Harlan. [William Aspinwall Bradley]

Here in the level country, where the creeks run straight and wide,
Six men upon their pacing nags may travel side by side.
But the mountain men of Harlan, you may tell them all the while,
When they pass through our village, for they ride in single file.
And the children, when they see them, stop their play and stand and cry,
"Here come the men of Harlan, men of Harlan, riding by!"

O the mountain men of Harlan, when they come down to the plain,
With dangling stirrup, jangling spur, and loosely hanging rein,
They do not ride, like our folks here, in twos and threes abreast,
With merry laughter, talk and song, and lightly spoken jest;
But silently and solemnly, in long and straggling line,
As you may see them in the hills, beyond Big Black and Pine.

For, in that far strange country, where the men of Harlan dwell,
There are no roads at all, like ours, as we've heard travelers tell.
But only narrow trails that wind along each shallow creek,
Where the silence hangs so heavy, you can hear the leathers squeak.
And there no two can ride abreast, but each alone must go,
Picking his way as best he may, with careful steps and slow,

Down many a shelving ledge of shale, skirting the trembling sands,
Through many a pool and many a pass, where the mountain laurel stands
So thick and close to left and right, with holly bushes, too,
The clinging branches meet midway to bar the passage through, --
O'er many a steep and stony ridge, o'er many a high divide,
And so it is the Harlan men thus one by one do ride.

Yet it is strange to see them pass in line through our wide street,
When they come down to sell their sang, and buy their stores of meat,
These silent men, in sombre black, all clad from foot to head,
Though they have left their lonely hills and the narrow creek's rough bed.
And 't is no wonder children stop their play and stand and cry:
"Here come the men of Harlan, men of Harlan, riding by."

Have you an Eye. [Edwin Ford Piper]

Have you an eye for the trails, the trails,
The old mark and the new?
What scurried here, what loitered there,
In the dust and in the dew?

Have you an eye for the beaten track,
The old hoof and the young?
Come name me the drivers of yesterday,
Sing me the songs they sung.

O, was it a schooner last went by,
And where will it ford the stream?
Where will it halt in the early dusk,
And where will the camp-fire gleam?

They used to take the shortest cut
The cattle trails had made;
Get down the hill by the easy slope
To the water and the shade.

But it's barbed wire fence, and section line,
And kill-horse travel now;
Scoot you down the canyon bank, --
The old road's under plough.

Have you an eye for the laden wheel,
The worn tire or the new?
Or the sign of the prairie pony's hoof
Was never trimmed for shoe?

After Apple-Picking. [Robert Frost]

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Autumn. [Jean Starr Untermeyer]

(For my Mother)

How memory cuts away the years,
And how clean the picture comes
Of autumn days, brisk and busy;
Charged with keen sunshine.
And you, stirred with activity;
The spirit of these energetic days.

There was our back-yard,
So plain and stripped of green,
With even the weeds carefully pulled away
From the crooked, red bricks that made the walk,
And the earth on either side so black.

Autumn and dead leaves burning in the sharp air;
And winter comforts coming in like a pageant.
I shall not forget them:
Great jars laden with the raw green of pickles,
Standing in a solemn row across the back of the porch,
Exhaling the pungent dill;
And in the very center of the yard,
You, tending the great catsup kettle of gleaming copper
Where fat, red tomatoes bobbed up and down
Like jolly monks in a drunken dance.
And there were bland banks of cabbages that came by the wagon-load,
Soon to be cut into delicate ribbons
Only to be crushed by the heavy, wooden stompers.
Such feathery whiteness -- to come to kraut!
And after, there were grapes that hid their brightness under a grey dust,
Then gushed thrilling, purple blood over the fire;
And enamelled crab-apples that tricked with their fragrance
But were bitter to taste.
And there were spicy plums and ill-shaped quinces,
And long string beans floating in pans of clear water
Like slim, green fishes.
And there was fish itself,
Salted, silver herring from the city . . .

And you moved among these mysteries,
Absorbed and smiling and sure;
Stirring, tasting, measuring,
With the precision of a ritual.
I like to think of you in your years of power --
You, now so shaken and so powerless --
High priestess of your home.

Autumn Movement. [Carl Sandburg]

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
and the old things go, not one lasts.

God's World. [Edna St. Vincent Millay]

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour! That gaunt crag
To crush! To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart, -- Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me, -- let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Overtones. [William Alexander Percy]

I heard a bird at break of day
Sing from the autumn trees
A song so mystical and calm,
So full of certainties,
No man, I think, could listen long
Except upon his knees.
Yet this was but a simple bird,
Alone, among dead trees.

When the Year grows Old. [Edna St. Vincent Millay]

I cannot but remember
When the year grows old --
October -- November --
How she disliked the cold!

She used to watch the swallows
Go down across the sky,
And turn from the window
With a little sharp sigh.

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget --
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net!

Oh, beautiful at nightfall
The soft spitting snow!
And beautiful the bare boughs
Rubbing to and fro!

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her!

I cannot but remember
When the year grows old --
October -- November --
How she disliked the cold!

In the Monastery. [Norreys Jephson O'Conor]

Cold is the wind to-night, and rough the sea,
Too rough for even the daring Dane to find
A landing-place upon the frozen lea.
Cold is the wind.

The blast sweeps round the chapel from behind,
Making the altar-light flare fitfully,
While I must kneel and pray with troubled mind.

Patrick and Brigid, I have prayed to ye!
The night is over, and my task resigned
To Colum. Though God's own dwelling shelter me,
Cold is the wind.

The Narrow Doors. [Fannie Stearns Davis]

The Wide Door into Sorrow
Stands open night and day.
With head held high and dancing feet
I pass it on my way.

I never tread within it,
I never turn to see
The Wide Door into Sorrow.
It cannot frighten me.

The Narrow Doors to Sorrow
Are secret, still, and low:
Swift tongues of dusk that spoil the sun
Before I even know.

My dancing feet are frozen.
I stare. I can but see.
The Narrow Doors to Sorrow
They stop the heart in me.

-- Oh, stranger than my midnights
Of loneliness and strife
The Doors that let the dark leap in
Across my sunny life!

"I Pass a Lighted Window". [Clement Wood]

I pass a lighted window
And a closed door --
And I am not troubled
Any more.

Though the road is murky,
I am not afraid,
For a shadow passes
On the lighted shade.

Once I knew the sesame
To the closed door;
Now I shall not enter
Any more;

Nor will people passing
By the lit place,
See our shadows marry
In a gray embrace.

Strange a passing shadow
Has a long spell!
What can matter, knowing
She does well?

How can life annoy me
Any more?
Life: a lighted window
And a closed door.

Doors. [Hermann Hagedorn]

Like a young child who to his mother's door
Runs eager for the welcoming embrace,
And finds the door shut, and with troubled face
Calls and through sobbing calls, and o'er and o'er
Calling, storms at the panel -- so before
A door that will not open, sick and numb,
I listen for a word that will not come,
And know, at last, I may not enter more.

Silence! And through the silence and the dark
By that closed door, the distant sob of tears
Beats on my spirit, as on fairy shores
The spectral sea; and through the sobbing -- hark!
Down the fair-chambered corridor of years,
The quiet shutting, one by one, of doors.

Where Love once was. [James Oppenheim]

Where love once was, let there be no hate:
Though they that went as one by night and day
Go now alone,
Where love once was, let there be no hate.

The seeds we planted together
Came to rich harvest,
And our hearts are as bins brimming with the golden plenty:
Into our loneliness we carry granaries of old love . . .

And though the time has come when we cannot sow our acres together,
And our souls need diverse fields,
And a tilling apart,
Let us go separate ways with a blessing each for each,
And gentle parting,
And let there be no hate,
Where love once was.

Irish Love Song. [Margaret Widdemer]

Well, if the thing is over, better it is for me,
The lad was ever a rover, loving and laughing free,
Far too clever a lover not to be having still
A lass in the town and a lass by the road and a lass by the farther hill --
Love on the field and love on the path and love in the woody glen --
(Lad, will I never see you, never your face again?)

Ay, if the thing is ending, now I'll be getting rest,
Saying my prayers and bending down to be stilled and blest,
Never the days are sending hope till my heart is sore
For a laugh on the path and a voice by the gate and a step
on the shieling floor --
Grief on my ways and grief on my work and grief till the evening's dim --
(Lord, will I never hear it, never a sound of him?)

Sure if it's done forever, better for me that's wise,
Never the hurt, and never tears in my aching eyes,
No more the trouble ever to hide from my asking folk
Beat of my heart at click o' the latch, and throb if his name is spoke;
Never the need to hide the sighs and the flushing thoughts and the fret,
And after awhile my heart will hush and my hungering hands forget . . .
Peace on my ways, and peace in my step, and maybe my heart grown light --
(~Mary, helper of heartbreak, send him to me to-night!~)

Nirvana. [John Hall Wheelock]

Sleep on -- I lie at heaven's high oriels,
Over the stars that murmur as they go
Lighting your lattice-window far below;
And every star some of the glory spells
Whereof I know.
I have forgotten you, long long ago;
Like the sweet, silver singing of thin bells
Vanished, or music fading faint and low.
Sleep on -- I lie at heaven's high oriels,
Who loved you so.

A Nun. [Odell Shepard]

One glance and I had lost her in the riot
Of tangled cries.
She trod the clamor with a cloistral quiet
Deep in her eyes
As though she heard the muted music only
That silence makes
Among dim mountain summits and on lonely
Deserted lakes.

There is some broken song her heart remembers
From long ago,
Some love lies buried deep, some passion's embers
Smothered in snow,
Far voices of a joy that sought and missed her
Fail now, and cease . . .
And this has given the deep eyes of God's sister
Their dreadful peace.

Silence. [Edgar Lee Masters]

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man and a maid,
And the silence of the sick
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths,
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities --
We cannot speak.

A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe.

There is the silence of a great hatred,
And the silence of a great love,
And the silence of an embittered friendship.
There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
Comes with visions not to be uttered
Into a realm of higher life.
There is the silence of defeat.
There is the silence of those unjustly punished;
And the silence of the dying whose hand
Suddenly grips yours.
There is the silence between father and son,
When the father cannot explain his life,
Even though he be misunderstood for it.

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
There is the silence of those who have failed;
And the vast silence that covers
Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
There is the silence of Lincoln,
Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
And the silence of Napoleon
After Waterloo.
And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus" --
Revealing in two words all sorrows, all hope.
And there is the silence of age,
Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
In words intelligible to those who have not lived
The great range of life.

And there is the silence of the dead.
If we who are in life cannot speak
Of profound experiences,
Why do you marvel that the dead
Do not tell you of death?
Their silence shall be interpreted
As we approach them.

The Dark Cavalier. [Margaret Widdemer]

I am the Dark Cavalier; I am the Last Lover:
My arms shall welcome you when other arms are tired;
I stand to wait for you, patient in the darkness,
Offering forgetfulness of all that you desired.

I ask no merriment, no pretense of gladness,
I can love heavy lids and lips without their rose;
Though you are sorrowful you will not weary me;
I will not go from you when all the tired world goes.

I am the Dark Cavalier; I am the Last Lover;
I promise faithfulness no other lips may keep;
Safe in my bridal place, comforted by darkness,
You shall lie happily, smiling in your sleep.

Indian Summer. [William Ellery Leonard]

(After completing a book for one now dead)

(~O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
She is not by, to know my task is done.~)
In the brown grasses slanting with the wind,
Lone as a lad whose dog's no longer near,
Lone as a mother whose only child has sinned,
Lone on the loved hill . . . and below me here
The thistle-down in tremulous atmosphere
Along red clusters of the sumach streams;
The shrivelled stalks of golden-rod are sere,
And crisp and white their flashing old racemes.
(. . . forever . . . forever . . . . forever . . .)
This is the lonely season of the year,
This is the season of our lonely dreams.

(~O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
She is not by, to know my task is done!~)
The corn-shocks westward on the stubble plain
Show like an Indian village of dead days;
The long smoke trails behind the crawling train,
And floats atop the distant woods ablaze
With orange, crimson, purple. The low haze
Dims the scarped bluffs above the inland sea,
Whose wide and slaty waters in cold glaze
Await yon full-moon of the night-to-be,
(. . . far . . . and far . . . and far . . .)
These are the solemn horizons of man's ways,
These are the horizons of solemn thought to me.

(~O Earth-and-Autumn of the Setting Sun,
She is not by, to know my task is done!~)
And this the hill she visited, as friend;
And this the hill she lingered on, as bride --
Down in the yellow valley is the end:
They laid her . . . in no evening autumn tide . . .
Under fresh flowers of that May morn, beside
The queens and cave-women of ancient earth . . .

This is the hill . . . and over my city's towers,
Across the world from sunset, yonder in air,
Shines, through its scaffoldings, a civic dome
Of piled masonry, which shall be ours
To give, completed, to our children there . . .
And yonder far roof of my abandoned home
Shall house new laughter . . . Yet I tried . . . I tried
And, ever wistful of the doom to come,
I built her many a fire for love . . . for mirth . . .
(When snows were falling on our oaks outside,
Dear, many a winter fire upon the hearth) . . .
(. . . farewell . . . farewell . . . farewell . . .)
We dare not think too long on those who died,
While still so many yet must come to birth.

Death -- Divination. [Charles Wharton Stork]

Death is like moonlight in a lofty wood,
That pours pale magic through the shadowy leaves;
'T is like the web that some old perfume weaves
In a dim, lonely room where memories brood;
Like snow-chilled wine it steals into the blood,
Spurring the pulse its coolness half reprieves;
Tenderly quickening impulses it gives,
As April winds unsheathe an opening bud.

Death is like all sweet, sense-enfolding things,
That lift us in a dream-delicious trance
Beyond the flickering good and ill of chance;
But most is Death like Music's buoyant wings,
That bear the soul, a willing Ganymede,
Where joys on joys forevermore succeed.

The Mould. [Gladys Cromwell]

No doubt this active will,
So bravely steeped in sun,
This will has vanquished Death
And foiled oblivion.

But this indifferent clay,
This fine experienced hand,
So quiet, and these thoughts
That all unfinished stand,

Feel death as though it were
A shadowy caress;
And win and wear a frail
Archaic wistfulness.

In Patris Mei Memoriam. [John Myers O'Hara]

By the fond name that was his own and mine,
The last upon his lips that strove with doom,
He called me and I saw the light assume
A sudden glory and around him shine;
And nearer now I saw the laureled line
Of the august of Song before me loom,
And knew the voices, erstwhile through the gloom,
That whispered and forbade me to repine.
And with farewell, a shaft of splendor sank
Out of the stars and faded as a flame,
And down the night, on clouds of glory, came
The battle seraphs halting rank on rank;
And lifted heavenward to heroic peace,
He passed and left me hope beyond surcease.

Ad Matrem Amantissimam et Carissimam Filii in Aeternum Fidelitas.
[John Myers O'Hara]

With all the fairest angels nearest God,
The ineffable true of heart around the throne,
There shall I find you waiting when the flown
Dream leaves my heart insentient as the clod;
And when the grief-retracing ways I trod
Become a shining path to thee alone,
My weary feet, that seemed to drag as stone,
Shall once again, with wings of fleetness shod,
Fare on, beloved, to find you! Just beyond
The seraph throng await me, standing near
The gentler angels, eager and apart;
Be there, near God's own fairest, with the fond
Sweet smile that was your own, and let me hear
Your voice again and clasp you to my heart.

Afterwards. [Mahlon Leonard Fisher]

There was a day when death to me meant tears,
And tearful takings-leave that had to be,
And awed embarkings on an unshored sea,
And sudden disarrangement of the years.
But now I know that nothing interferes
With the fixed forces when a tired man dies;
That death is only answerings and replies,
The chiming of a bell which no one hears,
The casual slanting of a half-spent sun,
The soft recessional of noise and coil,
The coveted something time nor age can spoil;
I know it is a fabric finely spun
Between the stars and dark; to seize and keep,
Such glad romances as we read in sleep.

Pierrette in Memory. [William Griffith]

Pierrette has gone, but it was not
Exactly that she died,
So much as vanished and forgot
To tell where she would hide.

To keep a sudden rendezvous,
It came into her mind
That she was late. What could she do
But leave distress behind?

Afraid of being in disgrace,
And hurrying to dress,
She heard there was another place
In need of loveliness.

She went so softly and so soon,
She hardly made a stir;
But going took the stars and moon
And sun away with her.

The Three Sisters. [Arthur Davison Ficke]

Gone are the three, those sisters rare
With wonder-lips and eyes ashine.
One was wise and one was fair,
And one was mine.

Ye mourners, weave for the sleeping hair
Of only two, your ivy vine.
For one was wise and one was fair,
But one was mine.

Song. [Adelaide Crapsey]

I make my shroud, but no one knows --
So shimmering fine it is and fair,
With stitches set in even rows,
I make my shroud, but no one knows.

In door-way where the lilac blows,
Humming a little wandering air,
I make my shroud and no one knows,
So shimmering fine it is and fair.

The Unknown Beloved. [John Hall Wheelock]

I dreamed I passed a doorway
Where, for a sign of death,
White ribbons one was binding
About a flowery wreath.

What drew me so I know not,
But drawing near I said,
"Kind sir, and can you tell me
Who is it here lies dead?"

Said he, "Your most beloved
Died here this very day,
That had known twenty Aprils
Had she but lived till May."

Astonished I made answer,
"Good sir, how say you so!
Here have I no beloved,
This house I do not know."

Quoth he, "Who from the world's end
Was destined unto thee
Here lies, thy true beloved
Whom thou shalt never see."

I dreamed I passed a doorway
Where, for a sign of death,
White ribbons one was binding
About a flowery wreath.

Cinquains. [Adelaide Crapsey]

Fate Defied

As it
Were tissue of silver
I'll wear, O fate, thy grey,
And go mistily radiant, clad
Like the moon.

Night Winds

The old
Old winds that blew
When chaos was, what do
They tell the clattered trees that I
Should weep?

The Warning

Just now,
Out of the strange
Still dusk . . . as strange, as still . . .
A white moth flew . . . Why am I grown
So cold?

The Lonely Death. [Adelaide Crapsey]

In the cold I will rise, I will bathe
In waters of ice; myself
Will shiver, and shrive myself,
Alone in the dawn, and anoint
Forehead and feet and hands;
I will shutter the windows from light,
I will place in their sockets the four
Tall candles and set them aflame
In the grey of the dawn; and myself
Will lay myself straight in my bed,
And draw the sheet under my chin.

Exile from God. [John Hall Wheelock]

I do not fear to lay my body down
In death, to share
The life of the dark earth and lose my own,
If God is there.

I have so loved all sense of Him, sweet might
Of color and sound, --
His tangible loveliness and living light
That robes me 'round.

If to His heart in the hushed grave and dim
We sink more near,
It shall be well -- living we rest in Him.
Only I fear

Lest from my God in lonely death I lapse,
And the dumb clod
Lose him; for God is life, and death perhaps
Exile from God.

Loam. [Carl Sandburg]

In the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass
And the break of stars.

From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
We rise:
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.

We stand, then,
To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
A day.

Hills of Home. [Witter Bynner]

Name me no names for my disease,
With uninforming breath;
I tell you I am none of these,
But homesick unto death --

Homesick for hills that I had known,
For brooks that I had crossed,
Before I met this flesh and bone
And followed and was lost. . . .

And though they break my heart at last,
Yet name no name of ills.
Say only, "Here is where he passed,
Seeking again those hills."

The Last Piper. [Edward J. O'Brien]

Dark winds of the mountain,
White winds of the sea,
Are skirling the pibroch
Of Seumas an Righ.

The crying of gannets,
The shrieking of terns,
Are keening his dying
High over the burns.

Grey silence of waters
And wasting of lands
And the wailing of music
Down to the sands,

The wailing of music,
And trailing of wind,
The waters before him,
The mountains behind, --

Alone at the gathering,
Silent he stands,
And the wail of his piping
Cries over the lands,

To the moan of the waters,
The drone of the foam,
Where his soul, a white gannet,
Wings silently home.

The Provinces. [Francis Carlin]

~O God that I
May arise with the Gael
To the song in the sky
Over Inisfail!~

Ulster, your dark
Mold for me;
Munster, a lark
Hold for me!

Connaght, a `caoine'
Croon for me;
Lienster, a mean
Stone for me!

~O God that I
May arise with the Gael
To the song in the sky
Over Inisfail!~

Omnium Exeunt in Mysterium. [George Sterling]

The stranger in my gates -- lo! that am I,
And what my land of birth I do not know,
Nor yet the hidden land to which I go.
One may be lord of many ere he die,
And tell of many sorrows in one sigh,
But know himself he shall not, nor his woe,
Nor to what sea the tears of wisdom flow;
Nor why one star is taken from the sky.
An urging is upon him evermore,
And though he bide, his soul is wanderer,
Scanning the shadows with a sense of haste --
Where fade the tracks of all who went before:
A dim and solitary traveller
On ways that end in evening and the waste.

Moth-Terror. [Benjamin De Casseres]

I have killed the moth flying around my night-light; wingless and dead it lies
upon the floor.
(O who will kill the great Time-Moth that eats holes in my soul
and that burrows in and through my secretest veils!)
My will against its will, and no more will it fly at my night-light
or be hidden behind the curtains that swing in the winds.
(But O who will shatter the Change-Moth that leaves me in rags --
tattered old tapestries that swing in the winds that blow out of Chaos!)
Night-Moth, Change-Moth, Time-Moth, eaters of dreams and of me!

Old Age. [Cale Young Rice]

I have heard the wild geese,
I have seen the leaves fall,
There was frost last night
On the garden wall.
It is gone to-day
And I hear the wind call.
The wind? . . . That is all.

If the swallow will light
When the evening is near;
If the crane will not scream
Like a soul in fear;
I will think no more
Of the dying year,
And the wind, its seer.

Atropos. [John Myers O'Hara]

Atropos, dread
One of the Three,
Holding the thread
Woven for me;

Grimly thy shears,
Steely and bright,
Menace the years
Left for delight.

Grant it may chance,
Just as they close,
June may entrance
Earth with the rose;

Reigning as though,
Bliss to the breath,
Endless and no
Whisper of death.


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