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The World's Best Poetry Volume IV. by Bliss Carman

Part 4 out of 9

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Unto Salerno, and from there by sea.
And when once more within Palermo's wall,
And, seated on his throne in his great hall,
He heard the Angelus from convent towers,
As if the better world conversed with ours,
He beckoned to King Robert to draw nigher,
And with a gesture bade the rest retire;
And when they were alone, the angel said,
"Art thou the king?" Then bowing down his head,
King Robert crossed both hands upon his breast,
And meekly answered him: "Thou knowest best!
My sins as scarlet are; let me go hence,
And in some cloister's school of penitence,
Across those stones that pave the way to heaven
Walk barefoot till my guilty soul is shriven!"
The angel smiled, and from his radiant face
A holy light illumined all the place,
And through the open window, loud and clear,
They heard the monks chant in the chapel near,
Above the stir and tumult of the street:
"He has put down the mighty from their seat,
And has exalted them of low degree!"
And through the chant a second melody
Rose like the throbbing of a single string:
"I am an angel, and thou art the king!"

King Robert, who was standing near the throne,
Lifted his eyes, and lo! he was alone!
But all apparelled as in days of old,
With ermined mantle and with cloth of gold;
And when his courtiers came they found him there
Kneeling upon the floor, absorbed in silent prayer.


* * * * *



All service ranks the same with God:
If now, as formerly he trod
Paradise, his presence fills
Our earth, each only as God wills
Can work--God's puppets, best and worst,
Are we; there is no last nor first.

Say not "a small event"! Why "small"?
Costs it more pain than this, ye call
A "great event," should come to pass,
Than that? Untwine me from the mass
Of deeds which make up life, one deed
Power shall fall short in or exceed!


* * * * *


God called the nearest angels who dwell with Him above:
The tenderest one was Pity, the dearest one was Love.

"Arise," He said, "my angels! a wail of woe and sin
Steals through the gates of heaven, and saddens all within.

"My harps take up the mournful strain that from a lost world swells,
The smoke of torment clouds the light and blights the asphodels.

"Fly downward to that under world, and on its souls of pain,
Let Love drop smiles like sunshine, and Pity tears like rain!"

Two faces bowed before the Throne, veiled in their golden hair;
Four white wings lessened swiftly down the dark abyss of air.

The way was strange, the flight was long; at last the angels came
Where swung the lost and nether world, red-wrapped in rayless flame.

There Pity, shuddering, wept; but Love, with faith too strong for fear,
Took heart from God's almightiness and smiled a smile of cheer.

And lo! that tear of Pity quenched the flame whereon it fell,
And, with the sunshine of that smile, hope entered into hell!

Two unveiled faces full of joy looked upward to the Throne,
Four white wings folded at the feet of Him who sat thereon!

And deeper than the sound of seas, more soft than falling flake,
Amidst the hush of wing and song the Voice Eternal spake:

"Welcome, my angels! ye have brought a holier joy to heaven;
Henceforth its sweetest song shall be the song of sin forgiven!"


* * * * *


There came a soul to the gate of Heaven
Gliding slow--
A soul that was ransomed and forgiven,
And white as snow:
And the angels all were silent.

A mystic light beamed from the face
Of the radiant maid,
But there also lay on its tender grace
A mystic shade:
And the angels all were silent.

As sunlit clouds by a zephyr borne
Seem not to stir,
So to the golden gates of morn
They carried her:
And the angels all were silent.

"Now open the gate, and let her in,
And fling It wide,
For she has been cleansed from stain of sin,"
Saint Peter cried:
And the angels all were silent.

"Though I am cleansed from stain of sin,"
She answered low,
"I came not hither to enter in,
Nor may I go:"
And the angels all were silent.

"I come," she said, "to the pearly door,
To see the Throne
Where sits the Lamb on the Sapphire Floor,
With God alone:"
And the angels all were silent.

"I come to hear the new song they sing
To Him that died,
And note where the healing waters spring
From His pierced side:"
And the angels all were silent.

"But I may not enter there," she said,
"For I must go
Across the gulf where the guilty dead
Lie in their woe:"
And the angels all were silent.

"If I enter heaven I may not pass
To where they be,
Though the wail of their bitter pain, alas!
Tormenteth me:"
And the angels all were silent.

"If I enter heaven I may not speak
My soul's desire
For them that are lying distraught and weak
In flaming fire:"
And the angels all were silent.

"I had a brother, and also another
Whom I loved well;
What if, in anguish, they curse each other
In the depths of hell?"
And the angels all were silent.

"How could I touch the golden harps,
When all my praise
Would be so wrought with grief-full warps
Of their sad days?"
And the angels all were silent.

"How love the loved who are sorrowing,
And yet be glad?
How sing the songs ye are fain to sing,
While I am sad?"
And the angels all were silent.

"Oh, clear as glass in the golden street
Of the city fair,
And the tree of life it maketh sweet
The lightsome air:"
And the angels all were silent.

"And the white-robed saints with their crowns and palms
Are good to see,
And oh, so grand are the sounding psalms!
But not for me:"
And the angels all were silent.

"I come where there is no night," she said,
"To go away,
And help, if I yet may help, the dead
That have no day."
And the angels all were silent.

Saint Peter he turned the keys about,
And answered grim:
"Can you love the Lord and abide without,
Afar from Him?"
And the angels all were silent.

"Can you love the Lord who died for you,
And leave the place
Where His glory is all disclosed to view,
And tender grace?"
And the angels all were silent.

"They go not out who come in here;
It were not meet:
Nothing they lack, for He is here,
And bliss complete."
And the angels all were silent.

"Should I be nearer Christ," she said,
"By pitying less
The sinful living or woful dead
In their helplessness?"
And the angels all were silent.

"Should I be liker Christ were I
To love no more
The loved, who in their anguish lie
Outside the door?"
And the angels all were silent.

"Did He not hang on the cursed tree,
And bear its shame,
And clasp to His heart, for love of me,
My guilt and blame?"
And the angels all were silent.

"Should I be liker, nearer Him,
Forgetting this,
Singing all day with the Seraphim,
In selfish bliss?"
And the angels all were silent.

The Lord Himself stood by the gate,
And heard her speak
Those tender words compassionate,
Gentle and meek:
And the angels all were silent.

Now, pity is the touch of God
In human hearts,
And from that way He ever trod
He ne'er departs:
And the angels all were silent.

And He said, "Now will I go with you,
Dear child of love,
I am weary of all this glory, too,
In heaven above:"
And the angels all were silent.

"We will go seek and save the lost,
If they will hear,
They who are worst but need me most,
And all are dear:"
And the angels were not silent.


* * * * *



'T is a little thing
To give a cup of water; yet its draught
Of cool refreshment, drained by fevered lips,
May give a shock of pleasure to the frame
More exquisite than when nectarean juice
Renews the life of joy in happier hours.
It is a little thing to speak a phrase
Of common comfort which by daily use
Has almost lost its sense, yet on the ear
Of him who thought to die unmourned 't will fall
Like choicest music, fill the glazing eye
With gentle tears, relax the knotted hand
To know the bonds of fellowship again;
And shed on the departing soul a sense,
More precious than the benison of friends
About the honored death-bed of the rich,
To him who else were lonely, that another
Of the great family is near and feels.


* * * * *


My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splintered spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands.

How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favors fall!
For them I battle till the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bowed in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer
A virgin heart in work and will.

When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims.
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice, but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chaunts resound between.

Sometimes on lonely mountain-meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board: no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark.
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides,
And star-like mingles with the stars.

When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads,
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whistling storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

A maiden knight--to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odors haunt my dreams;
And, stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armor that I wear.
This weight and size, this heart and eyes,
Are touched, and turned to finest air.

The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
"O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near."
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By bridge and ford, by park and pale,
All-armed I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail.


* * * * *


Prune thou thy words; the thoughts control
That o'er thee swell and throng;--
They will condense within thy soul,
And change to purpose strong.

But he who lets his feelings run
In soft luxurious flow,
Shrinks when hard service must be done,
And faints at every woe.

Faith's meanest deed more favor bears,
Where hearts and wills are weighed,
Than brightest transports, choicest prayers,
Which bloom their hour, and fade.


* * * * *



Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,
Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,
Our hearts, in glad surprise,
To higher levels rise.

The tidal wave of deeper souls
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares
Out of all meaner cares.

Honor to those whose words or deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs,
And by their overflow
Raise us from what is low!

Thus thought I, as by night I read
Of the great army of the dead,
The trenches cold and damp,
The starved and frozen camp,

The wounded from the battle-plain,
In dreary hospitals of pain,
The cheerless corridors,
The cold and stony floors.

Lo! in that house of misery
A lady with a lamp I see
Pass through the glimmering gloom,
And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss,
The speechless sufferer turns to kiss
Her shadow, as it falls
Upon the darkening walls.

As if a door in heaven should be
Opened and then closed suddenly,
The vision came and went,
The light shone and was spent.

On England's annals, through the long
Hereafter of her speech and song,
That light its rays shall cast
From portals of the past.

A Lady with a Lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.

Nor even shall be wanting here
The palm, the lily, and the spear,
The symbols that of yore
Saint Filomena bore.


* * * * *


A little stream had lost its way
Amid the grass and fern;
A passing stranger scooped a well,
Where weary men might turn;
He walled it in and hung with care
A ladle at the brink;
He thought not of the deed he did,
But judged that all might drink.
He passed again, and lo! the well,
By summer never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues,
And saved a life beside.

A nameless man, amid a crowd
That thronged the daily mart,
Let fall a word of hope and love,
Unstudied, from the heart;
A whisper on the tumult thrown,
A transitory breath--
It raised a brother from the dust,
It saved a soul from death.
O germ! O fount! O word of love!
O thought at random cast!
Ye were but little at the first,
But mighty at the last.


* * * * *


Am I the slave they say,
Soggarth aroon?[A]
Since you did show the way,
Soggarth aroon,
Their slave no more to be,
While they would work with me
Old Ireland's slavery,
Soggarth aroon.

Why not her poorest man,
Soggarth aroon,
Try and do all he can,
Soggarth aroon,
Her commands to fulfil
Of his own heart and will,
Side by side with you still,
Soggarth aroon?

Loyal and brave to you,
Soggarth aroon,
Yet be not slave to you,
Soggarth aroon,
Nor, out of fear to you,
Stand up so near to you--
Och! out of fear to _you_,
Soggarth aroon!

Who, in the winter's night,
Soggarth aroon,
When the cold blasts did bite,
Soggarth aroon,
Came to my cabin-door,
And on my earthen-floor
Knelt by me, sick and poor,
Soggarth aroon?

Who, on the marriage day,
Soggarth aroon,
Made the poor cabin gay,
Soggarth aroon,
And did both laugh and sing,
Making our hearts to ring
At the poor christening,
Soggarth aroon?

Who, as friends only met,
Soggarth aroon,
Never did flout me yet,
Soggarth aroon;
And when my heart was dim,
Gave, while his eye did brim,
What I should give to him,
Soggarth aroon?

Och! you, and only you,
Soggarth aroon!
And for this I was true to you,
Soggarth aroon!
Our love they'll never shake,
When for ould Ireland's sake
We a true part did take,
Soggarth aroon!


[Footnote A: Priest, dear.]

* * * * *



Over his keys the musing organist,
Beginning doubtfully and far away,
First lets his fingers wander as they list,
And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay;
Then, as the touch of his loved instrument
Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme,
First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent
Along the wavering vista of his dream.

* * * * *

Not only around our infancy
Doth heaven with all its splendors lie;
Daily, with souls that cringe and plot,
We Sinais climb and know it not.

Over our manhood bend the skies;
Against our fallen and traitor lives
The great winds utter prophecies;
With our faint hearts the mountain strives;
Its arms outstretched, the druid wood
Waits with its Benedicite;
And to our age's drowsy blood
Still shouts the inspiring sea.

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us:
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in.
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the devil's booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;

For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking:
'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
'Tis only God may be had for the asking;
No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,--
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it;
We are happy now because God wills it;
No matter how barren the past may have been,
'T is enough for us now that the leaves are green;
We sit in the warm shade and feel right well
How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell;
We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing
That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear
That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing.
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by:
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,--
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,
Tells all in his lusty crowing!

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how;
Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'T is as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue,--
'Tis the natural way of living:
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake;
And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,
The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;
The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
Like burnt-out craters healed with snow.
What wonder if Sir Launfal now
Remember the keeping of his vow?


"My golden spurs now bring to me,
And bring to me my richest mail,
For to-morrow I go over land and sea
In search of the Holy Grail:
Shall never a bed for me be spread,
Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
Till I begin my vow to keep;
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true
Ere day create the world anew."
Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim;
Slumber fell like a cloud on him,
And into his soul the vision flew.

The crows flapped over by twos and threes,
In the pool drowsed the cattle up to their knees,
The little birds sang as if it were
The one day of summer in all the year,
And the very leaves seemed to sing on the trees:
The castle alone in the landscape lay
Like an outpost of winter, dull and gray;
'T was the proudest hall in the North Countree,
And never its gates might opened be,
Save to lord or lady of high degree;
Summer besieged it on every side,
But the churlish stone her assaults defied;
She could not scale the chilly wall,
Though around it for leagues her pavilions tall
Stretched left and right.
Over the hills and out of sight;
Green and broad was every tent,
And out of each a murmur went
Till the breeze fell off at night.

The drawbridge dropped with a surly clang,
And through the dark arch a charger sprang,
Bearing Sir Launfal, the maiden knight,
In his gilded mail, that flamed so bright
It seemed the dark castle had gathered all
Those shafts the fierce sun had shot over its wall
In his siege of three hundred summers long,
And binding them all in one blazing sheaf,
Had cast them forth; so, young and strong,
And lightsome as a locust leaf,
Sir Launfal flashed forth in his maiden mail,
To seek in all climes for the Holy Grail.

It was morning on hill and stream and tree,
And morning in the young knight's heart;
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
And gloomed by itself apart;
The season brimmed all other things up
Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.

As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate,
He was 'ware of a leper, crouched by the same,
Who begged with his hand and moaned as he sate;
And a loathing over Sir Launfal came;
The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,
The flesh 'neath his armor 'gan shrink and crawl,
And midway its leap his heart stood still
Like a frozen waterfall;
For this man, so foul and bent of stature,
Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,--
So he tossed him a piece of gold in scorn.

The leper raised not the gold from the dust:--
"Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door:
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives only the worthless gold
Who gives from a sense of duty:
But he who gives but a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,--
That thread of the all-sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,--
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms;
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."


Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old;
On open wold and hilltop bleak
It had gathered all the cold,
And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere
From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare;
The little brook heard it, and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him winter-proof;
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars
As the lashes of light that trim the stars;
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt
Down through a frost-leaved forest crypt.
Long, sparkling aisles of steel stemmed trees
Mending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
With quaint arabesques of ice-fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush tops
And hung them thickly with diamond drops.
That crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
And made a star of every one:
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter palace of ice;
'T was as if every image that mirrored lay
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky,
Lest the happy model should be lost.
Sad been mimicked in fairy masonry
By the elfin builders of the frost.

Within the hall are song and laughter;
The cheeks of Christmas glow red and jolly,
And sprouting is every corbel and rafter
With lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide
Wallows the Yule-log's roaring tide;
The broad flame pennons droop and flap
And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,
Hunted to death in its galleries blind;
And swift little troops of silent sparks,
Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear,
Go threading the soot forest's tangled darks
Like herds of startled deer.

But the wind without was eager and sharp;
Of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp,
And rattles and wrings
The icy strings,
Singing in dreary monotone
A Christmas carol of its own,
Whose burden still, as he might guess,
Was "Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!"

The voice of the seneschal flared like a torch
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,
And he sat in the gateway and saw all night
The great hall fire, so cheery and bold,
Through the window slits of the castle old,
Build out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.


There was never a leaf on bush or tree,
The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
The river was dumb and could not speak,
For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun;
A single crow on the tree-top bleak
From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun;
Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold,
As if her veins were sapless and old,
And she rose up decrepitly
For a last dim look at earth and sea.

Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gale,
For another heir in his earldom sate:
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail.
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross;
But deep in his soul the sigh he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.

Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbed air,
For it was just at the Christmas-time;
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
In the light and warmth of long ago.
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and small,
Then nearer and nearer, till, one by one,
He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red-hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass,
The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade.
And with its own self like an infant played,
And waved its signal of palms.

"For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms:"--
The happy camels may reach the spring,
But Sir Launfal sees only the grewsome thing,
The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
That cowers beside him, a thing as lone
And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas
In the desolate horror of his disease.

And Sir Launfal said,--"I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,--
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,--

And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side:
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to thee!"

Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes
And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he
Remembered in what a haughtier guise
He had flung an alms to leprosie,
When he girt his young life up in gilded mail
And set forth in search of the Holy Grail.
The heart within him was ashes and dust:
He parted in twain his single crust,
He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And gave the leper to eat and drink;
'T was a mouldy crust of coarse brown bread
'T was water out of a wooden bowl,--
Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper fed,
And 't was red wine he drank with his thirsty soul

As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified,
Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,--
Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.

His words were shed softer than leaves from the pine,
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
That mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon;
And the voice that was softer than silence said:--
Lo, it is I, be not afraid!
In many climes, without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail:
Behold, it is here,--this cup which thou
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept indeed
In whatso we share with another's need.
Not, what we give, but what we share,--
For the gift without the giver is bare:
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three.--
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me."

Sir Launfal awoke as from a swound:--
"The Grail in my castle here is found!
Hang my idle armor up on the wall,
Let it be the spider's banquet-hall;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail."

The castle gate stands open now,
And the wanderer is welcome to the hall
As the hang-bird is to the elm-tree bough;
No longer scowl the turrets tall.
The summer's long siege at last is o'er:
When the first poor outcast went in at the door,
She entered with him in disguise,
And mastered the fortress by surprise;
There is no spot she loves so well on ground;
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;
The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land
Has hall and bower at his command;
And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.


* * * * *


She once was a lady of honor and wealth;
Bright glowed in her features the roses of health;
Her vesture was blended of silk and of gold,
And her motion shook perfume from every fold:
Joy revelled around her, love shone at her side,
And gay was her smile as the glance of a bride;
And light was her step in the mirth-sounding hall,
When she heard of the daughters of Vincent de Paul.

She felt in her spirit the summons of grace,
That called her to live for her suffering race;
And, heedless of pleasure, of comfort, of home,
Rose quickly, like Mary, and answered, "I come."
She put from her person the trappings of pride,
And passed from her home with the joy of a bride,
Nor wept at the threshold as onward she moved,--
For her heart was on fire in the cause it approved.

Lost ever to fashion, to vanity lost,
That beauty that once was the song and the toast,
No more in the ball-room that figure we meet,
But gliding at dusk to the wretch's retreat.
Forgot in the halls is that high-sounding name,
For the Sister of Charity blushes at fame:
Forgot are the claims of her riches and birth,
For she barters for heaven the glory of earth.

Those feet, that to music could gracefully move,
Now bear her alone on the mission of love;
Those hands, that once dangled the perfume and gem,
Are tending the helpless, or lifted for them;
That voice, that once echoed the song of the vain.
Now whispers relief to the bosom of pain;
And the hair that was shining with diamond and pearl,
Is wet with the tears of the penitent girl.

Her down-bed, a pallet--her trinkets, a bead;
Her lustre--one taper, that serves her to read;
Her sculpture--the crucifix nailed by her bed;
Her paintings--one print of the thorn-crowned head;
Her cushion--the pavement that wearies her knees;
Her music--the psalm, or the sigh of disease:
The delicate lady lives mortified there,
And the feast is forsaken for fasting and prayer.

Yet not to the service of heart and of mind
Are the cares of that heaven-minded virgin confined:
Like Him whom she loves, to the mansions of grief
She hastes with the tidings of joy and relief.
She strengthens the weary, she comforts the weak,
And soft is her voice in the ear of the sick;
Where want and affliction on mortals attend,
The Sister of Charity there is a friend.

Unshrinking where pestilence scatters his breath,
Like an angel she moves, mid the vapors of death;
Where rings the loud musket, and flashes the sword,
Unfearing she walks, for she follows her Lord.
How sweetly she bends o'er each plague-tainted face,
With looks that are lighted with holiest grace;
How kindly she dresses each suffering limb,
For she sees in the wounded the image of Him.

Behold her, ye worldly! behold her, ye vain!
Who shrink from the pathway of virtue and pain!
Who yield up to pleasure your nights and your days,
Forgetful of service, forgetful of praise.
Ye lazy philosophers, self-seeking men;
Ye fireside philanthropists, great at the pen;
How stands in the balance your eloquence weighed
With the life and the deeds of that high-born maid?


* * * * *


I live for those who love me,
Whose hearts are kind and true,
For heaven that smiles above me,
And waits my spirit, too;
For all the ties that bind me,
For all the tasks assigned me.
And bright hopes left behind me,
And good that I can do.

I live to learn their story
Who've suffered for my sake,
To emulate their glory,
And follow in their wake;
Bards, patriots, martyrs, sages,
The noble of all ages,
Whose deeds crown history's pages,
And Time's great volume make.

I live to hold communion
With all that is divine,
To feel there is a union
'Twixt Nature's heart and mine;
To profit by affliction,
Reap truths from fields of fiction,
And, wiser from conviction,
Fulfil each grand design.

I live to hail that season,
By gifted minds foretold,
When men shall rule by reason,
And not alone by gold;
When man to man united,
And every wrong thing righted,
The whole world shall be lighted
As Eden was of old.

I live for those who love me,
Whose hearts are kind and true,
For heaven that smiles above me,
And waits my spirit too;
For the cause that lacks assistance,
For the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And the good that I can do.


* * * * *


We should fill the hours with the sweetest things,
If we had but a day;
We should drink alone at the purest springs
In our upward way;
We should love with a lifetime's love in an hour,
If the hours were few;
We should rest, not for dreams, but for fresher power
To be and to do.

We should guide our wayward or wearied wills
By the clearest light;
We should keep our eyes on the heavenly hills,
If they lay in sight;
We should trample the pride and the discontent
Beneath our feet;
We should take whatever a good God sent,
With a trust complete.

We should waste no moments in weak regret,
If the day were but one;
If what we remember and what we forget
Went out with the sun;
We should be from our clamorous selves set free,
To work or to pray,
And to be what the Father would have us be.
If we had but a day.


* * * * *


Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich and like a lily in bloom.
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?" The vision raised its head,
And, with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, "The names of those who love the Lord."
"And is mine one?" said Abou. "Nay, not so."
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow-men."
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blessed,--
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!


* * * * *


If suddenly upon the street
My gracious Saviour I should meet,
And he should say, "As I love thee,
What love hast thou to offer me?"
Then what could this poor heart of mine
Dare offer to that heart divine?

His eye would pierce my outward show,
His thought my inmost thought would know;
And if I said, "I love thee, Lord,"
He would not heed my spoken word,
Because my daily life would tell
If verily I loved him well.

If on the day or in the place
Wherein he met me face to face,
My life could show some kindness done,
Some purpose formed, some work begun
For his dear sake, then it were meet
Love's gift to lay at Jesus' feet.




* * * * *


From the near city comes the clang of bells:
Their hundred jarring diverse tones combine
In one faint misty harmony, as fine
As the soft note yon winter robin swells.
What if to Thee in thine infinity
These multiform and many-colored creeds
Seem but the robe man wraps as masquers' weeds
Round the one living truth them givest him--Thee?
What if these varied forms that worship prove,
Being heart-worship, reach thy perfect ear
But as a monotone, complete and clear,
Of which the music is, through Christ's name, love?
Forever rising in sublime increase
To "Glory in the highest,--on earth peace"?


* * * * *


Praise ye the Lord!
Not in the temple of shapeliest mould,
Polished with marble and gleaming with gold,
Piled upon pillars of slenderest grace,
But here in the blue sky's luminous face,
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
Not where the organ's melodious wave
Dies 'neath the rafters that narrow the nave,
But here with the free wind's wandering sweep,
Here with the billow that booms from the deep,
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
Not where the pale-faced multitude meet
In the sweltering lane and the dun-visaged street,
But here where bright ocean, thick sown with green isles,
Feeds the glad eye with a harvest of smiles,
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
Here where the strength of the old granite Ben
Towers o'er the greenswarded grace of the glen,
Where the birch flings its fragrance abroad on the hill,
And the bee of the heather-bloom wanders at will,
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
Here where the loch, the dark mountain's fair daughter,
Down the red scaur flings the white-streaming water,
Leaping and tossing and swirling forever,
Down to the bed of the smooth-rolling river,
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
Not where the voice of a preacher instructs you,
Not where the hand of a mortal conducts you,
But where the bright welkin in scripture of glory
Blazons creation's miraculous story.
Praise ye the Lord!

Praise ye the Lord!
The wind and the welkin, the sun and the river,
Weaving a tissue of wonders forever;
The mead and the mountain, the flower and the tree,
What is their pomp, but a vision of thee,
Wonderful Lord?

Praise ye the Lord!
Not in the square-hewn, many-tiered pile,
Not in the long-drawn, dim-shadowed aisle,
But where the bright world, with age never hoary,
Flashes her brightness and thunders his glory,
Praise ye the Lord!


* * * * *


With silent awe I hail the sacred morn,
That slowly wakes while all the fields are still!
A soothing calm on every breeze is borne;
A graver murmur gurgles from the rill;
And echo answers softer from the hill;
And sweeter sings the linnet from the thorn:
The skylark warbles in a tone less shrill.
Hail, light serene! hail, sacred Sabbath morn!
The rooks float silent by in airy drove;
The sun a placid yellow lustre throws;
The gales that lately sighed along the grove
Have hushed their downy wings in dead repose
The hovering rack of clouds forgets to move,--
So smiled that day when the first morn arose!


* * * * *



How still the morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labor, hushed
The ploughboy's whistle and the milkmaid's song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Of tedded grass, mingled with faded flowers,
That yestermorn bloomed waving in the breeze;
Sounds the most faint attract the ear,--the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating, midway up the hill.
Calmness sits throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-worn glen;
While from yon lowly roof, whose circling smoke
O'ermounts the mist, is heard at intervals
The voice of psalms, the simple song of praise.
With dovelike wings Peace o'er yon village broods;
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Stops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unheedful of the pasture, roams at large;
And as his stiff, unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.
But chiefly man the day of rest enjoys.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day.
On other days the man of toil is doomed
To eat his joyless bread, lonely; the ground
Both seat and board; screened from the winter's cold
And summer's heat by neighboring hedge or tree;
But on this day, imbosomed in his home,
He shares the frugal meal with those he loves;
With those he loves he shares the heartfelt joy
Of giving thanks to God--not thanks of form,
A word and a grimace, but reverently,
With covered face and upward earnest eye.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day.
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air, pure from the city's smoke;
While, wandering slowly up the river-side,
He meditates on Him, whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers that bloom
Around its roots; and while he thus surveys,
With elevated joy, each rural charm,
He hopes, yet fears presumption in the hope,
That heaven may be one Sabbath without end.


* * * * *


Sleep, sleep to-day, tormenting cares,
Of earth and folly born;
Ye shall not dim the light that streams
From this celestial morn.

To-morrow will be time enough
To feel your harsh control;
Ye shall not violate, this day,
The Sabbath of my soul.

Sleep, sleep forever, guilty thoughts;
Let fires of vengeance die;
And, purged from sin, may I behold
A God of purity!


* * * * *


Now, on sea and land descending,
Brings the night its peace profound:
Let our vesper hymn be blending
With the holy calm around.
Soon as dies the sunset glory,
Stars of heaven shine out above,
Telling still the ancient story--
Their Creator's changeless love.

Now, our wants and burdens leaving
To his care who cares for all,
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving;
At his touch our burdens fall.
As the darkness deepens o'er us,
Lo! eternal stars arise;
Hope and Faith and Love rise glorious,
Shining in the Spirit's skies.


* * * * *


The day is done; the weary day of thought and toil is past,
Soft falls the twilight cool and gray on the tired earth at last:
By wisest teachers wearied, by gentlest friends oppressed,
In thee alone, the soul, outworn, refreshment finds, and rest.

Bend, Gracious Spirit, from above, like these o'erarching skies,
And to thy firmament of love lift up these longing eyes;
And, folded by thy sheltering hand, in refuge still and deep,
Let blessed thoughts from thee descend, as drop the dews of sleep.

And when refreshed the soul once more puts on new life and power;
Oh, let thine image. Lord, alone, gild the first waking hour!
Let that dear Presence dawn and glow, fairer than morn's first ray,
And thy pure radiance overflow the splendor of the day.

So in the hastening even, so in the coming morn,
When deeper slumber shall be given, and fresher life be born.
Shine out, true Light! to guide my way amid that deepening gloom,
And rise, O Morning Star, the first that dayspring to illume!

I cannot dread the darkness where thou wilt watch o'er me,
Nor smile to greet the sunrise unless thy smile I see;
Creator, Saviour, Comforter! on thee my soul is cast;
At morn, at night, in earth, in heaven, be thou my First and Last!


* * * * *


Amazing, beauteous change!
A world created new!
My thoughts with transport range,
The lovely scene to view;
In all I trace,
Saviour divine,
The word is thine,--
Be thine the praise!

See crystal fountains play
Amidst the burning sands;
The river's winding way
Shines through the thirsty lands;
New grass is seen,
And o'er the meads
Its carpet spreads
Of living green.

Where pointed brambles grew,
Intwined with horrid thorn,
Gay flowers, forever new,
The painted fields adorn,--
The blushing rose
And lily there,
In union fair,
Their sweets disclose.

Where the bleak mountain stood
All bare and disarrayed,
See the wide-branching wood
Diffuse its grateful shade;
Tall cedars nod,
And oaks and pines,
And elms and vines
Confess thee God.

The tyrants of the plain
Their savage chase give o'er,--
No more they rend the slain,
And thirst for blood no more;
But infant hands
Fierce tigers stroke,
And lions yoke
In flowery bands.

O, when, Almighty Lord!
Shall these glad things arise,
To verify thy word,
And bless our wandering eyes?
That earth may raise,
With all its tongues,
United songs
Of ardent praise.


* * * * *


O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky;
We praise thee for the radiance
That from the hallowed page,
A lantern to our footsteps,
Shines on from age to age.

The Church from thee, her Master,
Received the gift divine;
And still that light she lifteth
O'er all the earth to shine.
It is the golden casket
Where gems of truth are stored;
It is the heaven-drawn picture
Of, thee, the living Word.

It floateth like a banner
Before God's host unfurled;
It shineth like a beacon
Above the darkling world;
It is the chart and compass
That o'er life's surging sea,
Mid mists and rocks and quicksands,
Still guide, O Christ, to thee.

Oh, make thy Church, dear Saviour,
A lamp of burnished gold,
To bear before the nations
Thy true light, as of old.
Oh, teach thy wandering pilgrims
By this their path to trace,
Till, clouds and darkness ended,
They see thee face to face.


* * * * *


The chimes, the chimes of Motherland,
Of England green and old.
That out from fane and ivied tower
A thousand years have tolled;
How glorious must their music be
As breaks the hallowed day,
And calleth with a seraph's voice
A nation up to pray!

Those chimes that tell a thousand tales,
Sweet tales of olden time;
And ring a thousand memories
At vesper, and at prime!
At bridal and at burial,
For cottager and king,
Those chimes, those glorious Christian chimes,
How blessedly they ring!

Those chimes, those chimes of Motherland,
Upon a Christmas morn.
Outbreaking as the angels did,
For a Redeemer born!
How merrily they call afar,
To cot and baron's hall,
With holly decked and mistletoe,
To keep the festival!

The chimes of England, how they peal
From tower and Gothic pile,
Where hymn and swelling anthem fill
The dim cathedral aisle;
Where windows bathe the holy light
On priestly heads that falls,
And stains the florid tracery
Of banner-dighted walls!

And then, those Easter bells, in spring,
Those glorious Easter chimes!
How loyally they hail thee round,
Old Queen of holy times!
From hill to hill like sentinels,
Responsively they cry,
And sing the rising of the Lord,
From vale to mountain high.

I love ye, chimes of Motherland,
With all this soul of mine,
And bless the Lord that I am sprung
Of good old English line:
And like a son I sing the lay
That England's glory tells;
For she is lovely to the Lord,
For you, ye Christian bells!

And heir of her historic fame,
Though far away my birth,
Thee, too, I love, my Forest-land,
The joy of all the earth;
For thine thy mother's voice shall be,
And here, where God is king,
With English chimes, from Christian spires,
The wilderness shall ring.


* * * * *


I have fancied, sometimes, the Bethel-bent beam,
That trembled to earth in the patriarch's dream,
Was a ladder of song in that wilderness rest,
From the pillar of stone to the blue of the blest.
And the angels descending to dwell with us here,
"Old Hundred," and "Corinth," and "China," and "Mear."

"Let us sing to God's praise," the minister said.
All the psalm-books at once fluttered open at "York";
Sunned their long dotted wings in the words that he read,
While the leader leaped into the tune just ahead,
And politely picked up the key-note with a fork;
And the vicious old viol went growling along
At the heels of the girls, in the rear of the song.

All the hearts are not dead, not under the sod,
That those breaths can blow open to heaven and God!
Ah, "Silver Street" flows by a bright shining road,--
Oh, not to the hymns that in harmony flowed,--
But the sweet human psalms of the old-fashioned choir,
To the girl that sang alto--the girl that sang air!

Oh, I need not a wing--bid no genii come
With a wonderful web from Arabian loom,
To bear me again up the river of Time,
When the world was in rhythm, and life was its rhyme--
Where the streams of the years flowed so noiseless and narrow,
That across it there floated the song of the sparrow--

For a sprig of green caraway carries me there.
To the old village church, and the old village choir,
Where clear of the floor my feet slowly swung,
And timed the sweet pulse of the praise that they sung,
Till the glory aslant from the afternoon sun
Seemed the rafters of gold in God's temple begun!

You may smile at the nasals of old Deacon Brown,
Who followed by scent, till he ran the tune down;
And dear Sister Green, with more goodness than grace,
Rose and fell on the tunes as she stood in her place,
And where "Coronation" exultingly flows,
Tried to reach the high notes on the tips of her toes!

To the land of the leal they have gone with their song,
Where the choir and the chorus together belong,
Oh be lifted, ye gates! Let me hear them again--
Blessed song, blessed singers! forever, Amen!


* * * * *


"Some cotton has lately been imported into Farringdon, where
the mills have been closed for a considerable time. The
people, who were previously in the deepest distress, went out
to meet the cotton: the women wept over the bales and kissed
them, and finally sang the Doxology over them."--_Spectator_
of May 14, 1803.

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,"
Praise him who sendeth joy and woe.
The Lord who takes, the Lord who gives,
O, praise him, all that dies, and lives.

He opens and he shuts his hand,
But why we cannot understand:
Pours and dries up his mercies' flood,
And yet is still All-perfect Good.

We fathom not the mighty plan,
The mystery of God and man;
We women, when afflictions come,
We only suffer and are dumb.

And when, the tempest passing by,
He gleams out, sunlike through our sky,
We look up, and through black clouds riven
We recognize the smile of Heaven.

Ours is no wisdom of the wise,
We have no deep philosophies;
Childlike we take both kiss and rod,
For he who loveth knoweth God.


* * * * *



When Israel, of the Lord beloved,
Out from the land of bondage came,
Her fathers' God before her moved,
An awful guide, in smoke and flame.
By day, along the astonished lands,
The cloudy pillar glided slow:
By night, Arabia's crimsoned sands
Returned the fiery column's glow.

There rose the choral hymn of praise,
And trump and timbrel answered keen,
And Zion's daughters poured their lays,
With priest's and warrior's voice between.
No portents now our foes amaze,
Forsaken Israel wanders lone:
Our fathers would not know Thy ways,
And Thou hast left them to their own.

But, present still, though now unseen!
When brightly shines the prosperous day,
Be thoughts of Thee a cloudy screen
To temper the deceitful ray.
And O, when stoops on Judah's path
In shade and storm the frequent night,
Be Thou, long-suffering, slow to wrath,
A burning and a shining light!

Our harps we left by Babel's streams,
The tyrant's jest, the Gentile's scorn;
No censer round our altar beams,
And mute are timbrel, harp, and horn.
But Thou hast said, "The blood of goat,
The flesh of rams, I will not prize;
A contrite heart, a humble thought,
Are mine accepted sacrifice."


* * * * *


Thy thoughts are here, my God,
Expressed in words divine,
The utterance of heavenly lips
In every sacred line.

Across the ages they
Have reached us from afar,
Than the bright gold more golden they,
Purer than purest star.

More durable they stand
Than the eternal hills;
Far sweeter and more musical
Than music of earth's rills.

Fairer in their fair hues
Than the fresh flowers of earth,
More fragrant than the fragrant climes
Where odors have their birth.

Each word of thine a gem
From the celestial mines,
A sunbeam from that holy heaven
Where holy sunlight shines.

Thine, thine, this book, though given
In man's poor human speech,
Telling of things unseen, unheard,
Beyond all human reach.

No strength it craves or needs
From this world's wisdom vain;
No filling up from human wells,
Or sublunary rain.

No light from sons of time,
Nor brilliance from its gold;
It sparkles with its own glad light,
As in the ages old.

A thousand hammers keen,
With fiery force and strain,
Brought down on it in rage and hate,
Have struck this gem in vain.

Against this sea-swept rock
Ten thousand storms their will
Of foam and rage have wildly spent;
It lifts its calm face still.

It standeth and will stand,
Without or change or age,
The word of majesty and light,
The church's heritage.


* * * * *


The elder folk shook hands at last,
Down seat by seat the signal passed.
To simple ways like ours unused,
Half solemnized and half amused,
With long-drawn breath and shrug, my guest
His sense of glad relief expressed.
Outside, the hills lay warm in sun;
The cattle in the meadow-run
Stood half-leg deep; a single bird
The green repose above us stirred.
"What part or lot have you," he said,
"In these dull rites of drowsy-head?
Is silence worship? Seek it where
It soothes with dreams the summer air;
Not in this close and rude-benched hall,
But where soft lights and shadows fall,
And all the slow, sleep-walking hours
Glide soundless over grass and flowers!
From time and place and form apart,
Its holy ground the human heart,
Nor ritual-bound nor templeward
Walks the free spirit of the Lord!
Our common Master did not pen
His followers up from other men;
His service liberty indeed,
He built no church, he framed no creed;
But while the saintly Pharisee
Made broader his phylactery,
As from the synagogue was seen
The dusty-sandalled Nazarene
Through ripening cornfields lead the way
Upon the awful Sabbath day,
His sermons were the healthful talk
That shorter made the mountain-walk,
His wayside texts were flowers and birds,
Where mingled with his gracious words
The rustle of the tamarisk-tree
And ripple-wash of Galilee."

"Thy words are well, O friend," I said;
"Unmeasured and unlimited,
With noiseless slide of stone to stone,
The mystic Church of God has grown.
Invisible and silent stands
The temple never made with hands,
Unheard the voices still and small
Of its unseen confessional.
He needs no special place of prayer
Whose hearing ear is everywhere;
He brings not back the childish days
That ringed the earth with stones of praise,
Roofed Karnak's hall of gods, and laid
The plinths of Philae's colonnade.
Still less he owns the selfish good
And sickly growth of solitude,--
The worthless grace that, out of sight,
Flowers in the desert anchorite;
Dissevered from the suffering whole,
Love hath no power to save a soul.
Not out of Self, the origin
And native air and soil of sin,
The living waters spring and flow,
The trees with leaves of healing grow.

"Dream not, O friend, because I seek
This quiet shelter twice a week,
I better deem its pine-laid floor
Than breezy hill or sea-sung shore;
But nature is not solitude;
She crowds us with her thronging wood;
Her many hands reach out to us,
Her many tongues are garrulous;
Perpetual riddles of surprise
She offers to our ears and eyes;
She will not leave our senses still,
But drags them captive at her will;
And, making earth too great for heaven,
She hides the Giver in the given.

"And so I find it well to come
For deeper rest to this still room,
For here the habit of the soul
Feels less the outer world's control;
The strength of mutual purpose pleads
More earnestly our common needs;
And from the silence multiplied
By these still forms on either side,
The world that time and sense have known
Falls off and leaves us God alone.

"Yet rarely through the charmed repose
Unmixed the stream of motive flows,
A flavor of its many springs,
The tints of earth and sky it brings;
In the still waters needs must be
Some shade of human sympathy;
And here, in its accustomed place,
I look on memory's dearest face;
The blind by-sitter guesseth not
What shadow haunts that vacant spot;
No eyes save mine alone can see
The love wherewith it welcomes me!
And still, with those alone my kin,
In doubt and weakness, want and sin,
I bow my head, my heart I bare
As when that face was living there,
And strive (too oft, alas! in vain)
The peace of simple trust to gain,
Fold fancy's restless wings, and lay
The idols of my heart away.

"Welcome the silence all unbroken,
Nor less the words of fitness spoken,--
Such golden words as hers for whom
Our autumn flowers have just made room;
Whose hopeful utterance through and through
The freshness of the morning blew;
Who loved not less the earth that light
Fell on it from the heavens in sight,
But saw in all fair forms more fair
The Eternal beauty mirrored there.
Whose eighty years but added grace
And saintlier meaning to her face,--
The look of one who bore away
Glad tidings from the hills of day,
While all our hearts went forth to meet
The coming of her beautiful feet!
Or haply hers whose pilgrim tread
Is in the paths where Jesus led;
Who dreams her childhood's Sabbath dream
By Jordan's willow-shaded stream,
And, of the hymns of hope and faith,
Sang by the monks of Nazareth,
Hears pious echoes, in the call
To prayer, from Moslem minarets fall,
Repeating where His works were wrought
The lesson that her Master taught,
Of whom an elder Sibyl gave,
The prophecies of Cumae's cave!

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