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

Part 6 out of 9

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"See, Father, what first-fruits on Earth are sprung
From thy implanted grace in Man; these sighs
And prayers, which in this golden censer, mixed
With incense, I thy priest before thee bring;
Fruits of more pleasing savor, from thy seed
Sown with contrition in his heart, than those
Which, his own hand manuring, all the trees
Of Paradise could have produced ere fallen
From innocence. Now, therefore, bend thine ear
To supplication; hear his sighs, though mute;
Unskilful with what words to pray, let me
Interpret for him; me, his advocate
And propitiation; all his works on me,
Good, or not good, ingraft; my merit those
Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.
Accept me; and, in me, from these receive
The smell of peace toward mankind: let him live
Before thee reconciled, at least his days
Numbered though sad; till death his doom (which I
To mitigate thus plead, not to reverse,)
To better life shall yield him: where with me
All my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss;
Made one with me, as I with thee am one."
To whom the Father, without cloud, serene.
"All thy request for Man, accepted Son,
Obtain; all thy request was my decree:
But, longer in that Paradise to dwell,
The law I gave to Nature him forbids:
Those pure immortal elements, that know
No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul,
Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off,
As a distemper, gross, to air as gross,
And mortal food; as may dispose him best
For dissolution wrought by sin, that first
Distempered all things, and of incorrupt
Corrupted. I, at first, with two fair gifts
Created him endowed; with happiness,
And immortality: that fondly lost.
This other served but to eternize woe;
Till I provided death: so death becomes
His final remedy; and, after life,
Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined
By faith and faithful works, to second life,
Waked in the renovation of the just,
Resigns him up with Heaven and Earth renewed."


O unexpected stroke, worse than of death!
Must I thus leave thee, Paradise? thus leave
Thee, native soil! these happy walks and shades,
Fit haunt of gods; where I had hope to spend,
Quiet, though sad, the respite of that day
That must be mortal to us both? O flowers,
That never will in other climate grow,
My early visitation, and my last
At even, which I bred up with tender hand
From the first opening bud, and gave ye names!
Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank
Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount?
Thee, lastly, nuptial bower! by me adorned
With what to sight or smell was sweet, from thee
How shall I part, and whither wander down
Into a lower world, to this obscure
And wild? how shall we breathe in other air
Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits?


With sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied, I fell asleep. But now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou to me
Art all things under heaven, all places thou,
Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.
This further consolation, yet secure,
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favor I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the promised Seed shall all restore.



In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that naming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms.
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.




* * * * *


Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,--act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime.
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;--

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.


* * * * *


When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
Let us (said he) pour on him all we can:
Let the world's riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure:
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone, of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

For if I should (said he)
Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature:
So both should losers be.

Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness:
Let him be rich and weary, that, at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.


* * * * *


I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty:
I woke and found that life was Duty:
Was then thy dream a shadowy lie?
Toil on, sad heart, courageously,
And thou shalt find thy dream to be
A noonday light and truth to thee.


* * * * *


Stern daughter of the voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove--
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free,
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad hearts! without reproach or blot,
Who do thy work, and know it not;
Long may the kindly impulse last!
But thou, if they should totter, teach them to stand fast!

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light.
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold.
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet find that other strength, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried,
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust;
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control,
But in the quietness of thought;
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance desires,
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we any thing so fair
As is the smile upon thy face;
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds,
And fragrance in thy footing treads;
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through thee, are fresh and strong.

To humbler functions, awful power!
I call thee: I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
Oh, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy bondman let me live!


* * * * *


Let not soft slumber close my eyes,
Before I've recollected thrice
The train of action through the day!
Where have my feet chose out their way?
What have I learnt, where'er I've been,
From all I have heard, from all I've seen?
What know I more that's worth the knowing?
What have I done that's worth the doing?
What have I sought that I should shun?
What duty have I left undone?
Or into what new follies run?
These self-inquiries are the road
That leads to virtue and to God.


* * * * *



"Sweet, thou art pale."
"More pale to see,
Christ hung upon the cruel tree
And bore his Father's wrath for me."

"Sweet, thou art sad."
"Beneath a rod
More heavy Christ for my sake trod
The wine-press of the wrath of God."

"Sweet, thou art weary."
"Not so Christ:
Whose mighty love of me sufficed
For strength, salvation, eucharist."

"Sweet, thou art footsore."
"If I bleed,
His feet have bled: yea, in my need
His heart once bled for mine indeed."


"Sweet, thou art young."
"So he was young
Who for my sake in silence hung
Upon the cross with passion wrung."

"Look, thou art fair."
"He was more fair
Than men, who deigned for me to wear
A visage marred beyond compare."

"And thou hast riches."
"Daily bread:
All else is his; who living, dead,
For me lacked where to lay his head."

"And life is sweet."
"It was not so
To him, whose cup did overflow
With mine unutterable woe."


"Thou drinkest deep."
"When Christ would sup
He drained the dregs from out my cup;
So how should I be lifted up?"

"Thou shalt win glory."
"In the skies,
Lord Jesus, cover up mine eyes.
Lest they should look on vanities."

"Thou shalt have knowledge."
"Helpless dust,
In thee, O Lord, I put my trust:
Answer thou for me, Wise and Just."


* * * * *


Said I not so,--that I would sin no more?
Witness, my God, I did;
Yet I am run again upon the score:
My faults cannot be hid.

What shall I do?--make vows and break them still?
'Twill be but labor lost;
My good cannot prevail against mine ill:
The business will be crost.

O, say not so; thou canst not tell what strength
Thy God may give thee at the length.
Renew thy vows, and if thou keep the last,
Thy God will pardon all that's past.
Vow while thou canst; while thou canst vow, thou may'st
Perhaps perform it when thou thinkest least.

Thy God hath not denied thee all,
Whilst he permits thee but to call.
Call to thy God for grace to keep
Thy vows; and if thou break them, weep.
Weep for thy broken vows, and vow again:
Vows made with tears cannot be still in vain.
Then once again
I vow to mend my ways;
Lord, say Amen,
And thine be all the praise.


* * * * *


Nothing but leaves; the spirit grieves
Over a wasted life;
Sin committed while conscience slept,
Promises made, but never kept,
Hatred, battle, and strife;
_Nothing but leaves_!

Nothing but leaves; no garnered sheaves
Of life's fair, ripened grain;
Words, idle words, for earnest deeds;
We sow our seeds,--lo! tares and weeds:
We reap, with toil and pain,
_Nothing but leaves_!

Nothing but leaves; memory weaves
No veil to screen the past:
As we retrace our weary way,
Counting each lost and misspent day,
We find, sadly, at last,
_Nothing but leaves_!

And shall we meet the Master so,
Bearing our withered leaves?
The Saviour looks for perfect fruit,
We stand before him, humbled, mute;
Waiting the words he breathes,--
"_Nothing but leaves_?"


* * * * *


"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of
righteousness, and of judgment."--JOHN xvi. 8.

The world is wise, for the world is old;
Five thousand years their tale have told;
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be,--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

The world is kind if we ask not too much;
It is sweet to the taste, and smooth to the touch;
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be,--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

The world is strong, with an awful strength,
And full of life in its breadth and length;
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be,--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

The world is so beautiful one may fear
Its borrowed beauty might make it too dear,
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

The world is good in its own poor way,
There is rest by night and high spirits by day;
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be,--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

The cross shines fair, and the church-bell rings,
And the earth is peopled with holy things;
Yet the world is not happy, as the world might be,--
Why is it? why is it? Oh, answer me!

What lackest thou, world? for God made thee of old;
Why,--thy faith hath gone out, and thy love grown cold;
Thou art not happy, as thou mightest be,
For the want of Christ's simplicity.

It is blood that thou lackest, thou poor old world!
Who shall make thy love hot for thee, frozen old world?
Thou art not happy, as thou mightest be,
For the love of dear Jesus is little in thee.

Poor world! if thou cravest a better day,
Remember that Christ must have his own way;
I mourn thou art not as thou mightest be,
But the love of God would do all for thee.


* * * * *


"There is no God," the foolish saith,
But none, "There is no sorrow";
And nature oft the cry of faith
In bitter need will borrow:
Eyes which the preacher could not school,
By wayside graves are raised;
And lips say, "God be pitiful,"
Who ne'er said, "God be praised."
Be pitiful, O God!

The tempest stretches from the steep
The shadow of its coming;
The beasts grow tame, and near us creep,
As help were in the human:
Yet while the cloud-wheels roll and grind
We spirits tremble under!--
The hills have echoes; but we find
No answer for the thunder.
Be pitiful, O God!

The battle hurtles on the plains--
Earth feels new scythes upon her:
We reap our brothers for the wains,
And call the harvest, honor,--
Draw face to face, front line to line,
One image all inherit,--
Then kill, curse on, by that same sign,
Clay, clay,--and spirit, spirit.
Be pitiful, O God!

The plague runs festering through the town,
And never a bell is tolling:
And corpses jostled 'neath the moon,
Nod to the dead-cart's rolling.
The young child calleth for the cup--
The strong man brings it weeping;
The mother from her babe looks up,
And shrieks away its sleeping.
Be pitiful, O God!

The plague of gold strides far and near,
And deep and strong it enters:
This purple chimar which we wear,
Makes madder than the centaur's.
Our thoughts grow blank, our words grow strange;
We cheer the pale gold-diggers--
Each soul is worth so much on 'Change,
And marked, like sheep, with figures.
Be pitiful, O God!

The curse of gold upon the land,
The lack of bread enforces--
The rail-cars snort from strand to strand,
Like more of Death's White Horses:
The rich preach "rights" and future days,
And hear no angel scoffing:
The poor die mute--with starving gaze
On corn-ships in the offing.
Be pitiful, O God!

We meet together at the feast--
To private mirth betake us--
We stare down in the winecup lest
Some vacant chair should shake us!
We name delight, and pledge it round--
"It shall be ours to-morrow!"
God's seraphs, do your voices sound
As sad in naming sorrow?
Be pitiful, O God!

We sit together, with the skies,
The steadfast skies, above us:
We look into each other's eyes,
"And how long will you love us?"
The eyes grow dim with prophecy,
The voice is low and breathless--
"Till death us part!"--O words, to be
Our _best_ for love the deathless!
Be pitiful, dear God!

We tremble by the harmless bed
Of one loved and departed--
Our tears drop on the lids that said
Last night, "Be stronger hearted!"
O God,--to clasp those fingers close,
And yet to feel so lonely!--
To see a light upon such brows,
Which is the daylight only!
Be pitiful, O God!

The happy children come to us,
And look up in our faces:
They ask us--Was it thus, and thus,
When we were in their places?
We cannot speak:--we see anew
The hills we used to live in;
And feel our mother's smile press through
The kisses she is giving.
Be pitiful, O God!

We pray together at the kirk,
For mercy, mercy, solely--
Hands weary with the evil work,
We lift them to the Holy!
The corpse is calm below our knee--
Its spirit bright before thee--
Between them, worse than either, we--
Without the rest of glory!
Be pitiful, O God!

We leave the communing of men,
The murmur of the passions;
And live alone, to live again
With endless generations.
Are we so brave?--The sea and sky
In silence lift their mirrors;
And, glassed therein, our spirits high
Recoil from their own terrors.
Be pitiful, O God!

We sit on hills our childhood wist,
Woods, hamlets, streams, beholding:
The sun strikes through the farthest mist,
The city's spire to golden.
The city's golden spire it was,
When hope and health were strong;
But now it is the churchyard grass,
We look upon the longest.
Be pitiful, O God!

And soon all vision waxeth dull--
Men whisper, "He is dying":
We cry no more, "Be pitiful!"--
We have no strength for crying:
No strength, no need! Then, Soul of mine,
Look up and triumph rather--
Lo! in the depth of God's Divine,
The Son adjures the Father--


* * * * *



"Behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you
as wheat."--LUKE xxii. 31.

In Saint Luke's Gospel we are told
How Peter in the days of old
Was sifted;
And now, though ages intervene,
Sin is the same, while time and scene
Are shifted.

Satan desires us, great and small,
As wheat, to sift us, and we all
Are tempted;
Not one, however rich or great,
Is by his station or estate

No house so safely guarded is
But he, by some device of his,
Can enter;
No heart hath armor so complete
But he can pierce with arrows fleet
Its centre.

For all at last the cock will crow
Who hear the warning voice, but go
Till thrice and more they have denied
The Man of Sorrows, crucified
And bleeding.

One look of that pale suffering face
Will make us feel the deep disgrace
Of weakness;
We shall be sifted till the strength
Of self-conceit be changed at length
To meekness.

Wounds of the soul, though healed, will ache;
The reddening scars remain, and make
Lost innocence returns no more;
We are not what we were before

But noble souls, through dust and heat,
Rise from disaster and defeat
The stronger.
And conscious still of the divine
Within them, lie on earth supine
No longer.


* * * * *


The sun comes up and the sun goes down,
And day and night are the same as one;
The year grows green, and the year grows brown.
And what is it all, when all is done?
Grains of sombre or shining sand,
Gliding into and out of the hand.

And men go down in ships to the seas,
And a hundred ships are the same as one;
And backward and forward blows the breeze,
And what is it all, when all is done?
A tide with never a shore in sight
Getting steadily on to the night.

The fisher droppeth his net in the stream,
And a hundred streams are the same as one;
And the maiden dreameth her love-lit dream,
And what is it all, when all is done?
The net of the fisher the burden breaks,
And alway the dreaming the dreamer wakes.


* * * * *


Some murmur when their sky is clear
And wholly bright to view,
If one small speck of dark appear
In their great heaven of blue;
And some with thankful love are filled
If but one streak of light,
One ray of God's good mercy, gild
The darkness of their night.

In palaces are hearts that ask,
In discontent and pride,
Why life is such a dreary task,
And all good things denied;
And hearts in poorest huts admire
How Love has in their aid
(Love that not ever seems to tire)
Such rich provision made.


* * * * *


Recovery,--daughter of Creation too,
Though not for immortality designed,--
The Lord of life and death
Sent thee from heaven to me!
Had I not heard thy gentle tread approach,
Not heard the whisper of thy welcome voice,
Death had with iron foot
My chilly forehead pressed.
'Tis true, I then had wandered where the earths
Roll around suns; had strayed along the paths
Where the maned comet soars
Beyond the armed eye;
And with the rapturous, eager greet had hailed
The inmates of those earths and of those suns;
Had hailed the countless host
That throng the comet's disc;
Had asked the novice questions, and obtained
Such answers as a sage vouchsafes to youth;
Had learned in hours far more
Than ages here unfold!
But I had then not ended here below
What, in the enterprising bloom of life,
Fate with no light behest
Required me to begin.
Recovery,--daughter of Creation too,
Though not for immortality designed,--
The Lord of life and death
Sent thee from heaven to me!


Translation of W. TAYLOR.

* * * * *


Saint Augustine! well hast thou said,
That of our vices we can frame
A ladder, if we will but tread
Beneath our feet each deed of shame!

All common things, each day's events,
That with the hour begin and end,
Our pleasures and our discontents,
Are rounds by which we may ascend.

The low desire, the base design,
That makes another's virtues less;
The revel of the ruddy wine,
And all occasions of excess;

The longing for ignoble things;
The strife for triumph more than truth;
The hardening of the heart, that brings
Irreverence for the dreams of youth;

All thoughts of ill; all evil deeds,
That have their root in thoughts of ill;
Whatever hinders or impedes
The action of the nobler will:--

All these must first be trampled down
Beneath our feet, if we would gain
In the bright fields of fair renown
The right of eminent domain.

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.

The mighty pyramids of stone
That wedge-like cleave the desert airs,
When nearer seen, and better known,
Are but gigantic flights of stairs.

The distant mountains, that uprear
Their solid bastions to the skies,
Are crossed by pathways, that appear
As we to higher levels rise.

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern--unseen before--
A path to higher destinies.

Nor deem the irrevocable Past
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.


* * * * *


"Carry me across!"
The Syrian heard, rose up, and braced
His huge limbs to the accustomed toil:
"My child, see how the waters boil?
The night-black heavens look angry-faced;
But life is little loss.

"I'll carry thee with joy,
If needs be, safe as nestling dove:
For o'er this stream I pilgrims bring
In service to one Christ, a King
Whom I have never seen, yet love."
"I thank thee," said the boy.

Cheerful, Arprobus took
The burden on his shoulders great,
And stepped into the waves once more;
When lo! they leaping rise and roar,
And 'neath the little child's light weight
The tottering giant shook.

"Who art thou?" cried he wild,
Struggling in middle of the ford:
"Boy as thou look'st, it seems to me
The whole world's load I bear in thee,
Yet--" "For the sake of Christ, thy Lord,
Carry me," said the child.

No more Arprobus swerved,
But gained the farther bank, and then
A voice cried, "Hence _Christopheros_ be!
For carrying thou hast carried Me,
The King of angels and of men,
The Master thou hast served."

And in the moonlight blue
The saint saw,--not the wandering boy,
But him who walked upon the sea
And o'er the plains of Galilee,
Till, filled with mystic, awful joy,
His dear Lord Christ he knew.

Oh, little is all loss,
And brief the space 'twixt shore and shore,
If thou, Lord Jesus, on us lay,
Through the deep waters of our way,
The burden that Christopheros bore,--
To carry thee across.


* * * * *


When words are weak and foes encountering strong,
Where mightier do assault than do defend,
The feebler part puts up enforced wrong,
And silent sees that speech could not amend.
Yet higher powers most think though they repine,--
When sun is set, the little stars will shine.

While pike doth range, the silly tench doth fly,
And crouch in privy creeks with smaller fish;
Yet pikes are caught when little fish go by;
These fleet afloat while those do fill the dish.
There is a time even for the worms to creep.
And suck the dew while all their foes do sleep.

The merlin cannot ever soar on high,
Nor greedy greyhound still pursue the chase;
The tender lark will find a time to fly.
And fearful hare to run a quiet race.
He that high-growth on cedars did bestow,
Gave also lowly mushrooms leave to grow.

In Haman's pomp poor Mardocheus wept,
Yet God did turn his fate upon his foe;
The Lazar pined while Dives' feast was kept,
Yet he to heaven, to hell did Dives go.
We trample grass, and prize the flowers of May,
Yet grass is green when flowers do fade away.


* * * * *


O, it is hard to work for God,
To rise and take his part
Upon this battle-field of earth,
And not sometimes lose heart!

He hides himself so wondrously,
As though there were no God;
He is least seen when all the powers
Of ill are most abroad.

Or he deserts us at the hour
The fight is all but lost;
And seems to leave us to ourselves
Just when we need him most.

Ill masters good, good seems to change
To ill with greater ease;
And, worst of all, the good with good
Is at cross-purposes.

Ah! God is other than we think;
His ways are far above,
Far beyond reason's height, and reached
Only by childlike love.

Workman of God! O, lose not heart,
But learn what God is like;
And in the darkest battle-field
Thou shalt know where to strike.

Thrice blest is he to whom is given
The instinct that can tell
That God is on the field when he
Is most invisible.

Blest, is he who can divine
Where the real right doth lie,
And dares to take the side that seems
Wrong to man's blindfold eye.

For right is right, since God is God;
And right the day must win;
To doubt would be disloyalty,
To falter would be sin!


* * * * *



Thus is it all over the earth!
That which we call the fairest.
And prize for its surpassing worth,
Is always rarest.

Iron is heaped in mountain piles,
And gluts the laggard forges;
But gold-flakes gleam in dim defiles
And lonely gorges.

The snowy marble flecks the land
With heaped and rounded ledges,
But diamonds hide within the sand
Their starry edges.

The finny armies clog the twine
That sweeps the lazy river,
But pearls come singly from the brine
With the pale diver.

God gives no value unto men
Unmatched by meed of labor;
And Cost of Worth has ever been
The closest neighbor.

* * * * *

All common good has common price;
Exceeding good, exceeding;
Christ bought the keys of Paradise
By cruel bleeding;

And every soul that wins a place
Upon its hills of pleasure,
Must give it all, and beg for grace
To fill the measure.

* * * * *

Up the broad stairs that Value rears
Stand motives beck'ning earthward,
To summon men to nobler spheres,
And lead them worthward.


* * * * *


Stand up--erect! Thou hast the form
And likeness of thy God!--Who more?
A soul as dauntless 'mid the storm
Of daily life, a heart as warm
And pure, as breast e'er wore.

What then?--Thou art as true a man
As moves the human mass among;
As much a part of the great plan
That with creation's dawn began,
As any of the throng.

Who is thine enemy? The high
In station, or in wealth the chief?
The great, who coldly pass thee by,
With proud step and averted eye?
Nay! nurse not such belief.

If true unto thyself thou wast,
What were the proud one's scorn to thee?
A feather which thou mightest cast
Aside, as idly as the blast
The light leaf from the tree.

No: uncurbed passions, low desires,
Absence of noble self-respect.
Death, in the breast's consuming fires,
To that high nature which aspires
Forever, till thus checked;--

These are thine enemies--thy worst:
They chain thee to thy lowly lot;
Thy labor and thy life accursed.
O, stand erect, and from them burst,
And longer suffer not.

Thou art thyself thine enemy:
The great!--what better they than thou?
As theirs is not thy will as free?
Has God with equal favors thee
Neglected to endow?

True, wealth thou hast not--'tis but dust;
Nor place--uncertain as the wind;
But that thou hast, which, with thy crust
And water, may despise the lust
Of both--a noble mind.

With this, and passions under ban,
True faith, and holy trust in God,
Thou art the peer of any man.
Look up then; that thy little span
Of life may be well trod.


* * * * *


Is this a fast,--to keep
The larder lean,
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour.
Or ragg'd to go,
Or show
A downcast look, and sour?

No! 't is a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
And hate,--
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin,--
And that's to keep thy Lent.


* * * * *


Thou whose sweet youth and early hopes enhance
Thy rate and price, and mark thee for a treasure.
Hearken unto a Verser, who may chance
Rhyme thee to good, and make a bait of pleasure:
A verse may find him who a sermon flies
And turn delight into a sacrifice.

When thou dost purpose aught (within thy power),
Be sure to doe it, though it be but small;
Constancie knits the bones, and make us stowre,
When wanton pleasures beckon us to thrall.
Who breaks his own bond, forfeiteth himself:
What nature made a ship, he makes a shelf.

* * * * *

By all means use sometimes to be alone.
Salute thyself: see what thy soul doth wear.
Dare to look in thy chest; for 't is thine own;
And tumble up and down what thou find'st there.
Who cannot rest till he good fellows finde,
He breaks up house, turns out of doores his minde.

In clothes, cheap handsomenesse doth bear the bell.
Wisdome's a trimmer thing than shop e'er gave.
Say not then, This with that lace will do well;
But, This with my discretion will be brave.
Much curiousnesse is a perpetual wooing;
Nothing, with labor; folly, long a doing.

* * * * *

When once thy foot enters the church, be bare.
God is more there than thou; for thou art there
Only by his permission. Then beware,
And make thyself all reverence and fear.
Kneeling ne'er spoiled silk stockings; quit thy state;
All equal are within the church's gate.

Resort to sermons, but to prayers most:
Praying's the end of preaching. O, be drest!
Stay not for th' other pin: why thou hast lost
A joy for it worth worlds. Thus hell doth jest
Away thy blessings, and extremely flout thee,
Thy clothes being fast, but thy soul loose about thee.

Judge not the preacher; for he is thy judge:
If thou mislike him, thou conceiv'st him not.
God calleth preaching folly. Do not grudge
To pick out treasures from an earthen pot.
The worst speak something good: if _all_ want sense,
God takes a text, and preacheth Pa-ti-ence.


* * * * *



The conscious water saw its God and blushed.


Two mites, two drops, yet all her house and land,
Fall from a steady heart, though trembling hand:
The other's wanton wealth foams high, and brave;
The other cast away, she only gave.


Two went to pray? O, rather say,
One went to brag, the other to pray;

One stands up close and treads on high,
Where the other dares not lend his eye;

One nearer to God's altar trod,
The other to the altar's God.


* * * * *


God of the thunder! from whose cloudy seat
The fiery winds of Desolation flow;
Father of vengeance, that with purple feet
Like a full wine-press tread'st the world below;
The embattled armies wait thy sign to slay,
Nor springs the beast of havoc on his prey,
Nor withering Famine walks his blasted way,
Till thou hast marked the guilty land for woe.

God of the rainbow! at whose gracious sign
The billows of the proud their rage suppress;
Father of mercies! at one word of thine
An Eden blooms in the waste wilderness,
And fountains sparkle in the arid sands,
And timbrels ring in maidens' glancing hands,
And marble cities crown the laughing lands,
And pillared temples rise thy name to bless.

O'er Judah's land thy thunders broke, O Lord!
The chariots rattled o'er her sunken gate,
Her sons were wasted by the Assyrian's sword,
Even her foes wept to see her fallen state;
And heaps her ivory palaces became,
Her princes wore the captive's garb of shame,
Her temples sank amid the smouldering flame,
For thou didst ride the tempest cloud of fate.

O'er Judah's land thy rainbow, Lord, shall beam,
And the sad City lift her crownless head,
And songs shall wake and dancing footsteps gleam
In streets where broods the silence of the dead.
The sun shall shine on Salem's gilded towers,
On Carmel's side our maidens cull the flowers
To deck at blushing eye their bridal bowers,
And angel feet the glittering Sion tread.

Thy vengeance gave us to the stranger's hand,
And Abraham's children were led forth for slaves.
With fettered steps we left our pleasant land,
Envying our fathers in their peaceful graves.
The strangers' bread with bitter tears we steep,
And when our weary eyes should sink to sleep,
In the mute midnight we steal forth to weep.
Where the pale willows shade Euphrates' waves.

The born in sorrow shall bring forth in joy;
Thy mercy, Lord, shall lead thy children home;
He that went forth a tender prattling boy
Yet, ere he die, to Salem's streets shall come;
And Canaan's vines for us their fruit shall bear,
And Hermon's bees their honeyed stores prepare,
And we shall kneel again in thankful prayer,
Where o'er the cherub seated God full blazed the irradiate dome.


* * * * *


We scatter seeds with careless hand,
And dream we ne'er shall see them more;
But for a thousand years
Their fruit appears,
In weeds that mar the land,
Or healthful store.

The deeds we do, the words we say,--
Into still air they seem to fleet,
We count them ever past;
But they shall last,--
In the dread judgment they
And we shall meet.

I charge thee by the years gone by,
For the love's sake of brethren dear,
Keep thou the one true way,
In work and play,
Lest in that world their cry
Of woe thou hear.


* * * * *


A traveller through a dusty road strewed acorns on the lea;
And one took root and sprouted up, and grew into a tree.
Love sought its shade, at evening time, to breath its early vows;
And age was pleased, in heats of noon, to bask beneath its boughs;
The dormouse loved its dangling twigs, the birds sweet music bore;
It stood a glory in its place, a blessing evermore.

A little spring 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 toil might drink.
He passed again, and lo! the well, by summers never dried,
Had cooled ten thousand parching tongues, and saved a life besides.

A dreamer dropped a random thought; 't was old, and yet 't was new;
A simple fancy of the brain, but strong in being true.
It shone upon a genial mind, and lo! its light became
A lamp of life, a beacon ray, a monitory flame.
The thought was small; its issue great; a watch-fire on the hill,
It shed its radiance far adown, and cheers the valley still!

A nameless man, amid the 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.


* * * * *


Thou for whose birth the whole creation yearned
Through countless ages of the morning world,
Who, first in fiery vapors dimly hurled,
Next to the senseless crystal slowly turned,
Then to the plant which grew to something more,--
Humblest of creatures that draw breath of life,--
Wherefrom through infinites of patient pain
Came conscious man to reason and adore:
Shall we be shamed because such things have been,
Or bate one jot of our ancestral pride?
Nay, in thyself art thou not deified
That from such depths thou couldst such summits win?
While the long way behind is prophecy
Of those perfections which are yet to be.


* * * * *


I would I were an excellent divine.
That had the Bible at my fingers' ends;
That men might hear out of this mouth of mine
How God doth make his enemies his friends;
Rather than with a thundering and long prayer
Be led into presumption, or despair.

This would I be, and would none other be,
But a religious servant of my God;
And know there is none other God but he.
And willingly to suffer mercy's rod,--
Joy in his grace, and live but in his love,
And seek my bliss but in the world above.

And I would frame a kind of faithful prayer,
For all estates within the state of grace,
That careful love might never know despair.
Nor servile fear might faithful love deface;
And this would I both day and night devise
To make my humble spirit's exercise.

And I would read the rules of sacred life;
Persuade the troubled soul to patience;
The husband care, and comfort to the wife,
To child and servant due obedience;
Faith to the friend, and to the neighbor peace,
That love might live, and quarrels all might cease.

Prayer for the health of all that are diseased,
Confession unto all that are convicted,
And patience unto all that are displeased,
And comfort unto all that are afflicted,
And mercy unto all that have offended,
And grace to all, that all may be amended.


* * * * *


The pastor sits in his easy-chair,
With the Bible upon his knee.
From gold to purple the clouds in the west
Are changing momently;
The shadows lie in the valleys below,
And hide in the curtain's fold;
And the page grows dim whereon he reads,
"I remember the days of old."

"Not clear nor dark," as the Scripture saith,
The pastor's memories are;
No day that is gone was shadowless,
No night was without its star;
But mingled bitter and sweet hath been
The portion of his cup:
"The hand that in love hath smitten," he saith,
"In love hath bound us up."

Fleet flies his thoughts over many a field
Of stubble and snow and bloom,
And now it trips through a festival,
And now it halts at a tomb;
Young faces smile in his reverie,
Of those that are young no more,
And voices are heard that only come
With the winds from a far-off shore.

He thinks of the day when first, with fear
And faltering lips, he stood
To speak in the sacred place the Word
To the waiting multitude;
He walks again to the house of God
With the voice of joy and praise,
With many whose feet long time have pressed
Heaven's safe and blessed ways.

He enters again the homes of toil,
And joins in the homely chat;
He stands in the shop of the artisan;
He sits, where the Master sat,
At the poor man's fire and the rich man's feast.
But who to-day are the poor,
And who are the rich? Ask him who keeps
The treasures that ever endure.

Once more the green and the grove resound
With the merry children's din;
He hears their shout at the Christmas tide,
When Santa Claus stalks in.
Once more he lists while the camp-fire roars
On the distant mountain-side,
Or, proving apostleship, plies the brook
Where the fierce young troutlings hide.

And now he beholds the wedding train
To the altar slowly move,
And the solemn words are said that seal
The sacrament of love.
Anon at the font he meets once more
The tremulous youthful pair,
With a white-robed cherub crowing response
To the consecrating prayer.

By the couch of pain he kneels again;
Again, the thin hand lies
Cold in his palm, while the last far look
Steals into the steadfast eyes;
And now the burden of hearts that break
Lies heavy upon his own--
The widow's woe and the orphan's cry
And the desolate mother's moan.

So blithe and glad, so heavy and sad,
Are the days that are no more,
So mournfully sweet are the sounds that float
With the winds from a far-off shore.
For the pastor has learned what meaneth the word
That is given him to keep,--
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice,
And weep with them that weep."

It is not in vain that he has trod
This lonely and toilsome way.
It is not in vain that he has wrought
In the vineyard all the day;
For the soul that gives is the soul that lives,
And bearing another's load
Doth lighten your own and shorten the way,
And brighten the homeward road.


* * * * *


The Rabbi Nathan, twoscore years and ten,
Walked blameless through the evil world, and then
Just as the almond blossomed in his hair,
Met a temptation all too strong to bear,
And miserably sinned. So, adding not
Falsehood to guilt, he left his seat, and taught
No more among the elders, but went out
From the great congregation girt about
With sackcloth, and with ashes on his head,
Making his gray locks grayer. Long he prayed,
Smiting his breast; then, as the Book he laid
Open before him for the Bath-Col's choice,
Pausing to hear that Daughter of a Voice,
Behold the royal preacher's words: "A friend
Loveth at all times, yea, unto the end;
And for the evil day thy brother lives."
Marvelling, he said: "It is the Lord who gives
Counsel in need. At Ecbatana dwells
Rabbi Ben Isaac, who all men excels
In righteousness and wisdom, as the trees
Of Lebanon the small weeds that the bees
Bow with their weight. I will arise and lay
My sins before him."

And he went his way
Barefooted, fasting long, with many prayers;
But even as one who, followed unawares,
Suddenly in the darkness feels a hand
Thrill with its touch his own, and his cheek fanned
By odors subtly sweet, and whispers near
Of words he loathes, yet cannot choose but hear,
So, while the Rabbi journeyed, chanting low
The wail of David's penitential woe,
Before him still the old temptation came,
And mocked him with the motion and the shame
Of such desires that, shuddering, he abhorred
Himself; and, crying mightily to the Lord
To free his soul and cast the demon out,
Smote with his staff the blackness round about.

At length, in the low light of a spent day,
The towers of Ecbatana far away
Rose on the desert's rim; and Nathan, faint
And footsore, pausing where for some dead saint
The faith of Islam reared a domed tomb,
Saw some one kneeling in the shadow, whom
He greeted kindly: "May the Holy One
Answer thy prayers, O stranger!" Whereupon
The shape stood up with a loud cry, and then,
Clasped in each other's arms, the two gray men
Wept, praising him whose gracious providence
Made their paths one. But straightway, as the sense
Of his transgression smote him, Nathan tore
Himself away: "O friend beloved, no more
Worthy am I to touch thee, for I came,
Foul from my sins to tell thee all my shame.
Haply thy prayers, since naught availeth mine,
May purge my soul, and make it white like thine.
Pity me, O Ben Isaac, I have sinned!"
Awestruck Ben Isaac stood. The desert wind
Blew his long mantle backward, laying bare
The mournful secret of his shirt of hair.
"I too, O friend, if not in act," he said,
"In thought have verily sinned. Hast thou not read,
'Better the eye should see than that desire
Should wander'? Burning with a hidden fire
That tears and prayers quench not, I come to thee
For pity and for help, as thou to me.
Pray for me, O my friend!" But Nathan cried,
"Pray thou for me, Ben Isaac!"

Side by side
In the low sunshine by the turban stone
They knelt; each made his brother's woe his own,
Forgetting, in the agony and stress
Of pitying love, his claim of selfishness;
Peace, for his friend besought, his own became;
His prayers were answered in another's name;
And, when at last they rose up to embrace,
Each saw God's pardon in his brother's face!

Long after, when his headstone gathered moss,
Traced on the targum-marge of Onkelos
In Rabbi Nathan's hand these words were read:
"Hope not the cure of sin till Self is dead;
Forget it in love's service, and the debt
Thou canst not pay the angels shall forget;
Heaven's gate is shut to him who comes alone;
Save thou a soul, and it shall save thy own!"


* * * * *


Judge not; the workings of his brain
And of his heart thou canst not see;
What looks to thy dim eyes a stain,
In God's pure light may only be
A scar, brought from some well-won field,
Where thou wouldst only faint and yield.

The look, the air, that frets thy sight
May be a token that below
The soul has closed in deadly fight
With some infernal fiery foe,
Whose glance would scorch thy smiling grace
And cast thee shuddering on thy face!

The fall thou darest to despise,--
May be the angel's slackened hand
Has suffered it, that he may rise
And take a firmer, surer stand;
Or, trusting less to earthly things,
May henceforth learn to use his wings.

And judge none lost; but wait and see,
With hopeful pity, not disdain;
The depth of the abyss may be
The measure of the height of pain
And love and glory that may raise
This soul to God in after days!


* * * * *


"My son, these maxims make a rule
And lump them aye thegither:
The Rigid Righteous is a fool,
The Rigid Wise anither:
The cleanest corn that e'er was dight
May hae some pyles o' caff in;
Sae ne'er a fellow-creature slight
For random fits o' daffin."

--SOLOMON, _Ecclesiastes_ vii. 16.

O ye wha are sae guid yoursel',
Sae pious and sae holy,
Ye've nought to do but mark and tell
Your neebor's fauts and folly:--
Whase life is like a weel-gaun mill,
Supplied wi' store o' water.
The heapet happer's ebbing still,
And still the clap plays clatter.

Hear me, ye venerable core,
As counsel for poor mortals,
That frequent pass douce Wisdom's door,
For glaikit Folly's portals!
I, for their thoughtless, careless sakes,
Would here propone defences,
Their donsie tricks, their black mistakes,
Their failings and mischances.

Ye see your state wi' theirs compared,
And shudder at the niffer;
But cast a moment's fair regard,
What makes the mighty differ?
Discount what scant occasion gave
That purity ye pride in,
And (what's aft mair than a' the lave)
Your better art o' hidin'.

Think, when your castigated pulse
Gies now and then a wallop,
What ragings must his veins convulse,
That still eternal gallop:
Wi' wind and tide fair i' your tail,
Right on ye scud your sea-way;
But in the teeth o' baith to sail,
It makes an unco leeway.

See Social life and Glee sit down,
All joyous and unthinking,
Till, quite transmugrified, they're grown
Debauchery and Drinking:
O, would they stay to calculate
The eternal consequences;
Or your mortal dreaded hell to state,
Damnation of expenses!

Ye high, exalted, virtuous dames,
Tied up in godly laces,
Before ye gie poor Frailty names,
Suppose a change o' cases;
A dear-loved lad, convenience snug,
A treacherous inclination,--
But, let me whisper i' your lug,
Ye 're aiblins nae temptation.

Then gently scan your brother man,
Still gentler sister woman;
Though they may gang a kennin' wrang,
To step aside is human.
One point must still be greatly dark,
The moving why they do it;
And just as lamely can ye mark
How far perhaps they rue it.

Who made the heart, 't is He alone
Decidedly can try us;
He knows each chord,--its various tone,
Each spring,--its various bias:
Then at the balance let's be mute,
We never can adjust it;
What's done we partly may compute,
But know not what's resisted.


* * * * *


Yes, stone the woman, let the man go free!
Draw back your skirts, lest they perchance may touch
Her garment as she passes; but to him
Put forth a willing hand to clasp with his
That led her to destruction and disgrace.
Shut up from her the sacred ways of toil,
That she no more may win an honest meal;
But ope to him all honorable paths
Where he may win distinction; give to him
Fair, pressed-down measures of life's sweetest joys.
Pass her, O maiden, with a pure, proud face,
If she puts out a poor, polluted palm;
But lay thy hand in his on bridal day,
And swear to cling to him with wifely love
And tender reverence. Trust him who led
A sister woman to a fearful fate.

Yes, stone the woman, let the man go free!
Let one soul suffer for the guilt of two--
It is the doctrine of a hurried world,
Too out of breath for holding balances
Where nice distinctions and injustices
Are calmly weighed. But ah, how will it be
On that strange day of fire and flame,
When men shall wither with a mystic fear,
And all shall stand before the one true Judge?
Shall sex make _then_ a difference in sin?
Shall He, the Searcher of the hidden heart,
In His eternal and divine decree
Condemn the woman and forgive the man?


* * * * *


God pity the wretched prisoners,
In their lonely cells to-day!
Whatever the sins that tripped them,
God pity them! still I say.

Only a strip of sunshine,
Cleft by rusty bars;
Only a patch of azure,
Only a cluster of stars;

Only a barren future,
To starve their hope upon;
Only stinging memories
Of a past that's better gone;

Only scorn from women.
Only hate from men,
Only remorse to whisper
Of a life that might have been.

Once they were little children.
And perhaps their unstained feet
Were led by a gentle mother
Toward the golden street;

Therefore, if in life's forest
They since have lost their way,
For the sake of her who loved them,
God pity them! still I say.

O mothers gone to heaven!
With earnest heart I ask
That your eyes may not look earthward
On the failure of your task.

For even in those mansions
The choking tears would rise,
Though the fairest hand in heaven
Would wipe them from your eyes!

And you, who judge so harshly,
Are you sure the stumbling-stone
That tripped the feet of others
Might not have bruised your own?

Are you sure the sad-faced angel
Who writes our errors down
Will ascribe to you more honor
Than him on whom you frown?

Or, if a steadier purpose
Unto your life is given;
A stronger will to conquer,
A smoother path to heaven;

If, when temptations meet you,
You crush them with a smile;
If you can chain pale passion
And keep your lips from guile;

Then bless the hand that crowned you,
Remembering, as you go,
'T was not your own endeavor
That shaped your nature so;

And sneer not at the weakness
Which made a brother fall,
For the hand that lifts the fallen,
God loves the best of all!

And pray for the wretched prisoners
All over the land to-day,
That a holy hand in pity
May wipe their guilt away.


* * * * *


"Good-bye," I said to my Conscience--
"Good-bye for aye and aye;"
And I put her hands off harshly,
And turned my face away:
And Conscience, smitten sorely,
Returned not from that day.

But a time came when my spirit
Grew weary of its pace:
And I cried, "Come back, my Conscience,
I long to see thy face;"
But Conscience cried, "I cannot,--
Remorse sits in my place."


* * * * *


Belshazzar had a letter,--
He never had but one;
Belshazzar's correspondent
Concluded and begun
In that immortal copy
The conscience of us all
Can read without its glasses
On revelation's wall.


* * * * *



Wallenstein _(in soliloquy_). Is it possible?
Is't so? I _can_ no longer what I _would_!
No longer draw back at my liking! I
Must _do_ the deed, because I _thought_ of it,
And fed this heart here with a dream! Because
I did not scowl temptation from my presence,
Dallied with thought of possible fulfilment,
Commenced no movement, left all time uncertain,
And only kept the road, the access open!
By the great God of Heaven! It was not
My serious meaning, it was ne'er resolve.
I but amused myself with thinking of it.
The free-will tempted me, the power to do
Or not to do it.--Was it criminal
To make the fancy minister to hope,
To fill the air with pretty toys of air,
And clutch fantastic sceptres moving t'ward me?
Was not the will kept free? Beheld I not
The road of duty clear beside me--but
One little step and once more I was in it!
Where am I? Whither have I been transported?
No road, no track behind one, but a wall,
Impenetrable, insurmountable,
Rises obedient to the spells I muttered
And meant not--my own doings tower behind me.


* * * * *


Easy to drift to the open sea,
The tides are eager and swift and strong,
And whistling and free are the rushing winds,--
But O, to get back is hard and long.

Easy as told in Arabian tale,
To free from his jar the evil sprite
Till he rises like smoke to stupendous size,--
But O, nevermore can we prison him tight.

Easy as told in an English tale,
To fashion a Frankenstein, body and soul,
And breathe in his bosom a breath of life,--

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