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

Part 7 out of 9

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But O, we create what we cannot control.

Easy to drift to the sea of doubt,
Easy to hurt what we cannot heal,
Easy to rouse what we cannot soothe,
Easy to speak what we do not feel,
Easy to show what we ought to conceal,
Easy to think that fancy is fate,--
And O, the wisdom that comes too late!


* * * * *



O God! O God! that it were possible
To undo things done; to call back yesterday!
That time could turn up his swift sandy glass,
To untell the days, and to redeem these hours!
Or that the sun
Could, rising from the West, draw his coach backward,--
Take from the account of time so many minutes.
Till he had all these seasons called again,
These minutes and these actions done in them.


* * * * *



The Spartan rogue who, boldly bent on fraud,
Dared ask the god to sanction and applaud,
And sought for counsel at the Pythian shrine,
Received for answer from the lips divine,--
"That he who doubted to restore his trust,
And reasoned much, reluctant to be just,
Should for those doubts and that reluctance prove
The deepest vengeance of the powers above."
The tale declares that not pronounced in vain
Came forth the warning from the sacred fane:
Ere long no branch of that devoted race
Could mortal man on soil of Sparta trace!
Thus but intended mischief, stayed in time,
Had all the mortal guilt of finished crime.
If such his fate who yet but darkly dares,
Whose guilty purpose yet no act declares,
What were it, done! Ah! now farewell to peace!
Ne'er on this earth his soul's alarms shall cease!
Held in the mouth that languid fever burns,
His tasteless food he indolently turns;
On Alba's oldest stock his soul shall pine!
Forth from his lips he spits the joyless wine!
Nor all the nectar of the hills shall now
Or glad the heart, or smooth the wrinkled brow!
While o'er the couch his aching limbs are cast,
If care permit the brief repose at last,
Lo! there the altar and the fane abused!
Or darkly shadowed forth in dream confused,
While the damp brow betrays the inward storm,
Before him flits thy aggravated form!
Then as new fears o'er all his senses press,
Unwilling words the guilty truth confess!
These, these be they whom secret terrors try.
When muttered thunders shake the lurid sky;
Whose deadly paleness now the gloom conceals
And now the vivid flash anew reveals.
No storm as Nature's casualty they hold.
They deem without an aim no thunders rolled;
Where'er the lightning strikes, the flash is thought
Judicial fire, with Heaven's high vengeance fraught.
Passes this by, with yet more anxious ear
And greater dread, each future storm they fear;
In burning vigil, deadliest foe to sleep,
In their distempered frame if fever keep,
Or the pained side their wonted rest prevent,
Behold some incensed god his bow has bent!
All pains, all aches, are stones and arrows hurled
At bold offenders in this nether world!
From them no crested cock acceptance meets!
Their lamb before the altar vainly bleats!
Can pardoning Heaven on guilty sickness smile?
Or is there victim than itself more vile?
Where steadfast virtue dwells not in the breast,
Man is a wavering creature at the best!

From the Latin of JUVENAL.

* * * * *


The Queen looked up, and said,
"O maiden, if indeed you list to sing,
Sing, and unbind my heart, that I may weep."
Whereat full willingly sang the little maid:

"Late, late, so late! and dark the night and chill!
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.
Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

"No light had we: for that we do repent;
And learning this, the bridegroom will relent.
Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

"No light; so late! and dark and chill the night!
O, let us in, that we may find the light!
Too late, too late! Ye cannot enter now.

"Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet?
O, let us in, though late, to kiss his feet!
No, no, too late! Ye cannot enter now."

So sang the novice, while full passionately,
Her head upon her hands, wept the sad Queen.


* * * * *


Does the road wind up hill all the way?
_Yes, to the very end._
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
_From morn to night, my friend_.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
_A roof for when the slow dark hours begin._
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
_You cannot miss that inn_.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
_Those who have gone before._
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
_They will not keep you standing at that door_.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
_Of labor you shall find the sum._
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
_Yea, beds for all who come_.


* * * * *


I do not ask, O Lord, that life may be
A pleasant road;
I do not ask that Thou wouldst take from me
Aught of its load;

I do not ask that flowers should always spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.

For one thing only, Lord, dear Lord, I plead,
Lead me aright--
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed--
Through Peace to Light.

I do not ask, O Lord, that thou shouldst shed
Full radiance here;
Give but a ray of peace, that I may tread
Without a fear.

I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see;
Better in darkness just to feel Thy hand
And follow Thee.

Joy is like restless day; but peace divine
Like quiet night:
Lead me, O Lord,--till perfect Day shall shine,
Through Peace to Light.


* * * * *


When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent, which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."


* * * * *


Flung to the heedless winds,
Or on the waters cast,
The martyrs' ashes, watched,
Shall gathered be at last;
And from that scattered dust,
Around us and abroad,
Shall spring a plenteous seed
Of witnesses for God.

The Father hath received
Their latest living breath;
And vain is Satan's boast
Of victory in their death;
Still, still, though dead, they speak,
And, trumpet-tongued, proclaim
To many a wakening land
The one availing name.

From the German of MARTIN LUTHER.

Translation of W.J. FOX.

* * * * *


Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gauge;
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage!

Blood must be my body's balmer,
No other balm will there be given;
Whilst my soul, like quiet palmer,
Travelleth towards the land of Heaven,
Over the silver mountains
Where spring the nectar fountains:
There will I kiss
The bowl of bliss,
And drink mine everlasting fill
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a-dry before,
But after, it will thirst no more.

Then by that happy, blissful day,
More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,
That have cast off their rags of clay,
And walk apparelled fresh like me.
I'll take them first
To quench their thirst,
And taste of nectar's suckets
At those clear wells
Where sweetness dwells
Drawn up by saints in crystal buckets.

And when our bottles and all we
Are filled with immortality,
Then the blest paths we'll travel,
Strewed with rubies thick as gravel,--
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire floors.
High walls of coral, and pearly bowers.
From thence to Heaven's bribeless hall,
Where no corrupted voices brawl;
No conscience molten into gold,
No forged accuser, bought or sold,
No cause deferred, no vain-spent journey,
For there Christ is the King's Attorney;
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And he hath angels, but no fees;
And when the grand twelve-million jury
Of our sins, with direful fury,
'Gainst our souls black verdicts give,
Christ pleads his death, and then we live.
Be thou my speaker, taintless pleader,
Unblotted lawyer, true proceeder!
Thou giv'st salvation even for alms,--
Not with a bribed lawyer's palms.
And this is mine eternal plea
To Him that made heaven, earth, and sea',
That, since my flesh must die so soon,
And want a head to dine next noon,
Just at the stroke when my veins start and spread.
Set on my soul an everlasting head:
Then am I, like a palmer, fit
To tread those blest paths which before I writ.

Of death and judgment, heaven and hell,
Who oft doth think, must needs die well.


* * * * *


In the still air the music lies unheard;
In the rough marble beauty hides unseen:
To make the music and the beauty, needs
The master's touch, the sculptor's chisel keen.

Great Master, touch us with thy skilful hand;
Let not the music that is in us die!
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us; nor let,
Hidden and lost, thy form within us lie!

Spare not the stroke! do with us as thou wilt!
Let there be naught unfinished, broken, marred;
Complete thy purpose, that we may become
Thy perfect image, thou our God and Lord!


* * * * *



The seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
Superior, nor of violence feared aught;
And with retorted scorn his back he turned
On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.


* * * * *


Fever and fret and aimless stir
And disappointed strife,
All chafing, unsuccessful things,
Make up the sum of life.

Love adds anxiety to toil,
And sameness doubles cares.
While one unbroken chain of work
The flagging temper wears.

The light and air are dulled with smoke:
The streets resound with noise;
And the soul sinks to see its peers
Chasing their joyless joys.

Voices are round me; smiles are near;
Kind welcomes to be had;
And yet my spirit is alone,
Fretful, outworn, and sad.

A weary actor, I would fain
Be quit of my long part;
The burden of unquiet life
Lies heavy on my heart.

Sweet thought of God! now do thy work
As thou hast done before;
Wake up, and tears will wake with thee,
And the dull mood be o'er.

The very thinking of the thought
Without or praise or prayer,
Gives light to know, and life to do,
And marvellous strength to bear.

Oh, there is music in that thought,
Unto a heart unstrung,
Like sweet bells at the evening time,
Most musically rung.

'Tis not his justice or his power,
Beauty or blest abode,
But the mere unexpanded thought
Of the eternal God.

It is not of his wondrous works,
Not even that he is;
Words fail it, but it is a thought
Which by itself is bliss.

Sweet thought, lie closer to my heart!
That I may feel thee near,
As one who for his weapon feels
In some nocturnal fear.

Mostly in hours of gloom thou com'st,
When sadness makes us lowly,
As though thou wert the echo sweet
Of humble melancholy.

I bless thee. Lord, for this kind check
To spirits over free!
More helpless need of thee!
And for all things that make me feel


* * * * *


"When thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw thee."

I Saw thee when, as twilight fell,
And evening lit her fairest star,
Thy footsteps sought yon quiet dell,
The world's confusion left afar.

I saw thee when thou stood'st alone,
Where drooping branches thick o'erhung,
Thy still retreat to all unknown,
Hid in deep shadows darkly flung.

I saw thee when, as died each sound
Of bleating flock or woodland bird,
Kneeling, as if on holy ground,
Thy voice the listening silence heard.

I saw thy calm, uplifted eyes,
And marked the heaving of thy breast,
When rose to heaven thy heartfelt sighs
For purer life, for perfect rest.

I saw the light that o'er thy face
Stole with a soft, suffusing glow,
As if, within, celestial grace
Breathed the same bliss that angels know.

I saw--what thou didst not--above
Thy lowly head an open heaven;
And tokens of thy Father's love
With smiles to thy rapt spirit given.

I saw thee from that sacred spot
With firm and peaceful soul depart;
I, Jesus, saw thee,--doubt it not,--
And read the secrets of thy heart!


* * * * *


Shun delayes, they breed remorse,
Take thy time while time doth serve thee,
Creeping snayles have weakest force,
Flie their fault, lest thou repent thee.
Good is best when soonest wrought,
Lingering labours come to nought.

Hoyse up sayle while gale doth last,
Tide and winde stay no man's pleasure;
Seek not time when time is past,
Sober speede is wisdome's leasure.
After-wits are dearely bought,
Let thy fore-wit guide thy thought.

Time weares all his locks before,
Take thou hold upon his forehead;
When he flies, he turnes no more,
And behind his scalpe is naked.
Workes adjourned have many stayes,
Long demurres breed new delayes.

Seeke thy salve while sore is greene,
Festered wounds aske deeper launcing;
After-cures are seldome seene,
Often sought, scarce ever chancing.
Time and place gives best advice.
Out of season, out of price.

Crush the serpent in the head,
Breake ill eggs ere they be hatched:
Kill bad chickens in the tread;
Fledged, they hardly can be catched:
In the rising stifle ill,
Lest it grow against thy will.

Drops do pierce the stubborn flint,
Not by force, but often falling;
Custome kills with feeble dint.
More by use than strength prevailing:
Single sands have little weight,
Many make a drowning freight.

Tender twigs are bent with ease,
Aged trees do breake with bending;
Young desires make little prease,
Growth doth make them past amending.
Happie man that soon doth knocke,
Babel's babes against the rocke.


* * * * *


Dear, secret greenness! nurst below
Tempests and winds and winter nights!
Vex not, that but One sees thee grow;
That One made all these lesser lights.

What needs a conscience calm and bright
Within itself, an outward test?
Who breaks his glass, to take more light,
Makes way for storms into his rest.

Then bless thy secret growth, nor catch
At noise, but thrive unseen and dumb;
Keep clean, bear fruit, earn life, and watch
Till the white-winged reapers come!


* * * * *


She hath no beauty in her face
Unless the chastened sweetness there,
And meek long-suffering, yield a grace
To make her mournful features fair:--

Shunned by the gay, the proud, the young,
She roams through dim, unsheltered ways;
Nor lover's vow, nor flatterer's tongue
Brings music to her sombre days:--

At best her skies are clouded o'er,
And oft she fronts the stinging sleet,
Or feels on some tempestuous shore
The storm-waves lash her naked feet.

Where'er she strays, or musing stands
By lonesome beach, by turbulent mart,
We see her pale, half-tremulous hands
Crossed humbly o'er her aching heart!

Within, a secret pain she bears,--
pain too deep to feel the balm
An April spirit finds in tears;
Alas! all cureless griefs are calm!

Yet in her passionate strength supreme,
Despair beyond her pathway flies,
Awed by the softly steadfast beam
Of sad, but heaven-enamored eyes!

Who pause to greet her, vaguely seem
Touched by fine wafts of holier air;
As those who in some mystic dream
Talk with the angels unaware!


* * * * *


Sometime, when all life's lessons have been learned,
And sun and stars forevermore have set,
The things o'er which our weak judgments here have spurned,
The things o'er which we grieved with lashes wet,
Will flash before us, out of life's dark night,
As stars shine most in deeper tints of blue;
And we shall see how all God's plans are right,
And how what seems reproof was love most true.

And we shall see how, while we frown and sigh,
God's plans go on as best for you and me;
How, when we called, he heeded not our cry,
Because his wisdom to the end could see.
And e'en as prudent parents disallow
Too much of sweet to craving babyhood,
So God, perhaps, is keeping from us now
Life's sweetest things, because it seemeth good.

And if sometimes, commingled with life's wine,
We find the wormwood, and rebel and shrink,
Be sure a wiser hand than yours or mine
Pours out this potion for our lips to drink.
And if some friend we love is lying low,
Where human kisses cannot reach his face,
Oh, do not blame the loving Father so,
But wear your sorrow with obedient grace!

And you shall shortly know that lengthened breath
Is not the sweetest gift God sends his friend,
And that, sometimes, the sable pall of death
Conceals the fairest bloom his love can send.
If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God's workings see,
We could interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.

But not to-day. Then be content, poor heart!
God's plans like lilies pure and white unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart,
Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.
And if, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think that we will say, "God knew the best!"


* * * * *


He sendeth sun, he sendeth shower,
Alike they're needful for the flower;
And joys and tears alike are sent
To give the soul fit nourishment:
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father, thy will, not mine, be done!

Can loving children e'er reprove
With murmurs whom they trust and love?
Creator, I would ever be
A trusting, loving child to thee:
As comes to me or cloud or sun,
Father, thy will, not mine, be done!

Oh, ne'er will I at life repine;
Enough that thou hast made it mine;
When falls the shadow cold of death,
I yet will sing with parting breath:
As comes to me or shade or sun,
Father, thy will, not mine, be done!




* * * * *


Methinks we do as fretful children do,
Leaning their faces on the window-pane
To sigh the glass dim with their own breath's stain,
And shut the sky and landscape from their view;
And, thus, alas! since God the maker drew
A mystic separation 'twixt those twain,--
The life beyond us and our souls in pain,--
We miss the prospect which we are called unto
By grief we are fools to use. Be still and strong,
O man, my brother! hold thy sobbing breath,
And keep thy soul's large windows pure from wrong;
That so, as life's appointment issueth,
Thy vision may be clear to watch along
The sunset consummation-lights of death.


* * * * *


Not in the sky,
Where it was seen,
Nor on the white tops of the glistening wave,
Nor in the mansions of the hidden deep,--
Though green,
And beautiful, its caves of mystery;--
Shall the bright watcher have
A place, and as of old high station keep.

Gone, gone!
Oh, never more to cheer
The mariner who holds his course alone
On the Atlantic, through the weary night,
When the stars turn to watchers, and do sleep,
Shall it appear,
With the sweet fixedness of certain light,
Down-shining on the shut eyes of the deep.

Vain, vain!
Hopeless most idly then, shall he look forth,
That mariner from his bark.
Howe'er the north
Does raise his certain lamp, when tempests lower--
He sees no more that perished light again!
And gloomier grows the hour
Which may not, through the thick and crowding dark,
Restore that lost and loved one to her tower.

He looks,--the shepherd of Chaldea's hills
Tending his flocks,--
And wonders the rich beacon does not blaze,
Gladdening his gaze;--
And from his dreary watch along the rocks,
Guiding him safely home through perilous ways!
Still wondering as the drowsy silence fills
The sorrowful scene, and every hour distils
Its leaden dews.--How chafes he at the night,
Still slow to bring the expected and sweet light,
So natural to his sight!

And lone,
Where its first splendors shone,
Shall be that pleasant company of stars:
How should they know that death
Such perfect beauty mars?
And like the earth, its crimson bloom and breath;
Fallen from on high,
Their lights grow blasted by its touch, and die!--
All their concerted springs of harmony
Snapped rudely, and the generous music gone.

A strain--a mellow strain--
A wailing sweetness filled the sky;
The stars, lamenting in unborrowed pain,
That one of their selectest ones must die!
Must vanish, when most lovely, from the rest!
Alas! 'tis evermore our destiny,
The hope, heart-cherished, is the soonest lost;
The flower first budden, soonest feels the frost:
Are not the shortest-lived still loveliest?
And, like the pale star shooting down the sky,
Look they not ever brightest when they fly
The desolate home they blessed?


* * * * *


Was it the chime of a tiny bell
That came so sweet to my dreaming ear,
Like the silvery tones of a fairy's shell
That he winds, on the beach, so mellow and clear,
When the winds and the waves lie together asleep,
And the Moon and the Fairy are watching the deep,
She dispensing her silvery light.
And he his notes as silvery quite.
While the boatman listens and ships his oar,
To catch the music that comes from the shore?
Hark! the notes on my ear that play
Are set to words; as they float, they say,
"Passing away! passing away!"

But no; it was not a fairy's shell.
Blown on the beach, so mellow and clear;
Nor was it the tongue of a silver bell,
Striking the hour, that filled my ear,
As I lay in my dream; yet was it a chime
That told of the flow of the stream of time.
For a beautiful clock from the ceiling hung,
And a plump little girl, for a pendulum, swung
(As you've sometimes seen, in a little ring
That hangs in his cage, a canary-bird swing);
And she held to her bosom a budding bouquet,
And, as she enjoyed it, she seemed to say,
"Passing away! passing away!"

Oh, how bright were the wheels, that told
Of the lapse of time, as they moved round slow;
And the hands, as they swept o'er the dial of gold,
Seemed to point to the girl below.
And lo! she had changed: in a few short hours
Her bouquet had become a garland of flowers,
That she held in her outstretched hands, and flung
This way and that, as she, dancing, swung
In the fulness of grace and of womanly pride,
That told me she soon was to be a bride;
Yet then, when expecting her happiest day,
In the same sweet voice I heard her say,
"Passing away! passing away!"

While I gazed at that fair one's cheek, a shade
Of thought or care stole softly over,
Like that by a cloud in a summer's day made,
Looking down on a field of blossoming clover.
The rose yet lay on her cheek, but its flush
Had something lost of its brilliant blush;
And the light in her eye, and the light on the wheels,
That marched so calmly round above her,
Was a little dimmed,--as when evening steals
Upon noon's hot face. Yet one couldn't but love her,
For she looked like a mother whose first babe lay
Rocked on her breast, as she swung all day;
And she seemed, in the same silver tone, to say,
"Passing away! passing away!"

While yet I looked, what a change there came!
Her eye was quenched, and her cheek was wan;
Stooping and staffed was her withered frame,
Yet just as busily swung she on;
The garland beneath her had fallen to dust;
The wheels above her were eaten with rust:
The hands, that over the dial swept,
Grew crooked and tarnished, but on they kept
And still there came that silver tone
From the shrivelled lips of the toothless crone
(Let me never forget till my dying day
The tone or the burden of her lay),
"Passing away! passing away!"


* * * * *



E'en such is time; that takes in trust
Our youth, our joys, our all we have,
And pays us but with earth and dust;
Who in the dark and silent grave,
When we have wandered all our ways,
Shuts up the story of our days:
But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.


* * * * *


"But now they desire a better country, that is, an
heavenly."--HEBREWS xi. 16.

I'm far frae my hame, an' I'm weary aftenwhiles,
For the langed-for hame-bringing, an' my Father's welcome smiles;
I'll never be fu' content, until mine een do see
The shining gates o' heaven an' my ain countree.

The earth is flecked wi' flowers, mony-tinted, fresh, an' gay,
The birdies warble blithely, for my Father made them sae;
But these sights an' these soun's will as naething be to me,
When I hear the angels singing in my ain countree.

I've his gude word of promise that some gladsome day, the King
To his ain royal palace his banished hame will bring:
Wi' een an' wi' hearts runnin' owre, we shall see
The King in his beauty in our ain countree.

My sins hae been mony, an' my sorrows hae been sair,
But there they'll never vex me, nor be remembered mair;
His bluid has made me white, his hand shall dry mine e'e,
When he brings me hame at last, to my ain countree.

Like a bairn to its mither, a wee birdie to its nest,
I wad fain be ganging noo, unto my Saviour's breast;
For he gathers in his bosom, witless, worthless lambs like me,
And carries them himse' to his ain countree.

He's faithfu' that hath promised, he'll surely come again,
He'll keep his tryst wi' me, at what hour I dinna ken;
But he bids me still to wait, an' ready aye to be,
To gang at ony moment to my ain countree.

So I'm watching aye, an' singin' o' my hame as I wait,
For the soun'ing o' his footfa' this side the shining gate;
God gie his grace to ilk ane wha listens noo to me,
That we a' may gang in gladness to our ain countree.


* * * * *


"At even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the
morning."--Mark xiii. 35.

"It may be in the evening,
When the work of the day is done,
And you have time to sit in the twilight
And watch the sinking sun,
While the long bright day dies slowly
Over the sea,
And the hour grows quiet and holy
With thoughts of me;
While you hear the village children
Passing along the street,
Among those thronging footsteps
May come the sound of _my_ feet.
Therefore I tell you: Watch.
By the light of the evening star,
When the room is growing dusky
As the clouds afar;
Let the door be on the latch
In your home,
For it may be through the gloaming
I will come.

"It may be when the midnight
Is heavy upon the land,
And the black waves lying dumbly
Along the sand;
When the moonless night draws close,
And the lights are out in the house;
When the fires burn low and red,
And the watch is ticking loudly
Beside the bed:
Though you sleep, tired out, on your couch,
Still your heart must wake and watch
In the dark room,
For it may be that at midnight
I will come.

"It may be at the cock-crow,
When the night is dying slowly
In the sky,
And the sea looks calm and holy,
Waiting for the dawn
Of the golden sun
Which draweth nigh;
When the mists are on the valleys, shading
The rivers chill,
And my morning-star is fading, fading
Over the hill:
Behold I say unto you: Watch;
Let the door be on the latch
In your home;
In the chill before the dawning,
Between the night and morning,
I may come.

"It may be in the morning,
When the sun is bright and strong,
And the dew is glittering sharply
Over the little lawn;
When the waves are laughing loudly
Along the shore,
And the little birds are singing sweetly
About the door;
With the long day's work before you,
You rise up with the sun,
And the neighbors come in to talk a little
Of all that must be done.
But remember that _I_ may be the next
To come in at the door,
To call you from all your busy work
As you work your heart must watch,
For the door is on the latch
In your room,
And it may be in the morning
I will come."

So He passed down my cottage garden,
By the path that leads to the sea,
Till he came to the turn of the little road
Where the birch and laburnum tree
Lean over and arch the way;
There I saw him a moment stay,
And turn once more to me,
As I wept at the cottage door,
And lift up his hands in blessing--
Then I saw his face no more.

And I stood still in the doorway,
Leaning against the wall,
Not heeding the fair white roses,
Though I crushed them and let them fall.
Only looking down the pathway,
And looking toward the sea,
And wondering, and wondering
When he would come back for me;
Till I was aware of an angel
Who was going swiftly by,
With the gladness of one who goeth
In the light of God Most High.

He passed the end of the cottage
Toward the garden gate;
(I suppose he was come down
At the setting of the sun
To comfort some one in the village
Whose dwelling was desolate)
And he paused before the door
Beside my place,
And the likeness of a smile
Was on his face.
"Weep not," he said, "for unto you is given
To watch for the coming of his feet
Who is the glory of our blessed heaven;
The work and watching will be very sweet,
Even in an earthly home;
And in such an hour as you think not
He will come."

So I am watching quietly
Every day.
Whenever the sun shines brightly,
I rise and say:
"Surely it is the shining of his face!"
And look unto the gates of his high place
Beyond the sea;
For I know he is coming shortly
To summon me.
And when a shadow falls across the window
Of my room,
Where I am working my appointed task,
I lift my head to watch the door, and ask
If he is come;
And the angel answers sweetly
In my home:
"Only a few more shadows,
And he will come."


* * * * *


Methinks, when on the languid eye
Life's autumn scenes grow dim;
When evening's shadows veil the sky;
And pleasure's siren hymn
Grows fainter on the tuneless ear,
Like echoes from another sphere,
Or dreams of seraphim--
It were not sad to cast away
This dull and cumbrous load of clay.

It were not sad to feel the heart
Grow passionless and cold;
To feel those longings to depart
That cheered the good of old;
To clasp the faith which looks on high,
Which fires the Christian's dying eye,
And makes the curtain-fold
That falls upon his wasting breast,
The door that leads to endless rest.

It seems not lonely thus to lie
On that triumphant bed,
Till the pure spirit mounts on high
By white-winged seraphs led:
Where glories, earth may never know,
O'er "many mansions" lingering glow,
In peerless lustre shed.
It were not lonely thus to soar
Where sin and grief can sting no more.

And though the way to such a goal
Lies through the clouded tomb,
If on the free, unfettered soul
There rest no stains of gloom,
How should its aspirations rise
Far through the blue unpillared skies,
Up to its final home,
Beyond the journeyings of the sun,
Where streams of living waters run!


* * * * *


All worldly shapes shall melt in gloom,
The Sun himself must die,
Before this mortal shall assume
Its immortality!
I saw a vision in my sleep,
That gave my spirit strength to sweep
Adown the gulf of time!
I saw the last of human mould
That shall creation's death behold,
As Adam saw her prime!

The sun's eye had a sickly glare,
The skeletons of nations were
Around that lonely man!
Some had expired in fight,--the brands
Still rusted in their bony hands,
In plague and famine some!
Earth's cities had no sound nor tread;
And ships were drifting with the dead
To shores where all was dumb!

Yet, prophet-like, that lone one stood,
With dauntless words and high,
That shook the sear leaves from the wood,
As if a storm passed by,
Saying, We are twins in death, proud Sun!
Thy face is cold, thy race is run,
'Tis Mercy bids thee go;
For thou ten thousand thousand years
Hast seen the tide of human tears,
That shall no longer flow.

What though beneath thee man put forth
His pomp, his pride, his skill;
And arts that made fire, flood, and earth
The vassals of his will?
Yet mourn I not thy parted sway,
Thou dim, discrowned king of day;
For all those trophied arts
And triumphs that beneath thee sprang,
Healed not a passion or a pang
Entailed on human hearts.

Go, let oblivion's curtain fall
Upon the stage of men.
Nor with thy rising beams recall
Life's tragedy again:
Its piteous pageants bring not back,
Nor waken flesh, upon the rack
Of pain anew to writhe;
Stretched in disease's shapes abhorred,
Or mown in battle by the sword,
Like grass beneath the scythe.

Even I am weary in yon skies
To watch thy fading fire;
Test of all sumless agonies,
Behold not me expire.
My lips, that speak thy dirge of death,--
Their rounded gasp and gurgling breath
To see thou shalt not boast.
The eclipse of Nature spreads my pall,
The majesty of darkness shall
Receive my parting ghost!

This spirit shall return to Him
Who gave its heavenly spark;
Yet think not, Sun, it shall be dim
When thou thyself art dark!
No! it shall live again, and shine
In bliss unknown to beams of thine,
By Him recalled to breath,
Who captive led captivity,
Who robbed the grave of victory,
And took the sting from death!

Go, Sun, while mercy holds me up
On Nature's awful waste
To drink this last and bitter cup
Of grief that man shall taste,--
Go, tell the night that hides thy face,
Thou saw'st the last of Adam's race,
On earth's sepulchral clod,
The darkening universe defy
To quench his immortality,
Or shake his trust in God!


* * * * *


If I were told that I must die to-morrow,
That the next sun
Which sinks should bear me past all fear and sorrow
For any one,
All the fight fought, all the short journey through.
What should I do?

I do not think that I should shrink or falter,
But just go on,
Doing my work, nor change nor seek to alter
Aught that is gone;
But rise and move and love and smile and pray
For one more day.

And, lying down at night for a last sleeping,
Say in that ear
Which hearkens ever: "Lord, within thy keeping
How should I fear?
And when to-morrow brings thee nearer still,
Do thou thy will."

I might not sleep for awe; but peaceful, tender,
My soul would lie
All the night long; and when the morning splendor
Flushed o'er the sky,
I think that I could smile--could calmly say,
"It is his day."

But if a wondrous hand from the blue yonder
Held out a scroll,
On which my life was writ, and I with wonder
Beheld unroll
To a long century's end its mystic clew,
What should I do?'

What _could_ I do, O blessed Guide and Master,
Other than this;
Still to go on as now, not slower, faster,
Nor fear to miss
The road, although so very long it be,
While led by thee?

Step after step, feeling thee close beside me,
Although unseen,
Through thorns, through flowers, whether the tempest hide thee,
Or heavens serene,
Assured thy faithfulness cannot betray,
Thy love decay.

I may not know; my God, no hand revealeth
Thy counsels wise;
Along the path a deepening shadow stealeth,
No voice replies
To all my questioning thought, the time to tell;
And it is well.

Let me keep on, abiding and unfearing
Thy will always,
Through a long century's ripening fruition
Or a short day's;
Thou canst not come too soon; and I can wait
If thou come late.

SARAH WOOLSEY (_Susan Coolidge_).

* * * * *


"And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over
against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto
this day."--DEUTERONOMY xxxiv. 6.

By Nebo's lonely mountain,
On this side Jordan's wave,
In a vale in the land of Moab,
There lies a lonely grave;
But no man built that sepulchre,
And no man saw it e'er;
For the angels of God upturned the sod,
And laid the dead man there.

That was the grandest funeral
That ever passed on earth;
Yet no man heard the trampling,
Or saw the train go forth:
Noiselessly as daylight
Comes back when night is done,
And the crimson streak on ocean's cheek
Grows into the great sun;

Noiselessly as the spring-time
Her crown of verdure weaves,
And all the trees on all the hills
Unfold their thousand leaves:
So without sound of music
Or voice of them that wept,
Silently down from the mountain's crown
The great procession swept.

Perchance the bald old eagle
On gray Beth-peor's height
Out of his rocky eyry
Looked on the wondrous sight;
Perchance the lion stalking
Still shuns that hallowed spot;
For beast and bird have seen and heard
That which man knoweth not.

But, when the warrior dieth.
His comrades of the war.
With arms reversed and muffled drums,
Follow the funeral car:
They show the banners taken;
They tell his battles won;
And after him lead his masterless steed,
While peals the minute-gun.

Amid the noblest of the land
Men lay the sage to rest,
And give the bard an honored place,
With costly marbles drest,
In the great minster transept
Where lights like glories fall,
And the sweet choir sings, and the organ rings
Along the emblazoned hall.

This was the bravest warrior
That ever buckled sword;
This the most gifted poet
That ever breathed a word;
And never earth's philosopher
Traced with his glorious pen
On the deathless page truths half so sage
As he wrote down for men.

And had he not high honor?--
The hillside for a pall!
To lie in state while angels wait,
With stars for tapers tall!
And the dark rock-pines, like tossing plumes,
Over his bier to wave,
And God's own hand, in that lonely land,
To lay him in his grave!--

In that strange grave without a name,
Whence his uncoffined clay
Shall break again--O wondrous thought!--
Before the judgment day,
And stand, with glory wrapped around
On the hills he never trod,
And speak of the strife that won our life
With the incarnate Son of God.

O lonely tomb in Moab's land!
O dark Beth-peor's hill!
Speak to these curious hearts of ours,
And teach them to be still:
God hath his mysteries of grace,
Ways that we cannot tell,
He hides them deep, like the secret sleep
Of him he loved so well.


* * * * *


O God, whose thunder shakes the sky,
Whose eye this atom globe surveys,
To thee, my only rock, I fly,
Thy mercy in thy justice praise.

The mystic mazes of thy will,
The shadows of celestial light,
Are past the power of human skill;
But what the Eternal acts is right.

Oh, teach me in the trying hour,
When anguish swells the dewy tear,
To still my sorrows, own my power,
Thy goodness love, thy Justice fear.

If in this bosom aught but thee
Encroaching sought a boundless sway,
Omniscience could the danger see,
And Mercy look the cause away.

Then why, my soul, dost thou complain,
Why drooping seek the dark recess?
Shake off the melancholy chain,
For God created all to bless.

But ah! my breast is human still;
The rising sigh, the falling tear,
My languid vitals' feeble rill,
The sickness of my soul declare.

But yet, with fortitude resigned,
I'll thank the inflicter of the blow;
Forbid the sigh, compose my mind,
Nor let the gush of misery flow.

The gloomy mantle of the night,
Which on my sinking spirit steals,
Will vanish at the morning light,
Which God, my east, my sun, reveals.


* * * * *


[A very aged man in an almshouse was asked what he was doing
now. He replied, "Only waiting."]

Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown,
Only waiting till the glimmer
Of the day's last beam is flown;
Till the night of earth is faded
From the heart, once full of day;
Till the stars of heaven are breaking
Through the twilight soft and gray.

Only waiting till the reapers
Have the last sheaf gathered home,
For the summer time is faded,
And the autumn winds have come.
Quickly, reapers! gather quickly
The last ripe hours of my heart,
For the bloom of life is withered,
And I hasten to depart.

Only waiting till the angels
Open wide the mystic gate,
At whose feet I long have lingered,
Weary, poor, and desolate.
Even now I hear the footsteps,
And their voices far away;
If they call me, I am waiting,
Only waiting to obey.

Only waiting till the shadows
Are a little longer grown,
Only waiting till the glimmer
Of the day's last beam is flown.
Then from out the gathered darkness,
Holy, deathless stars shall rise,
By whose light my soul shall gladly
Tread its pathway to the skies.


* * * * *


"Blessed are they who are homesick, for they shall come at
last to their Father's house."--HEINRICH STILLING.

Not as you meant, O learned man, and good!
Do I accept thy words of truth and rest;
God, knowing all, knows what for me is best,
And gives me what I need, not what he could,
Nor always as I would!
I shall go to the Father's house, and see
Him and the Elder Brother face to face,--
What day or hour I know not. Let me be
Steadfast in work, and earnest in the race,
Not as a homesick child who all day long
Whines at its play, and seldom speaks in song.

If for a time some loved one goes away,
And leaves us our appointed work to do,
Can we to him or to ourselves be true
In mourning his departure day by day,
And so our work delay?
Nay, if we love and honor, we shall make
The absence brief by doing well our task,--
Not for ourselves, but for the dear One's sake.
And at his coming only of him ask
Approval of the work, which most was done,
Not for ourselves, but our Beloved One.

Our Father's house, I know, is broad and grand;
In it how many, many mansions are!
And, far beyond the light of sun or star,
Four little ones of mine through that fair land
Are walking hand in hand!
Think you I love not, or that I forget
These of my loins? Still this world is fair,
And I am singing while my eyes are wet
With weeping in this balmy summer air:
Yet I'm not homesick, and the children _here_
Have need of me, and so my way is clear.

I would be joyful as my days go by,
Counting God's mercies to rue. He who bore
Life's heaviest cross is mine forever-more,
And I who wait his coming, shall not I
On his sure word rely?
And if sometimes the way be rough and steep,
Be heavy for the grief he sends to me,
Or at my waking I would only weep,
Let me remember these are things to be,
To work his blessed will until he comes
To take my hand, and lead me safely home.


* * * * *


Sit down, sad soul, and count
The moments flying;
Come, tell the sweet amount
That's lost by sighing!
How many smiles?--a score?
Then laugh, and count no more;
For day is dying!

Lie down, sad soul, and sleep,
And no more measure
The flight of time, nor weep
The loss of leisure;
But here, by this lone stream,
Lie down with us, and dream
Of starry treasure!

We dream: do thou the same;
We love,--forever;
We laugh, yet few we shame,--
The gentle never.
Stay, then, till sorrow dies;
Then--hope and happy skies
Are thine forever!

BRYAN WALLER PROCTER. (_Barry Cornwall_.)

* * * * *


"Urit me Patriae decor."

It kindles all my soul,
My country's loveliness! Those starry choirs
That watch around the pole,
And the moon's tender light, and heavenly fires
Through golden halls that roll.
O chorus of the night! O planets, sworn
The music of the spheres
To follow! Lovely watchers, that think scorn
To rest till day appears!
Me, for celestial homes of glory born,
Why here, O, why so long,
Do ye behold an exile from on high?
Here, O ye shining throng,
With lilies spread the mound where I shall lie:
Here let me drop my chain,
And dust to dust returning, cast away
The trammels that remain;
The rest of me shall spring to endless day!

From the Latin of CASIMIR OF POLAND.

* * * * *


At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time.
When you set your fancies free,
Will they pass to where--by death, fools think, imprisoned--
Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
--Pity me?

Oh to love so, be so loved, yet so mistaken!
What had I on earth to do
With the slothful, with the mawkish, the unmanly?
Like the aimless, helpless, hopeless did I drivel

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
Greet the unseen with a cheer!
Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,
"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed,--fight on, fare ever
There as here!"


* * * * *


Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.


* * * * *


Vital spark of heavenly flame!
Quit, O quit this mortal frame!
Trembling, hoping, lingering, flying,
O, the pain, the bliss of dying!
Cease, fond nature, cease thy strife,
And let me languish into life!

Hark! they whisper; angels say,
Sister spirit, come away!
What is this absorbs me quite?
Steals my senses, shuts my sight,
Drowns my spirits, draws my breath?
Tell me, my soul, can this be death?

The world recedes; it disappears!
Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears
With sounds seraphic ring:
Lend, lend your wings! I mount! I fly!
O Grave! where is thy victory?
O Death! where is thy sting?


* * * * *




There was a time when meadow, grove and stream,
The earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,--
The glory and the freshness of the dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore:
Turn wheresoe'er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.


The rainbow comes and goes,
And lovely is the rose;
The moon doth with delight
Look round her when the heavens are bare;
Waters on a starry night
Are beautiful and fair;
The sunshine is a glorious birth;
But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath passed away a glory from the earth.


Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,
And while the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief;
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
And I again am strong.
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep,--
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong.
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng;
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
And all the earth is gay;
Land and sea
Give themselves up to jollity;
And with the heart of May
Doth every beast keep holiday;--
Thou child of joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy shepherd boy!


Ye blessed creatures! I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival.
My head hath its coronal,--
The fulness of your bliss, I feel, I feel it all.
O evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May morning,
And the children are culling,
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm;--
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!--
But there's a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have looked upon,--
Both of them speak of something that is gone;
The pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat.
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory, do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy;
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows--
He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
Must travel, still is nature's priest
And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended:
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.


Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And even with something of a mother's mind,
And no unworthy aim,
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her inmate man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.


Behold the child among his new-born blisses,--
A six years' darling of a pygmy size!
See, where mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly learned art,--
A wedding or a festival,
A mourning or a funeral;--
And this hath now his heart,
And unto this he frames his song:
Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
But it will not be long
Ere this be thrown aside,
And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part,--
Filling from time to time his "humorous stage"
With all the persons, down to palsied age,
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
As if his whole vocation
Were endless imitation.


Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul's immensity!
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage! thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted forever by the eternal mind!--
Mighty prophet! Seer blest!
On whom those truths do rest
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou over whom thy immortality
Broods like the day, a master o'er a slave,
A presence which is not to be put by;
Thou little child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!


O joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live;
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!

The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not, indeed,
For that which is most worthy to be blest,--
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:--
Not for these I raise
The song of thanks and praise;
But for those obstinate questionings
Of sense and outward things,
Fallings from us, vanishings;
Blank misgivings of a creature
Moving about in worlds not realized,
High instincts, before which our mortal nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
But for those first affections,
Those shadowy recollections,
Which, be they what they may,
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master light of all our seeing;
Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal silence: truths that wake,
To perish never;
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavor,
Nor man nor boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy!
Hence, in a season of calm weather.
Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,--
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.


Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!
And let the young lambs bound
As to the tabor's sound!
We in thought will join your throng,
Ye that pipe and ye that play,
Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which, having been, must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.


And O ye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquished one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripped lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born day
Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober coloring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,--
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.


* * * * *



SCENE.--CATO, _sitting in a thoughtful posture, with book on
the Immortality of the Soul in his hand, and a drawn sword on
the table by him_.

It must be so--Plato, thou reasonest well!--
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire.
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis Heaven itself, that points out a hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity!--thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes, must we pass!
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a Power above us
(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works), he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when? or where? This world was made for Caesar.
I'm weary of conjectures,--this must end 'em.

_(Laying his hand on his sword.)_

Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me:
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.

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