Dreams & Dust by Don Marquis

Note: In “The Parting,” page 161, line 4, I have changed “they face” to “thy face”; in “The Struggle,” page 173, line 4, I have changed “l!o” to “lo!” DREAMS & DUST POEMS BY DON MARQUIS TO MY MOTHER VIRGINIA WHITMORE MARQUIS CONTENTS PROEM DAYLIGHT HUMORS THIS IS ANOTHER DAY APRIL SONG THE EARTH, IT
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Note: In “The Parting,” page 161, line 4, I have changed “they face” to “thy face”; in “The Struggle,” page 173, line 4, I have changed “l!o” to “lo!”




















So let them pass, these songs of mine, Into oblivion, nor repine;
Abandoned ruins of large schemes,
Dimmed lights adrift from nobler dreams,

Weak wings I sped on quests divine,
So let them pass, these songs of mine. They soar, or sink ephemeral–
I care not greatly which befall!

For if no song I e’er had wrought,
Still have I loved and laughed and fought; So let them pass, these songs of mine;
I sting too hot with life to whine!

Still shall I struggle, fail, aspire, Lose God, and find Gods in the mire,
And drink dream-deep life’s heady wine– So let them pass, these songs of mine.



I AM mine own priest, and I shrive myself Of all my wasted yesterdays. Though sin
And sloth and foolishness, and all ill weeds Of error, evil, and neglect grow rank
And ugly there, I dare forgive myself That error, sin, and sloth and foolishness. God knows that yesterday I played the fool; God knows that yesterday I played the knave; But shall I therefore cloud this new dawn o’er With fog of futile sighs and vain regrets?

This is another day! And flushed Hope walks Adown the sunward slopes with golden shoon. This is another day; and its young strength Is laid upon the quivering hills until,
Like Egypt’s Memnon, they grow quick with song. This is another day, and the bold world
Leaps up and grasps its light, and laughs, as leapt Prometheus up and wrenched the fire from Zeus.

This is another day–are its eyes blurred With maudlin grief for any wasted past?
A thousand thousand failures shall not daunt! Let dust clasp dust; death, death–I am alive! And out of all the dust and death of mine Old selves I dare to lift a singing heart And living faith; my spirit dares drink deep Of the red mirth mantling in the cup of morn.


FLEET across the grasses
Flash the feet of Spring,
Piping, as he passes
Fleet across the grasses,
“Follow, lads and lasses!
Sing, world, sing!”
Fleet across the grasses
Flash the feet of Spring!

Idle winds deliver
Rumors through the town,
Tales of reeds that quiver,
Idle winds deliver,
Where the rapid river
Drags the willows down–
Idle winds deliver
Rumors through the town.

In the country places
By the silver brooks
April airs her graces;
In the country places
Wayward April paces,
Laughter in her looks;
In the country places
By the silver brooks.

Hints of alien glamor
Even reach the town;
Urban muses stammer
Hints of alien glamor,
But the city’s clamor
Beats the voices down;
Hints of alien glamor
Even reach the town.


WHERE the singers of Saturn find tongue, Where the Galaxy’s lovers embrace,
Our world and its beauty are sung!
They lean from their casements to trace If our planet still spins in its place; Faith fables the thing that we are,
And Fantasy laughs and gives chase: This earth, it is also a star!

Round the sun, that is fixed, and hung For a lamp in the darkness of space
We are whirled, we are swirled, we are flung; Singing and shining we race
And our light on the uplifted face Of dreamer or prophet afar
May fall as a symbol of grace:
This earth, it is also a star!

Looking out where our planet is swung Doubt loses his writhen grimace,
Dry hearts drink the gleams and are young;– Where agony’s boughs interlace
His Garden some Jesus may pace,
Lifting, the wan avatar,
His soul to this light as a vase!
This earth, it is also a star!

Great spirits in sorrowful case
Yearn to us through the vapors that bar: Canst think of that, soul, and be base?– This earth, it is also a star!


IT shifts and shifts from form to form, It drifts and darkles, gleams and glows; It is the passion of the storm,
The poignance of the rose;
Through changing shapes, through devious ways,
By noon or night, through cloud or flame, My heart has followed all my days
Something I cannot name.

In sunlight on some woman’s hair,
Or starlight in some woman’s eyne, Or in low laughter smothered where
Her red lips wedded mine,
My heart hath known, and thrilled to know, This unnamed presence that it sought;
And when my heart hath found it so, “Love is the name,” I thought.

Sometimes when sudden afterglows
In futile glory storm the skies
Within their transient gold and rose The secret stirs and dies;
Or when the trampling morn walks o’er The troubled seas, with feet of flame,
My awed heart whispers, “Ask no more,
For Beauty is the name!”

Or dreaming in old chapels where
The dim aisles pulse with murmurings That part are music, part are prayer–
(Or rush of hidden wings)
Sometimes I lift a startled head
To some saint’s carven countenance, Half fancying that the lips have said,
All names mean God, perchance!”


THERE is a legend that the love of God So quickened under Mary’s heart it wrought Her very maidenhood to holier stuff. . . . However that may be, the birth befell
Upon a night when all the Syrian stars Swayed tremulous before one lordlier orb That rose in gradual splendor,
Flooding the firmament with mystic light, And dropped upon the breathing hills
A sudden music
Like a distillation from its gleams; A rain of spirit and a dew of song!


THE soul of the Spring through its body of earth Bursts in a bloom of fire,
And the crocuses come in a rainbow riot of mirth…. They flutter, they burn, they take wing, they aspire. . . .
Wings, motion and music and flame,
Flower, woman and laughter, and all these the same!
She is light and first love and the youth of the world,
She is sandaled with joy . . . she is lifted and whirled,
She is flung, she is swirled, she is driven along By the carnival winds that have torn her away From the coronal bloom on the brow of the May. . . .
She is youth, she is foam, she is flame, she is visible Song!


REACH over, my Undine, and clutch me a reed– Nymph of mine idleness, notch me a pipe– For I am fulfilled of the silence, and long For to utter the sense of the silence in song.

Down-stream all the rapids are troubled with pebbles That fetter and fret what the water would utter, And it rushes and splashes in tremulous trebles; It makes haste through the shallows, its soul is aflutter;

But here all the sound is serene and outspread In the murmurous moods of a slow-swirling pool; Here all the sounds are unhurried and cool; Every silence is kith to a sound; they are wed, They are mated, are mingled, are tangled, are bound;
Every hush is in love with a sound, every sound By the law of its life to some silence is bound.

Then here will we hide; idle here and abide, In the covert here, close by the waterside– Here, where the slim flattered reeds are aquiver With the exquisite hints of the reticent river, Here, where the lips of this pool are the lips Of all pools, let us listen and question and wait; Let us hark to the whispers of love and of death, Let us hark to the lispings of life and of fate– In this place where pale silences flower into sound Let us strive for some secret of all the profound Deep and calm Silence that meshes men ’round! There’s as much of God hinted in one ripple’s plashes–
There’s as much of Truth glints in yon dragon- fly’s flight–
There’s as much Purpose gleams where yonder trout flashes
As in–any book else!–could we read things aright.

Then nymph of mine indolence, here let us hide, Learn, listen, and question; idle here and abide Where the rushes and lilies lean low to the tide.


“Vain was the chief’s, the sage’s pride! They had no poet and they died.”–POPE.

By Tigris, or the streams of Ind,
Ere Colchis rose, or Babylon,
Forgotten empires dreamed and sinned, Setting tall towns against the dawn,

Which, when the proud Sun smote upon, Flashed fire for fire and pride for pride; Their names were . . . Ask oblivion! . . . “They had no poet, and they died.”

Queens, dusk of hair and tawny-skinned, That loll where fellow leopards fawn . . . Their hearts are dust before the wind,
Their loves, that shook the world, are wan!

Passion is mighty . . . but, anon,
Strong Death has Romance for his bride; Their legends . . . Ask oblivion! . . .
“They had no poet, and they died.”

Heroes, the braggart trumps that dinned Their futile triumphs, monarch, pawn,
Wild tribesmen, kingdoms disciplined, Passed like a whirlwind and were gone;

They built with bronze and gold and brawn, The inner Vision still denied;
Their conquests . . . Ask oblivion! . . . “They had no poet, and they died.”

Dumb oracles, and priests withdrawn,
Was it but flesh they deified?
Their gods were . . . Ask oblivion! . . . “They had no poet, and they died.”


SHE is hot to the sea that crouches beside, Human and hot to the cool stars peering down, My passionate city, my quivering town,
And her dark blood, tide upon purple tide, With throbs as of thunder beats,
With leaping rhythms and vast, is swirled Through the shaken lengths of her veined streets… She pulses, the heart of a world!

I have thrilled with her ecstasy, agony, woe– Hath she a mood that I do not know?
The winds of her music tumultuous have seized me and swayed me,
Have lifted, have swung me around
In their whorls as of cyclonic sound; Her passions have torn me and tossed me and brayed me;
Drunken and tranced and dazzled with visions and gleams,

I have spun with her dervish priests; I have searched to the souls of her hunted beasts And found love sleeping there;
I have soared on the wings of her flashing dreams; I have sunk with her dull despair;
I have sweat with her travails and cursed with her pains;
I have swelled with her foolish pride; I have raged through a thick red mist at one with her branded Cains,
With her broken Christs have died.

O beautiful half-god city of visions and love! O hideous half-brute city of hate!
O wholly human and baffled and passionate town! The throes of thy burgeoning, stress of thy fight, Thy bitter, blind struggle to gain for thy body a soul,
I have known, I have felt, and been shaken thereby!
Wakened and shaken and broken,
For I hear in thy thunders terrific that throb through thy rapid veins
The beat of the heart of a world.



CLOTHED on with thunder and with steel And black against the dawn
The whirling armies clash and reel. . . . A wind, and they are gone
Like mists withdrawn,
Like mists withdrawn!

Like clouds withdrawn, like driven sands, Earth’s body vanisheth:
One solid thing unconquered stands, The ghost that humbles death.
All else is breath,
All else is breath!

Man rose from out the stinging slime, Half brute, and sought a soul,
And up the starrier ways of time,
Half god, unto his goal,

He still must climb,
He still must climb!

What though worlds stagger, and the suns Seem shaken in their place,
Trust thou the leaping love that runs Creative over space:
Take heart of grace,
Take heart of grace!

What though great kingdoms fall on death Before the stabbing blade,
Their brazen might was only breath, Their substance but a shade–
Be not dismayed,
Be not dismayed!

Man’s dream which conquered brute and clod Shall fail not, but endure,
Shall rise, though beaten to the sod, Shall hold its vantage sure–
As sure as God,
As sure as God!


A LITTLE while, with love and youth,
He wandered, singing:–
He felt life’s pulses hot and strong Beat all his rapid veins along;
He wrought life’s rhythms into song: He laughed, he sang the Dawn!
So close, so close to life he dwelt That at rare times and rapt he felt
The fleshly barriers yield and melt; He trembled, looking on
Creation at her miracles;
His soul-sight pierced the earthly shells And saw the spirit weave its spells,
The veil of clay withdrawn;–
A little while, with love and youth, He wandered, singing!

A little while, with age and death,
He wanders, dreaming;–

No more the thunder and the urge
Of earth’s full tides that storm the verge Of heaven with their sweep and surge
Shall lift, shall bear him on;
Where is the golden hope that led Him comrade with the mighty dead?
The love that aureoled his head?– The glory is withdrawn!
How shall one soar with broken wings? The leagued might of futile things
Wars with the heart that dares and sings;– It is not always Dawn!
A little while, with age and death, He wanders, dreaming.


Put by the sword (a dreamer saith),
The years of peace draw nigh!
Already the millennial dawn
Makes red the eastern sky!

Be not deceived. It comes not yet!
The ancient passions keep
Alive beneath their changing masks. They are not dead. They sleep.

Surely peace comes. As sure as Man
Rose from primeval slime.
That was not yesterday. There’s still A weary height to climb!

And we can dwell too long with dreams And play too much with words,
Forgetting our inheritance
Was bought and held with swords.

But Truth (you say) makes tyrants quail–
Beats down embattled Wrong?

If truth be armed! Be not deceived. The strife is to the strong.

Words are not guns. Words are not ships. And ships and guns prevail.
Our liberties, that blood has gained, Are guarded, or they fail.

Truth does not triumph without blows, Error not tamely yields.
But falsehood closes with quick faith, Fierce, on a thousand fields.

And surely, somewhat of that faith
Our fathers fought for clings!
Which called this freedom’s hemisphere, Despite Earth’s leagued kings.

Great creeds grow thews, or else they die. Thought clothed in deed is lord.
What are thy gods? Thy gods brought love? They also brought a sword.

Unchallenged, shall we always stand,
Secure, apart, aloof?
Be not deceived. That hour shall come Which puts us to the proof.

Then, that we hold the trust we have
Safeguarded for our sons,
Let us cease dreaming! Let us have
More ships, more troops, more guns!


ABOVE, the baffled twilight fails; beneath, the blind snakes creep;
Beside us glides the charnel shark, our pilot through the deep;
And, lurking where low headlands shield from cruising scout and spy,
We bide the signal through the gloom that bids us slay or die.

All watchful, mute, the crouching guns that guard the strait sea lanes–
Watchful and hawklike, plumed with hate, the desperate aeroplanes–
And still as death and swift as fate, above the darkling coasts,
The spying Wireless sows the night with troops of stealthy ghosts,

While hushed through all her huddled streets the tide-walled city waits
The drumming thunders that announce brute battle at her gates.

Southward a hundred windy leagues, through storms that blind and bar,
Our cheated cruisers search the waves, our cap- tains seek the war;
But here the port of peril is; the foeman’s dread- noughts ride
Sullen and black against the moon, upon a sullen tide.
And only we to launch ourselves against their stark advance–
To guide uncertain lightnings through these treach- erous seas of chance!

. . . . . .

And now a wheeling searchlight paints a signal on the night;
And now the bellowing guns are loud with the wild lust of fight.

. . . . . .

And now, her flanks of steel apulse with all the power of hell,
Forth from the darkness leaps in pride a hateful miracle,
The flagship of their Admiral–and now God help and save!–
We challenge Death at Death’s own game; we sink beneath the wave!

. . . . . .

Ah, steady now–and one good blow–one straight stab through the gloom–
Ah, good!–the thrust went home!–she founders– flounders to her doom!–
Full speed ahead!–those damned quick-firing guns –but let them bark–
What’s that–the dynamos?–they’ve got us, men! —Christ! in the dark!



HE speaks as straight as his rifles shot, As straight as a thrusting blade,
Waiting the deed that shall trouble the truce His savage guns have made.

“You have dared the wrath of a dozen states,” Was the challenge that he heard;
“We can die but once!” said the grim old King As he gripped his mountain sword.

“For I paid in blood for the town I took, The blood of my brave men slain,–
And if you covet the town I took
You must buy it with blood again!”

Stern old King of the stark, black hills, Where the lean, fierce eagles breed,
Your speech rings true as your good sword rings– And you are a king indeed!


“The only book that the party had was a volume of Dickens. During the six months that they lay in the cave which they had hacked in the ice, waiting for spring to come, they read this volume through again and again.”–From a newspaper
report of an antarctic expedition.

HUDDLED within their savage lair
They hearkened to the prowling wind; They heard the loud wings of despair . . . And madness beat against the mind. . . . A sunless world stretched stark outside
As if it had cursed God and died;
Dumb plains lay prone beneath the weight Of cold unutterably great;
Iron ice bound all the bitter seas, The brutal hills were bleak as hate. . . . Here none but Death might walk at ease!

Then Dickens spoke, and, lo! the vast Unpeopled void stirred into life;

The dead world quickened, the mad blast Hushed for an hour its idiot strife
With nothingness. . . .

And from the gloom,
Parting the flaps of frozen skin,
Old friends and dear came trooping in, And light and laughter filled the room. . . . Voices and faces, shapes beloved,
Babbling lips and kindly eyes,
Not ghosts, but friends that lived and moved . . . They brought the sun from other skies,
They wrought the magic that dispels The bitterer part of loneliness . . .
And when they vanished each man dreamed His dream there in the wilderness. . . . One heard the chime of Christmas bells,
And, staring down a country lane,
Saw bright against the window-pane
The firelight beckon warm and red. . . . And one turned from the waterside
Where Thames rolls down his slothful tide To breast the human sea that beats
Through roaring London’s battered streets

And revel in the moods of men. . . .
And one saw all the April hills
Made glad with golden daffodils,
And found and kissed his love again. . . .

. . . . . .

By all the troubled hearts he cheers
In homely ways or by lost trails,
By all light shed through all dark years When hope grows sick and courage quails, We hail him first among his peers;
Whether we sorrow, sing, or feast, He, too, hath known and understood–
Master of many moods, high priest
Of mirth and lord of cleansing tears!


LEADER no more, be judged of us!
Hailed Chief, and loved, of yore– Youth, and the faith of youth, cry out:
Leader and Chief no more!

We dreamed a Prophet, flushed with faith, Content to toil in pain
If that his sacrifice might be,
Somehow, his people’s gain.

We saw a vision, and our blood
Beat red and hot and strong:
“Lead us (we cried) to war against
Some foul, embattled wrong!”

We dreamed a Warrior whose sword
Was edged for sham and shame;
We dreamed a Statesman far above
The vulgar lust for fame.

We were not cynics, and we dreamed
A Man who made no truce
With lies nor ancient privilege
Nor old, entrenched abuse.

We dreamed . . . we dreamed . . . Youth dreamed a dream!
And even you forgot
Yourself, one moment, and dreamed, too– Struck, while your mood was hot!

Struck three or four good blows . . . and then Turned back to easier things:
The cheap applause, the blatant mob, The praise of underlings!

Praise . . . praise . . . was ever man so filled, So avid still, of praise?
So hungry for the crowd’s acclaim,
The sycophantic phrase?

O you whom Greatness beckoned to . . . O swollen Littleness
Who turned from Immortality
To fawn upon Success!

O blind with love of self, who led
Youth’s vision to defeat,
Bawling and brawling for rewards,
Loud, in the common street!

O you who were so quick to judge–
Leader, and loved, of yore–
Hear now the judgment of our youth: Leader and Chief no more!



THE great guns slay from a league away, the death- bolts fly unseen,
And bellowing hill replies to hill, machine to brute machine,
But still in the end when the long lines bend and the battle hangs in doubt
They take to the steel in the same old way that their fathers fought it out–
It is man to man and breast to breast and eye to bloodshot eye
And the reach and twist of the thrusting wrist, as it was in the days gone by!

Along the shaken hills the guns their drumming thunder roll–
But the keen blades thrill with the lust to kill that leaps from the slayer’s soul!

For hand and heart and living steel, one pulse of hate they feel.
Is your clan afraid of the naked blade? Does it flinch from the bitter steel?
Perish your dreams of conquest then, your swollen hopes and bold,
For empire dwells with the stabbing blade, as it did in the days of old!



EACH nation as it draws the sword
And flings its standard to the air Petitions piously the Lord–
Vexing the void abyss with prayer.

O irony too deep for mirth!
O posturing apes that rant, and dare This antic attitude! O Earth,
With your wild jest of wicked prayer!

I dare not laugh . . . a rising swell Of laughter breaks in shrieks somewhere– No doubt they relish it in Hell,
This cosmic jest of Earth at prayer!




A GHOST is the freak of a sick man’s brain? Then why do ye start and shiver so?
That’s the sob and drip of a leaky drain? But it sounds like another noise we know! The heavy drops drummed red and slow,
The drops ran down as slow as fate– Do ye hear them still?–it was long ago!– But here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

Spirits there be that pass in peace;
Mine passed in a whorl of wrath and dole; And the hour that your choking breath shall cease I will get my grip on your naked soul– Nor pity may stay nor prayer cajole–
I would drag ye whining from Hell’s own gate: To me, to me, ye must pay the toll!
And here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

The dead they are dead, they are out of the way? And a ghost is the whim of an ailing mind? Then why did ye whiten with fear to-day
When ye heard a voice in the calling wind? Why did ye falter and look behind
At the creeping mists when the hour grew late? Ye would see my face were ye stricken blind! And here in the shadows I wait, I wait!

Drink and forget, make merry and boast, But the boast rings false and the jest is thin– In the hour that I meet ye ghost to ghost, Stripped of the flesh that ye skulk within, Stripped to the coward soul ‘ware of its sin, Ye shall learn, ye shall learn, whether dead men hate!
Ah, a weary time has the waiting been, But here in the shadows I wait, I wait!


LEAGUES before me, leagues behind,
Clamor warring wastes of flood,
All the streams of all the worlds
Flung together, mad of mood;
Through the canon beats a sound,
Regular of interval,
Distant, drumming, muffled, dull,
Thunderously rhythmical;

Crafts slip by my startled soul–
Soul that cowers, a thing apart–
They are corpuscles of blood!
That’s the throbbing of a heart!
God of terrors!–am I mad?–
Through my body, mine own soul,
Shrunken to an atom’s size,
Voyages toward an unguessed goal!


THE mother by the gallows-tree,
The gallows-tree, the gallows-tree, (While the twitching body mocked the sun) Lifted to Heaven her broken heart
And called for sympathy.

Then Mother Mary bent to her,
Bent from her place by God’s left side, And whispered: “Peace–do I not know?–
My son was crucified!”

“O Mother Mary,” answered she,
“You cannot, cannot enter in
To my soul’s woe–you cannot know– For your son wrought no sin!”

(And men whose work compelled them there, Their hearts were stricken dead;

They heard the rope creak on the beam; I thought I heard the frightened ghost
Whimpering overhead.)

The mother by the gallows-tree,
The gallows-tree, the gallows-tree, Lifted to Christ her broken heart
And called in agony.

Then Lord Christ bent to her and said: “Be comforted, be comforted;
I know your grief; the whole world’s woe I bore upon my head.”

“But O Lord Christ, you cannot know,
No one can know,” she said, “no one”– (While the quivering corpse swayed in the wind)– “Lord Christ, no one can understand
Who never had a son!”


LAZY and slow, through the snags and trees Move the sluggish currents, half asleep; Around and between the cypress knees,
Like black, slow snakes the dark tides creep– How deep is the bayou beneath the trees? “Knee-deep,
Croaks the big bullfrog of Reelfoot Lake From his hiding-place in the draggled brake.

What is the secret the slim reeds know That makes them to shake and to shiver so, And the scared flags quiver from plume to foot?– The frogs pipe solemnly, deep and slow:
“Look under
the root!
Look under
the root!”

The hoarse frog croaks and the stark owl hoots Of a mystery moored in the cypress roots.

Was it love turned hate? Was it friend turned foe? Only the frogs and the gray owl know,
For the white moon shrouded her face in a mist At the spurt of a pistol, red and bright– At the sound of a shriek that stabbed the night– And the little reeds were frightened and whist; But always the eddies whimper and choke, And the frogs would tell if they could, for they croak:
“Deep, deep!
Deep, deep!
And the dark tide slides and glisters and glides Snakelike over the secret it hides.


YE are dead, they say, but ye swore, ye swore, Ye would come to me back from the sea!
From out of the sea and the night, ye cried, Nor the crawling weed nor the dragging tide Could hold ye fast from me:–
Come, ah, come to me!

Three spells I have laid on the rising sun And three on the waning moon–
Are ye held in the bonds of the night or the day Ye must loosen your bonds and away, away! Ye must come where I wait ye, soon–
Ah, soon! soon! soon!

Three times I have cast my words to the wind, And thrice to the climbing sea;
If ye drift or dream with the clouds or foam Ye must drift again home, ye must drift again home–

Wraith, ye are free, ye are free;
Ghost, ye are free, ye are free!

Are the coasts of death so fair, so fair? But I wait ye here on the shore!
It is I that ye hear in the calling wind– I have stared through the dark till my soul is blind! O lover of mine, ye swore,
Lover of mine, ye swore!


Oh, why do they hunt so hard, so hard, who have no need of food?
Do they hunt for sport, do they hunt for hate, do they hunt for the lust of blood?

. . . . . .

If I were a god I would get me a spear, I would get me horse and dog,
And merrily, merrily I would ride through covert and brake and bog,

With hound and horn and laughter loud, over the hills and away–
For there is no sport like that of a god with a man that stands at bay!

Ho! but the morning is fresh and fair, and oh! but the sun is bright,
And yonder the quarry breaks from the brush and heads for the hills in flight;

A minute’s law for the harried thing–then follow him, follow him fast,
With the bellow of dogs and the beat of hoofs and the mellow bugle’s blast.

. . . . . .

Hillo! Halloo! they have marked a man! there is sport in the world to-day–
And a clamor swells from the heart of the wood that tells of a soul at bay!


WHERE tides of tossed wistaria bloom
Foam up in purple turbulence,
Where twining boughs have built a room And wing’d winds pause to garner scents And scattered sunlight flecks the gloom, She broods in pensive indolence.

What is the thought that holds her thrall, That dims her sight with unshed tears?
What songs of sorrow droop and fall In broken music for her ears?
What voices thrill her and recall
The poignant joy of happier years?

She dreams ’tis not the winds which pass That whisper through the shaken vine;
Whose footstep stirs the rustling grass None else that listened might divine;
She sees her child that never was
Look up with longing in his eyne.

Unkissed, his lifted forehead gains
A grace not earthly, but more rare– For since her heart but only feigns,
Wherefore should love not feign him fair? Put blood of roses in his veins,
Weave yellow sunshines for his hair?

All ghosts of little children dead
That wander wistful, uncaressed,
Their seeking lips by love unfed,
She fain would cradle on her breast For his sweet sake whose lonely head
Has never known that tender rest.

And thus she sits, and thus she broods, Where drifted blossoms freak the grass; The winds that move across her moods
Pulse with low whispers as they pass, And in their eerier interludes
She hears a voice that never was.


MUCH listening through the silences,
Much staring through the night,
And lo! the dumb blind distances
Are bridged with speech and sight!

Magician Thought, informed of Love,
Hath fixed her on the air–
Oh, Love and I laughed down the fates And clasped her, here as there!

Across the eerie silences
She came in headlong flight,
She stormed the serried distances,
She trampled space and night!

Oh, foolish scientists might give
This miracle a name–
But Love and I care but to know
That when we called she came.

And since I find the distances
Subservient to my thought,
And of the sentient silences
More vital speech have wrought,

Then she and I will mock Death’s self, For all his vaunted might–
There are no gulfs we dare not leap, As she leapt through the night!




WE stood among the boats and nets;
We saw the swift clouds fall,
We watched the schooners scamper in Before the sudden squall;–
The jolly squall strove lustily
To whelm the sheltered street–
The merry squall that piled the seas About the patient headland’s knees
And chased the fishing fleet.

She laughed; as if with wings her mirth Arose and left the wingless earth
And all tame things behind;
Rose like a bird, wild with delight Whose briny pinions flash in flight
Through storm and sun and wind.

Her laughter sought those skies because Their mood and hers were one,
For she and I were drunk with love
And life and storm and sun!

And while she laughed, the Sun himself Leapt laughing through the rain
And struck his harper hand along
The ringing coast; and that wind-song Whose joy is mixed with pain
Forgot the undertone of grief
And joined the jocund strain,
And over every hidden reef
Whereon the waves broke merrily
Rose jets and sprays of melody
And leapt and laughed again.



We stood among the boats and nets . . . We marked the risen moon
Walk swaying o’er the trembling seas As one sways in a swoon;

The little stars, the lonely stars,
Stole through the hollow sky,
And every sucking eddy where
The waves lapped wharf or rotten stair Moaned like some stricken thing hid there And strangled with its own despair
As the shuddering tide crept by.

I loved her, and I hated her–
Or did I hate myself because,
Bound by obscure, strong, silken laws, I felt myself the worshiper
Of beauty never wholly mine?
With lures most apt to snare, entwine, With bonds too subtle to define,
Her lighter nature mastered mine;
Herself half given, half withheld,
Her lesser spirit still compelled
Its tribute from my franker soul:
So–rebel, slave, and worshiper!– I loved her and I hated her.

I gazed upon her, I, her thrall,
And musing, murmured, What if death

Were just the answer to it all?–
Suppose some dainty dagger quaffed Her life in one deep eager draught?–
Suppose some amorous knife caressed The lovely hollow of her breast?”

She turned a mocking look to mine:
She read the thought within my eyne, She held me with her look–and laughed!

Now who may tell what stirs, controls, And shapes mad fancies into facts?
What trivial things may quicken souls To irrevocable, swift acts?
Now who has known, who understood,
Wherefore some idle thing
May stab with deadlier sting
Than well-considered insult could?– May spur the languor of a mood
And rouse a tiger in the blood?–

Ah, Christ!–had she not laughed just when That fancy came! . . . for then . . . and then . . . A sudden mist dropped from the sky,

A mist swept in across the sea . . .
A mist that hid her face from me . . . A weeping mist all tinged with red,
A dripping mist that smelt like blood . . . It choked my throat, it burnt my brain . . . And through it peered one sallow star,
And through it rang one shriek of pain . . . And when it passed my hands were red,
My soul was dabbled with her blood; And when it passed my love was dead
And tossed upon the troubled flood.



But see! . . . the body does not sink; It rides upon the tide
(A starbeam on the dagger’s haft),
With staring eyes and wide . . .
And now, up from the darkling sea,
Down from the failing moon,
Are come strange shapes to mock at me . . . All pallid from the star-pale sea,
White from the paling moon . . .

Or whirling fast or wheeling slow
Around, around the corpse they go,
All bloodless o’er the sickened sea Beneath the ailing moon!

And are they only wisps of fog
That dance along the waves?
Only shapes of mist the wind
Drives along the waves?
Or are they spirits that the sea
Has cheated of their graves?
The ghosts of them that died at sea, Of murdered men flung in the sea,
Whose bodies had no graves?–
Lost souls that haunt for evermore
The sobbing reef and hollowed shore And always-murmuring caves?

Ah, surely something more than fog,
More than starlit mist!
For starlight never makes a sound
And fogs are ever whist–
But hearken, hearken, hearken, now, For these sing as they dance!

As airily, as eerily,
They wheel about and whirl,
They jeer at me, they fleer at me,
They flout me as they swirl!
As whirling fast or swaying slow,
Reeling, wheeling, to and fro,
Around, around the corpse they go,
They chill me with their chants!
These be neither men nor mists–
Hearken to their chants:

Ever, ever, ever,
Drifting like a blossom
Seaward, with the starlight
Wan upon her bosom–
Ever when the quickened
Heart of night is throbbing,
Ever when the trembling
Tide sets seaward, sobbing,
Shall you see this burden
Borne upon its ebbing:
See her drifting seaward
Like a broken blossom,

Ever see the starlight
Kiss her bruised bosom.

Flight availeth nothing . . .
Still the subtle beaches
Draw you back where Horror
Walks their shingled reaches . . . Ever shall your spirit
Hear the surf resounding,
Evermore the ocean
Thwarting you and bounding;
Vainly struggle inland!
Lashing you and hounding,
Still the vision hales you
From the upland reaches,
Goading you and gripping,
Binds you to the beaches!

Ever, ever, ever,
Ever shall her laughter,
Hunting you and haunting,
Mock and follow after;
Rising where the buoy-bell
Clangs across the shallows,

Leaping where the spindrift
Hurtles o’er the hollows,
Ringing where the moonlight
Gleams along the billows,
Ever, ever, ever,
Ever shall her laughter,
Hounding you and haunting,
Whip and follow after!



I stood among the boats
The sinking sun, the angry sun,
Across the sullen wave
Laid the sudden strength of his red wrath Like to a shaken glaive:–
Or did the sun pause in the west
To lift a sword at me,
Or was it she, or was it she,
Rose for an instant on some crest
And plucked the red blade from her breast And brandished it at me?


THE wraiths of murdered hopes and loves Come whispering at the door,
Come creeping through the weeping mist That drapes the barren moor;
But we within have turned the key
‘Gainst Hope and Love and Care,
Where Wit keeps tryst with Folly, at The Tavern of Despair.

And we have come by divers ways
To keep this merry tryst,
But few of us have kept within
The Narrow Way, I wist;
For we are those whose ampler wits
And hearts have proved our curse– Foredoomed to ken the better things
And aye to do the worse!

Long since we learned to mock ourselves; And from self-mockery fell

To heedless laughter in the face
Of Heaven, Earth, and Hell.
We quiver ‘neath, and mock, God’s rod; We feel, and mock, His wrath;
We mock our own blood on the thorns That rim the “Primrose Path.”

We mock the eerie glimmering shapes
That range the outer wold,
We mock our own cold hearts because They are so dead and cold;
We flout the things we might have been Had self to self proved true,
We mock the roses flung away,
We mock the garnered rue;

The fates that gibe have lessoned us; There sups to-night on earth
No madder crew of wastrels than
This fellowship of mirth. . . .
(Of mirth . . . drink, fools!–nor let it flag Lest from the outer mist
Creep in that other company
Unbidden to the tryst.

We’re grown so fond of paradox
Perverseness holds us thrall,
So what each jester loves the best
He mocks the most of all;
But as the jest and laugh go round, Each in his neighbor’s eyes
Reads, while he flouts his heart’s desire, The knowledge that he lies.

Not one of us but had some pearls
And flung them to the swine,
Not one of us but had some gift–
Some spark of fire divine–
Each might have been God’s minister In the temple of some art–
Each feels his gift perverted move
Wormlike through his dry heart.

If God called Azrael to Him now
And bade Death bend the bow
Against the saddest heart that beats Here on this earth below,
Not any sobbing breast would gain
The guerdon of that barb–

The saddest ones are those that wear
The jester’s motley garb.

Whose shout aye loudest rings, and whose The maddest cranks and quips–
Who mints his soul to laughter’s coin And wastes it with his lips–
Has grown too sad for sighs and seeks To cheat himself with mirth;
We fools self-doomed to motley are
The weariest wights on earth!

But yet, for us whose brains and hearts Strove aye in paths perverse,
Doomed still to know the better things And still to do the worse,–
What else is there remains for us
But make a jest of care
And set the rafters ringing, in
Our Tavern of Despair?



(D. V. M.)

“Golden lads and lasses must
Like chimney-sweepers come to dust.” –SHAKESPEARE.

So young, but already the splendor
Of genius robed him about–
Already the dangerous, tender
Regard of the gods marked him out–

(On whom the burden and duty
They bind, at his earliest breath, Of showing their own grave beauty,
They love and they crown with death.)

We were of one blood, but the olden
Rapt poets spake out in his tone;
We were of one blood, but the golden Rathe promise was his, his alone.

And ever his great eye glistened
With visions I could not see,
Ever he thrilled and listened
To voices withholden from me.

Young lord of the realms of fancy,
The bright dreams flocked to his call Like sprites that the necromancy
Of a Prospero holds in thrall–

Quick visions that served and attended, Elusive and hovering things,
With a quiver of joy in the splendid Wild sweep of their luminous wings;

He dwelt in an alien glamor,
He wrought of its gleams a crown,– But the world, with its cruelty and clamor, Broke him and beat him down;

So he passed; he was worn, he was weary, He was slain at the touch of life;–
With a smile that was wistful and eerie He passed from the senseless strife;–

So he ceased (is their humor satiric, These gods that make perfect and blight?)– He ceased like an exquisite lyric
That dies on the breast of night.


‘TWIXT ancient Beersheba and Dan
Another such a caravan
Dazed Palestine had never seen
As that which bore Sabea’s queen
Up from the fain and flaming South
To slake her yearning spirit’s drouth At wisdom’s pools, with Solomon.

With gifts of scented sandalwood,
And labdanum, and cassia-bud,
With spicy spoils of Araby
And camel-loads of ivory
And heavy cloths that glanced and shone With inwrought pearl and beryl-stone
She came, a bold Sabean girl.

And did she find him grave, or gay?
Perchance his palace breathed that day With psalters sounding solemnly–
Or cymbals’ merrier minstrelsy–
Perchance the wearied monarch heard Some loose-tongued prophet’s meddling word;– None knows, no one–but Solomon!

She looked–with eyne wherein were blent All ardors of the Orient;
She spake–all magics of the South
Were compassed in the witch’s mouth;– He thought the scarlet lips of her
More precious than En Gedi’s myrrh, The lips of that Sabean girl;

By many an amorous sun caressed,
From lifted brow to amber breast
She gleamed in vivid loveliness–
And lithe as any leopardess–
And verily, one blames thee not
If thine own proverbs were forgot,
O Solomon, wise Solomon!

She danced for him, and surely she
Learnt dancing from some moonlit sea

Where elfin vapors swirled and swayed While the wild pipes of witchcraft played Such clutching music ‘twould impel
A prophet’s self to dance to hell– So spun the light Sabean girl.

He swore her laughter had the lilt
Of chiming waters that are spilt
In sprays of spurted melody
From founts of carven porphyry,
And in the billowy turbulence
Of her dusk hair drowned soul and sense– Dark tides and deep, O Solomon!

Perchance unto her day belongs
His poem called the Song of Songs,
Each little lyric interval
Timed to her pulse’s rise and fall;– Or when he cried out wearily
That all things end in vanity
Did he mean that Sabean girl?

The bright barbaric opulence,
The sun-kist Temple, Kedar’s tents,–

How many a careless caravan
‘Twixt Beersheba and ruined Dan,
Within these forty centuries,
Has flung their dust to many a breeze, With dust that was King Solomon!

But still the lesson holds as true,
O King, as when she lessoned you:
That very wise men are not wise
Until they read in Folly’s eyes
The wisdom that escapes the schools, That bids the sage revise his rules
By light of some Sabean girl!


“Archaeologists have discovered a love-letter among the ruins of Babylon.” –Newspaper report.

The world hath just one tale to tell, and it is very old, A little tale–a simple tale–a tale that’s easy told: “There was a youth in Babylon who greatly loved a maid!”
The world hath just one song to sing, but sings it unafraid,
A little song–a foolish song–the only song it hath: “There was a youth in Ascalon who loved a girl in Gath!”

Homer clanged it, Omar twanged it, Greece and Persia knew!–
Nimrod’s reivers, Hiram’s weavers, Hindu, Kurd, and Jew–
Crowning Tyre, Troy afire, they have dreamed the dream;
Tiber-side and Nilus-tide brightened with the gleam–

Oh, the suing, sighing, wooing, sad and merry hours,
Blisses tasted, kisses wasted, building Babel’s towers!
Hearts were aching, hearts were breaking, lashes wet with dew,
When the ships touched the lips of islands Sappho knew;
Yearning breasts and burning breasts, cold at last, are hid
Amid the glooms of carven tombs in Khufu’s pyramid–
Though the sages, down the ages, smile their cynic doubt,
Man and maid, unafraid, put the schools to rout; Seek to chain love and retain love in the bonds of breath,
Vow to hold love, bind and fold love even unto death!

The dust of forty centuries has buried Babylon, And out of all her lovers dead rises only one; Rises with a song to sing and laughter in his eyes, The old song–the only song–for all the rest are lies!

For, oh, the world has just one dream, and it is very old–
‘Tis youth’s dream–a silly dream–but it is flushed with gold!


PEARL-SLASHED and purple and crimson and fringed with gray mist of the hills,
The pennons of morning advance to the music of rock-fretted rills,
The dumb forest quickens to song, and the little gusts shout as they fling
A floor-cloth of orchard bloom down for the flash- ing, quick feet of the Spring.

To the road, gipsy-heart, thou and I! ‘Tis the mad piper, Spring, who is leading;
‘Tis the pulse of his piping that throbs through the brain, irresistibly pleading;
Full-blossomed, deep-bosomed, fain woman, light- footed, lute-throated and fleet,
We have drunk of the wine of this Wanderer’s song; let us follow his feet!

Like raveled red girdles flung down by some hoidenish goddess in mirth
The tangled roads reach from rim unto utter- most rim of the earth–
We will weave of these strands a strong net, we will snare the bright wings of delight,– We will make of these strings a sweet lute that will shame the low wind-harps of night.

The clamor of tongues and the clangor of trades in the peevish packed street,
The arrogant, jangling Nothings, with iterant, dis- sonant beat,
The clattering, senseless endeavor with dross of mere gold for its goal,
These have sickened the senses and wearied the brain and straitened the soul.

“Come forth and be cleansed of the folly of strife for things worthless of strife,
Come forth and gain life and grasp God by fore- going gains worthless of life”–

It was thus spake the wizard wildwood, low- voiced to the hearkening heart,
It was thus sang the jovial hills, and the harper sun bore part.

O woman, whose blood as my blood with the fire of the Spring is aflame,
We did well, when the red roads called, that we heeded the call and came–
Came forth to the sweet wise silence where soul may speak sooth unto soul,
Vine-wreathed and vagabond Love, with the goal of Nowhere for our goal!

What planet-crowned Dusk that wanders the steeps of our firmament there
Hath gems that may match with the dew-opals meshed in thine opulent hair?
What wind-witch that skims the curled billows with feet they are fain to caress
Hath sandals so wing’d as thine art with a god- like carelessness?

And dare we not dream this is heaven?–to wan- der thus on, ever on.
Through the hush-heavy valleys of space, up the flushing red slopes of the dawn?–
For none that seeks rest shall find rest till he ceaseth his striving for rest,
And the gain of the quest is the joy of the road that allures to the quest.


AND I would seek the country town
Amid green meadows nestled down
If I could only find the way
Back to the Land of Yesterday!

How I would thrust the miles aside,
Rush up the quiet lane, and then,
Just where her roses laughed in pride, Find her among the flowers again.
I’d slip in silently and wait
Until she saw me by the gate,
And then . . . read through a blur of tears Quick pardon for the selfish years.

This time, this time, I would not wait For that brief wire that said, Too late!
If I could only find the way
Into the Land of Yesterday.

I wonder if her roses yet
Lift up their heads and laugh with pride, And if her phlox and mignonette
Have heart to blossom by their side; I wonder if the dear old lane
Still chirps with robins after rain, And if the birds and banded bees
Still rob her early cherry-trees. . . .

I wonder, if I went there now,
How everything would seem, and how– But no! not now; there is no way
Back to the Land of Yesterday.


CEASE to call him sad and sober,
Merriest of months, October!
Patron of the bursting bins,
Reveler in wayside inns,
I can nowhere find a trace
Of the pensive in his face;
There is mingled wit and folly,
But the madcap lacks the grace
Of a thoughtful melancholy.
Spendthrift of the seasons’ gold,
How he flings and scatters out
Treasure filched from summer-time!– Never ruffling squire of old
Better loved a tavern bout
When Prince Hal was in his prime.
Doublet slashed with gold and green; Cloak of crimson; changeful sheen,
Of the dews that gem his breast;
Frosty lace about his throat;

Scarlet plumes that flaunt and float
Backward in a gay unrest–
Where’s another gallant drest
With such tricksy gaiety,
Such unlessoned vanity?
With his amber afternoons
And his pendant poets’ moons–
With his twilights dashed with rose From the red-lipped afterglows–
With his vocal airs at dawn
Breathing hints of Helicon–
Bacchanalian bees that sip
Where his cider-presses drip–
With the winding of the horn
Where his huntsmen meet the morn–
With his every piping breeze
Shaking from familiar trees
Apples of Hesperides–
With the chuckle, chirp, and trill
Of his jolly brooks that spill
Mirth in tangled madrigals
Down pebble-dappled waterfalls–
(Brooks that laugh and make escape
Through wild arbors where the grape

Purples with a promise of
Racy vintage rare as love)–
With his merry, wanton air,
Mirth and vanity and folly
Why should he be made to bear
Burden of some melancholy
Song that swoons and sinks with care? Cease to call him sad or sober,–
He’s a jolly dog, October!


THE Hours passed by, a fleet, confused crowd; With wafture of blown garments bright as fire, Light, light of foot and laughing, morning-browed, And where they trod the jonquil and the briar Thrilled into jocund life, the dreaming dells Waked to a morrice chime of jostled bells;– They danced! they danced! to piping such as flings
The garnered music of a million Springs Into one single, keener ecstasy;–
One paused and shouted to my questionings: “Lo, I am Youth; I bid thee follow me!”

The Hours passed by; they paced, great lords and proud,
Crowned on with sunlight, robed in rich attire; Before their conquering word the brute deed bowed,
And Ariel fancies served their large desire;

They spake, and roused the mused soul that dwells In dust, or, smiling, shaped new heavens and hells,
Dethroned old gods and made blind beggars kings: “And what art thou,” I cried to one, “that brings His mistress, for a brooch, the Galaxy?”– “I am the plumed Thought that soars and sings: Lo, I am Song; I bid thee follow me!”

The Hours passed by, with veiled eyes endowed Of dream, and parted lips that scarce suspire, To breathing dusk and arrowy moonlight vowed, South wind and shadowy grove and murmuring lyre;–
Swaying they moved, as drows’d of wizard spells Or tranc’d with sight of recent miracles, And yet they trembled, down their folded wings Quivered the hint of sweet withholden things, Ah, bitter-sweet in their intensity!
One paused and said unto my wonderings: “Lo, I am Love; I bid thee follow me!”

The Hours passed by, through huddled cities loud With witless hate and stale with stinking mire:

So cowled monks might march with bier and shroud Down streets plague-spotted toward some cleans- ing pyre;–
Yet, lo! strange lilies bloomed in lightless cells, And passionate spirits burst their clayey shells And sang the stricken hope that bleeds and clings:
Earth’s bruised heart beat in the throbbing strings, And joy still struggled through the threnody! One stern Hour said unto my marvelings:
“Lo, I am Life; I bid thee follow me!”

The Hours passed by, the stumbling hours and cowed,
Uncertain, prone to tears and childish ire,– The wavering hours that drift like any cloud At whim of winds or fortunate or dire,– The feeble shapes that any chance expells; Their wisdom useless, lacking the blood that swells The tensed vein: the hot, swift tide that stings With life. Ah, wise! but naked to the slings Of fate, and plagued of youthful memory! A cracked voice broke upon my pityings:
“Lo, I am Age; I bid thee follow me!”

Ah, Youth! we dallied by the babbling wells Where April all her lyric secret tells;– Ah, Song! we sped our bold imaginings
As far as yon red planet’s triple rings;– O Life! O Love! I followed, followed thee! There waits one word to end my journeyings: “Lo, I am Death; I bid thee follow me!”



My dust in ruined Babylon
Is blown along the level plain,
And songs of mine at dawn have soared Above the blue Sicilian main.

We are ourselves, and not ourselves . . . For ever thwarting pride and will

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