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RALPH WALDO EMERSON
1867, 1876, 1883, 1895, 1904 AND 1911
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In Mr. Cabot’s prefatory note to the Riverside Edition of the Poems, published the year after Mr. Emerson’s death, he said:–
“This volume contains nearly all the pieces included in the POEMS and MAY-DAY of former editions. In 1876, Mr. Emerson published a selection from his Poems, adding six new ones and omitting many. Of those omitted, several are now restored, in accordance with the expressed wishes of many readers and lovers of them. Also some pieces never before published are here given in an Appendix; on various grounds. Some of them appear to have had Mr. Emerson’s approval, but to have been withheld because they were unfinished. These it seemed best not to suppress, now that they can never receive their completion. Others, mostly of an early date, remained unpublished, doubtless because of their personal and private nature. Some of these seem to have an autobiographic interest sufficient to justify their publication. Others again, often mere fragments, have been admitted as characteristic, or as expressing in poetic form thoughts found in the Essays.
 _Selected Poems_: Little Classic Edition.
“In coming to a decision in these cases it seemed, on the whole, preferable to take the risk of including too much rather than the opposite, and to leave the task of further winnowing to the hands of Time.
“As was stated in the preface to the first volume of this edition of Mr. Emerson’s writings, the readings adopted by him in the Selected Poems have not always been followed here, but in some cases preference has been given to corrections made by him when he was in fuller strength than at the time of the last revision.
“A change in the arrangement of the stanzas of ‘May-Day,’ in the part representative of the march of Spring, received his sanction as bringing them more nearly in accordance with the events in Nature.”
In the preparation of the Riverside Edition of the _Poems_, Mr. Cabot very considerately took the present editor into counsel (as representing Mr. Emerson’s family), who at that time in turn took counsel with several persons of taste and mature judgment with regard especially to the admission of poems hitherto unpublished and of fragments that seemed interested and pleasing. Mr. Cabot and he were entirely in accord with regard to the Riverside Edition. In the present edition, the substance of the Riverside Edition has been preserved, with hardly an exception, although some poems and fragments have been added. None of the poems therein printed have been omitted. “The House,” which appeared in the first volume of _Poems_, and “Nemesis,” “Una,” “Love and Thought” and “Merlin’s Songs,” from the _May-Day_ volume, have been restored. To the few mottoes of the Essays, which Mr. Emerson printed as “Elements” in _May-Day_, most of the others have been added. Following Mr. Emerson’s precedent of giving his brother Edward’s “Last Farewell” a place beside the poem in his memory, two pleasing poems by Ellen Tucker, his first wife, which he published in the _Dial_, have been placed with his own poems relating to her. The publication in the last edition of some poems that Mr. Emerson had long kept by him, but had never quite been ready to print, and of various fragments on Poetry, Nature and Life, was not done without advice and careful consideration, and then was felt to be perhaps a rash experiment. The continued interest which has been shown in the author’s thought and methods and life–for these unfinished pieces contain much autobiography–has made the present editor feel it justifiable to keep almost all of these and to add a few. Their order has been slightly altered.
A few poems from the verse-books sufficiently complete to have a title are printed in the Appendix for the first time: “Insight,” “September,” “October,” “Hymn” and “Riches.”
After much hesitation the editor has gathered in their order of time, and printed at the end of the book, some twenty early pieces, a few of them taken from the Appendix of the last edition and others never printed before. They are for the most part journals in verse covering the period of his school-teaching, study for the ministry and exercise of that office, his sickness, bereavement, travel abroad and return to the new life. This sad period of probation is illuminated by the episode of his first love. Not for their poetical merit, except in flashes, but for the light they throw on the growth of his thought and character are they included.
In this volume the course of the Muse, as Emerson tells it, is pursued with regard to his own poems.
I hang my verses in the wind,
Time and tide their faults will find.
EDWARD W. EMERSON.
March 12, 1904.
* * * * *
EACH AND ALL
ALPHONSO OF CASTILE
ETIENNE DE LA BOECE
ODE TO BEAUTY
GIVE ALL TO LOVE
TO ELLEN AT THE SOUTH
THINE EYES STILL SHINED
INITIAL, DAEMONIC AND CELESTIAL LOVE I. THE INITIAL LOVE
II. THE DAEMONIC LOVE
III. THE CELESTIAL LOVE
THE DAY’S RATION
MAY-DAY AND OTHER PIECES
LOVE AND THOUGHT
THE ROMANY GIRL
THE CHARTIST’S COMPLAINT
SONG OF NATURE
THE NUN’S ASPIRATION
MAIDEN SPEECH OF THE AEOLIAN HARP
THE LAST FAREWELL
IN MEMORIAM E.B.E.
ELEMENTS AND MOTTOES
THE INFORMING SPIRIT
QUATRAINS AND TRANSLATIONS
FRAGMENTS ON THE POET AND THE POETIC GIFT FRAGMENTS ON NATURE AND LIFE
THE BOHEMIAN HYMN
MONADNOC FROM AFAR
WRITTEN IN A VOLUME OF GOETHE
INSCRIPTION FOR A WELL IN MEMORY OF THE MARTYRS OF THE WAR THE EXILE
POEMS OF YOUTH AND EARLY MANHOOD
LINES TO ELLEN
A MOUNTAIN GRAVE
WRITTEN IN NAPLES
WRITTEN AT ROME
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
INDEX OF TITLES
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The Emersons first appeared in the north of England, but Thomas, who landed in Massachusetts in 1638, came from Hertfordshire. He built soon after a house, sometimes railed the Saint’s Rest, which still stands in Ipswich on the slope of Heart-break Hill, close by Labour-in-vain Creek. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the sixth in descent from him. He was born in Boston, in Summer Street, May 25, 1803. He was the third son of William Emerson, the minister of the First Church in Boston, whose father, William Emerson, had been the patriotic minister of Concord at the outbreak of the Revolution, and died a chaplain in the army. Ruth Haskins, the mother of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was left a widow in 1811, with a family of five little boys. The taste of these boys was scholarly, and four of them went through the Latin School to Harvard College, and graduated there. Their mother was a person of great sweetness, dignity, and piety, bringing up her sons wisely and well in very straitened circumstances, and loved by them. Her husband’s stepfather, Rev. Dr. Ripley of Concord, helped her, and constantly invited the boys to the Old Manse, so that the woods and fields along the Concord River were first a playground and then the background of the dreams of their awakening imaginations.
Born in the city, Emerson’s young mind first found delight in poems and classic prose, to which his instincts led him as naturally as another boy’s would to go fishing, but his vacations in the country supplemented these by giving him great and increasing love of nature. In his early poems classic imagery is woven into pictures of New England woodlands. Even as a little boy he had the habit of attempting flights of verse, stimulated by Milton, Pope, or Scott, and he and his mates took pleasure in declaiming to each other in barns and attics. He was so full of thoughts and fancies that he sought the pen instinctively, to jot them down.
At college Emerson did not shine as a scholar, though he won prizes for essays and declamations, being especially unfitted for mathematical studies, and enjoying the classics rather in a literary than grammatical way. And yet it is doubtful whether any man in his class used his time to better purpose with reference to his after life, for young Emerson’s instinct led him to wide reading of works, outside the curriculum, that spoke directly to him. He had already formed the habit of writing in a journal, not the facts but the thoughts and inspirations of the day; often, also, good stories or poetical quotations, and scraps of his own verse.
On graduation from Harvard in the class of 1821, following the traditions of his family, Emerson resolved to study to be a minister, and meantime helped his older brother William in the support of the family by teaching in a school for young ladies in Boston, that the former had successfully established. The principal was twenty-one and the assistant nineteen years of age. For school-teaching on the usual lines Emerson was not fitted, and his youth and shyness prevented him from imparting his best gifts to his scholars. Years later, when, in his age, his old scholars assembled to greet him, he regretted that no hint had been brought into the school of what at that very time “I was writing every night in my chamber, my first thoughts on morals and the beautiful laws of compensation, and of individual genius, which to observe and illustrate have given sweetness to many years of my life.” Yet many scholars remembered his presence and teaching with pleasure and gratitude, not only in Boston, but in Chelmsford and Roxbury, for while his younger brothers were in college it was necessary that he should help. In these years, as through all his youth, he was loved, spurred on in his intellectual life, and keenly criticised by his aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, an eager and wide reader, inspired by religious zeal, high-minded, but eccentric.
The health of the young teacher suffered from too ascetic a life, and unmistakable danger-signals began to appear, fortunately heeded in time, but disappointment and delay resulted, borne, however, with sense and courage. His course at the Divinity School in Cambridge was much broken; nevertheless, in October, 1826, he was “approbated to preach” by the Middlesex Association of Ministers. A winter at the North at this time threatened to prove fatal, so he was sent South by his helpful kinsman, Rev. Samuel Ripley, and passed the winter in Florida with benefit, working northward in the spring, preaching in the cities, and resumed his studies at Cambridge.
In 1829, Emerson was called by the Second or Old North Church in Boston to become the associate pastor with Rev. Henry Ware, and soon after, because of his senior’s delicate health, was called on to assume the full duty. Theological dogmas, such as the Unitarian Church of Channing’s day accepted, did not appeal to Emerson, nor did the supernatural in religion in its ordinary acceptation interest him. The omnipresence of spirit, the dignity of man, the daily miracle of the universe, were what he taught, and while the older members of the congregation may have been disquieted that he did not dwell on revealed religion, his words reached the young people, stirred thought, and awakened aspiration. At this time he lived with his mother and his young wife (Ellen Tucker) in Chardon Street. For three years he ministered to his people in Boston. Then having felt the shock of being obliged to conform to church usage, as stated prayer when the spirit did not move, and especially the administration of the Communion, he honestly laid his troubles before his people, and proposed to them some modification of this rite. While they considered his proposition, Emerson went into the White Mountains to weigh his conflicting duties to his church and conscience. He came down, bravely to meet the refusal of the church to change the rite, and in a sermon preached in September, 1832, explained his objections to it, and, because he could not honestly administer it, resigned.
He parted from his people in all kindness, but the wrench was felt. His wife had recently died, he was ill himself, his life seemed to others broken up. But meantime voices from far away had reached him. He sailed for Europe, landed in Italy, saw cities, and art, and men, but would not stay long. Of the dead, Michael Angelo appealed chiefly to him there; Landor among the living. He soon passed northward, making little stay in Paris, but sought out Carlyle, then hardly recognized, and living in the lonely hills of the Scottish Border. There began a friendship which had great influence on the lives of both men, and lasted through life. He also visited Wordsworth. But the new life before him called him home.
He landed at Boston within the year in good health and hope, and joined his mother and youngest brother Charles in Newton. Frequent invitations to preach still came, and were accepted, and he even was sounded as to succeeding Dr. Dewey in the church at New Bedford; but, as he stipulated for freedom from ceremonial, this came to nothing.
In the autumn of 1834 he moved to Concord, living with his kinsman, Dr. Ripley, at the Manse, but soon bought house and land on the Boston Road, on the edge of the village towards Walden woods. Thither, in the autumn, he brought his wife. Miss Lidian Jackson, of Plymouth, and this was their home during the rest of their lives.
The new life to which he had been called opened pleasantly and increased in happiness and opportunity, except for the sadness of bereavements, for, in the first few years, his brilliant brothers Edward and Charles died, and soon afterward Waldo, his firstborn son, and later his mother. Emerson had left traditional religion, the city, the Old World, behind, and now went to Nature as his teacher, his inspiration. His first book, “Nature,” which he was meditating while in Europe, was finished here, and published in 1836. His practice during all his life in Concord was to go alone to the woods almost daily, sometimes to wait there for hours, and, when thus attuned, to receive the message to which he was to give voice. Though it might be colored by him in transmission, he held that the light was universal.
“Ever the words of the Gods resound, But the porches of man’s ear
Seldom in this low life’s round
Are unsealed that he may hear.”
But he resorted, also, to the books of those who had handed down the oracles truly, and was quick to find the message destined for him. Men, too, he studied eagerly, the humblest and the highest, regretting always that the brand of the scholar on him often silenced the men of shop and office where he came. He was everywhere a learner, expecting light from the youngest and least educated visitor. The thoughts combined with the flower of his reading were gradually grouped into lectures, and his main occupation through life was reading these to who would hear, at first in courses in Boston, but later all over the country, for the Lyceum sprang up in New England in these years in every town, and spread westward to the new settlements even beyond the Mississippi. His winters were spent in these rough, but to him interesting journeys, for he loved to watch the growth of the Republic in which he had faith, and his summers were spent in study and writing. These lectures were later severely pruned and revised, and the best of them gathered into seven volumes of essays under different names between 1841 and 1876. The courses in Boston, which at first were given in the Masonic Temple, were always well attended by earnest and thoughtful people. The young, whether in years or in spirit, were always and to the end his audience of the spoken or written word. The freedom of the Lyceum platform pleased Emerson. He found that people would hear on Wednesday with approval and unsuspectingly doctrines from which on Sunday they felt officially obliged to dissent.
Mr. Lowell, in his essays, has spoken of these early lectures and what they were worth to him and others suffering from the generous discontent of youth with things as they were. Emerson used to say, “My strength and my doom is to be solitary;” but to a retired scholar a wholesome offset to this was the travelling and lecturing in cities and in raw frontier towns, bringing him into touch with the people, and this he knew and valued.
In 1837 Emerson gave the Phi Beta Kappa oration in Cambridge, The American Scholar, which increased his growing reputation, but the following year his Address to the Senior Class at the Divinity School brought out, even from the friendly Unitarians, severe strictures and warnings against its dangerous doctrines. Of this heresy Emerson said: “I deny personality to God because it is too little, not too much.” He really strove to elevate the idea of God. Yet those who were pained or shocked by his teachings respected Emerson. His lectures were still in demand; he was often asked to speak by literary societies at orthodox colleges. He preached regularly at East Lexington until 1838, but thereafter withdrew from the ministerial office. At this time the progressive and spiritually minded young people used to meet for discussion and help in Boston, among them George Ripley, Cyrus Bartol, James Freeman Clarke, Alcott, Dr. Hedge, Margaret Fuller, and Elizabeth Peabody. Perhaps from this gathering of friends, which Emerson attended, came what is called the Transcendental Movement, two results of which were the Brook Farm Community and the Dial magazine, in which last Emerson took great interest, and was for the time an editor. Many of these friends were frequent visitors in Concord. Alcott moved thither after the breaking up of his school. Hawthorne also came to dwell there. Henry Thoreau, a Concord youth, greatly interested Emerson; indeed, became for a year or two a valued inmate of his home, and helped and instructed him in the labors of the garden and little farm, which gradually grew to ten acres, the chief interest of which for the owner was his trees, which he loved and tended. Emerson helped introduce his countrymen to the teachings of Carlyle, and edited his works here, where they found more readers than at home.
In 1847 Emerson was invited to read lectures in England, and remained abroad a year, visiting France also in her troublous times. English Traits was a result. Just before this journey he had collected and published his poems. A later volume, called May Day, followed in 1867. He had written verses from childhood, and to the purified expression of poetry he, through life, eagerly aspired. He said, “I like my poems best because it is not I who write them.” In 1866 the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred on him by Harvard University, and he was chosen an Overseer. In 1867 he again gave the Phi Beta Kappa oration, and in 1870 and 1871 gave courses in Philosophy in the University Lectures at Cambridge.
Emerson was not merely a man of letters. He recognized and did the private and public duties of the hour. He exercised a wide hospitality to souls as well as bodies. Eager youths came to him for rules, and went away with light. Reformers, wise and unwise, came to him, and were kindly received. They were often disappointed that they could not harness him to their partial and transient scheme. He said, My reforms include theirs: I must go my way; help people by my strength, not by my weakness. But if a storm threatened, he felt bound to appear and show his colors. Against the crying evils of his time he worked bravely in his own way. He wrote to President Van Buren against the wrong done to the Cherokees, dared speak against the idolized Webster, when he deserted the cause of Freedom, constantly spoke of the iniquity of slavery, aided with speech and money the Free State cause in Kansas, was at Phillips’s side at the antislavery meeting in 1861 broken up by the Boston mob, urged emancipation during the war.
He enjoyed his Concord home and neighbors, served on the school committee for years, did much for the Lyceum, and spoke on the town’s great occasions. He went to all town-meetings, oftener to listen and admire than to speak, and always took pleasure and pride in the people. In return he was respected and loved by them.
Emerson’s house was destroyed by fire in 1872, and the incident exposure and fatigue did him harm. His many friends insisted on rebuilding his house and sending him abroad to get well. He went up the Nile, and revisited England, finding old and new friends, and, on his return, was welcomed and escorted home by the people of Concord. After this time he was unable to write. His old age was quiet and happy among his family and friends. He died in April, 1882.
EDWARD W. EMERSON.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home: Thou art not my friend, and I’m not thine. Long through thy weary crowds I roam;
A river-ark on the ocean brine,
Long I’ve been tossed like the driven foam: But now, proud world! I’m going home.
Good-bye to Flattery’s fawning face;
To Grandeur with his wise grimace;
To upstart Wealth’s averted eye;
To supple Office, low and high;
To crowded halls, to court and street; To frozen hearts and hasting feet;
To those who go, and those who come; Good-bye, proud world! I’m going home.
I am going to my own hearth-stone,
Bosomed in yon green hills alone,– secret nook in a pleasant land,
Whose groves the frolic fairies planned; Where arches green, the livelong day,
Echo the blackbird’s roundelay,
And vulgar feet have never trod
A spot that is sacred to thought and God.
O, when I am safe in my sylvan home,
I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome; And when I am stretched beneath the pines, Where the evening star so holy shines,
I laugh at the lore and the pride of man, At the sophist schools and the learned clan; For what are they all, in their high conceit, When man in the bush with God may meet?
EACH AND ALL
Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm, Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon, Deems not that great Napoleon
Stops his horse, and lists with delight, Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height; Nor knowest thou what argument
Thy life to thy neighbor’s creed has lent. All are needed by each one;
Nothing is fair or good alone.
I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven, Singing at dawn on the alder bough;
I brought him home, in his nest, at even; He sings the song, but it cheers not now, For I did not bring home the river and sky;– He sang to my ear,–they sang to my eye. The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam,
I fetched my sea-born treasures home; But the poor, unsightly, noisome things
Had left their beauty on the shore
With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar. The lover watched his graceful maid,
As ‘mid the virgin train she strayed, Nor knew her beauty’s best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir. At last she came to his hermitage,
Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage;– The gay enchantment was undone,
A gentle wife, but fairy none.
Then I said, ‘I covet truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood’s cheat; I leave it behind with the games of youth:’– As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath, Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet’s breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine-cones and acorns lay on the ground; Over me soared the eternal sky.
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;– Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.
I like a church; I like a cowl;
I love a prophet of the soul;
And on my heart monastic aisles
Fall like sweet strains, or pensive smiles Yet not for all his faith can see
Would I that cowled churchman be.
Why should the vest on him allure,
Which I could not on me endure?
Not from a vain or shallow thought
His awful Jove young Phidias brought; Never from lips of cunning fell
The thrilling Delphic oracle;
Out from the heart of nature rolled The burdens of the Bible old;
The litanies of nations came,
Like the volcano’s tongue of flame, Up from the burning core below,–
The canticles of love and woe:
The hand that rounded Peter’s dome
And groined the aisles of Christian Rome Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free; He builded better than he knew;–
The conscious stone to beauty grew.
Know’st thou what wove yon woodbird’s nest Of leaves, and feathers from her breast? Or how the fish outbuilt her shell,
Painting with morn each annual cell? Or how the sacred pine-tree adds
To her old leaves new myriads?
Such and so grew these holy piles,
Whilst love and terror laid the tiles. Earth proudly wears the Parthenon,
As the best gem upon her zone,
And Morning opes with haste her lids To gaze upon the Pyramids;
O’er England’s abbeys bends the sky, As on its friends, with kindred eye;
For out of Thought’s interior sphere These wonders rose to upper air;
And Nature gladly gave them place,
Adopted them into her race,
And granted them an equal date
With Andes and with Ararat.
These temples grew as grows the grass; Art might obey, but not surpass.
The passive Master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o’er him planned; And the same power that reared the shrine Bestrode the tribes that knelt within.
Ever the fiery Pentecost
Girds with one flame the countless host, Trances the heart through chanting choirs, And through the priest the mind inspires. The word unto the prophet spoken
Was writ on tables yet unbroken;
The word by seers or sibyls told,
In groves of oak, or fanes of gold, Still floats upon the morning wind,
Still whispers to the willing mind. One accent of the Holy Ghost
The heedless world hath never lost. I know what say the fathers wise,–
The Book itself before me lies,
Old _Chrysostom_, best Augustine,
And he who blent both in his line,
The younger _Golden Lips_ or mines, Taylor, the Shakspeare of divines.
His words are music in my ear,
I see his cowled portrait dear;
And yet, for all his faith could see, I would not the good bishop be.
Thee, dear friend, a brother soothes, Not with flatteries, but truths,
Which tarnish not, but purify
To light which dims the morning’s eye. I have come from the spring-woods,
From the fragrant solitudes;–
Listen what the poplar-tree
And murmuring waters counselled me.
If with love thy heart has burned;
If thy love is unreturned;
Hide thy grief within thy breast,
Though it tear thee unexpressed;
For when love has once departed
From the eyes of the false-hearted, And one by one has torn off quite
The bandages of purple light;
Though thou wert the loveliest
Form the soul had ever dressed,
Thou shalt seem, in each reply,
A vixen to his altered eye;
Thy softest pleadings seem too bold, Thy praying lute will seem to scold;
Though thou kept the straightest road, Yet thou errest far and broad.
But thou shalt do as do the gods
In their cloudless periods;
For of this lore be thou sure,–
Though thou forget, the gods, secure, Forget never their command,
But make the statute of this land.
As they lead, so follow all,
Ever have done, ever shall.
Warning to the blind and deaf,
‘T is written on the iron leaf,
_Who drinks of Cupid’s nectar cup_
_Loveth downward, and not up;_
He who loves, of gods or men,
Shall not by the same be loved again; His sweetheart’s idolatry
Falls, in turn, a new degree.
When a god is once beguiled
By beauty of a mortal child
And by her radiant youth delighted, He is not fooled, but warily knoweth
His love shall never be requited.
And thus the wise Immortal doeth,– ‘T is his study and delight
To bless that creature day and night; From all evils to defend her;
In her lap to pour all splendor;
To ransack earth for riches rare,
And fetch her stars to deck her hair: He mixes music with her thoughts,
And saddens her with heavenly doubts: All grace, all good his great heart knows, Profuse in love, the king bestows,
Saying, ‘Hearken! Earth, Sea, Air!
This monument of my despair
Build I to the All-Good, All-Fair.
Not for a private good,
But I, from my beatitude,
Albeit scorned as none was scorned, Adorn her as was none adorned.
I make this maiden an ensample
To Nature, through her kingdoms ample, Whereby to model newer races,
Statelier forms and fairer faces;
To carry man to new degrees
Of power and of comeliness.
These presents be the hostages
Which I pawn for my release.
See to thyself, O Universe!
Thou art better, and not worse.’–
And the god, having given all,
Is freed forever from his thrall.
Askest, ‘How long thou shalt stay?’
Devastator of the day!
Know, each substance and relation,
Thorough nature’s operation,
Hath its unit, bound and metre;
And every new compound
Is some product and repeater,–
Product of the earlier found.
But the unit of the visit,
The encounter of the wise,–
Say, what other metre is it
Than the meeting of the eyes?
Nature poureth into nature
Through the channels of that feature, Riding on the ray of sight,
Fleeter far than whirlwinds go,
Or for service, or delight,
Hearts to hearts their meaning show, Sum their long experience,
And import intelligence.
Single look has drained the breast; Single moment years confessed.
The duration of a glance
Is the term of convenance,
And, though thy rede be church or state, Frugal multiples of that.
Speeding Saturn cannot halt;
Linger,–thou shalt rue the fault:
If Love his moment overstay,
Hatred’s swift repulsions play.
It fell in the ancient periods
Which the brooding soul surveys,
Or ever the wild Time coined itself Into calendar months and days.
This was the lapse of Uriel,
Which in Paradise befell.
Once, among the Pleiads walking,
Seyd overheard the young gods talking; And the treason, too long pent,
To his ears was evident.
The young deities discussed
Laws of form, and metre just,
Orb, quintessence, and sunbeams,
What subsisteth, and what seems.
One, with low tones that decide,
And doubt and reverend use defied,
With a look that solved the sphere, And stirred the devils everywhere,
Gave his sentiment divine
Against the being of a line.
‘Line in nature is not found;
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced, all rays return;
Evil will bless, and ice will burn.’ As Uriel spoke with piercing eye,
A shudder ran around the sky;
The stern old war-gods shook their heads, The seraphs frowned from myrtle-beds;
Seemed to the holy festival
The rash word boded ill to all;
The balance-beam of Fate was bent;
The bounds of good and ill were rent; Strong Hades could not keep his own,
But all slid to confusion.
A sad self-knowledge, withering, fell On the beauty of Uriel;
In heaven once eminent, the god
Withdrew, that hour, into his cloud; Whether doomed to long gyration
In the sea of generation,
Or by knowledge grown too bright
To hit the nerve of feebler sight.
Straightway, a forgetting wind
Stole over the celestial kind,
And their lips the secret kept,
If in ashes the fire-seed slept.
But now and then, truth-speaking things Shamed the angels’ veiling wings;
And, shrilling from the solar course, Or from fruit of chemic force,
Procession of a soul in matter,
Or the speeding change of water,
Or out of the good of evil born,
Came Uriel’s voice of cherub scorn, And a blush tinged the upper sky,
And the gods shook, they knew not why.
Thanks to the morning light,
Thanks to the foaming sea,
To the uplands of New Hampshire,
To the green-haired forest free;
Thanks to each man of courage,
To the maids of holy mind,
To the boy with his games undaunted Who never looks behind.
Cities of proud hotels,
Houses of rich and great,
Vice nestles in your chambers,
Beneath your roofs of slate.
It cannot conquer folly,–
Time-and-space-conquering steam,– And the light-outspeeding telegraph
Bears nothing on its beam.
The politics are base;
The letters do not cheer;
And ’tis far in the deeps of history, The voice that speaketh clear.
Trade and the streets ensnare us,
Our bodies are weak and worn;
We plot and corrupt each other,
And we despoil the unborn.
Yet there in the parlor sits
Some figure of noble guise,–
Our angel, in a stranger’s form,
Or woman’s pleading eyes;
Or only a flashing sunbeam
In at the window-pane;
Or Music pours on mortals
Its beautiful disdain.
The inevitable morning
Finds them who in cellars be;
And be sure the all-loving Nature
Will smile in a factory.
Yon ridge of purple landscape,
Yon sky between the walls,
Hold all the hidden wonders
In scanty intervals.
Alas! the Sprite that haunts us
Deceives our rash desire;
It whispers of the glorious gods,
And leaves us in the mire.
We cannot learn the cipher
That’s writ upon our cell;
Stars taunt us by a mystery
Which we could never spell.
If but one hero knew it,
The world would blush in flame;
The sage, till he hit the secret,
Would hang his head for shame.
Our brothers have not read it,
Not one has found the key;
And henceforth we are comforted,–
We are but such as they.
Still, still the secret presses;
The nearing clouds draw down;
The crimson morning flames into
The fopperies of the town.
Within, without the idle earth,
Stars weave eternal rings;
The sun himself shines heartily,
And shares the joy he brings.
And what if Trade sow cities
Like shells along the shore,
And thatch with towns the prairie broad With railways ironed o’er?–
They are but sailing foam-bells
Along Thought’s causing stream,
And take their shape and sun-color
From him that sends the dream.
For Destiny never swerves
Nor yields to men the helm;
He shoots his thought, by hidden nerves, Throughout the solid realm.
The patient Daemon sits,
With roses and a shroud;
He has his way, and deals his gifts,– But ours is not allowed.
He is no churl nor trifler,
And his viceroy is none,–
Of Genius sire and son.
And his will is not thwarted;
The seeds of land and sea
Are the atoms of his body bright,
And his behest obey.
He serveth the servant,
The brave he loves amain;
He kills the cripple and the sick,
And straight begins again;
For gods delight in gods,
And thrust the weak aside;
To him who scorns their charities
Their arms fly open wide.
When the old world is sterile
And the ages are effete,
He will from wrecks and sediment
The fairer world complete.
He forbids to despair;
His cheeks mantle with mirth;
And the unimagined good of men
Is yeaning at the birth.
Spring still makes spring in the mind When sixty years are told;
Love wakes anew this throbbing heart, And we are never old;
Over the winter glaciers
I see the summer glow,
And through the wild-piled snow-drift The warm rosebuds below.
The Sphinx is drowsy,
Her wings are furled:
Her ear is heavy,
She broods on the world.
“Who’ll tell me my secret,
The ages have kept?–
I awaited the seer
While they slumbered and slept:–
“The fate of the man-child,
The meaning of man;
Known fruit of the unknown;
Out of sleeping a waking,
Out of waking a sleep;
Life death overtaking;
Deep underneath deep?
“Erect as a sunbeam,
Upspringeth the palm;
The elephant browses,
Undaunted and calm;
In beautiful motion
The thrush plies his wings;
Kind leaves of his covert,
Your silence he sings.
“The waves, unashamed,
In difference sweet,
Play glad with the breezes,
Old playfellows meet;
The journeying atoms,
Firmly draw, firmly drive,
By their animate poles.
“Sea, earth, air, sound, silence.
Plant, quadruped, bird,
By one music enchanted,
One deity stirred,–
Each the other adorning,
Night veileth the morning,
The vapor the hill.
“The babe by its mother
Lies bathed in joy;
Glide its hours uncounted,–
The sun is its toy;
Shines the peace of all being,
Without cloud, in its eyes;
And the sum of the world
In soft miniature lies.
“But man crouches and blushes,
Absconds and conceals;
He creepeth and peepeth,
He palters and steals;
Jealous glancing around,
An oaf, an accomplice,
He poisons the ground.
“Out spoke the great mother,
Beholding his fear;–
At the sound of her accents
Cold shuddered the sphere:–
‘Who has drugged my boy’s cup?
Who has mixed my boy’s bread?
Who, with sadness and madness,
Has turned my child’s head?'”
I heard a poet answer
Aloud and cheerfully,
‘Say on, sweet Sphinx! thy dirges
Are pleasant songs to me.
Deep love lieth under
These pictures of time;
They fade in the light of
Their meaning sublime.
“The fiend that man harries
Is love of the Best;
Yawns the pit of the Dragon,
Lit by rays from the Blest.
The Lethe of Nature
Can’t trance him again,
Whose soul sees the perfect,
Which his eyes seek in vain.
“To vision profounder,
Man’s spirit must dive;
His aye-rolling orb
At no goal will arrive;
The heavens that now draw him
With sweetness untold,
Once found,–for new heavens
He spurneth the old.
“Pride ruined the angels,
Their shame them restores;
Lurks the joy that is sweetest
In stings of remorse.
Have I a lover
Who is noble and free?–
I would he were nobler
Than to love me.
Now follows, now flies;
And under pain, pleasure,–
Under pleasure, pain lies.
Love works at the centre,
Forth speed the strong pulses
To the borders of day.
“Dull Sphinx, Jove keep thy five wits; Thy sight is growing blear;
Rue, myrrh and cummin for the Sphinx, Her muddy eyes to clear!”
The old Sphinx bit her thick lip,– Said, “Who taught thee me to name?
I am thy spirit, yoke-fellow;
Of thine eye I am eyebeam.
“Thou art the unanswered question;
Couldst see thy proper eye,
Alway it asketh, asketh;
And each answer is a lie.
So take thy quest through nature,
It through thousand natures ply;
Ask on, thou clothed eternity;
Time is the false reply.”
Uprose the merry Sphinx,
And crouched no more in stone;
She melted into purple cloud,
She silvered in the moon;
She spired into a yellow flame;
She flowered in blossoms red;
She flowed into a foaming wave:
She stood Monadnoc’s head.
Thorough a thousand voices
Spoke the universal dame;
“Who telleth one of my meanings
Is master of all I am.”
ALPHONSO OF CASTILE
I, Alphonso, live and learn,
Seeing Nature go astern.
Things deteriorate in kind;
Lemons run to leaves and rind;
Meagre crop of figs and limes;
Shorter days and harder times.
Flowering April cools and dies
In the insufficient skies.
Imps, at high midsummer, blot
Half the sun’s disk with a spot;
‘Twill not now avail to tan
Orange cheek or skin of man.
Roses bleach, the goats are dry,
Lisbon quakes, the people cry.
Yon pale, scrawny fisher fools,
Gaunt as bitterns in the pools,
Are no brothers of my blood;–
They discredit Adamhood.
Eyes of gods! ye must have seen,
O’er your ramparts as ye lean,
The general debility;
Of genius the sterility;
Mighty projects countermanded;
Rash ambition, brokenhanded;
Puny man and scentless rose
Tormenting Pan to double the dose.
Rebuild or ruin: either fill
Of vital force the wasted rill,
Or tumble all again in heap
To weltering Chaos and to sleep.
Say, Seigniors, are the old Niles dry, Which fed the veins of earth and sky,
That mortals miss the loyal heats,
Which drove them erst to social feats; Now, to a savage selfness grown,
Think nature barely serves for one; With science poorly mask their hurt;
And vex the gods with question pert, Immensely curious whether you
Still are rulers, or Mildew?
Masters, I’m in pain with you;
Masters, I’ll be plain with you;
In my palace of Castile,
I, a king, for kings can feel.
There my thoughts the matter roll,
And solve and oft resolve the whole. And, for I’m styled Alphonse the Wise,
Ye shall not fail for sound advice. Before ye want a drop of rain,
Hear the sentiment of Spain.
You have tried famine: no more try it; Ply us now with a full diet;
Teach your pupils now with plenty,
For one sun supply us twenty.
I have thought it thoroughly over,– State of hermit, state of lover;
We must have society,
We cannot spare variety.
Hear you, then, celestial fellows!
Fits not to be overzealous;
Steads not to work on the clean jump, Nor wine nor brains perpetual pump.
Men and gods are too extense;
Could you slacken and condense?
Your rank overgrowths reduce
Till your kinds abound with juice?
Earth, crowded, cries, ‘Too many men!’ My counsel is, kill nine in ten,
And bestow the shares of all
On the remnant decimal.
Add their nine lives to this cat;
Stuff their nine brains in one hat; Make his frame and forces square
With the labors he must dare;
Thatch his flesh, and even his years With the marble which he rears.
There, growing slowly old at ease
No faster than his planted trees,
He may, by warrant of his age,
In schemes of broader scope engage. So shall ye have a man of the sphere
Fit to grace the solar year.
I cannot spare water or wine,
Tobacco-leaf, or poppy, or rose;
From the earth-poles to the Line,
All between that works or grows,
Every thing is kin of mine.
Give me agates for my meat;
Give me cantharids to eat;
From air and ocean bring me foods,
From all zones and altitudes;–
From all natures, sharp and slimy,
Salt and basalt, wild and tame:
Tree and lichen, ape, sea-lion,
Bird, and reptile, be my game.
Ivy for my fillet band;
Blinding dog-wood in my hand;
Hemlock for my sherbet cull me,
And the prussic juice to lull me;
Swing me in the upas boughs,
Vampyre-fanned, when I carouse.
Too long shut in strait and few,
Thinly dieted on dew,
I will use the world, and sift it,
To a thousand humors shift it,
As you spin a cherry.
O doleful ghosts, and goblins merry! O all you virtues, methods, mights,
Means, appliances, delights,
Reputed wrongs and braggart rights, Smug routine, and things allowed,
Minorities, things under cloud!
Hither! take me, use me, fill me,
Vein and artery, though ye kill me!
Set not thy foot on graves;
Hear what wine and roses say;
The mountain chase, the summer waves, The crowded town, thy feet may well delay.
Set not thy foot on graves;
Nor seek to unwind the shroud
Which charitable Time
And Nature have allowed
To wrap the errors of a sage sublime.
Set not thy foot on graves;
Care not to strip the dead
Of his sad ornament,
His myrrh, and wine, and rings,
His sheet of lead,
And trophies buried:
Go, get them where he earned them when alive; As resolutely dig or dive.
Life is too short to waste
In critic peep or cynic bark,
Quarrel or reprimand:
‘T will soon be dark;
Up! mind thine own aim, and
God speed the mark!
That you are fair or wise is vain,
Or strong, or rich, or generous;
You must add the untaught strain
That sheds beauty on the rose.
There’s a melody born of melody,
Which melts the world into a sea.
Toil could never compass it;
Art its height could never hit;
It came never out of wit;
But a music music-born
Well may Jove and Juno scorn.
Thy beauty, if it lack the fire
Which drives me mad with sweet desire, What boots it? What the soldier’s mail,
Unless he conquer and prevail?
What all the goods thy pride which lift, If thou pine for another’s gift?
Alas! that one is born in blight,
Victim of perpetual slight:
When thou lookest on his face,
Thy heart saith, ‘Brother, go thy ways! None shall ask thee what thou doest,
Or care a rush for what thou knowest, Or listen when thou repliest,
Or remember where thou liest,
Or how thy supper is sodden;’
And another is born
To make the sun forgotten.
Surely he carries a talisman
Under his tongue;
Broad his shoulders are and strong; And his eye is scornful,
Threatening and young.
I hold it of little matter
Whether your jewel be of pure water, A rose diamond or a white,
But whether it dazzle me with light. I care not how you are dressed,
In coarsest weeds or in the best;
Nor whether your name is base or brave: Nor for the fashion of your behavior;
But whether you charm me,
Bid my bread feed and my fire warm me And dress up Nature in your favor.
One thing is forever good;
That one thing is Success,–
Dear to the Eumenides,
And to all the heavenly brood.
Who bides at home, nor looks abroad, Carries the eagles, and masters the sword.
Mortal mixed of middle clay,
Attempered to the night and day,
Interchangeable with things,
Needs no amulets nor rings.
Guy possessed the talisman
That all things from him began;
And as, of old, Polycrates
Chained the sunshine and the breeze, So did Guy betimes discover
Fortune was his guard and lover;
In strange junctures, felt, with awe, His own symmetry with law;
That no mixture could withstand
The virtue of his lucky hand.
He gold or jewel could not lose,
Nor not receive his ample dues.
Fearless Guy had never foes,
He did their weapons decompose.
Aimed at him, the blushing blade
Healed as fast the wounds it made.
If on the foeman fell his gaze,
Him it would straightway blind or craze, In the street, if he turned round,
His eye the eye ‘t was seeking found.
It seemed his Genius discreet
Worked on the Maker’s own receipt,
And made each tide and element
Stewards of stipend and of rent;
So that the common waters fell
As costly wine into his well.
He had so sped his wise affairs
That he caught Nature in his snares. Early or late, the falling rain
Arrived in time to swell his grain; Stream could not so perversely wind
But corn of Guy’s was there to grind: The siroc found it on its way,
To speed his sails, to dry his hay; And the world’s sun seemed to rise
To drudge all day for Guy the wise. In his rich nurseries, timely skill
Strong crab with nobler blood did fill; The zephyr in his garden rolled
From plum-trees vegetable gold;
And all the hours of the year
With their own harvest honored were. There was no frost but welcome came,
Nor freshet, nor midsummer flame.
Belonged to wind and world the toil And venture, and to Guy the oil.
Bulkeley, Hunt, Willard, Hosmer, Meriam, Flint, Possessed the land which rendered to their toil Hay, corn, roots, hemp, flax, apples, wool and wood. Each of these landlords walked amidst his farm, Saying, ”Tis mine, my children’s and my name’s. How sweet the west wind sounds in my own trees! How graceful climb those shadows on my hill! I fancy these pure waters and the flags
Know me, as does my dog: we sympathize; And, I affirm, my actions smack of the soil.’
Where are these men? Asleep beneath their grounds: And strangers, fond as they, their furrows plough. Earth laughs in flowers, to see her boastful boys Earth-proud, proud of the earth which is not theirs; Who steer the plough, but cannot steer their feet Clear of the grave.
They added ridge to valley, brook to pond, And sighed for all that bounded their domain; ‘This suits me for a pasture; that’s my park; We must have clay, lime, gravel, granite-ledge, And misty lowland, where to go for peat. The land is well,–lies fairly to the south. ‘Tis good, when you have crossed the sea and back, To find the sitfast acres where you left them.’ Ah! the hot owner sees not Death, who adds Him to his land, a lump of mould the more. Hear what the Earth says:–
‘Mine and yours;
Mine, not yours.
Shine down in the old sea;
Old are the shores;
But where are old men?
I who have seen much,
Such have I never seen.
‘The lawyer’s deed
To them, and to their heirs
Who shall succeed,
‘Here is the land,
Shaggy with wood,
With its old valley,
Mound and flood.
But the heritors?–
Fled like the flood’s foam.
The lawyer, and the laws,
And the kingdom,
Clean swept herefrom.
‘They called me theirs,
Who so controlled me;
Yet every one
Wished to stay, and is gone,
How am I theirs,
If they cannot hold me,
But I hold them?’
When I heard the Earth-song
I was no longer brave;
My avarice cooled
Like lust in the chill of the grave.
ON BEING ASKED, WHENCE IS THE FLOWER?
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook, To please the desert and the sluggish brook. The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay; Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool. And court the flower that cheapens his array. Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then Beauty is its own excuse for being: Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose! I never thought to ask, I never knew:
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.
Burly, dozing humble-bee,
Where thou art is clime for me.
Let them sail for Porto Rique,
Far-off heats through seas to seek; I will follow thee alone,
Thou animated torrid-zone!
Zigzag steerer, desert cheerer,
Let me chase thy waving lines;
Keep me nearer, me thy hearer,
Singing over shrubs and vines.
Insect lover of the sun,
Joy of thy dominion!
Sailor of the atmosphere;
Swimmer through the waves of air;
Voyager of light and noon;
Epicurean of June;
Wait, I prithee, till I come
Within earshot of thy hum,–
All without is martyrdom.
When the south wind, in May days,
With a net of shining haze
Silvers the horizon wall,
And with softness touching all,
Tints the human countenance
With a color of romance,
And infusing subtle heats,
Turns the sod to violets,
Thou, in sunny solitudes,
Rover of the underwoods,
The green silence dost displace
With thy mellow, breezy bass.
Hot midsummer’s petted crone,
Sweet to me thy drowsy tone
Tells of countless sunny hours,
Long days, and solid banks of flowers; Of gulfs of sweetness without bound
In Indian wildernesses found;
Of Syrian peace, immortal leisure,
Firmest cheer, and bird-like pleasure.
Aught unsavory or unclean
Hath my insect never seen;
But violets and bilberry bells,
Maple-sap and daffodels,
Grass with green flag half-mast high, Succory to match the sky,
Columbine with horn of honey,
Scented fern, and agrimony,
Clover, catchfly, adder’s-tongue
And brier-roses, dwelt among;
All beside was unknown waste,
All was picture as he passed.
Wiser far than human seer,
Seeing only what is fair,
Sipping only what is sweet,
Thou dost mock at fate and care,
Leave the chaff, and take the wheat. When the fierce northwestern blast
Cools sea and land so far and fast, Thou already slumberest deep;
Woe and want thou canst outsleep;
Want and woe, which torture us,
Thy sleep makes ridiculous.
‘May be true what I had heard,–
Earth’s a howling wilderness,
Truculent with fraud and force,’
Said I, strolling through the pastures, And along the river-side.
Caught among the blackberry vines,
Feeding on the Ethiops sweet,
Pleasant fancies overtook me.
I said, ‘What influence me preferred, Elect, to dreams thus beautiful?’
The vines replied, ‘And didst thou deem No wisdom from our berries went?’
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields, Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven, And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end. The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.
Come see the north wind’s masonry.
Out of an unseen quarry
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer Curves his white bastions with projected roof Round every windward stake, or tree, or door. Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly, On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths; A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn; Fills up the farmer’s lane from wall to wall, Maugre the farmer’s sighs; and at the gate A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world Is all his own, retiring, as he were not, Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art To mimic in slow structures, stone by stone, Built in an age, the mad wind’s night-work, The frolic architecture of the snow.
When the pine tosses its cones
To the song of its waterfall tones, Who speeds to the woodland walks?
To birds and trees who talks?
Caesar of his leafy Rome,
There the poet is at home.
He goes to the river-side,–
Not hook nor line hath he;
He stands in the meadows wide,–
Nor gun nor scythe to see.
Sure some god his eye enchants:
What he knows nobody wants.
In the wood he travels glad,
Without better fortune had,
Melancholy without bad.
Knowledge this man prizes best
Seems fantastic to the rest:
Pondering shadows, colors, clouds,
Grass-buds and caterpillar-shrouds, Boughs on which the wild bees settle,
Tints that spot the violet’s petal, Why Nature loves the number five,
And why the star-form she repeats:
Lover of all things alive,
Wonderer at all he meets,
Wonderer chiefly at himself,
Who can tell him what he is?
Or how meet in human elf
Coming and past eternities?
And such I knew, a forest seer,
A minstrel of the natural year,
Foreteller of the vernal ides,
Wise harbinger of spheres and tides, A lover true, who knew by heart
Each joy the mountain dales impart; It seemed that Nature could not raise
A plant in any secret place,
In quaking bog, on snowy hill,
Beneath the grass that shades the rill, Under the snow, between the rocks,
In damp fields known to bird and fox. But he would come in the very hour
It opened in its virgin bower,
As if a sunbeam showed the place,
And tell its long-descended race.
It seemed as if the breezes brought him, It seemed as if the sparrows taught him; As if by secret sight he knew
Where, in far fields, the orchis grew. Many haps fall in the field
Seldom seen by wishful eyes,
But all her shows did Nature yield, To please and win this pilgrim wise.
He saw the partridge drum in the woods; He heard the woodcock’s evening hymn;
He found the tawny thrushes’ broods; And the shy hawk did wait for him;
What others did at distance hear,
And guessed within the thicket’s gloom, Was shown to this philosopher,
And at his bidding seemed to come.
In unploughed Maine he sought the lumberers’ gang Where from a hundred lakes young rivers sprang; He trode the unplanted forest floor, whereon The all-seeing sun for ages hath not shone; Where feeds the moose, and walks the surly bear, And up the tall mast runs the woodpecker. He saw beneath dim aisles, in odorous beds, The slight Linnaea hang its twin-born heads, And blessed the monument of the man of flowers, Which breathes his sweet fame through the northern bowers. He heard, when in the grove, at intervals, With sudden roar the aged pine-tree falls,– One crash, the death-hymn of the perfect tree, Declares the close of its green century. Low lies the plant to whose creation went Sweet influence from every element;
Whose living towers the years conspired to build, Whose giddy top the morning loved to gild. Through these green tents, by eldest Nature dressed, He roamed, content alike with man and beast. Where darkness found him he lay glad at night; There the red morning touched him with its light. Three moons his great heart him a hermit made, So long he roved at will the boundless shade. The timid it concerns to ask their way,
And fear what foe in caves and swamps can stray, To make no step until the event is known, And ills to come as evils past bemoan.
Not so the wise; no coward watch he keeps To spy what danger on his pathway creeps; Go where he will, the wise man is at home, His hearth the earth,–his hall the azure dome; Where his clear spirit leads him, there’s his road By God’s own light illumined and foreshowed.
‘T was one of the charmed days
When the genius of God doth flow;
The wind may alter twenty ways,
A tempest cannot blow;
It may blow north, it still is warm; Or south, it still is clear;
Or east, it smells like a clover-farm; Or west, no thunder fear.
The musing peasant, lowly great,
Beside the forest water sate;
The rope-like pine-roots crosswise grown Composed the network of his throne;
The wide lake, edged with sand and grass, Was burnished to a floor of glass,
Painted with shadows green and proud Of the tree and of the cloud.
He was the heart of all the scene;
On him the sun looked more serene;
To hill and cloud his face was known,– It seemed the likeness of their own;
They knew by secret sympathy
The public child of earth and sky.
‘You ask,’ he said, ‘what guide
Me through trackless thickets led,
Through thick-stemmed woodlands rough and wide. I found the water’s bed.
The watercourses were my guide;
I travelled grateful by their side, Or through their channel dry;
They led me through the thicket damp, Through brake and fern, the beavers’ camp, Through beds of granite cut my road,
And their resistless friendship showed. The falling waters led me,
The foodful waters fed me,
And brought me to the lowest land,
Unerring to the ocean sand.
The moss upon the forest bark
Was pole-star when the night was dark; The purple berries in the wood
Supplied me necessary food;
For Nature ever faithful is
To such as trust her faithfulness.
When the forest shall mislead me,
When the night and morning lie,
When sea and land refuse to feed me, ‘T will be time enough to die;
Then will yet my mother yield
A pillow in her greenest field,
Nor the June flowers scorn to cover The clay of their departed lover.’
_As sunbeams stream through liberal space_ _And nothing jostle or displace,_
_So waved the pine-tree through my thought_ _And fanned the dreams it never brought._
‘Whether is better, the gift or the donor? Come to me,’
Quoth the pine-tree,
‘I am the giver of honor.
My garden is the cloven rock,
And my manure the snow;
And drifting sand-heaps feed my stock, In summer’s scorching glow.
He is great who can live by me:
The rough and bearded forester
Is better than the lord;
God fills the script and canister,
Sin piles the loaded board.
The lord is the peasant that was,
The peasant the lord that shall be; The lord is hay, the peasant grass,
One dry, and one the living tree.
Who liveth by the ragged pine
Foundeth a heroic line;
Who liveth in the palace hall
Waneth fast and spendeth all.
He goes to my savage haunts,
With his chariot and his care;
My twilight realm he disenchants,
And finds his prison there.
‘What prizes the town and the tower?
Only what the pine-tree yields;
Sinew that subdued the fields;
The wild-eyed boy, who in the woods Chants his hymn to hills and floods,
Whom the city’s poisoning spleen
Made not pale, or fat, or lean;
Whom the rain and the wind purgeth, Whom the dawn and the day-star urgeth,
In whose cheek the rose-leaf blusheth, In whose feet the lion rusheth,
Iron arms, and iron mould,
That know not fear, fatigue, or cold. I give my rafters to his boat,
My billets to his boiler’s throat,
And I will swim the ancient sea
To float my child to victory,
And grant to dwellers with the pine Dominion o’er the palm and vine.
Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend, Unnerves his strength, invites his end.
Cut a bough from my parent stem,
And dip it in thy porcelain vase;
A little while each russet gem
Will swell and rise with wonted grace; But when it seeks enlarged supplies,
The orphan of the forest dies.
Whoso walks in solitude
And inhabiteth the wood,
Choosing light, wave, rock and bird, Before the money-loving herd,
Into that forester shall pass,
From these companions, power and grace. Clean shall he be, without, within,
From the old adhering sin,
All ill dissolving in the light
Of his triumphant piercing sight:
Not vain, sour, nor frivolous;
Not mad, athirst, nor garrulous;
Grave, chaste, contented, though retired, And of all other men desired.
On him the light of star and moon
Shall fall with purer radiance down; All constellations of the sky
Shed their virtue through his eye.
Him Nature giveth for defence
His formidable innocence;
The mounting sap, the shells, the sea, All spheres, all stones, his helpers be; He shall meet the speeding year,
Without wailing, without fear;
He shall be happy in his love,
Like to like shall joyful prove;
He shall be happy whilst he wooes,
Muse-born, a daughter of the Muse.
But if with gold she bind her hair, And deck her breast with diamond,
Take off thine eyes, thy heart forbear, Though thou lie alone on the ground.
‘Heed the old oracles,
Ponder my spells;
Song wakes in my pinnacles
When the wind swells.
Soundeth the prophetic wind,
The shadows shake on the rock behind, And the countless leaves of the pine are strings Tuned to the lay the wood-god sings.
If thou wouldst know the mystic song Chanted when the sphere was young.
Aloft, abroad, the paean swells;
O wise man! hear’st thou half it tells? O wise man! hear’st thou the least part?