The Congo and Other Poems, by Vachel Lindsay

This etext was prepared by Alan R. Light ( The original text was entered (manually) twice, and electronically compared to ensure as clean a copy as practicable. The Congo and Other Poems By Vachel Lindsay The Congo and Other Poems By Vachel Lindsay With an introduction by Harriet Monroe Editor of “Poetry” Introduction. By Harriet
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This etext was prepared by Alan R. Light ( The original text was entered (manually) twice, and electronically compared to ensure as clean a copy as practicable.

The Congo and Other Poems
By Vachel Lindsay [Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Illinois Artist. 1879-1931.]

[Note on text: Due to the distinctions made by the author between emphasis by capitalization and emphasis by use of italics, especially in those poems intended to be read aloud, italicized words, phrases, and sections are marked by asterisks (*). Lines longer than 78 characters are broken, and the continuation is indented two spaces. Also, a great many obvious errors have been corrected. These are mostly errors in punctuation, often inconsistent with other parts of the text — a few were typos.]

[More notes: The `stage-directions’ given in “The Congo” and those poems which are meant to be read aloud, are traditionally printed to the right side of the first line it refers to. This is possible, but impracticable, to imitate in a simple ASCII text. Therefore these `stage-directions’ are given on the line BEFORE the first line they refer to, and are furthermore indented 20 spaces and enclosed by #s to keep it clear to the reader which parts are text and which parts directions.]

[This electronic text was transcribed from a reprint of the original edition, which was first published in New York, in September, 1914. Due to a great deal of irregularity between titles in the table of contents and in the text of the original, there are some slight differences from the original in these matters — with the more complete titles replacing cropped ones. In one case they are different enough that both are given, and “Twenty Poems in which. . . .” was originally “Twenty Moon Poems” in the table of contents — the odd thing about both these titles is that there are actually twenty-TWO moon poems.]

The Congo and Other Poems

By Vachel Lindsay

With an introduction by
Harriet Monroe
Editor of “Poetry”

Introduction. By Harriet Monroe

When `Poetry, A Magazine of Verse’, was first published in Chicago in the autumn of 1912, an Illinois poet, Vachel Lindsay, was, quite appropriately, one of its first discoveries. It may be not quite without significance that the issue of January, 1913, which led off with `General William Booth Enters into Heaven’, immediately followed the number in which the great poet of Bengal, Rabindra Nath Tagore, was first presented to the American public, and that these two antipodal poets soon appeared in person among the earliest visitors to the editor. For the coming together of East and West may prove to be the great event of the approaching era, and if the poetry of the now famous Bengali laureate garners the richest wisdom and highest spirituality of his ancient race, so one may venture to believe that the young Illinois troubadour brings from Lincoln’s city an authentic strain of the lyric message of this newer world.

It is hardly necessary, perhaps, to mention Mr. Lindsay’s loyalty to the people of his place and hour, or the training in sympathy with their aims and ideals which he has achieved through vagabondish wanderings in the Middle West. And we may permit time to decide how far he expresses their emotion. But it may be opportune to emphasize his plea for poetry as a song art, an art appealing to the ear rather than the eye. The first section of this volume is especially an effort to restore poetry to its proper place — the audience-chamber, and take it out of the library, the closet. In the library it has become, so far as the people are concerned, almost a lost art, and perhaps it can be restored to the people only through a renewal of its appeal to the ear.

I am tempted to quote from Mr. Lindsay’s explanatory note which accompanied three of these poems when they were first printed in `Poetry’. He said:

“Mr. Yeats asked me recently in Chicago, `What are we going to do to restore the primitive singing of poetry?’ I find what Mr. Yeats means by `the primitive singing of poetry’ in Professor Edward Bliss Reed’s new volume on `The English Lyric’. He says in his chapter on the definition of the lyric: `With the Greeks “song” was an all-embracing term. It included the crooning of the nurse to the child . . . the half-sung chant of the mower or sailor . . . the formal ode sung by the poet. In all Greek lyrics, even in the choral odes, music was the handmaid of verse. . . . The poet himself composed the accompaniment. Euripides was censured because Iophon had assisted him in the musical setting of some of his dramas.’ Here is pictured a type of Greek work which survives in American vaudeville, where every line may be two-thirds spoken and one-third sung, the entire rendering, musical and elocutionary, depending upon the improvising power and sure instinct of the performer.

“I respectfully submit these poems as experiments in which I endeavor to carry this vaudeville form back towards the old Greek precedent of the half-chanted lyric. In this case the one-third of music must be added by the instinct of the reader. He must be Iophon. And he can easily be Iophon if he brings to bear upon the piece what might be called the Higher Vaudeville imagination. . . .

“Big general contrasts between the main sections should be the rule of the first attempts at improvising. It is the hope of the writer that after two or three readings each line will suggest its own separate touch of melody to the reader who has become accustomed to the cadences. Let him read what he likes read, and sing what he likes sung.”

It was during this same visit in Chicago, at `Poetry’s’ banquet on the evening of March first, 1914, that Mr. Yeats honored Mr. Lindsay by addressing his after-dinner talk primarily to him as “a fellow craftsman”, and by saying of `General Booth’:

“This poem is stripped bare of ornament; it has an earnest simplicity, a strange beauty, and you know Bacon said, `There is no excellent beauty without strangeness.'”

This recognition from the distinguished Irish poet tempts me to hint at the cosmopolitan aspects of such racily local art as Mr. Lindsay’s. The subject is too large for a merely introductory word, but the reader may be invited to reflect upon it. If Mr. Lindsay’s poetry should cross the ocean, it would not be the first time that our most indigenous art has reacted upon the art of older nations. Besides Poe — who, though indigenous in ways too subtle for brief analysis, yet passed all frontiers in his swift, sad flight — the two American artists of widest influence, Whitman and Whistler, have been intensely American in temperament and in the special spiritual quality of their art.

If Whistler was the first great artist to accept the modern message in Oriental art, if Whitman was the first great modern poet to discard the limitations of conventional form: if both were more free, more individual, than their contemporaries, this was the expression of their Americanism, which may perhaps be defined as a spiritual independence and love of adventure inherited from the pioneers. Foreign artists are usually the first to recognize this new tang; one detects the influence of the great dead poet and dead painter in all modern art which looks forward instead of back; and their countrymen, our own contemporary poets and painters, often express indirectly, through French influences, a reaction which they are reluctant to confess directly.

A lighter phase of this foreign enthusiasm for the American tang is confessed by Signor Marinetti, the Italian “futurist”, when in his article on `Futurism and the Theatre’, in `The Mask’, he urges the revolutionary value of “American eccentrics”, citing the fundamental primitive quality in their vaudeville art. This may be another statement of Mr. Lindsay’s plea for a closer relation between the poet and his audience, for a return to the healthier open-air conditions, and immediate personal contacts, in the art of the Greeks and of primitive nations. Such conditions and contacts may still be found, if the world only knew it, in the wonderful song-dances of the Hopis and others of our aboriginal tribes. They may be found, also, in a measure, in the quick response between artist and audience in modern vaudeville. They are destined to a wider and higher influence; in fact, the development of that influence, the return to primitive sympathies between artist and audience, which may make possible once more the assertion of primitive creative power, is recognized as the immediate movement in modern art. It is a movement strong enough to persist in spite of extravagances and absurdities; strong enough, it may be hoped, to fulfil its purpose and revitalize the world.

It is because Mr. Lindsay’s poetry seems to be definitely in that movement that it is, I think, important.

Harriet Monroe.

Table of Contents

Introduction. By Harriet Monroe

First Section

Poems intended to be read aloud, or chanted.

The Congo
The Santa Fe Trail
The Firemen’s Ball
The Master of the Dance
The Mysterious Cat
A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten
Yankee Doodle
The Black Hawk War of the Artists
The Jingo and the Minstrel
I Heard Immanuel Singing

Second Section


An Argument
A Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign In Memory of a Child
Galahad, Knight Who Perished
The Leaden-eyed
An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie The Hearth Eternal
The Soul of the City Receives the Gift of the Holy Spirit By the Spring, at Sunset
I Went down into the Desert
Love and Law
The Perfect Marriage
Darling Daughter of Babylon
The Amaranth
The Alchemist’s Petition
Two Easter Stanzas
The Traveller-heart
The North Star Whispers to the Blacksmith’s Son

Third Section

A Miscellany called “the Christmas Tree”

This Section is a Christmas Tree
The Sun Says his Prayers
Popcorn, Glass Balls, and Cranberries (As it were) I. The Lion
II. An Explanation of the Grasshopper III. The Dangerous Little Boy Fairies
IV. The Mouse that gnawed the Oak-tree Down V. Parvenu
VI. The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly VII. Crickets on a Strike
How a Little Girl Danced
In Praise of Songs that Die
Factory Windows are always Broken
To Mary Pickford
Blanche Sweet
An Apology for the Bottle Volcanic
When Gassy Thompson Struck it Rich
Rhymes for Gloriana
I. The Doll upon the Topmost Bough II. On Suddenly Receiving a Curl Long Refused III. On Receiving One of Gloriana’s Letters IV. In Praise of Gloriana’s Remarkable Golden Hair

Fourth Section

Twenty Poems in which the Moon is the Principal Figure of Speech

Once More — To Gloriana

First Section: Moon Poems for the Children/Fairy-tales for the Children I. Euclid
II. The Haughty Snail-king
III. What the Rattlesnake Said
IV. The Moon’s the North Wind’s Cooky V. Drying their Wings
VI. What the Gray-winged Fairy Said VII. Yet Gentle will the Griffin Be

Second Section: The Moon is a Mirror I. Prologue. A Sense of Humor
II. On the Garden-wall
III. Written for a Musician
IV. The Moon is a Painter
V. The Encyclopaedia
VI. What the Miner in the Desert Said VII. What the Coal-heaver Said
VIII. What the Moon Saw
IX. What Semiramis Said
X. What the Ghost of the Gambler Said XI. The Spice-tree
XII. The Scissors-grinder
XIII. My Lady in her White Silk Shawl XIV. Aladdin and the Jinn
XV. The Strength of the Lonely

Fifth Section
War. September 1, 1914
Intended to be Read Aloud

I. Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
II. A Curse for Kings
III. Who Knows?
IV. To Buddha
V. The Unpardonable Sin
VI. Above the Battle’s Front
VII. Epilogue. Under the Blessing of Your Psyche Wings

First Section

Poems intended to be read aloud, or chanted.

The Congo

A Study of the Negro Race

I. Their Basic Savagery

Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room, Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
# A deep rolling bass. #
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table, Pounded on the table,
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom, Hard as they were able,
Boom, boom, BOOM,
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom, Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision. I could not turn from their revel in derision. # More deliberate. Solemnly chanted. # THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK, CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. Then along that riverbank
A thousand miles
Tattooed cannibals danced in files; Then I heard the boom of the blood-lust song # A rapidly piling climax of speed and racket. # And a thigh-bone beating on a tin-pan gong. And “BLOOD” screamed the whistles and the fifes of the warriors, “BLOOD” screamed the skull-faced, lean witch-doctors, “Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle,
Harry the uplands,
Steal all the cattle,
Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,”
# With a philosophic pause. # A roaring, epic, rag-time tune
From the mouth of the Congo
To the Mountains of the Moon.
Death is an Elephant,
# Shrilly and with a heavily accented metre. # Torch-eyed and horrible,
Foam-flanked and terrible.
BOOM, steal the pygmies,
BOOM, kill the Arabs,
BOOM, kill the white men,
# Like the wind in the chimney. # Listen to the yell of Leopold’s ghost
Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host. Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
Cutting his hands off, down in Hell. Listen to the creepy proclamation,
Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation, Blown past the white-ants’ hill of clay, Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play: — “Be careful what you do,
# All the o sounds very golden. Heavy accents very heavy. Light accents very light. Last line whispered. # Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
And all of the other
Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.”

II. Their Irrepressible High Spirits

# Rather shrill and high. # Wild crap-shooters with a whoop and a call Danced the juba in their gambling-hall
And laughed fit to kill, and shook the town, And guyed the policemen and laughed them down With a boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
# Read exactly as in first section. # THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK, CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. # Lay emphasis on the delicate ideas. Keep as light-footed as possible. # A negro fairyland swung into view,
A minstrel river
Where dreams come true.
The ebony palace soared on high
Through the blossoming trees to the evening sky. The inlaid porches and casements shone
With gold and ivory and elephant-bone. And the black crowd laughed till their sides were sore At the baboon butler in the agate door,
And the well-known tunes of the parrot band That trilled on the bushes of that magic land.

# With pomposity. #
A troupe of skull-faced witch-men came Through the agate doorway in suits of flame, Yea, long-tailed coats with a gold-leaf crust And hats that were covered with diamond-dust. And the crowd in the court gave a whoop and a call And danced the juba from wall to wall.
# With a great deliberation and ghostliness. # But the witch-men suddenly stilled the throng With a stern cold glare, and a stern old song: — “Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.” . . .
# With overwhelming assurance, good cheer, and pomp. # Just then from the doorway, as fat as shotes, Came the cake-walk princes in their long red coats, Canes with a brilliant lacquer shine,
And tall silk hats that were red as wine. # With growing speed and sharply marked dance-rhythm. # And they pranced with their butterfly partners there, Coal-black maidens with pearls in their hair, Knee-skirts trimmed with the jassamine sweet, And bells on their ankles and little black feet. And the couples railed at the chant and the frown Of the witch-men lean, and laughed them down. (O rare was the revel, and well worth while That made those glowering witch-men smile.)

The cake-walk royalty then began
To walk for a cake that was tall as a man To the tune of “Boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,” # With a touch of negro dialect, and as rapidly as possible toward the end. # While the witch-men laughed, with a sinister air, And sang with the scalawags prancing there: — “Walk with care, walk with care,
Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
And all of the other
Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.
Beware, beware, walk with care,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay,
# Slow philosophic calm. # Oh rare was the revel, and well worth while That made those glowering witch-men smile.

III. The Hope of their Religion

# Heavy bass. With a literal imitation of camp-meeting racket, and trance. # A good old negro in the slums of the town Preached at a sister for her velvet gown. Howled at a brother for his low-down ways, His prowling, guzzling, sneak-thief days. Beat on the Bible till he wore it out
Starting the jubilee revival shout. And some had visions, as they stood on chairs, And sang of Jacob, and the golden stairs, And they all repented, a thousand strong From their stupor and savagery and sin and wrong And slammed with their hymn books till they shook the room With “glory, glory, glory,”
And “Boom, boom, BOOM.”
# Exactly as in the first section. Begin with terror and power, end with joy. # THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK CUTTING THROUGH THE JUNGLE WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. And the gray sky opened like a new-rent veil And showed the apostles with their coats of mail. In bright white steele they were seated round And their fire-eyes watched where the Congo wound. And the twelve Apostles, from their thrones on high Thrilled all the forest with their heavenly cry: — # Sung to the tune of “Hark, ten thousand harps and voices”. #
“Mumbo-Jumbo will die in the jungle; Never again will he hoo-doo you,
Never again will he hoo-doo you.”

# With growing deliberation and joy. # Then along that river, a thousand miles
The vine-snared trees fell down in files. Pioneer angels cleared the way
For a Congo paradise, for babes at play, For sacred capitals, for temples clean.
Gone were the skull-faced witch-men lean. # In a rather high key — as delicately as possible. # There, where the wild ghost-gods had wailed A million boats of the angels sailed
With oars of silver, and prows of blue And silken pennants that the sun shone through. ‘Twas a land transfigured, ’twas a new creation. Oh, a singing wind swept the negro nation And on through the backwoods clearing flew: — # To the tune of “Hark, ten thousand harps and voices”. # “Mumbo-Jumbo is dead in the jungle.
Never again will he hoo-doo you.
Never again will he hoo-doo you.”

Redeemed were the forests, the beasts and the men, And only the vulture dared again
By the far, lone mountains of the moon To cry, in the silence, the Congo tune: — # Dying down into a penetrating, terrified whisper. # “Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.
Mumbo . . . Jumbo . . . will . . . hoo-doo . . . you.”

This poem, particularly the third section, was suggested by an allusion in a sermon by my pastor, F. W. Burnham, to the heroic life and death of Ray Eldred. Eldred was a missionary of the Disciples of Christ who perished while swimming a treacherous branch of the Congo. See “A Master Builder on the Congo”, by Andrew F. Hensey, published by Fleming H. Revell.

The Santa Fe Trail

(A Humoresque)

I asked the old Negro, “What is that bird that sings so well?” He answered: “That is the Rachel-Jane.” “Hasn’t it another name, lark, or thrush, or the like?” “No. Jus’ Rachel-Jane.”

I. In which a Racing Auto comes from the East

# To be sung delicately, to an improvised tune. # This is the order of the music of the morning: — First, from the far East comes but a crooning. The crooning turns to a sunrise singing. Hark to the *calm*-horn, *balm*-horn, *psalm*-horn. Hark to the *faint*-horn, *quaint*-horn, *saint*-horn. . . .

# To be sung or read with great speed. # Hark to the *pace*-horn, *chase*-horn, *race*-horn. And the holy veil of the dawn has gone.
Swiftly the brazen car comes on.
It burns in the East as the sunrise burns. I see great flashes where the far trail turns. Its eyes are lamps like the eyes of dragons. It drinks gasoline from big red flagons. Butting through the delicate mists of the morning, It comes like lightning, goes past roaring. It will hail all the wind-mills, taunting, ringing, Dodge the cyclones,
Count the milestones,
On through the ranges the prairie-dog tills — Scooting past the cattle on the thousand hills. . . . # To be read or sung in a rolling bass, with some deliberation. #
Ho for the tear-horn, scare-horn, dare-horn, Ho for the *gay*-horn, *bark*-horn, *bay*-horn. *Ho for Kansas, land that restores us
When houses choke us, and great books bore us! Sunrise Kansas, harvester’s Kansas,
A million men have found you before us.*

II. In which Many Autos pass Westward

# In an even, deliberate, narrative manner. # I want live things in their pride to remain. I will not kill one grasshopper vain
Though he eats a hole in my shirt like a door. I let him out, give him one chance more. Perhaps, while he gnaws my hat in his whim, Grasshopper lyrics occur to him.

I am a tramp by the long trail’s border, Given to squalor, rags and disorder.
I nap and amble and yawn and look,
Write fool-thoughts in my grubby book, Recite to the children, explore at my ease, Work when I work, beg when I please,
Give crank-drawings, that make folks stare To the half-grown boys in the sunset glare, And get me a place to sleep in the hay
At the end of a live-and-let-live day.

I find in the stubble of the new-cut weeds A whisper and a feasting, all one needs: The whisper of the strawberries, white and red Here where the new-cut weeds lie dead.

But I would not walk all alone till I die Without some life-drunk horns going by.
Up round this apple-earth they come Blasting the whispers of the morning dumb: — Cars in a plain realistic row.
And fair dreams fade
When the raw horns blow.

On each snapping pennant
A big black name: —
The careering city
Whence each car came.
# Like a train-caller in a Union Depot. # They tour from Memphis, Atlanta, Savannah, Tallahassee and Texarkana.
They tour from St. Louis, Columbus, Manistee, They tour from Peoria, Davenport, Kankakee. Cars from Concord, Niagara, Boston,
Cars from Topeka, Emporia, and Austin. Cars from Chicago, Hannibal, Cairo.
Cars from Alton, Oswego, Toledo.
Cars from Buffalo, Kokomo, Delphi,
Cars from Lodi, Carmi, Loami.
Ho for Kansas, land that restores us When houses choke us, and great books bore us! While I watch the highroad
And look at the sky,
While I watch the clouds in amazing grandeur Roll their legions without rain
Over the blistering Kansas plain — While I sit by the milestone
And watch the sky,
The United States
Goes by.

# To be given very harshly, with a snapping explosiveness. # Listen to the iron-horns, ripping, racking. Listen to the quack-horns, slack and clacking. Way down the road, trilling like a toad, Here comes the *dice*-horn, here comes the *vice*-horn, Here comes the *snarl*-horn, *brawl*-horn, *lewd*-horn, Followed by the *prude*-horn, bleak and squeaking: — (Some of them from Kansas, some of them from Kansas.) Here comes the *hod*-horn, *plod*-horn, *sod*-horn, Nevermore-to-*roam*-horn, *loam*-horn, *home*-horn. (Some of them from Kansas, some of them from Kansas.) # To be read or sung, well-nigh in a whisper. # Far away the Rachel-Jane
Not defeated by the horns
Sings amid a hedge of thorns: —
“Love and life,
Eternal youth —
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet,
Dew and glory,
Love and truth,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet.”
Ye modern men,
Behold the procession once again,
# With a snapping explosiveness. # Listen to the iron-horns, ripping, racking, Listen to the *wise*-horn, desperate-to-*advise*-horn, Listen to the *fast*-horn, *kill*-horn, *blast*-horn. . . . # To be sung or read well-nigh in a whisper. # Far away the Rachel-Jane
Not defeated by the horns
Sings amid a hedge of thorns: —
Love and life,
Eternal youth,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet,
Dew and glory,
Love and truth.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet.
# To be brawled in the beginning with a snapping explosiveness, ending in a languorous chant. # The mufflers open on a score of cars
With wonderful thunder,
Listen to the gold-horn . . .
Old-horn . . .
Cold-horn . . .
And all of the tunes, till the night comes down On hay-stack, and ant-hill, and wind-bitten town. # To be sung to exactly the same whispered tune as the first five lines. #
Then far in the west, as in the beginning, Dim in the distance, sweet in retreating, Hark to the faint-horn, quaint-horn, saint-horn, Hark to the calm-horn, balm-horn, psalm-horn. . . .

# This section beginning sonorously, ending in a languorous whisper. # They are hunting the goals that they understand: — San Francisco and the brown sea-sand.
My goal is the mystery the beggars win. I am caught in the web the night-winds spin. The edge of the wheat-ridge speaks to me. I talk with the leaves of the mulberry tree. And now I hear, as I sit all alone
In the dusk, by another big Santa Fe stone, The souls of the tall corn gathering round And the gay little souls of the grass in the ground. Listen to the tale the cotton-wood tells. Listen to the wind-mills, singing o’er the wells. Listen to the whistling flutes without price Of myriad prophets out of paradise.
Harken to the wonder
That the night-air carries. . . .
Listen . . . to . . . the . . . whisper . . . Of . . . the . . . prairie . . . fairies Singing o’er the fairy plain: —
# To the same whispered tune as the Rachel-Jane song — but very slowly. #
“Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet.
Love and glory,
Stars and rain,
Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet. . . .”

The Firemen’s Ball

Section One

“Give the engines room,
Give the engines room.”
Louder, faster
The little band-master
Whips up the fluting,
Hurries up the tooting.
He thinks that he stands,
# To be read, or chanted, with the heavy buzzing bass of fire-engines pumping. #
The reins in his hands,
In the fire-chief’s place
In the night alarm chase.
The cymbals whang,
The kettledrums bang: —
# In this passage the reading or chanting is shriller and higher. #
“Clear the street,
Clear the street,
Clear the street — Boom, boom.
In the evening gloom,
In the evening gloom,
Give the engines room,
Give the engines room,
Lest souls be trapped
In a terrible tomb.”
The sparks and the pine-brands
Whirl on high
From the black and reeking alleys
To the wide red sky.
Hear the hot glass crashing,
Hear the stone steps hissing.
Coal black streams
Down the gutters pour.
There are cries for help
From a far fifth floor.
For a longer ladder
Hear the fire-chief call.
Listen to the music
Of the firemen’s ball.
Listen to the music
Of the firemen’s ball.
# To be read or chanted in a heavy bass. # “‘Tis the
Of doom,”
Say the ding-dong doom-bells.
Of doom,”
Say the ding-dong doom-bells.
Faster, faster
The red flames come.
“Hum grum,” say the engines,
“Hum grum grum.”
# Shriller and higher. #
“Buzz, buzz,”
Says the crowd.
“See, see,”
Calls the crowd.
“Look out,”
Yelps the crowd
And the high walls fall: —
Listen to the music
Of the firemen’s ball.
Listen to the music
Of the firemen’s ball.
# Heavy bass. #
“‘Tis the
Of doom,”
Say the ding-dong doom-bells.
Of doom,”
Say the ding-dong doom-bells.
Whangaranga, whangaranga,
Whang, whang, whang,
Clang, clang, clangaranga,
# Bass, much slower. #
Clang, clang, clang.
Listen — to — the — music —
Of the firemen’s ball —

Section Two

“Many’s the heart that’s breaking
If we could read them all
After the ball is over.” (An old song.)

# To be read or sung slowly and softly, in the manner of lustful, insinuating music. # Scornfully, gaily
The bandmaster sways,
Changing the strain
That the wild band plays.
With a red and royal intoxication,
A tangle of sounds
And a syncopation,
Sweeping and bending
From side to side,
Master of dreams,
With a peacock pride.
A lord of the delicate flowers of delight He drives compunction
Back through the night.
Dreams he’s a soldier
Plumed and spurred,
And valiant lads
Arise at his word,
Flaying the sober
Thoughts he hates,
Driving them back
From the dream-town gates.
How can the languorous
Dancers know
The red dreams come
# To be read or chanted slowly and softly in the manner of lustful insinuating music. # When the good dreams go?
“‘Tis the
Of love,”
Call the silver joy-bells,
Of love,”
Call the silver joy-bells.
“Honey and wine,
Honey and wine.
Sing low, now, violins,
Sing, sing low,
Blow gently, wood-wind,
Mellow and slow.
Like midnight poppies
The sweethearts bloom.
Their eyes flash power,
Their lips are dumb.
Faster and faster
Their pulses come,
Though softer now
The drum-beats fall.
Honey and wine,
Honey and wine.
‘Tis the firemen’s ball,
‘Tis the firemen’s ball.

# With a climax of whispered mourning. # “I am slain,”
Cries true-love
There in the shadow.
“And I die,”
Cries true-love,
There laid low.
“When the fire-dreams come,
The wise dreams go.”
# Suddenly interrupting. To be read or sung in a heavy bass. First eight lines as harsh as possible. Then gradually musical and sonorous. # BUT HIS CRY IS DROWNED
And now great gongs whang,
Sharper, faster,
And kettledrums rattle
And hide the shame
With a swish and a swirk
In dead love’s name.
Red and crimson
And scarlet and rose
Magical poppies
The sweethearts bloom.
The scarlet stays
When the rose-flush goes,
And love lies low
In a marble tomb.
“‘Tis the
Of doom,”
Call the ding-dong doom-bells.
Of Doom,”
Call the ding-dong doom-bells.
# Sharply interrupting in a very high key. # Hark how the piccolos still make cheer. “‘Tis a moonlight night in the spring of the year.” # Heavy bass. #
CLANG . . . CLANG . . . CLANG.
CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA . . .
CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA . . .
CLANG . . . CLANG . . . CLANG . . . LISTEN . . . TO . . . THE . . . MUSIC . . . OF . . . THE . . . FIREMEN’S BALL . . .
LISTEN . . . TO . . . THE . . . MUSIC . . . OF . . . THE . . . FIREMEN’S . . . BALL. . . .

Section Three

In Which, contrary to Artistic Custom, the moral of the piece is placed before the reader.

(From the first Khandaka of the Mahavagga: “There Buddha thus addressed his disciples: `Everything, O mendicants, is burning. With what fire is it burning? I declare unto you it is burning with the fire of passion, with the fire of anger, with the fire of ignorance. It is burning with the anxieties of birth, decay and death, grief, lamentation, suffering and despair. . . . A disciple, . . . becoming weary of all that, divests himself of passion. By absence of passion, he is made free.'”)

# To be intoned after the manner of a priestly service. # I once knew a teacher,
Who turned from desire,
Who said to the young men
“Wine is a fire.”
Who said to the merchants: —
“Gold is a flame
That sears and tortures
If you play at the game.”
I once knew a teacher
Who turned from desire
Who said to the soldiers,
“Hate is a fire.”
Who said to the statesmen: —
“Power is a flame
That flays and blisters
If you play at the game.”
I once knew a teacher
Who turned from desire,
Who said to the lordly,

“Pride is a fire.”
Who thus warned the revellers: —
“Life is a flame.
Be cold as the dew
Would you win at the game
With hearts like the stars,
With hearts like the stars.”
# Interrupting very loudly for the last time. # SO BEWARE,
Clear the streets,
Clear the streets,
AND THEY STRAIN AT THE DRIVER’S IRON ARM.” CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . CLANG . . . CLANG. . . .
CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . CLANG . . . CLANG. . . .
CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . A . . . RANGA. . . . CLANG . . . CLANG . . . *CLANG*. . . .

The Master of the Dance

A chant to which it is intended a group of children shall dance and improvise pantomime led by their dancing-teacher.


A master deep-eyed
Ere his manhood was ripe,
He sang like a thrush,
He could play any pipe.
So dull in the school
That he scarcely could spell,
He read but a bit,
And he figured not well.
A bare-footed fool,
Shod only with grace;
Long hair streaming down
Round a wind-hardened face;
He smiled like a girl,
Or like clear winter skies,
A virginal light
Making stars of his eyes.
In swiftness and poise,
A proud child of the deer,
A white fawn he was,
Yet a fawn without fear.
No youth thought him vain,
Or made mock of his hair,
Or laughed when his ways
Were most curiously fair.
A mastiff at fight,
He could strike to the earth
The envious one
Who would challenge his worth.
However we bowed
To the schoolmaster mild,
Our spirits went out
To the fawn-footed child.
His beckoning led
Our troop to the brush.
We found nothing there
But a wind and a hush.
He sat by a stone
And he looked on the ground,
As if in the weeds
There was something profound.
His pipe seemed to neigh,
Then to bleat like a sheep,
Then sound like a stream
Or a waterfall deep.
It whispered strange tales,
Human words it spoke not.
Told fair things to come,
And our marvellous lot
If now with fawn-steps
Unshod we advanced
To the midst of the grove
And in reverence danced.
We obeyed as he piped
Soft grass to young feet,
Was a medicine mighty,
A remedy meet.
Our thin blood awoke,
It grew dizzy and wild,
Though scarcely a word
Moved the lips of a child.
Our dance gave allegiance,
It set us apart,
We tripped a strange measure,
Uplifted of heart.


We thought to be proud
Of our fawn everywhere.
We could hardly see how
Simple books were a care.
No rule of the school
This strange student could tame.
He was banished one day,
While we quivered with shame.
He piped back our love
On a moon-silvered night,
Enticed us once more
To the place of delight.
A greeting he sang
And it made our blood beat,
It tramped upon custom
And mocked at defeat.
He builded a fire
And we tripped in a ring,
The embers our books
And the fawn our good king.
And now we approached
All the mysteries rare
That shadowed his eyelids
And blew through his hair.
That spell now was peace
The deep strength of the trees,
The children of nature
We clambered her knees.
Our breath and our moods
Were in tune with her own,
Tremendous her presence,
Eternal her throne.
The ostracized child
Our white foreheads kissed,
Our bodies and souls
Became lighter than mist.
Sweet dresses like snow
Our small lady-loves wore,
Like moonlight the thoughts
That our bosoms upbore.
Like a lily the touch
Of each cold little hand.
The loves of the stars
We could now understand.
O quivering air!
O the crystalline night!
O pauses of awe
And the faces swan-white!
O ferns in the dusk!
O forest-shrined hour!
O earth that sent upward
The thrill and the power,
To lift us like leaves,
A delirious whirl,
The masterful boy
And the delicate girl!
What child that strange night-time
Can ever forget?
His fealty due
And his infinite debt
To the folly divine,
To the exquisite rule
Of the perilous master,
The fawn-footed fool?


Now soldiers we seem,
And night brings a new thing,
A terrible ire,
As of thunder awing.
A warrior power,
That old chivalry stirred,
When knights took up arms,
As the maidens gave word.
*Near, nearer that war,
And that ecstasy comes,
We hear the trees beating
Invisible drums.
The fields of the night
Are starlit above,
Our girls are white torches
Of conquest and love.
No nerve without will,
And no breast without breath,
We whirl with the planets
That never know death!*

The Mysterious Cat

A chant for a children’s pantomime dance, suggested by a picture painted by George Mather Richards.

I saw a proud, mysterious cat,
I saw a proud, mysterious cat
Too proud to catch a mouse or rat — Mew, mew, mew.

But catnip she would eat, and purr,
But catnip she would eat, and purr. And goldfish she did much prefer —
Mew, mew, mew.

I saw a cat — ’twas but a dream,
I saw a cat — ’twas but a dream
Who scorned the slave that brought her cream — Mew, mew, mew.

Unless the slave were dressed in style, Unless the slave were dressed in style
And knelt before her all the while — Mew, mew, mew.

Did you ever hear of a thing like that? Did you ever hear of a thing like that?
Did you ever hear of a thing like that? Oh, what a proud mysterious cat.
Oh, what a proud mysterious cat.
Oh, what a proud mysterious cat.
Mew . . . mew . . . mew.

A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten

To be intoned, all but the two italicized lines, which are to be spoken in a snappy, matter-of-fact way.

Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.
Here lies a kitten good, who kept
A kitten’s proper place.
He stole no pantry eatables,
Nor scratched the baby’s face.
*He let the alley-cats alone*.
He had no yowling vice.
His shirt was always laundried well, He freed the house of mice.
Until his death he had not caused
His little mistress tears,
He wore his ribbon prettily,
*He washed behind his ears*.
Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.

Yankee Doodle

This poem is intended as a description of a sort of Blashfield mural painting on the sky. To be sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle, yet in a slower, more orotund fashion. It is presumably an exercise for an entertainment on the evening of Washington’s Birthday.

Dawn this morning burned all red
Watching them in wonder.
There I saw our spangled flag
Divide the clouds asunder.
Then there followed Washington.
Ah, he rode from glory,
Cold and mighty as his name
And stern as Freedom’s story.
Unsubdued by burning dawn
Led his continentals.
Vast they were, and strange to see
In gray old regimentals: —
Marching still with bleeding feet,
Bleeding feet and jesting —
Marching from the judgment throne
With energy unresting.
How their merry quickstep played — Silver, sharp, sonorous,
Piercing through with prophecy
The demons’ rumbling chorus —
Behold the ancient powers of sin
And slavery before them! —
Sworn to stop the glorious dawn,
The pit-black clouds hung o’er them. Plagues that rose to blast the day
Fiend and tiger faces,
Monsters plotting bloodshed for
The patient toiling races.
Round the dawn their cannon raged,
Hurling bolts of thunder,
Yet before our spangled flag
Their host was cut asunder.
Like a mist they fled away. . . .
Ended wrath and roaring.
Still our restless soldier-host
From East to West went pouring.

High beside the sun of noon
They bore our banner splendid.
All its days of stain and shame
And heaviness were ended.
Men were swelling now the throng
From great and lowly station —
Valiant citizens to-day
Of every tribe and nation.
Not till night their rear-guard came, Down the west went marching,
And left behind the sunset-rays
In beauty overarching.
War-god banners lead us still,
Rob, enslave and harry
Let us rather choose to-day
The flag the angels carry —
Flag we love, but brighter far —
Soul of it made splendid:
Let its days of stain and shame
And heaviness be ended.
Let its fifes fill all the sky,
Redeemed souls marching after,
Hills and mountains shake with song, While seas roll on in laughter.

The Black Hawk War of the Artists

Written for Lorado Taft’s Statue of Black Hawk at Oregon, Illinois

To be given in the manner of the Indian Oration and the Indian War-Cry.

Hawk of the Rocks,
Yours is our cause to-day.
Watching your foes
Here in our war array,
Young men we stand,
Wolves of the West at bay.
*Power, power for war
Comes from these trees divine;
Power from the boughs,
Boughs where the dew-beads shine, Power from the cones —
Yea, from the breath of the pine!*

Power to restore
All that the white hand mars.
See the dead east
Crushed with the iron cars —
Chimneys black
Blinding the sun and stars!

Hawk of the pines,
Hawk of the plain-winds fleet,
You shall be king
There in the iron street,
Factory and forge
Trodden beneath your feet.

There will proud trees
Grow as they grow by streams.
There will proud thoughts
Walk as in warrior dreams.
There will proud deeds
Bloom as when battle gleams!

Warriors of Art,
We will hold council there,
Hewing in stone
Things to the trapper fair,
Painting the gray
Veils that the spring moons wear,
This our revenge,
This one tremendous change:
Making new towns,
Lit with a star-fire strange,
Wild as the dawn
Gilding the bison-range.

All the young men
Chanting your cause that day,
Red-men, new-made
Out of the Saxon clay,
Strong and redeemed,
Bold in your war-array!

The Jingo and the Minstrel

An Argument for the Maintenance of Peace and Goodwill with the Japanese People

Glossary for the uninstructed and the hasty: Jimmu Tenno, ancestor of all the Japanese Emperors; Nikko, Japan’s loveliest shrine; Iyeyasu, her greatest statesman; Bushido, her code of knighthood; The Forty-seven Ronins, her classic heroes; Nogi, her latest hero; Fuji, her most beautiful mountain.

# The minstrel speaks. #
“Now do you know of Avalon
That sailors call Japan?
She holds as rare a chivalry
As ever bled for man.
King Arthur sleeps at Nikko hill
Where Iyeyasu lies,
And there the broad Pendragon flag
In deathless splendor flies.”

# The jingo answers. #
*”Nay, minstrel, but the great ships come From out the sunset sea.
We cannot greet the souls they bring With welcome high and free.
How can the Nippon nondescripts
That weird and dreadful band
Be aught but what we find them here: — The blasters of the land?”*

# The minstrel replies. #
“First race, first men from anywhere To face you, eye to eye.
For *that* do you curse Avalon
And raise a hue and cry?
These toilers cannot kiss your hand, Or fawn with hearts bowed down.
Be glad for them, and Avalon,
And Arthur’s ghostly crown.

“No doubt your guests, with sage debate In grave things gentlemen
Will let your trade and farms alone And turn them back again.
But why should brawling braggarts rise With hasty words of shame
To drive them back like dogs and swine Who in due honor came?”

# The jingo answers. #
*”We cannot give them honor, sir.
We give them scorn for scorn.
And Rumor steals around the world
All white-skinned men to warn
Against this sleek silk-merchant here And viler coolie-man
And wrath within the courts of war
Brews on against Japan!”*

# The minstrel replies. #
“Must Avalon, with hope forlorn,
Her back against the wall,
Have lived her brilliant life in vain While ruder tribes take all?
Must Arthur stand with Asian Celts, A ghost with spear and crown,
Behind the great Pendragon flag
And be again cut down?

“Tho Europe’s self shall move against High Jimmu Tenno’s throne
The Forty-seven Ronin Men
Will not be found alone.
For Percival and Bedivere
And Nogi side by side
Will stand, — with mourning Merlin there, Tho all go down in pride.

“But has the world the envious dream — Ah, such things cannot be, —
To tear their fairy-land like silk
And toss it in the sea?
Must venom rob the future day
The ultimate world-man
Of rare Bushido, code of codes,
The fair heart of Japan?

“Go, be the guest of Avalon.
Believe me, it lies there
Behind the mighty gray sea-wall
Where heathen bend in prayer:
Where peasants lift adoring eyes
To Fuji’s crown of snow.
King Arthur’s knights will be your hosts, So cleanse your heart, and go.

“And you will find but gardens sweet
Prepared beyond the seas,
And you will find but gentlefolk
Beneath the cherry-trees.
So walk you worthy of your Christ
Tho church bells do not sound,
And weave the bands of brotherhood
On Jimmu Tenno’s ground.”

I Heard Immanuel Singing

(The poem shows the Master, with his work done, singing to free his heart in Heaven.)

This poem is intended to be half said, half sung, very softly, to the well-known tune: —

“Last night I lay a-sleeping,
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in Old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there, –” etc.

Yet this tune is not to be fitted on, arbitrarily. It is here given to suggest the manner of handling rather than determine it.

# To be sung. #
I heard Immanuel singing
Within his own good lands,
I saw him bend above his harp.
I watched his wandering hands
Lost amid the harp-strings;
Sweet, sweet I heard him play.
His wounds were altogether healed.
Old things had passed away.

All things were new, but music.
The blood of David ran
Within the Son of David,
Our God, the Son of Man.
He was ruddy like a shepherd.
His bold young face, how fair.
Apollo of the silver bow
Had not such flowing hair.

# To be read very softly, but in spirited response. # I saw Immanuel singing
On a tree-girdled hill.
The glad remembering branches
Dimly echoed still
The grand new song proclaiming
The Lamb that had been slain.
New-built, the Holy City
Gleamed in the murmuring plain.

The crowning hours were over.
The pageants all were past.
Within the many mansions
The hosts, grown still at last,
In homes of holy mystery
Slept long by crooning springs
Or waked to peaceful glory,
A universe of Kings.

# To be sung. #
He left his people happy.
He wandered free to sigh
Alone in lowly friendship
With the green grass and the sky.
He murmured ancient music
His red heart burned to sing
Because his perfect conquest
Had grown a weary thing.

No chant of gilded triumph —
His lonely song was made
Of Art’s deliberate freedom;
Of minor chords arrayed
In soft and shadowy colors
That once were radiant flowers: —
The Rose of Sharon, bleeding
In Olive-shadowed bowers: —

And all the other roses
In the songs of East and West
Of love and war and worshipping,
And every shield and crest
Of thistle or of lotus
Or sacred lily wrought
In creeds and psalms and palaces
And temples of white thought: —

# To be read very softly, yet in spirited response. # All these he sang, half-smiling
And weeping as he smiled,
Laughing, talking to his harp
As to a new-born child: —
As though the arts forgotten
But bloomed to prophecy
These careless, fearless harp-strings, New-crying in the sky.
# To be sung. #
“When this his hour of sorrow
For flowers and Arts of men
Has passed in ghostly music,”
I asked my wild heart then —
What will he sing to-morrow,
What wonder, all his own
Alone, set free, rejoicing,
With a green hill for his throne?
What will he sing to-morrow
What wonder all his own
Alone, set free, rejoicing,
With a green hill for his throne?

Second Section


An Argument

I. The Voice of the Man Impatient with Visions and Utopias

We find your soft Utopias as white
As new-cut bread, and dull as life in cells, O, scribes who dare forget how wild we are How human breasts adore alarum bells.
You house us in a hive of prigs and saints Communal, frugal, clean and chaste by law. I’d rather brood in bloody Elsinore
Or be Lear’s fool, straw-crowned amid the straw. Promise us all our share in Agincourt
Say that our clerks shall venture scorns and death, That future ant-hills will not be too good For Henry Fifth, or Hotspur, or Macbeth. Promise that through to-morrow’s spirit-war Man’s deathless soul will hack and hew its way, Each flaunting Caesar climbing to his fate Scorning the utmost steps of yesterday.
Never a shallow jester any more!
Let not Jack Falstaff spill the ale in vain. Let Touchstone set the fashions for the wise And Ariel wreak his fancies through the rain.

II. The Rhymer’s Reply. Incense and Splendor

Incense and Splendor haunt me as I go. Though my good works have been, alas, too few, Though I do naught, High Heaven comes down to me, And future ages pass in tall review.
I see the years to come as armies vast, Stalking tremendous through the fields of time. MAN is unborn. To-morrow he is born,
Flame-like to hover o’er the moil and grime, Striving, aspiring till the shame is gone, Sowing a million flowers, where now we mourn — Laying new, precious pavements with a song, Founding new shrines, the good streets to adorn. I have seen lovers by those new-built walls Clothed like the dawn in orange, gold and red. Eyes flashing forth the glory-light of love Under the wreaths that crowned each royal head. Life was made greater by their sweetheart prayers. Passion was turned to civic strength that day — Piling the marbles, making fairer domes
With zeal that else had burned bright youth away. I have seen priestesses of life go by
Gliding in samite through the incense-sea — Innocent children marching with them there, Singing in flowered robes, “THE EARTH IS FREE”: While on the fair, deep-carved unfinished towers Sentinels watched in armor, night and day — Guarding the brazier-fires of hope and dream — Wild was their peace, and dawn-bright their array!

A Rhyme about an Electrical Advertising Sign

I look on the specious electrical light Blatant, mechanical, crawling and white, Wickedly red or malignantly green
Like the beads of a young Senegambian queen. Showing, while millions of souls hurry on, The virtues of collars, from sunset till dawn, By dart or by tumble of whirl within whirl, Starting new fads for the shame-weary girl, By maggoty motions in sickening line
Proclaiming a hat or a soup or a wine, While there far above the steep cliffs of the street The stars sing a message elusive and sweet.

Now man cannot rest in his pleasure and toil His clumsy contraptions of coil upon coil Till the thing he invents, in its use and its range, Leads on to the marvellous CHANGE BEYOND CHANGE. Some day this old Broadway shall climb to the skies, As a ribbon of cloud on a soul-wind shall rise. And we shall be lifted, rejoicing by night, Till we join with the planets who choir their delight. The signs in the street and the signs in the skies Shall make a new Zodiac, guiding the wise, And Broadway make one with that marvellous stair That is climbed by the rainbow-clad spirits of prayer.

In Memory of a Child

The angels guide him now,
And watch his curly head,
And lead him in their games,
The little boy we led.

He cannot come to harm,
He knows more than we know,
His light is brighter far
Than daytime here below.

His path leads on and on,
Through pleasant lawns and flowers, His brown eyes open wide
At grass more green than ours.

With playmates like himself,
The shining boy will sing,
Exploring wondrous woods,
Sweet with eternal spring.

Galahad, Knight Who Perished

A Poem Dedicated to All Crusaders against the International and Interstate Traffic in Young Girls

Galahad . . . soldier that perished . . . ages ago, Our hearts are breaking with shame, our tears overflow. Galahad . . . knight who perished . . . awaken again, Teach us to fight for immaculate ways among men. Soldiers fantastic, we pray to the star of the sea, We pray to the mother of God that the bound may be free. Rose-crowned lady from heaven, give us thy grace, Help us the intricate, desperate battle to face Till the leer of the trader is seen nevermore in the land, Till we bring every maid of the age to one sheltering hand. Ah, they are priceless, the pale and the ivory and red! Breathless we gaze on the curls of each glorious head! Arm them with strength mediaeval, thy marvellous dower, Blast now their tempters, shelter their steps with thy power. Leave not life’s fairest to perish — strangers to thee, Let not the weakest be shipwrecked, oh, star of the sea!

The Leaden-eyed

Let not young souls be smothered out before They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride. It is the world’s one crime its babes grow dull, Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed. Not that they starve, but starve so dreamlessly, Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap, Not that they serve, but have no gods to serve, Not that they die, but that they die like sheep.

An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie

(In the Beginning)

The sun is a huntress young,
The sun is a red, red joy,
The sun is an Indian girl,
Of the tribe of the Illinois.


The sun is a smouldering fire,
That creeps through the high gray plain, And leaves not a bush of cloud
To blossom with flowers of rain.


The sun is a wounded deer,
That treads pale grass in the skies, Shaking his golden horns,
Flashing his baleful eyes.


The sun is an eagle old,
There in the windless west.
Atop of the spirit-cliffs
He builds him a crimson nest.

The Hearth Eternal

There dwelt a widow learned and devout, Behind our hamlet on the eastern hill.
Three sons she had, who went to find the world. They promised to return, but wandered still. The cities used them well, they won their way, Rich gifts they sent, to still their mother’s sighs. Worn out with honors, and apart from her, They died as many a self-made exile dies. The mother had a hearth that would not quench, The deathless embers fought the creeping gloom. She said to us who came with wondering eyes — “This is a magic fire, a magic room.”
The pine burned out, but still the coals glowed on, Her grave grew old beneath the pear-tree shade, And yet her crumbling home enshrined the light. The neighbors peering in were half afraid. Then sturdy beggars, needing fagots, came, One at a time, and stole the walls, and floor. They left a naked stone, but how it blazed! And in the thunderstorm it flared the more. And now it was that men were heard to say, “This light should be beloved by all the town.” At last they made the slope a place of prayer, Where marvellous thoughts from God came sweeping down. They left their churches crumbling in the sun, They met on that soft hill, one brotherhood; One strength and valor only, one delight, One laughing, brooding genius, great and good. Now many gray-haired prodigals come home, The place out-flames the cities of the land, And twice-born Brahmans reach us from afar, With subtle eyes prepared to understand. Higher and higher burns the eastern steep, Showing the roads that march from every place, A steady beacon o’er the weary leagues,
At dead of night it lights the traveller’s face! Thus has the widow conquered half the earth, She who increased in faith, though all alone, Who kept her empty house a magic place,
Has made the town a holy angel’s throne.

The Soul of the City Receives the Gift of the Holy Spirit

A Broadside distributed in Springfield, Illinois

Censers are swinging
Over the town;
Censers are swinging,
Look overhead!
Censers are swinging,
Heaven comes down.
City, dead city,
Awake from the dead!

Censers, tremendous,
Gleam overhead.
Wind-harps are ringing,
Wind-harps unseen —
Calling and calling: —
“Wake from the dead.
Rise, little city,
Shine like a queen.”

Soldiers of Christ
For battle grow keen.
Heaven-sent winds
Haunt alley and lane.
Singing of life
In town-meadows green
After the toil
And battle and pain.

Incense is pouring
Like the spring rain
Down on the mob
That moil through the street.
Blessed are they
Who behold it and gain
Power made more mighty
Thro’ every defeat.

Builders, toil on.
Make all complete.
Make Springfield wonderful.
Make her renown
Worthy this day,
Till, at God’s feet,
Tranced, saved forever,
Waits the white town.

Censers are swinging
Over the town,
Censers gigantic!
Look overhead!
Hear the winds singing: —
“Heaven comes down.
City, dead city,
Awake from the dead.”

By the Spring, at Sunset

Sometimes we remember kisses,
Remember the dear heart-leap when they came: Not always, but sometimes we remember
The kindness, the dumbness, the good flame Of laughter and farewell.

Beside the road
Afar from those who said “Good-by” I write, Far from my city task, my lawful load.

Sun in my face, wind beside my shoulder, Streaming clouds, banners of new-born night Enchant me now. The splendors growing bolder Make bold my soul for some new wise delight.

I write the day’s event, and quench my drouth, Pausing beside the spring with happy mind. And now I feel those kisses on my mouth, Hers most of all, one little friend most kind.

I Went down into the Desert

I went down into the desert
To meet Elijah —
Arisen from the dead.
I thought to find him in an echoing cave; *For so my dream had said*.

I went down into the desert
To meet John the Baptist.
I walked with feet that bled,
Seeking that prophet lean and brown and bold. *I spied foul fiends instead*.

I went down into the desert
To meet my God.
By him be comforted.
I went down into the desert
To meet my God.
*And I met the devil in red*.

I went down into the desert
To meet my God.
O, Lord my God, awaken from the dead!