You are hearing a song within the sigh: The murmurer has many a lovely phrase– Tell me, darling, the words it says.”
“I hear a wind on a boatless main
Sigh like the last of a vanishing pain; On the dreaming waters dreams the moon– But I hear no words in the doubtful tune.”
“If it tell thee not that I love thee well, ‘Tis a senseless, wrinkled, ill-curved shell: If it be not of love, why sigh or sing? ‘Tis a common, mechanical, stupid thing!”
“It murmurs, it whispers, with prophet voice Of a peace that comes, of a sealed choice; It says not a word of your love to me,
But it tells me I love you eternally.”
Autumn clouds are flying, flying
O’er the waste of blue;
Summer flowers are dying, dying,
Late so lovely new.
Labouring wains are slowly rolling Home with winter grain;
Holy bells are slowly tolling
Over buried men.
Goldener light sets noon a sleeping
Like an afternoon;
Colder airs come stealing, creeping From the misty moon;
And the leaves, of old age dying,
Earthy hues put on;
Out on every lone wind sighing
That their day is gone.
Autumn’s sun is sinking, sinking
Down to winter low;
And our hearts are thinking, thinking Of the sleet and snow;
For our sun is slowly sliding
Down the hill of might;
And no moon is softly gliding
Up the slope of night.
See the bare fields’ pillaged prizes Heaped in golden glooms!
See, the earth’s outworn sunrises
Dream in cloudy tombs!
Darkling flowers but wait the blowing Of a quickening wind;
And the man, through Death’s door going, Leaves old Death behind.
Mourn not, then, clear tones that alter; Let the gold turn gray;
Feet, though feeble, still may falter Toward the better day!
Brother, let not weak faith linger O’er a withered thing;
Mark how Autumn’s prophet finger
Burns to hues of Spring.
They were parted then at last?
Was it duty, or force, or fate?
Or did a worldly blast
Blow-to the meeting-gate?
An old, short story is this!
A glance, a trembling, a sigh,
A gaze in the eyes, a kiss–
Why will it not go by!
A pale green sky is gleaming;
The steely stars are few;
The moorland pond is steaming
A mist of gray and blue.
Along the pathway lonely
My horse is walking slow;
Three living creatures only,
He, I, and a home-bound crow!
The moon is hardly shaping
Her circle in the fog;
A dumb stream is escaping
Its prison in the bog.
But in my heart are ringing
Tones of a lofty song;
A voice that I know, is singing,
And my heart all night must long.
Over a shining land–
Once such a land I knew–
Over its sea, by a soft wind fanned, The sky is all white and blue.
The waves are kissing the shores,
Murmuring love and for ever;
A boat gleams green, and its timeful oars Flash out of the level river.
Oh to be there with thee
And the sun, on wet sands, my love! With the shining river, the sparkling sea, And the radiant sky above!
The autumn winds are sighing
Over land and sea;
The autumn woods are dying
Over hill and lea;
And my heart is sighing, dying,
Maiden, for thee.
The autumn clouds are flying
Homeless over me;
The nestless birds are crying
In the naked tree;
And my heart is flying, crying,
Maiden, to thee.
The autumn sea is crawling
Up the chilly shore;
The thin-voiced firs are calling
Maiden, maiden! I am falling
Dead at thy door.
The waters are rising and flowing
Over the weedy stone–
Over it, over it going:
It is never gone.
Waves upon waves of weeping
Went over the ancient pain;
Glad waves go over it leaping–
Still it rises again!
_A DREAM SONG_.
I dreamed of a song–I heard it sung; In the ear of my soul its strange notes rung. What were its words I could not tell,
Only the voice I heard right well, For its tones unearthly my spirit bound In a calm delirium of mystic sound–
Held me floating, alone and high,
Placeless and silent, drinking my fill Of dews that from cloudless skies distil On desert places that thirst and sigh.
‘Twas a woman’s voice, deep calling to deep, Rousing old echoes that all day sleep
In cavern and solitude, each apart, Here and there in the waiting heart;–
A voice with a wild melodious cry
Reaching and longing afar and high. Sorrowful triumph, and hopeful strife,
Gainful death, and new-born life,
Thrilled in each note of the prophet-song. In my heart it said: O Lord, how long
Shall we groan and travail and faint and pray, Ere thy lovely kingdom bring the day!
_AT MY WINDOW AFTER SUNSET_.
Heaven and the sea attend the dying day, And in their sadness overflow and blend– Faint gold, and windy blue, and green and gray: Far out amid them my pale soul I send.
For, as they mingle, so mix life and death; An hour draws near when my day too will die; Already I forecast unheaving breath,
Eviction on the moorland of yon sky.
Coldly and sadly lone, unhoused, alone, Twixt wind-broke wave and heaven’s uncaring space! At board and hearth from this time forth unknown! Refuge no more in wife or daughter’s face!
Cold, cold and sad, lone as that desert sea! Sad, lonely, as that hopeless, patient sky! Forward I cannot go, nor backward flee! I am not dead; I live, and cannot die!
Where are ye, loved ones, hither come before? Did you fare thus when first ye came this way? Somewhere there must be yet another door!– A door in somewhere from this dreary gray!
Come walking over watery hill and glen, Or stoop your faces through yon cloud perplext; Come, any one of dearest, sacred ten,
And bring me patient hoping for the next.
Maker of heaven and earth, father of me, My words are but a weak, fantastic moan! Were I a land-leaf drifting on the sea, Thou still wert with me; I were not alone!
I am in thee, O father, lord of sky, And lord of waves, and lord of human souls! In thee all precious ones to me more nigh Than if they rushing came in radiant shoals!
I shall not be alone although I die, And loved ones should delay their coming long; Though I saw round me nought but sea and sky, Bare sea and sky would wake a holy song.
They are thy garments; thou art near within, Father of fathers, friend-creating friend! Thou art for ever, therefore I begin;
Thou lov’st, therefore my love shall never end!
Let loose thy giving, father, on thy child; I pray thee, father, give me everything; Give me the joy that makes the children wild; Give throat and heart an old new song to sing.
Ye are my joy, great father, perfect Christ, And humble men of heart, oh, everywhere! With all the true I keep a hoping tryst; Eternal love is my eternal prayer.
_A FATHER TO A MOTHER_.
When God’s own child came down to earth, High heaven was very glad;
The angels sang for holy mirth;
Not God himself was sad!
Shall we, when ours goes homeward, fret? Come, Hope, and wait on Sorrow!
The little one will not forget;
It’s only till to-morrow!
_THE TEMPLE OF GOD_.
In the desert by the bush,
Moses to his heart said _Hush_.
David on his bed did pray;
God all night went not away.
From his heap of ashes foul
Job to God did lift his soul,
God came down to see him there,
And to answer all his prayer.
On a dark hill, in the wind,
Jesus did his father find,
But while he on earth did fare,
Every spot was place of prayer;
And where man is any day,
God can not be far away.
But the place he loveth best,
Place where he himself can rest,
Where alone he prayer doth seek,
Is the spirit of the meek.
To the humble God doth come;
In his heart he makes his home.
_GOING TO SLEEP_.
Little one, you must not fret
That I take your clothes away;
Better sleep you so will get,
And at morning wake more gay–
Saith the children’s mother.
You I must unclothe again,
For you need a better dress;
Too much worn are body and brain;
You need everlastingness–
Saith the heavenly father.
I went down death’s lonely stair;
Laid my garments in the tomb;
Dressed again one morning fair;
Hastened up, and hied me home–
Saith the elder brother.
Then I will not be afraid
Any ill can come to me;
When ’tis time to go to bed,
I will rise and go with thee–
Saith the little brother.
My TO-MORROW is but a flitting
Fancy of the brain;
God’s TO-MORROW an angel sitting,
Ready for joy or pain.
My TO-MORROW has no soul,
Dead as yesterdays;
God’s–a brimming silver bowl
Of life that gleams and plays.
My TO-MORROW, I mock you away!
Shadowless nothing, thou!
God’s TO-MORROW, come, dear day,
For God is in thee now.
Waking in the night to pray,
Sleeping when the answer comes,
Foolish are we even at play–
Tearfully we beat our drums!
Cast the good dry bread away,
Weep, and gather up the crumbs!
“Evermore,” while shines the day,
“Lord,” we cry, “thy will be done!” Soon as evening groweth gray,
Thy fair will we fain would shun! “Take, oh, take thy hand away!
See the horrid dark begun!”
“Thou hast conquered Death,” we say, “Christ, whom Hades could not keep!”
Then, “Ah, see the pallid clay!
Death it is,” we cry, “not sleep! Grave, take all. Shut out the Day.
Sit we on the ground and weep!”
Gathering potsherds all the day,
Truant children, Lord, we roam;
Fret, and longer want to play,
When at cool thy voice doth come!– Elder Brother, lead the way;
Make us good as we go home.
_LOVE IS HOME_.
Love is the part, and love is the whole; Love is the robe, and love is the pall; Ruler of heart and brain and soul,
Love is the lord and the slave of all! I thank thee, Love, that thou lov’st me; I thank thee more that I love thee.
Love is the rain, and love is the air, Love is the earth that holdeth fast;
Love is the root that is buried there, Love is the open flower at last!
I thank thee, Love all round about, That the eyes of my love are looking out.
Love is the sun, and love is the sea; Love is the tide that comes and goes;
Flowing and flowing it comes to me; Ebbing and ebbing to thee it flows!
Oh my sun, and my wind, and tide!
My sea, and my shore, and all beside!
Light, oh light that art by showing; Wind, oh wind that liv’st by motion;
Thought, oh thought that art by knowing; Will, that art born in self-devotion!
Love is you, though not all of you know it; Ye are not love, yet ye always show it!
Faithful creator, heart-longed-for father, Home of our heart-infolded brother,
Home to thee all thy glories gather– All are thy love, and there is no other! O Love-at-rest, we loves that roam–
Home unto thee, we are coming home!
“Earth, if aught should check thy race, Rushing through unfended space,
Headlong, stayless, thou wilt fall Into yonder glowing ball!”
“Beggar of the universe,
Faithless as an empty purse!
Sent abroad to cool and tame,
Think’st I fear my native flame?”
“If thou never on thy track
Turn thee round and hie thee back, Thou wilt wander evermore,
Outcast, cold–a comet hoar!”
“While I sweep my ring along
In an air of joyous song,
Thou art drifting, heart awry,
From the sun of liberty!”
I waited for the Master
In the darkness dumb;
Light came fast and faster–
My light did not come!
I waited all the daylight,
All through noon’s hot flame:
In the evening’s gray light,
Lo, the Master came!
Had I a great ship coming home,
With big plunge o’er the sea,
What bright things, hid from star and foam, Lay in her heart for thee!
The stormy billows heave and dip,
The wild winds veer and play;
But, regnant all, God’s stately ship Is steering home this way!
_MY HEART THY LARK_.
Why dost thou want to sing
When thou hast no song, my heart? If there be in thee a hidden spring,
Wherefore will no word start?
On its way thou hearest no song,
Yet flutters thy unborn joy!
The years of thy life are growing long– Art still the heart of a boy?–
Father, I am thy child!
My heart is in thy hand!
Let it hear some echo, with gladness wild, Of a song in thy high land.
It will answer–but how, my God,
Thou knowest; I cannot say:
It will spring, I know, thy lark, from thy sod– Thy lark to meet thy day!
_TWO IN ONE_.
Were thou and I the white pinions
On some eager, heaven-born dove,
Swift would we mount to the old dominions, To our rest of old, my love!
Were thou and I trembling strands
In music’s enchanted line,
We would wait and wait for magic hands To untwist the magic twine.
Were we two sky-tints, thou and I,
Thou the golden, I the red;
We would quiver and glow and darken and die, And love until we were dead!
Nearer than wings of one dove,
Than tones or colours in chord,
We are one–and safe, and for ever, my love, Two thoughts in the heart of one Lord.
“Come, children, put away your toys; Roll up that kite’s long line;
The day is done for girls and boys– Look, it is almost nine!
Come, weary foot, and sleepy head, Get up, and come along to bed.”
The children, loath, must yet obey;
Up the long stair they creep;
Lie down, and something sing or say Until they fall asleep,
To steal through caverns of the night Into the morning’s golden light.
We, elder ones, sit up more late,
And tasks unfinished ply,
But, gently busy, watch and wait– Dear sister, you and I,
To hear the Father, with soft tread, Coming to carry us to bed.
Thou who mad’st the mighty clock
Of the great world go;
Mad’st its pendulum swing and rock, Ceaseless to and fro;
Thou whose will doth push and draw Every orb in heaven,
Help me move by higher law
In my spirit graven.
Like a planet let me swing–
With intention strong;
In my orbit rushing sing
Help me answer in my course
To my seasons due;
Lord of every stayless force,
Make my Willing true.
_A SONG PRAYER_.
Oh, ease us
Of Self that oppresses,
Annoys and distresses
Body and brain
With dull pain!
Save one moment only,
Wast left, or wast lonely:
We are alone,
And make moan.
We wander, sleep-walking,
Mere shadows, dim-stalking:
Orphans we roam,
Far from home.
Oh new man,
God’s son, and our brother,
Give each to the other–
No one left out
In cold doubt!
Thy sons and thy daughters,
Through fires and through waters,
Home to the nest
Of thy breast!
Of great wings of healing,
Of love and revealing,
Teach us anew
To sing true.
SONGS OF THE DAYS AND NIGHTS.
_SONGS OF THE SUMMER DAYS_.
A glory on the chamber wall!
A glory in the brain!
Triumphant floods of glory fall
On heath, and wold, and plain.
Earth lieth still in hopeless bliss; She has, and seeks no more;
Forgets that days come after this, Forgets the days before.
Each ripple waves a flickering fire
Of gladness, as it runs;
They laugh and flash, and leap and spire, And toss ten thousand suns.
But hark! low, in the world within,
One sad aeolian tone:
“Ah! shall we ever, ever win
A summer of our own?”
A morn of winds and swaying trees–
Earth’s jubilance rushing out!
The birds are fighting with the breeze; The waters heave about.
White clouds are swept across the sky, Their shadows o’er the graves;
Purpling the green, they float and fly Athwart the sunny waves.
The long grass–an earth-rooted sea– Mimics the watery strife.
To boat or horse? Wild motion we
Shall find harmonious life.
But whither? Roll and sweep and bend Suffice for Nature’s part;
But motion to an endless end
Is needful for our heart.
The morn awakes like brooding dove,
With outspread wings of gray;
Her feathery clouds close in above, And roof a sober day.
No motion in the deeps of air!
No trembling in the leaves!
A still contentment everywhere,
That neither laughs nor grieves!
A film of sheeted silver gray
Shuts in the ocean’s hue;
White-winged feluccas cleave their way In paths of gorgeous blue.
Dream on, dream on, O dreamy day,
Thy very clouds are dreams!
Yon child is dreaming far away–
He is not where he seems.
The lark is up, his faith is strong, He mounts the morning air;
Lone voice of all the creature throng, He sings the morning prayer.
Slow clouds from north and south appear, Black-based, with shining slope;
In sullen forms their might they rear, And climb the vaulted cope.
A lightning flash, a thunder boom!– Nor sun nor clouds are there;
A single, all-pervading gloom
Hangs in the heavy air.
A weeping, wasting afternoon
Weighs down the aspiring corn;
Amber and red, the sunset soon
Leads back to golden morn.
_SONGS OF THE SUMMER NIGHTS_.
The dreary wind of night is out,
Homeless and wandering slow;
O’er pale seas moaning like a doubt, It breathes, but will not blow.
It sighs from out the helpless past, Where doleful things abide;
Gray ghosts of dead thought sail aghast Across its ebbing tide.
O’er marshy pools it faints and flows, All deaf and dumb and blind;
O’er moor and mountain aimless goes– The listless woesome wind!
Nay, nay!–breathe on, sweet wind of night! The sigh is all in me;
Flow, fan, and blow, with gentle might, Until I wake and see.
The west is broken into bars
Of orange, gold, and gray;
Gone is the sun, fast come the stars, And night infolds the day.
My boat glides with the gliding stream, Following adown its breast
One flowing mirrored amber gleam,
The death-smile of the west.
The river moves; the sky is still,
No ceaseless quest it knows:
Thy bosom swells, thy fair eyes fill At sight of its repose.
The ripples run; all patient sit
The stars above the night.
In shade and gleam the waters flit: The heavens are changeless bright!
Alone I lie, buried amid
The long luxurious grass;
The bats flit round me, born and hid In twilight’s wavering mass.
The fir-top floats, an airy isle,
High o’er the mossy ground;
Harmonious silence breathes the while In scent instead of sound.
The flaming rose glooms swarthy red; The borage gleams more blue;
Dim-starred with white, a flowery bed Glimmers the rich dusk through.
Hid in the summer grass I lie,
Lost in the great blue cave;
My body gazes at the sky,
And measures out its grave.
What art thou, gathering dusky cool, In slow gradation fine?
Death’s lovely shadow, flickering full Of eyes about to shine.
When weary Day goes down below,
Thou leanest o’er his grave,
Revolving all the vanished show
The gracious splendour gave.
Or art thou not she rather–say–
Dark-browed, with luminous eyes,
Of whom is born the mighty Day,
That fights and saves and dies?
For action sleeps with sleeping light; Calm thought awakes with thee:
The soul is then a summer night,
With stars that shine and see.
_SONGS OF THE AUTUMN DAYS_.
We bore him through the golden land, One early harvest morn;
The corn stood ripe on either hand– He knew all about the corn.
How shall the harvest gathered be
Without him standing by?
Without him walking on the lea,
The sky is scarce a sky.
The year’s glad work is almost done; The land is rich in fruit;
Yellow it floats in air and sun–
Earth holds it by the root.
Why should earth hold it for a day
When harvest-time is come?
Death is triumphant o’er decay,
And leads the ripened home.
And though the sun be not so warm,
His shining is not lost;
Both corn and hope, of heart and farm, Lie hid from coming frost.
The sombre woods are richly sad,
Their leaves are red and gold:
Are thoughts in solemn splendour clad Signs that we men grow old?
Strange odours haunt the doubtful brain From fields and days gone by;
And mournful memories again
Are born, are loved, and die.
The mornings clear, the evenings cool Foretell no wintry wars;
The day of dying leaves is full,
The night of glowing stars.
‘Tis late before the sun will rise,
And early he will go;
Gray fringes hang from the gray skies, And wet the ground below.
Red fruit has followed golden corn;
The leaves are few and sere;
My thoughts are old as soon as born, And chill with coming fear.
The winds lie sick; no softest breath Floats through the branches bare;
A silence as of coming death
Is growing in the air.
But what must fade can bear to fade– Was born to meet the ill:
Creep on, old Winter, deathly shade! We sorrow, and are still.
There is no longer any heaven
To glorify our clouds;
The rising vapours downward driven Come home in palls and shrouds.
The sun himself is ill bested
A heavenly sign to show;
His radiance, dimmed to glowing red, Can hardly further go.
An earthy damp, a churchyard gloom,
Pervade the moveless air;
The year is sinking to its tomb,
And death is everywhere.
But while sad thoughts together creep, Like bees too cold to sting,
God’s children, in their beds asleep, Are dreaming of the spring.
_SONGS OF THE AUTUMN NIGHTS_.
O night, send up the harvest moon
To walk about the fields,
And make of midnight magic noon
On lonely tarns and wealds.
In golden ranks, with golden crowns, All in the yellow land,
Old solemn kings in rustling gowns, The shocks moon-charmed stand.
Sky-mirror she, afloat in space,
Beholds our coming morn:
Her heavenly joy hath such a grace, It ripens earthly corn;
Like some lone saint with upward eyes, Lost in the deeps of prayer:
The people still their prayers and sighs, And gazing ripen there.
So, like the corn moon-ripened last, Would I, weary and gray,
On golden memories ripen fast,
And ripening pass away.
In an old night so let me die;
A slow wind out of doors;
A waning moon low in the sky;
A vapour on the moors;
A fire just dying in the gloom;
Earth haunted all with dreams;
A sound of waters in the room;
A mirror’s moony gleams;
And near me, in the sinking night,
More thoughts than move in me–
Forgiving wrong, and loving right, And waiting till I see.
Across the stubble glooms the wind;
High sails the lated crow;
The west with pallid green is lined; Fog tracks the river’s flow.
My heart is cold and sad; I moan,
Yet care not for my grief;
The summer fervours all are gone;
The roses are but leaf.
Old age is coming, frosty, hoar;
The snows of time will fall;
My jubilance, dream-like, no more
Returns for any call!
O lapsing heart! thy feeble strain
Sends up the blood so spare,
That my poor withering autumn brain Sees autumn everywhere!
Lord of my life! if I am blind,
I reck not–thou canst see;
I well may wait my summer mind,
When I am sure of thee!
_I_ made no brave bright suns arise, Veiled up no sweet gray eves;
_I_ hung no rose-lamps, lit no eyes, Sent out no windy leaves!
I said not “I will cast a charm
These gracious forms around;”
My heart with unwilled love grew warm; I took but what I found!
When cold winds range my winter-night, Be thou my summer-door;
Keep for me all my young delight,
Till I am old no more.
_SONGS OF THE WINTER DAYS_.
The sky has turned its heart away,
The earth its sorrow found;
The daisies turn from childhood’s play, And creep into the ground.
The earth is black and cold and hard; Thin films of dry white ice,
Across the rugged wheel-tracks barred, The children’s feet entice.
Dark flows the stream, as if it mourned The winter in the land;
With idle icicles adorned,
That mill-wheel soon will stand.
But, friends, to say ’tis cold, and part, Is to let in the cold;
We’ll make a summer of the heart,
And laugh at winter old.
With vague dead gleam the morning white Comes through the window-panes;
The clouds have fallen all the night, Without the noise of rains.
As of departing, unseen ghost,
Footprints go from the door;
The man himself must long be lost
Who left those footprints hoar!
Yet follow thou; tread down the snow; Leave all the road behind;
Heed not the winds that steely blow, Heed not the sky unkind;
For though the glittering air grow dark, The snow will shine till morn;
And long ere then one dear home-spark Will winter laugh to scorn.
Oh wildly wild the roaring blast
Torments the fallen snow!
The wintry storms are up at last,
And care not how they go!
In foam-like wreaths the water hoar, Rapt whistling in the air,
Gleams through the dismal twilight frore; A region in despair,
A spectral ocean lies outside,
Torn by a tempest dark;
Its ghostly billows, dim descried, Leap on my stranded bark.
Death-sheeted figures, long and white, Rave driving through the spray;
Or, bosomed in the ghastly night,
Shriek doom-cries far away.
A morning clear, with frosty light
From sunbeams late and low;
They shine upon the snow so white, And shine back from the snow.
Down tusks of ice one drop will go,
Nor fall: at sunny noon
‘Twill hang a diamond–fade, and grow An opal for the moon.
And when the bright sad sun is low
Behind the mountain-dome,
A twilight wind will come and blow Around the children’s home,
And puff and waft the powdery snow,
As feet unseen did pass;
While, waiting in its bed below,
Green lies the summer grass.
_SONGS OF THE WINTER NIGHTS_.
Back shining from the pane, the fire Seems outside in the snow:
So love set free from love’s desire Lights grief of long ago.
The dark is thinned with snow-sheen fine, The earth bedecked with moon;
Out on the worlds we surely shine
More radiant than in June!
In the white garden lies a heap
As brown as deep-dug mould:
A hundred partridges that keep
Each other from the cold.
My father gives them sheaves of corn, For shelter both and food:
High hope in me was early born,
My father was so good.
The frost weaves ferns and sultry palms Across my clouded pane;
Weaves melodies of ancient psalms
All through my passive brain.
Quiet ecstasy fills heart and head:
My father is in the room;
The very curtains of my bed
Are from Love’s sheltering loom!
The lovely vision melts away;
I am a child no more;
Work rises from the floor of play; Duty is at the door.
But if I face with courage stout
The labour and the din,
Thou, Lord, wilt let my mind go out My heart with thee stay in.
Up to my ear my soul doth run–
Her other door is dark;
There she can see without the sun, And there she sits to mark.
I hear the dull unheeding wind
Mumble o’er heath and wold;
My fancy leaves my brain behind,
And floats into the cold.
Like a forgotten face that lies
One of the speechless crowd,
The earth lies spent, with frozen eyes, White-folded in her shroud.
O’er leafless woods and cornless farms, Dead rivers, fireless thorps,
I brood, the heart still throbbing warm In Nature’s wintered corpse.
To all the world mine eyes are blind: Their drop serene is–night,
With stores of snow piled up the wind An awful airy height.
And yet ’tis but a mote in the eye:
The simple faithful stars
Beyond are shining, careless high, Nor heed our storms and jars.
And when o’er storm and jar I climb– Beyond life’s atmosphere,
I shall behold the lord of time
And space–of world and year.
Oh vain, far quest!–not thus my heart Shall ever find its goal!
I turn me home–and there thou art, My Father, in my soul!
_SONGS OF THE SPRING DAYS_.
A gentle wind, of western birth
On some far summer sea,
Wakes daisies in the wintry earth, Wakes hopes in wintry me.
The sun is low; the paths are wet,
And dance with frolic hail;
The trees–their spring-time is not yet– Swing sighing in the gale.
Young gleams of sunshine peep and play; Clouds shoulder in between;
I scarce believe one coming day
The earth will all be green.
The north wind blows, and blasts, and raves, And flaps his snowy wing:
Back! toss thy bergs on arctic waves; Thou canst not bar our spring.
Up comes the primrose, wondering;
The snowdrop droopeth by;
The holy spirit of the spring
Is working silently.
Soft-breathing breezes woo and wile
The later children out;
O’er woods and farms a sunny smile Is flickering about.
The earth was cold, hard-hearted, dull; To death almost she slept:
Over her, heaven grew beautiful,
And forth her beauty crept.
Showers yet must fall, and waters grow Dark-wan with furrowing blast;
But suns will shine, and soft winds blow, Till the year flowers at last.
The sky is smiling over me,
Hath smiled away the frost;
White daisies star the sky-like lea, With buds the wood’s embossed.
Troops of wild flowers gaze at the sky Up through the latticed boughs;
Till comes the green cloud by and by, It is not time to house.
Yours is the day, sweet bird–sing on; The winter is forgot;
Like an ill dream ’tis over and gone: Pain that is past, is not.
Joy that was past is yet the same:
If care the summer brings,
‘Twill only be another name
For love that broods, not sings.
Blow on me, wind, from west and south; Sweet summer-spirit, blow!
Come like a kiss from dear child’s mouth, Who knows not what I know.
The earth’s perfection dawneth soon; Ours lingereth alway;
We have a morning, not a noon;
Spring, but no summer gay.
Rose-blotted eve, gold-branded morn
Crown soon the swift year’s life: In us a higher hope is born,
And claims a longer strife.
Will heaven be an eternal spring
With summer at the door?
Or shall we one day tell its king
That we desire no more?
_SONGS OF THE SPRING NIGHTS_.
The flush of green that dyed the day Hath vanished in the moon;
Flower-scents float stronger out, and play An unborn, coming tune.
One southern eve like this, the dew
Had cooled and left the ground;
The moon hung half-way from the blue, No disc, but conglobed round;
Light-leaved acacias, by the door,
Bathed in the balmy air,
Clusters of blossomed moonlight bore, And breathed a perfume rare;
Great gold-flakes from the starry sky Fell flashing on the deep:
One scent of moist earth floating by, Almost it made me weep.
Those gorgeous stars were not my own, They made me alien go!
The mother o’er her head had thrown A veil I did not know!
The moon-blanched fields that seaward went, The palm-flung, dusky shades,
Bore flowering grasses, knotted, bent, No slender, spear-like blades.
I longed to see the starry host
Afar in fainter blue;
But plenteous grass I missed the most, With daisies glimmering through.
The common things were not the same! I longed across the foam:
From dew-damp earth that odour came– I knew the world my home.
The stars are glad in gulfy space–
Friendly the dark to them!
From day’s deep mine, their hiding-place, Night wooeth every gem.
A thing for faith ‘mid labour’s jar, When up the day is furled,
Shines in the sky a light afar,
Mayhap a home-filled world.
Sometimes upon the inner sky
We catch a doubtful shine:
A mote or star? A flash in the eye Or jewel of God’s mine?
A star to us, all glimmer and glance, May teem with seraphim:
A fancy to our ignorance
May be a truth to Him.
The night is damp and warm and still, And soft with summer dreams;
The buds are bursting at their will, And shy the half moon gleams.
My soul is cool, as bathed within
By dews that silent weep–
Like child that has confessed his sin, And now will go to sleep.
My body ages, form and hue;
But when the spring winds blow,
My spirit stirs and buds anew,
Younger than long ago.
Lord, make me more a child, and more, Till Time his own end bring,
And out of every winter sore
I pass into thy spring.
A BOOK OF DREAMS.
I lay and dreamed. The Master came,
In seamless garment drest;
I stood in bonds ‘twixt love and shame, Not ready to be blest.
He stretched his arms, and gently sought To clasp me to his heart;
I shrank, for I, unthinking, thought He knew me but in part.
I did not love him as I would!
Embraces were not meet!
I dared not ev’n stand where he stood– I fell and kissed his feet.
Years, years have passed away since then; Oft hast thou come to me;
The question scarce will rise again Whether I care for thee.
In thee lies hid my unknown heart,
In thee my perfect mind;
In all my joys, my Lord, thou art
The deeper joy behind.
But when fresh light and visions bold My heart and hope expand,
Up comes the vanity of old
That now I understand:
Away, away from thee I drift,
Forgetting, not forgot;
Till sudden yawns a downward rift– I start–and see thee not.
Ah, then come sad, unhopeful hours!
All in the dark I stray,
Until my spirit fainting cowers
On the threshold of the day.
Hence not even yet I child-like dare Nestle unto thy breast,
Though well I know that only there Lies hid the secret rest.
But now I shrink not from thy will,
Nor, guilty, judge my guilt;
Thy good shall meet and slay my ill– Do with me as thou wilt.
If I should dream that dream once more, Me in my dreaming meet;
Embrace me, Master, I implore,
And let me kiss thy feet.
I stood before my childhood’s home,
Outside its belt of trees;
All round my glances flit and roam O’er well-known hills and leas;
When sudden rushed across the plain
A host of hurrying waves,
Loosed by some witchery of the brain From far, dream-hidden caves.
And up the hill they clomb and came, A wild, fast-flowing sea:
Careless I looked as on a game;
No terror woke in me.
For, just the belting trees within,
I saw my father wait;
And should the waves the summit win, There was the open gate!
With him beside, all doubt was dumb; There let the waters foam!
No mightiest flood would dare to come And drown his holy home!
Two days passed by. With restless toss, The red flood brake its doors;
Prostrate I lay, and looked across To the eternal shores.
The world was fair, and hope was high; My friends had all been true;
Life burned in me, and Death and I Would have a hard ado.
Sudden came back the dream so good,
My trouble to abate:
At his own door my Father stood–
I just without the gate!
“Thou know’st what is, and what appears,” I said; “mine eyes to thine
Are windows; thou hear’st with thine ears, But also hear’st with mine:”
“Thou knowest my weak soul’s dismay, How trembles my life’s node;
Thou art the potter, I am the clay– ‘Tis thine to bear the load.”
A piece of gold had left my purse,
Which I had guarded ill;
I feared a lack, but feared yet worse Regret returning still.
I lifted up my feeble prayer
To him who maketh strong,
That thence no haunting thoughts of care Might do my spirit wrong.
And even before my body slept,
Such visions fair I had,
That seldom soul with chamber swept Was more serenely glad.
No white-robed angel floated by
On slow, reposing wings;
I only saw, with inward eye,
Some very common things.
First rose the scarlet pimpernel
With burning purple heart;
I saw within it, and could spell
The lesson of its art.
Then came the primrose, child-like flower, And looked me in the face;
It bore a message full of power,
And confidence, and grace.
And breezes rose on pastures trim
And bathed me all about;
Wool-muffled sheep-bells babbled dim, Or only half spoke out.
Sudden it closed, some door of heaven, But what came out remained:
The poorest man my loss had given
For that which I had gained!
Thou gav’st me, Lord, a brimming cup Where I bemoaned a sip;
How easily thou didst make up
For that my fault let slip!
What said the flowers? what message new Embalmed my soul with rest?
I scarce can tell–only they grew
Right out of God’s own breast.
They said, to every flower he made
God’s thought was root and stem– Perhaps said what the lilies said
When Jesus looked at them.
Sometimes, in daylight hours, awake, Our souls with visions teem
Which to the slumbering brain would take The form of wondrous dream.
Once, with my thought-sight, I descried A plain with hills around;
A lordly company on each side
Leaves bare the middle ground.
Great terrace-steps at one end rise
To something like a throne,
And thither all the radiant eyes,
As to a centre, shone.
A snow-white glory, dim-defined,
Those seeking eyes beseech–
Him who was not in fire or wind,
But in the gentle speech.
They see his eyes far-fixed wait:
Adown the widening vale
They, turning, look; their breath they bate, With dread-filled wonder pale.
In raiment worn and blood-bedewed,
With faltering step and numb,
Toward the shining multitude
A weary man did come.
His face was white, and still-composed, As of a man nigh dead;
The eyes, through eyelids half unclosed, A faint, wan splendour shed.
Drops on his hair disordered hung
Like rubies dull of hue;
His hands were pitifully wrung,
And stricken through and through.
Silent they stood with tender awe:
Between their ranks he came;
Their tearful eyes looked down, and saw What made his feet so lame.
He reached the steps below the throne, There sank upon his knees;
Clasped his torn hands with stifled groan, And spake in words like these:–
“Father, I am come back. Thy will
Is sometimes hard to do.”
From all that multitude so still
A sound of weeping grew.
Then mournful-glad came down the One; He kneeled and clasped his child;
Lay on his breast the outworn man, And wept until he smiled.
The people, who, in bitter woe
And love, had sobbed and cried,
Raised aweful eyes at length–and, Lo, The two sat side by side!
Dreaming I slept. Three crosses stood High in the gloomy air;
One bore a thief, and one the Good; The other waited bare.
A soldier came up to the place,
And took me for the third;
My eyes they sought the Master’s face, My will the Master’s word.
He bent his head; I took the sign,
And gave the error way;
Gesture nor look nor word of mine
The secret should betray.
The soldier from the cross’s foot
Turned. I stood waiting there:
That grim, expectant tree, for fruit My dying form must bear.
Up rose the steaming mists of doubt
And chilled both heart and brain; They shut the world of vision out,
And fear saw only pain.
“Ah me, my hands! the hammer’s blow! The nails that rend and pierce!
The shock may stun, but, slow and slow, The torture will grow fierce.”
“Alas, the awful fight with death!
The hours to hang and die!
The thirsting gasp for common breath! The weakness that would cry!”
My soul returned: “A faintness soon
Will shroud thee in its fold;
The hours will bring the fearful noon; ‘Twill pass–and thou art cold.”
“‘Tis his to care that thou endure,
To curb or loose the pain;
With bleeding hands hang on thy cure– It shall not be in vain.”
But, ah, the will, which thus could quail, Might yield–oh, horror drear!
Then, more than love, the fear to fail Kept down the other fear.
I stood, nor moved. But inward strife The bonds of slumber broke:
Oh! had I fled, and lost the life
Of which the Master spoke?
Methinks I hear, as o’er this life’s dim dial The last shades darken, friends say, “_He was good_;” I struggling fail to speak my faint denial– They whisper, “_His humility withstood_.”
I, knowing better, part with love unspoken; And find the unknown world not all unknown: The bonds that held me from my centre broken, I seek my home, the Saviour’s homely throne.
How he will greet me, walking on, I wonder; I think I know what I will say to him; I fear no sapphire floor of cloudless thunder, I fear no passing vision great and dim.
But he knows all my weary sinful story: How will he judge me, pure, and strong, and fair? I come to him in all his conquered glory, Won from the life that I went dreaming there!
I come; I fall before him, faintly saying: “Ah, Lord, shall I thy loving pardon win? Earth tempted me; my walk was but a straying; I have no honour–but may I come in?”
I hear him say: “Strong prayer did keep me stable; To me the earth was very lovely too:
Thou shouldst have prayed; I would have made thee able To love it greatly!–but thou hast got through.”
A gloomy and a windy day!
No sunny spot is bare;
Dull vapours, in uncomely play,
Go weltering through the air:
If through the windows of my mind
I let them come and go,
My thoughts will also in the wind
Sweep restless to and fro.
I drop my curtains for a dream.–
What comes? A mighty swan,
With plumage like a sunny gleam,
And folded airy van!
She comes, from sea-plains dreaming, sent By sea-maids to my shore,
With stately head proud-humbly bent, And slackening swarthy oar.
Lone in a vaulted rock I lie,
A water-hollowed cell,
Where echoes of old storms go by,
Like murmurs in a shell.
The waters half the gloomy way
Beneath its arches come;
Throbbing to outside billowy play, The green gulfs waver dumb.
Undawning twilights through the cave In moony glimmers go,
Half from the swan above the wave, Half from the swan below,
As to my feet she gently drifts
Through dim, wet-shiny things,
And, with neck low-curved backward, lifts The shoulders of her wings.
Old earth is rich with many a nest
Of softness ever new,
Deep, delicate, and full of rest– But loveliest there are two:
I may not tell them save to minds
That are as white as they;
But none will hear, of other kinds– They all are turned away.
On foamy mounds between the wings
Of a white sailing swan,
A flaky bed of shelterings,
There you will find the one.
The other–well, it will not out,
Nor need I tell it you;
I’ve told you one, and can you doubt, When there are only two?
Fill full my dream, O splendid bird! Me o’er the waters bear:
Never was tranquil ocean stirred
By ship so shapely fair!
Nor ever whiteness found a dress
In which on earth to go,
So true, profound, and rich, unless It was the falling snow!
Her wings, with flutter half-aloft,
Impatient fan her crown;
I cannot choose but nestle soft
Into the depth of down.
With oary-pulsing webs unseen,
Out the white frigate sweeps;
In middle space we hang, between
The air- and ocean-deeps.
Up the wave’s mounting, flowing side, With stroke on stroke we rack;
As down the sinking slope we slide, She cleaves a talking track–
Like heather-bells on lonely steep, Like soft rain on the glass,
Like children murmuring in their sleep, Like winds in reedy grass.
Her white breast heaving like a wave, She beats the solemn time;
With slow strong sweep, intent and grave, Hearkens the ripples rime.
All round, from flat gloom upward drawn, I catch the gleam, vague, wide,
With which the waves, from dark to dawn, Heave up the polished side.
The night is blue; the stars aglow
Crowd the still, vaulted steep,
Sad o’er the hopeless, restless flow Of the self-murmurous deep–
A thicker night, with gathered moan! A dull dethroned sky!
The shadows of its stars alone
Left in to know it by!
What faints across yon lifted loop
Where the west gleams its last?
With sea-veiled limbs, a sleeping group Of Nereids dreaming past.
Row on, fair swan;–who knows but I, Ere night hath sought her cave,
May see in splendour pale float by The Venus of the wave!
A rainbow-wave o’erflowed her,
A glory that deepened and grew,
A song of colour and odour
That thrilled her through and through: ‘Twas a dream of too much gladness
Ever to see the light;
They are only dreams of sadness
That weary out the night.
Slow darkness began to rifle
The nest of the sunset fair;
Dank vapour began to stifle
The scents that enriched the air; The flowers paled fast and faster,
They crumbled, leaf and crown,
Till they looked like the stained plaster Of a cornice fallen down.
And the change crept nigh and nigher, Inward and closer stole,
Till the flameless, blasting fire
Entered and withered her soul.–
But the fiends had only flouted
Her vision of the night;
Up came the morn and routed
The darksome things with light.
Wide awake I have often been in it– The dream that all is none;
It will come in the gladdest minute And wither the very sun.
Two moments of sad commotion,
One more of doubt’s palsied rule– And the great wave-pulsing ocean
Is only a gathered pool;
A flower is a spot of painting,
A lifeless, loveless hue;
Though your heart be sick to fainting It says not a word to you;
A bird knows nothing of gladness,
Is only a song-machine;
A man is a reasoning madness,
A woman a pictured queen!
Then fiercely we dig the fountain:
Oh! whence do the waters rise?
Then panting we climb the mountain: Oh! are there indeed blue skies?
We dig till the soul is weary,
Nor find the water-nest out;
We climb to the stone-crest dreary, And still the sky is a doubt!
Let alone the roots of the fountain; Drink of the water bright;
Leave the sky at rest on the mountain, Walk in its torrent of light;
Although thou seest no beauty,
Though widowed thy heart yet cries, With thy hands go and do thy duty,
And thy work will clear thine eyes.
A great church in an empty square,
A haunt of echoing tones!
Feet pass not oft enough to wear
The grass between the stones.
The jarring hinges of its gates
A stifled thunder boom;
The boding heart slow-listening waits, As for a coming doom.
The door stands wide. With hideous grin, Like dumb laugh, evil, frore,
A gulf of death, all dark within,
Hath swallowed half the floor.
Its uncouth sides of earth and clay
O’erhang the void below;
Ah, some one force my feet away,
Or down I needs must go!
See, see the horrid, crumbling slope!