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Dreams & Dust by Don Marquis

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Some forebear's passion leaps from death
To claim a vital license still.

Ancestral lusts that slew and died,
Resurgent, swell each living vein;
Old doubts and faiths, new panoplied,
Dispute the mastery of the brain.

The love of liberty that flames
From written rune and stricken reed
Shook the hot hearts of swordsmen sires
At Marathon and Runnymede.

What are these things we call our "selves"? . . .
Have I not shouted, sobbed, and died
In the bright surf of spears that broke
Where Greece rolled back the Persian tide?

Are we who breathe more quick than they
Whose bones are dust within the tomb?
Nay, as I write, what gray old ghosts
Murmur and mock me from the gloom. . . .

They call . . . across strange seas they call,
Strange seas, and haunted coasts of time. . . .
They startle me with wordless songs
To which the Sphinx hath known the rhyme.

Our hearts swell big with dead men's hates,
Our eyes sting hot with dead men's tears;
We are ourselves, but not ourselves,
Born heirs, but serfs, to all the years!

I rode with Nimrod . . . strove at Troy . . .
A slave I stood in Crowning Tyre,
A queen looked on me and I loved
And died to compass my desire.


EARTH loves to gibber o'er her dross,
Her golden souls, to waste;
The cup she fills for her god-men
Is a bitter cup to taste.

Who sees the gyves that bind mankind
And strives to strike them off
Shall gain the hissing hate of fools,
Thorns, and the ingrate's scoff.

Who storms the moss-grown walls of eld
And beats some falsehood down
Shall pass the pallid gates of death
Sans laurel, love or crown;

For him who fain would teach the world
The world holds hate in fee--
For Socrates, the hemlock cup;
For Christ, Gethsemane.


"In Vishnu-land, what avatar?"

PERCHANCE the dying gods of Earth
Are destined to another birth,
And worn-out creeds regain their worth
In the kindly air of other stars--
What lords of life and light hold sway
In the myriad worlds of the Milky Way?
What avatars in Mars?

What Aphrodites from the seas
That lap the plunging Pleiades
Arise to spread afar
The dream that was the soul of Greece?
In Mars, what avatar?

Which hundred moons are wan with love
For dull Endymions?
Which hundred moons hang tranced above
Audacious Ajalons?

What Holy Grail lures errants pale
Through the wastes of yonder star?
What fables sway the Milky Way?
In Mars, what avatar?

When morning skims with crimson wings
Across the meres of Mercury,
What dreaming Memnon wakes and sings
Of miracles on Mercury?
What Christs, what avatars,
Claim Mars?


Shall the shepherds of Arcady follow
Pan's moods as he lolls by the shore
Of the mere, or lies hid in the hollow;
Shall they start at the sound of his reed-fashioned

Fallen mute
Are the strings of Apollo,
His lyre and his lute;
And the lips of the Memnons are mute
And the gods of the North,--are they dead or
Our Odin and Baldur and Thor?
Are they drunk, or grown weary of worship and
Our Odin and Baldur and Thor?

And into what night have the Orient dieties
Swart gods of the Nile, in dusk splendors arrayed,
Brooding Isis and somber Osiris,
You were gone ere the fragile papyrus,
(That bragged you eternal!) decayed.

The avatars
But illumine their limited evens
And vanish like plunging stars;
They are fixed in the whirling heavens
No firmer than falling stars;
Brief lords of the changing soul, they pass
Like a breath from the face of a glass,
Or a blossom of summer blown shallop-like over
The clover
And tossed tides of grass.

Sink to silence the psalms and the paeans
The shibboleths shift, and the faiths,
And the temples that challenged the aeons
Are tenanted only by wraiths;
Swoon to silence the cymbals and psalters,
The worships grow senseless and strange,

And the mockers ask, "Where be thy altars?"
Crying, "Nothing is changeless--but Change!"

Yes, nothing seems changeless, but Change.
And yet, through the creed-wrecking years,
One story for ever appears;
The tale of a City Supernal--
The whisper of Something eternal--
A passion, a hope, and a vision
That peoples the silence with Powers;
A fable of meadows Elysian
Where Time enters not with his Hours;--
Manifold are the tale's variations,
Race and clime ever tinting the dreams,
Yet its essence, through endless mutations,
Immutable gleams.

Deathless, though godheads be dying,
Surviving the creeds that expire,
Illogical, reason-defying,
Lives that passionate, primal desire;
Insistent, persistent, forever
Man cries to the silences, Never

Shall Death reign the lord of the soul,
Shall the dust be the ultimate goal--
I will storm the black bastions of Night!
I will tread where my vision has trod,
I will set in the darkness a light,
In the vastness, a god!"

As the forehead of Man grows broader, so do
his creeds;
And his gods they are shaped in his image, and
mirror his needs;
And he clothes them with thunders and beauty,
he clothes them with music and fire;
Seeing not, as he bows by their altars, that he
worships his own desire;
And mixed with his trust there is terror, and
mixed with his madness is ruth,
And every man grovels in error, yet every man
glimpses a truth.

For all of the creeds are false, and all of the creeds
are true;
And low at the shrines where my brothers bow,
there will I bow, too;

For no form of a god, and no fashion
Man has made in his desperate passion
But is worthy some worship of mine;--
Not too hot with a gross belief,
Nor yet too cold with pride,
I will bow me down where my brothers bow,
Humble--but open-eyed!


A FIERCE unrest seethes at the core
Of all existing things:
It was the eager wish to soar
That gave the gods their wings.

From what flat wastes of cosmic slime,
And stung by what quick fire,
Sunward the restless races climb!--
Men risen out of mire!

There throbs through all the worlds that are
This heart-beat hot and strong,
And shaken systems, star by star,
Awake and glow in song.

But for the urge of this unrest
These joyous spheres were mute;
But for the rebel in his breast
Had man remained a brute.

When baffled lips demanded speech,
Speech trembled into birth--
(One day the lyric word shall reach
From earth to laughing earth)--

When man's dim eyes demanded light
The light he sought was born--
His wish, a Titan, scaled the height
And flung him back the morn!

From deed to dream, from dream to deed,
From daring hope to hope,
The restless wish, the instant need,
Still lashed him up the slope!

. . . . . .

I sing no governed firmament,
Cold, ordered, regular--
I sing the stinging discontent
That leaps from star to star!


WHAT was his life, back yonder
In the dusk where time began,
This beast uncouth with the jaw of an ape
And the eye and brain of a man?--
Work, and the wooing of woman,
Fight, and the lust of fight,
Play, and the blind beginnings
Of an Art that groped for light?--

In the wonder of redder mornings,
By the beauty of brighter seas,
Did he stand, the world's first thinker,
Scorning his clan's decrees?--
Seeking, with baffled eyes,
In the dumb, inscrutable skies,
A name for the greater glory
That only the dreamer sees?

One day, when the afterglows,
Like quick and sentient things,

With a rush of their vast, wild wings,
Rose out of the shaken ocean
As great birds rise from the sod,
Did the shock of their sudden splendor
Stir him and startle and thrill him,
Grip him and shake him and fill him
With a sense as of heights untrod?--
Did he tremble with hope and vision,
And grasp at a hint of God?

London stands where the mammoth
Caked shag flanks with slime--
And what are our lives that inherit
The treasures of all time?
Work, and the wooing of woman,
Fight, and the lust of fight,
A little play (and too much toil!)
With an Art that gropes for light;
And now and then a dreamer,
Rapt, from his lonely sod
Looks up and is thrilled and startled
With a fleeting sense of God!


THE creeds he wrought of dream and thought
Fall from him at the touch of life,
His old gods fail him in the strife--
Withdrawn, the heavens he sought!

Vanished, the miracles that led,
The cloud at noon, the flame at night;
The vision that he wing'd and sped
Falls backward, baffled, from the height;

Yet in the wreck of these he stands
Upheld by something grim and strong;
Some stubborn instinct lifts a song
And nerves him, heart and hands:

He does not dare to call it hope;--
It is not aught that seeks reward--

Nor faith, that up some sunward slope
Runs aureoled to meet its lord;

It touches something elder far
Than faith or creed or thought in man,
It was ere yet these lived and ran
Like light from star to star;

It touches that stark, primal need
That from unpeopled voids and vast
Fashioned the first crude, childish creed,--
And still shall fashion, till the last!

For one word is the tale of men:
They fling their icons to the sod,
And having trampled down a god
They seek a god again!

Stripped of his creeds inherited,
Bereft of all his sires held true,
Amid the wreck of visions dead
He thrills at touch of visions new. . . .

He wings another Dream for flight. . . .
He seeks beyond the outmost dawn
A god he set there . . . and, anon,
Drags that god from the height!

. . . . . .

But aye from ruined faiths and old
That droop and die, fall bruised seeds;
And when new flowers and faiths unfold
They're lovelier flowers, they're kindlier creeds.


THE steam, the reek, the fume, of prayer
Blown outward for a million years,
Becomes a mist between the spheres,
And waking Sentience struggles there.

Prayer still creates the boon we pray;
And gods we've hoped for, from those hopes
Will gain sufficient form one day
And in full godhood storm the slopes
Where ancient Chaos, stark and gray,
Already trembles for his sway.

When that the restless worlds would fly
Their wish created rapid wings,
But not till aeons had passed by
With dower of many idler things;
And when dumb flesh demanded speech
Speech struggled to the lips at last;--
Now the unpeopled Void, and vast,

Clean to that uttermost blank beach
Whereto the boldest thought may reach
That voyages from the vaguest past--
(Dim realm and ultimate of space)--
Is vexed and troubled, stirs and shakes,
In prescience of a god that wakes,
Born of man's wish to see God's face!

The endless, groping, dumb desires,--
The climbing incense thick and sweet,
The lovely purpose that aspires,
The wraiths of vapor wing'd and fleet
That rise and run with eager feet
Forth from a myriad altar fires:
All these become a mist that fills
The vales and chasms nebular;
A shaping Soul that moves and thrills
The wastes between red star and star!


OUT of the soil and the slime,
Reeking, they climb,

Out of the muck and the mire,
Rank, they aspire;

Filthy with murder and mud,
Black with shed blood,

Lust and passion and clay--
Dying, they slay;

Stirred by vague hints of a goal,
Seeking a soul!

Groping through terror and night
Up to the light:

Life in the dust and the clod
Sensing a God;

Flushed of the glamor and gleam
Caught from a dream;

Stained of the struggle and toil,
Stained of the soil,

Ally of God in the end--
Helper and friend--

Hero and prophet and priest
Out of the beast!


CHRIST was of virgin birth, and, being slain,
The creedists say, He rose from death again.
Oh, futile age-long talk of death and birth!--
His life, that is the one thing wonder-worth;
Not how He came, but how He lived on earth.
For if gods stoop, and with quaint jugglery
Mock nature's laws, how shall that profit thee?--
The nobler lesson is that mortals can
Grow godlike through this baffled front of man!


EACH race has died and lived and fought for the
"true" gods of that poor race,
Unconsciously, divinest thought of each race gild-
ing its god's face.
And every race that lives and dies shall make itself
some other gods,
Shall build, with mingled truth and lies, new icons
from the world-old clods.
Through all the tangled creeds and dreams and
shifting shibboleths men hold
The false-and-true, inwoven, gleams: a matted
mass of dross and gold.
Prove, then, thy gods in thine own soul; all others'
gods, for thee, are vain;
Nor swerved be, struggling for the goal, by bribe
of joy nor threat of pain.

As skulls grow broader, so do faiths; as old tongues
die, old gods die, too,

And only ghosts of gods and wraiths may meet
the backward-gazer's view.
Where, where the faiths of yesterday? Ah,
whither vanished, whither gone?
Say, what Apollos drive to-day adown the flaming
slopes of dawn?
Oh, does the blank past hide from view forgotten
Christs, to be reborn,
The future tremble where some new Messiah-
Memnon sings the morn?
Of all the worlds, say any earth, like dust wind-
harried to and fro,
Shall give the next Prometheus birth; but say--
at last--you do not know.

How should I know what dawn may gleam beyond
the gates of darkness there?--
Which god of all the gods men dream? Why
should I whip myself to care?
Whichever over all hath place hath shaped and
made me what I am;
Hath made me strong to front his face, to dare
to question though he damn.

Perhaps to cringe and cower and bring a shrine
a forced and faithless faith
Is far more futile than to fling your laughter in
the face of Death.
For writhe or whirl in dervish rout, they are not
flattered there on high,
Or sham belief to hide a doubt--no gods are mine
that love a lie!
Nor gods that beg belief on earth with portents
that some seer foretells--
Is life itself not wonder-worth that we must cry
for miracles?
Is it not strange enough we breathe? Does every-
thing not God reveal?
Or must we ever weave and wreathe some creed
that shall his face conceal?
Some creed of which its prophets cry it holds
the secret's all-in-all:
Some creed which ever bye and bye doth crumble,
totter, to its fall!
Say any dream of all the dreams that drift and
darkle, glint and glow,
Holds most of truth within its gleams; but say
--at last--you do not know.

Oh, say the soul, from star to star, with victory
wing'd, leap on through space
And scale the bastioned nights that bar the secret's
inner dwelling-place;
Or say it ever roam dim glades where pallid
wraiths of long-dead moons
Flit like blown feathers through the shades, borne
on the breath of sobbing tunes:
Say any tide of any time, of all the tides that ebb
and flow,
Shall buoy us on toward any clime; but say--at
last--you do not know!



"King Pandion, he is dead;
All thy friends are lapp'd in lead."

DREAMERS, drinkers, rebel youth,
Where's the folly free and fine
You and I mistook for truth?
Wits and wastrels, friends of wine,
Wags and poets, friends of mine,
Gleams and glamors all are fled,
Fires and frenzies half divine!
King Pandion, he is dead!

Time's unmannerly, uncouth!
Here's the crow's-foot for a sign!
And, upon our brows, forsooth,
Wits and wastrels, friends of wine,
Time hath set his mark malign;
Frost has touched us, heart and head,
Cooled the blood and dulled the eyne:
King Pandion, he is dead!

Time's a tyrant without ruth:--
Fancies used to bloom and twine
Round a common tavern booth,
Wits and wastrels, friends of wine,
In that youth of mine and thine!
'Tis for youth the feast is spread;
When we dine now--we but dine!--
King Pandion, he is dead!

How our dreams would glow and shine,
Wits and wastrels, friends of wine,
Ere the drab Hour came that said:
King Pandion, he is dead!


VERY red are the roses of Sharon,
But redder thy mouth,
There is nard, there is myrrh, in En Gedi,
From the uplands of Lebanon, heavy
With balsam, the winds
Drift freighted and scented and cedarn--
But thy mouth is more precious than spices!

Thy breasts are twin lilies of Kedron;
White lilies, that sleep
In the shallows where loitering Kedron
Broadens out and is lost in the Jordan;
Globed lilies, so white
That David, thy King, thy beloved
Declareth them meet for his gardens.

Under the stars very strangely
The still waters gleam;
Deep down in the waters of Hebron

The soul of the starlight is sunken,
But deep in thine eyes
Stirs a more wonderful secret
Than pools ever learn of the starlight.


A TOAST to the Fools!
Pierrot, Pantaloon,
Harlequin, Clown,
Merry-Andrew, Buffoon--
Touchstone and Triboulet--all of the tribe.--
Dancer and jester and singer and scribe.
We sigh over Yorick--(unfortunate fool,
Ten thousand Hamlets have fumbled his skull!)--
But where is the Hamlet to weep o'er the biers
Of his brothers?
And where is the poet solicits our tears
For the others?
They have passed from the world and left never
a sign,
And few of us now have the courage to sing
That their whimsies made life a more livable
We, that are left of the line,
Let us drink to the jesters--in gooseberry wine!

Then here's to the Fools!
Flouting the sages
Through history's pages
And driving the dreary old seers into rages--
The humbugging Magis
Who prate that the wages
Of Folly are Death--toast the Fools of all ages!
They have ridden like froth down the whirlpools
of time,
They have jingled their caps in the councils of
They have snared half the wisdom of life in a
And tripped into nothingness grinning at fate--
Ho, brothers mine,
Brim up the glasses with gooseberry wine!

Though the prince with his firman,
The judge in his ermine,
Affirm and determine
Bold words need the whip,
Let them spare us the rod and remit us the
For Death has a quip

Of the tomb and the vermin
That will silence at last the most impudent lip!
Is the world but a bubble, a bauble, a joke?
Heigho, Brother Fools, now your bubble is broke,
Do you ask for a tear?--or is it worth while?
Here's a sigh for you, then--but it ends in a smile!
Ho, Brother Death,
We would laugh at you, too--if you spared us the


"Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle-shells
And pretty maids all in a row!"
--Mother Goose.

MARY, Mistress Mary,
How does your garden grow?
From your uplands airy,
Mary, Mistress Mary,
Float the chimes of faery
When the breezes blow!
Mary, Mistress Mary,
How does your garden grow?

With flower-maidens, singing
Among the morning hills--
With silvern bells a-ringing,
With flower-maidens singing,
With vocal lilies, springing
By chanting daffodils;
With flower-maidens, singing
Among the morning hills!


YOUR triolet should glimmer
Like a butterfly;
In golden light, or dimmer,
Your triolet should glimmer,
Tremble, turn, and shimmer,
Flash, and flutter by;
Your triolet should glimmer
Like a butterfly.


HELD and thrilled by the vision
I stood, as the twilight died,
Where the great bridge soars like a song
Over the crawling tide--

Stood on the middle arch--
And night flooded in from the bay,
And wonderful under the stars
Before me the city lay;

Girdled with swinging waters--
Guarded by ship on ship--
A gem that the strong old ocean
Held in his giant grip;

There was play of shadows above
And drifting gleams below,
And magic of shifting waves
That darkle and glance and glow;

Dusky and purple and splendid,
Banded with loops of light,
The tall towers rose like pillars,
Lifting the dome of night;

The gliding cars of traffic
Slid swiftly up and down
Like monsters, fiery mailed,
Leaping across the town.

Not planned with a thought of beauty;
Built by a lawless breed;
Builded of lust for power,
Builded of gold and greed.

Risen out of the trader's
Brutal and sordid wars--
And yet, behold! a city
Wonderful under the stars!


GALAHADS, Galahads, Percivals, gallop!
Bayards, to the saddle!--the clangorous trumpets,
Hoarse with their ecstasy, call to the mellay.
Paladins, Paladins, Rolands flame-hearted,
Olivers, Olivers, follow the bugles!

Girt with the glory and glamor of power,
Error sits throned in the high place of justice;
Paladins, Paladins, youth noble-hearted,
Saddle and spear, for the battle-flags beckon!
Thrust the keen steel through the throat of the liar.

Star (or San Grael) that illumines thy pathway,
Follow it, follow that far Ideal!--
Thine not the guerdon to gain it or grasp it;
Soul of thee, passing, ascendeth unto it,
Augmenting its brightness for them that come

Heed then the call of the trumpets, the trumpets,
Hoarse with the fervor, the frenzy of battle,--
Paladins, Paladins, saddle! to saddle!
Bide not, abide not, God's bugles are calling!--
Thrust the sharp sword through the heart of the


MY lands, not thine, we look upon,
Friend Croesus, hill and vale and lawn.
Mine every woodland madrigal,
And mine thy singing waterfall
That vaguely hints of Helicon.

Mark how thine upland slopes have drawn
A golden glory from the dawn!--
Fool's gold?--thy dullness proves them all
My lands--not thine!

For when all title-deeds are gone,
Still, still will satyr, nymph, and faun
Through brake and covert pipe and call
In dances bold and bacchanal--
For them, for me, you hold in pawn,
My lands--not thine!


FORMAL, quaint, precise, and trim,
You begin your steps demurely--
There's a spirit almost prim
In the feet that move so surely,
So discreetly, to the chime
Of the music that so sweetly
Marks the time.

But the chords begin to tinkle
And your feet they flash and flicker--
Flash and flutter to a tricksy
Fickle meter;
And you foot it like a pixie--
Only fleeter!

Now our current, dowdy

"Turkey-trots" and rowdy
For they made you overseas
In politer times than these,
In an age when grace could please,
Ere St. Vitus
Clutched and shook us, spine and knees;--
Loosed a plague of jerks to smite us!

Well, our day is far more brisk
And our manner rather slacker),
And you are nothing more than bisque
And lacquer--
But you shame us with the graces
Of courtlier times and places
When the cheap
And vulgar wasn't "art"--
When the faunal prance and leap
Weren't "smart."

Have we lost the trick of wedding
Grace to pleasure?
Must we clown it at the bidding
Of some tawdry, common measure?

Can't you school us in the graces
Of your pose and dainty paces?--
Now the chords begin to tinkle
And your feet they flash and flicker--
And you mock us as you featly
Swing and flutter to the chime
Of the music-box that sweetly
Marks the time!


WHITE wing'd below the darkling clouds
The driven sea-gulls wheel;
The roused sea flings a storm against
The towers of stone and steel.

The very voice of ocean rings
Along the shaken street--
Dusk, storm, and beauty whelm the world
Where sea and city meet--

But what care they for flashing wings,
Quick beauty, loud refrain,
These huddled thousands, deaf and blind
To all but greed and gain?


THE sun-god stooped from out the sky
To kiss the flushing sea,
While all the winds of all the world
Made jovial melody;
The night came hurrying up to hide
The lovers with her tent;
The governed thunders, rank on rank,
Stood mute with wonderment;
The pale worn moon, a jealous shade,
Peered from the firmament;
The early stars, the curious stars,
Came peering forth to see
What mighty nuptials shook the world
With such an ecstasy
Whenas the sun-god left the sky
To mingle with the sea.


ALACK-A-DAY for poverty!
What jewels my mind doth give to thee!

Carved agate stone porphyrogene,
Green emerald and beryl green,
Deep sapphine and pale amethyst,
Sly opal, cloaking with a mist
The levin of its love elate,
Shy brides' pearls, flushed and delicate,
Sea-colored lapis lazuli,
Sardonyx and chalcedony,
Enkindling diamond, candid gold,
Red rubies and red garnets bold:
And all their humors should be blent
In one intolerable blaze,
Barbaric, fierce, and opulent,
To dazzle him that dared to gaze!

Alack-a-day for poverty:
My rhymes are all you get of me!
Yet, if your heart receive, behold!
The worthless words are set in gold.


I STILL remember how she moved
Among the rathe, wild blooms she loved,
(When Spring came tip-toe down the slopes,
Atremble 'twixt her doubts and hopes,
Half fearful and all virginal)--
How Silvia sought this dell to call
Her flowers into full festival,
And chid them with this madrigal:

"The busy spider hangs the brush
With filmy gossamers,
The frogs are croaking in the creek,
The sluggish blacksnake stirs,
But still the ground is bare of bloom
Beneath the fragrant firs.

"Arise, arise, O briar rose,
And sleepy violet!
Awake, awake, anemone,
Your wintry dreams forget--

For shame, you tardy marigold,
Are you not budded yet?

"The Swallow's back, and claims the eaves
That last year were his home;
The Robin follows where the plow
Breaks up the crusted loam;
And Red-wings spies the Thrush and pipes:
'Look! Speckle-breast is come!'

"Up, blooms! and storm the wooded slopes,
The lowlands and the plain--
Blow, jonquil, blow your golden horn
Across the ranks of rain!
To arms! to arms! and put to flight
The Winter's broken train!"

She paused beside this selfsame rill,
And as she ceased, a daffodil
Held up reproachfully his head
And fluttered into speech, and said:

"Chide not the flowers! You little know
Of all their travail 'neath the snow,

Their struggling hours
Of choking sorrow underground.
Chide not the flowers!
You little guess of that profound
And blind, dumb agony of ours!
Yet, victor here beside the rill,
I greet the light that I have found,
A Daffodil!"

And when the Daffodil was done
A boastful Marigold spake on:

"Oh, chide the white frost, if you choose,
The heavy clod, so hard to loose,
The preying powers
Of worm and insect underground.
Chide not the flowers!
For spite of scathe and cruel wound,
Unconquered by the sunless hours,
I rise in regal pride, a bold
And golden-hearted, golden-crowned
Marsh Marigold!"

And when she came no more, her creek
Would not believe, but bade us seek

Hither, yon, and to and fro--
Everywhere that children go
When the Spring
Is on the wing
And the winds of April blow--
"I will never think her dead;
"She will come again!" it said;
And then the birds that use the vale,
Broken-hearted, turned the tale
Into syllables of song
And chirped it half a summer long:

"Silvia, Silvia,
Be our Song once more,
Our vale revisit, Silvia,
And be our Song once more:
For joy lies sleeping in the lute;
The merry pipe, the woodland flute,
And all the pleading reeds are mute
That breathed to thee of yore.

"Silvia, Silvia,
Be our Moon again,

Shine on our valley, Silvia,
And be our Moon again:
The fluffy owl and nightingale
Flit silent through the darkling vale,
Or utter only words of wail
From throats all harsh with pain.

"Silvia, Silvia,
Be Springtime, as of old;
Come clad in laughter, Silvia,
Our Springtime, as of old:
The waiting lowlands and the hills
Are tremulous with daffodils
Unblown, until thy footstep thrills
Their promise into gold."

And, musing on her here, I too
Must wonder if it can be true
She died, as other mortals do.
The thought would fit her more, to feign
That, full of life and unaware
That earth holds aught of grief or stain,
The fairies stole and hold her where
Death enters not, nor strife nor pain;--

That, drowsing on some bed of pansies,
By Titania's necromancies
Her senses were to slumber lulled,
Deeply sunken, steeped and dulled,
And by wafture of swift pinions
She was borne out through earth's portals
To the fairy queen's dominions,
To some land of the immortals.


AND some still cry: "What is the use?
The service rendered? What the gain?
Heroic, yes!--but in what cause?
Have they made less one earth-borne pain?
Broadened the bounded spirit's scope?
Or died to make the dull world hope?"

Must man still be the slave of Use?--
But these men, careless and elate,
Join battle with a burly world
Or come to wrestling grips with fate,
And not for any good nor gain
Nor any fame that may befall--
But, thrilling in the clutch of life,
Heed the loud challenge and the call;--
And grown to symbols at the last,
Stand in heroic silhouette
Against horizons ultimate,
As towers that front lost seas are set;--

The reckless gesture, the strong pose,
Sharp battle-cry flung back to Earth,
And buoyant humor, as a god
Might say: "Lo, here my feet have trod!"--
There lies the meaning and the worth!

They bring no golden treasure home,
They win no acres for their clan,
Nor dream nor deed of theirs shall mend
The ills of man's bedeviled span--
Nor are they skilled in sleights of speech,
(Nor overeager) to make plain
The use they serve, transcending use,--
The gain beyond apparent gain!


WITH half-hearted levies of frost that make foray,
retire, and refrain--
Ambiguous bugles that blow and that falter to
silence again--

With banners of mist that still waver above them,
advance and retreat,
The hosts of the Autumn still hide in the hills,
for a doubt stays their feet;--

But anon, with a barbaric splendor to dazzle the
eyes that behold,
And regal in raiment of purple and umber and
amber and gold,

And girt with the glamor of conquest and scarved
with red symbols of pride,
From the hills in their might and their mirth on
the steeds of the wind will they ride,

To make sport and make spoil of the Summer,
who dwells in a dream on the plain,
Still tented in opulent ease in the camps of her
indolent train.


TIME steals from Love all but Love's wings;
And how should aught but evil things,
Or any good but death, befall
Him that is thrall unto Time's thrall,
Slave to the lesser of these Kings?

O heart of youth that wakes and sings!
O golden vows and golden rings!
Life mocks you with the tale of all
Time steals from Love!

O riven lute and writhen strings,
Dead bough whereto no blossom clings,
The glory was ephemeral!
Nor may our Autumn grief recall
The passion of the perished Springs
Time steals from Love!


YOUR rondeau's tale must still be light--
No bugle-call to life's stern fight!
Rather a smiling interlude
Memorial to some transient mood
Of idle love and gala-night.

Its manner is the merest sleight
O' hand; yet therein dwells its might,
For if the heavier touch intrude
Your rondeau's stale.

Fragrant and fragile, fleet and bright,
And wing'd with whim, it gleams in flight
Like April blossoms wind-pursued
Down aisles of tangled underwood;--
Nor be too serious when you write
Your rondeau's tail!


THEY haunt me, they tease me with hinted
Withheld revelations,
The songs that I may not utter;
They lead me, they flatter, they woo me.
I follow, I follow, I snatch
At the veils of their secrets in vain--
For lo! they have left me and vanished,
The songs that I cannot sing.

There are visions elusive that come
With a quiver and shimmer of wings;--
Shapes shadows and shapes, and the murmur
Of voices;--
Shapes, that out of the twilight
Leap, and with gesture appealing
Seem to deliver a message,
And are gone 'twixt a breath and a breath;--
Shapes that race in with the waves
Moving silverly under the moon,

And are gone ere they break into foam on the rocks
And recede;--
Breathings of love from invisible
Blown somewhere out in the tender
That die on the bosom of Silence;--
And fleeter than thought,
Vaguer than thought or emotion,
What are these visitors?

Out of the vast and uncharted
Realms that encircle the visible world,
With a glimmer of light on their pinions,
They rush . . .
They waver, they vanish,
Leaving me stirred with a dream of the ultimate
A sense of the ultimate music,
I never shall capture;--

They are Beauty,
Formless and tremulous Beauty,

Beauty unborn;
Beauty as yet unappareled
In thought;
Beauty that hesitates,
Withdraws from the verge of birth,
Retreats from the portals of life;--
O Beauty for ever uncaptured!
O songs that I never shall sing!


WE have come "the primrose way,"
Folly, thou and I!
Such a glamor and a grace
Ever glimmered on thy face,
Ever such a witchery
Lit the laughing eyes of thee,
Could a fool like me withstand
Folly's feast and beckoning hand?
Drinking, how thy lips' caress
Spiced the cup of waywardness!
So we came "the primrose way,"
Folly, thou and I!

But now, Folly, we must part,
Folly, thou and I!
Shall one look with mirth or tears
Back on all his wasted years,
Purposes dissolved in wine,
Pearls flung to the heedless swine?--

Idle days and nights of mirth,
Were they pleasures nothing worth?
Well, there's no gainsaying we
Squandered youth right merrily!
But now, Folly, we must part,
Folly, thou and I!


THESE logs with drama and with dream are rife,
For all their golden Summers and green Springs
Through leaf and root they sucked the forest's life,
Drank in its secret, deep, essential things,
Its midwood moods, its mystic runes,
Its breathing hushes stirred of faery wings,
Its August nights and April noons;
The garnered fervors of forgotten Junes
Flare forth again and waste away;
And in the sap that leaps and sings
We hear again the chant the cricket flings
Across the hawthorn-scented dusks of May.



WE are deceived by the shadow, we see not the
substance of things.
For the hills are less solid than thought; and
deeds are but vapors; and flesh
Is a mist thrown off and resumed by the soul, as
a world by a god.
Back of the transient appearance dwells in inef-
fable calm
The utter reality, ultimate truth; this seems and
that is.


I HAVE been down in a dark valley;
I have been groping through a deep gorge;
Far above, the lips of it were rimmed with moon-
And here and there the light lay on the dripping
So that it seemed they dripped with moonlight,
not with water;
So deep it was, that narrow gash among the hills,
That those great pines which fringed its edge
Seemed to me no larger than upthrust fingers
Silhouetted against the sky;
And at its top the vale was strait,
And the rays were slant
And reached but part way down the sides;
I could not see the moon itself;
I walked through darkness, and the valley's edge
Seemed almost level with the stars,
The stars that were like fireflies in the little trees.

It was the midnight of defeat;
I felt that I had failed;
I was mocked of the gods;
There was no way out of that gorge;
The paths led no whither
And I could not remember their beginnings;
I was doomed to wander evermore,
Thirsty, with the sound of mocking waters in
mine ears,
Groping, with gleams of useless light
Splashed in ironic beauty on the rocks above.
And so I whined.

And then despair flashed into rage;
I leapt erect, and cried:
"Could I but grasp my life as sculptors grasp the clay
And knead and thrust it into shape again!--
If all the scorn of Heaven were but thrown
Into the focus of some creature I could clutch!--
If something tangible were but vouchsafed me
By the cold, far gods!--
If they but sent a Reason for the failure of my life
I'd answer it;
If they but sent a Fiend, I'd conquer it!--

But I reach out, and grasp the air,
I rage, and the brute rock echoes my words in
How can one fight the sliding moonlight on the cliffs?
You gods, coward gods,
Come down, I challenge you!--
You who set snares with roses and with passion,
You who make flesh beautiful and damn men through
the flesh,
You who plump the purple grape and then put poison
in the cup,
You who put serpents in your Edens,
You who gave me delight of my senses and broke me
for it,
You who have mingled death with beauty,
You who have put into my blood the impulses for
which you cursed me,
You who permitted my brain the doubts wherefore
you damn me,
Behold, I doubt you, gods, no longer, but defy!--
I perish here?
Then I will be slain of a god!
You who have wrapped me in the scorn of your silence,
The divinity in this same dust you flout

i>Flames through the dust,
And dares,
And flings you back your scorn,--
Come, face to face, and slay me if you will,
But not until you've felt the weight
Of all betricked humanity's contempt
In one bold blow!--
Speak forth a Reason, and I will answer it,
Yes, to your faces I will answer it;
Come garmented in flesh and I will fight with you,
Yes, in your faces will I smite you, gods;
Coward gods and tricksters that set traps
In paradise!--
Far gods that hedge yourselves about with silence
And with distance;
That mock men from the unscalable escarpments of
your Heavens."

Thus I raved, being mad.
I had no sooner finished speaking than I felt
The darkness fluttered by approaching feet,
And the silence was burned through by trembling
flames of sound,
And I was 'ware that Something stood by me.

And with a shout I leapt and grasped that Being,
And the Thing grasped me.
We came to wrestling grips,
And back and forth we swayed,
Hand seeking throat, and crook'd knee seeking
To encrook unwary leg,
And spread toes grasping the uneven ground;
The strained breast muscles cracked and creaked,
The sweat ran in my eyes,
The plagued breath sobbed and whistled through
my throat,
I tasted blood, and strangled, but still struggled
The stars above me danced in swarms like yellow
The shaken moonlight writhed upon the rocks;--
But at the last I felt his breathing weaker grow,
The tense limbs grow less tense,
And with a bursting cry I bent his head right
Back, back, until
I heard his neck bones snap;
His spine crunched in my grip;
I flung him to the earth and knelt upon his breast

And listened till the fluttering pulse was stilled.
Man, god, or devil, I had wrenched the life from

And lo!--even as he died
The moonlight failed above the vale,--
And somehow, sure, I know now how!--
Between the rifted rocks the great Sun struck
A finger down the cliff, and that red beam
Lay sharp across the face of him that I had slain;
And in that light I read the answer of the silent
Unto my cursed-out prayer,
For he that lay upon the ground was--I!
I understood the lesson then;
It was myself that lay there dead;
Yes, I had slain my Self.


No doubt the ordered worlds speed on
With purpose in their wings;
No doubt the ordered songs are sweet
Each worthy angel sings;
And doubtless it is wise to heed
The ordered words of Kings;

But how the heart leaps up to greet
The headlong, rebel flight,
Whenas some reckless meteor
Blazes across the night!
Some comet--Byron--Lucifer--
Has dared to Be, and fight!

No doubt but it is safe to dwell
Where ordered duties are;
No doubt the cherubs earn their wage
Who wind each ticking star;

No doubt the system is quite right!--
Sane, ordered, regular;

But how the rebel fires the soul
Who dares the strong gods' ire!
Each Byron!--Shelley!--Lucifer!--
And all the outcast choir
That chant when some Prometheus
Leaps up to steal Jove's fire!


BETTER a pauper, penniless, asleep on the kindly
Better a gipsy, houseless, but near to the heart
of God,

That beats for ears not dulled by the clanking
wheels of care--
Better starvation and freedom, hope and the good
fresh air

Than death to the Something in him that was
born to laugh and dream,
That was kin to the idle lilies and the ripples of
the stream.

For out of the dreams of childhood, that careless
come and go,
The boy gains strength, unknowing, that the Man
will prove and know.

But these fools with their lies and their dollars,
their mills and their bloody hands,
Who make a god of a wheel, who worship their
whirring bands,

They are flinging the life of a people, raw, to the
brute machines.
Dull-eyed, weary, and old--old in his early teens--

Stunted and stupid and twisted, marred in the
mills of grief,
Can your factories fashion a Man of this thing--
a Man and a Chief?

Dumb is the heart of him now, at the time when
his heart should sing--
Wasters of body and brain, what race will the
future bring?

What of the nation's nerve whenas swift crises
What of the brawn that should heave the guns on
the beck of the drum?

Thieves of body and soul, who can neither think
nor feel,
Swine-eyed priests of little false gods of gold and

Bow to your obscene altars, worship your loud
mills then!
Feed to Moloch and Baal the brawn and brains
of men--

But silent and watchful and hidden forever over
The masters brood of those Mills that "grind
exceeding small."

And it needs no occult art nor magic to foreshow
That a people who sow defeat they will reap the
thing they sow.


CONQUERORS leonine, lordly,
Princes and vaunting kings,
Ye are drunk with the sound of your braggart
But lo! ye are little things!

Earth . . . it is charnel with monarchs!
And the puffs of dust that start
Where your war steeds stamp with their ringing hoofs
Were each some warrior's heart.

Peoples imperial, mighty,
Masterful, challenging fate,
The tread of your cohorts shakes the hills--
But lo! ye are not great!

Nations that swarm and murmur,
Ye are moths that flutter and climb--
Ye are whirling gnats, ye are swirling bees,
Tossed in the winds of time!

Earth that is flushed with glory,
A marvelous world ye are!
But lo! in the midst of a million stars
Ye are only one pale star!

A breath stirs the dark abysses. . . .
The deeps below the deep
Are troubled and vexed . . . and a thousand worlds
Fall on eternal sleep!



HATH not man at his noblest
An air of something more than man?--
A hint of grace immortal,
Born of his greatly daring to assist the gods
In conquering these shaggy wastes,
These desert worlds,
And planting life and order in these stars?--
So Woman at her best:
Her eyes are bright with visions and with dreams
That triumph over time;
Her plumed thought, wing for wing, is mate with


The world rolls on from dream to dream,
And 'neath the vast impersonal revenges of its

Crushed fools that cried defeat
Lie dead amid the dust they prophesied--
Ye doubters of man's larger destiny,
Ye that despair,
Look backward down the vistaed years,
And all is battle--and all victory!
Man fought, to be a man!
Through painful centuries the slow beast fought,
Blinded and baffled, fought to gain his soul;--
Wild, hairy, shag, and feared of shadows,
Yet the clouds
Made him strange signals that he puzzled o'er;--
Beast, child, and ape,
And yet the winds harped to him, and the sea
Rolled in upon his consciousness
Its tides of wonder and romance;--
Uncouth and caked with mire,
And yet the stars said something to him, and the
Declared itself a god;--
The lagging cycles turned at last
The pictures into thought,
Thought flowered in soul;--
But, oh, the myriad weary years
Ere Caliban was Shakespeare's self
And Darwin's ape had Darwin's brain!--
The battling, battling, and the steep ascent,
The fight to hold the little gained,
The loss, the doubt, the shaken heart,
The stubborn, groping slow recovery!--
But looking backward toward the dim beginnings,
You that despair,
Hath he not climbed and conquered?
Look backward and all's Victory!
What coward looks forward and foresees defeat?


Who climbed beside him, and who fought
And suffered and was glad?
Is she a lesser thing than he,
Who stained the slopes with bloody feet, or stood
Beside him on some hard-won eminence of hope
Exulting as the bold dawn swept
A harper hand along the ringing hills?
Flesh of his flesh, and of his soul the soul,
Hath she not fought, hath she not climbed?

And how is she a lesser thing?--
Nay, if she ever was
'Twas we that made her so, who called her queen
But kept her slave.


Had she not courage for the fight?
Hath she not courage for the years to come?
Hath she not courage who descends alone--
(How pitifully alone, except for Love!)
Where man's thought even falters that would
Into the shadowy abyss
(Through vast and murmurous caverns dark with
crowding dread
And terrible with hovering wings),
To battle there with Death?--to battle
There with Death, and wrest from him,
O Conqueror and Mother,


Hath she too long dwelt dream-bound in the world
of love,

Unconscious of the sterner throes,
The more austere, impersonal, wide faith,
The urge that drives Christs to the cross
Not for the love of one beloved,
But for the love of all?
If so, she wakes!
Wakes and demands a share in all man's bolder
The high, audacious ventures of the soul
That thinks to scale the bastioned slopes
And strike stark Chaos from his throne.
We still stand in the dawn of time.
Not meanly let us stand nor shaken with low
For there beyond the verge and margin of gray cloud
The future thrills with promise
And the skies are tremulous with golden light;--
She too would share those victories,
Comrade, and more than comrade;--
New times, new needs confront us now;
We must evolve new powers
To battle with;--
We must go forward now together,
Or perchance we fail!



A little while the tears and laughter,
The willow and the rose--
A little while, and what comes after
No man knows.

An hour to sing, to love and linger . . .
Then lutanist and lute
Will fall on silence, song and singer
Both be mute.

Our gods from our desires we fashion. . . .
Exalt our baffled lives,
And dream their vital bloom and passion
Still survives;

But when we're done with mirth and weeping,
With myrtle, rue, and rose,
Shall Death take Life into his keeping? . . .
No man knows.

What heart hath not, through twilight places,
Sought for its dead again
To gild with love their pallid faces? . . .
Sought in vain! . . .

Still mounts the Dream on shining pinion . . .
Still broods the dull distrust . . .
Which shall have ultimate dominion,
Dream, or dust?

A little while with grief and laughter,
And then the day will close;
The shadows gather . . . what comes after
No man knows!

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