OTHER BOOKS BY CALE YOUNG RICE
Nirvana Days Yolanda of Cyprus Plays and Lyrics A Night in Avignon Charles di Tocca David
CALE YOUNG RICE
NEW YORK DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY MCMX
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN
COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY PUBLISHED, FEBRUARY, 1910
FINIS KING FARR
AND DEAR COMRADE
"ALL'S WELL" 3
THE PROSELYTE RECANTS 6
LOVE IN JAPAN 10
MAPLE LEAVES ON MIYAJIMA 13
WHEN THE WIND IS LOW 20
THE PAGODA SLAVE 22
THE SHIPS OF THE SEA 25
THE BARREN WOMAN 29
BY THE TAJ MAHAL 32
LOVE'S CYNIC 35
IN A TROPICAL GARDEN 42
THE WIND'S WORD 46
THE SHRINE OF SHRINES 47
FROM A FELUCCA 48
THE EGYPTIAN WAKES 49
THE IMAM'S PARABLE 50
SONGS OF A SEA-FARER 52
A SONG OF THE SECTS 54
THE CITY 57
VIA AMOROSA 58
DUSK AT HIROSHIMA 60
THE WANDERER 61
IN A SHINTO TEMPLE GARDEN 64
FAR FUJIYAMA 65
ON MIYAJIMA MOUNTAIN 66
OLD AGE 68
ON THE YANG-TSE-KIANG 69
THE SEA-ARMIES 71
THE CHRISTIAN IN EXILE 73
THE PARSEE WOMAN 75
SHAH JEHAN TO MUMTAZ MAHAL 77
PRINCESS JEHANARA 79
A CINGHALESE LOVE LAMENT 80
ON THE ARABIAN GULF 83
THE RAMESSID 84
IMMORTAL FOES 85
THE CONSCRIPT 87
NAVIS IGNOTA 89
THE CROSS OF THE SEPULCHRE 91
THE NUN 92
ALPINE CHANT 94
THE MAN OF MIGHT 96
IN TIME OF AWE 97
SUNRISE IN UTAH 99
VIS ULTIMA 104
The illimitable leaping of the sea, The mouthing of his madness to the moon, The seething of his endless sorcery, His prophecy no power can attune, Swept over me as, on the sounding prow Of a great ship that steered into the stars, I stood and felt the awe upon my brow Of death and destiny and all that mars.
The wind that blew from Cassiopeia cast Wanly upon my ear a rune that rung; The sailor in his eyrie on the mast Sang an "All's well," that to the spirit clung Like a lost voice from some aerial realm Where ships sail on forever to no shore, Where Time gives Immortality the helm, And fades like a far phantom from life's door.
"And is all well, O Thou Unweariable Launcher of worlds upon bewildered space," Rose in me, "All? or did thy hand grow dull Building this world that bears a piteous race? O was it launched too soon or launched too late? Or can it be a derelict that drifts Beyond thy ken toward some reef of Fate On which Oblivion's sand forever shifts?"
The sea grew softer as I questioned—calm With mystery that like an answer moved, And from infinity there fell a balm, The old peace that God is, tho all unproved. The old faith that tho gulfs sidereal stun The soul, and knowledge drown within their deep, There is no world that wanders, no not one Of all the millions, that He does not keep.
THE PROSELYTE RECANTS
Where the fair golden idols Sit in darkness and in silence While the temple drum beats solemnly and slow; Where the tall cryptomerias Sway in worship round about And the rain that is falling whispers low; I can hear strange voices Of the dead and forgotten, On the dimly rising incense I can see The lives I have lived, And my lives unbegotten, Namu Amida Butsu pity me!
I was born this karma Of a mother in Chuzenji, Where Nantai-zan looks down into the lake; Where the white-thronged pilgrims Climb to altars in the clouds And behold the holy eastern dawn awake. It was there I wandered Till a priest of the Christians With the crucifix he wore compelled my gaze. In grief I had grown, So upon its grief I pondered. Namu Amida Butsu, keep my days!
It was wrong, he told me, To pray Jiso for my children, And Binzuru for healing of my ills. And our gods so many Were conceived, he said, in sin, From Lord Shaka to the least upon the hills. In despair I listened For my heart beat hopeless, Not a temple of my land had helped me live. But alas that day When I let my soul be christened! Namu Amida Butsu, O forgive!
For the Christ they gave me As the only Law and Lotus, As the only way to Light that will not wane, May perchance have power For the people of the West, But to me he seemed the servitor of pain. For in pain he perished As one born to passion: In some other life no doubt his sin was great, Tho they told me no, Those who followed him and cherished. Namu Amida Butsu, such is fate.
So again to idols Of the Buddha who is boundless, While the temple drum is beating thro the rain, I have turned from treason Into Meditation's truth, From the strife the Western god regards as gain. And if now I'm dying As the voices tell me, To the lives that I must live I'll meekly go; Till my long grief ends In Nirvana, and my sighing. Namu Amida Butsu, be it so!
LOVE IN JAPAN
Dragon-fly lighting On the temple-bell, Whose soul do you hear On the Day of the Dead? The soul of my lover? Ah me, the plighting Between two hearts That were never wed!
Dragon-fly, quickly, The priest is coming! Oh, the boom Of the bitter bell! Now you are gone And my tears fall thickly. How of Heaven Do the gods make Hell!
The semi is silent (Autumn rains!) The wind-bells tinkle (How chill it is!) The quick lights come On the shoji-panes. Come, O Baku, Eater of dreams!
The maple darkens (Pale grow I!) The near night shivers (The temple fades.)
Haunting love Will not cease to cry! Come, O Baku, Eater of dreams!
The wild mists gather (Ah, my tears!) The pane-lights vanish (For some there is rest.) But for me— The remembered years! Come, O Baku, Eater of dreams!
MAPLE LEAVES ON MIYAJIMA
The summer has come, The summer has gone, And the maple leaves lift fairy hands That ripple upon the winds of dawn Where the dim pagoda stands. They ripple and beckon yearningly To their sister fairies over the sea, But help comes not, So they fall and flee From Autumn over the sands.
And down the mountain And into the tide, Some are blown where the sampans glide, And some are strewn by the temple's side, And some by the torii. But Autumn ever Pursues them till, As ever before, She has her will, And leaves them desolate, dead and still, Ravished afar and wide; Leaves them desolate; crying shrill, "No beauty shall abide!"
I was weary and slept on the Peak; The air clung close like a shroud, And ever the blue-fly's buzz in my ear Hung haunting and hot and loud; I awoke and the sky was dun With awe and a dread that soon Went shuddering thro my heart, for I knew That it meant typhoon! typhoon!
In the harbour below, far down, The junks like fowl in a flock Were tossing in wingless terror, or fled Fluttering in from the shock. The city, a breathless bend Of roofs, by the water strewn, Lay silent and waiting, yet there was none Within it but said typhoon!
Then it came, like a million winds Gone mad immeasurably, A torrid and tortuous tempest stung By rape of the fair South Sea. And it swept like a scud escaped From craters of sun or moon, And struck as no power of Heaven could, Or of Hell—typhoon! typhoon!
And the junks were smitten and torn, The drowning struggled and cried, Or, dashed on the granite walls of the sea, In succourless hundreds died. Till I shut the sight from my eyes And prayed for my soul to swoon: If ever I see God's face, let it Be guiltless of that typhoon!
I want to go back to Singapore And ship along the Straits, To a bungalow I know beside Penang; Where cocoanut palms along the shore Are waving, and the gates Of Peace shut Sorrow out forevermore. I want to go back and hear the surf Come beating in at night, Like the washing of eternity over the dead. I want to see dawn fare up and day Go down in golden light; I want to go back to Penang! I want to go back!
I want to go back to Singapore And up along the Straits To the bungalow that waits me by the tide. Where the Tamil and Malay tell their lore At evening—and the fates Have set no soothless canker at life's core. I want to go back and mend my heart Beneath the tropic moon, While the tamarind-tree is whispering thoughts of sleep. I want to believe that Earth again With Heaven is in tune. I want to go back to Penang! I want to go back!
I want to go back to Singapore And ship along the Straits To the bungalow I left upon the strand. Where the foam of the world grows faint before It enters, and abates In meaning as I hear the palm-wind pour. I want to go back and end my days Some evening when the Cross On the southern sky hangs heavily far and sad. I want to remember when I die That life elsewhere was loss. I want to go back to Penang! I want to go back!
WHEN THE WIND IS LOW
(To A. H. R.)
When the wind is low, and the sea is soft, And the far heat-lightning plays On the rim of the West where dark clouds nest On a darker bank of haze; When I lean o'er the rail with you that I love And gaze to my heart's content; I know that the heavens are there above— But you are my firmament.
When the phosphor-stars are thrown from the bow And the watch climbs up the shroud; When the dim mast dips as the vessel slips Thro the foam that seethes aloud; I know that the years of our life are few, And fain as a bird to flee, That time is as brief as a drop of dew— But you are Eternity.
THE PAGODA SLAVE
(At Shwe Dagohn, in old Rangoon)
All night long the pagoda slave Hears the wind-bells high in the air Tinkle with low sweet tongue and grave In praise of Lord Gautama. All night long where the lone spire sends Its golden height to the starry light He hears their tune And watches the moon And fears he shall never reach Nirvana.
Round and round by a hundred shrines Glittering at the great Shwe's base Falls the sound of his feet mid lines Droned from the sacred Wisdom. Round and round where the idols gaze So pitiless on his pained distress He passes on, Pale-eyed and wan— A pariah like the dogs behind him.
Oh, what sin in a life begot Thousands of lives ago did he sin That he is now by all forgot, Even by Lord Gautama? Oh, what sin, that the lowest shun His very name as a thing of shame— A sound to taint The winds that faint From the high bells that hear it uttered!
Midnight comes and the hours of morn, Tapers die and the flowers all From the most feted altars: lorn And desolate is their odour. Midnight goes, but he watches still By each cold spire the moon sets fire, By every palm Whose silvery calm Pillar and jewelled porch pray under.
Is it dawn that is breaking?... No, Only a star that falls in the sea, Only a wind-bell's louder flow Of praise to Lord Gautama. Faithless dawn! with illusive feet It comes too late to ease his fate. He sinks asleep A helpless heap, Tho for it he may never reach Nirvana.
THE SHIPS OF THE SEA
Into port when the sun was setting Rode the ship that bore my love, Over the breakers wildly fretting, Under the skies that shone above.
Down to the beach I ran to meet him; He would come as he had said: And he came—in a sailor's coffin, Dead!...
O the ships of the sea! the women They from all hope but Heaven part! The tide has nothing now to tell me, The breakers only break my heart!
(Which is the next highest of mountains)
O white Priest of Eternity, around Whose lofty summit veiling clouds arise Of the earth's immemorial sacrifice To Brahma in whose breath all lives and dies; O Hierarch enrobed in timeless snows, First-born of Asia whose maternal throes Seem changed now to a million human woes, Holy thou art and still! Be so, nor sound One sigh of all the mystery in thee found.
For in this world too much is overclear, Immortal Ministrant to many lands, From whose ice-altars flow to fainting sands Rivers that each libation poured expands. Too much is known, O Ganges-giving sire; Thy people fathom life and find it dire, Thy people fathom death, and, in it, fire To live again, tho in Illusion's sphere, Behold concealed as Grief is in a tear.
Wherefore continue, still enshrined, thy rites, Tho dark Thibet, that dread ascetic, falls In strange austerity, whose trance appals, Before thee, and a suppliant on thee calls. Continue still thy silence high and sure, That something beyond fleeting may endure— Something that shall forevermore allure Imagination on to mystic flights Wherein alone no wing of Evil lights.
Yea, wrap thy awful gulfs and acolytes Of lifted granite round with reachless snows. Stand for Eternity while pilgrim rows Of all the nations envy thy repose. Ensheath thy swart sublimities, unscaled. Be that alone on earth which has not failed. Be that which never yet has yearned or ailed, But since primeval Power upreared thy heights Has stood above all deaths and all delights.
And tho thy loftier Brother shall be King, High-priest be thou to Brahma unrevealed, While thy white sanctity forever sealed In icy silence leaves desire congealed. In ghostly ministrations to the sun, And to the mendicant stars and the moon-nun, Be holy still, till East to West has run, And till no sacrificial suffering On any shrine is left to tell life's sting.
THE BARREN WOMAN
At the burning-ghat, O Kali, Mother divine and dread, See, I am waiting with open lips Over the newly dead. I am childless and barren; pity And let me catch the soul Of him who here on the kindled bier Pays to Existence toll.
See, by his guileless body I cook the bread and eat. Give me the soul he does not need Now, for conception sweet. Hear, or my lord and husband Shall send me from his door And take to his side a fairer bride Whose breast shall be less poor.
Oft I have sought thy temples, By Ganges now I seek, Where ashes of all the dead are strewn, And is my prayer not meek? The ghats and the shrines and the people That bathe in the holy Stream Have heard my cry, O goddess high, Shall I not have my dream?
The women of Oudh and Jaipur Look on my face with scorn. Children about their garments cling, To me shall none be born? The death-fires quiver faster, O hasten, goddess, a sign, That from this doom into my womb Thy pledge has passed, divine.
Woe! there is naught but ashes, Now, and the weepers go. Lone on the ghat they leave me, lone, With but the River's flow. Kali, I ask not jewels Nor justice, beauty nor shrift, But for the lowest woman's right, A child—tho I die of the gift!
BY THE TAJ MAHAL
Under the Indian stars, Mumtaz Mahal, I am sitting, Watching them wind their silent way Over your wistful Tomb; Watching the crescent prow Of the moon among them flitting, Fair as the shallop that bore your soul To Paradise's Room.
Under the Indian stars, With palm and peepul about me, With dome and kiosk and minaret Mounting against the sky, I seem to see your face In all the fairness without me; In all the sadness that fills my heart To hear your lover's cry.
Under the Indian stars I look for your Jasmine Tower, Along the River whose barren bed Lies gray beneath the moon. And thro its magic doors You seem like a spirit flower, Wandering back from Allah's bourne To seek for some lost boon.
Under the Indian stars I see you softly moving, Among your jewel-lit maidens there, A sweet and ghostly queen, And the scent of attar flung In your marble font seems proving That passion never can die from love, If truly love has been.
Under the Indian stars He comes, "the Shadow of Allah," Jehan, the lord of Magnificence, The liege who holds your heart. The silver doors swing back And alone with him you hallow The amorous night—whose moon has made Such visions in me start.
Under the Indian stars— But the end of all is moaning! I hear his dying breath that from Your Tomb shall never die. For every jasper flower He set in its dream seems loaning To Beauty a grief, Mumtaz Mahal, And unto Fate a sigh.
O you poets, ever pretending Love is immortal, pipe the truth! Empty your books of lies, the ending Of no passion can be—Youth. "Heaven," you breathe, "will join the broken?" Come, was the Infinite e'er wed, That He must evermore be thinking Of your wedding bed?
Pipe the truth! tho it clip the glamour Out of your rhymes and rip your dream. Do you believe words can enamour Death and dry up Lethe's stream? Death? it is but a Sponge that passes, One the Appeaseless e'er will squeeze Back into Lethe's flood—whose lasting Is eternities.
"False!" cry you, "and an unbeseeming Blasphemy!"—Well, look around. Is it not only in blaspheming Truth is ever to be found? Whether it be, one thing I ask you, Lovers and poets, tell, I pray, Was there ever a love-oath ended Ere the Judgment Day?
"O," you answer, "ill is in all things." But in an ancient lie what's good? Is it not better just to call things What they are—not what we would? When you are clinging to your mistress, Love has the face of Eternity. Cling to her then, but know that Wanting Fools the best that be.
"Yet her brows and her eyes that murmur All the music," you say, "of God!" Press her lips but a little firmer— You will feel that they are—sod. "But there is living soul beyond them, And it is love's till all things end?" Children alone build Paradises With but pence to spend.
"Ai-ho now! that is like the cynic," Pitying runs your poet-smile, "He has sat at the Devil's clinic With some dead love up the while." Dead or alive are one with passions, Under the potent knife of Truth They will be seen composed of craving— And a little ruth.
"Then the world on a lie is living?" Many a lie has filled its maw! "Better illusion tho than giving Faith to a fatal loveless Law?" There is a certain Socratean Saying that swine of their ditch are sure; Yet do they prove by their contentment That it will endure?
Clasp her close! But the truth is in you, Tho you have rhymed and rammed it down, Hid it with honey-words that win you Wreaths that you know bedeck the clown. Kings they will call you and uplifters Of your kind? Lord save the mark, That we are still for fire dependent On so false a spark.
And so fond! for you hold immortal What has been born a day or two! "But it was destined?" Ay, your portal Only has God to heed—and you! He with his thrice three million thirsting Worlds in the throes of death and life Surely has time to spare for choosing Your behooven wife!
By my faith, there is not a creature Mad as a poet, pants the breeze! Give him a mistress and he'll preach her As creation's Masterpiece. Let him but lean for half an hour Over her lips and he will swear That he would dive thro death unfathomed To regain her there.
And believe that his oath is able! That there is not in all the sea Water enough to quench the fable Of his soul's intensity. Yet there was never a rose that blossomed And endured beyond its day. There was never a fire enkindled But the great Cold had its way.
"Pessimist," is your mortal answer, "Wait till the love-wind pierces you!" Wait? I have been the veriest dancer To it, and, dupe still, would do Truth to the death—shall I confess it?— For but a moment on one breast. Wherefore I add—and Adam bless it!— Who loves once is like the rest.
IN A TROPICAL GARDEN
The sun moves here as a master-mage of nature all day long, With fingers of heat and light that touch to a mystical growth all things. The spell of him puts pale Time to sleep, as an opiate strange and strong, And a waft of his wand, the wind, enchantment brings.
The python roots of the rubber-tree where the cobra slips in peace Are wonders that he has waved from the earth as a presage of his power. And the giant stems of the bamboo-grass, the pool astounded, sees, Are a marvel to keep it still hour after hour.
The long lianas that reach in dreamy rout from tree to tree Are dazed with the sense of sap that he calls to the tangle of their sprays. The scarlet-hearted hibiscus stands entranced and the torrid bee Is husht upon its rim, as in amaze
And there the palms, the talipot with its lofty blossom-spire, The cocoanut and the slim areca listening await What sorceries of his trembling rays of equatorial fire Will next be laid upon some lesser mate.
The river, too, that he winds as a magic circle round the wealth He has here engendered, has the glide of a serpent lost in trance; And scents of clove and cinnamon that sip cool from it, in stealth Pour it upon the air like necromance.
And down where the rain-tree and the rife breadfruit together lean Over its flow, and the flying-foxes hanging head to earth Suddenly drop then flap aloft on large bat-wing, is seen More of his mazing wizardry in birth.
All day long it is so that his hot hypnotic eye commands With steady ray; and the earth obedient brings enchantment forth. All night long in the humid dark the high-voiced hyla-bands Chant of it in chill strain from South to North.
A wondrous mage, in a land whose dreams are made reality As swift as clouds are made when the young Monsoon is in the South. A land that is born of the sea and by it destined e'er to be Beyond all fear of famishing and drouth.
THE WIND'S WORD
A star that I love, The sea, and I, Spake together across the night. "Have peace," said the star, "Have power," said the sea, "Yea!" I answered, "and Fame's delight!"
The wind on his way To Araby Paused and listened and sighed and said, "I passed on the sands A Pharaoh's tomb: All these did he have—and he is dead."
THE SHRINE OF SHRINES
There is in Egypt by the ancient Nile A temple of imperishable stone, Stupendous, columned, hieroglyphed, and known To all the world as Faith's supremest shrine. Half in debris it stands, a granite pile Gigantic, stayed midway in resurrection, An awe, an inspiration, a dejection To all who would the cryptic past divine. The god of it was Ammon, and a throng Of worshippers from Thebes the royal-gated Forever at its fervid pylons waited While priests poured ever a prophetic song. And yet this Ammon, who gave Egypt laws, Is not—and is forgot—and never was!
FROM A FELUCCA
A white tomb in the desert, An Arab at his prayers Beside the Nile's dark water, Where the lone camel fares. An ibis on the sunset, A slow shadouf at rest, And in the caravansary Low music for the guest.
Above the tawny city A gleam of minarets, Resounding the muezzin's Clear call as the sun sets. A mystery, a silence, A breathing of strange balm, A peace from Allah on the wind And on the sky his calm.
THE EGYPTIAN WAKES
I woke at night in my eternal tomb The desert sands had hid a thousand years, And heard the Nile-crier across the gloom Calling, "The flood has come! beseech the gods!" I rose in haste, as one who blindly hears, And sought the barterers of grain and wine Culled for the praise and service of divine Great Isis, by the slave who for her plods. But as I passed along, woe! what was this, Strange faces and strange fashions and strange fanes Standing upon the midnight; Oh, the pains That swept across my startled thought's abyss! I moaned. My body crumbled into dust. And then my soul fled Here—where all souls must.
THE IMAM'S PARABLE
Behold, the wind of the Desert rose, Khamsin, in a shroud of sand, And swept the Libyan waste, across To far Somali-land. His voice was thick with the drouth of death And smote the earth as a burning breath, Or as a curse which Allah saith Unto a demon-band.
The caravan from the oasis Of palm-engirt Kurkur Shuddered and couched in shaken heaps, The horror to endure. Its mighty Sheik, like a soul in Hell Who longs for the lute of Israfel, Longed for the trickle of Keneh's well, Imperishably pure!
Three days he longed, and the wind three days About him whirled the shroud. Then did a shrill dawn bring the sun— And a gaunt vulture-crowd. A few bleak bones on the Desert still Lie for the Judgment Day to thrill Again into life—if Allah will: Let not your heart be proud.
SONGS OF A SEA-FARER
Many are on the sea to-day With all sails set. The tide rolls in a restive gray, The wind blows wet. The gull is weary of his wings, And I am weary of all things.
Heavy upon me longing lies, My sad eyes gaze Across the leagues that sink and rise And sink always. My life has sunk and risen so, I'd have it cease awhile to flow.
All the winds of the sea weary, All the waves of the sea rest, All the wants of my heart settle Softly now in my breast. All the stars that in heaven anchor, Golden buoys of Elysian light, Send me across the gulf promise That I am faring right.
So while clouds that are left lonely At the gates of the far West Wait, so still, for the moon's stiller Stealing from her nest, I am held by a low vesper Haunting afar the vague twilight, Then with my soul at peace whisper Hallowedly good-night.
A SONG OF THE SECTS
(In a Jerusalem tavern)
A Latin and Greek, praise God, are we, Armenian and Copt, And we're all drunk as drunk can be, for we've together sopped. Not one of us but spits at the creed the others mouth and purr, But we all believe, we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
The Armenian sings
The Copt comes out of Egypt-land and with a braggart face He'll tell you that his fathers piled the Pyramids in place. In his Monophysite Christ we set no faith, the blasphemer! But we all believe, we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
The Latin sings
The Greek will curse you if you call his Ikons images, And damns your soul to Hell—no purgatory, if you please! About Procession of the Ghost he's prickly as a burr, But he believes, as we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
The Copt sings
Of heretics God leaves unburnt, Armenians are worst, They will not celebrate the Day, that was for Christ the first. No wine with water mixed for them, as well mix heathen myrrh— Or not believe, as we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
The Greek sings
The Latin swears his Roman Pope is judge infallible. Wherefore you may be very sure the Devil from his skull Will drink a toast unto all liars, who such a lie aver— Tho they believe, as we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
The Four again
A Latin and Greek, praise God, are we, Armenian and Copt, And we're all drunk as drunk can be, for we've together sopped. Not one of us but hankers to hang all Jews on a Juniper, For we all believe, we all believe, in the Holy Sepulchre!
Soft and fair by the Desert's edge, And on the dim blue edge of the sea, Where white gulls wing all day and fledge Their young on the high cliff's sandy ledge, There is a city I have beheld, Sometime or where, by day or dream, I know not which, for it seems enspelled As I am by its memory.
Pale minarets of the Prophet pierce Above it into the white of the skies, And sails enchanted a thousand years Flit at its feet while fancy steers. No face of all its faces to me Is known—no passion of it or pain. It is but a city by the sea, Enshrined forever beyond my eyes!
(To A. H. R.)
When we two walk, my love, on the path The moon makes over the sea, To the end of the world where sorrow hath An end that is ecstasy, Should we not think of the other road Of wearying dust and stone Our feet would fare did each but care To follow the way alone?
When we two slip at night to the skies And find one star that we keep As a trysting-place to which our eyes May lead our souls ere sleep, Should we not pause for a little space And think how many must sigh Because they gaze over starry ways With no heart-comrade by?
When we two then lie down to our dreams That deepen still the delight Of our wandering where stars and streams Stray in immortal light, Should we not grieve with the myriads From East of earth to West Who lay them down at night but to drown The longing for some loved breast?
Ah, yes, for life has a thousand gifts, But love it is gives life. Who walks thro his world alone e'er lifts A soul that is sorrow-rife. But they to whom it is given to tread The moon-path and not sink Can ever say the unhappiest way Earth has is fair to the brink.
DUSK AT HIROSHIMA
Softly the bamboo bends As the sun sinks down unglowing, Softer the willow ends A sigh to the dusk around. Quickly the brief bat wends His flittering way, thro flowing Fields of the autumn air, That are husht of the city's sound.
Temple and thatch and stream Are forgetting the light that lingers, Mountain and mist in dream Already are lost, afar. Faintingly comes the beam Of the moon—then viewless fingers Tinkle a samisen, And astir on the East is a star.
When moonlight on the face Of the great Buddha falls As he sits in Nirvana On the shores of Kamakura, When the pines about him place Soft shadows at his feet Like offerings of penitence and tears, I hear in the grace Of the wind's low susurra A voice that calls me still To my home within the West, But I've lingered overlong In the East's strange arcana And no more is there desire within my breast.
I left it when a boy, That far home and, alas, 'Twas so fair that my dreaming Earth had fairer was a madness. I left it for the joy Of wandering the world, And heathen-hearted lands have I beheld! But when at last cloy Of delight brought sadness Like lotus to my veins, And forgetfulness seemed fate, I had fared unto this shrine And the moon as now was beaming, And here have I awaited—and await.
But not for any gift Of its god, or any grace That in living or in dying Men in text or sutra sigh for. And not for any shrift Nirvana has, or skies Where Paradise imperishably smiles. But only for the sift Of the wind, that seems to die for My soul's enduring peace In the dwelling of the Tomb. And only for the drift Of the moon that comes denying Eternity to everything but Doom.
IN A SHINTO TEMPLE GARDEN
Under the torii, robed in green, The old priest creeps to the shrine. Over the bridge the still stork stands, The crow caws not in the pine.
Far in the distance bugles blow, War's bloody memory wakes. The priest prays on—for his sons that are dead, And the heart within him breaks.
Against the phantom gold of failing skies I see the ghost of Fujiyama rise And think of the innumerable eyes That have beheld its vision sunset-crowned. The peasant in his field of rice or tea, The prince in gardens dreaming by the sea, The priest to whom the semi in the tree Was but some shrilling soul's incarnate sound.
And as I think upon them, lo, the trance Of backward time and distant circumstance, Of Karma's all-remembering necromance, Lies suddenly before my boundless sight. It is as if, a moment, Buddhahood Were given to me; as if understood At last were vague Nirvana's vaguer good; As if time were dissolved in living light.
ON MIYAJIMA MOUNTAIN
(To A. H. R.)
Out on the sea the sampans ride And the mountains brim with mist and sun. O we are in Japan again And the spell is about us spun! The spell of the old enchanting East, Of Buddha and many a blissful priest, The spell that has never, never ceased To haunt us!
Glad we behold the temple-tops And the lanterns in religious row Standing, like acolytes of stone, Where the pine and camphor grow. And o'er them the old pagoda prays Blessing upon their dreaming days, And upon the eightfold sacred ways From Sorrow!
Ah, and the torii too is there Where the tranced sea enters to his shrine Daily, with tidal mystery And majesty divine. He enters now, as the nuptial sea Of love first entered our hearts, to be Lord of their tides eternally, And Master!
I have heard the wild geese, I have seen the leaves fall, There was frost last night On the garden wall. It is gone to-day And I hear the wind call. The wind?... that is all.
If the swallow will light When evening is near; If the crane will not scream Like a soul in fear; I will think no more Of the dying year, And the wind, its seer.
ON THE YANG-TSE-KIANG
Down the Yang-tse bat-wing junk And tatterdemalion sampan glide, Sails of brown and black and yellow swinging. Down the Yang-tse bat-wing junks Fish-eyed and gaudy take the tide, Forth to the sea in sloth they ride, The coolies singing.
Off in the field the peasant toils And along the canal the low tows slip, Fruit of the red persimmon piled upon them. Off in the field the peasant toils— With lip and brow the dull years strip Bare of the dreams of life, whose grip Has grimly drawn them.
High on the hill the yamen rests And the temple beside it sleeps in sun, Far in the distance faints the city dreary. High on the hill the yamen rests, And dun dead shadows o'er it run: This is the land where Time begun And now grows weary.
The wild sea-armies led by the wind Are following in our wake, White-crested shouting millions moving on. They have broken their camp of Calm and o'er The world rebellion make, With banner of cloud and mist above them drawn.
They have heard the call of infinite Death, The ordering of his word, "Arise, go forth and conquer where ye can; For that is the only law ye know, Its mandate men have heard, Let them beware when they your path would span.
"Let them beware, for I am lord Of all that on earth has name, And unto you is given most my might. Ride on, ye have many a ship to rend, And many a mast to maim, And many a land to lash and soul to fright."
So on they ride, a ravaging horde, From shore to shuddering shore, Beyond us in the bleak star-buried dawn; Nor know that when they have camped again And sleep, Life will restore Unto her world the hope they have withdrawn.
THE CHRISTIAN IN EXILE
The palms along the old fort wall are paling, The mountains in the evening light are red, The moon has dropped into the moat from heaven, A spell barbaric over all is spread. But what is that to him, a stranger lonely, In a land strange to all his faith and dim? He cares not for old splendours, he would only Hear on the air a simple Sabbath hymn.
The paddy-birds their snowy flight are taking From the tall tamarind unto their nest, The bullock-carts along the road are creaking, The bugles o'er the wall are sounding rest. On a calm jetty looking off to Mecca Sons of Mahomet watch the low day's rim. He too is waiting for it—with an echo Upon his lips of a believer's hymn.
The red gate-towers rise against the twilight, The palace of the heathen king is hid, The white bridge bent across the moat beside it Seems now of all unholinesses rid. He wishes it were so with all this city Whose Buddha-built pagodas skyward swim; But he can only gaze on them and pity— And sing within his heart a Christian hymn.
THE PARSEE WOMAN
Cast me out from among you, I will not see my child Laid aloft where the vultures May clamour for him, wild! The earth you say is holy, Not to be soiled by death, And a Parsee still should hold divine What Zoroaster saith.
Ay, and so I will hold it, But see his pale sweet face, As pure as the palest flower Left dead in Spring's embrace. The sun we worship daily Shrined it for seven years, Then shall it go to cruel beaks, There where the sea-wind veers?
No, no, no! tho you send me A beggar from your door, You, my lord, whom I honour, And you, his sisters four, To whom there have come no children To make your bosoms feel How even a thought so full of throe Can make my sick brain reel.
Ah, you are deaf? you scorn me And loathe, as a thing defiled? My lord, I am but a woman Who longs to see her child Laid in a tomb, entreasured Under the shrouding sod. O would I had never given birth, Or that earth had no God!
SHAH JEHAN TO MUMTAZ MAHAL
I see as in a pale mirage The palm that o'er you sways, The waters of the Jumna wan are beating. One pearl-cloud, like a far-off Taj, A dome of grief betrays— Its beauty as was yours will be too fleeting!
The world is wider than I knew Now that your face is gone! While you were here no destiny seemed boundless. So I am lost and find no clue To any dusk or dawn! Life has become a quest decayed and groundless.
Come back! come back or let me find The jungle leads at last Unto your lips and bosom recreated! O somewhere I again must wind My arms about you, cast Into one word my love all unabated!
Where the road leads from Delhi to the South, And dingy camel-trains creep in the dust Past ruin-heaps of old Firozabad And Indropat unpitied of the drouth; By a lone tree, above a Pool whose sad Prayer-water all the turban-people trust, Is a heat-hidden tomb, and on it just A few faint blades of bent and grieving grass. "Jehanara's it is," with ready mouth A Moslem tells the stranger, "once she said, 'The covering of the poor is only grass, Let it be mine alone when I am dead.'" And who has stood there, where about her Rest Rise high Imperial tombs, knows hers is best.
A SINGHALESE LOVE LAMENT
As the cocoanut-palm That pines, my love, Away from the sound Of the planter's voice, Am I, for I hear No more resound Your song by the pearl-strewn sea! The sun may come And the moon wax round, And in its beam My mates may rejoice, But I feast not And my heart is dumb, As I long, O long, for thee!
In the jungle-deeps, Where the cobra creeps, The leopard lies In wait for me. But O, my love, When the daylight dies There is more to my dread than he! Harsh lonely tears That assail my eyes Are worse to bear, For the misery That makes them well Is the long, long years That I moan away from thee!
O again, again, In my katamaran A-keel would I push To your palmy door! Again would I hear The heave and hush Of your song by the plantain-tree. But far away Do I toil and crush The hopes that arise At my sick heart's core. For never near Does it come, the day That draws me again to thee!
ON THE ARABIAN GULF
From a far minaret of faithful cloud A wraith-muezzin of the sunset cried Over the sea that swung with sultan pride, "Allah is Beauty, there is none beside! Allah is Beauty, not to be denied By Death or any Infidel dark-browed!"
And every wave that worshipped, every one Under the mosque of heaven arching high, Lifted a white crest with assenting sigh And answered, "Let all gods but Allah die, Yea, let all gods! until the world shall cry, Beauty alone is left under the sun!"
Upon an image of immortal stone, Seated and vast, the moon of Luxor falls, Lending to it a stillness that appals, A mystery Osirian and strange. The hands outplaced upon the knees in lone And placid majesty reveal the power Of Egypt in her most triumphal hour, The calm of tyranny that cannot change. It is of that Great king, who heard the cries Of millions toil to lift him to the skies, Who saw them perish at their task like flies, Yet let no eye of pity o'er them range. What rue, then, if his desecrated face Rots now at Cairo in a mummy case?
At Bedrashein between the pyramids I saw the winged sun fold up his pinions And sink into the nether world's dominions Where Set sent ill on the Egyptian dead. I saw the ancient Desert, that outbids The Nile for the date-lands between them spread, Fling over Memphis that is vanished, Another shroud of sand, then bid his minions, The winds, lie down upon their boundless bed.
I saw where temples vowed to Serapis And granite splendours men name Pharaonic Are kept by Time in silence and sardonic Concealment—mummied in deep mystic tombs. And when the stars came out in quiet bliss, I heard Eternity with all its dooms, Past and to come, sound softly the mnemonic Of Death who waits all worlds that Life enwombs.
The camel at the old sakiyeh Toils around and round. Aweary is he of the Nile And of the wailing sound Of the slow wheel he turns all day To lift the water on its way Over the fields of Ahmed Bey, That with green grain abound.
Aweary is he, too, of fellaheen Who compel him on, With thick-voiced chanting till the day Over the West has gone. For the bold Desert was he made, The Bedouin, his lord, to aid, Not for this peasant wheel of trade That ever must be drawn.
But on he toils while dahabiyeh And dark felucca glide Below him on the glassy flow Of the gray river's tide. Then when the night has come lies down, In sleep the servile day to drown— Like all whom Life turns with a frown From their true fate aside.
Lord, what ship goes forth to-day? I see her setting West. Shall she have thy winds aright, Stars to guide her with their light, Shall she sweep the seas to sight Of land and harbour-rest?
Awful is thy ocean-wrath, And none can chart thy shoals When storm unassuaging hath Blotted sun and planet-path. Shall she, Lord, escape the scath And live, with all her souls?
For it is a beauteous thing That ships should sail the sea. Splendid is their plunge and swing Into waves that foam and fling Maelstroms at their bows to bring Them down to destiny.
And she, too, courageous rides Away into the gloom. Now her lights are lost in tides Of the windy spray that glides Thro the darkness, Lord, abides Thy Dove with her—or Doom?
I shall know perhaps some day, Or, knowing not, recall How my heart was fain to pray For a ship that bravely lay To her task: O Lord, so may Each vessel of us all!
THE CROSS OF THE SEPULCHRE
Within the Holy Sepulchre, breast-high, There is a cross uncounted lips have kissed, Millions the world to dust has long dismissed, Millions that now hope of it but to die. Pilgrims, I saw, from out far fervid lands Of superstition, North and West and South, Bend to it each a trembling, reverent mouth, Then kneel where Christ was said to loose Death's bands. And then I wondered if He who believed In the One God were wounded sore by this, Whether He shrinks at each ecstatic kiss, Or knowing how humanity is grieved, Knows too that it is better to give Hope Than Truth, if only one is in man's scope.
A lone palm leans in the moonlight Over a convent wall. The sea below is waking and breaking With quiet heave and fall. A young nun sits at the window; For Heaven she is too fair; Yet even the Dove of God might nest In her bosom beating there.
A lone ship sails from the harbour: Whom does it bear away? Her lover who sin-hearted has parted And left her but to pray? She has no lover, nor ever Has heard afar love's sigh. Only the convent's vesper vow Has ever dimmed her eye.
For naught knows she of her beauty, More than the palm of its peace; And who beyond Christ's portal to mortal Desires would bend her knees? The ways of the World have flowers, And any who will pluck those; But let there ever be a place Where none may pluck God's rose.
I'm tramping thro the mountains, They are rising white around me, Snow peaks like patriarchs That Winter has enthroned. I'm tramping up the valleys Where the cataracts sound me Thunders they have shrilly From eternity intoned.
I'm tramping thro the mountains, With the clouds for my companions, Soft clouds that float and cling From crag to cloven crag. I'm passing by the chalets That o'erhang the high canyons, Passing where the shepherds And the flocks they pipe to lag.
I'm tramping thro the mountains Where the pines in proud procession Climb like a hardy host To halo-heights of sun. I'm listening for the sallies Of the avalanche's Hessian Hurl of ice and granite Into gulfs Avernian.
I'm tramping thro the mountains And the wind is yodling to me Yearnings of the glaciers To flow to summer lands. I'm treading up the valleys With no wanting to undo me— For to-day I'm goalless And the great God understands!
THE MAN OF MIGHT
No moment drooped between his thought and action, No morrow died between his dream and deed. Within his soul there was no fatal faction That could betray him in his hour of need.
IN TIME OF AWE
The fierce sea-sunset over the world Springs like a wounded spirit, The waves all day have hissed and hurled Their fangs and the spray has swept and swirled, And ships in the gray gale's lair have furled Their sails—well may they fear it!
The night will be but a monstrous seethe Of terrors elemental. The clouds will wrap in a ghastly wreath Of gloom the winds that in them breathe, And all that lives in the sea beneath By fear shall be made gentle;
And sink down, down to the nether deeps, Below the foam and fretting. Down where the sullen water sleeps Alway and the slow sand coldly creeps Over the lone wreck, which Death keeps To guard him 'gainst forgetting.
And there in the ominous vast calm They'll harbour, like enchanted Chill shapes he has strangely conjured from The silence of his masterdom; There float till again they feel the qualm Of hunger thro them panted.
And then once more far up will they spring, To drift and sport and plunder, Shark, eel and whale and devil-thing, With tooth to rend and tail to sting. To the sea, O God, does horror cling And haunting past all wonder.
SUNRISE IN UTAH
The dun sand-cliffs that break the desert's sea Rose suddenly upon my sight at dawn, And terrible in an eternity Of death took silently the sunrise on. Purple funereal from rifted skies Swept down across their proud sterility, Only to die as here all glory dies, On barrenness I did not dream could be. O God, for a bird-song! or opening lips Of but one flower upon the fatal air, For but the voice of water as it drips, Or stir of leaves the day-wind makes aware! O God, for these, for life! or from the face Of the world wipe so irreparable a place!
Come to me, shadows, down the hill, Lie softly at my feet. The sun has worked his will And the day is done. Come to me softly and distil Your dews and dreams, that heat And hours of heartless glare have overrun.
Come to me, shadows, down the hill And bring with you the night, Fire-flies and the whippoorwill And ah, the moon— Whose soft interpretings can still The tangled tongues of right And wrong, and hope and fear, that haunt the noon.
Come to me, shadows, down the hill— And let there follow Sleep, Which is God's tidal Will That overflows The world—obliterating ill, And in its soothing sweep Murmuring more of mercy than man knows.
The evening sails come home With twilight in their wings. The harbour-light across the gloam Springs; The wind sings.
The waves begin to tell The sea's night-sorrow o'er, Weaving within their ancient spell More Than earth's lore.
The rising moon wafts strange Low lures across the tide, On which my dim thoughts seem to range, Stride Upon stride, Until, with flooding thrill, They seem at last to blend With waves that from the Eternal Will Wend, Without end.
There is no day but leads me to A peak impossible to scale, A task at which my hands must fail, A sea I cannot swim or sail. There is no night I suffer thro But Destiny rules stern and pale: And yet what I am meant to do I will do, ere Death drop his veil.
And it shall be no little thing, Tho to oblivion it fall, For I shall strive to it thro all That can imperil or appal. So at each morning's trumpet-ring I mount again, less slave and thrall, And at the barriers gladly fling A fortitude that scorns to crawl.
What am I reading? He is dead? He the great interpreter And seer—England's noblest head? What am I reading? It is hushed? The deepest voice that life had found To read a century profound With all time's seethe and stir?
Why, it is but a scanty score Of days, since, at his side, Clasping his hand with more than pride, I felt that the immortal tide Of his great mind would long break o'er The cold command of Death. Still in my ear is echoing The surf of his strong words, and still Against the wild trees on the Hill His cottage sheltered under, I see the toss of his gray locks, Like Lear's—for he had felt the sting Of all too greatly giving The kingdom of his mind to those Who for it held him mad.
O England, guard thy living Like him from a like fate! For not the mighty thunder Of thy proud name from all the rocks Of all the world can compensate A nation whom no Song makes glad, And whom no Seer makes great.