MUSIC AND OTHER POEMS
By Henry van Dyke
To my son Tertius this book is dedicated
Transcribed from the book published October, 1904
by Charles Scribner's Sons.
ODES Music Peace Victor Hugo God of the Open Air
SONNETS Work Life Love The Child in the Garden Love's Reason Portrait and Reality The Wind of Sorrow Patria
LEGENDS A Legend of Service The Vain King
LYRICS A Mile with Me Spring in the South Love's Nearness Two Schools A Prayer for a Mother's Birthday Indian Summer One World Hide and Seek Dulcis Memoria Autumn in the Garden The Message Light Between the Trees Reliance
GREETINGS AND INSCRIPTIONS Katrina's Sun-dial To James Whitcomb Riley A Health to Mark Twain A Rondeau of College Rhymes The Mocking-bird The Empty Quatrain Inscriptions for a Friend's House The Statue of Sherman by St. Gaudens The Sun-dial at Wells College
Daughter of Psyche, pledge of that last night When, pierced with pain and bitter-sweet delight, She knew her Love and saw her Lord depart, Then breathed her wonder and her woe forlorn Into a single cry, and thou wast born? Thou flower of rapture and thou fruit of grief; Invisible enchantress of the heart; Mistress of charms that bring relief To sorrow, and to joy impart A heavenly tone that keeps it undefiled,— Thou art the child Of Amor, and by right divine A throne of love is thine, Thou flower-folded, golden-girdled, star-crowned Queen, Whose bridal beauty mortal eyes have never seen!
Thou art the Angel of the pool that sleeps, While peace and joy lie hidden in its deeps, Waiting thy touch to make the waters roll In healing murmurs round the weary soul. Ah, when wilt thou draw near, Thou messenger of mercy robed in song? My lonely heart has listened for thee long; And now I seem to hear Across the crowded market-place of life, Thy measured foot-fall, ringing light and clear Above the unmeaning noises and the unruly strife; In quiet cadence, sweet and slow, Serenely pacing to and fro, Thy far-off steps are magical and dear. Ah, turn this way, come close and speak to me! From this dull bed of languor set my spirit free, And bid me rise, and let me walk awhile with thee
Where wilt thou lead me first? In what still region Of thy domain, Whose provinces are legion, Wilt thou restore me to myself again, And quench my heart's long thirst? I pray thee lay thy golden girdle down, And put away thy starry crown: For one dear restful hour Assume a state more mild. Clad only in thy blossom-broidered gown That breathes familiar scent of many a flower, Take the low path that leads thro' pastures green; And though thou art a Queen, Be Rosamund awhile, and in thy bower, By tranquil love and simple joy beguiled, Sing to my soul, as mother to her child.
O lead me by the hand, And let my heart have rest, And bring me back to childhood land, To find again the long-lost band Of playmates blithe and blest.
Some quaint, old-fashioned air, That all the children knew, Shall run before us everywhere, Like a little maid with flying hair, To guide the merry crew.
Along the garden ways We chase the light-foot tune, And in and out the flowery maze, With eager haste and fond delays, In pleasant paths of June.
For us the fields are new, For us the woods are rife With fairy secrets, deep and true, And heaven is but a tent of blue Above the game of life.
The world is far away: The fever and the fret, And all that makes the heart grow gray, Is out of sight and far away, Dear Music, while I hear thee play That olden, golden roundelay, "Remember and forget!"
V. SLEEP SONG
Forget, forget! The tide of life is turning; The waves of light ebb slowly down the west: Along the edge of dark some stars are burning To guide thy spirit safely to an isle of rest. A little rocking on the tranquil deep Of song, to soothe thy yearning, A little slumber and a little sleep, And so, forget, forget!
Forget, forget,— The day was long in pleasure; Its echoes die away across the hill; Now let thy heart beat time to their slow measure That swells, and sinks, and faints, and falls, till all is still. Then, like a weary child that loves to keep Locked in its arms some treasure, Thy soul in calm content shall fall asleep, And so forget, forget.
Forget, forget,— And if thou hast been weeping, Let go the thoughts that bind thee to thy grief: Lie still, and watch the singing angels, reaping The golden harvest of thy sorrow, sheaf by sheaf; Or count thy joys like flocks of snow-white sheep That one by one come creeping Into the quiet fold, until thou sleep, And so forget, forget!
Forget, forget,— Thou art a child and knowest So little of thy life! But music tells One secret of the world thro' which thou goest To work with morning song, to rest with evening bells: Life is in tune with harmony so deep That when the notes are lowest Thou still canst lay thee down in peace and sleep, For God will not forget.
VI. HUNTING SONG
Out of the garden of playtime, out of the bower of rest, Fain would I follow at daytime, music that calls to a quest. Hark, how the galloping measure Quickens the pulses of pleasure; Gaily saluting the morn With the long clear note of the hunting-horn Echoing up from the valley, Over the mountain side,— Rally, you hunters, rally, Rally, and ride!
Drink of the magical potion music has mixed with her wine, Full of the madness of motion, joyful, exultant, divine! Leave all your troubles behind you, Ride where they never can find you, Into the gladness of morn, With the long, clear note of the hunting-horn, Swiftly o'er hillock and hollow, Sweeping along with the wind,— Follow, you hunters, follow, Follow and find!
What will you reach with your riding? What is the charm of the chase? Just the delight and the striding swing of the jubilant pace. Danger is sweet when you front her,— In at the death, every hunter! Now on the breeze the mort is borne In the long, clear note of the hunting-horn, Winding merrily, over and over,— Come, come, come! Home again, Ranger! home again, Rover! Turn again, home!
Now let the sleep-tune blend with the play-tune, Weaving the mystical spell of the dance; Lighten the deep tune, soften the gay tune, Mingle a tempo that turns in a trance. Half of it sighing, half of it smiling, Smoothly it swings, with a triplicate beat; Calling, replying, yearning, beguiling, Wooing the heart and bewitching the feet. Every drop of blood Rises with the flood, Rocking on the waves of the strain; Youth and beauty glide Turning with the tide— Music making one out of twain, Bearing them away, and away, and away, Like a tone and its terce— Till the chord dissolves, and the dancers stay, And reverse.
Violins leading, take up the measure, Turn with the tune again,—clarinets clear Answer their pleading,—harps full of pleasure Sprinkle their silver like light on the mere. Semiquaver notes, Merry little motes, Tangled in the haze Of the lamp's golden rays, Quiver everywhere In the air, Like a spray,— Till the fuller stream of the might of the tune, Gliding like a dream in the light of the moon, Bears them all away, and away, and away, Floating in the trance of the dance.
Then begins a measure stately, Languid, slow, serene; All the dancers move sedately, Stepping leisurely and straitly, With a courtly mien; Crossing hands and changing places, Bowing low between, While the minuet inlaces Waving arms and woven paces,— Glittering damaskeen. Where is she whose form is folden In its royal sheen? From our longing eyes withholden By her mystic girdle golden, Beauty sought but never seen, Music walks the maze, a queen.
VIII. THE SYMPHONY
Music, they do thee wrong who say thine art Is only to enchant the sense. For every timid motion of the heart, And every passion too intense To bear the chain of the imperfect word, And every tremulous longing, stirred By spirit winds that come we know not whence And go we know not where, And every inarticulate prayer Beating about the depths of pain or bliss, Like some bewildered bird That seeks its nest but knows not where it is, And every dream that haunts, with dim delight, The drowsy hour between the day and night, The wakeful hour between the night and day,— Imprisoned, waits for thee, Impatient, yearns for thee, The queen who comes to set the captive free Thou lendest wings to grief to fly away, And wings to joy to reach a heavenly height; And every dumb desire that Storms within the breast Thou leadest forth to sob or sing itself to rest.
All these are thine, and therefore love is thine. For love is joy and grief, And trembling doubt, and certain-sure belief, And fear, and hope, and longing unexpressed, In pain most human, and in rapture brief Almost divine. Love would possess, yet deepens when denied; And love would give, yet hungers to receive; Love like a prince his triumph would achieve; And like a miser in the dark his joys would hide. Love is most bold: He leads his dreams like armed men in line; Yet when the siege is set, and he must speak, Calling the fortress to resign Its treasure, valiant love grows weak, And hardly dares his purpose to unfold. Less with his faltering lips than with his eyes He claims the longed-for prize: Love fain would tell it all, yet leaves the best untold.
But thou shalt speak for love. Yea, thou shalt teach The mystery of measured tone, The Pentecostal speech That every listener heareth as his own. For on thy head the cloven tongues of fire,— Diminished chords that quiver with desire, And major chords that glow with perfect peace,— Have fallen from above; And thou canst give release In music to the burdened heart of love.
Sound with the 'cellos' pleading, passionate strain The yearning theme, and let the flute reply In placid melody, while violins complain, And sob, and sigh, With muted string; Then let the oboe half-reluctant sing Of bliss that trembles on the verge of pain, While 'cellos plead and plead again, With throbbing notes delayed, that would impart To every urgent tone the beating of the heart. So runs the andante, making plain The hopes and fears of love without a word.
Then comes the adagio, with a yielding theme Through which the violas flow soft as in a dream, While horns and mild bassoons are heard In tender tune, that seems to float Like an enchanted boat Upon the downward-gliding stream, Toward the allegro's wide, bright sea Of dancing, glittering, blending tone, Where every instrument is sounding free, And harps like wedding-chimes are rung, and trumpets blown Around the barque of love That sweeps, with smiling skies above, A royal galley, many-oared, Into the happy harbour of the perfect chord.
Light to the eye and Music to the ear,— These are the builders of the bridge that springs From earths's dim shore of half-remembered things To reach the spirit's home, the heavenly sphere Where nothing silent is and nothing dark. So when I see the rainbow's arc Spanning the showery sky, far-off I hear Music, and every colour sings: And while the symphony builds up its round Full sweep of architectural harmony Above the tide of Time, far, far away I see A bow of colour in the bow of sound.
Red as the dawn the trumpet rings, Imperial purple from the trombone flows, The mellow horn melts into evening rose. Blue as the sky, the choir of strings Darkens in double-bass to ocean's hue, Rises in violins to noon-tide's blue, With threads of quivering light shot through and through. Green as the mantle that the summer flings Around the world, the pastoral reeds in time Embroider melodies of May and June. Yellow as gold, Yea, thrice-refined gold, And purer than the treasures of the mine, Floods of the human voice divine Along the arch in choral song are rolled. So bends the bow complete: And radiant rapture flows Across the bridge, so full, so strong, so sweet, That the uplifted spirit hardly knows Whether the Music-Light that glows Within the arch of tones and colours seven Is sunset-peace of earth, or sunrise-joy of Heaven.
X. SEA AND SHORE
Music, I yield to thee; As swimmer to the sea I give my Spirit to the flood of song: Bear me upon thy breast In rapture and at rest, Bathe me in pure delight and make me strong; From strife and struggle bring release, And draw the waves of passion into tides of peace.
Remember'd songs, most dear, In living songs I hear, While blending voices gently swing and sway In melodies of love, Whose mighty currents move, With singing near and singing far away; Sweet in the glow of morning light, And sweeter still across the starlit gulf of night.
Music, in thee we float, And lose the lonely note Of self in thy celestial-ordered strain, Until at last we find The life to love resigned In harmony of joy restored again; And songs that cheered our mortal days Break on the coast of light in endless hymns of praise.
December, 1901 - May, 1903.
I. IN EXCELSIS
Two dwellings, Peace, are thine. One is the mountain-height, Uplifted in the loneliness of light Beyond the realm of shadows,—fine, And far, and clear,—where advent of the night Means only glorious nearness of the stars, And dawn, unhindered, breaks above the bars That long the lower world in twilight keep. Thou sleepest not, and hast no need of sleep, For all thy cares and fears have dropped away; The night's fatigue, the fever-fret of day, Are far below thee; and earth's weary wars, In vain expense of passion, pass Before thy sight like visions in a glass, Or like the wrinkles of the storm that creep Across the sea and leave no trace Of trouble on that immemorial face,— So brief appear the conflicts, and so slight The wounds men give, the things for which they fight.
Here hangs a fortress on the distant steep,— A lichen clinging to the rock: There sails a fleet upon the deep,— A wandering flock Of snow-winged gulls: and yonder, in the plain, A marble palace shines,—a grain Of mica glittering in the rain. Beneath thy feet the clouds are rolled By voiceless winds: and far between The rolling clouds new shores and peaks are seen, In shimmering robes of green and gold, And faint aerial hue That silent fades into the silent blue. Thou, from thy mountain-hold, All day, in tranquil wisdom, looking down On distant scenes of human toil and strife, All night, with eyes aware of loftier life, Uplooking to the sky, where stars are sown, Dost watch the everlasting fields grow white Unto the harvest of the sons of light, And welcome to thy dwelling-place sublime The few strong souls that dare to climb The slippery crags and find thee on the height.
II. DE PROFUNDIS
But in the depth thou hast another home, For hearts less daring, or more frail. Thou dwellest also in the shadowy vale; And pilgrim-souls that roam With weary feet o'er hill and dale, Bearing the burden and the heat Of toilful days, Turn from the dusty ways To find thee in thy green and still retreat. Here is no vision wide outspread Before the lonely and exalted seat Of all-embracing knowledge. Here, instead, A little garden, and a sheltered nook, With outlooks brief and sweet Across the meadows, and along the brook,— A little stream that little knows Of the great sea towards which it gladly flows,— A little field that bears a little wheat To make a portion of earth's daily bread. The vast cloud-armies overhead Are marshalled, and the wild wind blows Its trumpet, but thou canst not tell Whence the storm comes nor where it goes.
Nor dost thou greatly care, since all is well; Thy daily task is done, And though a lowly one, Thou gavest it of thy best, And art content to rest In patience till its slow reward is won. Not far thou lookest, but thy sight is clear; Not much thou knowest, but thy faith is dear; For life is love, and love is always near. Here friendship lights the fire, and every heart, Sure of itself and sure of all the rest, Dares to be true, and gladly takes its part In open converse, bringing forth its best: Here is Sweet music, melting every chain Of lassitude and pain: And here, at last, is sleep, the gift of gifts, The tender nurse, who lifts The soul grown weary of the waking world, And lays it, with its thoughts all furled, Its fears forgotten, and its passions still, On the deep bosom of the Eternal Will.
VICTOR HUGO 1802-1902
Heart of France for a hundred years, Passionate, sensitive, proud, and strong, Quick to throb with her hopes and fears, Fierce to flame with her sense of wrong! You, who hailed with a morning song Dream-light gilding a throne of old: You, who turned when the dream grew cold, Singing still, to the light that shone Pure from Liberty's ancient throne, Over the human throng! You, who dared in the dark eclipse,— When the pygmy heir of a giant name Dimmed the face of the land with shame,— Speak the truth with indignant lips, Call him little whom men called great, Scoff at him, scorn him, deny him, Point to the blood on his robe of state, Fling back his bribes and defy him!
You, who fronted the waves of fate As you faced the sea from your island home, Exiled, yet with a soul elate, Sending songs o'er the rolling foam, Bidding the heart of man to wait For the day when all should see Floods of wrath from the frowning skies Fall on an Empire founded in lies, And France again be free! You, who came in the Terrible Year Swiftly back to your broken land, Now to your heart a thousand times more dear,— Prayed for her, sung to her, fought for her, Patiently, fervently wrought for her, Till once again, After the storm of fear and pain, High in the heavens the star of France stood clear!
You, who knew that a man must take Good and ill with a steadfast soul, Holding fast, while the billows roll Over his head, to the things that make Life worth living for great and small,— Honour and pity and truth, The heart and the hope of youth, And the good God over all! You, to whom work was rest, Dauntless Toiler of the Sea, Following ever the joyful quest Of beauty on the shores of old Romance, Bard of the poor of France, And warrior-priest of world-wide charity!
You who loved little children best Of all the poets that ever sung, Great heart, golden heart, Old, and yet ever young, Minstrel of liberty, Lover of all free, winged things, Now at last you are free,— Your soul has its wings! Heart of France for a hundred years, Floating far in the light that never fails you, Over the turmoil of mortal hopes and fears Victor, forever victor, the whole world hails you!
GOD OF THE OPEN AIR
Thou who hast made thy dwelling fair With flowers beneath, above with starry lights, And set thine altars everywhere,— On mountain heights, In woodlands dim with many a dream, In valleys bright with springs, And on the curving capes of every stream: Thou who hast taken to thyself the wings Of morning, to abide Upon the secret places of the sea, And on far islands, where the tide Visits the beauty of untrodden shores, Waiting for worshippers to come to thee In thy great out-of-doors! To thee I turn, to thee I make my prayer, God of the open air.
Seeking for thee, the heart of man Lonely and longing ran, In that first, solitary hour, When the mysterious power To know and love the wonder of the morn Was breathed within him, and his soul was born; And thou didst meet thy child, Not in some hidden shrine, But in the freedom of the garden wild, And take his hand in thine,— There all day long in Paradise he walked, And in the cool of evening with thee talked.
Lost, long ago, that garden bright and pure, Lost, that calm day too perfect to endure, And lost the childlike love that worshipped and was sure! For men have dulled their eyes with sin, And dimmed the light of heaven with doubt, And built their temple walls to shut thee in, And framed their iron creeds to shut thee out. But not for thee the closing of the door, O Spirit unconfined! Thy ways are free As is the wandering wind, And thou hast wooed thy children, to restore Their fellowship with thee, In peace of soul and simpleness of mind.
Joyful the heart that, when the flood rolled by, Leaped up to see the rainbow in the sky; And glad the pilgrim, in the lonely night, For whom the hills of Haran, tier on tier, Built up a secret stairway to the height Where stars like angel eyes were shining clear. From mountain-peaks, in many a land and age, Disciples of the Persian seer Have hailed the rising sun and worshipped thee; And wayworn followers of the Indian sage Have found the peace of God beneath a spreading tree.
But One, but One,—ah, child most dear, And perfect image of the Love Unseen,— Walked every day in pastures green, And all his life the quiet waters by, Reading their beauty with a tranquil eye.
To him the desert was a place prepared For weary hearts to rest; The hillside was a temple blest; The grassy vale a banquet-room Where he could feed and comfort many a guest. With him the lily shared The vital joy that breathes itself in bloom; And every bird that sang beside the nest Told of the love that broods o'er every living thing. He watched the shepherd bring His flock at sundown to the welcome fold, The fisherman at daybreak fling His net across the waters gray and cold, And all day long the patient reaper swing His curving sickle through the harvest-gold. So through the world the foot-path way he trod, Drawing the air of heaven in every breath; And in the evening sacrifice of death Beneath the open sky he gave his soul to God. Him will I trust, and for my Master take; Him will I follow; and for his dear sake, God of the open air, To thee I make my prayer.
From the prison of anxious thought that greed has builded, From the fetters that envy has wrought and pride has gilded, From the noise of the crowded ways and the fierce confusion, From the folly that wastes its days in a world of illusion, (Ah, but the life is lost that frets and languishes there!) I would escape and be free in the joy of the open air.
By the breadth of the blue that shines in silence o'er me, By the length of the mountain-lines that stretch before me, By the height of the cloud that sails, with rest in motion, Over the plains and the vales to the measureless ocean, (Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes!) Lead me out of the narrow life, to the peace of the hills and the skies.
While the tremulous leafy haze on the woodland is spreading, And the bloom on the meadow betrays where May has been treading; While the birds on the branches above, and the brooks flowing under, Are singing together of love in a world full of wonder, (Lo, in the marvel of Springtime, dreams are changed into truth!) Quicken my heart, and restore the beautiful hopes of youth.
By the faith that the flowers show when they bloom unbidden, By the calm of the river's flow to a goal that is hidden, By the trust of the tree that clings to its deep foundation, By the courage of wild birds' wings on the long migration, (Wonderful secret of peace that abides in Nature's breast!) Teach me how to confide, and live my life, and rest.
For the comforting warmth of the sun that my body embraces, For the cool of the waters that run through the shadowy places, For the balm of the breezes that brush my face with their fingers, For the vesper-hymn of the thrush when the twilight lingers, For the long breath, the deep breath, the breath of a heart without care,— I will give thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!
These are the gifts I ask Of thee, Spirit serene: Strength for the daily task, Courage to face the road, Good cheer to help me bear the traveller's load, And, for the hours of rest that come between, An inward joy in all things heard and seen. These are the sins I fain Would have thee take away: Malice, and cold disdain, Hot anger, sullen hate, Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great, And discontent that casts a shadow gray On all the brightness of the common day.
These are the things I prize And hold of dearest worth: Light of the sapphire skies, Peace of the silent hills, Shelter of forests, comfort of the grass, Music of birds, murmur of little rills, Shadow of clouds that swiftly pass, And, after showers, The smell of flowers And of the good brown earth,— And best of all, along the way, friendship and mirth.
So let me keep These treasures of the humble heart In true possession, owning them by love; And when at last I can no longer move Among them freely, but must part From the green fields and from the waters clear, Let me not creep Into some darkened room and hide From all that makes the world so bright and dear; But throw the windows wide To welcome in the light; And while I clasp a well-beloved hand, Let me once more have sight Of the deep sky and the far-smiling land,— Then gently fall on sleep, And breathe my body back to Nature's care, My spirit out to thee, God of the open air.
Let me but do my work from day to day, In field or forest, at the desk or loom, In roaring market-place or tranquil room; Let me but find it in my heart to say, When vagrant wishes beckon me astray, "This is my work; my blessing, not my doom; "Of all who live, I am the one by whom "This work can best be done in the right way."
Then shall I see it not too great, nor small, To suit my spirit and to prove my powers; Then shall I cheerful greet the labouring hours, And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall At eventide, to play and love and rest, Because I know for me my work is best.
Let me but live my life from year to year, With forward face and unreluctant soul; Not hurrying to, nor turning from, the goal; Not mourning for the things that disappear In the dim past, nor holding back in fear From what the future veils; but with a whole And happy heart, that pays its toll To Youth and Age, and travels on with cheer.
So let the way wind up the hill or down, O'er rough or smooth, the journey will be joy: Still seeking what I sought when but a boy, New friendship, high adventure, and a crown, My heart will keep the courage of the quest, And hope the road's last turn will be the best.
Let me but love my love without disguise, Nor wear a mask of fashion old or new, Nor wait to speak till I can hear a clue, Nor play a part to shine in others' eyes, Nor bow my knees to what my heart denies; But what I am, to that let me be true, And let me worship where my love is due, And so through love and worship let me rise.
For love is but the heart's immortal thirst To be completely known and all forgiven, Even as sinful souls that enter Heaven: So take me, dear, and understand my worst, And freely pardon it, because confessed, And let me find in loving thee, my best.
THE CHILD IN THE GARDEN
When to the garden of untroubled thought I came of late, and saw the open door, And wished again to enter, and explore The sweet, wild ways with stainless bloom inwrought, And bowers of innocence with beauty fraught, It seemed some purer voice must speak before I dared to tread that garden loved of yore, That Eden lost unknown and found unsought.
Then just within the gate I saw a child,— A stranger-child, yet to my heart most dear; He held his hands to me, and softly smiled With eyes that knew no shade of sin or fear: "Come in," he said, "and play awhile with me; "I am the little child you used to be."
For that thy face is fair I love thee not; Nor yet because the light of thy brown eyes Hath gleams of wonder and of glad surprise, Like woodland streams that cross a sunlit spot: Nor for thy beauty, born without a blot, Most perfect when it shines through no disguise Pure as the star of Eve in Paradise,— For all these outward things I love thee not:
But for a something in thy form and face, Thy looks and ways, of primal harmony; A certain soothing charm, a vital grace That breathes of the eternal womanly, And makes me feel the warmth of Nature's breast, When in her arms, and thine, I sink to rest.
PORTRAIT AND REALITY
If on the closed curtain of my sight My fancy paints thy portrait far away, I see thee still the same, by night or day; Crossing the crowded street, or moving bright 'Mid festal throngs, or reading by the light Of shaded lamp some friendly poet's lay, Or shepherding the children at their play,— The same sweet self, and my unchanged delight.
But when I see thee near, I recognize In every dear familiar way some strange Perfection, and behold in April guise The magic of thy beauty that doth range Through many moods with infinite surprise,— Never the same, and sweeter with each change.
THE WIND OF SORROW
The fire of love was burning, yet so low That in the dark we scarce could see its rays, And in the light of perfect-placid days Nothing but smouldering embers dull and slow. Vainly, for love's delight, we sought to throw New pleasures on the pyre to make it blaze: In life's calm air and tranquil-prosperous ways We missed the radiant heat of long ago.
Then in the night, a night of sad alarms, Bitter with pain and black with fog of fears, That drove us trembling to each other's arms— Across the gulf of darkness and salt tears, Into life's calm the wind of sorrow came, And fanned the fire of love to clearest flame.
I would not even ask my heart to say If I could love some other land as well As thee, my country, had I felt the spell Of Italy at birth, or learned to obey The charm of France, or England's mighty sway. I would not be so much an infidel As once to dream, or fashion words to tell, What land could hold my love from thee away.
For like a law of nature in my blood I feel thy sweet and secret sovereignty, And woven through my soul thy vital sign. My life is but a wave, and thou the flood; I am a leaf and thou the mother-tree; Nor should I be at all, were I not thine.
A LEGEND OF SERVICE
It pleased the Lord of Angels (praise His name!) To hear, one day, report from those who came With pitying sorrow, or exultant joy, To tell of earthly tasks in His employ: For some were sorry when they saw how slow The stream of heavenly love on earth must flow; And some were glad because their eyes had seen, Along its banks, fresh flowers and living green. So, at a certain hour, before the throne The youngest angel, Asmiel, stood alone; Nor glad, nor sad, but full of earnest thought, And thus his tidings to the Master brought: "Lord, in the city Lupon I have found "Three servants of thy holy name, renowned "Above their fellows. One is very wise, "With thoughts that ever range above the skies; "And one is gifted with the golden speech "That makes men glad to hear when he will teach; "And one, with no rare gift or grace endued, "Has won the people's love by doing good. "With three such saints Lupon is trebly blest; "But, Lord, I fain would know, which loves Thee best?"
Then spake the Lord of Angels, to whose look The hearts of all are like an open book: "In every soul the secret thought I read, "And well I know who loves me best indeed. "But every life has pages vacant still, "Whereon a man may write the thing he will; "Therefore I read in silence, day by day, "And wait for hearts untaught to learn my way. "But thou shalt go to Lupon, to the three "Who serve me there, and take this word from me: "Tell each of them his Master bids him go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow; "There he shall find a certain task for me: "But what, I do not tell to them nor thee. "Give thou the message, make my word the test, "And crown for me the one who answers best." Silent the angel stood, with folded hands, To take the imprint of his Lord's commands; Then drew one breath, obedient and elate, And passed, the self-same hour, through Lupon's gate.
First to the Temple door he made his way; And there, because it was an holy-day, He saw the folk by thousands thronging, stirred By ardent thirst to hear the preacher's word. Then, while the echoes murmured Bernol's name, Through aisles that hushed behind him, Bernol came; Strung to the keenest pitch of conscious might, With lips prepared and firm, and eyes alight. One moment at the pulpit steps he knelt In silent prayer, and on his shoulder felt The angel's hand:—"The Master bids thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there." Then Bernol's hidden face Went white as death, and for about the space Of ten slow heart-beats there was no reply; Till Bernol looked around and whispered, "WHY?" But answer to his question came there none; The angel sighed, and with a sigh was gone.
Within the humble house where Malvin spent His studious years, on holy things intent, Sweet stillness reigned; and there the angel found The saintly sage immersed in thought profound, Weaving with patient toil and willing care A web of wisdom, wonderful and fair: A seamless robe for Truth's great bridal meet, And needing but one thread to be complete. Then Asmiel touched his hand, and broke the thread Of fine-spun thought, and very gently said, "The One of whom thou thinkest bids thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there." With sorrow and surprise Malvin looked up, reluctance in his eyes. The broken thought, the strangeness of the call, The perilous passage of the mountain-wall, The solitary journey, and the length Of ways unknown, too great for his frail strength, Appalled him. With a doubtful brow He scanned the doubtful task, and muttered "HOW?" But Asmiel answered, as he turned to go, With cold, disheartened voice, "I do not know."
Now as he went, with fading hope, to seek The third and last to whom God bade him speak, Scarce twenty steps away whom should he meet But Fermor, hurrying cheerful down the street, With ready heart that faced his work like play, And joyed to find it greater every day! The angel stopped him with uplifted hand, And gave without delay his Lord's command: "He whom thou servest here would have thee go "Alone to Spiran's huts, across the snow, "To serve Him there." Ere Asmiel breathed again The eager answer leaped to meet him, "WHEN?"
The angel's face with inward joy grew bright, And all his figure glowed with heavenly light; He took the golden circlet from his brow And gave the crown to Fermor, answering, "Now! "For thou hast met the Master's bidden test, "And I have found the man who loves Him best. "Not thine, nor mine, to question or reply "When He commands us, asking 'how?' or 'why?' "He knows the cause; His ways are wise and just; "Who serves the King must serve with perfect trust."
THE VAIN KING
In robes of Tyrian blue the King was drest, A jewelled collar shone upon his breast, A giant ruby glittered in his crown— Lord of rich lands and many a splendid town. In him the glories of an ancient line Of sober kings, who ruled by right divine, Were centred; and to him with loyal awe The people looked for leadership and law. Ten thousand knights, the safeguard of the land, Lay like a single sword within his hand; A hundred courts, with power of life and death, Proclaimed decrees of justice by his breath; And all the sacred growths that men had known Of order and of rule upheld his throne.
Proud was the King: yet not with such a heart As fits a man to play a royal part. Not his the pride that honours as a trust The right to rule, the duty to be just: Not his the dignity that bends to bear The monarch's yoke, the master's load of care, And labours like the peasant at his gate, To serve the people and protect the State. Another pride was his, and other joys: To him the crown and sceptre were but toys, With which he played at glory's idle game, To please himself and win the wreaths of fame. The throne his fathers held from age to age, To his ambition, seemed a fitting stage Built for King Martin to display at will, His mighty strength and universal skill.
No conscious child, that, spoiled with praising, tries At every step to win admiring eyes,— No favourite mountebank, whose acting draws From gaping crowds loud thunder of applause, Was vainer than the King: his only thirst Was to be hailed, in every race, the first. When tournament was held, in knightly guise The King would ride the lists and win the prize; When music charmed the court, with golden lyre The King would take the stage and lead the choir; In hunting, his the lance to slay the boar; In hawking, see his falcon highest soar; In painting, he would wield the master's brush; In high debate,—"the King is speaking! Hush!" Thus, with a restless heart, in every field He sought renown, and found his subjects yield As if he were a demi-god revealed.
But while he played the petty games of life His kingdom fell a prey to inward strife; Corruption through the court unheeded crept, And on the seat of honour justice slept. The strong trod down the weak; the helpless poor Groaned under burdens grievous to endure. The nation's wealth was spent in vain display, And weakness wore the nation's heart away.
Yet think not Earth is blind to human woes— Man has more friends and helpers than he knows; And when a patient people are oppressed, The land that bore them feels it in her breast. Spirits of field and flood, of heath and hill, Are grieved and angry at the spreading ill; The trees complain together in the night, Voices of wrath are heard along the height, And secret vows are sworn, by stream and strand, To bring the tyrant low and liberate the land.
But little recked the pampered King of these; He heard no voice but such as praise and please. Flattered and fooled, victor in every sport, One day he wandered idly with his court Beside the river, seeking to devise New ways to show his skill to wondering eyes. There in the stream a patient fisher stood, And cast his line across the rippling flood. His silver spoil lay near him on the green: "Such fish," the courtiers cried, "were never seen! "Three salmon longer than a cloth-yard shaft— "This man must be the master of his craft!" "An easy art!" the jealous King replied: "Myself could learn it better, if I tried, "And catch a hundred larger fish a week— "Wilt thou accept the challenge, fellow? Speak!" The fisher turned, came near, and bent his knee: "'T is not for kings to strive with such as me; "Yet if the King commands it, I obey. "But one condition of the strife I pray: "The fisherman who brings the least to land "Shall do whate'er the other may command." Loud laughed the King: "A foolish fisher thou! "For I shall win and rule thee then as now."
So to Prince John, a sober soul, sedate And slow, King Martin left the helm of state, While to the novel game with eager zest He all his time and all his powers addrest. Sure such a sight was never seen before! For robed and crowned the monarch trod the shore; His golden hooks were decked with feathers fine, His jewelled reel ran out a silken line. With kingly strokes he flogged the crystal stream, Far-off the salmon saw his tackle gleam; Careless of kings, they eyed with calm disdain The gaudy lure, and Martin fished in vain. On Friday, when the week was almost spent, He scanned his empty creel with discontent, Called for a net, and cast it far and wide, And drew—a thousand minnows from the tide! Then came the fisher to conclude the match, And at the monarch's feet spread out his catch— A hundred salmon, greater than before— "I win!" he cried: "the King must pay the score." Then Martin, angry, threw his tackle down: "Rather than lose this game I'd lose my crown!"
Nay, thou hast lost them both," the fisher said; And as he spoke a wondrous light was shed Around his form; he dropped his garments mean, And in his place the River-god was seen. "Thy vanity hast brought thee in my power, "And thou shalt pay the forfeit at this hour: "For thou hast shown thyself a royal fool, "Too proud to angle, and too vain to rule. "Eager to win in every trivial strife,— "Go! Thou shalt fish for minnows all thy life!" Wrathful, the King the scornful sentence heard; He strove to answer, but he only CHIRR-R-ED: His Tyrian robe was changed to wings of blue, His crown became a crest,—away he flew!
And still, along the reaches of the stream, The vain King-fisher flits, an azure gleam,— You see his ruby crest, you hear his jealous scream.
A MILE WITH ME
O who will walk a mile with me Along life's merry way? A comrade blithe and full of glee, Who dares to laugh out loud and free, And let his frolic fancy play, Like a happy child, through the flowers gay That fill the field and fringe the way Where he walks a mile with me.
And who will walk a mile with me Along life's weary way? A friend whose heart has eyes to see The stars shine out o'er the darkening lea, And the quiet rest at the end o' the day,— A friend who knows, and dares to say, The brave, sweet words that cheer the way Where he walks a mile with me.
With such a comrade, such a friend, I fain would walk till journeys end, Through summer sunshine, winter rain, And then?—Farewell, we shall meet again!
SPRING IN THE SOUTH
Now in the oak the sap of life is welling, Tho' to the bough the rusty leafage clings; Now on the elm the misty buds are swelling, See how the pine-wood grows alive with wings; Blue-jays fluttering, yodeling and crying, Meadow-larks sailing low above the faded grass, Red-birds whistling clear, silent robins flying,— Who has waked the birds up? What has come to pass?
Last year's cotton-plants, desolately bowing, Tremble in the March-wind, ragged and forlorn; Red are the hill-sides of the early ploughing, Gray are the lowlands, waiting for the corn. Earth seems asleep still, but she's only feigning; Deep in her bosom thrills a sweet unrest. Look where the jasmine lavishly is raining Jove's golden shower into Danae's breast!
Now on the plum the snowy bloom is sifted, Now on the peach the glory of the rose, Over the hills a tender haze is drifted, Full to the brim the yellow river flows. Dark cypress boughs with vivid jewels glisten, Greener than emeralds shining in the sun. Who has wrought the magic? Listen, sweetheart, listen! The mocking-bird is singing Spring has begun.
Hark, in his song no tremor of misgiving! All of his heart he pours into his lay,— "Love, love, love, and pure delight of living: Winter is forgotten: here's a happy day!" Fair in your face I read the flowery presage, Snowy on your brow and rosy on your mouth: Sweet in your voice I hear the season's message,— Love, love, love, and Spring in the South!
I think of thee, when golden sunbeams shimmer Across the sea; And when the waves reflect the moon's pale glimmer, I think of thee.
I see thy form, when down the distant highway The dust-clouds rise; In deepest night, above the mountain by-way, I see thine eyes.
I hear thee when the ocean-tides returning Loudly rejoice; And on the lonely moor, in stillness yearning, I hear thy voice.
I dwell with thee: though thou art far removed, Yet art thou near. The sun goes down, the stars shine out,— Beloved, Ah, wert thou here!
From Goethe: "Nahe des Geliebten."
I put my heart to school In the world, where men grow wise, "Go out," I said, "and learn the rule; "Come back when you win a prize."
My heart came back again: "Now where is the prize?" I cried.— "The rule was false, and the prize was pain, "And the teacher's name was Pride."
I put my heart to school In the woods, where veeries sing, And brooks run cool and clear; In the fields, where wild flowers spring, And the blue of heaven bends near. "Go out," I said: "you are half a fool, "But perhaps they can teach you here."
"And why do you stay so long, "My heart, and where do you roam?" The answer came with a laugh and a song,— "I find this school is home."
A PRAYER FOR A MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY
Lord Jesus, Thou hast known A mother's love and tender care: And Thou wilt hear, while for my own Mother most dear I make this birthday prayer.
Protect her life, I pray, Who gave the gift of life to me; And may she know, from day to day, The deepening glow of Life that comes from Thee.
As once upon her breast Fearless and well content I lay, So let her heart, on Thee at rest, Feel fears depart and troubles fade away.
Her every wish fulfill; And even if Thou must refuse In anything, let Thy wise will A comfort bring such as kind mothers use.
Ah, hold her by the hand, As once her hand held mine; And though she may not understand Life's winding way, lead her in peace divine.
I cannot pay my debt For all the love that she has given; But Thou, love's Lord, wilt not forget Her due reward,—bless her in earth and heaven.
A soft veil dims the tender skies, And half conceals from pensive eyes The bronzing tokens of the fall; A calmness broods upon the hills, And summer's parting dream distills A charm of silence over all.
The stacks of corn, in brown array, Stand waiting through the placid day, Like tattered wigwams on the plain; The tribes that find a shelter there Are phantom peoples, forms of air, And ghosts of vanished joy and pain.
At evening when the crimson crest Of sunset passes down the West, I hear the whispering host returning; On far-off fields, by elm and oak, I see the lights, I smell the smoke,— The Camp-fires of the Past are burning.
Tertius and Henry Van Dyke.
"The worlds in which we live are two The world 'I am' and the world 'I do.'"
The worlds in which we live at heart are one, The world "I am," the fruit of "I have done"; And underneath these worlds of flower and fruit, The world "I love,"—the only living root.
HIDE AND SEEK
All the trees are sleeping, all the winds are still, All the flocks of fleecy clouds have wandered past the hill; Through the noonday silence, down the woods of June, Hark, a little hunter's voice comes running with a tune. "Hide and seek! "When I speak, "You must answer me: "Call again, "Merry men, "Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Now I hear his footsteps, rustling through the grass: Hidden in my leafy nook, shall I let him pass? Just a low, soft whistle,—quick the hunter turns, Leaps upon me laughing, rolls me in the ferns. "Hold him fast, "Caught at last! "Now you're it, you see. "Hide your eye, "Till I cry, "Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Long ago he left me, long and long ago: Now I wander through the world and seek him high and low; Hidden safe and happy, in some pleasant place,— Ah, if I could hear his voice, I soon should find his face. Far away, Many a day, Where can Barney be? Answer, dear, Don't you hear? Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!
Birds that in the spring-time thrilled his heart with joy, Flowers he loved to pick for me, mind me of my boy. Surely he is waiting till my steps come nigh; Love may hide itself awhile, but love can never die. Heart, be glad, The little lad Will call some day to thee: "Father dear, "Heaven is here, "Coo-ee, coo-ee, coo-ee!"
Long, long ago I heard a little song, (Ah, was it long ago, or yesterday?) So lowly, slowly wound the tune along, That far into my heart it found the way: A melody consoling and endearing; And still, in silent hours, I'm often hearing The small, sweet song that does not die away.
Long, long ago I saw a little flower,— (Ah, was it long ago, or yesterday?) So fair of face and fragrant for an hour, That something dear to me it seemed to say: A thought of joy that blossomed into being Without a word; and now I'm often seeing The friendly flower that does not fade away.
Long, long ago we had a little child,— (Ah, was it long ago, or yesterday?) Into his mother's eyes and mine he smiled Unconscious love; warm in our arms he lay. An angel called! Dear heart, we could not hold him; Yet secretly your arms and mine infold him— Our little child who does not go away.
Long, long ago? Ah, memory, make it clear— (It was not long ago, but yesterday,) So little and so helpless and so dear Let not the song be lost, the flower decay! His voice, his waking eyes, his gentle sleeping: The smallest things are safest in thy keeping. Sweet memory, keep our child with us alway.
AUTUMN IN THE GARDEN
When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark Makes its mark On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves Over fallen leaves; Then my olden garden, where the golden soil Through the toil Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep, Whispers in its sleep.
'Mid the crumpled beds of marigold and phlox, Where the box Borders with its glossy green the ancient walks, There's a voice that talks Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here Year by year,— Dreams of joy, that brightened all the labouring hours, Fading as the flowers.
Yet the whispered story does not deepen grief; But relief For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow From the Long-Ago, When I think of other lives that learned, like mine, To resign, And remember that the sadness of the fall Comes alike to all.
What regrets, what longings for the lost were theirs! And what prayers For the silent strength that nerves us to endure Things we cannot cure! Pacing up and down the garden where they paced, I have traced All their well-worn paths of patience, till I find Comfort in my mind.
Faint and far away their ancient griefs appear: Yet how near Is the tender voice, the careworn, kindly face, Of the human race! Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart, Not apart! They who know the sorrows other lives have known Never walk alone.
Waking from tender sleep, My neighbour's little child Put out his baby hand to me, Looked in my face, and smiled.
It seemed as if he came Home from a happy land, To tell me something that my heart Would surely understand.
Somewhere, among bright dreams, A child that once was mine Had whispered wordless love to him, And given him a sign.
Comfort of kindly speech, And counsel of the wise, Have helped me less than what I read In those deep-smiling eyes.
Sleep sweetly, little friend, And dream again of heaven: With double love I kiss your hand,— Your message has been given.
LIGHT BETWEEN THE TREES
Long, long, long the trail Through the brooding forest-gloom, Down the shadowy, lonely vale Into silence, like a room Where the light of life has fled, And the jealous curtains close Round the passionless repose Of the silent dead.
Plod, plod, plod away, Step by step in mouldering moss; Thick branches bar the day Over languid streams that cross Softly, slowly, with a sound In their aimless creeping Like a smothered weeping, Through the enchanted ground.
"Yield, yield, yield thy quest," Whispers through the woodland deep; "Come to me and be at rest; "I am slumber, I am sleep." Then the weary feet would fail, But the never-daunted will Urges "Forward, forward still! "Press along the trail!"
Breast, breast, breast the slope! See, the path is growing steep. Hark! a little song of hope When the stream begins to leap. Though the forest, far and wide, Still shuts out the bending blue, We shall finally win through, Cross the long divide.
On, on, onward tramp! Will the journey never end? Over yonder lies the camp; Welcome waits us there, my friend. Can we reach it ere the night? Upward, upward, never fear! Look, the summit must be near; See the line of light!
Red, red, red the shine Of the splendour in the west, Glowing through the ranks of pine, Clear along the mountain-crest! Long, long, long the trail Out of sorrow's lonely vale; But at last the traveller sees Light between the trees!
Not to the swift, the race: Not to the strong, the fight: Not to the righteous, perfect grace: Not to the wise, the light.
But often faltering feet Come surest to the goal; And they who walk in darkness meet The sunrise of the soul.
A thousand times by night The Syrian hosts have died; A thousand times the vanquished right Hath risen, glorified.
The truth the wise men sought Was spoken by a child; The alabaster box was brought In trembling hands defiled.
Not from my torch, the gleam, But from the stars above: Not from my heart, life's crystal stream, But from the depths of Love.
GREETINGS AND INSCRIPTIONS
Hours fly, Flowers die: New days, New ways: Pass by! Love stays.
Time is Too Slow for those who Wait, Too Swift for those who Fear, Too Long for those who Grieve, Too Short for those who Rejoice; But for those who Love, Time is not.
TO JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
On his "Book of Joyous Children"
Yours is a garden of old-fashioned flowers; Joyous children delight to play there; Weary men find rest in its bowers, Watching the lingering light of day there.
Old-time tunes and young love's laughter Ripple and run among the roses; Memory's echoes, murmuring after, Fill the dusk when the long day closes.
Simple songs with a cadence olden— These you learned in the Forest of Arden: Friendly flowers with hearts all golden— These you borrowed from Eden's garden.
This is the reason why all men love you; Truth to life is the charm of art: Other poets may soar above you— You keep close to the human heart.
A HEALTH TO MARK TWAIN
At his Birthday Feast
With memories old and wishes new We crown our cups again, And here's to you, and here's to you With love that ne'er shall wane! And may you keep, at sixty-seven, The joy of earth, the hope of heaven, And fame well-earned, and friendship true, And peace that comforts every pain, And faith that fights the battle through, And all your heart's unbounded wealth, And all your wit, and all your health,— Yes, here's a hearty health to you, And here's to you, and here's to you, Long life to you, Mark Twain.
A RONDEAU OF COLLEGE RHYMES
Our college rhymes,—how light they seem, Like little ghosts of love's young dream That led our boyish hearts away From lectures and from books, to stray By flowery mead and flowing stream!
There's nothing here, in form or theme, Of thought sublime or art supreme: We would not have the critic weigh Our college rhymes.
Yet if, perchance, a slender beam Of feeling's glow or fancy's gleam Still lingers in the lines we lay At Alma Mater's feet today, The touch of Nature may redeem Our college rhymes.
In mirth he mocks the other birds at noon, Catching the lilt of every easy tune; But when the day departs he sings of love,— His own wild song beneath the listening moon.
THE EMPTY QUATRAIN
A flawless cup: how delicate and fine The flowing curve of every jewelled line! Look, turn it up or down, 't is perfect still,— But holds no drop of life's heart-warming wine.
INSCRIPTIONS FOR A FRIEND'S HOUSE
The cornerstone in Truth is laid, The guardian walls of Honour made, The roof of Faith is built above, The fire upon the hearth is Love: Though rains descend and loud winds call, This happy house shall never fall.
The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride: The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside: The doorband strong enough from robbers to defend: This door will open at a touch to welcome every friend.
When the logs are burning free, Then the fire is full of glee: When each heart gives out its best, Then the talk is full of zest: Light your fire and never fear, Life was made for love and cheer.
Time can never take What Time did not give; When my shadows have all passed, You shall live.
THE STATUE OF SHERMAN BY ST. GAUDENS
This is the soldier brave enough to tell The glory-dazzled world that 'war is hell': Lover of peace, he looks beyond the strife, And rides through hell to save his country's life.
THE SUN-DIAL AT WELLS COLLEGE
The shadow by my finger cast Divides the future from the past: Before it, sleeps the unborn hour In darkness, and beyond thy power: Behind its unreturning line, The vanished hour, no longer thine: One hour alone is in thy hands,— The NOW on which the shadow stands.