JOHN L. STODDARD
They called him mad,—the poor, old man, Whose white hair, worn and thin, Fell o'er his shoulders, as he played His cherished violin, Forever drawing to and fro O'er silent strings a loosened bow.
At times on his pathetic face A look of perfect rapture shone, Intent on some celestial chords, Discerned by him alone; And sometimes he would smile and pause, As if receiving loud applause.
So, many a humble poet dreams His songs will touch the human heart, And full of hope his offering lays Before the shrine of Art; Poor dreamer, may he never know That he too draws a silent bow!
PROEM MY PROMENADE SOLITAIRE REINCARNATION TO THE "RING NEBULA" THE WAIF THE SILVER HERONS TO THE SPHINX YOUTH AND AGE SUNSET AT INTERLAKEN UNDER THE STARS CORSICA TO THE VENUS OF MELOS MORS LEONIS A STORY OF THE SEA OLD HYMN TUNES BEFORE A STATUE OF BUDDHA THE PILLARS OF HERCULES FRIENDSHIP TO MY DEAD DOG TO-DAY TO THE COUNTESS GUICCIOLI THE DEATH OF ANTONINUS PIUS THE BUTTERFLY AFTER THE STORM FALLEN "AEQUANIMITAS" DREAMLAND ROME REVISITED ON THE PALATINE THE FAREWELL AT FONTAINEBLEAU JAPAN—OLD AND NEW THE UNFORGOTTEN HEROES A WINTER'S DAY ON THE PROMENADE SOLITUDE OUT OF THE RANKS AUTONOMY ORIENT TO OCCIDENT THE CAPTIVE WEARINESS A MAY MONODY MY LOST FRIENDS TO SLEEP AND TO FORGET IN SILENCE AT THE VILLA OF FREDERICK III IN A COLUMBARIUM DISCOURAGEMENT MESALLIANCE IN A MODERN CITY MY BORES GRATITUDE IN TENEBRIS TWO MOTHERS AT HOCHFINSTERMUeNZ THE GIFT OF JUNO THE AWAKENING THE WINE OF LIFE LIFE'S TRILOGY MYSTERIES STAR DRIFT
OBERMAIS CONTENTMENT TO MERAN'S NORTHERN MOUNTAINS AT SUNSET POST NUBES LUX THE HOME-COMING FROM ROME MY GARDEN THE MOUNTAINS OF MERAN OSWALD, THE MINNESINGER AFTER THE VINTAGE THE PASSING MOON AUTUMN IN MERAN THE STATUE OF THE EMPRESS ELIZABETH THE OUTCASTS HEIMWEIL MY LIBRARY TOUT PASSE
BESIDE LAKE COMO
THE FAUN ISOLA COMACINA THE OLD CARRIER EVENING ON LAKE COMO DELIO PATRI ACQUA FREDDA THE POSTERN GATE UNDINE JANUARY IN THE TREMEZZINA THE WANDERER SECLUSION ONE MORE UNDER THE PLANE TREE "CONJUGI CARISSIMAE" THE PAGAN PAST RETIREMENT IN NOVEMBER THE CALL OF THE BLOOD THE CASCADE BIRD SLAUGHTER THE IRON CROWN CONTRASTS IN MY PERGOLA EVANESCENCE LAKE COMO IN AUTUMN TO THE PORTRAIT OF NAPOLEON DAY AND NIGHT PASSING AND PERMANENT TRIPOLI INFLUENCE LEO FAREWELL TO THE FAUN WAKEFULNESS VILLA PLINIANA POINT BALBIANELLO AT LENNO
LINES WRITTEN FOR A GOLDEN WEDDING TO THE WALKING-STICK OF MY DEAD FRIEND TO C. TO MR. AND MRS. A.H.S. To M.C. OF ATHENS TO J.B. TO M.P. TO MISS MARY C. LOW IN MEMORIAM. G.M.M. TO HON. CHARLES M. DICKINSON TO J.C.Y. TO HON. JESSE HOLDOM
THE KISS TO THE FLAG EMILY'S GRAVE SERENADE TO NINON THE RED TYROLEAN EAGLE ANDREAS HOFER STREAM AND SEA
* * * * *
MY "PROMENADE SOLITAIRE"
Up and down in my garden fair, Under the trellis where grapes will bloom, With the breath of violets in the air, As pallid Winter for Spring makes room, I walk and ponder, free from care, In my beautiful Promenade Solitaire.
Back and forth in the checkered shade Traced by the lattice that holds the vine, With the glory of snow-capped crests displayed On the sapphire sky in a billowy line, I stroll, and ask what can compare With the charm of my Promenade Solitaire.
To and fro 'neath the nascent green Which clambers over its slender frame, With white peaks lighting up the scene, As snowfields glow with the sunset flame, I saunter, halting here and there For the view from my Promenade Solitaire.
In and out through the silence sweet, Plash of fountain and song of bird Are the only sounds in my lov'd retreat By which the air is ever stirred; It is like a long-drawn aisle of prayer, So hushed is my Promenade Solitaire.
Onward rushes the world without, But the breeze which over my garden steals Brings from it merely a distant shout Or the echo light of passing wheels; In its din and drive I have now no share, As I muse in my Promenade Solitaire.
Am I dead to the world, that I thus disdain Its moil and toil in the prime of life, When perhaps a score of years remain To win more gold in its selfish strife? Am I foolish to choose the purer air Of my glorious Promenade Solitaire?
Ah no! From my mountain-girdled height I watch the game of the world go on, And note the course of the bitter fight, And what is lost and what is won; And I judge of it better here than there, As I gaze from my Promenade Solitaire.
It is ever the same old tale of greed, Of robbing and killing the weaker race, Of the word proved false by the cruel deed, Of the slanderous tongue with the friendly face; 'Tis enough to make one's heart despair Even here in my Promenade Solitaire.
They cheer, and struggle, and beat the air With many a stroke and thrust intense, And urge each other to do and dare, To gain some good they deem immense; But they look like ants contending there From the height of my Promenade Solitaire.
Backward and forward they run and crawl, Houses and treasures they heap up high, Hither and thither their booty haul, ... Then suddenly drop in their tracks and die! For few are wise enough to repair In time to a Promenade Solitaire.
Meantime the Earth speeds on through space, As the sun for a million years hath steered, And, an eon hence, the entire race Will have played its part and disappeared; But what will the lifeless planet care, As it follows its Promenade Solitaire?
I know not how, I know not where, But from my own heart's mystic lore I feel that I have breathed this air, And walked this earth before;
And that in this, its latest form My old-time spirit once more strives, As it has fought through many a storm In past, forgotten lives.
Not inexperienced did my soul This incarnation's threshold tread; Not recordless has proved the scroll It brought back from the dead.
To certain, special lines of thought My mind intuitively tends, And old affinities have brought Not new, but ancient friends.
What thrilled me in a previous state Rekindles here its ancient flame; What I by instinct love and hate I knew before I came;
And lands, of which in youth I dreamed And read, heart-moved, and longed to see, When really visited, have seemed Not strange but known to me.
When Mozart, still a child, untaught, Ran joyous to the silent keys, And with inspired fingers wrought Majestic harmonies,
There fell upon his psychic ear Faint echoes of a music known Before his natal advent here, In former lives outgrown.
In many a dumb brute's wistful eyes A dawning human soul aspires, For thus from lower forms we rise,— Ourselves our spirits' sires.
Full many a thought that thrills my breast Is fruit resulting from a seed Sown elsewhere,—on my soul impressed By many an arduous deed;
Full many a fetter which hath lamed My struggling spirit's upward flight Was once by that same spirit framed, When further from the Light;
With justice, therefore, comes the pain That o'er the tortured world extends; And hopeful is the lessening stain, As each life-cycle ends.
No changeless, endless states await The good and evil souls set free; Each grave is a successive gate In immortality.
Too long this mighty truth hath slept Among the darkened souls of men,— "Ye cannot see God's face, except Ye shall be born again."
The God-like Christs and Buddhas yearn, However high their spirits' stage, For man's salvation to return, As Saviour or as Sage.
On our benighted, groping minds Their noble precepts, star-like, shine; Each soul, that wisely seeks them, finds The truths that are divine.
Misunderstood and vilified, Their aims and motives scarcely known, How many of these Saints have died, Rejected by their own!
Yet, though their followers miss the way, In spite of precept and of prayer, And lead unnumbered souls astray, Committed to their care,
Upon the lofty spirit-plane, Where all lies open to their sight, The Masters know that not in vain They left the Hills of Light.
TO THE "RING NEBULA"
O pallid spectre of the midnight skies, Whose phantom features in the dome of Night Elude the keenest gaze of wistful eyes, Till amplest lenses aid the failing sight; On heaven's blue sea the farthest isle of fire, From thee, whose glories it would fain admire, Must vision, baffled, in despair retire!
What art thou, ghostly visitant of flame? Wouldst thou 'neath closer scrutiny resolve In myriad suns that constellations frame, Around which life-blest satellites revolve, Like those unnumbered orbs which nightly creep In dim procession o'er the azure steep, As white-winged caravans the desert sweep?
Or art thou still an incandescent mass, Acquiring form as hostile forces urge, Through whose vast length continuous lightnings pass, As to and fro its fiery billows surge? Whose glowing atoms, whirled in ceaseless strife, Where now chaotic anarchy is rife, Shall yet become the fair abodes of life?
We know not; for the faint, exhausted rays Which hither on Light's winged coursers come From fires which ages since first lit their blaze, One instant gleam, then perish, spent and dumb; How sad the thought that, howsoe'er we yearn Of life on yonder glittering orbs to learn, We read no message, and could none return!
Yet this we know:—yon ring of spectral light, Whose distance thrills the soul with solemn awe, Can ne'er escape in its majestic might The firm control of omnipresent law; This mote descending to its bounden place, Those suns whose radiance we can scarcely trace, Alike obey the Power pervading space.
I sit in my luxurious chair; Soft rugs caress my slippered feet; Within, a balmy, summer air; Without, a wintry storm of sleet.
A favorite book is in my hands, A thousand others line the walls; Some souvenir of distant lands In every nook the Past recalls.
Upon a Turkish tabouret In Dresden cups of peerless blue Gleams on a pretty Cashmere tray The fragrant Mocha's ebon hue.
Two dainty hands prepare the draught, While loving glances meet my own; Two lips repeat (the coffee quaffed), "To-night 'tis sweet to be alone."
Hark! in the court my faithful hound Breaks rudely on our tete-a-tete; Too well I understand that sound! A mendicant is at my gate.
Admit him? Yes; for none shall say That he who seeks in want my door Is ever harshly turned away; His plea is heard, if nothing more.
I leave my comforts with a sigh, And, passing to the outer hall, Behold a wanderer doomed to die,— So ill, I look to see him fall.
I know his story ere he speaks; And listening to his labored breath, I trace, with tears upon my cheeks, His long and hopeless fight with death.
A poor, storm-beaten, lonely waif, Lured southward from a colder clime By hope and that unfailing faith That health will come again in time!
Alas! too late; the dread disease Hath fixed its roots too firmly there; And now sick, friendless, at my knees, He pours forth his heart-breaking prayer.
What are his needs? Before all, food! Hot soup, bread, wine, until at last A sense of human brotherhood Obliterates his cruel past;
Yet not for long; for though well-fed, With warmer garments than before, He hath no place to lay his head, On turning from my friendly door.
I slip some silver in his hand, ('Twill purchase shelter for the night,) Then, silent and remorseful, stand To watch his bent form out of sight.
On, on he goes through snow and sleet, With nothing more of warmth and cheer! From such a home to such a street! Ah, should I not have kept him here?
My room is no less bright and warm, But all its charm and joy have fled; That lonely figure in the storm Leaves both our hearts uncomforted.
For this is but one tiny wave In life's vast, shoreless sea of woe,— One note in man's hoarse cry to save, Resounding o'er its ebb and flow;
I ask myself in blank dismay,— Ought I my little wealth to own? Yet, should I give it all away, 'Twere but a drop to ocean thrown!
Great God! if what I dimly see, In this small section of mankind, Of pain and want and misery, Can thus bring anguish to my mind,
How canst Thou view the awful whole, As our ensanguined planet rolls From unknown source to unknown goal Its freight of suffering human souls?
Permitted pain!—the first and last Of riddles that we strive to solve, More poignant ever, and more vast, As man's mentalities evolve,
I hear thy victims' ceaseless wails, I view the path my race hath trod, And at the sight my spirit quails, And cries in agony to God!
THE SILVER HERONS
Within a home for captive beasts Whose world had dwindled to a cage, I noted in their mournful eyes Such resignation, fear, and rage, I longed at once to set them free, And send them over land and sea To live again in liberty.
For them no more the mountain range, The desert vast, the jungle's lair! Their meaner fate through grated bars To feel the public's hateful stare; Poor prisoners! doomed henceforth to pace With stinted strides a narrow space, And, daily, gaping crowds to face.
At length I stood before a cage, Where, guarded by a loftier screen, Were artificial rocks, and pools, And strips of vegetation green; There, perched upon some rocky mound, Or crouching on the miry ground, A flock of waterfowl I found.
Storks, poised upon a single leg, Stood dreaming of the eternal Nile,— The Mecca of their winter flight, When lured by Egypt's sunny smile; While ducks and geese, in gabbling mood, Explored the muddy pond for food, Attended by their noisy brood.
Their keeper brought their evening meal; And instantly on broad-webbed feet, And stilt-like legs, and flapping wings, The feathered bipeds rushed to greet, With snaps and cluckings of delight, The joyful, ever-welcome sight Of supper at the approach of night.
Yet all came not! Two stood apart, With plumage like fresh-fallen snow,— Two "Silver Herons," of a race As pure and fine as earth can show; Amid the tumult that was rife, These loathed the others' greedy strife, And looked disgusted with their life.
With closed eyes, shrinking from the mass, They seemed, in thought, removed as far From all their coarse environment As sun is separate from star! The very picture of disdain, From all such gorging, it was plain, They had determined to refrain.
The keeper murmured with reproach,— "Those Silver Herons are too proud! Why should they not partake of food Together with the common crowd? They eat a little from my hand, But would prefer to starve, than stand Besmeared by that uncleanly band.
"A month hence, neither will be here; For both will grieve themselves to death; And when one falls, its mate expires With scarcely an additional breath; And, should there come another pair, In their turn they the fate will share Of those two herons standing there."
Poor hapless birds! I see them yet, Alone and starving in their pride,— Their glittering plumage still intact, While standing bravely side by side; And, although put to hunger's test, Continuing mutely to protest Against defilement with the rest.
O Silver Herons, teach mankind To cherish thus a stainless name! To shun the vile, ignoble crowd, Preferring death to smirch and shame! A foul, unfriendly mob to brave, And go, unspotted, to the grave, Is not to lose one's life, but save.
TO THE SPHINX
O sleepless Sphinx! Thy sadly patient eyes, Forever gazing o'er the shifting sands, Have watched Earth's countless dynasties arise, Stalk forth like spectres waving gory hands, Then fade away with scarce a lasting trace To mark the secret of their dwelling place: O sleepless Sphinx!
O changeless Sphinx! The very dawn of Time Beheld thee sculptured from the living rock! Still wears thy face its primal look sublime, Surviving all the hoary ages' shock: Still royal art thou in thy proud repose, As when the sun on tuneful Memnon rose, O changeless Sphinx!
O voiceless Sphinx! Thy solemn lips are dumb; Time's awful secrets lie within thy breast; Age follows age; revering pilgrims come From every clime to urge the same request,— That thou wilt speak! Poor creatures of a day, In calm disdain thou seest them die away: O voiceless Sphinx!
Majestic Sphinx! Thou crouchest by a sea Whose fawn-hued wavelets clasp thy buried feet: Whose desert-surface, petrified like thee, Gleams white with sails of many an Arab fleet: Whose tawny billows, surging with the storm, Break on thy flanks, and overleap thy form; Majestic Sphinx!
Eternal Sphinx! The Pyramids are thine; Their giant summits guard thee night and day, On thee they look when stars in splendor shine, Or while around their crests the sunbeams play: Thine own coevals, who with thee remain Colossal Genii of the boundless plain! Eternal Sphinx!
YOUTH AND AGE
"I will gain a fortune," the young man cried; "For Gold by the world is deified; Hence, whether the means be foul or fair, I will make myself a millionaire, My single talent shall grow to ten!" But an old man smiled, and asked "And then?"
"A peerless beauty," the young man said, "Shall be the woman I choose to wed. And men shall envy me my prize, And women scan her with jealous eyes;" And he looked annoyed, when once again The old man smiled, and asked "And then?"
"I will build," he answered, "a home so fine, That kings in their castles shall covet mine; The rarest pictures shall clothe its walls, And statues stand in its stately halls; It shall lack no luxury known to men;" But still the old man asked "And then?"
"I will play a role in Church or State That all mankind shall acknowledge great; I will win at last such brilliant fame, That distant lands shall know my name, For I can wield both sword and pen;" But again the old man asked "And then?"
"Is your heart a stone," the young man cried, "Hath all ambition within you died, That nothing seems to you worth while? What mean you by that sphinx-like smile? Of what are you secretly thinking, when You utter those mournful words,—'And then?'"
Gently the old man said "O youth, The words I have spoken veil a truth Learned only through the lapse of years, And first discerned through a mist of tears; For youth is full of illusions fair Which manhood sees dissolve in air.
"Your millions will not make you blest, They will rob you, instead, of peace and rest: Your beautiful wife may be the prey Of a treacherous friend or a skilled roue; And the splendid palace that you crave Will make you Society's gilded slave.
"'Tis a weary road to political fame; Its price you must often pay in shame; And the world-known name for which you yearn On a bulletin board or a funeral urn, Is scarcely worth the toil and strife Which poison the peaceful joys of life.
"For be you ever so wise and good, By some you will be misunderstood, And fame will bring you envious foes To spoil for you many a night's repose; And alas! as your pathway upward tends, You will find self-interest in your friends!
"The loudest shout of the mob's applause Will die out after a moment's pause; And what is the greatest public praise To one whose form in the earth decays? The cruel world will always laugh At the fulsome lie of an epitaph.
"But Spring recks not of Winter's snow, And you will not believe, I know, That all those boons that tempt your powers, If gained, will be like fragile flowers, Whose freshness wilts in the fevered hand, Like roses dropped on the desert sand.
"And much of the work you deem sublime Is like the grain of pink-hued lime Which once was a coral insect's shell, But now is a microscopic cell, Entombed with countless billions more In a lonely reef on an unknown shore!"
"Alas!" said the youth,—and his eyes were wet,— "Is old age merely a vain regret, The retrospect of wasted years, Of false ideals and lost careers? Advise me! What must I reject, And what for my permanent good select?"
"Belovd youth," the old man said, "All is not vain, be comforted! Seek not thine own, but others' joy; Ring true, like gold without alloy; Waste not thy time in asking Why, Or Whence, or Whither when we die;
"The actual world, the present hours Will give enough to tax thy powers; At no clear duty hesitate; Serve well thy neighbor and the State; So shalt thou add thy tiny form To bind the reef that breasts the storm!"
SUNSET AT INTERLAKEN
The sun is low; Yon peak of snow Is reddening 'neath the sunset glow; The rosy light Makes richly bright The Jungfrau's veil of snowy white.
From vales that sleep Night's shadows creep To take possession of the steep; While, as they rise, The western skies Seem loath to leave so fair a prize.
The light of day Still loves to stay And round that pearly summit play; How fair a sight That realm of light, Contended for by Day and Night!
Now fainter shines, As Day declines, The lustrous height which he resigns; The shadows gain Th' illumined plane; The Jungfrau pales, as if in pain.
When daylight dies, The azure skies Seem sparkling with a thousand eyes, Which watch with grace From depths of space The sleeping Jungfrau's lovely face.
And when the Light Hath put to flight Night's shadows from each Alpine height, Along the skies It quickly flies, To kiss the Maiden's opening eyes.
The timid flush And rosy blush Which then from brow to bosom rush, Are pure and fair Beyond compare, Resplendent in the crystal air.
And thus alway By night and day Her varying suitors homage pay; And tinged with rose, Or white with snows, The same fair, radiant form she shows.
UNDER THE STARS
The breath of summer stirs the trees, A thousand roses round me bloom, Whose saffron petals give the breeze A wealth of exquisite perfume, As, climbing high, with tendrils bold, They clothe the walls with cups of gold.
No sound disturbs the silence sweet, The weary birds have sunk to rest; For where the snow and sunset meet The light is fading in the west, And now the carking cares of day Slip lightly from my heart away.
The emptiness of social strife, The pettiness of human souls, The cheap frivolities of life, The keen pursuit of paltry goals,— How small they seem beneath the dome That shelters my Tyrolean home!
A shining mote, our tiny earth No furrow leaves in shoreless space! What is one brief existence worth, Which disappears, and leaves no trace? That silent, star-strewn vault survives The dawns and dusks of countless lives.
Why grieve, dear heart? Oblivion deep Will soon enshroud both friend and foe, And those who laugh and those who weep Must join the hosts of long ago, Whose transient hours of smiles and tears Make up earth's wilderness of years.
The sunset's glowing embers die, The snow-peaks lose their crimson hue, Through deepening shades the ruddy sky Burns slowly down to darkest blue, Wherein a million worlds of light Announce the coming of the night.
I gaze, and slowly my despair At human wretchedness and crime Gives place to hopes and visions fair,— So much may be evolved by time! So much may yet men's souls surprise Beneath the splendor of God's skies!
Some day, somewhere, in realms afar His light may make all problems plain, And justice on some happier star May recompense this planet's pain, And earth's bleak Golgothas of woe Grow lovely in life's afterglow.
In Bordighera's groves of palm I linger at the close of day, And watch, beyond the ocean's calm, A range of mountains far away.
Their snowy summits, white and cold, Flush crimson like a tinted shell, As sinks the sun in clouds of gold Behind the peaks of Esterel.
No unsubstantial shapes are they,— The offspring of the mist and sea; No splendid vision of Cathay, Recalled in dreamful revery;
Their solid bastions,—towering high Though rooted in earth's primal plan,— Proclaim to every passer by The cradle of the Corsican.
What martial soul there found rebirth, When on those cliffs, then scarcely known, There once more visited the earth The spirit called Napoleon?
Three islands, like the sister Fates, His life-thread wove upon their loom From fair Ajaccio's silvered gates To Saint Helena's mournful tomb;—
The first, his birthplace; whence appeared His baleful star with lurid glow; Next, Elba, where the world still feared The fugitive from Fontainebleau;
Last, England's lonely prison-block, Grim fragment 'neath a tropic sky, Where, like Prometheus on his rock, The captive Caesar came to die,
O Corsica, sublimely wild And riven by the winds and waves, Thy fame is deathless from thy child, Whose glory filled a million graves.
TO THE VENUS OF MELOS
O goddess of that Grecian isle Whose shores the blue Aegean laves, Whose cliffs repeat with answering smile Their features in its sun-kissed waves!
An exile from thy native place, We view thee in a northern clime; Yet mark on thy majestic face A glory still undimmed by Time.
Through those calm lips, proud goddess, speak! Portray to us thy gorgeous fane, Where Melian lovers thronged to seek Thine aid, Love's paradise to gain;
And where, as in the saffron east, Day's jewelled gates were open flung, With stately pomp the attendant priest Drew back the veil before thee hung;
And when the daring kiss of morn, Empurpling, made thy charms more fair, Sweet strains from unseen minstrels borne Awoke from dreams the perfumed air.
Vouchsafe at last our minds to free From doubts pertaining to thy charms,— The meaning of thy bended knee, The secret of thy vanished arms.
Wast thou in truth conjoined with Mars? Did thy fair hands his shield embrace, The surface of whose golden bars Grew lovely from thy mirrored face?
Or was it some bright scroll of fame Thus poised on thine extended knee, Upon which thou didst trace the name Of that fierce god so dear to thee?
Whate'er thou hadst, no mere delight Was thine the glittering prize to hold; Not thine the form that met thy sight, Replying from the burnished gold;
Unmindful what thy hands retained, Thy gaze is fixed beyond, above; Some dearer object held enchained The goddess of immortal love.
We mark the motion of thine eyes, And smile; for, heldst thou shield or scroll, A tender love-glance we surprise, That tells the secret of thy soul.
When o'er the aged lion steals The instinct of approaching death, Whose numbing grasp he vaguely feels In trembling limbs and labored breath, He shuns the garish light of day, And leaving mate and whelps at play, In mournful silence creeps away.
From bush to bush, by devious trails, He drags himself from hill to hill, And, as his old strength slowly fails, Drinks long at many a mountain rill, Until he gains, with stifled moan, A height, to hated man unknown, Where he may die, at least alone.
Relaxing now his mighty claws, He lies, half shrouded by his mane, His grand head resting on his paws, And heeding little save his pain, As o'er his eyes, so sad and deep, The film of death begins to creep,— The prelude to eternal sleep.
As Caesar, reeling 'neath the stroke And dagger-thrust of many a friend, Drew o'er his face his Roman cloak, To meet, unseen, his tragic end, So hath this desert-monarch tried With noble dignity to hide From others how and where he died.
And now his spirit is serene; For here no stranger can intrude To view this last, pathetic scene, Or mar its sombre solitude; Prone on the lonely mountain crest, Confronting the resplendent west, The dying lion sinks to rest.
Proud king of beasts! thy death should teach Mankind the cheapness of display; More eloquent than human speech, Thy grand example shows the way To pass from life, unheard, unseen, And with composed, majestic mien Death's awful sacredness to screen.
Nay, more! thou didst select a place Where, unobserved, thy form could rest, Till Mother Earth with fond embrace Should hide it in her ample breast; Like Moses in lone Nebo's land, Thou hast been sepulchred in sand, Unseen by eye, untouched by hand.
No pompous tomb shall ever rise Above thy lonely, sun-bleached frame; No epitaph of well-turned lies Shall be inscribed beneath thy name; No bells for thee a dirge shall ring, No choir beside thy grave shall sing, Yet hast thou perished like a king!
A STORY OF THE SEA
Were you ever told the legend old Of the birth of storms at sea? You should hear the tale in a Channel gale, As happened once to me, On a fearful night off Fastnet Light, With Ireland on our lee.
In the good old days, which poets praise As the best that man hath seen, The storm-king's hand might smite the land, But the sea remained serene; Blow east, blow west, its sun-kissed breast Kept ever its tranquil sheen.
Not a single trace came o'er its face Of the storms that raged elsewhere; No misty screen e'er crept between The sun and its image there; And its depths at night were gemmed with light By stars in the crystal air.
The fisherman laughed in his little craft, If a landsman felt alarm, For never did gale a ship assail, Or a sailor suffer harm; There was nothing to fear, for the skies were clear, And the ocean always calm.
But on the shore, where more and more The human race increased, There were cold and heat, and snow and sleet, And troubles never ceased; For wind and rain beat down the grain, And the plague slew man and beast.
And even worse was the moral curse, That came like a deadly blight Through men who seized whate'er they pleased, On the plea that might makes right, Till the fatal seed of selfish greed Made life a bitter fight.
Hence many sighed, as they watched the tide Glide out to the sunset sea, And longed to go with its gentle flow To where they hoped might be A realm of peace, where sorrows cease, And souls from pain are free.
At last they said,—"We were better dead, Than endure this anguish more; Let us seek relief from care and grief Far out from the storm-swept shore; The sea can bring no sadder thing Than the life we lived before."
So a ship was framed, which they fondly named "The Peace of the Human Mind," And the weary band soon left the land And its ceaseless strife behind; But unattained the goal remained They had so longed to find.
For the souls that came were quite the same As they were before they sailed; And, as pride and hate did not abate, The hope of the voyagers failed; And, facing alone the great Unknown, The bravest spirits quailed.
Meanwhile the ship began to dip, And labored to and fro, For the sea, though fair, could no more bear This load of human woe; And at last the boat, with all afloat, Sank helplessly below.
Down, down it swirled to the nether world; While up from the riven main Came the gurgling sound of those who drowned, As the vortex closed again; The sea surged back to its wonted track; Once more 'twas a sun-lit plain!
But soon men saw, with deepening awe, That sea grow white with spray; Its brilliant hue was changed from blue To a deathlike, leaden gray; And a sullen roar approached the shore Whence the ship had sailed away.
Huge waves rolled in with frightful din, And spat out hissing foam, And smote the sand along the strand, And swept off many a home; And lightnings flashed and thunder crashed From heaven's ink-black dome.
"Alas!" they cried, "that our brothers died In the depths of the sea of peace; They have brought unrest to its quiet breast, Which nevermore shall cease; For the peace it lost we must pay the cost; And behold! our woes increase!"
In truth, since then how many men Have learned that the mighty deep Can heave and swell to a seething hell, When storms its surface sweep! For its calm hath fled, and countless dead Are the spoils it loves to heap.
But at its best, when it lies at rest On a cloudless summer day, And, tiger-like, forbears to strike, But, sated, basks at play, One seems to hear, with the psychic ear, Its murmuring wavelets say,—
"No real relief from care and grief Is found o'er distant waves; The men who sail to find it, fail, And sink to lonely graves; In the firm control of man's own soul Is alone the peace he craves."
Dear, old-time tunes of prayer and praise, Heard first beside my mother's knee, Your music on my spirit lays A spell from which I should be free, If lapse of time gave liberty.
I listen, and the crowded years Fade, dream-like, from my life, and lo! I find my eyelids wet with tears,— So much I loved, so well I know Those plaintive airs of long ago!
They tell me of my vanished youth, Of faith in what so flawless seemed, Before the painful quest of truth Had proved how much I then esteemed Was other than I fondly dreamed!
They make my childhood live again; And life's fair dawn grows once more bright, While listening to the sweet refrain, Sung in the Sabbath's waning light,— "Glory to Thee, my God, this night!"
My mother's voice, so pure and strong, My father's flute of silvery tone, The little household's strength of song, The childish treble of my own,— I hear them once more, but ... alone!
Sweet obligato to some hymn Whose words those vanished tones recall, Float o'er me, when earth's scenes grow dim, And life's last, lingering echoes fall, Till silence settles over all!
BEFORE A STATUE OF BUDDHA
O Buddha, of the mystic smile And downcast, dreamful eyes, To whom unnumbered sacred shrines And gilded statues rise,
Whose fanes are filled with worshippers, Whose hallowed name is sung By myriads of the human race In every Eastern tongue,
What means thy sweet serenity? Our planet, as it rolls, Sweeps through the starry universe A mass of burdened souls,
Still agonized and pitiful, Despite the countless years That man has spent in wandering Through paths of blood and tears!
O Lord of love and sympathy For all created life, How canst thou view thus placidly The world's incessant strife,
The misery and massacre Of war's destructive train, The martyrdom of animals, The tragedy of pain,
The infamous brutalities To helpless children shown, The pathos of whose joyless lives Might melt a heart of stone?
Preeminently merciful, Does not thy spirit long To guard from inhumanity The weak against the strong?
Thou biddest us deal tenderly With every breathing-thing,— The horse that drags the heavy load, The bird upon the wing,
The flocks along the riverside, The cattle on the lea, And every living denizen Of earth and air and sea;
Yet daily in the shambles A sea of blood is spilled, And man is nourished chiefly From beasts that he has killed!
And hunters still find happiness In seeing, red with wounds, A sobbing deer, with liquid eyes, Dragged down by yelping hounds!
What is the real significance Of thine unchanging smile? Hast thou the secret consciousness That grief is not worth while?
That sorrow is the consequence Of former lives of sin,— The spur that goads us on and up A nobler life to win?
That pain is as impermanent As shadows on the hills, And that Nirvana's blessedness Will cure all mortal ills?
But agony is agony, And small is the relief If, measured with eternity, Life's anguish be but brief.
To hearts that break with misery, To every tortured frame The present pain is paramount, Nirvana but a name.
Moreover, why should former lives Bequeath their weight of woe, If with it comes no memory To guide us, as we go?
If o'er the dark, prenatal void No mental bridge be cast, No thread, however frail, to link The present to the past?
Still silent and dispassionate! Ah, would that I might find The key to the serenity That fills thy lofty mind!
Thou hast a joy we do not feel, A light we cannot see; Injustice, sin, and wretchedness No longer sadden thee;
No doubt to thy sublimer gaze Life's mystery grows plain, As finally full recompense Atones for earthly pain.
THE PILLARS OF HERCULES
Here ends at last the Inland Sea! Still seems its outlet, as of yore, The anteroom of Mystery, As, through its westward-facing door, I see the vast Atlantic lie In splendor 'neath a sunset sky.
Above its distant, glittering rim Streams o'er the waves a flood of gold, To gild the mountains, bare and grim, Which guard this exit, as of old,— The sombre sentries of two seas, The Pillars reared by Hercules;—
Gibraltar,—on the northern shore, By conquering Moors once proudly trod,— And, to the south a league or more, Huge Abyla, the "Mount of God", Whence burdened Atlas watched with ease The Gardens of Hesperides.
How many slow-paced centuries passed, Before brave sailors dared to creep Beyond the gloom these monsters cast, And venture on the unknown deep, At last resolving to defy The "God-established" termini!
Yet no fierce gods opposed their path; No lurid bolt or arrow sped To crush them with celestial wrath, And number them among the dead; The dreadful Pillars proved as tame As other rocks of lesser fame.
Hence, when before them stretched the sea, Majestic, limitless and clear, A rapturous sense of being free Dispelled all vestiges of fear The longed-for ocean to explore From pole to pole, from shore to shore.
Thus all men learn the God they dread Is kinder than they had supposed, And that, not God, but Man hath said,— "The door to freedom must be closed!" Once past that door, with broadened view, They find Him better than they knew.
Meanwhile, along the sunlit strait My ship glides toward the saffron west, Beyond the old Phenician gate To ocean's gently heaving breast, Whence, on the ever-freshening breeze, There greet my spirit words like these;—
Sail bravely on! the morning light Shall find thee far beyond the land; Gibraltar's battlemented height And Afric's tawny hills of sand Shall soon completely sink from view Beneath the ocean's belt of blue.
Sail on! nor heed the shadows vast Of fabled Powers, whose fear enslaves! Their spectral shapes shall sink at last Below the night's abandoned waves; Rest not confined by shoals and bars; Steer oceanward by God's fixed stars!
'Tis not in the bitterest woes of life That the love of friends, as a rule, grows cold; Still less does it melt in the heat of strife, Or die from the canker of borrowed gold;
For pity comes when they see us grieved, Or forced to lie on a couch of pain, And a hasty word is soon retrieved, And the loan of money may leave no stain.
'Tis oftenest lost through the deadly blight Of Society's pestilential air, Which blackens the robe of purest white, And fouls what once was sweet and fair.
An envious woman's whispered word, A slander born of a cruel smile, The repetition of something heard, The imputation of something vile,
Or possibly even a fancied slight For a feast declined, or a call delayed, Or jealousy caused by petty spite, Or the wish for a higher social grade,—
'Tis one, or all of these combined, That saps the love of our dearest friends, And slowly poisons heart and mind, Till the joy of generous friendship ends.
Last night they were in a cordial mood, To-day they suddenly seem estranged! Shall we, then, grieve and sadly brood O'er the unknown cause that has made them changed?
Ask once, that they make the matter clear, But ask no more, if the lesson fail; Let changelings go, however dear, And shed no tears for a love so frail.
Be not the slave of a friend's migraine, Nor let him play, now hot, now cold; The master of thyself remain, And the key of thine inmost heart withhold!
For they who weep and sue and plead, Are used and dropped, like a worn-out glove, And the friends with "moods" are the friends who need To learn that they are not worth our love.
TO MY DEAD DOG
All is noiseless; Cold and voiceless Lies the form I've oft caressed; Heedless now of blame or praises, 'Neath the sunshine and the daisies Dear, old Leo lies at rest.
Eager greeting, Joy at meeting, Watching for my step to come, Grief at briefest separation, Sorrow without affectation,— These are over,—he is dumb!
Loyal ever, Treacherous never, Lifelong love he well expressed; Ah! may we deserve like praises When beneath the sun-kissed daisies We, like Leo, lie at rest!
"The sun will set at day's decline"; Qu'importe? Quaff off meanwhile life's sparkling wine! Of what avail are mournful fears, Foreboding sighs and idle tears, They hinder not the hurrying years; Buvons!
"This fleeting hour will soon be past"; Qu'importe? Enrich its moments while they last! To-day is ours; be ours its joy! Let not to-morrow's cares annoy! Enough the present to employ; Vivons!
"These pleasures will not come again"; Qu'importe? Enjoy their keenest transport then! If but of these we are secure, Be of their sweetness doubly sure, That long their memory may endure! Rions!
"With time love's ardor always cools"; Qu'importe? Leave that lugubrious chant to fools! Must doubt destroy our present bliss? Shall we through fear love's rapture miss, Or lose the honey of its kiss? Aimons!
"The sun will set at day's decline"; Qu'importe? Will not the eternal stars still shine? So even in life's darkest night A thousand quenchless suns are bright,— Blest souvenirs of past delight; Allons!
TO THE COUNTESS GUICCIOLI, AFTER READING HER "RECOLLECTIONS OF LORD BYRON"
Like one who, homeward bound from distant lands, Describes strange climes and visions passing fair, Yet deftly hides from others' eyes and hands A private casket filled with treasures rare, So, favored Countess, all that thou dost say Is nothing to thy secrets left unsaid; Thy printed souvenirs are but the spray Above the depths of ocean's briny bed. For, oh! how often must thy mind retrace Soft phrases whispered in the Tuscan tongue, Love's changes sweeping o'er his mobile face, And kisses sweeter far than he had sung; The gleam of passion in his glorious eyes, The hours of inspiration when he wrote, Recalled to Earth in sudden, sweet surprise At feeling thy white arms about his throat; To have been loved by Byron! Not in youth When ardent senses tempt to reckless choice, But in maturer years, when keen-eyed Truth Reveals the folly of the siren's voice. Last love is best, and this thou didst enjoy; Thy happy fate to see no rival claim A share in what was thine without alloy; How must the remnant of thy life seem tame! Yet this thy recompense,—that thou dost keep Thy friend and lover safe from every change; For, loyal to thy love, he fell asleep, And life it is, not death, that can estrange.
THE DEATH OF ANTONINUS PIUS
Through the marble gates of Ostia, Where the Tiber meets the sea, And a hundred Roman galleys Strain their leashes to be free, Streams a flood of sunset glory From the classic sea of old, Till Rome's seven hills stand gleaming, And the Tiber turns to gold.
Why, indifferent to this splendor, Do the people throng the streets? What is everyone demanding Of the stranger whom he meets? They have heard alas! the rumor That, ere dawn regilds the sky, All the world may be in mourning, For the Emperor must die.
Search, O Romans, through the annals Of the rulers of your race, From the zenith of their glory To their ultimate disgrace,— And as earth's most perfect master, And the noblest of your line, You will yield your greatest homage To this dying Antonine.
For he holds a Caesar's sceptre In a loving father's hand, And his heart and soul are given To the welfare of his land; Through his justice every nation Hath beheld its warfare cease, And he leaves to his successor Rome's gigantic world at peace.
Hence these nations now are waiting In an anguish of suspense, For their future is as doubtful, As their love for him intense; By the Nile and on the Danube, From the Tagus to the Rhine, There is mourning among millions For the man they deem divine.
Now the sunset glow is fading, And the evening shadows creep O'er the ashen face of Caesar, As he lies in seeming sleep; But he slumbers not; for, faithful To his duties, small and great, He is not alone the sovereign, But the servant of the State.
Unrebuked, then, his Centurion, As the sun-god sinks from sight, Makes his wonted way to Caesar For the password of the night; And great Antonine, though conscious That ere dawn his soul must pass, As his last, imperial watchword, Utters "Aequanimitas!"
O thou noblest of the Caesars, Whose transcendent virtues shine, Like a glorious constellation, O'er the blood-stained Palatine, When the latest sands are running From my life's exhausted glass, May I have thy calm and courage, And thine Aequanimitas!
I watched to-day a butterfly, With gorgeous wings of golden sheen, Flit lightly 'neath a sapphire sky Amid the springtime's tender green;—
A creature so divinely fair, So frail, so wraithlike to the sight, I feared to see it melt in air, As clouds dissolve in morning light.
With sudden swoop, a brutal boy Caught in his cap its fans of gold, And forced them down with savage joy Upon the path's defiling mould;
Then cautiously, the ground well scanned, He clutched his darkened, helpless prey, And, pinched within his grimy hand, Withdrew it to the light of day.
Alas! its fragile bloom was gone, Its gracile frame was sorely hurt, Its silken pinions drooped forlorn, Disfigured by the dust and dirt;
Its life, a moment since so gay, So joyous in its dainty flight, Was slowly ebbing now away,— Its too-brief day eclipsed by night.
Meantime, the vandal, face aflame, Surveyed it dying in his grasp, Yet knew no grief nor sense of shame In watching for its final gasp.
At last its sails of gold and brown, Of texture fine and colors rare, Came, death-struck, slowly fluttering down, No more to cleave the sunlit air;
One happy, harmless being less, To bid us dream the world is sweet! Gone like a gleam of happiness, A glimpse of rapture ... incomplete!
Yet who shall say this creature fair In God's sight had a smaller worth Than that dull lout who watched it there, And in its death found cause for mirth?
For what, in truth, are we who claim An endless life beyond the grave, But insects of a larger frame, Whose souls may be too small to save?
Since far-off times, when Cave Men fought Like famished brutes for bloody food, And through unnumbered centuries sought To rear their naked, whelp-like brood,
How many million men have died, From pole to pole through every clime,— An awful, never-ending tide Swept deathward on the shores of Time!
Like insects swarming in the sun, They flutter, struggle, mate, and die, And, with their life-work scarce begun, Are struck down like the butterfly;
A million more, a million less, What matters it? The Earth rolls on, Unmindful of mankind's distress, Or if the race be here, or gone.
Thus rolled our globe ere man appeared, And thus will roll, with wrinkled crust, Deserted, lifeless, old, and seared, When man shall have returned to dust.
And IT at last shall also die! Hence, measured by the eternal scale, It ranks but as the butterfly,— A world, ephemeral, fair and frail.
Man, insect, earth, or distant star,— They differ only in degree; Their transient lives, or near or far, Are moments in eternity!
Yet somehow to my spirit clings The faith that man survives the sod, For this poor insect's broken wings Have raised my thoughts from earth to God.
AFTER THE STORM
The duel of the warring clouds Hath ended with the day; Their scintillant, electric blades Have ceased their fearful play; The pent up fury of their hate Hath found at last release, And o'er the tempest-stricken earth Broods now the hush of peace.
The passing of the hurricane Hath swept the sultry skies; The clearness of the atmosphere Brings jubilant surprise; The mountain peaks are glorified With freshly-fallen snow, And, stealing o'er their coronets, Appears the sunset glow.
An hour since, a torrid heat Oppressed the languid frame; The wind was as the khamseen's breath, The solar touch seemed flame; But now the air rejuvenates, The breeze refreshment brings, The lustrous leaves drop diamonds, The lark with rapture sings.
Fear not, dear heart! life's darkest storms Shall likewise end in light; Behind the blackest thundercloud The sun shines clear and bright; Once more celestial heights shall wear Their sheen of spotless snow, And on the bravely steadfast soul The smile of God shall glow.
My country! by our fathers reared As champion of the world's opprest; Whose moral force the tyrant feared; Whose flag all struggling freemen cheered; In clutching at an empire's crest Thou too art fallen like the rest.
Not in thy numbers, wealth or might, Proud mistress of a continent! For rival nations, at the sight Of thy resources, view with fright Thy progress without precedent; Not there is seen thy swift descent.
Reread the story of thy birth! Recall the years in conflict spent To prove to a despairing earth That every Government of worth Is really based on free consent; Then view with shame thy present bent!
Thou hadst a place unique, sublime; In many a land beyond the sea The victims of despotic crime In thee, the latest born of Time, Beheld a land from tyrants free, The sacred Ark of Liberty.
But now the Old World's lust for lands Infects thee too; the dread disease Hath left its plague-spots on thy hands; Thy monster area still expands; For, blind to history's Nemesis, Thou too wouldst alien races seize.
Condemning with profound disdain All other nations' heartless greed, How couldst thou buy from humbled Spain A people struggling to attain A freedom suited to their need? Why stultify thy boasted creed?
Thine aid to them thou mightst have given, As France her aid once gave to thee; With them thy sons might well have striven, And their blood-rusted fetters riven; But why, in Heaven's name, should we Shoot men aspiring to be free?
I tread the fields where thousands sleep,— The blood-soaked fields that freed the slave; What precious memories still they keep For hearts that mourn and eyes that weep! Yet for the lives those heroes gave What have we that they died to save?
A Union? Yes; outstretched in might From snow to palm, from sea to sea; But pledged to use its strength aright, And evermore to keep alight The torch of human liberty: Is this the Union that we see?
Where history's Martyr dared to break The power that held a race in chains, I see the ghastly lynching-stake, Where brutal mobs their vengeance take, And, since no law their course restrains, Gloat o'er their writhing victim's pains.
Race hatred,—born of groundless fears And narrow prejudice of caste—, Now greets the cultured black with sneers And, barring him from high careers, Breaks, like a mad iconoclast, The nation's idols of the past.
No more can we with steadfast eyes Protest, when tortured races moan With hands uplifted toward the skies; Their tyrants answer with surprise And new-born insolence of tone,— "These are our lynchings; cure your own!"
Yet hope remains! A path retraced Is nobler than persistent wrong; A fault confessed is half effaced; That land alone can be disgraced Which is not just, however strong, Toward those to whom its "spoils" belong.
My country! Would to God that praise Might leave my lips, instead of blame! So near the parting of the ways, Subjected to the eager gaze Of millions, jealous of thy fame, Retrace the path that ends in shame!
Watchword sublime of Rome's imperial sage, Tersest of synonyms for self-control, Paramount precept of the Stoic's age, Noblest of mottoes for the lofty soul,— Would thou wert writ in characters of light, At every turn to greet my reverent gaze, And bid me face life's evils, calm, upright, Unspoiled alike by calumny or praise! With all our science we are slaves of Fate; What is to come we know not, cannot know; Grief, suffering, death,—all touch us soon or late, The master question, how to meet the blow. Grant me, ye Gods, through life a steadfast eye, And then, with equanimity, to die!
I woke from dreams of rare delight And visions of a joyous land, Where loved ones, long since lost to sight, Walked blithely with me, hand in hand:
Where every brow was free from care, And Youth's sublime ideals shone Like planets in an Alpine air, And death's sad mystery was known.
I woke,—and like a bird that waits, Uncertain where to wend its flight, My spirit lingered at the gates, Which close upon that realm of light;
Till, slowly, all around grew clear, And once again the light of day Convinced me that I still was here, Though all my dreams had passed away.
Once more I faced a world of Pain! Of quivering nerves and sure decay, Of helpless brutes, by millions, slain To feed mankind a single day!
Of shivering children, scarred with blows, Of hunted bird and tortured beast, Of War, whose hideous programme shows Its means of homicide increased.
The same old world of greed and hate, Of selfish act and paltry aim, Of private fraud and venal State, Of deeds and doers steeped in shame!
What marvel if the spirit shrinks From plunging in that turbid stream? Or if, on waking thus, one thinks That life was better in his dream?
Sweet, peaceful dreamland! I await The favored hour, to pass again Within thine asphodelian gate, Beyond the miseries of men;
To find old pleasures, long since gone, Perchance as vivid as of yore, Or else to sleep,—life's curtains drawn,— And reawaken ... nevermore.
O sovereign Rome, still mistress of the heart, As of the world in thy majestic prime, Grand in thy ruins, peerless in thine art, Rich in the memories of a past sublime,
Is thine the fault or mine that thou art changed, And that I tread the new Tiberian shore Convinced, alas! that we are now estranged, And that for me thy charm exists no more?
I have grown older, but am not blase, My hair has whitened, but my heart is young, Still thrills my pulse the tomb-girt Appian Way, Still stirs my soul the ancient Latin tongue.
Whence then this transformation, that pervades Rome's very air, and leaves its blighting trace Alike upon the Pincio's colonnades And on the Mausoleum's rugged face?
The fault, dear Rome, is neither thine nor mine, But that of vandals nurtured on thy breast, Who, mad as "modern citizens" to shine, Have fashioned thee like cities of the west.
Thy time-worn face, and figure deeply bowed By countless sufferings for two thousand years, Whose proper garment seemed to be a shroud, Commanding reverence, sympathy and tears,
Are now bedecked with tawdry gems of paste; Parisian robes thy withered limbs conceal; Thy wrinkled cheeks are rouged; in vulgar taste A modern watch-fob holds the Caesar's seal!
Where once imperial Triumphs proudly passed, Electric cars roll thundering through thy streets; In Raphael's groves the automobile's blast Expels the Muses from their calm retreats.
Through sinuous miles of shops with worldly wares Bewildered pilgrims reach St. Peter's shrine; Some modern stamp each old piazza, bears; And freed from weeds, thy burnished ruins shine!
Near Hadrian's massive bridge of sculptured stone, The Tiber surges 'neath an iron frame, Across whose ugly beams the tramcars groan, And brand the river with a bar of shame.
Gods of Olympus, can ye not restore To outraged Rome her dignity of old? 'Twere better Jove and Juno to adore Than in their stead to worship only Gold!
Thy glorious statues, cruelly defaced, Thy crumbling shrines, thy marbles burnt to lime, The lone Campagna's fever-stricken waste, Where lizards bask on columns once sublime,—
The Flavian Amphitheatre's gaping wounds, The Baths of Caracalla's roofless walls, The Forum's multitude of ruined mounds, The royal Palatine's abandoned halls,—
All these indeed create a hopeless pain, When fancy strives to reconstruct the whole, Yet pathos, wakened by a wreck-strewn plain, Inspires at least nobility of soul.
But where a Syndic's greed hath left its trail The picturesque and beautiful take flight; The Past's inspiring influences fail, As stars are hidden by electric light.
Yet protests meet derision and disdain; The fatal madness spreads from land to land; Peace, Art, and Beauty everywhere are slain By greedy Traffic's hard, rapacious hand.
We laugh at lessons taught by others' fate, We see no ending to our prosperous day; Forgetting that, in turn, each ancient State Hath passed through bud and flower to decay.
Behold the retrogression of those lands Whence painting, sculpture and the drama sprung; See starved Trinacria's outstretched, empty hands, And all the classic shores by Homer sung!
In what have we surpassed them? We are taught Their art, their ethics, and their rythmic speech; Both Greece and Asia still control our thought, Their grandest works still far beyond our reach.
The breathless transfer of men, thoughts, and things, Improved designs for vaster fratricide,— Are these the leading gifts this century brings, The twentieth, too, since Christ was crucified?
Yet thoughts that most have influenced mankind Were not sent broadcast with the lightning's speed; Nor do the works of Plato lag behind The myriad books and papers that we read!
And thou, Italia, that for ages played A role whose majesty can ne'er be told, Hast thou, like all the rest, thy trust betrayed, Adored the New, and sacrificed the Old?
Wilt thou for fashion make thy Past forlorn? Waste precious substance upon useless ships? Transport to Africa thine eldest born, And let gaunt hunger blanch thy peasants' lips?
Make poorly paid officials banded knaves? Drive starving sons by thousands from thy shore, Or let them rot in Abyssinian graves, And hide the cancer festering at thy core?
If so, 'tis certain thou must dearly pay For playing thus the war-lord's pompous part, And thou shalt feel at no far-distant day The people's dagger driven through thy heart.
Fain would I find some peaceful Pagan shrine Unspoiled as yet by vandals of to-day, Around whose shafts the sweet, wild roses twine, And on whose marble walls the sunbeams play;
There would I dream of days when life was sweet With poetry, art, and myths devoid of dread, When all the Gods in harmony could meet, And no eternal torment vexed the dead.
Our vaunted age is one of feverish haste, Of racial hatred and of loathsome cant, Of gross corruption and of tawdry taste, Of monster fortunes, with a world in want.
I am not of it, and I will not be! Its social strife and slavery I despise; Gone is its shore; I sail the open sea O'er tranquil waters and 'neath cloudless skies!
ON THE PALATINE
I tread the vast deserted stage Whereon the Caesars lived and died; The relics of Rome's golden age Lie strewn about me far and wide, Mementoes of an empire's pride, The homes of men once deified.
What are they now? Stupendous piles Of mouldering corridors and walls, On which alike the sunshine smiles And cold the rain of winter falls; A wilderness of roofless halls Whose tragic history appalls!
Below me, like an opened grave, The Forum's excavations lie, Where column, arch and architrave In solemn grandeur greet the eye, Still guarding 'neath Italia's sky The glory that can never die.
And here, above me and around, In part still shrouded by the soil, A stony chaos strews the ground, Where patient students delve and toil To bring to light Time's buried spoil, And History's tangled threads uncoil.
Halt! where thou standest Rome was born! These stones by Romulus were placed, When, on that far-off April morn, Two snow-white bulls the furrow traced For Rome's first wall, which, firmly based, Two thousand years have not effaced.
From these rude blocks how vast the bound To that huge, labyrinthine mass Through which the secret pathways wound, Where emperors, if alarmed, could pass; Yet even there could find, alas! The poignard or the poisoned glass.
What ghastly crimes these rooms recall! Here Nero watched his brother drain The fatal draught, then lifeless fall; Here, too, Caligula was slain, When, shrieking, with disordered brain, He pleaded for his life in vain.
At every turn some pallid ghost With haggard features seems to rise To join the long-drawn, murdered host That moves with sad, averted eyes, Like victims to a sacrifice, To where the Via Sacra lies.
Behold the mighty Judgment Hall, Where Nero with indifferent air Remarked the pleading of St. Paul, Nor dreamed the man before him there Would soon be read and reverenced where The Roman empire had no share!
Where are they all,—those men of pride Whose palace was the Palatine, From Romulus the fratricide To Hadrian, and Constantine, The last of all the western line Of Caesars who were deemed divine?
And all the millions who were swayed By those who dwelt upon this hill, And who in humble awe obeyed The dictates of their sovereign will,— Are they self-conscious beings still, Or are their minds and bodies ... Nil?
I watch our planet's god decline Behind the tomb-girt Appian Way; The old, imperial Palatine Grows purple 'neath the sun's last ray; Shades of the Caesars, if ye may, The mystery of death portray!
Are there in truth Elysian Fields? And is there life beyond the grave? Or are the years that Nature yields Confined this side the Stygian wave? For those who more existence crave Is there a Power to help and save?
Alas! no answer; on their hill The murdered Caesars make no sign; Their myriad subjects, too, are still,— Mute as the voiceless Palatine; Yet overhead the fixed stars shine, And bid us trust in the Divine!
THE FAREWELL OF THE OLD GUARD AT FONTAINEBLEAU, 1814
Stately court of Fontainebleau, Nine and ninety years ago On thy spacious esplanade, Ranged in formal dress parade, Stood the Emperor's grenadiers With their bronzed cheeks wet with tears, Waiting once again to show Love for him at Fontainebleau.
Noon had struck above the square, When adown the Horse Shoe stair In his well-known coat of gray, Worn on many a hard-fought day, Came the man adored by all As their "Little Corporal," Forced by Europe now to go Far from royal Fontainebleau.
In the ranks a sudden stir Swelled to shouts of Vive l'Empereur; Then deep silence reigned, save where On the peaceful summer air Choking sobs, but half suppressed, Came from many a faithful breast At the overwhelming blow Dealt them here at Fontainebleau.
Could the rumor, then, be true? Would he say to them adieu? Would their idol and their pride, He whom they had deified, Leave his royal grenadiers, Veteran troops of twenty years? Hark! he speaks in accents low To his Guard at Fontainebleau:—
"Comrades, brothers, we must part"; (How his lov'd tones thrilled each heart!) "It were wrong to you and France, Did I once more say 'Advance'; On the ruins of my State I at last must abdicate, And with you no more can know Happy days at Fontainebleau.
"Valiant soldiers of my Guard, Thus to part is doubly hard; Did you silence Prussian guns, March beneath Italian suns, Enter Moscow and Madrid, Fight beside the Pyramid, And survive grim Russia's snow,— Thus to yield at Fontainebleau?
"Heroes of great wars, farewell! You have heard my empire's knell, Yet no hostile world's decree Can estrange your hearts from me; Exiled to a tiny isle, Through your tears you well may smile At the realm my foes bestow,— Elba ... after Fontainebleau!
"Now of all who once were true I can count alone on you; Would that each might take the place Of the eagle I embrace! Let the tears which on it fall Move the souls of one and all! Never have I loved you so As to-day at Fontainebleau."
Hushed his voice; a moment more, At the passing carriage door Gleamed Napoleon's mournful eyes,— Smouldering flames of sacrifice; Then his pallid, classic face Vanished ghostlike into space, And a dreary sense of woe Settled over Fontainebleau.
Dead are now those grenadiers; Quelled are Europe's anxious fears; By the Seine the Emperor sleeps; France her watch beside him keeps; But the lonely Horse Shoe stair Still preserves its sombre air, For the light of long ago Falls no more on Fontainebleau.
JAPAN,—OLD AND NEW
The son of a Japanese lord am I,— A Prince of the olden time; My hair is white, though black as night In my youth and early prime; And again and again I ask myself, As the past I sadly scan, Are we better or worse? Was it blessing or curse That foreigners brought Japan?
It is barely two score years and ten Since the epoch-making day When a foreign fleet, through the summer heat, Came sailing up our bay; Still ring in my ears my father's words, As we watched it breast the waves,— "If strangers land on Nippon's strand, We may one day be their slaves."
But the strangers landed, and asked for trade And a permanent "Open Door," And we deemed it best to grant the West A foothold on our shore; Their slaves in truth we have not become, Yet who can fail to find That Japan obeys in a thousand ways The will of the western mind?
We sent our sons across the seas To learn from the Western Powers Their modes of life and their modes of strife, And have made them largely ours; But before all else have we learned from them That our first great aim, must be To possess a fleet that can defeat All rivals on the sea.
Hence, all that the West hath yet devised For the slaughter of men en masse We have copied or bought, and have stopped at naught To make our fleet "first class"; And lest this might not quite suffice, Should an enemy come in sight, We have made each man throughout Japan A soldier trained to fight!
But alas for the change that hath been wrought In the millions in our fields! For the costly ships take from their lips The food that the harvest yields; They were always poor, but their load was light, Compared with their load to-day, For thousands of hands that worked the lands Are drafted now away.
And sad are the scenes in the sphere of Art In which we had won such fame; The fingers left are not so deft As they were when the strangers came; For then we toiled for Beauty's sake, And by time were we never paid; But now we have sold our art for gold And the western market's trade.
I never look at the goods now sent,— So worthless do they seem,— Without a sigh for the standard high Which prevailed in the old regime; When even the hilt of a Daimio's sword Was a work of months or years, And the highest reward for a triumph scored Was praise from the artist's peers.
No, the soul of my people is not the same; It was formerly sweet and kind, And happiness reigned in hearts restrained By an unspoiled, gentle mind; But now the lusts of the outer world For power, and lands, and gold, Our sons deprave, till they madly crave What others have and hold.
We have borrowed many things from the West, But one have we left alone; Of its Christian creed we had no need, And have thus far kept our own; For each of its numerous sects affirms That it has the only way, And that all the rest should be suppressed, For they lead mankind astray.
But worse than the claims of rival sects And the war of clashing creeds, Is the gulf,—heaven-wide! which we descried Between their words and deeds; For He whose sacred name they bear Was known as the Prince of Peace, And what He taught, in practice wrought, Would cause all wars to cease.
They say with truth that we used to fight For our Lords on sea and coast, But our soldiers then were as one to ten, Not a permanent armored host! Nor do we claim to obey the God They worship in the West; But, since they do, is it not true That they mock at His first behest?
His words were "Love your enemies!" And never a hostile act To friend or foe should Christians show, By whomsoever attacked; But they are really the best prepared To attack and to resist; And the Kaiser who prays is the Kaiser who says,— "Go! Strike with the mailed fist!"
We look abroad, and everywhere The spirit of Christ is dead; Men call Him Lord, but they draw the sword In defiance of what He said; And the haughty, white-skinned Christian race Hates men of a different hue, And robs and slays in a thousand ways, With excuses ever new.
In the North and South, in the East and West In vain do the natives plead; By the Congo's waves are countless graves, Where the Paleface gluts his greed; And China's fate looms dark and grim, As its people note the means That Christians take, when gold's at stake, From the Rand to the Philippines.
We have had to choose between the rule Of the Sermon on the Mount And the brutal fact that nations act With an eye to their bank-account! And we see that the only way to shun The clutch of the Western Powers Is to learn to kill with Christian skill, And to make their weapons ours.
For we will not, like the others, bend Our necks to the white man's yoke; And poor Japan, to her latest man, Will answer stroke with stroke; So I watch to-night a solemn sight On the breast of the moonlit bay, As our gallant host for a hostile coast Prepares to sail away.
It is life or death for my native land, And I fear I may never see Those ships again, with their noble men, Return from victory; And well I know in my heart of hearts, As the past I sadly scan, That we are worse, and it was a curse That foreigners brought Japan.
THE UNFORGOTTEN HEROES
[The great temple at Miyagi in Japan was recently the scene of grand funeral observances for the horses slain in the late war with Russia, the Buddhist priests reading prayers and conducting services of a most solemn character.]
Hark! how the Orient's bells are proclaiming Obsequies strange to the shrines of the west— Services Christendom's cruelties shaming— Taught by the merciful, Buddha the blest.
Peace on Manchuria's plains has descended; Tall waves the grass where the chivalrous bled; Murder and massacre finally ended, Sadly the living remember their dead.
Requiem masses and prayers without number Plead for the souls of the Muscovite brave, While of the Japanese, wrapt in death's slumber, Tender memorials honor each grave.
But in Gautama's compassionate teaching Love is not limited merely to man; Kindness to animals formed in his preaching No less a part of his merciful plan.
Hence by the Buddhists, in counting the corses Heaping with horror the death-trampled plain, Not unremembered are thousands of horses, Left unattended to die with the slain.
What did war seem to these poor, driven cattle? What was their part in the horrible fray Save to be shot in the fury of battle, Or from exhaustion to fall by the way?
Dragging huge guns over rocks and through mire, Trembling with weakness, yet straining each nerve, Fated at last in despair to expire, Uncomprehending, yet willing to serve!
Nothing to them were the hopes of a nation; "Czar" and "Mikado" were meaningless sounds; None of the patriot's deep inspiration Softened the agony caused by their wounds.
Not for these martyrs the skill of physician, Ether for anguish or lint for a wound; Theirs but to lie in their crippled condition, Thirsting and starving on shelterless ground.
Hail to these quadrupeds, dead without glory! Honor to him who their valor reveres! Spare to these heroes, unmentioned in story, Something of sympathy, something of tears.
A WINTER'S DAY
Into my garden sweet and fair Brightly the sun at noonday shines, Melting the frost from the wintry air, Warming the trellis of leafless vines.
Basking there in the genial heat, South of my sheltering vineyard wall, Strolling, I dream in my lov'd retreat,— The smile of the sun-god over all.
Far too early a shadow dark, Cast by the neighboring mountain's crest, Stealthily creeps across the park, Bringing a chill from the sombre west.
Little by little my sunlit space Shrinks to a narrowing path of light; Further and further with dread I trace The sure advance of approaching night.
Soon will arrive its twilight pall; Then, as the potent change is felt, The fountain's drops will cease to fall And feathery films refuse to melt.
But still in the solar warmth I wait, The hand of my lov'd one clasped in mine; Is that a tear? It is growing late, And she asks how long the sun will shine.
ON THE PROMENADE
O joyous idler in the sun, In pity slacken here thy pace! A lad, whose course is nearly run, Is watching thee with wistful face.
The glow of health upon thy cheek, The youthful ardor in thy gait, Appear to him, so frail and weak, The bitter irony of Fate.
Thou art to him the vision fair Of all he once had hoped to be; What wonder, then, that in despair His longing glances follow thee?
Let not the gulf too deep appear Between thy fortune and his own! Thou didst not see that falling tear, Nor hear his low, half-stifled moan.
The pang of age compared with youth, Or hunger with the spendthrift's wealth, Gnaws not with such a cruel tooth As that of pain confronting health.
Yet must the strong ship breast the wave, The wreck lie rotting on the shore; O hopes that perish in the grave! O youthful dreams that come no more!
Had I but lived when music-loving Pan Still played his flute amid the whispering reeds, When through Arcadian groves the dryads ran, And—symbolizing well man's earlier creeds— A host of sculptured forms, divinely fair, Portrayed the gods, and led men's thoughts to prayer,
I would have sought some beautiful retreat, Remote from cities and the din of men,— Some tranquil shore where lake and forest meet By limpid stream or flower-lit, sylvan glen, And would have reared, where none could e'er intrude, A shrine to thee, O precious Solitude!
How hath a heedless world neglected thee, Thou coy divinity, too shy and proud To sue for followers from those who see Attraction merely in the strenuous crowd! For only those can know thee, as thou art, Who wisely seek and study thee ... apart.
No rapt enthusiast, or mystic sage, No Asian founder of a faith divine, No bard, or writer of inspired page Hath ever failed to worship at thy shrine, O Nourisher of steadfast self-control, Of noble thoughts, of loftiness of soul!
Yet no continuous homage dost thou crave, No anchorite's seclusion wouldst thou ask, Thou lov'st no misanthrope or sullen slave, But only those who, faithful to life's task, Must yet at times look upward from the clod, And seek through thee acquaintanceship with God.
OUT OF THE RANKS
From the bitter fight I have made my way To the peaceful crest of a lonely hill, But the noise and heat of the deadly fray And the smart of wounds are with me still.
No recreant I to a noble cause, Nor traitor base to a leader bold; 'Twas a fight where he won most applause Who captured most of his neighbor's gold;
Where the wounded crawled away to die, Or, hopeless, ate their bread with tears, And the only cries that rent the sky Were the shouts of frenzied financiers.
Alas for the prematurely gray, Who struggle there through joyless lives To win the means of more display For thankless children, thoughtless wives!
Alas for those whose spirits yearn For leisure, books, and sunlit fields, Who yet can never pause to learn The joy that a life of culture yields!
Still sway the mad crowds to and fro! I hear their groans and panting breath, The hideous impacts, blow on blow, The moans of those who are crushed to death!
None stoop to lift up those who fall; A thousand leap for a vacant place, Thrust weaker thousands to the wall, And trample many an upturned face!
But I, however the fight may go, Have turned my back on the sordid fray, To face the tranquil sunset-glow, And hope for the dawn of a better day.
Stand forth, my soul, and take thine own! Though all should blame thee, have no fear! Self-poised and steadfast, dare alone Thy self-elected course to steer.
Before thee lies the open sea; Beyond it is the wished-for shore; The route that seemeth best to thee Select, and hesitate no more!
For he who lives the timorous slave Of social plaudits or disdain, Drags feebly to a nameless grave A craven's ever-lengthening chain.
Are thy plans noble, just, and fair? Pursue them bravely to the end, Nor pause to question or to care What says thy foe, or what thy friend.
Succeed, and thou shalt surely find That those who longed to see thee fail, And, lingering hopelessly behind, Spat venom on thine upward trail,
Shall run to reach thee on thy path, To grasp thy hand and say "'Twas well"; Or, distant, gnaw their lips in wrath, Their envious hearts a living hell.
Forever, flint-like, set thy face Against the loss of self-control; Compel the world to keep its place; Be thou the captain of thy soul!
ORIENT TO OCCIDENT, 1906
You thought me sunk in lethargy, too deeply drugged with sleep To notice how your armored fleets kept creeping o'er the deep, Too indolent to organize, too feeble to resist, Too timid to return the blow of Europe's mailed fist; And Asia's conquest seemed to you a matter of such ease That all your kings knew perfectly the part which each would seize. Of such a "sluggish, inert mass" why should you be afraid? You wanted ports and provinces for purposes of trade, And monster "spheres of influence", whose wealth could be controlled And plundered by your Governments to fill their vaults with gold; Hence, since it seemed so probable that none of us would fight, Why should you even hesitate to prove that Might makes Right?
And yet perhaps it had been well, before you formed your plan, To study Asia's history from Persia to Japan; For though the sleeping Orient, like grain before the blast, May bow its head, it rights itself when once the storm is past. How often has the Occident invaded our domains And boasted of its victories! Yet of them what remains? Seems India exceptional? Fools, judge not by a day! The horologe of centuries moves slowly in Cathay. The brilliant son of Macedon saw, crushed and pale with fear, The vanquished East from Babylon to Egypt and Cashmere; But though the conquered Orient lay helpless, as his slave, Of Alexander's influence how much survived his grave? Of Rome's prodigious armaments, to Asian conquests led, Where is there now a souvenir save relics of the dead? And of the vast Crusading hosts, which in their madness rose And hurled themselves repeatedly upon their Moslem foes,— What is to-day the net result? A thousand years have passed, But none of all their vaunted gains proved great enough to last; The Saviour's tomb, Jerusalem, and all the sacred lands Connected with the Christian faith are still in Asian hands!
We needed rude awakening to rouse us from our sloth; It came among our northern isles, whose heroes, nothing loth, Unbarred their ports to modern fleets, their ancient life forswore, And learned from greedy foreigners the Christians' art of war. Behold! the world in fifty years is breathless with surprise, And Europe's greatest Government has sought us for allies! That little section of our mass aroused itself, and lo! Your largest Occidental Power has reeled beneath the blow; And while our living troops receive men's rapturous acclaim, Our fallen heroes have attained the Pantheon of fame. Yet think not we deceive ourselves; you praise, but really dread The valour of the Orient, if this awakening spread; Behind this movement of the East you think you hear the low, Long murmur of the Asians,—"The foreigner must go"! What wonder that we hate you all? You look on us to-day As lions look on antelopes,—their heaven-appointed prey; You know you have no lawful right to lands that you possess; You gained them all through violence, or lying and finesse; Your cursed opium alone, despite our prayers and tears, Has ruined millions of our race for more than two score years, And when we rose indignantly to right that bitter wrong, Your heavy guns bombarded us, and you annexed ... Hong Kong! You force yourselves on us, and ask concessions, favors, mines, Protection for your mission schools, and grants of railway lines, But when we cross the seas to you, an entry you refuse, And curse, illtreat, and harry us with loathing and abuse. Japan has shown the only way of keeping for our own The fertile fields which rightfully belong to us alone; We do not wish to arm ourselves, and fighting we abhor, But self-protection forces us to learn and practise war.
Hence, if assailed, we shall not shun a struggle with the West; Not bent on conquest, like yourselves, but, rising to the test Of "Asia for the Asians", defend our threatened farms By sending to encounter you a million men in arms. You think yourselves invincible? Learn something from Japan, The fever of whose chivalry now spreads from man to man, Encouraging the Orient to hasten on the day When all enlightened Asians shall cry "Enough! Away! Go exploit helpless Africa, where you have shamed the beast, But understand, your cruel day is over in the East!" You still have many things to learn, base worshippers of gold; When you were wild barbarians, our Governments were old! Your self-conceit and arrogance we therefore laugh to scorn; We had our laws millenniums before your courts were born. You talk by electricity, you ride on wings of steam, You thunder with machinery,—and these you proudly deem The grandest triumphs of the race, forgetting that mere speed In transference of men and things is less than one great deed.
You treat us condescendingly, as if our gifts were small, But do you think Almighty God has dowered you with all? Earth's greatest continent is ours; her highest mountains rise In unapproached sublimity beneath our starry skies; Ours, too, the cradle of the race; and at our Buddha's shrine Unequalled numbers of mankind adore him as divine. How dare you speak of Asian thought with pity or a sneer, When practically all you know originated here? What had you been, if our ideals, in art and faith expressed, Had not come down through Greece and Rome to civilize your West? The great religions of the world are all of Asian birth, And thence went forth resistlessly to dominate the earth. Of six we granted one to you; and you profess its creeds, But what a sorry travesty you make of it in deeds! The Christ taught love to enemies; His followers to-day Have trained the whole male Christian world their fellow men to slay! The very Bible that you prize was writ by Asian hands; Your prophets, saints, and patriarchs were all of Eastern lands; The Son of God, as you believe, was born a humble Jew; The Virgin Mother equally no other parents knew; Yet you have robbed and tortured Jews, and murdered them at will Through eighteen Christian centuries,—are killing thousands still!
The "Star of Empire," as you claim, has "westward" made its way; But what if now in Eastern skies it heralds a new day? You fondly dreamed its brilliant course had ended there with you, But on it moves, old lands to greet, and belt the globe anew! Its kindling rays revivify our nations, which have slept While round the world our influence through you has slowly crept. The coming century's great deeds lie not at Europe's doors; A grander stage awaits mankind,—the vast Pacific's shores; And we not only skirt that sea from Tokyo to Saigon, Our coastline fronts the western world from Syria to Ceylon! Again shall we supply to you the part of life you need; Again your slaves of strenuous toil shall live at slower speed; Once more, as pilgrims to a shrine, your chiefs shall come to me, And learn of my philosophy, as children at my knee. You cannot cut me from your past, nor cancel what you owe For all my sages gave to you two thousand years ago; For after twenty centuries you think, and speak, and pray Still much as I instructed you in Syria and Cathay. Keep you, then, the material, I hold the mental, realm; For you the ship's machinery, for me the guiding helm!
I opened the cage of my pet canary; Timid, it faltered a moment there, Then, at my call, became less wary, And blithely sprang to the buoyant air.
Brief was its dream of freedom's rapture; A window barred its sunward flight; It beat its wings in fear of capture, But found no way to the world of light.
Out in the park two birds were mating, Building together their tiny nest; Keenly the captive watched them, waiting, Pressing the glass with its throbbing breast.
Leaving at length the window-casing, Lighting by chance on a neighboring shelf, It stood before a mirror, facing The pretty form of its own sweet self.
Falling in love with its own reflection, Thinking it always another bird, Bravely it tried to win affection, Warbling tones I had never heard.
Hopeless alas! its tender wooing, Vainly it trilled its sweetest note, Coldly received was its ardent sueing, Silent the mirrored songster's throat.
Wearied at last, it flew off sadly, Back to the cage's open door, Back to the home it left so gladly Only a little hour before.
Dead are the lovers so fondly mated! Gone is their nest; it was blown away! But safe in the narrow cage it hated The captive sings on its perch to-day.
Snowy sails, silvery sails, Gleaming in the sun, Leaving scores of jewelled trails In the course you run,
On your white wings bear away All my care and pain; I would for at least to-day Be a child again.
Just to thrill with youthful fire, Kindling heart and brain, Just to know the old desire Lofty heights to gain;
Just to hold the simple faith Into which I grew, When my God was not a wraith, And all men were true!
Shadowed sails, clouded sails, Life hath made me know That you leave no jewelled trails, Proudly though you go;
Drops that floods of diamonds seem Are but dazzling spray, Fleeting as a happy dream, Swift to fade away.
Distant sails, waning sails, Waft me to some shore Where corroding care prevails Never, nevermore!
Where the flotsam of the deep Finds its wanderings cease, And the shipwrecked sink to sleep On the strand of peace.
A MAY MONODY
Beside my opened window pane, Each morning in this month of May A blackbird sings in dulcet strain Two liquid notes, which seem to say "Come again! Come again!"
Alike in sunshine and in rain, Now loud and clear, now soft and low, He warbles forth the same refrain, Which haunts me with its hint of woe,— "Come again! Come again!"
What bird, whose absence gives him pain, Doth he thus tenderly recall? What longed-for joy would he regain By those two words which rise and fall,— "Come again! Come again!"
Sometimes, when I too long have lain And listened to his plaintive air, An impulse I cannot restrain Hath moved me too to breathe that prayer,— "Come again! Come again!"