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THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS OF JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY THE RIVERSIDE PRESS, CAMBRIDGE
M DCCCC II
Mr. Lowell, the year before he died, edited a definitive edition of his works, known as the Riverside edition. Subsequently, his literary executor, Mr. C.E. Norton, issued a final posthumous collection, and the Cambridge edition followed, including all the poems in the Riverside edition, and the poems edited by Mr. Norton. The present Cabinet edition contains all the poems in the Cambridge edition. It is made from new plates, and for the convenience of the student the longer poems have their lines numbered, and indexes of titles and first lines are added.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THRENODIA THE SIRENS IRENE SERENADE WITH A PRESSED FLOWER THE BEGGAR MY LOVE SUMMER STORM LOVE TO PERDITA, SINGING THE MOON REMEMBERED MUSIC SONG. TO M.L. ALLEGRA THE FOUNTAIN ODE THE FATHERLAND THE FORLORN MIDNIGHT A PRAYER THE HERITAGE THE ROSE: A BALLAD SONG, 'VIOLET! SWEET VIOLET!' ROSALINE A REQUIEM A PARABLE SONG, 'O MOONLIGHT DEEP AND TENDER'
SONNETS. I. TO A.C.L. II. 'WHAT WERE I, LOVE, IF I WERE STRIPPED OF THEE?' III. 'I WOULD NOT HAVE THIS PERFECT LOVE OF OURS' IV. 'FOR THIS TRUE NOBLENESS I SEEK IN VAIN' V. TO THE SPIRIT OF KEATS VI. 'GREAT TRUTHS ARE PORTIONS OF THE SOUL OF MAN' VII. 'I ASK NOT FOR THOSE THOUGHTS, THAT SUDDEN LEAP' VIII. TO M.W., ON HER BIRTHDAY IX. 'MY LOVE, I HAVE NO FEAR THAT THOU SHOULDST DIE' X. 'I CANNOT THINK THAT THOU SHOULDST PASS AWAY' XI. 'THERE NEVER YET WAS FLOWER FAIR IN VAIN' XII. SUB PONDERE CRESCIT XIII. 'BELOVED, IN THE NOISY CITY HERE' XIV. ON READING WORDSWORTH'S SONNETS IN DEFENCE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT XV. THE SAME CONTINUED. XVI. THE SAME CONTINUED. XVII. THE SAME CONTINUED. XVIII. THE SAME CONTINUED. XIX. THE SAME CONCLUDED. XX. TO M.O.S. XXI. 'OUR LOVE IS NOT A FADING, EARTHLY FLOWER' XXII. IN ABSENCE XXIII. WENDELL PHILLIPS XXIV. THE STREET XXV. 'I GRIEVE NOT THAT RIPE KNOWLEDGE TAKES AWAY' XXVI. TO J.R. GIDDINGS XXVII. 'I THOUGHT OUR LOVE AT FULL, BUT I DID ERR' L'ENVOI
A LEGEND OF BRITTANY PROMETHEUS THE SHEPHERD OF KING ADMETUS THE TOKEN AN INCIDENT IN A RAILROAD CAR RHOECUS THE FALCON TRIAL A GLANCE BEHIMD THE CURTAIN A CHIPPEWA LEGEND STANZAS ON FREEDOM COLUMBUS AN INCIDENT OF THE FIRE AT HAMBURG THE SOWER HUNGER AND COLD THE LANDLORD TO A PINE-TREE SI DESCENDERO IN INFERNUM, ADES TO THE PAST TO THE FUTURE HEBE THE SEARCH THE PRESENT CRISIS AN INDIAN-SUMMER REVERIE THE GROWTH OF THE LEGEND A CONTRAST EXTREME UNCTION THE OAK AMBROSE ABOVE AND BELOW THE CAPTIVE THE BIRCH-TREE AN INTERVIEW WITH MILES STANDISH ON THE CAPTURE OF FUGITIVE SLAVES NEAR WASHINGTON TO THE DANDELION THE GHOST-SEER STUDIES FOR TWO HEADS ON A PORTRAIT OF DANTE BY GIOTTO ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND'S CHILD EURYDICE SHE CAME AND WENT THE CHANGELING THE PIONEER LONGING ODE TO FRANCE. February, 1848 ANTI-APIS A PARABLE ODE WRITTEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE COCHITUATE WATER INTO THE CITY OF BOSTON LINES SUGGESTED BY THE GRAVES OF TWO ENGLISH SOLDIERS ON CONCORD BATTLE-GROUND TO—— FREEDOM BIBLIOLATRES BEAVER BROOK
KOSSUTH TO LAMARTINE. 1848 TO JOHN GORHAM PALFREY TO W.L. GARRISON ON THE DEATH OF CHARLES TURNER TORREY ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF DR. CHANNING TO THE MEMORY OF HOOD
THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL LETTER FROM BOSTON. December, 1846 A FABLE FOR CRITICS THE UNHAPPY LOT OF MR. KNOTT FRAGMENTS OF AN UNFINISHED POEM AN ORIENTAL APOLOGUE THE BIGLOW PAPERS.
NOTICES OF AN INDEPENDENT PRESS NOTE TO TITLE-PAGE INTRODUCTION NO. I. A LETTER FROM MR. EZEKIEL BIGLOW OF JAALAM TO THE HON. JOSEPH T. BUCKINGHAM NO. II. A LETTER FROM MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE HON. J.T. BUCKINGHAM NO. III. WHAT MR. ROBINSON THINKS NO. IV. REMARKS OF INCREASE D. O'PHACE, ESQ. NO. V. THE DEBATE IN THE SENNIT NO. VI. THE PIOUS EDITOR'S CREED NO. VII. A LETTER FROM A CANDIDATE IN THE PRESIDENCY IN ANSWER TO SUTTIN QUESTIONS PROPOSED BY Mr. HOSEA BIGLOW NO. VIII. A SECOND LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ. NO. IX. A THIRD LETTER FROM B. SAWIN, ESQ.
THE COURTIN' NO. I. BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW NO. II. MASON AND SLIDELL: A YANKEE IDYLL JONATHAN TO JOHN NO. III. BIRDOFREDUM SAWIN, ESQ., TO MR. HOSEA BIGLOW NO. IV. A MESSAGE OF JEFF DAVIS IN SECRET SESSION NO. V. SPEECH OF HONOURABLE PRESERVED DOE IN SECRET CAUCUS NO. VI. SUNTHIN' IN THE PASTORAL LINE NO. VII. LATEST VIEWS OF MR. BIGLOW NO. VIII. KETTELOPOTOMACHIA NO. IX. SOME MEMORIALS OF THE LATE REVEREND H. WILBUR NO. X. MR. HOSEA BIGLOW TO THE EDITOR OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY NO. XI. MR. HOSEA BIGLOW'S SPEECH IN MARCH MEETING
UNDER THE WILLOWS AND OTHER POEMS.
TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON UNDER THE WILLOWS DARA THE FIRST SNOW-FALL THE SINGING LEAVES SEAWEED THE FINDING OF THE LYRE NEW-YEAR'S EVE, 1850 FOR AN AUTOGRAPH AL FRESCO MASACCIO WITHOUT AND WITHIN GODMINSTER CHIMES THE PARTING OF THE WAYS ALADDIN AN INVITATION. TO JOHN FRANCIS HEATH THE NOMADES SELF-STUDY PICTURES FROM APPLEDORE THE WIND-HARP AUF WIEDERSEHEN PALINODE AFTER THE BURIAL THE DEAD HOUSE A MOOD THE VOYAGE TO VINLAND MAHMOOD THE IMAGE-BREAKER INVITA MINERVA THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH YUSSOUF THE DARKENED MIND WHAT RABBI JEHOSHA SAID ALL-SAINTS A WINTER-EVENING HYMN TO MY FIRE FANCY'S CASUISTRY TO MR. JOHN BARTLETT ODE TO HAPPINESS VILLA FRANCA. 1859 THE MINER GOLD EGG: A DREAM-FANTASY A FAMILIAR EPISTLE TO A FRIEND AN EMBER PICTURE TO H.W.L. THE NIGHTINGALE IN THE STUDY IN THE TWILIGHT THE FOOT-PATH
POEMS OF THE WAR.
THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD TWO SCENES FROM THE LIFE OF BLONDEL MEMORIAE POSITUM ON BOARD THE '76 ODE RECITED AT THE HARVARD COMMEMORATION L'ENVOI: TO THE MUSE THE CATHEDRAL THREE MEMORIAL POEMS. ONE READ AT THE ONE HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIGHT AT CONCORD BRIDGE UNDER THE OLD ELM AN ODE FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY, 1876
HEARTSEASE AND RUE.
AGASSIZ TO HOLMES, ON HIS SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY IN A COPY OF OMAR KHAYYAM ON RECEIVING A COPY OF MR. AUSTIN DOBSON'S 'OLD WORLD IDYLLS' TO C.F. BRADFORD BANKSIDE JOSEPH WINLOCK SONNET, TO FANNY ALEXANDER JEFFRIES WYMAN TO A FRIEND WITH AN ARMCHAIR E.G. DE R. BON VOYAGE TO WHITTIER, ON HIS SEVENTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY ON AN AUTUMN SKETCH OF H.G. WILD TO MISS D.T. WITH A COPY OF AUCASSIN AND NICOLETTE ON PLANTING A TREE AT INVERARAY AN EPISTLE TO GEORGE WILLIAM CURTIS
ENDYMION THE BLACK PREACHER ARCADIA REDIVIVA THE NEST A YOUTHFUL EXPERIMENT IN ENGLISH HEXAMETERS BIRTHDAY VERSES ESTRANGEMENT PHOEBE DAS EWIG-WEIBLICHE THE RECALL ABSENCE MONNA LISA THE OPTIMIST ON BURNING SOME OLD LETTERS THE PROTEST THE PETITION FACT OR FANCY? AGRO-DOLCE THE BROKEN TRYST CASA SIN ALMA A CHRISTMAS CAROL MY PORTRAIT GALLERY PAOLO TO FRANCESCA SONNET, SCOTTISH BORDER SONNET, ON BEING ASKED FOR AN AUTOGRAPH IN VENICE THE DANCING BEAR THE MAPLE NIGHTWATCHES DEATH OF QUEEN MERCEDES PRISON OF CERVANTES TO A LADY PLAYING ON THE CITHERN THE EYE'S TREASURY PESSIMOPTIMISM THE BRAKES A FOREBODING
UNDER THE OCTOBER MAPLES LOVE'S CLOCK ELEANOR MAKES MACAROONS TELEPATHY SCHERZO 'FRANCISCUS DE VERULAMIO SIC COGITAVIT' AUSPEX THE PREGNANT COMMENT THE LESSON SCIENCE AND POETRY A NEW YEAR'S GREETING THE DISCOVERY WITH A SEASHELL THE SECRET
IV. HUMOR AND SATIRE.
FITZ ADAM'S STORY THE ORIGIN OF DIDACTIC POETRY THE FLYING DUTCHMAN CREDIDIMUS JOVEM REGNARE TEMPORA MUTANTUR IN THE HALF-WAY HOUSE AT THE BURNS CENTENNIAL IN AN ALBUM AT THE COMMENCEMENT DINNER, 1866 A PARABLE
SAYINGS INSCRIPTIONS A MISCONCEPTION THE BOSS SUN-WORSHIP CHANGED PERSPECTIVE WITH A PAIR OF GLOVES LOST IN A WAGER SIXTY-EIGHTH BIRTHDAY INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT
HOW I CONSULTED THE ORACLE OF THE GOLDFISHES TURNER'S OLD TEMERAIRE ST. MICHAEL THE WEIGHER A VALENTINE AN APRIL BIRTHDAY—AT SEA LOVE AND THOUGHT THE NOBLER LOVER ON HEARING A SONATA OF BEETHOVEN'S PLAYED IN THE NEXT ROOM VERSES, INTENDED TO GO WITH A POSSET DISH ON A BUST OF GENERAL GRANT
I. INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND SERIES OF BIGLOW PAPERS II. GLOSSARY TO THE BIGLOW PAPERS III. INDEX TO BIGLOW PAPERS
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
INDEX OF TITLES
Gone, gone from us! and shall we see Those sibyl-leaves of destiny, Those calm eyes, nevermore? Those deep, dark eyes so warm and bright, Wherein the fortunes of the man Lay slumbering in prophetic light, In characters a child might scan? So bright, and gone forth utterly! Oh stern word—Nevermore!
The stars of those two gentle eyes 10 Will shine no more on earth; Quenched are the hopes that had their birth, As we watched them slowly rise, Stars of a mother's fate; And she would read them o'er and o'er, Pondering, as she sate, Over their dear astrology, Which she had conned and conned before, Deeming she needs must read aright 19 What was writ so passing bright. And yet, alas! she knew not why. Her voice would falter in its song, And tears would slide from out her eye, Silent, as they were doing wrong. Oh stern word—Nevermore!
The tongue that scarce had learned to claim An entrance to a mother's heart By that dear talisman, a mother's name, Sleeps all forgetful of its art! I loved to see the infant soul 30 (How mighty in the weakness Of its untutored meekness!) Peep timidly from out its nest, His lips, the while, Fluttering with half-fledged words, Or hushing to a smile That more than words expressed, When his glad mother on him stole And snatched him to her breast! Oh, thoughts were brooding in those eyes, 40 That would have soared like strong-winged birds Far, far into the skies, Gladding the earth with song, And gushing harmonies, Had he but tarried with us long! Oh stern word—Nevermore!
How peacefully they rest, Crossfolded there Upon his little breast, Those small, white hands that ne'er were still before, 50 But ever sported with his mother's hair, Or the plain cross that on her breast she wore! Her heart no more will beat To feel the touch of that soft palm, That ever seemed a new surprise Sending glad thoughts up to her eyes To bless him with their holy calm,— Sweet thoughts! they made her eyes as sweet. How quiet are the hands That wove those pleasant bands! But that they do not rise and sink 61 With his calm breathing, I should think That he were dropped asleep. Alas! too deep, too deep Is this his slumber! Time scarce can number The years ere he shall wake again. Oh, may we see his eyelids open then! Oh stern word—Nevermore!
As the airy gossamere, 70 Floating in the sunlight clear, Where'er it toucheth clingeth tightly, Bound glossy leal or stump unsightly, So from his spirit wandered out Tendrils spreading all about, Knitting all things to its thrall With a perfect love of all: Oh stern word—Nevermore!
He did but float a little way Adown the stream of time, 80 With dreamy eyes watching the ripples play, Or hearkening their fairy chime; His slender sail Ne'er felt the gale; He did but float a little way, And, putting to the shore While yet 't was early day, Went calmly on his way, To dwell with us no more! No jarring did he feel, 90 No grating on his shallop's keel; A strip of silver sand Mingled the waters with the land Where he was seen no more: Oh stern word—Nevermore!
Full short his journey was; no dust Of earth unto his sandals clave; The weary weight that old men must, He bore not to the grave. He seemed a cherub who had lost his way 100 And wandered hither, so his stay With us was short, and 't was most meet That he should be no delver in earth's clod, Nor need to pause and cleanse his feet To stand before his God: Oh blest word—Evermore!
The sea is lonely, the sea is dreary, The sea is restless and uneasy; Thou seekest quiet, thou art weary, Wandering thou knowest not whither;— Our little isle is green and breezy, Come and rest thee! Oh come hither, Come to this peaceful home of ours, Where evermore The low west-wind creeps panting up the shore 9 To be at rest among the flowers; Full of rest, the green moss lifts, As the dark waves of the sea Draw in and out of rocky rifts, Calling solemnly to thee With voices deep and hollow,— 'To the shore Follow! Oh, follow! To be at rest forevermore! Forevermore!'
Look how the gray old Ocean 20 From the depth of his heart rejoices, Heaving with a gentle motion, When he hears our restful voices; List how he sings in an undertone, Chiming with our melody; And all sweet sounds of earth and air Melt into one low voice alone, That murmurs over the weary sea, And seems to sing from everywhere,— 'Here mayst thou harbor peacefully, 30 Here mayst thou rest from the aching oar; Turn thy curved prow ashore, And in our green isle rest forevermore! Forevermore!' And Echo half wakes in the wooded hill, And, to her heart so calm and deep, Murmurs over in her sleep, Doubtfully pausing and murmuring still, 'Evermore!' Thus, on Life's weary sea, 40 Heareth the marinere Voices sweet, from far and near, Ever singing low and clear, Ever singing longingly.
Is it not better here to be, Than to be toiling late and soon? In the dreary night to see Nothing but the blood-red moon Go up and down into the sea; Or, in the loneliness of day, 50 To see the still seals only Solemnly lift their faces gray, Making it yet more lonely? Is it not better than to hear Only the sliding of the wave Beneath the plank, and feel so near A cold and lonely grave, A restless grave, where thou shalt lie Even in death unquietly? Look down beneath thy wave-worn bark, 60 Lean over the side and see The leaden eye of the sidelong shark Upturned patiently, Ever waiting there for thee: Look down and see those shapeless forms, Which ever keep their dreamless sleep Far down within the gloomy deep, And only stir themselves in storms, Rising like islands from beneath, And snorting through the angry spray, 70 As the frail vessel perisheth In the whirls of their unwieldy play; Look down! Look down! Upon the seaweed, slimy and dark, That waves its arms so lank and brown, Beckoning for thee! Look down beneath thy wave-worn bark Into the cold depth of the sea! Look down! Look down! Thus, on Life's lonely sea, 80 Heareth the marinere Voices sad, from far and near, Ever singing full of fear, Ever singing drearfully.
Here all is pleasant as a dream; The wind scarce shaketh down the dew, The green grass floweth like a stream Into the ocean's blue; Listen! Oh, listen! Here is a gush of many streams, A song of many birds, 91 And every wish and longing seems Lulled to a numbered flow of words,— Listen! Oh, listen! Here ever hum the golden bees Underneath full-blossomed trees, At once with glowing fruit and flowers crowned;— So smooth the sand, the yellow sand, That thy keel will not grate as it touches the land; All around with a slumberous sound, 100 The singing waves slide up the strand, And there, where the smooth, wet pebbles be, The waters gurgle longingly, As If they fain would seek the shore, To be at rest from the ceaseless roar, To be at rest forevermore,— Forevermore. Thus, on Life's gloomy sea, Heareth the marinere Voices sweet, from far and near, 110 Ever singing in his ear, 'Here is rest and peace for thee!'
Hers is a spirit deep, and crystal-clear; Calmly beneath her earnest face it lies, Free without boldness, meek without a fear, Quicker to look than speak its sympathies; Far down into her large and patient eyes I gaze, deep-drinking of the infinite, As, in the mid-watch of a clear, still night, I look into the fathomless blue skies.
So circled lives she with Love's holy light, That from the shade of self she walketh free; 10 The garden of her soul still keepeth she An Eden where the snake did never enter; She hath a natural, wise sincerity, A simple truthfulness, and these have lent her A dignity as moveless as the centre; So that no influence of our earth can stir Her steadfast courage, nor can take away The holy peacefulness, which night and day, Unto her queenly soul doth minister.
Most gentle is she; her large charity 20 (An all unwitting, childlike gift in her) Not freer is to give than meek to bear; And, though herself not unacquaint with care, Hath in her heart wide room for all that be,— Her heart that hath no secrets of its own, But open is as eglantine full blown. Cloudless forever is her brow serene, Speaking calm hope and trust within her, whence Welleth a noiseless spring of patience, That keepeth all her life so fresh, so green 30 And full of holiness, that every look, The greatness of her woman's soul revealing, Unto me bringeth blessing, and a feeling As when I read in God's own holy book.
A graciousness in giving that doth make The small'st gift greatest, and a sense most meek Of worthiness, that doth not fear to take From others, but which always fears to speak Its thanks in utterance, for the giver's sake;— The deep religion of a thankful heart, 40 Which rests instinctively in Heaven's clear law With a full peace, that never can depart From its own steadfastness;—a holy awe For holy things,—not those which men call holy, But such as are revealed to the eyes Of a true woman's soul bent down and lowly Before the face of daily mysteries;— A love that blossoms soon, but ripens slowly To the full goldenness of fruitful prime, Enduring with a firmness that defies 50 All shallow tricks of circumstance and time, By a sure insight knowing where to cling, And where it clingeth never withering;— These are Irene's dowry, which no fate Can shake from their serene, deep-builded state.
In-seeing sympathy is hers, which chasteneth No less than loveth, scorning to be bound With fear of blame, and yet which ever hasteneth To pour the balm of kind looks on the wound, If they be wounds which such sweet teaching makes, 60 Giving itself a pang for others' sakes; No want of faith, that chills with sidelong eye, Hath she; no jealousy, no Levite pride That passeth by upon the other side; For in her soul there never dwelt a lie. Right from the hand of God her spirit came Unstained, and she hath ne'er forgotten whence It came, nor wandered far from thence, But laboreth to keep her still the same, Near to her place of birth, that she may not 70 Soil her white raiment with an earthly spot.
Yet sets she not her soul so steadily Above, that she forgets her ties to earth, But her whole thought would almost seem to be How to make glad one lowly human hearth; For with a gentle courage she doth strive In thought and word and feeling so to live As to make earth next heaven; and her heart Herein doth show its most exceeding worth, That, bearing in our frailty her just part, 80 She hath not shrunk from evils of this life, But hath gone calmly forth into the strife, And all its sins and sorrows hath withstood With lofty strength of patient womanhood: For this I love her great soul more than all, That, being bound, like us, with earthly thrall, She walks so bright and heaven-like therein,— Too wise, too meek, too womanly, to sin.
Like a lone star through riven storm-clouds seen By sailors, tempest-tost upon the sea, 90 Telling of rest and peaceful heavens nigh, Unto my soul her star-like soul hath been, Her sight as full of hope and calm to me;— For she unto herself hath builded high A home serene, wherein to lay her head, Earth's noblest thing, a Woman perfected.
From the close-shut windows gleams no spark, The night is chilly, the night is dark, The poplars shiver, the pine-trees moan, My hair by the autumn breeze is blown, Under thy window I sing alone, Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!
The darkness is pressing coldly around, The windows shake with a lonely sound, The stars are hid and the night is drear, The heart of silence throbs in thine ear, In thy chamber thou sittest alone, Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!
The world is happy, the world is wide. Kind hearts are beating on every side; Ah, why should we lie so coldly curled Alone in the shell of this great world? Why should we any more be alone? Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!
Oh, 'tis a bitter and dreary word, The saddest by man's ear ever heard! We each are young, we each have a heart, Why stand we ever coldly apart? Must we forever, then, be alone? Alone, alone, ah woe! alone!
WITH A PRESSED FLOWER
This little blossom from afar Hath come from other lands to thine; For, once, its white and drooping star Could see its shadow in the Rhine.
Perchance some fair-haired German maid Hath plucked one from the selfsame stalk, And numbered over, half afraid, Its petals in her evening walk.
'He loves me, loves me not,' she cries; 'He loves me more than earth or heaven!' And then glad tears have filled her eyes To find the number was uneven.
And thou must count its petals well, Because it is a gift from me; And the last one of all shall tell Something I've often told to thee.
But here at home, where we were born, Thou wilt find blossoms just as true, Down-bending every summer morn, With freshness of New England dew.
For Nature, ever kind to love, Hath granted them the same sweet tongue, Whether with German skies above, Or here our granite rocks among.
A beggar through the world am I, From place to place I wander by. Fill up my pilgrim's scrip for me, For Christ's sweet sake and charity!
A little of thy steadfastness, Bounded with leafy gracefulness, Old oak, give me, That the world's blasts may round me blow, And I yield gently to and fro, While my stout-hearted trunk below And firm-set roots unshaken be.
Some of thy stern, unyielding might, Enduring still through day and night Rude tempest-shock and withering blight, That I may keep at bay The changeful April sky of chance And the strong tide of circumstance,— Give me, old granite gray.
Some of thy pensiveness serene, Some of thy never-dying green, Put in this scrip of mine, That griefs may fall like snowflakes light, And deck me in a robe of white, Ready to be an angel bright, O sweetly mournful pine.
A little of thy merriment, Of thy sparkling, light content, Give me, my cheerful brook, That I may still be full of glee And gladsomeness, where'er I be, Though fickle fate hath prisoned me In some neglected nook.
Ye have been very kind and good To me, since I've been in the wood; Ye have gone nigh to fill my heart; But good-by, kind friends, every one, I've far to go ere set of sun; Of all good things I would have part, The day was high ere I could start, And so my journey's scarce begun.
Heaven help me! how could I forget To beg of thee, dear violet! Some of thy modesty, That blossoms here as well, unseen, As if before the world thou'dst been, Oh, give, to strengthen me.
Not as all other women are Is she that to my soul is dear; Her glorious fancies come from far, Beneath the silver evening-star, And yet her heart is ever near.
Great feelings hath she of her own, Which lesser souls may never know; God giveth them to her alone, And sweet they are as any tone Wherewith the wind may choose to blow.
Yet in herself she dwelleth not. Although no home were half so fair; No simplest duty is forgot, Life hath no dim and lowly spot That doth not in her sunshine share.
She doeth little kindnesses, Which most leave undone, or despise: For naught that sets one heart at ease, And giveth happiness or peace, Is low-esteemed in her eyes.
She hath no scorn of common things, And, though she seem of other birth, Round us her heart intwines and clings, And patiently she folds her wings To tread the humble paths of earth.
Blessing she is: God made her so, And deeds of week-day holiness Fall from her noiseless as the snow, Nor hath she ever chanced to know That aught were easier than to bless.
She is most fair, and thereunto Her life doth rightly harmonize; Feeling or thought that was not true Ne'er made less beautiful the blue Unclouded heaven of her eyes.
She is a woman: one in whom The spring-time of her childish years Hath never lost its fresh perfume, Though knowing well that life hath room For many blights and many tears.
I love her with a love as still As a broad river's peaceful might, Which, by high tower and lowly mill, Seems following its own wayward will, And yet doth ever flow aright.
And, on its full, deep breast serene, Like quiet isles my duties lie; It flows around them and between, And makes them fresh and fair and green, Sweet homes wherein to live and die.
Untremulous in the river clear, Toward the sky's image, hangs the imaged bridge; So still the air that I can hear The slender clarion of the unseen midge; Out of the stillness, with a gathering creep, Like rising wind in leaves, which now decreases, Now lulls, now swells, and all the while increases, The huddling trample of a drove of sheep Tilts the loose planks, and then as gradually ceases In dust on the other side; life's emblem deep, 10 A confused noise between two silences, Finding at last in dust precarious peace. On the wide marsh the purple-blossomed grasses Soak up the sunshine; sleeps the brimming tide, Save when the wedge-shaped wake in silence passes Of some slow water-rat, whose sinuous glide Wavers the sedge's emerald shade from side to side;
But up the west, like a rock-shivered surge, Climbs a great cloud edged with sun-whitened spray; Huge whirls of foam boil toppling o'er its verge, 20 And falling still it seems, and yet it climbs alway.
Suddenly all the sky is hid As with the shutting of a lid, One by one great drops are falling Doubtful and slow, Down the pane they are crookedly crawling, And the wind breathes low; Slowly the circles widen on the river, Widen and mingle, one and all; Here and there the slenderer flowers shiver, 30 Struck by an icy rain-drop's fall.
Now on the hills I hear the thunder mutter, The wind is gathering in the west; The upturned leaves first whiten and flutter, Then droop to a fitful rest; Up from the stream with sluggish flap Struggles the gull and floats away; Nearer and nearer rolls the thunder-clap,— We shall not see the sun go down to-day: Now leaps the wind on the sleepy marsh, 40 And tramples the grass with terrified feet, The startled river turns leaden and harsh, You can hear the quick heart of the tempest beat.
Look! look! that livid flash! And instantly follows the rattling thunder, As if some cloud-crag, split asunder, Fell, splintering with a ruinous crash, On the Earth, which crouches in silence under; And now a solid gray wall of rain Shuts off the landscape, mile by mile; 50 For a breath's space I see the blue wood again, And ere the next heart-beat, the wind-hurled pile, That seemed but now a league aloof, Bursts crackling o'er the sun-parched roof; Against the windows the storm comes dashing, Through tattered foliage the hail tears crashing, The blue lightning flashes, The rapid hail clashes, The white waves are tumbling, And, in one baffled roar, 60 Like the toothless sea mumbling A rock-bristled shore, The thunder is rumbling And crashing and crumbling,— Will silence return nevermore?
Hush! Still as death, The tempest holds his breath As from a sudden will; The rain stops short, but from the eaves You see it drop, and hear it from the leaves, 70 All is so bodingly still; Again, now, now, again Plashes the rain in heavy gouts, The crinkled lightning Seems ever brightening, And loud and long Again the thunder shouts His battle-song,— One quivering flash, One wildering crash, 80 Followed by silence dead and dull,
As if the cloud, let go, Leapt bodily below To whelm the earth in one mad overthrow. And then a total lull.
Gone, gone, so soon! No more my half-dazed fancy there, Can shape a giant In the air, No more I see his streaming hair, The writhing portent of his form;— 90 The pale and quiet moon Makes her calm forehead bare, And the last fragments of the storm, Like shattered rigging from a fight at sea, Silent and few, are drifting over me.
True Love is but a humble, low-born thing, And hath its food served up in earthen ware; It is a thing to walk with, hand in hand, Through the everydayness of this workday world, Baring its tender feet to every flint, Yet letting not one heart-beat go astray From Beauty's law of plainness and content; A simple, fireside thing, whose quiet smile Can warm earth's poorest hovel to a home; Which, when our autumn cometh, as it must, And life in the chill wind shivers bare and leafless, Shall still be blest with Indian-summer youth In bleak November, and, with thankful heart, Smile on its ample stores of garnered fruit, As full of sunshine to our aged eyes As when it nursed the blossoms of our spring. Such is true Love, which steals into the heart With feet as silent as the lightsome dawn That kisses smooth the rough brows of the dark, And hath its will through blissful gentleness, Not like a rocket, which, with passionate glare, Whirs suddenly up, then bursts, and leaves the night Painfully quivering on the dazed eyes; A love that gives and takes, that seeth faults, Not with flaw-seeking eyes like needle points, But loving-kindly ever looks them down With the o'ercoming faith that still forgives; A love that shall be new and fresh each hour, As is the sunset's golden mystery, Or the sweet coming of the evening-star, Alike, and yet most unlike, every day, And seeming ever best and fairest now; A love that doth not kneel for what it seeks, But faces Truth and Beauty as their peer, Showing its worthiness of noble thoughts By a clear sense of inward nobleness; A love that in its object findeth not All grace and beauty, and enough to sate Its thirst of blessing, but, in all of good Found there, sees but the Heaven-implanted types Of good and beauty in the soul of man, And traces, in the simplest heart that beats, A family-likeness to its chosen one, That claims of it the rights of brotherhood. For love is blind but with the fleshly eye, That so its inner sight may be more clear; And outward shows of beauty only so Are needful at the first, as is a hand To guide and to uphold an infant's steps: Fine natures need them not: their earnest look Pierces the body's mask of thin disguise, And beauty ever is to them revealed, Behind the unshapeliest, meanest lump of clay, With arms outstretched and eager face ablaze, Yearning to be but understood and loved.
TO PERDITA, SINGING
Thy voice is like a fountain, Leaping up in clear moonshine; Silver, silver, ever mounting, Ever sinking, Without thinking, To that brimful heart of thine. Every sad and happy feeling, Thou hast had in bygone years, Through thy lips comes stealing, stealing, Clear and low; 10 All thy smiles and all thy tears In thy voice awaken, And sweetness, wove of joy and woe, From their teaching it hath taken: Feeling and music move together, Like a swan and shadow ever Floating on a sky-blue river In a day of cloudless weather.
It hath caught a touch of sadness, Yet it is not sad; 20 It hath tones of clearest gladness, Yet it is not glad; A dim, sweet twilight voice it is Where to-day's accustomed blue Is over-grayed with memories, With starry feelings quivered through.
Thy voice is like a fountain Leaping up in sunshine bright, And I never weary counting Its clear droppings, lone and single, 30 Or when in one full gush they mingle, Shooting in melodious light.
Thine is music such as yields Feelings of old brooks and fields, And, around this pent-up room, Sheds a woodland, free perfume; Oh, thus forever sing to me! Oh, thus forever! The green, bright grass of childhood bring to me, 39 Flowing like an emerald river, And the bright blue skies above! Oh, sing them back, as fresh as ever, Into the bosom of my love,— The sunshine and the merriment, The unsought, evergreen content, Of that never cold time, The joy, that, like a clear breeze, went Through and through the old time! Peace sits within thine eyes, With white hands crossed in joyful rest, 50 While, through thy lips and face, arise The melodies from out thy breast; She sits and sings, With folded wings And white arms crost, 'Weep not for bygone things, They are not lost: The beauty which the summer time O'er thine opening spirit shed, The forest oracles sublime 60 That filled thy soul with joyous dread, The scent of every smallest flower That made thy heart sweet for an hour, Yea, every holy influence, Flowing to thee, thou knewest not whence, In thine eyes to-day is seen, Fresh as it hath ever been; Promptings of Nature, beckonings sweet, Whatever led thy childish feet, Still will linger unawares 70 The guiders of thy silver hairs; Every look and every word Which thou givest forth to-day, Tell of the singing of the bird Whose music stilled thy boyish play.'
Thy voice is like a fountain, Twinkling up in sharp starlight, When the moon behind the mountain Dims the low East with faintest white, Ever darkling, 80 Ever sparkling, We know not if 'tis dark or bright; But, when the great moon hath rolled round, And, sudden-slow, its solemn power Grows from behind its black, clear-edged bound, No spot of dark the fountain keepeth, But, swift as opening eyelids, leapeth Into a waving silver flower.
My soul was like the sea. Before the moon was made, Moaning in vague immensity, Of its own strength afraid, Unresful and unstaid. Through every rift it foamed in vain, About its earthly prison, Seeking some unknown thing in pain, And sinking restless back again, For yet no moon had risen: Its only voice a vast dumb moan, Of utterless anguish speaking, It lay unhopefully alone, And lived but in an aimless seeking.
So was my soul; but when 'twas full Of unrest to o'erloading, A voice of something beautiful Whispered a dim foreboding, And yet so soft, so sweet, so low, It had not more of joy than woe;
And, as the sea doth oft lie still, Making its waters meet, As if by an unconscious will, For the moon's silver feet, So lay my soul within mine eyes When thou, its guardian moon, didst rise.
And now, howe'er its waves above May toss and seem uneaseful, One strong, eternal law of Love, With guidance sure and peaceful, As calm and natural as breath, Moves its great deeps through life and death.
Thick-rushing, like an ocean vast Of bisons the far prairie shaking, The notes crowd heavily and fast As surfs, one plunging while the last Draws seaward from its foamy breaking.
Or in low murmurs they began, Rising and rising momently, As o'er a harp AEolian A fitful breeze, until they ran Up to a sudden ecstasy.
And then, like minute-drops of rain Ringing in water silvery, They lingering dropped and dropped again, Till it was almost like a pain To listen when the next would be.
A lily thou wast when I saw thee first, A lily-bud not opened quite, That hourly grew more pure and white, By morning, and noontide, and evening nursed: In all of nature thou hadst thy share; Thou wast waited on By the wind and sun; The rain and the dew for thee took care; It seemed thou never couldst be more fair.
A lily thou wast when I saw thee first, A lily-bud; but oh, how strange, How full of wonder was the change, When, ripe with all sweetness, thy full bloom burst! How did the tears to my glad eyes start, When the woman-flower Reached its blossoming hour, And I saw the warm deeps of thy golden heart!
Glad death may pluck thee, but never before The gold dust of thy bloom divine Hath dropped from thy heart into mine, To quicken its faint germs of heavenly lore; For no breeze comes nigh thee but carries away Some impulses bright Of fragrance and light, Which fall upon souls that are lone and astray, To plant fruitful hopes of the flower of day.
I would more natures were like thine, That never casts a glance before, Thou Hebe, who thy heart's bright wine So lavishly to all dost pour, That we who drink forget to pine, And can but dream of bliss in store.
Thou canst not see a shade in life; With sunward instinct thou dost rise, And, leaving clouds below at strife, Gazest undazzled at the skies, With all their blazing splendors rife, A songful lark with eagle's eyes.
Thou wast some foundling whom the Hours Nursed, laughing, with the milk of Mirth; Some influence more gay than ours Hath ruled thy nature from its birth, As if thy natal stars were flowers That shook their seeds round thee on earth.
And thou, to lull thine infant rest, Wast cradled like an Indian child; All pleasant winds from south and west With lullabies thine ears beguiled, Rocking thee in thine oriole's nest, Till Nature looked at thee and smiled.
Thine every fancy seems to borrow A sunlight from thy childish years, Making a golden cloud of sorrow, A hope-lit rainbow out of tears,— Thy heart is certain of to-morrow, Though 'yond to-day it never peers.
I would more natures were like thine, So innocently wild and free, Whose sad thoughts, even, leap and shine, Like sunny wavelets in the sea, Making us mindless of the brine, In gazing on the brilliancy.
Into the sunshine, Full of the light, Leaping and flashing From morn till night;
Into the moonlight, Whiter than snow, Waving so flower-like When the winds blow;
Into the starlight Rushing in spray, Happy at midnight, Happy by day;
Ever in motion, Blithesome and cheery, Still climbing heavenward, Never aweary;
Glad of all weathers, Still seeming best, Upward or downward. Motion thy rest;
Full of a nature Nothing can tame, Changed every moment, Ever the same;
Ceaseless aspiring, Ceaseless content, Darkness or sunshine Thy element;
Glorious fountain. Let my heart be Fresh, changeful, constant, Upward, like thee!
In the old days of awe and keen-eyed wonder, The Poet's song with blood-warm truth was rife; He saw the mysteries which circle under The outward shell and skin of daily life. Nothing to him were fleeting time and fashion, His soul was led by the eternal law; There was in him no hope of fame, no passion, But with calm, godlike eyes he only saw. He did not sigh o'er heroes dead and buried, Chief-mourner at the Golden Age's hearse, 10 Nor deem that souls whom Charon grim had ferried Alone were fitting themes of epic verse: He could believe the promise of to-morrow, And feel the wondrous meaning of to-day; He had a deeper faith in holy sorrow Than the world's seeming loss could take away. To know the heart of all things was his duty, All things did sing to him to make him wise, And, with a sorrowful and conquering beauty, The soul of all looked grandly from his eyes. 20 He gazed on all within him and without him, He watched the flowing of Time's steady tide, And shapes of glory floated all about him And whispered to him, and he prophesied. Than all men he more fearless was and freer, And all his brethren cried with one accord,— 'Behold the holy man! Behold the Seer! Him who hath spoken with the unseen Lord!' He to his heart with large embrace had taken The universal sorrow of mankind, 30 And, from that root, a shelter never shaken, The tree of wisdom grew with sturdy rind. He could interpret well the wondrous voices Which to the calm and silent spirit come; He knew that the One Soul no more rejoices In the star's anthem than the insect's hum. He in his heart was ever meek and humble. And yet with kingly pomp his numbers ran, As he foresaw how all things false should crumble Before the free, uplifted soul of man; 40 And, when he was made full to overflowing With all the loveliness of heaven and earth, Out rushed his song, like molten iron glowing, To show God sitting by the humblest hearth. With calmest courage he was ever ready To teach that action was the truth of thought, And, with strong arm and purpose firm and steady, An anchor for the drifting world he wrought. So did he make the meanest man partaker Of all his brother-gods unto him gave; 50 All souls did reverence him and name him Maker, And when he died heaped temples on his grave. And still his deathless words of light are swimming Serene throughout the great deep infinite Of human soul, unwaning and undimming, To cheer and guide the mariner at night.
But now the Poet is an empty rhymer Who lies with idle elbow on the grass, And fits his singing, like a cunning timer, To all men's prides and fancies as they pass. 60 Not his the song, which, in its metre holy, Chimes with the music of the eternal stars, Humbling the tyrant, lifting up the lowly, And sending sun through the soul's prison-bars. Maker no more,—oh no! unmaker rather, For he unmakes who doth not all put forth The power given freely by our loving Father To show the body's dross, the spirit's worth. Awake! great spirit of the ages olden! Shiver the mists that hide thy starry lyre, 70 And let man's soul be yet again beholden To thee for wings to soar to her desire. Oh, prophesy no more to-morrow's splendor, Be no more shamefaced to speak out for Truth, Lay on her altar all the gushings tender, The hope, the fire, the loving faith of youth! Oh, prophesy no more the Maker's coming, Say not his onward footsteps thou canst hear In the dim void, like to the awful humming Of the great wings of some new-lighted sphere! 80 Oh, prophesy no more, but be the Poet! This longing was but granted unto thee That, when all beauty thou couldst feel and know it, That beauty in its highest thou shouldst be. O thou who moanest tost with sealike longings, Who dimly hearest voices call on thee, Whose soul is overfilled with mighty throngings Of love, and fear, and glorious agony. Thou of the toil-strung hands and iron sinews And soul by Mother Earth with freedom fed, 90 In whom the hero-spirit yet continues, The old free nature is not chained or dead, Arouse! let thy soul break in music-thunder, Let loose the ocean that is in thee pent, Pour forth thy hope, thy fear, thy love, thy wonder, And tell the age what all its signs have meant. Where'er thy wildered crowd of brethren jostles, Where'er there lingers but a shadow of wrong, There still is need of martyrs and apostles, There still are texts for never-dying song: 100 From age to age man's still aspiring spirit Finds wider scope and sees with clearer eyes, And thou in larger measure dost inherit What made thy great forerunners free and wise. Sit thou enthroned where the Poet's mountain Above the thunder lifts its silent peak, And roll thy songs down like a gathering fountain, They all may drink and find the rest they seek. Sing! there shall silence grow in earth and heaven, A silence of deep awe and wondering; 110 For, listening gladly, bend the angels, even, To hear a mortal like an angel sing.
Among the toil-worn poor my soul is seeking For who shall bring the Maker's name to light, To be the voice of that almighty speaking Which every age demands to do it right. Proprieties our silken bards environ; He who would be the tongue of this wide land Must string his harp with chords of sturdy iron And strike it with a toil-imbrowned hand; 120 One who hath dwelt with Nature well attended, Who hath learnt wisdom from her mystic books, Whose soul with all her countless lives hath blended, So that all beauty awes us in his looks: Who not with body's waste his soul hath pampered, Who as the clear northwestern wind is free, Who walks with Form's observances unhampered, And follows the One Will obediently; Whose eyes, like windows on a breezy summit, Control a lovely prospect every way; 130 Who doth not sound God's sea with earthly plummet, And find a bottom still of worthless clay; Who heeds not how the lower gusts are working, Knowing that one sure wind blows on above, And sees, beneath the foulest faces lurking, One God-built shrine of reverence and love; Who sees all stars that wheel their shining marches Around the centre fixed of Destiny, Where the encircling soul serene o'erarches The moving globe of being like a sky; 140 Who feels that God and Heaven's great deeps are nearer Him to whose heart his fellow-man is nigh, Who doth not hold his soul's own freedom dearer Than that of all his brethren, low or high; Who to the Right can feel himself the truer For being gently patient with the wrong, Who sees a brother in the evildoer, And finds in Love the heart's-blood of his song;— This, this is he for whom the world is waiting To sing the beatings of its mighty heart, 150 Too long hath it been patient with the grating Of scrannel-pipes, and heard it misnamed Art. To him the smiling soul of man shall listen, Laying awhile its crown of thorns aside, And once again in every eye shall glisten The glory of a nature satisfied. His verse shall have a great commanding motion, Heaving and swelling with a melody Learnt of the sky, the river, and the ocean, And all the pure, majestic things that be. 160 Awake, then, thou! we pine for thy great presence To make us feel the soul once more sublime, We are of far too infinite an essence To rest contented with the lies of Time. Speak out! and lo! a hush of deepest wonder Shall sink o'er all this many-voiced scene, As when a sudden burst of rattling thunder Shatters the blueness of a sky serene.
Where is the true man's fatherland? Is it where he by chance is born? Doth not the yearning spirit scorn In such scant borders to be spanned? Oh yes! his fatherland must be As the blue heaven wide and free!
Is it alone where freedom is, Where God is God and man is man? Doth he not claim a broader span For the soul's love of home than this? Oh yes! his fatherland must be As the blue heaven wide and free!
Where'er a human heart doth wear Joy's myrtle-wreath or sorrow's gyves, Where'er a human spirit strives After a life more true and fair, There is the true man's birthplace grand, His is a world-wide fatherland!
Where'er a single slave doth pine, Where'er one man may help another,— Thank God for such a birthright, brother,— That spot of earth is thine and mine! There is the true man's birthplace grand, His is a world-wide fatherland!
The night is dark, the stinging sleet, Swept by the bitter gusts of air, Drives whistling down the lonely street, And glazes on the pavement bare.
The street-lamps flare and struggle dim Through the gray sleet-clouds as they pass, Or, governed by a boisterous whim, Drop down and rustle on the glass.
One poor, heart-broken, outcast girl Faces the east-wind's searching flaws, And, as about her heart they whirl, Her tattered cloak more tightly draws.
The flat brick walls look cold and bleak, Her bare feet to the sidewalk freeze; Yet dares she not a shelter seek, Though faint with hunger and disease.
The sharp storm cuts her forehead bare, And, piercing through her garments thin, Beats on her shrunken breast, and there Makes colder the cold heart within.
She lingers where a ruddy glow Streams outward through an open shutter, Adding more bitterness to woe, More loneliness to desertion utter.
One half the cold she had not felt Until she saw this gush of light Spread warmly forth, and seem to melt Its slow way through the deadening night.
She hears a woman's voice within, Singing sweet words her childhood knew, And years of misery and sin Furl off, and leave her heaven blue.
Her freezing heart, like one who sinks Outwearied in the drifting snow. Drowses to deadly sleep and thinks No longer of its hopeless woe;
Old fields, and clear blue summer days, Old meadows, green with grass, and trees That shimmer through the trembling haze And whiten in the western breeze.
Old faces, all the friendly past Rises within her heart again, And sunshine from her childhood cast Makes summer of the icy rain.
Enhaloed by a mild, warm glow, From man's humanity apart, She hears old footsteps wandering slow Through the lone chambers of the heart.
Outside the porch before the door, Her cheek upon the cold, hard stone, She lies, no longer foul and poor, No longer dreary and alone.
Next morning something heavily Against the opening door did weigh, And there, from sin and sorrow free, A woman on the threshold lay.
A smile upon the wan lips told That she had found a calm release, And that, from out the want and cold, The song had borne her soul in peace.
For, whom the heart of man shuts out, Sometimes the heart of God takes in, And fences them all round about With silence mid the world's loud din;
And one of his great charities Is Music, and it doth not scorn To close the lids upon the eyes Of the polluted and forlorn;
Far was she from her childhood's home, Farther in guilt had wandered thence, Yet thither it had bid her come To die in maiden innocence.
The moon shines white and silent On the mist, which, like a tide Of some enchanted ocean, O'er the wide marsh doth glide, Spreading its ghost-like billows Silently far and wide.
A vague and starry magic Makes all things mysteries, And lures the earth's dumb spirit Up to the longing skies: I seem to hear dim whispers, And tremulous replies.
The fireflies o'er the meadow In pulses come and go; The elm-trees' heavy shadow Weighs on the grass below; And faintly from the distance The dreaming cock doth crow.
All things look strange and mystic, The very bushes swell And take wild shapes and motions, As if beneath a spell; They seem not the same lilacs From childhood known so well.
The snow of deepest silence O'er everything doth fall, So beautiful and quiet, And yet so like a pall; As if all life were ended, And rest were come to all.
O wild and wondrous midnight, There is a might in thee To make the charmed body Almost like spirit be, And give it some faint glimpses Of immortality!
God! do not let my loved one die, But rather wait until the time That I am grown in purity Enough to enter thy pure clime, Then take me, I will gladly go, So that my love remain below!
Oh, let her stay! She is by birth What I through death must learn to be; We need her more on our poor earth Than thou canst need in heaven with thee: She hath her wings already, I Must burst this earth-shell ere I fly.
Then, God, take me! We shall be near, More near than ever, each to each: Her angel ears will find more clear My heavenly than my earthly speech; And still, as I draw nigh to thee, Her soul and mine shall closer be.
The rich man's son inherits lands, And piles of brick and stone, and gold, And he inherits soft white hands, And tender flesh that fears the cold, Nor dares to wear a garment old; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.
The rich man's son inherits cares; The bank may break, the factory burn, A breath may burst his bubble shares, And soft white hands could hardly earn A living that would serve his turn; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.
The rich man's son inherits wants, His stomach craves for dainty fare; With sated heart, he hears the pants Of toiling hinds with brown arms bare, And wearies in his easy-chair; A heritage, it seems to me, One scarce would wish to hold in fee.
What doth the poor man's son inherit? Stout muscles and a sinewy heart, A hardy frame, a hardier spirit; King of two hands, he does his part In every useful toil and art; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.
What doth the poor man's son inherit? Wishes o'erjoyed with humble things, A rank adjudged by toil-won merit, Content that from employment springs, A heart that in his labor sings; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.
What doth the poor man's son inherit? A patience learned of being poor, Courage, if sorrow come, to bear it, A fellow-feeling that is sure To make the outcast bless his door; A heritage, it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in fee.
O rich man's son! there is a toil That with all others level stands: Large charity doth never soil, But only whiten, soft white hands: This is the best crop from thy lands, A heritage, it seems to me, Worth being rich to hold in fee.
O poor man's son! scorn not thy state; There is worse weariness than thine, In merely being rich and great; Toil only gives the soul to shine, And make rest fragrant and benign; A heritage, it seems to me, Worth being poor to hold in fee.
Both, heirs to some six feet of sod, Are equal in the earth at last; Both, children of the same dear God, Prove title to your heirship vast By record of a well-filled past; A heritage, it seems to me, Well worth a life to hold in fee.
THE ROSE: A BALLAD
In his tower sat the poet Gazing on the roaring sea, 'Take this rose,' he sighed, 'and throw it Where there's none that loveth me. On the rock the billow bursteth And sinks back into the seas, But in vain my spirit thirsteth So to burst and be at ease. Take, O sea! the tender blossom That hath lain against my breast; On thy black and angry bosom It will find a surer rest. Life is vain, and love is hollow, Ugly death stands there behind, Hate and scorn and hunger follow Him that toileth for his kind.' Forth into the night he hurled it, And with bitter smile did mark How the surly tempest whirled it Swift into the hungry dark. Foam and spray drive back to leeward, And the gale, with dreary moan, Drifts the helpless blossom seaward, Through the breakers all alone.
Stands a maiden, on the morrow, Musing by the wave-beat strand, Half in hope and half in sorrow, Tracing words upon the sand: 'Shall I ever then behold him Who hath been my life so long, Ever to this sick heart told him, Be the spirit of his song? Touch not, sea, the blessed letters I have traced upon thy shore, Spare his name whose spirit fetters Mine with love forevermore!' Swells the tide and overflows it, But, with omen pure and meet, Brings a little rose, and throws it Humbly at the maiden's feet. Full of bliss she takes the token, And, upon her snowy breast, Soothes the ruffled petals broken With the ocean's fierce unrest. 'Love is thine, O heart! and surely Peace shall also be thine own, For the heart that trusteth purely Never long can pine alone.'
In his tower sits the poet, Blisses new and strange to him Fill his heart and overflow it With a wonder sweet and dim. Up the beach the ocean slideth With a whisper of delight, And the moon in silence glideth Through the peaceful blue of night. Rippling o'er the poet's shoulder Flows a maiden's golden hair, Maiden lips, with love grown bolder, Kiss his moon-lit forehead bare. 'Life is joy, and love is power, Death all fetters doth unbind, Strength and wisdom only flower When we toil for all our kind. Hope is truth,—the future giveth More than present takes away, And the soul forever liveth Nearer God from day to day.' Not a word the maiden uttered, Fullest hearts are slow to speak, But a withered rose-leaf fluttered Down upon the poet's cheek.
Violet! sweet violet! Thine eyes are full of tears; Are they wet Even yet With the thought of other years? Or with gladness are they full, For the night so beautiful, And longing for those far-off spheres?
Loved one of my youth thou wast, Of my merry youth, And I see, Tearfully, All the fair and sunny past, All its openness and truth, Ever fresh and green in thee As the moss is in the sea.
Thy little heart, that hath with love Grown colored like the sky above, On which thou lookest ever,— Can it know All the woe Of hope for what returneth never, All the sorrow and the longing To these hearts of ours belonging?
Out on it! no foolish pining For the sky Dims thine eye, Or for the stars so calmly shining; Like thee let this soul of mine Take hue from that wherefor I long, Self-stayed and high, serene and strong, Not satisfied with hoping—but divine.
Violet! dear violet! Thy blue eyes are only wet With joy and love of Him who sent thee, And for the fulfilling sense Of that glad obedience Which made thee all that Nature meant thee!
Thou look'dst on me all yesternight, Thine eyes were blue, thy hair was bright As when we murmured our troth-plight Beneath the thick stars, Rosaline! Thy hair was braided on thy head, As on the day we two were wed, Mine eyes scarce knew if thou wert dead, But my shrunk heart knew, Rosaline!
The death-watch ticked behind the wall, The blackness rustled like a pall, 10 The moaning wind did rise and fall Among the bleak pines, Rosaline! My heart beat thickly in mine ears: The lids may shut out fleshly fears, But still the spirit sees and hears. Its eyes are lidless, Rosaline!
A wildness rushing suddenly, A knowing some ill shape is nigh, A wish for death, a fear to die, Is not this vengeance, Rosaline? 20 A loneliness that is not lone, A love quite withered up and gone, A strong soul ousted from its throne, What wouldst thou further, Rosaline?
'Tis drear such moonless nights as these, Strange sounds are out upon the breeze, And the leaves shiver in the trees, And then thou comest, Rosaline! I seem to hear the mourners go, With long black garments trailing slow, 30 And plumes anodding to and fro, As once I heard them, Rosaline!
Thy shroud is all of snowy white, And, in the middle of the night, Thou standest moveless and upright, Gazing upon me, Rosaline! There is no sorrow in thine eyes, But evermore that meek surprise,— O God! thy gentle spirit tries To deem me guiltless, Rosaline! 40
Above thy grave the robin sings, And swarms of bright and happy things Flit all about with sunlit wings, But I am cheerless, Rosaline! The violets in the hillock toss, The gravestone is o'ergrown with moss; For nature feels not any loss, But I am cheerless, Rosaline!
I did not know when thou wast dead; A blackbird whistling overhead 50 Thrilled through my brain; I would have fled, But dared not leave thee, Rosaline! The sun rolled down, and very soon, Like a great fire, the awful moon Rose, stained with blood, and then a swoon Crept chilly o'er me, Rosaline!
The stars came out; and, one by one, Each angel from his silver throne Looked down and saw what I had done: I dared not hide me, Rosaline! 60 I crouched; I feared thy corpse would cry Against me to God's silent sky, I thought I saw the blue lips try To utter something, Rosaline!
I waited with a maddened grin To hear that voice all icy thin Slide forth and tell my deadly sin To hell and heaven, Rosaline! But no voice came, and then it seemed, That, if the very corpse had screamed, 70 The sound like sunshine glad had streamed Through that dark stillness, Rosaline!
And then, amid the silent night, I screamed with horrible delight, And in my brain an awful light Did seem to crackle, Rosaline! It is my curse! sweet memories fall From me like snow, and only all Of that one night, like cold worms, crawl My doomed heart over, Rosaline! 80
Why wilt thou haunt me with thine eyes, Wherein such blessed memories, Such pitying forgiveness lies, Than hate more bitter, Rosaline! Woe's me! I know that love so high As thine, true soul, could never die, And with mean clay in churchyard lie,— Would it might be so, Rosaline!
Ay, pale and silent maiden, Cold as thou liest there, Thine was the sunniest nature That ever drew the air; The wildest and most wayward, And yet so gently kind, Thou seemedst but to body A breath of summer wind.
Into the eternal shadow That girds our life around, Into the infinite silence Wherewith Death's shore is bound, Thou hast gone forth, beloved! And I were mean to weep, That thou hast left Life's shallows And dost possess the Deep.
Thou liest low and silent, Thy heart is cold and still. Thine eyes are shut forever, And Death hath had his will; He loved and would have taken; I loved and would have kept. We strove,—and he was stronger, And I have never wept.
Let him possess thy body, Thy soul is still with me, More sunny and more gladsome Than it was wont to be: Thy body was a fetter That bound me to the flesh, Thank God that it is broken, And now I live afresh!
Now I can see thee clearly; The dusky cloud of clay, That hid thy starry spirit, Is rent and blown away: To earth I give thy body, Thy spirit to the sky, I saw its bright wings growing, And knew that thou must fly.
Now I can love thee truly, For nothing comes between The senses and the spirit, The seen and the unseen; Lifts the eternal shadow, The silence bursts apart, And the soul's boundless future Is present in my heart.
Worn and footsore was the Prophet, When he gained the holy hill; 'God has left the earth,' he murmured, 'Here his presence lingers still.
'God of all the olden prophets, Wilt thou speak with men no more? Have I not as truly served thee As thy chosen ones of yore?
'Hear me, guider of my fathers, Lo! a humble heart is mine; By thy mercy I beseech thee Grant thy servant but a sign!'
Bowing then his head, he listened For an answer to his prayer; No loud burst of thunder followed, Not a murmur stirred the air:
But the tuft of moss before him Opened while he waited yet, And, from out the rock's hard bosom, Sprang a tender violet.
'God! I thank thee,' said the Prophet; 'Hard of heart and blind was I, Looking to the holy mountain For the gift of prophecy.
'Still thou speakest with thy children Freely as in eld sublime; Humbleness, and love, and patience, Still give empire over time.
'Had I trusted in my nature, And had faith in lowly things, Thou thyself wouldst then have sought me. And set free my spirit's wings.
'But I looked for signs and wonders, That o'er men should give me sway; Thirsting to be more than mortal, I was even less than clay.
'Ere I entered on my journey, As I girt my loins to start, Ran to me my little daughter, The beloved of my heart;
'In her hand she held a flower, Like to this as like may be, Which, beside my very threshold, She had plucked and brought to me.'
O moonlight deep and tender, A year and more agone, Your mist of golden splendor Round my betrothal shone!
O elm-leaves dark and dewy, The very same ye seem, The low wind trembles through ye, Ye murmur in my dream!
O river, dim with distance, Flow thus forever by, A part of my existence Within your heart doth lie!
O stars, ye saw our meeting, Two beings and one soul, Two hearts so madly beating To mingle and be whole!
O happy night, deliver Her kisses back to me, Or keep them all, and give her A blisslul dream of me!
Through suffering and sorrow thou hast passed To show us what a woman true may be: They have not taken sympathy from thee, Nor made thee any other than thou wast, Save as some tree, which, in a sudden blast, Sheddeth those blossoms, that are weakly grown, Upon the air, but keepeth every one Whose strength gives warrant of good fruit at last: So thou hast shed some blooms of gayety, But never one of steadfast cheerfulness; Nor hath thy knowledge of adversity Robbed thee of any faith in happiness, But rather cleared thine inner eyes to see How many simple ways there are to bless.
What were I, Love, if I were stripped of thee, If thine eyes shut me out whereby I live. Thou, who unto my calmer soul dost give Knowledge, and Truth, and holy Mystery, Wherein Truth mainly lies for those who see Beyond the earthly and the fugitive, Who in the grandeur of the soul believe, And only in the Infinite are free? Without thee I were naked, bleak, and bare As yon dead cedar on the sea-cliff's brow; And Nature's teachings, which come to me now, Common and beautiful as light and air, Would be as fruitless as a stream which still Slips through the wheel of some old ruined mill.
I would not have this perfect love of ours Grow from a single root, a single stem, Bearing no goodly fruit, but only flowers That idly hide life's iron diadem: It should grow alway like that Eastern tree Whose limbs take root and spread forth constantly; That love for one, from which there doth not spring Wide love for all, is but a worthless thing. Not in another world, as poets prate, Dwell we apart above the tide of things, High floating o'er earth's clouds on faery wings; But our pure love doth ever elevate Into a holy bond of brotherhood All earthly things, making them pure and good.
'For this true nobleness I seek in vain, In woman and in man I find it not; I almost weary of my earthly lot, My life-springs are dried up with burning pain.' Thou find'st it not? I pray thee look again, Look inward through the depths of thine own soul. How is it with thee? Art thou sound and whole? Doth narrow search show thee no earthly stain? BE NOBLE! and the nobleness that lies In other men, sleeping, but never dead, Will rise in majesty to meet thine own; Then wilt thou see it gleam in many eyes, Then will pure light around thy path be shed, And thou wilt nevermore be sad and lone.
TO THE SPIRIT OF KEATS
Great soul, thou sittest with me in my room, Uplifting me with thy vast, quiet eyes, On whose full orbs, with kindly lustre, lies The twilight warmth of ruddy ember-gloom: Thy clear, strong tones will oft bring sudden bloom Of hope secure, to him who lonely cries, Wrestling with the young poet's agonies, Neglect and scorn, which seem a certain doom: Yes! the few words which, like great thunder-drops, Thy large heart down to earth shook doubtfully, Thrilled by the inward lightning of its might, Serene and pure, like gushing joy of light, Shall track the eternal chords of Destiny, After the moon-led pulse of ocean stops.
Great Truths are portions of the soul of man; Great souls are portions of Eternity; Each drop of blood that e'er through true heart ran With lofty message, ran for thee and me; For God's law, since the starry song began, Hath been, and still forevermore must be, That every deed which shall outlast Time's span Must spur the soul to be erect and free; Slave is no word of deathless lineage sprung; Too many noble souls have thought and died, Too many mighty poets lived and sung, And our good Saxon, from lips purified With martyr-fire, throughout the world hath rung Too long to have God's holy cause denied.
I ask not for those thoughts, that sudden leap From being's sea, like the isle-seeming Kraken, With whose great rise the ocean all is shaken And a heart-tremble quivers through the deep; Give me that growth which some perchance deem sleep, Wherewith the steadfast coral-stems uprise, Which, by the toil of gathering energies, Their upward way into clear sunshine keep, Until, by Heaven's sweetest influences, Slowly and slowly spreads a speck of green Into a pleasant island in the seas, Where, mid fall palms, the cane-roofed home is seen, And wearied men shall sit at sunset's hour, Hearing the leaves and loving God's dear power.
TO M.W., ON HER BIRTHDAY
Maiden, when such a soul as thine is born, The morning-stars their ancient music make, And, joyful, once again their song awake, Long silent now with melancholy scorn; And thou, not mindless of so blest a morn, By no least deed its harmony shalt break, But shalt to that high chime thy footsteps take, Through life's most darksome passes unforlorn; Therefore from thy pure faith thou shalt not fall, Therefore shalt thou be ever fair and free, And in thine every motion musical As summer air, majestic as the sea, A mystery to those who creep and crawl Through Time, and part it from Eternity.
My Love, I have no fear that thou shouldst die; Albeit I ask no fairer life than this, Whose numbering-clock is still thy gentle kiss, While Time and Peace with hands enlocked fly; Yet care I not where in Eternity We live and love, well knowing that there is No backward step for those who feel the bliss Of Faith as their most lofty yearnings high: Love hath so purified my being's core, Meseems I scarcely should be startled even, To find, some morn, that thou hadst gone before; Since, with thy love, this knowledge too was given, Which each calm day doth strengthen more and more, That they who love are but one step from Heaven.
I cannot think that thou shouldst pass away, Whose life to mine is an eternal law, A piece of nature that can have no flaw, A new and certain sunrise every day: But, if thou art to be another ray About the Sun of Life, and art to live Free from what part of thee was fugitive, The debt of Love I will more fully pay, Not downcast with the thought of thee so high, But rather raised to be a nobler man, And more divine in my humanity, As knowing that the waiting eyes which scan My life are lighted by a purer being, And ask high, calm-browed deeds, with it agreeing.
There never yet was flower fair in vain, Let classic poets rhyme it as they will; The seasons toil that it may blow again, And summer's heart doth feel its every ill; Nor is a true soul ever born for naught; Wherever any such hath lived and died, There hath been something for true freedom wrought, Some bulwark levelled on the evil side: Toil on, then, Greatness! thou art in the right, However narrow souls may call thee wrong; Be as thou wouldst be in thine own clear sight, And so thou shalt be in the world's erelong; For worldlings cannot, struggle as they may, From man's great soul one great thought hide away.
SUB PONDERE CRESCIT
The hope of Truth grows stronger, day by day; I hear the soul of Man around me waking, Like a great sea, its frozen fetters breaking, And flinging up to heaven its sunlit spray, Tossing huge continents in scornful play, And crushing them, with din of grinding thunder, That makes old emptinesses stare in wonder; The memory of a glory passed away Lingers in every heart, as, in the shell, Resounds the bygone freedom of the sea, And every hour new signs of promise tell, That the great soul shall once again be free, For high, and yet more high, the murmurs swell Of inward strife for truth and liberty.
Beloved, in the noisy city here, The thought of thee can make all turmoil cease; Around my spirit, folds thy spirit clear Its still, soft arms, and circles it with peace; There is no room for any doubt or fear In souls so overfilled with love's increase, There is no memory of the bygone year But growth in heart's and spirit's perfect ease: How hath our love, half nebulous at first, Rounded itself into a full-orbed sun! How have our lives and wills (as haply erst They were, ere this forgetfulness begun) Through all their earthly distances outburst, And melted, like two rays of light in one!
ON READING WORDSWORTH'S SONNETS IN DEFENCE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
As the broad ocean endlessly upheaveth, With the majestic beating of his heart, The mighty tides, whereof its rightful part Each sea-wide bay and little weed receiveth. So, through his soul who earnestly believeth, Life from the universal Heart doth flow, Whereby some conquest of the eternal Woe, By instinct of God's nature, he achieveth; A fuller pulse of this all-powerful beauty Into the poet's gulf-like heart doth tide, And he more keenly feels the glorious duty Of serving Truth, despised and crucified,— Happy, unknowing sect or creed, to rest, And feel God flow forever through his breast.
THE SAME CONTINUED
Once hardly in a cycle blossometh A flower-like soul ripe with the seeds of song, A spirit foreordained to cope with wrong, Whose divine thoughts are natural as breath, Who the old Darkness thickly scattereth With starry words, that shoot prevailing light Into the deeps, and wither, with the blight Of serene Truth, the coward heart of Death: Woe, if such spirit thwart its errand high, And mock with lies the longing soul of man! Yet one age longer must true Culture lie, Soothing her bitter fetters as she can, Until new messages of love out-start At the next beating of the infinite Heart.
THE SAME CONTINUED
The love of all things springs from love of one; Wider the soul's horizon hourly grows, And over it with fuller glory flows The sky-like spirit of God; a hope begun In doubt and darkness 'neath a fairer sun Cometh to fruitage, if it be of Truth: And to the law of meekness, faith, and ruth, By inward sympathy, shall all be won: This thou shouldst know, who, from the painted feature Of shifting Fashion, couldst thy brethren turn Unto the love of ever-youthful Nature, And of a beauty fadeless and eterne; And always 'tis the saddest sight to see An old man faithless in Humanity.
THE SAME CONTINUED
A poet cannot strive for despotism; His harp falls shattered; for it still must be The instinct of great spirits to be free, And the sworn foes of cunning barbarism: He who has deepest searched the wide abysm Of that life-giving Soul which men call fate, Knows that to put more faith in lies and hate Than truth and love is the true atheism: Upward the soul forever turns her eyes: The next hour always shames the hour before; One beauty, at its highest, prophesies That by whose side it shall seem mean and poor; No Godlike thing knows aught of less and less, But widens to the boundless Perfectness.
THE SAME CONTINUED
Therefore think not the Past is wise alone, For Yesterday knows nothing of the Best, And thou shalt love it only as the nest Whence glory-winged things to Heaven have flown: To the great Soul only are all things known; Present and future are to her as past, While she in glorious madness doth forecast That perfect bud, which seems a flower full-blown To each new Prophet, and yet always opes Fuller and fuller with each day and hour, Heartening the soul with odor of fresh hopes, And longings high, and gushings of wide power, Yet never is or shall be fully blown Save in the forethought of the Eternal One.
THE SAME CONCLUDED
Far 'yond this narrow parapet of Time, With eyes uplift, the poet's soul should look Into the Endless Promise, nor should brook One prying doubt to shake his faith sublime; To him the earth is ever in her prime And dewiness of morning; he can see Good lying hid, from all eternity, Within the teeming womb of sin and crime; His soul should not be cramped by any bar, His nobleness should be so Godlike high, That his least deed is perfect as a star, His common look majestic as the sky, And all o'erflooded with a light from far, Undimmed by clouds of weak mortality.
Mary, since first I knew thee, to this hour, My love hath deepened, with my wiser sense Of what in Woman is to reverence; Thy clear heart, fresh as e'er was forest-flower, Still opens more to me its beauteous dower;— But let praise hush,—Love asks no evidence To prove itself well-placed: we know not whence It gleans the straws that thatch its humble bower: We can but say we found it in the heart, Spring of all sweetest thoughts, arch foe of blame, Sower of flowers in the dusty mart, Pure vestal of the poet's holy flame,— This is enough, and we have done our part If we but keep it spotless as it came.
Our love is not a fading, earthly flower: Its winged seed dropped down from Paradise, And, nursed by day and night, by sun and shower, Doth momently to fresher beauty rise: To us the leafless autumn is not bare, Nor winter's rattling boughs lack lusty green. Our summer hearts make summer's fulness, where No leaf, or bud, or blossom may be seen: For nature's life in love's deep life doth lie, Love,—whose forgetfulness is beauty's death, Whose mystic key these cells of Thou and I Into the infinite freedom openeth, And makes the body's dark and narrow grate The wide-flung leaves of Heaven's own palace-gate.
These rugged, wintry days I scarce could bear, Did I not know that, in the early spring, When wild March winds upon their errands sing, Thou wouldst return, bursting on this still air, Like those same winds, when, startled from their lair, They hunt up violets, and free swift brooks From icy cares, even as thy clear looks Bid my heart bloom, and sing, and break all care; When drops with welcome rain the April day, My flowers shall find their April in thine eyes, Save there the rain in dreamy clouds doth stay, As loath to fall out of those happy skies; Yet sure, my love, thou art most like to May, That comes with steady sun when April dies.
He stood upon the world's broad threshold; wide The din of tattle and of slaughter rose; He saw God stand upon the weaker side, That sank in seeming loss before its foes: Many there were who made great haste and sold Unto the cunning enemy their swords, He scorned their gifts of fame, and power, and gold, And, underneath their soft and flowery words, Heard the cold serpent hiss; therefore he went And humbly joined him to the weaker part, Fanatic named, and fool, yet well content So he could he the nearer to God's heart, And feel its solemn pulses sending blood Through all the widespread veins of endless good.
They pass me by like shadows, crowds on crowds, Dim ghosts of men, that hover to and fro, Hugging their bodies round them like thin shrouds Wherein their souls were buried long ago: They trampled on their youth, and faith, and love, They cast their hope of human kind away, With Heaven's clear messages they madly strove, And conquered,—and their spirits turned to clay: Lo! how they wander round the world, their grave, Whose ever-gaping maw by such is fed, Gibbering at living men, and idly rave, 'We only truly live, but ye are dead.' Alas! poor fools, the anointed eye may trace A dead soul's epitaph in every face!
I grieve not that ripe Knowledge takes away The charm that Nature to my childhood wore, For, with that insight, cometh, day by day, A greater bliss than wonder was before; The real doth not clip the poet's wings,— To win the secret of a weed's plain heart Reveals some clue to spiritual things, And stumbling guess becomes firm-footed art: Flowers are not flowers unto the poet's eyes, Their beauty thrills him by an inward sense; He knows that outward seemings are but lies, Or, at the most, but earthly shadows, whence The soul that looks within for truth may guess The presence of some wondrous heavenliness.
TO J.R. GIDDINGS
Giddings, far rougher names than thine have grown Smoother than honey on the lips of men; And thou shalt aye be honorably known, As one who bravely used his tongue and pen. As best befits a freeman,—even for those To whom our Law's unblushing front denies A right to plead against the lifelong woes Which are the Negro's glimpse of Freedom's skies: Fear nothing, and hope all things, as the Right Alone may do securely; every hour The thrones of Ignorance and ancient Night Lose somewhat of their long-usurped power, And Freedom's lightest word can make them shiver With a base dread that clings to them forever.
I thought our love at full, but I did err; Joy's wreath drooped o'er mine eyes; I could not see That sorrow in our happy world must be Love's deepest spokesman and interpreter; But, as a mother feels her child first stir Under her heart, so felt I instantly Deep in my soul another bond to thee Thrill with that life we saw depart from her; O mother of our angel child! twice dear! Death knits as well as parts, and still, I wis, Her tender radiance shall infold us here, Even as the light, borne up by inward bliss, Threads the void glooms of space without a fear, To print on farthest stars her pitying kiss.
Whether my heart hath wiser grown or not, In these three years, since I to thee inscribed, Mine own betrothed, the firstlings of my muse.— Poor windfalls of unripe experience, Young buds plucked hastily by childish hands Not patient to await more full-blown flowers,— At least it hath seen more of life and men, And pondered more, and grown a shade more sad; Yet with no loss of hope or settled trust In the benignness of that Providence 10 Which shapes from out our elements awry The grace and order that we wonder at, The mystic harmony of right and wrong, Both working out his wisdom and our good: A trust, Beloved, chiefly learned of thee, Who hast that gift of patient tenderness, The instinctive wisdom of a woman's heart.
They tell us that our land was made for song, With its huge rivers and sky-piercing peaks, Its sealike lakes and mighty cataracts, 20 Its forests vast and hoar, and prairies wide, And mounds that tell of wondrous tribes extinct. But Poesy springs not from rocks and woods; Her womb and cradle are the human heart, And she can find a nobler theme for song In the most loathsome man that blasts the sight Than in the broad expanse of sea and shore Between the frozen deserts of the poles. All nations have their message from on high, Each the messiah of some central thought, 30 For the fulfilment and delight of Man: One has to teach that labor is divine; Another Freedom; and another Mind; And all, that God is open-eyed and just, The happy centre and calm heart of all.
Are, then, our woods, our mountains, and our streams, Needful to teach our poets how to sing? O maiden rare, far other thoughts were ours, When we have sat by ocean's foaming marge, And watched the waves leap roaring on the rocks, 40 Than young Leander and his Hero had, Gazing from Sestos to the other shore. The moon looks down and ocean worships her, Stars rise and set, and seasons come and go Even as they did in Homer's elder time, But we behold them not with Grecian eyes: Then they were types of beauty and of strength, But now of freedom, unconflned and pure, Subject alone to Order's higher law. What cares the Russian serf or Southern slave 50 Though we should speak as man spake never yet Of gleaming Hudson's broad magnificence, Or green Niagara's never-ending roar? Our country hath a gospel of her own To preach and practise before all the world,— The freedom and divinity of man, The glorious claims of human brotherhood,— Which to pay nobly, as a freeman should, Gains the sole wealth that will not fly away,— And the soul's fealty to none but God. 60 These are realities, which make the shows Of outward Nature, be they ne'er so grand, Seem small, and worthless, and contemptible. These are the mountain-summits for our bards, Which stretch far upward into heaven itself, And give such widespread and exulting view Of hope, and faith, and onward destiny, That shrunk Parnassus to a molehill dwindles. Our new Atlantis, like a morning-star, Silvers the mirk face of slow-yielding Night, 70 The herald of a fuller truth than yet Hath gleamed upon the upraised face of Man Since the earth glittered in her stainless prime,— Of a more glorious sunrise than of old Drew wondrous melodies from Memnon huge, Yea, draws them still, though now he sit waist-deep In the ingulfing flood of whirling sand, And look across the wastes of endless gray, Sole wreck, where once his hundred-gated Thebes Pained with her mighty hum the calm, blue heaven: 80 Shall the dull stone pay grateful orisons, And we till noonday bar the splendor out, Lest it reproach and chide our sluggard hearts, Warm-nestled in the down of Prejudice, And be content, though clad with angel-wings, Close-clipped, to hop about from perch to perch, In paltry cages of dead men's dead thoughts? Oh, rather, like the skylark, soar and sing, And let our gushing songs befit the dawn And sunrise, and the yet unshaken dew 90 Brimming the chalice of each full-blown hope, Whose blithe front turns to greet the growing day! Never had poets such high call before, Never can poets hope for higher one, And, if they be but faithful to their trust, Earth will remember them with love and joy, And oh, far better, God will not forget. For he who settles Freedom's principles Writes the death-warrant of all tyranny; Who speaks the truth stabs Falsehood to the heart, 100 And his mere word makes despots tremble more Than ever Brutus with his dagger could. Wait for no hints from waterfalls or woods, Nor dream that tales of red men, brute and fierce, Repay the finding of this Western World, Or needed half the globe to give them birth: Spirit supreme of Freedom! not for this Did great Columbus tame his eagle soul To jostle with the daws that perch in courts; Not for this, friendless, on an unknown sea, 110 Coping with mad waves and more mutinous spirits, Battled he with the dreadful ache at heart Which tempts, with devilish subtleties of doubt, The hermit, of that loneliest solitude, The silent desert of a great New Thought; Though loud Niagara were to-day struck dumb, Yet would this cataract of boiling life Rush plunging on and on to endless deeps, And utter thunder till the world shall cease,— A thunder worthy of the poet's song, 120 And which alone can fill it with true life. The high evangel to our country granted Could make apostles, yea, with tongues of fire, Of hearts half-darkened back again to clay! 'Tis the soul only that is national, And he who pays true loyalty to that Alone can claim the wreath of patriotism.
Beloved! if I wander far and oft From that which I believe, and feel, and know, Thou wilt forgive, not with a sorrowing heart, 130 But with a strengthened hope of better things; Knowing that I, though often blind and false To those I love, and oh, more false than all Unto myself, have been most true to thee, And that whoso in one thing hath been true Can be as true in all. Therefore thy hope May yet not prove unfruitful, and thy love Meet, day by day, with less unworthy thanks, Whether, as now, we journey hand in hand, Or, parted in the body, yet are one 140 In spirit and the love of holy things.
A LEGEND OF BRITTANY
Fair as a summer dream was Margaret, Such dream as in a poet's soul might start, Musing of old loves while the moon doth set: Her hair was not more sunny than her heart, Though like a natural golden coronet It circled her dear head with careless art, Mocking the sunshine, that would fain have lent To its frank grace a richer ornament.
His loved one's eyes could poet ever speak, So kind, so dewy, and so deep were hers,— 10 But, while he strives, the choicest phrase, too weak, Their glad reflection in his spirit blurs; As one may see a dream dissolve and break Out of his grasp when he to tell it stirs, Like that sad Dryad doomed no more to bless The mortal who revealed her loveliness.
She dwelt forever in a region bright, Peopled with living fancies of her own, Where naught could come but visions of delight, Far, far aloof from earth's eternal moan: 20 A summer cloud thrilled through with rosy light, Floating beneath the blue sky all alone, Her spirit wandered by itself, and won A golden edge from some unsetting sun.
The heart grows richer that its lot is poor, God blesses want with larger sympathies, Love enters gladliest at the humble door, And makes the cot a palace with his eyes; So Margaret's heart a softer beauty wore, And grew in gentleness and patience wise, 30 For she was but a simple herdsman's child, A lily chance-sown in the rugged wild.
There was no beauty of the wood or field But she its fragrant bosom-secret knew, Nor any but to her would freely yield Some grace that in her soul took root and grew; Nature to her shone as but now revealed, All rosy-fresh with innocent morning dew, And looked into her heart with dim, sweet eyes That left it full of sylvan memories. 40
Oh, what a face was hers to brighten light, And give back sunshine with an added glow, To wile each moment with a fresh delight, And part of memory's best contentment grow! Oh, how her voice, as with an inmate's right, Into the strangest heart would welcome go, And make it sweet, and ready to become Of white and gracious thoughts the chosen home!
None looked upon her but he straightway thought Of all the greenest depths of country cheer, 50 And into each one's heart was freshly brought What was to him the sweetest time of year, So was her every look and motion fraught With out-of-door delights and forest lere; Not the first violet on a woodland lea Seemed a more visible gift of Spring than she.
Is love learned only out of poets' books? Is there not somewhat in the dropping flood, And in the nunneries of silent nooks, And in the murmured longing of the wood, 60 That could make Margaret dream of lovelorn looks, And stir a thrilling mystery in her blood More trembly secret than Aurora's tear Shed in the bosom of an eglatere?