The Little Book of Modern Verse ed. Jessie B. Rittenhouse
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The Little Book of Modern Verse A Selection from the work of contemporaneous American poets
Edited by Jessie B. Rittenhouse [Selections made in 1913.]
"The Little Book of Modern Verse", as its name implies, is not a formal anthology. The pageant of American poetry has been so often presented that no necessity exists for another exhaustive review of the art. Nearly all anthologies, however, stop short of the present group of poets, or represent them so inadequately that only those in close touch with the trend of American literature know what the poet of to-day is contributing to it.
It is strictly, then, as a reflection of our own period, to show what is being done by the successors of our earlier poets, what new interpretation they are giving to life, what new beauty they have apprehended, what new art they have evolved, that this little book has taken form. A few of the poets included have been writing for a quarter of a century, and were, therefore, among the immediate successors of the New England group, but many have done their work within the past decade and the volume as a whole represents the twentieth-century spirit.
From the scheme of the book, that of a small, intimate collection, representative rather than exhaustive, it has been impossible to include all of the poets who would naturally be included in a more ambitious anthology. In certain instances, also, matters of copyright have deterred me from including those whom I had originally intended to represent, but with isolated exceptions the little book covers the work of our later poets and gives a hint of what they are doing.
I have attempted, as far as possible, to unify the collection by arranging the poems so that each should set the keynote to the next, or at least bear some relation to it in mood or theme. While it is impossible, with so varied a mass of material, that such a sequence should be exact, and in one or two instances the arrangement has been disturbed by the late addition or elimination of poems, the idea has been to differentiate the little volume from the typical anthology by giving it a unity impossible to a larger collection.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse.
Across the Fields to Anne. [Richard Burton] After a Dolmetsch Concert. [Arthur Upson] Agamede's Song. [Arthur Upson] As I came down from Lebanon. [Clinton Scollard] As in the Midst of Battle there is Room. [George Santayana] The Ashes in the Sea. [George Sterling] At Gibraltar. [George Edward Woodberry] At the End of the Day. [Richard Hovey] The Automobile. [Percy MacKaye] Azrael. [Robert Gilbert Welsh]
Bacchus. [Frank Dempster Sherman] Bag-Pipes at Sea. [Clinton Scollard] Ballade of my Lady's Beauty. [Joyce Kilmer] Be still. The Hanging Gardens were a dream. [Trumbull Stickney] Black Sheep. [Richard Burton] The Black Vulture. [George Sterling] Da Boy from Rome. [Thomas Augustine Daly] The Buried City. [George Sylvester Viereck]
Calverly's. [Edwin Arlington Robinson] The Candle and the Flame. [George Sylvester Viereck] Candlemas. [Alice Brown] A Caravan from China comes. [Richard Le Gallienne] Chavez. [Mildred McNeal Sweeney] The Cloud. [Josephine Preston Peabody] Comrades. [Richard Hovey] Comrades. [George Edward Woodberry]
The Daguerreotype. [William Vaughn Moody] Departure. [Hermann Hagedorn] The Dreamer. [Nicholas Vachel Lindsay] The Dust Dethroned. [George Sterling]
The Eagle that is forgotten. [Nicholas Vachel Lindsay] Euchenor Chorus. [Arthur Upson] Evensong. [Ridgely Torrence] Ex Libris. [Arthur Upson] Exordium. [George Cabot Lodge]
A Faun in Wall Street. [John Myers O'Hara] Fiat Lux. [Lloyd Mifflin] The Flight. [Lloyd Mifflin] Four Winds. [Sara Teasdale] "Frost To-Night". [Edith M. Thomas] The Frozen Grail. [Elsa Barker] The Fugitives. [Florence Wilkinson]
Gloucester Moors. [William Vaughn Moody] Golden Pulse. [John Myers O'Hara] "Grandmither, think not I forget". [Willa Sibert Cather] Grey Rocks, and Greyer Sea. [Charles G. D. Roberts] Grieve not, Ladies. [Anna Hempstead Branch]
The Happiest Heart. [John Vance Cheney] Harps hung up in Babylon. [Arthur Colton] He whom a Dream hath possessed. [Shaemas O Sheel] The Heart's Country. [Florence Wilkinson] Here is the Place where Loveliness keeps House. [Madison Cawein] Hora Christi. [Alice Brown] The House and the Road. [Josephine Preston Peabody]
I know not why. [Morris Rosenfeld] I shall not care. [Sara Teasdale] I would I might forget that I am I. [George Santayana] The Inverted Torch. [Edith M. Thomas] The Invisible Bride. [Edwin Markham] Irish Peasant Song. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
The Joy of the Hills. [Edwin Markham] Joyous-Gard. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.]
Kinchinjunga. [Cale Young Rice] The Kings. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
Da Leetla Boy. [Thomas Augustine Daly] The Lesser Children. [Ridgely Torrence] Let me no more a Mendicant. [Arthur Colton] Life. [John Hall Wheelock] Lincoln, the Man of the People. [Edwin Markham] Little Gray Songs from St. Joseph's. [Grace Fallow Norton] Live blindly. [Trumbull Stickney] Lord of my Heart's Elation. [Bliss Carman] Love came back at Fall o' Dew. [Lizette Woodworth Reese] Love knocks at the Door. [John Hall Wheelock] Love Triumphant. [Frederic Lawrence Knowles] Love's Ritual. [Charles Hanson Towne] Love's Springtide. [Frank Dempster Sherman]
The Man with the Hoe. [Edwin Markham] Martin. [Joyce Kilmer] De Massa ob de Sheepfol'. [Sarah Pratt McLean Greene] The Master. [Edwin Arlington Robinson] May is building her House. [Richard Le Gallienne] A Memorial Tablet. [Florence Wilkinson] Miniver Cheevy. [Edwin Arlington Robinson] Mockery. [Louis Untermeyer] Mother. [Theresa Helburn] The Mystic. [Witter Bynner] The Mystic. [Cale Young Rice]
The New Life. [Witter Bynner] The Nightingale unheard. [Josephine Preston Peabody] Night's Mardi Gras. [Edward J. Wheeler]
An Ode in Time of Hesitation. [William Vaughn Moody] Of Joan's Youth. [Louise Imogen Guiney] On a Fly-Leaf of Burns' Songs. [Frederic Lawrence Knowles] On a Subway Express. [Chester Firkins] On the Building of Springfield. [Nicholas Vachel Lindsay] Once. [Trumbull Stickney] Only of thee and me. [Louis Untermeyer] The Only Way. [Louis V. Ledoux] The Outer Gate. [Nora May French]
A Parting Guest. [James Whitcomb Riley] The Path to the Woods. [Madison Cawein] The Poet. [Mildred McNeal Sweeney] The Poet's Town. [John G. Neihardt] The Prince. [Josephine Dodge Daskam]
The Quiet Singer. [Charles Hanson Towne]
The Recessional. [Charles G. D. Roberts] Renascence. [Edna St. Vincent Millay] A Rhyme of Death's Inn. [Lizette Woodworth Reese] The Ride to the Lady. [Helen Gray Cone] The Rival. [James Whitcomb Riley] The Rosary. [Robert Cameron Rogers]
Sappho. [Sara Teasdale] Scum o' the Earth. [Robert Haven Schauffler] The Sea Gypsy. [Richard Hovey] The Sea-Lands. [Orrick Johns] The Secret. [George Edward Woodberry] Sentence. [Witter Bynner] Sic Vita. [William Stanley Braithwaite] Sometimes. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.] Somewhere. [John Vance Cheney] Song. "For me the jasmine buds unfold". [Florence Earle Coates] Song. "If love were but a little thing —". [Florence Earle Coates] Song. [Richard Le Gallienne] A Song in Spring. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.] Song is so old. [Hermann Hagedorn] The Song of the Unsuccessful. [Richard Burton] Songs for my Mother. [Anna Hempstead Branch] Souls. [Fannie Stearns Davis] Stains. [Theodosia Garrison]
Tears. [Lizette Woodworth Reese] The Tears of Harlequin. [Theodosia Garrison] That Day you came. [Lizette Woodworth Reese] There's Rosemary. [Olive Tilford Dargan] They went forth to Battle, but they always fell. [Shaemas O Sheel] The Thought of her. [Richard Hovey] To a New York Shop-Girl dressed for Sunday. [Anna Hempstead Branch] To William Sharp. [Clinton Scollard] To-Day. [Helen Gray Cone] Trumbull Stickney. [George Cabot Lodge] Tryste Noel. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
The Unconquered Air. [Florence Earle Coates] Under Arcturus. [Madison Cawein] The Unreturning. [Bliss Carman] Uriel. [Percy MacKaye]
A Vagabond Song. [Bliss Carman]
Wanderers. [George Sylvester Viereck] Water Fantasy. [Fannie Stearns Davis] We needs must be divided in the Tomb. [George Santayana] A West-Country Lover. [Alice Brown] When I am dead and Sister to the Dust. [Elsa Barker] When I have gone Weird Ways. [John G. Neihardt] When the Wind is low. [Cale Young Rice] Why. [Bliss Carman] The Wife from Fairyland. [Richard Le Gallienne] A Winter Ride. [Amy Lowell] Winter Sleep. [Edith M. Thomas] Witchery. [Frank Dempster Sherman]
Sincere thanks are due to my friend Thomas S. Jones, Jr., who, during my absence in Europe, has kindly taken charge of all details incident to putting "The Little Book of Modern Verse" through the press.
The Little Book of Modern Verse
Lord of my Heart's Elation. [Bliss Carman]
Lord of my heart's elation, Spirit of things unseen, Be thou my aspiration Consuming and serene!
Bear up, bear out, bear onward, This mortal soul alone, To selfhood or oblivion, Incredibly thine own, —
As the foamheads are loosened And blown along the sea, Or sink and merge forever In that which bids them be.
I, too, must climb in wonder, Uplift at thy command, — Be one with my frail fellows Beneath the wind's strong hand,
A fleet and shadowy column Of dust or mountain rain, To walk the earth a moment And be dissolved again.
Be thou my exaltation Or fortitude of mien, Lord of the world's elation, Thou breath of things unseen!
Gloucester Moors. [William Vaughn Moody]
A mile behind is Gloucester town Where the fishing fleets put in, A mile ahead the land dips down And the woods and farms begin. Here, where the moors stretch free In the high blue afternoon, Are the marching sun and talking sea, And the racing winds that wheel and flee On the flying heels of June.
Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue, Blue is the quaker-maid, The wild geranium holds its dew Long in the boulder's shade. Wax-red hangs the cup From the huckleberry boughs, In barberry bells the grey moths sup Or where the choke-cherry lifts high up Sweet bowls for their carouse.
Over the shelf of the sandy cove Beach-peas blossom late. By copse and cliff the swallows rove Each calling to his mate. Seaward the sea-gulls go, And the land-birds all are here; That green-gold flash was a vireo, And yonder flame where the marsh-flags grow Was a scarlet tanager.
This earth is not the steadfast place We landsmen build upon; From deep to deep she varies pace, And while she comes is gone. Beneath my feet I feel Her smooth bulk heave and dip; With velvet plunge and soft upreel She swings and steadies to her keel Like a gallant, gallant ship.
These summer clouds she sets for sail, The sun is her masthead light, She tows the moon like a pinnace frail Where her phosphor wake churns bright. Now hid, now looming clear, On the face of the dangerous blue The star fleets tack and wheel and veer, But on, but on does the old earth steer As if her port she knew.
God, dear God! Does she know her port, Though she goes so far about? Or blind astray, does she make her sport To brazen and chance it out? I watched when her captains passed: She were better captainless. Men in the cabin, before the mast, But some were reckless and some aghast, And some sat gorged at mess.
By her battened hatch I leaned and caught Sounds from the noisome hold, — Cursing and sighing of souls distraught And cries too sad to be told. Then I strove to go down and see; But they said, "Thou art not of us!" I turned to those on the deck with me And cried, "Give help!" But they said, "Let be: Our ship sails faster thus."
Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue, Blue is the quaker-maid, The alder-clump where the brook comes through Breeds cresses in its shade. To be out of the moiling street With its swelter and its sin! Who has given to me this sweet, And given my brother dust to eat? And when will his wage come in?
Scattering wide or blown in ranks, Yellow and white and brown, Boats and boats from the fishing banks Come home to Gloucester town. There is cash to purse and spend, There are wives to be embraced, Hearts to borrow and hearts to lend, And hearts to take and keep to the end, — O little sails, make haste!
But thou, vast outbound ship of souls, What harbor town for thee? What shapes, when thy arriving tolls, Shall crowd the banks to see? Shall all the happy shipmates then Stand singing brotherly? Or shall a haggard ruthless few Warp her over and bring her to, While the many broken souls of men Fester down in the slaver's pen, And nothing to say or do?
On a Subway Express. [Chester Firkins]
I, who have lost the stars, the sod, For chilling pave and cheerless light, Have made my meeting-place with God A new and nether Night —
Have found a fane where thunder fills Loud caverns, tremulous; — and these Atone me for my reverend hills And moonlit silences.
A figment in the crowded dark, Where men sit muted by the roar, I ride upon the whirring Spark Beneath the city's floor.
In this dim firmament, the stars Whirl by in blazing files and tiers; Kin meteors graze our flying bars, Amid the spinning spheres.
Speed! speed! until the quivering rails Flash silver where the head-light gleams, As when on lakes the Moon impales The waves upon its beams.
Life throbs about me, yet I stand Outgazing on majestic Power; Death rides with me, on either hand, In my communion hour.
You that 'neath country skies can pray, Scoff not at me — the city clod; — My only respite of the Day Is this wild ride — with God.
The Automobile. [Percy MacKaye]
Fluid the world flowed under us: the hills Billow on billow of umbrageous green Heaved us, aghast, to fresh horizons, seen One rapturous instant, blind with flash of rills And silver-rising storms and dewy stills Of dripping boulders, till the dim ravine Drowned us again in leafage, whose serene Coverts grew loud with our tumultuous wills.
Then all of Nature's old amazement seemed Sudden to ask us: "Is this also Man? This plunging, volant, land-amphibian What Plato mused and Paracelsus dreamed? Reply!" And piercing us with ancient scan, The shrill, primeval hawk gazed down — and screamed.
The Black Vulture. [George Sterling]
Aloof upon the day's immeasured dome, He holds unshared the silence of the sky. Far down his bleak, relentless eyes descry The eagle's empire and the falcon's home — Far down, the galleons of sunset roam; His hazards on the sea of morning lie; Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam.
And least of all he holds the human swarm — Unwitting now that envious men prepare To make their dream and its fulfillment one, When, poised above the caldrons of the storm, Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare His roads between the thunder and the sun.
Chavez. [Mildred McNeal Sweeney]
So hath he fallen, the Endymion of the air, And so lies down in slumber lapped for aye. Diana, passing, found his youth too fair, His soul too fleet and willing to obey. She swung her golden moon before his eyes — Dreaming, he rose to follow — and ran — and was away.
His foot was winged as the mounting sun. Earth he disdained — the dusty ways of men Not yet had learned. His spirit longed to run With the bright clouds, his brothers, to answer when The airs were fleetest and could give him hand Into the starry fields beyond our plodding ken.
All wittingly that glorious way he chose, And loved the peril when it was most bright. He tried anew the long-forbidden snows And like an eagle topped the dropping height Of Nagenhorn, and still toward Italy Past peak and cliff pressed on, in glad, unerring flight.
Oh, when the bird lies low with golden wing Bruised past healing by some bitter chance, Still must its tireless spirit mount and sing Of meadows green with morning, of the dance On windy trees, the darting flight away, And of that last, most blue, triumphant downward glance.
So murmuring of the snow: "THE SNOW, AND MORE, O GOD, MORE SNOW!" on that last field he lay. Despair and wonder spent their passionate store In his great heart, through heaven gone astray, And early lost. Too far the golden moon Had swung upon that bright, that long, untraversed way.
Now to lie ended on the murmuring plain — Ah, this for his bold heart was not the loss, But that those windy fields he ne'er again Might try, nor fleet and shimmering mountains cross, Unfollowed, by a path none other knew: His bitter woe had here its deep and piteous cause.
Dear toils of youth unfinished! And songs unwritten, left By young and passionate hearts! O melodies Unheard, whereof we ever stand bereft! Clear-singing Schubert, boyish Keats — with these He roams henceforth, one with the starry band, Still paying to fairy call and far command His spirit heed, still winged with golden prophecies.
The Sea Gypsy. [Richard Hovey]
I am fevered with the sunset, I am fretful with the bay, For the wander-thirst is on me And my soul is in Cathay.
There's a schooner in the offing, With her topsails shot with fire, And my heart has gone aboard her For the Islands of Desire.
I must forth again to-morrow! With the sunset I must be Hull down on the trail of rapture In the wonder of the sea.
At Gibraltar. [George Edward Woodberry]
England, I stand on thy imperial ground, Not all a stranger; as thy bugles blow, I feel within my blood old battles flow — The blood whose ancient founts in thee are found Still surging dark against the Christian bound Wide Islam presses; well its peoples know Thy heights that watch them wandering below; I think how Lucknow heard their gathering sound. I turn, and meet the cruel, turbaned face. England, 't is sweet to be so much thy son! I feel the conqueror in my blood and race; Last night Trafalgar awed me, and to-day Gibraltar wakened; hark, thy evening gun Startles the desert over Africa!
Thou art the rock of empire, set mid-seas Between the East and West, that God has built; Advance thy Roman borders where thou wilt, While run thy armies true with His decrees. Law, justice, liberty — great gifts are these; Watch that they spread where English blood is spilt, Lest, mixed and sullied with his country's guilt, The soldier's life-stream flow, and Heaven displease! Two swords there are: one naked, apt to smite, Thy blade of war; and, battle-storied, one Rejoices in the sheath, and hides from light. American I am; would wars were done! Now westward, look, my country bids good-night — Peace to the world from ports without a gun!
Euchenor Chorus. [Arthur Upson]
(From "The City")
Of old it went forth to Euchenor, pronounced of his sire — Reluctant, impelled by the god's unescapable fire — To choose for his doom or to perish at home of disease Or be slain of his foes, among men, where Troy surges down to the seas.
Polyides, the soothsayer, spake it, inflamed by the god. Of his son whom the fates singled out did he bruit it abroad; And Euchenor went down to the ships with his armor and men And straightway, grown dim on the gulf, passed the isles he passed never again.
Why weep ye, O women of Corinth? The doom ye have heard Is it strange to your ears that ye make it so mournful a word? Is he who so fair in your eyes to his manhood upgrew, Alone in his doom of pale death — are of mortals the beaten so few?
O weep not, companions and lovers! Turn back to your joys: The defeat was not his which he chose, nor the victory Troy's. Him a conqueror, beauteous in youth, o'er the flood his fleet brought, And the swift spear of Paris that slew completed the conquest he sought.
Not the falling proclaims the defeat, but the place of the fall; And the fate that decrees and the god that impels through it all Regard not blind mortals' divisions of slayer and slain, But invisible glories dispense wide over the war-gleaming plain.
He whom a Dream hath possessed. [Shaemas O Sheel]
He whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of doubting, For mist and the blowing of winds and the mouthing of words he scorns; Not the sinuous speech of schools he hears, but a knightly shouting, And never comes darkness down, yet he greeteth a million morns.
He whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of roaming; All roads and the flowing of waves and the speediest flight he knows, But wherever his feet are set, his soul is forever homing, And going, he comes, and coming he heareth a call and goes.
He whom a dream hath possessed knoweth no more of sorrow, At death and the dropping of leaves and the fading of suns he smiles, For a dream remembers no past and scorns the desire of a morrow, And a dream in a sea of doom sets surely the ultimate isles.
He whom a dream hath possessed treads the impalpable marches, From the dust of the day's long road he leaps to a laughing star, And the ruin of worlds that fall he views from eternal arches, And rides God's battlefield in a flashing and golden car.
The Kings. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
A man said unto his Angel: "My spirits are fallen low, And I cannot carry this battle: O brother! where might I go?
"The terrible Kings are on me With spears that are deadly bright; Against me so from the cradle Do fate and my fathers fight."
Then said to the man his Angel: "Thou wavering, witless soul, Back to the ranks! What matter To win or to lose the whole,
"As judged by the little judges Who hearken not well, nor see? Not thus, by the outer issue, The Wise shall interpret thee.
"Thy will is the sovereign measure And only events of things: The puniest heart, defying, Were stronger than all these Kings.
"Though out of the past they gather, Mind's Doubt, and Bodily Pain, And pallid Thirst of the Spirit That is kin to the other twain,
"And Grief, in a cloud of banners, And ringletted Vain Desires, And Vice, with the spoils upon him Of thee and thy beaten sires, —
"While Kings of eternal evil Yet darken the hills about, Thy part is with broken sabre To rise on the last redoubt;
"To fear not sensible failure, Nor covet the game at all, But fighting, fighting, fighting, Die, driven against the wall."
Mockery. [Louis Untermeyer]
God, I return to You on April days When along country roads You walk with me, And my faith blossoms like the earliest tree That shames the bleak world with its yellow sprays — My faith revives, when through a rosy haze The clover-sprinkled hills smile quietly, Young winds uplift a bird's clean ecstasy . . . For this, O God, my joyousness and praise!
But now — the crowded streets and choking airs, The squalid people, bruised and tossed about; These, or the over-brilliant thoroughfares, The too-loud laughter and the empty shout, The mirth-mad city, tragic with its cares . . . For this, O God, my silence — and my doubt.
An Ode in Time of Hesitation. [William Vaughn Moody]
Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe, And set here in the city's talk and trade To the good memory of Robert Shaw, This bright March morn I stand, And hear the distant spring come up the land; Knowing that what I hear is not unheard Of this boy soldier and his Negro band, For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead, For all the fatal rhythm of their tread. The land they died to save from death and shame Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name, And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.
Through street and mall the tides of people go Heedless; the trees upon the Common show No hint of green; but to my listening heart The still earth doth impart Assurance of her jubilant emprise, And it is clear to my long-searching eyes That love at last has might upon the skies. The ice is runneled on the little pond; A telltale patter drips from off the trees; The air is touched with Southland spiceries, As if but yesterday it tossed the frond Of pendant mosses where the live-oaks grow Beyond Virginia and the Carolines, Or had its will among the fruits and vines Of aromatic isles asleep beyond Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.
Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee, Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse; Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose Go honking northward over Tennessee; West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie, And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung, And yonder where, gigantic, wilful, young, Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates, With restless violent hands and casual tongue Moulding her mighty fates, The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen; And like a larger sea, the vital green Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung Over Dakota and the prairie states. By desert people immemorial On Arizonan mesas shall be done Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun; Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice More splendid, when the white Sierras call Unto the Rockies straightway to arise And dance before the unveiled ark of the year Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms, Unrolling rivers clear For flutter of broad phylacteries; While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep, And Mariposa through the purple calms Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms Where East and West are met, — A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set To say that East and West are twain, With different loss and gain: The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.
Alas! what sounds are these that come Sullenly over the Pacific seas, — Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb The season's half-awakened ecstasies? Must I be humble, then, Now when my heart hath need of pride? Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men; By loving much the land for which they died I would be justified. My spirit was away on pinions wide To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood And ease it of its ache of gratitude. Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay On me and the companions of my day. I would remember now My country's goodliness, make sweet her name. Alas! what shade art thou Of sorrow or of blame Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow, And pointest a slow finger at her shame?
Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage Are noble, and our battles still are won By justice for us, ere we lift the gage. We have not sold our loftiest heritage. The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat And scramble in the market-place of war; Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star. Here is her witness: this, her perfect son, This delicate and proud New England soul Who leads despised men, with just-unshackled feet, Up the large ways where death and glory meet, To show all peoples that our shame is done, That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.
Crouched in the sea-fog on the moaning sand All night he lay, speaking some simple word From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard, Holding each poor life gently in his hand And breathing on the base rejected clay Till each dark face shone mystical and grand Against the breaking day; And lo, the shard the potter cast away Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine, Fulfilled of the divine Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred. Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light, Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed, Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed, — They swept, and died like freemen on the height, Like freemen, and like men of noble breed; And when the battle fell away at night By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust Obscurely in a common grave with him The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust. Now limb doth mingle with dissolved limb In nature's busy old democracy To flush the mountain laurel when she blows Sweet by the Southern sea, And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose: — The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew This mountain fortress for no earthly hold Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old Of spiritual wrong, Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong, Expugnable but by a nation's rue And bowing down before that equal shrine By all men held divine, Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.
O bitter, bitter shade! Wilt thou not put the scorn And instant tragic question from thine eye? Do thy dark brows yet crave That swift and angry stave — Unmeet for this desirous morn — That I have striven, striven to evade? Gazing on him, must I not deem they err Whose careless lips in street and shop aver As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak? Surely some elder singer would arise, Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn Above this people when they go astray. Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn? Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away? I will not and I dare not yet believe! Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve, And the spring-laden breeze Out of the gladdening west is sinister With sounds of nameless battle overseas; Though when we turn and question in suspense If these things be indeed after these ways, And what things are to follow after these, Our fluent men of place and consequence Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase, Or for the end-all of deep arguments Intone their dull commercial liturgies — I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut! I will not hear the thin satiric praise And muffled laughter of our enemies, Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut; Showing how wise it is to cast away The symbols of our spiritual sway, That so our hands with better ease May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.
Was it for this our fathers kept the law? This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth? Are we the eagle nation Milton saw Mewing its mighty youth, Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth, And be a swift familiar of the sun Where aye before God's face his trumpets run? Or have we but the talons and the maw, And for the abject likeness of our heart Shall some less lordly bird be set apart? Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat? Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat?
Ah, no! We have not fallen so. We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know! 'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!" Then Alabama heard, And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho Shouted a burning word. Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred, And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth, East, west, and south, and north, Beautiful armies. Oh, by the sweet blood and young Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan, By the unforgotten names of eager boys Who might have tasted girl's love and been stung With the old mystic joys And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on, But that the heart of youth is generous, — We charge you, ye who lead us, Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain! Turn not their new-world victories to gain! One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays Of their dear praise, One jot of their pure conquest put to hire, The implacable republic will require; With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon, Or subtly, coming as a thief at night, But surely, very surely, slow or soon That insult deep we deeply will requite. Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity! For save we let the island men go free, Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts Will curse us from the lamentable coasts Where walk the frustrate dead. The cup of trembling shall be drained quite, Eaten the sour bread of astonishment, With ashes of the hearth shall be made white Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent; Then on your guiltier head Shall our intolerable self-disdain Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain; For manifest in that disastrous light We shall discern the right And do it, tardily. — O ye who lead, Take heed! Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.
Candlemas. [Alice Brown]
O hearken, all ye little weeds That lie beneath the snow, (So low, dear hearts, in poverty so low!) The sun hath risen for royal deeds, A valiant wind the vanguard leads; Now quicken ye, lest unborn seeds Before ye rise and blow.
O furry living things, adream On winter's drowsy breast, (How rest ye there, how softly, safely rest!) Arise and follow where a gleam Of wizard gold unbinds the stream, And all the woodland windings seem With sweet expectance blest.
My birds, come back! the hollow sky Is weary for your note. (Sweet-throat, come back! O liquid, mellow throat!) Ere May's soft minions hereward fly, Shame on ye, laggards, to deny The brooding breast, the sun-bright eye, The tawny, shining coat!
The Unreturning. [Bliss Carman]
The old eternal spring once more Comes back the sad eternal way, With tender rosy light before The going-out of day.
The great white moon across my door A shadow in the twilight stirs; But now forever comes no more That wondrous look of Hers.
A Song in Spring. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.]
O little buds all bourgeoning with Spring, You hold my winter in forgetfulness; Without my window lilac branches swing, Within my gate I hear a robin sing — O little laughing blooms that lift and bless!
So blow the breezes in a soft caress, Blowing my dreams upon a swallow's wing; O little merry buds in dappled dress, You fill my heart with very wantonness — O little buds all bourgeoning with Spring!
May is building her House. [Richard Le Gallienne]
May is building her house. With apple blooms She is roofing over the glimmering rooms; Of the oak and the beech hath she builded its beams, And, spinning all day at her secret looms, With arras of leaves each wind-swayed wall She pictureth over, and peopleth it all With echoes and dreams, And singing of streams.
May is building her house. Of petal and blade, Of the roots of the oak, is the flooring made, With a carpet of mosses and lichen and clover, Each small miracle over and over, And tender, traveling green things strayed.
Her windows, the morning and evening star, And her rustling doorways, ever ajar With the coming and going Of fair things blowing, The thresholds of the four winds are.
May is building her house. From the dust of things She is making the songs and the flowers and the wings; From October's tossed and trodden gold She is making the young year out of the old; Yea: out of winter's flying sleet She is making all the summer sweet, And the brown leaves spurned of November's feet She is changing back again to spring's.
Here is the Place where Loveliness keeps House. [Madison Cawein]
Here is the place where Loveliness keeps house, Between the river and the wooded hills, Within a valley where the Springtime spills Her firstling wind-flowers under blossoming boughs: Where Summer sits braiding her warm, white brows With bramble-roses; and where Autumn fills Her lap with asters; and old Winter frills With crimson haw and hip his snowy blouse. Here you may meet with Beauty. Here she sits Gazing upon the moon, or all the day Tuning a wood-thrush flute, remote, unseen: Or when the storm is out, 't is she who flits From rock to rock, a form of flying spray, Shouting, beneath the leaves' tumultuous green.
Water Fantasy. [Fannie Stearns Davis]
O brown brook, O blithe brook, what will you say to me If I take off my heavy shoon and wade you childishly?
O take them off, and come to me. You shall not fall. Step merrily!
But, cool brook, but, quick brook, and what if I should float White-bodied in your pleasant pool, your bubbles at my throat?
If you are but a mortal maid, Then I shall make you half afraid. The water shall be dim and deep, And silver fish shall lunge and leap About you, coward mortal thing. But if you come desiring To win once more your naiadhood, How you shall laugh and find me good — My golden surfaces, my glooms, My secret grottoes' dripping rooms, My depths of warm wet emerald, My mosses floating fold on fold! And where I take the rocky leap Like wild white water shall you sweep; Like wild white water shall you cry, Trembling and turning to the sky, While all the thousand-fringed trees Glimmer and glisten through the breeze. I bid you come! Too long, too long, You have forgot my undersong. And this perchance you never knew: E'en I, the brook, have need of you. My naiads faded long ago, — My little nymphs, that to and fro Within my waters sunnily Made small white flames of tinkling glee. I have been lonesome, lonesome; yea, E'en I, the brook, until this day. Cast off your shoon; ah, come to me, And I will love you lingeringly!
O wild brook, O wise brook, I cannot come, alas! I am but mortal as the leaves that flicker, float, and pass. My body is not used to you; my breath is fluttering sore; You clasp me round too icily. Ah, let me go once more! Would God I were a naiad-thing whereon Pan's music blew; But woe is me! you pagan brook, I cannot stay with you!
Bacchus. [Frank Dempster Sherman]
Listen to the tawny thief, Hid beneath the waxen leaf, Growling at his fairy host, Bidding her with angry boast Fill his cup with wine distilled From the dew the dawn has spilled: Stored away in golden casks Is the precious draught he asks.
Who, — who makes this mimic din In this mimic meadow inn, Sings in such a drowsy note, Wears a golden-belted coat; Loiters in the dainty room Of this tavern of perfume; Dares to linger at the cup Till the yellow sun is up?
Bacchus 't is, come back again To the busy haunts of men; Garlanded and gaily dressed, Bands of gold about his breast; Straying from his paradise, Having pinions angel-wise, — 'T is the honey-bee, who goes Reveling within a rose!
Da Leetla Boy. [Thomas Augustine Daly]
Da spreeng ees com'! but oh, da joy Eet ees too late! He was so cold, my leetla boy, He no could wait.
I no can count how manny week, How manny day, dat he ees seeck; How manny night I seet an' hold Da leetla hand dat was so cold. He was so patience, oh, so sweet! Eet hurts my throat for theenk of eet; An' all he evra ask ees w'en Ees gona com' da spreeng agen. Wan day, wan brighta sunny day, He see, across da alleyway, Da leetla girl dat's livin' dere Ees raise her window for da air, An' put outside a leetla pot Of — w'at-you-call? — forgat-me-not. So smalla flower, so leetla theeng! But steell eet mak' hees hearta seeng: "Oh, now, at las', ees com' da spreeng! Da leetla plant ees glad for know Da sun ees com' for mak' eet grow. So, too, I am grow warm and strong." So lika dat he seeng hees song. But, Ah! da night com' down an' den Da weenter ees sneak back agen, An' een da alley all da night Ees fall da snow, so cold, so white, An' cover up da leetla pot Of — w'at-you-call? — forgat-me-not. All night da leetla hand I hold Ees grow so cold, so cold, so cold!
Da spreeng ees com'; but oh, da joy Eet ees too late! He was so cold, my leetla boy, He no could wait.
Agamede's Song. [Arthur Upson]
Grow, grow, thou little tree, His body at the roots of thee; Since last year's loveliness in death The living beauty nourisheth.
Bloom, bloom, thou little tree, Thy roots around the heart of me; Thou canst not blow too white and fair From all the sweetness hidden there.
Die, die, thou little tree, And be as all sweet things must be; Deep where thy petals drift I, too, Would rest the changing seasons through.
Why. [Bliss Carman]
For a name unknown, Whose fame unblown Sleeps in the hills For ever and aye;
For her who hears The stir of the years Go by on the wind By night and day;
And heeds no thing Of the needs of Spring, Of Autumn's wonder Or Winter's chill;
For one who sees The great sun freeze, As he wanders a-cold From hill to hill;
And all her heart Is a woven part Of the flurry and drift Of whirling snow;
For the sake of two Sad eyes and true, And the old, old love So long ago.
The Wife from Fairyland. [Richard Le Gallienne]
Her talk was all of woodland things, Of little lives that pass Away in one green afternoon, Deep in the haunted grass;
For she had come from fairyland, The morning of a day When the world that still was April Was turning into May.
Green leaves and silence and two eyes — 'T was so she seemed to me, A silver shadow of the woods, Whisper and mystery.
I looked into her woodland eyes, And all my heart was hers, And then I led her by the hand Home up my marble stairs;
And all my granite and my gold Was hers for her green eyes, And all my sinful heart was hers From sunset to sunrise;
I gave her all delight and ease That God had given to me, I listened to fulfill her dreams, Rapt with expectancy.
But all I gave, and all I did, Brought but a weary smile Of gratitude upon her face; As though a little while,
She loitered in magnificence Of marble and of gold And waited to be home again When the dull tale was told.
Sometimes, in the chill galleries, Unseen, she deemed, unheard, I found her dancing like a leaf And singing like a bird.
So lone a thing I never saw In lonely earth or sky, So merry and so sad a thing, One sad, one laughing, eye.
There came a day when on her heart A wildwood blossom lay, And the world that still was April Was turning into May.
In the green eyes I saw a smile That turned my heart to stone: My wife that came from fairyland No longer was alone.
For there had come a little hand To show the green way home, Home through the leaves, home through the dew, Home through the greenwood — home.
Life. [John Hall Wheelock]
Life burns us up like fire, And Song goes up in flame: The radiant body smoulders To the ashes whence it came.
Out of things it rises With a mouth that laughs and sings, Backward it fades and falters Into the char of things.
Yet soars a voice above it — Love is holy and strong; The best of us forever Escapes in Love and Song.
Song is so old. [Hermann Hagedorn]
Song is so old, Love is so new — Let me be still And kneel to you.
Let me be still And breathe no word, Save what my warm blood Sings unheard.
Let my warm blood Sing low of you — Song is so fair, Love is so new!
That Day you came. [Lizette Woodworth Reese]
Such special sweetness was about That day God sent you here, I knew the lavender was out, And it was mid of year.
Their common way the great winds blew, The ships sailed out to sea; Yet ere that day was spent I knew Mine own had come to me.
As after song some snatch of tune Lurks still in grass or bough, So, somewhat of the end o' June Lurks in each weather now.
The young year sets the buds astir, The old year strips the trees; But ever in my lavender I hear the brawling bees.
Song. "For me the jasmine buds unfold". [Florence Earle Coates]
For me the jasmine buds unfold And silver daisies star the lea, The crocus hoards the sunset gold, And the wild rose breathes for me. I feel the sap through the bough returning, I share the skylark's transport fine, I know the fountain's wayward yearning, I love, and the world is mine!
I love, and thoughts that sometime grieved, Still well remembered, grieve not me; From all that darkened and deceived Upsoars my spirit free. For soft the hours repeat one story, Sings the sea one strain divine; My clouds arise all flushed with glory — I love, and the world is mine!
Mother. [Theresa Helburn]
I have praised many loved ones in my song, And yet I stand Before her shrine, to whom all things belong, With empty hand.
Perhaps the ripening future holds a time For things unsaid; Not now; men do not celebrate in rhyme Their daily bread.
Songs for my Mother. [Anna Hempstead Branch]
My mother's hands are cool and fair, They can do anything. Delicate mercies hide them there Like flowers in the spring.
When I was small and could not sleep, She used to come to me, And with my cheek upon her hand How sure my rest would be.
For everything she ever touched Of beautiful or fine, Their memories living in her hands Would warm that sleep of mine.
Her hands remember how they played One time in meadow streams, — And all the flickering song and shade Of water took my dreams.
Swift through her haunted fingers pass Memories of garden things; — I dipped my face in flowers and grass And sounds of hidden wings.
One time she touched the cloud that kissed Brown pastures bleak and far; — I leaned my cheek into a mist And thought I was a star.
All this was very long ago And I am grown; but yet The hand that lured my slumber so I never can forget.
For still when drowsiness comes on It seems so soft and cool, Shaped happily beneath my cheek, Hollow and beautiful.
My mother has the prettiest tricks Of words and words and words. Her talk comes out as smooth and sleek As breasts of singing birds.
She shapes her speech all silver fine Because she loves it so. And her own eyes begin to shine To hear her stories grow.
And if she goes to make a call Or out to take a walk We leave our work when she returns And run to hear her talk.
We had not dreamed these things were so Of sorrow and of mirth. Her speech is as a thousand eyes Through which we see the earth.
God wove a web of loveliness, Of clouds and stars and birds, But made not any thing at all So beautiful as words.
They shine around our simple earth With golden shadowings, And every common thing they touch Is exquisite with wings.
There's nothing poor and nothing small But is made fair with them. They are the hands of living faith That touch the garment's hem.
They are as fair as bloom or air, They shine like any star, And I am rich who learned from her How beautiful they are.
The Daguerreotype. [William Vaughn Moody]
This, then, is she, My mother as she looked at seventeen, When she first met my father. Young incredibly, Younger than spring, without the faintest trace Of disappointment, weariness, or tean Upon the childlike earnestness and grace Of the waiting face. Those close-wound ropes of pearl (Or common beads made precious by their use) Seem heavy for so slight a throat to wear; But the low bodice leaves the shoulders bare And half the glad swell of the breast, for news That now the woman stirs within the girl. And yet, Even so, the loops and globes Of beaten gold And jet Hung, in the stately way of old, From the ears' drooping lobes On festivals and Lord's-day of the week, Show all too matron-sober for the cheek, — Which, now I look again, is perfect child, Or no — or no — 't is girlhood's very self, Moulded by some deep, mischief-ridden elf So meek, so maiden mild, But startling the close gazer with the sense Of passions forest-shy and forest-wild, And delicate delirious merriments.
As a moth beats sidewise And up and over, and tries To skirt the irresistible lure Of the flame that has him sure, My spirit, that is none too strong to-day, Flutters and makes delay, — Pausing to wonder on the perfect lips, Lifting to muse upon the low-drawn hair And each hid radiance there, But powerless to stem the tide-race bright, The vehement peace which drifts it toward the light Where soon — ah, now, with cries Of grief and giving-up unto its gain It shrinks no longer nor denies, But dips Hurriedly home to the exquisite heart of pain, — And all is well, for I have seen them plain, The unforgettable, the unforgotten eyes! Across the blinding gush of these good tears They shine as in the sweet and heavy years When by her bed and chair We children gathered jealously to share The sunlit aura breathing myrrh and thyme, Where the sore-stricken body made a clime Gentler than May and pleasanter than rhyme, Holier and more mystical than prayer.
God, how thy ways are strange! That this should be, even this, The patient head Which suffered years ago the dreary change! That these so dewy lips should be the same As those I stooped to kiss And heard my harrowing half-spoken name, A little ere the one who bowed above her, Our father and her very constant lover, Rose stoical, and we knew that she was dead. Then I, who could not understand or share His antique nobleness, Being unapt to bear The insults which time flings us for our proof, Fled from the horrible roof Into the alien sunshine merciless, The shrill satiric fields ghastly with day, Raging to front God in his pride of sway And hurl across the lifted swords of fate That ringed Him where He sat My puny gage of scorn and desolate hate Which somehow should undo Him, after all! That this girl face, expectant, virginal, Which gazes out at me Boon as a sweetheart, as if nothing loth (Save for the eyes, with other presage stored) To pledge me troth, And in the kingdom where the heart is lord Take sail on the terrible gladness of the deep Whose winds the gray Norns keep, — That this should be indeed The flesh which caught my soul, a flying seed, Out of the to and fro Of scattering hands where the seedsman Mage, Stooping from star to star and age to age Sings as he sows! That underneath this breast Nine moons I fed Deep of divine unrest, While over and over in the dark she said, "Blessed! but not as happier children blessed" — That this should be Even she . . . God, how with time and change Thou makest thy footsteps strange! Ah, now I know They play upon me, and it is not so. Why, 't is a girl I never saw before, A little thing to flatter and make weep, To tease until her heart is sore, Then kiss and clear the score; A gypsy run-the-fields, A little liberal daughter of the earth, Good for what hour of truancy and mirth The careless season yields Hither-side the flood of the year and yonder of the neap; Then thank you, thanks again, and twenty light good-byes. — O shrined above the skies, Frown not, clear brow, Darken not, holy eyes! Thou knowest well I know that it is thou Only to save me from such memories As would unman me quite, Here in this web of strangeness caught And prey to troubled thought Do I devise These foolish shifts and slight; Only to shield me from the afflicting sense Of some waste influence Which from this morning face and lustrous hair Breathes on me sudden ruin and despair. In any other guise, With any but this girlish depth of gaze, Your coming had not so unsealed and poured The dusty amphoras where I had stored The drippings of the winepress of my days. I think these eyes foresee, Now in their unawakened virgin time, Their mother's pride in me, And dream even now, unconsciously, Upon each soaring peak and sky-hung lea You pictured I should climb. Broken premonitions come, Shapes, gestures visionary, Not as once to maiden Mary The manifest angel with fresh lilies came Intelligibly calling her by name; But vanishingly, dumb, Thwarted and bright and wild, As heralding a sin-defiled, Earth-encumbered, blood-begotten, passionate man-child, Who yet should be a trump of mighty call Blown in the gates of evil kings To make them fall; Who yet should be a sword of flame before The soul's inviolate door To beat away the clang of hellish wings; Who yet should be a lyre Of high unquenchable desire In the day of little things. — Look, where the amphoras, The yield of many days, Trod by my hot soul from the pulp of self, And set upon the shelf In sullen pride The Vineyard-master's tasting to abide — O mother mine! Are these the bringings-in, the doings fine, Of him you used to praise? Emptied and overthrown The jars lie strown. These, for their flavor duly nursed, Drip from the stopples vinegar accursed; These, I thought honied to the very seal, Dry, dry, — a little acid meal, A pinch of mouldy dust, Sole leavings of the amber-mantling must; These, rude to look upon, But flasking up the liquor dearest won, Through sacred hours and hard, With watching and with wrestlings and with grief, Even of these, of these in chief, The stale breath sickens reeking from the shard. Nothing is left. Aye, how much less than naught! What shall be said or thought Of the slack hours and waste imaginings, The cynic rending of the wings, Known to that froward, that unreckoning heart Whereof this brewage was the precious part, Treasured and set away with furtive boast? O dear and cruel ghost, Be merciful, be just! See, I was yours and I am in the dust. Then look not so, as if all things were well! Take your eyes from me, leave me to my shame, Or else, if gaze they must, Steel them with judgment, darken them with blame; But by the ways of light ineffable You bade me go and I have faltered from, By the low waters moaning out of hell Whereto my feet have come, Lay not on me these intolerable Looks of rejoicing love, of pride, of happy trust!
Nothing dismayed? By all I say and all I hint not made Afraid? O then, stay by me! Let These eyes afflict me, cleanse me, keep me yet, Brave eyes and true! See how the shrivelled heart, that long has lain Dead to delight and pain, Stirs, and begins again To utter pleasant life, as if it knew The wintry days were through; As if in its awakening boughs it heard The quick, sweet-spoken bird. Strong eyes and brave, Inexorable to save!
Tears. [Lizette Woodworth Reese]
When I consider Life and its few years — A wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun; A call to battle, and the battle done Ere the last echo dies within our ears; A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears; The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat; The burst of music down an unlistening street, — I wonder at the idleness of tears. Ye old, old dead, and ye of yesternight, Chieftains, and bards, and keepers of the sheep, By every cup of sorrow that you had, Loose me from tears, and make me see aright How each hath back what once he stayed to weep: Homer his sight, David his little lad!
The Sea-Lands. [Orrick Johns]
Would I were on the sea-lands, Where winds know how to sting; And in the rocks at midnight The lost long murmurs sing.
Would I were with my first love To hear the rush and roar Of spume below the doorstep And winds upon the door.
My first love was a fair girl With ways forever new; And hair a sunlight yellow, And eyes a morning blue.
The roses, have they tarried Or are they dun and frayed? If we had stayed together, Would love, indeed, have stayed?
Ah, years are filled with learning, And days are leaves of change! And I have met so many I knew . . . and found them strange.
But on the sea-lands tumbled By winds that sting and blind, The nights we watched, so silent, Come back, come back to mind.
I mind about my first love, And hear the rush and roar Of spume below the doorstep And winds upon the door.
Bag-Pipes at Sea. [Clinton Scollard]
Above the shouting of the gale, The whipping sheet, the dashing spray, I heard, with notes of joy and wail, A piper play.
Along the dipping deck he trod, The dusk about his shadowy form; He seemed like some strange ancient god Of song and storm.
He gave his dim-seen pipes a skirl And war went down the darkling air; Then came a sudden subtle swirl, And love was there.
What were the winds that flailed and flayed The sea to him, the night obscure? In dreams he strayed some brackened glade, Some heathery moor.
And if he saw the slanting spars, And if he watched the shifting track, He marked, too, the eternal stars Shine through the wrack.
And so amid the deep sea din, And so amid the wastes of foam, Afar his heart was happy in His highland home!
The Heart's Country. [Florence Wilkinson]
Hill people turn to their hills; Sea-folk are sick for the sea: Thou art my land and my country, And my heart calls out for thee.
The bird beats his wings for the open, The captive burns to be free; But I — I cry at thy window, For thou art my liberty.
Joyous-Gard. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.]
Wind-washed and free, full-swept by rain and wave, By tang of surf and thunder of the gale, Wild be the ride yet safe the barque will sail And past the plunging seas her harbor brave; Nor care have I that storms and waters rave, I cannot fear since you can never fail — Once have I looked upon the burning grail, And through your eyes have seen beyond the grave.
I know at last — the strange, sweet mystery, The nameless joy that trembled into tears, The hush of wings when you were at my side — For now the veil is rent and I can see, See the true vision of the future years, As in your face the love of Him who died!
The Secret. [George Edward Woodberry]
Nightingales warble about it, All night under blossom and star; The wild swan is dying without it, And the eagle crieth afar; The sun he doth mount but to find it, Searching the green earth o'er; But more doth a man's heart mind it, Oh, more, more, more!
Over the gray leagues of ocean The infinite yearneth alone; The forests with wandering emotion The thing they know not intone; Creation arose but to see it, A million lamps in the blue; But a lover he shall be it If one sweet maid is true.
The Nightingale unheard. [Josephine Preston Peabody]
Yes, Nightingale, through all the summer-time We followed on, from moon to golden moon; From where Salerno day-dreams in the noon, And the far rose of Paestum once did climb. All the white way beside the girdling blue, Through sun-shrill vines and campanile chime, We listened; — from the old year to the new. Brown bird, and where were you?
You, that Ravello lured not, throned on high And filled with singing out of sun-burned throats! Nor yet Minore of the flame-sailed boats; Nor yet — of all bird-song should glorify — Assisi, Little Portion of the blest, Assisi, in the bosom of the sky, Where God's own singer thatched his sunward nest, That little, heavenliest!
And north and north, to where the hedge-rows are, That beckon with white looks an endless way; Where, through the fair wet silverness of May, A lamb shines out as sudden as a star, Among the cloudy sheep; and green, and pale, The may-trees reach and glimmer, near or far, And the red may-trees wear a shining veil. And still, no nightingale!
The one vain longing, — through all journeyings, The one: in every hushed and hearkening spot, — All the soft-swarming dark where you were not, Still longed for! Yes, for sake of dreams and wings, And wonders, that your own must ever make To bower you close, with all hearts' treasurings; And for that speech toward which all hearts do ache; — Even for Music's sake.
But most, his music whose beloved name Forever writ in water of bright tears, Wins to one grave-side even the Roman years, That kindle there the hallowed April flame Of comfort-breathing violets. By that shrine Of Youth, Love, Death, forevermore the same, Violets still! — When falls, to leave no sign, The arch of Constantine.
Most for his sake we dreamed. Tho' not as he, From that lone spirit, brimmed with human woe, Your song once shook to surging overflow. How was it, sovran dweller of the tree, His cry, still throbbing in the flooded shell Of silence with remembered melody, Could draw from you no answer to the spell? — O Voice, O Philomel?
Long time we wondered (and we knew not why): — Nor dream, nor prayer, of wayside gladness born, Nor vineyards waiting, nor reproachful thorn, Nor yet the nested hill-towns set so high All the white way beside the girdling blue, — Nor olives, gray against a golden sky, Could serve to wake that rapturous voice of you! But the wise silence knew.
O Nightingale unheard! — Unheard alone, Throughout that woven music of the days From the faint sea-rim to the market-place, And ring of hammers on cathedral stone! So be it, better so: that there should fail For sun-filled ones, one blessed thing unknown. To them, be hid forever, — and all hail! Sing never, Nightingale.
Sing, for the others! Sing; to some pale cheek Against the window, like a starving flower. Loose, with your singing, one poor pilgrim hour Of journey, with some Heart's Desire to seek. Loose, with your singing, captives such as these In misery and iron, hearts too meek, For voyage — voyage over dreamful seas To lost Hesperides.
Sing not for free-men. Ah, but sing for whom The walls shut in; and even as eyes that fade, The windows take no heed of light nor shade, — The leaves are lost in mutterings of the loom. Sing near! So in that golden overflowing They may forget their wasted human bloom; Pay the devouring days their all, unknowing, — Reck not of life's bright going!
Sing not for lovers, side by side that hark; Nor unto parted lovers, save they be Parted indeed by more than makes the Sea, Where never hope shall meet — like mounting lark — Far Joy's uprising; and no memories Abide to star the music-haunted dark: To them that sit in darkness, such as these, Pour down, pour down heart's-ease.
Not in Kings' gardens. No; but where there haunt The world's forgotten, both of men and birds; The alleys of no hope and of no words, The hidings where men reap not, though they plant; But toil and thirst — so dying and so born; — And toil and thirst to gather to their want, From the lean waste, beyond the daylight's scorn, — To gather grapes of thorn!
. . . . .
And for those two, your pilgrims without tears, Who prayed a largess where there was no dearth, Forgive it to their human-happy ears: Forgive it them, brown music of the Earth, Unknowing, — though the wiser silence knew! Forgive it to the music of the spheres That while they walked together so, the Two Together, — heard not you.
Only of thee and me. [Louis Untermeyer]
Only of thee and me the night wind sings, Only of us the sailors speak at sea, The earth is filled with wondered whisperings Only of thee and me.
Only of thee and me the breakers chant, Only of us the stir in bush and tree; The rain and sunshine tell the eager plant Only of thee and me.
Only of thee and me, till all shall fade; Only of us the whole world's thoughts can be — For we are Love, and God Himself is made Only of thee and me.
When the Wind is low. [Cale Young Rice]
When the wind is low, and the sea is soft, And the far heat-lightning plays On the rim of the west where dark clouds nest On a darker bank of haze; When I lean o'er the rail with you that I love And gaze to my heart's content; I know that the heavens are there above — But you are my firmament.
When the phosphor-stars are thrown from the bow And the watch climbs up the shroud; When the dim mast dips as the vessel slips Through the foam that seethes aloud; I know that the years of our life are few, And fain as a bird to flee, That time is as brief as a drop of dew — But you are Eternity.
Love Triumphant. [Frederic Lawrence Knowles]
Helen's lips are drifting dust; Ilion is consumed with rust; All the galleons of Greece Drink the ocean's dreamless peace; Lost was Solomon's purple show Restless centuries ago; Stately empires wax and wane — Babylon, Barbary, and Spain; — Only one thing, undefaced, Lasts, though all the worlds lie waste And the heavens are overturned. Dear, how long ago we learned!
There's a sight that blinds the sun, Sound that lives when sounds are done, Music that rebukes the birds, Language lovelier than words, Hue and scent that shame the rose, Wine no earthly vineyard knows, Silence stiller than the shore Swept by Charon's stealthy oar, Ocean more divinely free Than Pacific's boundless sea, — Ye who love have learned it true. Dear, how long ago we knew!
Be still. The Hanging Gardens were a dream. [Trumbull Stickney]
Be still. The Hanging Gardens were a dream That over Persian roses flew to kiss The curled lashes of Semiramis. Troy never was, nor green Skamander stream. Provence and Troubadour are merest lies, The glorious hair of Venice was a beam Made within Titian's eye. The sunsets seem, The world is very old and nothing is. Be still. Thou foolish thing, thou canst not wake, Nor thy tears wedge thy soldered lids apart, But patter in the darkness of thy heart. Thy brain is plagued. Thou art a frighted owl Blind with the light of life thou'ldst not forsake, And Error loves and nourishes thy soul.
The Tears of Harlequin. [Theodosia Garrison]
To you he gave his laughter and his jest, His words that of all words were merriest, His glad, mad moments when the lights flared high And his wild song outshrilled the plaudits' din. For you that memory, but happier I — I, who have known the tears of Harlequin.
Not mine those moments when the roses lay Like red spilled wine on his triumphant way, And shouts acclaimed him through the music's beat, Above the voice of flute and violin. But I have known his hour of sore defeat — I — I have known the tears of Harlequin.
Light kisses and light words, they were not mine — Poor perquisites of many a Columbine Bought with his laughter, flattered by his jest; But when despair broke through the painted grin, His tortured face has fallen on my breast — I — I have known the tears of Harlequin.
You weep for him, who look upon him dead, That joy and jest and merriment are fled; You weep for him, what time my eyes are dry, Knowing what peace a weary soul may win Stifled by too much masking — even I — I, who have known the tears of Harlequin.
The Buried City. [George Sylvester Viereck]
My heart is like a city of the gay Reared on the ruins of a perished one Wherein my dead loves cower from the sun, White-swathed like kings, the Pharaohs of a day. Within the buried city stirs no sound, Save for the bat, forgetful of the rod, Perched on the knee of some deserted god, And for the groan of rivers underground.
Stray not, my Love, 'mid the sarcophagi — Tempt not the silence, for the fates are deep, Lest all the dreamers, deeming doomsday nigh, Leap forth in terror from their haunted sleep; And like the peal of an accursed bell Thy voice call ghosts of dead things back from hell.
The Ride to the Lady. [Helen Gray Cone]
"Now since mine even is come at last, — For I have been the sport of steel, And hot life ebbeth from me fast, And I in saddle roll and reel, — Come bind me, bind me on my steed! Of fingering leech I have no need!" The chaplain clasped his mailed knee. "Nor need I more thy whine and thee! No time is left my sins to tell; But look ye bind me, bind me well!" They bound him strong with leathern thong, For the ride to the lady should be long.
Day was dying; the poplars fled, Thin as ghosts, on a sky blood-red; Out of the sky the fierce hue fell, And made the streams as the streams of hell. All his thoughts as a river flowed, Flowed aflame as fleet he rode, Onward flowed to her abode, Ceased at her feet, mirrored her face. (Viewless Death apace, apace, Rode behind him in that race.)
"Face, mine own, mine alone, Trembling lips my lips have known, Birdlike stir of the dove-soft eyne Under the kisses that make them mine! Only of thee, of thee, my need! Only to thee, to thee, I speed!" The Cross flashed by at the highway's turn; In a beam of the moon the Face shone stern.
Far behind had the fight's din died; The shuddering stars in the welkin wide Crowded, crowded, to see him ride. The beating hearts of the stars aloof Kept time to the beat of the horse's hoof. "What is the throb that thrills so sweet? Heart of my lady, I feel it beat!" But his own strong pulse the fainter fell, Like the failing tongue of a hushing bell. The flank of the great-limbed steed was wet Not alone with the started sweat.
Fast, and fast, and the thick black wood Arched its cowl like a black friar's hood; Fast, and fast, and they plunged therein, — But the viewless rider rode to win.
Out of the wood to the highway's light Galloped the great-limbed steed in fright; The mail clashed cold, and the sad owl cried, And the weight of the dead oppressed his side.
Fast, and fast, by the road he knew; And slow, and slow, the stars withdrew; And the waiting heaven turned weirdly blue, As a garment worn of a wizard grim. He neighed at the gate in the morning dim.
She heard no sound before her gate, Though very quiet was her bower. All was as her hand had left it late: The needle slept on the broidered vine, Where the hammer and spikes of the passion-flower Her fashioning did wait.
On the couch lay something fair, With steadfast lips and veiled eyne; But the lady was not there. On the wings of shrift and prayer, Pure as winds that winnow snow, Her soul had risen twelve hours ago. The burdened steed at the barred gate stood, No whit the nearer to his goal. Now God's great grace assoil the soul That went out in the wood!
Evensong. [Ridgely Torrence]
Beauty calls and gives no warning, Shadows rise and wander on the day. In the twilight, in the quiet evening, We shall rise and smile and go away. Over the flaming leaves Freezes the sky. It is the season grieves, Not you, not I. All our spring-times, all our summers, We have kept the longing warm within. Now we leave the after-comers To attain the dreams we did not win. O we have wakened, Sweet, and had our birth, And that's the end of earth; And we have toiled and smiled and kept the light, And that's the end of night.
Witchery. [Frank Dempster Sherman]
Out of the purple drifts, From the shadow sea of night, On tides of musk a moth uplifts Its weary wings of white.
Is it a dream or ghost Of a dream that comes to me, Here in the twilight on the coast, Blue cinctured by the sea?
Fashioned of foam and froth — And the dream is ended soon, And lo, whence came the moon-white moth Comes now the moth-white moon!
Golden Pulse. [John Myers O'Hara]
Golden pulse grew on the shore, Ferns along the hill, And the red cliff roses bore Bees to drink their fill;
Bees that from the meadows bring Wine of melilot, Honey-sups on golden wing To the garden grot.
But to me, neglected flower, Phaon will not see, Passion brings no crowning hour, Honey nor the bee.
Sappho. [Sara Teasdale]
The twilight's inner flame grows blue and deep, And in my Lesbos, over leagues of sea, The temples glimmer moonwise in the trees. Twilight has veiled the little flower face Here on my heart, but still the night is kind And leaves her warm sweet weight against my breast. Am I that Sappho who would run at dusk Along the surges creeping up the shore When tides came in to ease the hungry beach, And running, running, till the night was black, Would fall forespent upon the chilly sand And quiver with the winds from off the sea? Ah, quietly the shingle waits the tides Whose waves are stinging kisses, but to me Love brought no peace, nor darkness any rest. I crept and touched the foam with fevered hands And cried to Love, from whom the sea is sweet, From whom the sea is bitterer than death. Ah, Aphrodite, if I sing no more To thee, God's daughter, powerful as God, It is that thou hast made my life too sweet To hold the added sweetness of a song. There is a quiet at the heart of love, And I have pierced the pain and come to peace. I hold my peace, my Cleis, on my heart; And softer than a little wild bird's wing Are kisses that she pours upon my mouth. Ah, never any more when spring like fire Will flicker in the newly opened leaves, Shall I steal forth to seek for solitude Beyond the lure of light Alcaeus' lyre, Beyond the sob that stilled Erinna's voice. Ah, never with a throat that aches with song, Beneath the white uncaring sky of spring, Shall I go forth to hide awhile from Love The quiver and the crying of my heart. Still I remember how I strove to flee The love-note of the birds, and bowed my head To hurry faster, but upon the ground I saw two winged shadows side by side, And all the world's spring passion stifled me. Ah, Love, there is no fleeing from thy might, No lonely place where thou hast never trod, No desert thou hast left uncarpeted With flowers that spring beneath thy perfect feet. In many guises didst thou come to me; I saw thee by the maidens while they danced, Phaon allured me with a look of thine, In Anactoria I knew thy grace, I looked at Cercolas and saw thine eyes; But never wholly, soul and body mine, Didst thou bid any love me as I loved. Now I have found the peace that fled from me; Close, close, against my heart I hold my world. Ah, Love that made my life a lyric cry, Ah, Love that tuned my lips to lyres of thine, I taught the world thy music, now alone I sing for one who falls asleep to hear.
Harps hung up in Babylon. [Arthur Colton]
The harps hung up in Babylon, Their loosened strings rang on, sang on, And cast their murmurs forth upon The roll and roar of Babylon: "Forget me, Lord, if I forget Jerusalem for Babylon, If I forget the vision set High as the head of Lebanon Is lifted over Syria yet, If I forget and bow me down To brutish gods of Babylon."
Two rivers to each other run In the very midst of Babylon, And swifter than their current fleets The restless river of the streets Of Babylon, of Babylon, And Babylon's towers smite the sky, But higher reeks to God most high The smoke of her iniquity: "But oh, betwixt the green and blue To walk the hills that once we knew When you were pure and I was true," — So rang the harps in Babylon — "Or ere along the roads of stone Had led us captive one by one The subtle gods of Babylon."
The harps hung up in Babylon Hung silent till the prophet dawn, When Judah's feet the highway burned Back to the holy hills returned, And shook their dust on Babylon. In Zion's halls the wild harps rang, To Zion's walls their smitten clang, And lo! of Babylon they sang, They only sang of Babylon: "Jehovah, round whose throne of awe The vassal stars their orbits draw Within the circle of Thy law, Canst thou make nothing what is done, Or cause Thy servant to be one That has not been in Babylon, That has not known the power and pain Of life poured out like driven rain? I will go down and find again My soul that's lost in Babylon."
Live blindly. [Trumbull Stickney]
Live blindly and upon the hour. The Lord, Who was the Future, died full long ago. Knowledge which is the Past is folly. Go, Poor child, and be not to thyself abhorred. Around thine earth sun-winged winds do blow And planets roll; a meteor draws his sword; The rainbow breaks his seven-coloured chord And the long strips of river-silver flow: Awake! Give thyself to the lovely hours. Drinking their lips, catch thou the dream in flight About their fragile hairs' aerial gold. Thou art divine, thou livest, — as of old Apollo springing naked to the light, And all his island shivered into flowers.
Love's Springtide. [Frank Dempster Sherman]
My heart was winter-bound until I heard you sing; O voice of Love, hush not, but fill My life with Spring!
My hopes were homeless things before I saw your eyes; O smile of Love, close not the door To paradise!
My dreams were bitter once, and then I found them bliss; O lips of Love, give me again Your rose to kiss!
Springtide of Love! The secret sweet Is ours alone; O heart of Love, at last you beat Against my own!
Wanderers. [George Sylvester Viereck]
Sweet is the highroad when the skylarks call, When we and Love go rambling through the land. But shall we still walk gayly, hand in hand, At the road's turning and the twilight's fall? Then darkness shall divide us like a wall, And uncouth evil nightbirds flap their wings; The solitude of all created things Will creep upon us shuddering like a pall.
This is the knowledge I have wrung from pain: We, yea, all lovers, are not one, but twain, Each by strange wisps to strange abysses drawn; But through the black immensity of night Love's little lantern, like a glowworm's, bright, May lead our steps to some stupendous dawn.
Ballade of my Lady's Beauty. [Joyce Kilmer]
Squire Adam had two wives, they say, Two wives had he, for his delight, He kissed and clypt them all the day And clypt and kissed them all the night. Now Eve like ocean foam was white And Lilith roses dipped in wine, But though they were a goodly sight No lady is so fair as mine.
To Venus some folk tribute pay And Queen of Beauty she is hight, And Sainte Marie the world doth sway In cerule napery bedight. My wonderment these twain invite, Their comeliness it is divine, And yet I say in their despite, No lady is so fair as mine.
Dame Helen caused a grievous fray, For love of her brave men did fight, The eyes of her made sages fey And put their hearts in woeful plight. To her no rhymes will I indite, For her no garlands will I twine, Though she be made of flowers and light No lady is so fair as mine.
Prince Eros, Lord of lovely might, Who on Olympus dost recline, Do I not tell the truth aright? No lady is so fair as mine.
Grieve not, Ladies. [Anna Hempstead Branch]
Oh, grieve not, Ladies, if at night Ye wake to feel your beauty going. It was a web of frail delight, Inconstant as an April snowing.
In other eyes, in other lands, In deep fair pools, new beauty lingers, But like spent water in your hands It runs from your reluctant fingers.
Ye shall not keep the singing lark That owes to earlier skies its duty. Weep not to hear along the dark The sound of your departing beauty.
The fine and anguished ear of night Is tuned to hear the smallest sorrow. Oh, wait until the morning light! It may not seem so gone to-morrow!
But honey-pale and rosy-red! Brief lights that made a little shining! Beautiful looks about us shed — They leave us to the old repining.
Think not the watchful dim despair Has come to you the first, sweet-hearted! For oh, the gold in Helen's hair! And how she cried when that departed!
Perhaps that one that took the most, The swiftest borrower, wildest spender, May count, as we would not, the cost — And grow more true to us and tender.
Happy are we if in his eyes We see no shadow of forgetting. Nay — if our star sinks in those skies We shall not wholly see its setting.
Then let us laugh as do the brooks That such immortal youth is ours, If memory keeps for them our looks As fresh as are the spring-time flowers.
Oh, grieve not, Ladies, if at night Ye wake, to feel the cold December! Rather recall the early light And in your loved one's arms, remember.
Of Joan's Youth. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
I would unto my fair restore A simple thing: The flushing cheek she had before! Out-velveting No more, no more, On our sad shore, The carmine grape, the moth's auroral wing.
Ah, say how winds in flooding grass Unmoor the rose; Or guileful ways the salmon pass To sea, disclose: For so, alas, With Love, alas, With fatal, fatal Love a girlhood goes.
I shall not care. [Sara Teasdale]
When I am dead and over me bright April Shakes out her rain-drenched hair, Though you should lean above me broken-hearted, I shall not care.
I shall have peace as leafy trees are peaceful, When rain bends down the bough, And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted Than you are now.
Love came back at Fall o' Dew. [Lizette Woodworth Reese]
Love came back at fall o' dew, Playing his old part; But I had a word or two That would break his heart.
"He who comes at candlelight, That should come before, Must betake him to the night From a barred door."
This the word that made us part In the fall o' dew; This the word that brake his heart — Yet it brake mine, too.
There's Rosemary. [Olive Tilford Dargan]
O love that is not Love, but dear, so dear! That is not love because it goes full soon, Like flower born and dead within one moon, And yet is love, for that it comes too near The guarded fane where love alone may peer, Ere, like young spring by summer soon outshone, It trembles into death; yet comes anon As thoughts of spring will come though summer's here.
O star prelusive to a dream more fair, Within my heart I'll keep a heaven for thee Where thou mayst freely come and freely go, Touching with thy faint gold ere I am 'ware A twilight hope — a dawn I did not see — O love that is not Love, but nearly so!
Love's Ritual. [Charles Hanson Towne]
Breathe me the ancient words when I shall find Your spirit mine; if, seeking you, life wins New wonder, with old splendor let us bind Our hearts when Love's high sacrament begins.
Exalt my soul with pomp and pageantry, Sing the eternal songs all lovers sing; Yea, when you come, gold let our vestments be, And lamps of silver let us softly swing.
But if at last, (hark how I whisper, Love!) You from my temple and from me should turn, I pray you chant no psalm my grief above, Over the body of Pain let no light burn.
Go forth in silence, quiet as a dove, Drift, with no sign, from our exultant place; We need no 'Ite' at the death of Love, And none should come to look on Love's white face.
Grey Rocks, and Greyer Sea. [Charles G. D. Roberts]
Grey rocks, and greyer sea, And surf along the shore — And in my heart a name My lips shall speak no more.
The high and lonely hills Endure the darkening year — And in my heart endure A memory and a tear.
Across the tide a sail That tosses, and is gone — And in my heart the kiss That longing dreams upon.
Grey rocks, and greyer sea, And surf along the shore — And in my heart the face That I shall see no more.
"Grandmither, think not I forget". [Willa Sibert Cather]
Grandmither, think not I forget, when I come back to town, An' wander the old ways again, an' tread them up and down. I never smell the clover bloom, nor see the swallows pass, Wi'out I mind how good ye were unto a little lass; I never hear the winter rain a-pelting all night through Wi'out I think and mind me of how cold it falls on you. An' if I come not often to your bed beneath the thyme, Mayhap 't is that I'd change wi' ye, and gie my bed for thine, Would like to sleep in thine.
I never hear the summer winds among the roses blow Wi'out I wonder why it was ye loved the lassie so. Ye gave me cakes and lollipops and pretty toys a score — I never thought I should come back and ask ye now for more. Grandmither, gie me your still white hands that lie upon your breast, For mine do beat the dark all night and never find me rest; They grope among the shadows an' they beat the cold black air, They go seekin' in the darkness, an' they never find him there, They never find him there.
Grandmither, gie me your sightless eyes, that I may never see His own a-burnin' full o' love that must not shine for me. Grandmither, gie me your peaceful lips, white as the kirkyard snow, For mine be tremblin' wi' the wish that he must never know. Grandmither, gie me your clay-stopped ears, that I may never hear My lad a-singin' in the night when I am sick wi' fear; A-singin' when the moonlight over a' the land is white — Ah, God! I'll up and go to him, a-singin' in the night, A-callin' in the night.
Grandmither, gie me your clay-cold heart, that has forgot to ache, For mine be fire wi'in my breast an' yet it cannot break. Wi' every beat it's callin' for things that must not be, — So can ye not let me creep in an' rest awhile by ye? A little lass afeard o' dark slept by ye years agone — An' she has found what night can hold 'twixt sunset an' the dawn: So when I plant the rose an' rue above your grave for ye, Ye'll know it's under rue an' rose that I would like to be, That I would like to be.
When I am dead and Sister to the Dust. [Elsa Barker]
When I am dead and sister to the dust; When no more avidly I drink the wine Of human love; when the pale Proserpine Has covered me with poppies, and cold rust Has cut my lyre-strings, and the sun has thrust Me underground to nourish the world-vine, — Men shall discover these old songs of mine, And say: This woman lived — as poets must!
This woman lived and wore life as a sword To conquer wisdom; this dead woman read In the sealed Book of Love and underscored The meanings. Then the sails of faith she spread, And faring out for regions unexplored, Went singing down the River of the Dead.
Little Gray Songs from St. Joseph's. [Grace Fallow Norton]
With cassock black, baret and book, Father Saran goes by; I think he goes to say a prayer For one who has to die.
Even so, some day, Father Saran May say a prayer for me; Myself meanwhile, the Sister tells, Should pray unceasingly.
They kneel who pray: how may I kneel Who face to ceiling lie, Shut out by all that man has made From God who made the sky?
They lift who pray — the low earth-born — A humble heart to God: But O, my heart of clay is proud — True sister to the sod.
I look into the face of God, They say bends over me; I search the dark, dark face of God — O what is it I see?
I see — who lie fast bound, who may Not kneel, who can but seek — I see mine own face over me, With tears upon its cheek.
If my dark grandam had but known, Or yet my wild grandsir, Or the lord that lured the maid away That was my sad mother,
O had they known, O had they dreamed What gift it was they gave, Would they have stayed their wild, wild love, Nor made my years their slave?
Must they have stopped their hungry lips From love at thought of me? O life, O life, how may we learn Thy strangest mystery?
Nay, they knew not, as we scarce know; Their souls, O let them rest; My life is pupil unto pain — With him I make my quest.
My little soul I never saw, Nor can I count its days; I do not know its wondrous law And yet I know its ways.
O it is young as morning-hours, And old as is the night; O it has growth of budding flowers, Yet tastes my body's blight.
And it is silent and apart, And far and fair and still, Yet ever beats within my heart, And cries within my will.
And it is light and bright and strange, And sees life far away, Yet far with near can interchange And dwell within the day.
My soul has died a thousand deaths, And yet it does not die; My soul has broke a thousand faiths, And yet it cannot lie;
My soul — there's naught can make it less; My soul — there's naught can mar; Yet here it weeps with loneliness Within its lonely star.
My soul — not any dark can bind, Nor hinder any hand, Yet here it weeps — long blind, long blind — And cannot understand.
Irish Peasant Song. [Louise Imogen Guiney]
I try to knead and spin, but my life is low the while. Oh, I long to be alone, and walk abroad a mile; Yet if I walk alone, and think of naught at all, Why from me that's young should the wild tears fall?
The shower-sodden earth, the earth-colored streams, They breathe on me awake, and moan to me in dreams, And yonder ivy fondling the broke castle-wall, It pulls upon my heart till the wild tears fall.
The cabin-door looks down a furze-lighted hill, And far as Leighlin Cross the fields are green and still; But once I hear the blackbird in Leighlin hedges call, The foolishness is on me, and the wild tears fall!
The Prince. [Josephine Dodge Daskam]
My heart it was a cup of gold That at his lip did long to lie, But he hath drunk the red wine down, And tossed the goblet by.
My heart it was a floating bird That through the world did wander free, But he hath locked it in a cage, And lost the silver key.
My heart it was a white, white rose That bloomed upon a broken bough, He did but wear it for an hour, And it is withered now.
Four Winds. [Sara Teasdale]
"Four winds blowing thro' the sky, You have seen poor maidens die, Tell me then what I shall do That my lover may be true." Said the wind from out the south, "Lay no kiss upon his mouth," And the wind from out the west, "Wound the heart within his breast," And the wind from out the east, "Send him empty from the feast," And the wind from out the north, "In the tempest thrust him forth; When thou art more cruel than he, Then will Love be kind to thee."
A West-Country Lover. [Alice Brown]
Then, lady, at last thou art sick of my sighing. Good-bye! So long as I sue, thou wilt still be denying? Good-bye! Ah, well! shall I vow then to serve thee forever, And swear no unkindness our kinship can sever? Nay, nay, dear my lass! here's an end of endeavor. Good-bye!
Yet let no sweet ruth for my misery grieve thee. Good-bye! The man who has loved knows as well how to leave thee. Good-bye! The gorse is enkindled, there's bloom on the heather, And love is my joy, but so too is fair weather; I still ride abroad though we ride not together. Good-bye!
My horse is my mate; let the wind be my master. Good-bye! Though Care may pursue, yet my hound follows faster. Good-bye! The red deer's a-tremble in coverts unbroken. He hears the hoof-thunder; he scents the death-token. Shall I mope at home, under vows never spoken? Good-bye!
The brown earth's my book, and I ride forth to read it. Good-bye! The stream runneth fast, but my will shall outspeed it. Good-bye! I love thee, dear lass, but I hate the hag Sorrow. As sun follows rain, and to-night has its morrow, So I'll taste of joy, though I steal, beg, or borrow! Good-bye!
A Winter Ride. [Amy Lowell]
Who shall declare the joy of the running! Who shall tell of the pleasures of flight! Springing and spurning the tufts of wild heather, Sweeping, wide-winged, through the blue dome of light. Everything mortal has moments immortal, Swift and God-gifted, immeasurably bright. So with the stretch of the white road before me, Shining snow crystals rainbowed by the sun, Fields that are white, stained with long, cool, blue shadows, Strong with the strength of my horse as we run. Joy in the touch of the wind and the sunlight! Joy! With the vigorous earth I am one.
Sic Vita. [William Stanley Braithwaite]
Heart free, hand free, Blue above, brown under, All the world to me Is a place of wonder. Sun shine, moon shine, Stars, and winds a-blowing, All into this heart of mine Flowing, flowing, flowing!
Mind free, step free, Days to follow after, Joys of life sold to me For the price of laughter. Girl's love, man's love, Love of work and duty, Just a will of God's to prove Beauty, beauty, beauty!
Across the Fields to Anne. [Richard Burton]
How often in the summer-tide, His graver business set aside, Has stripling Will, the thoughtful-eyed, As to the pipe of Pan, Stepped blithesomely with lover's pride Across the fields to Anne.
It must have been a merry mile, This summer stroll by hedge and stile, With sweet foreknowledge all the while How sure the pathway ran To dear delights of kiss and smile, Across the fields to Anne.
The silly sheep that graze to-day, I wot, they let him go his way, Nor once looked up, as who should say: "It is a seemly man." For many lads went wooing aye Across the fields to Anne.
The oaks, they have a wiser look; Mayhap they whispered to the brook: "The world by him shall yet be shook, It is in nature's plan; Though now he fleets like any rook Across the fields to Anne."
And I am sure, that on some hour Coquetting soft 'twixt sun and shower, He stooped and broke a daisy-flower With heart of tiny span, And bore it as a lover's dower Across the fields to Anne.
While from her cottage garden-bed She plucked a jasmine's goodlihede, To scent his jerkin's brown instead; Now since that love began, What luckier swain than he who sped Across the fields to Anne?
The winding path whereon I pace, The hedgerow's green, the summer's grace, Are still before me face to face; Methinks I almost can Turn poet and join the singing race Across the fields to Anne!
The House and the Road. [Josephine Preston Peabody]
The little Road says, Go, The little House says, Stay: And O, it's bonny here at home, But I must go away.
The little Road, like me, Would seek and turn and know; And forth I must, to learn the things The little Road would show!
And go I must, my dears, And journey while I may, Though heart be sore for the little House That had no word but Stay.
Maybe, no other way Your child could ever know Why a little House would have you stay, When a little Road says, Go.
The Path to the Woods. [Madison Cawein]
Its friendship and its carelessness Did lead me many a mile, Through goat's-rue, with its dim caress, And pink and pearl-white smile; Through crowfoot, with its golden lure, And promise of far things, And sorrel with its glance demure And wide-eyed wonderings.
It led me with its innocence, As childhood leads the wise, With elbows here of tattered fence, And blue of wildflower eyes; With whispers low of leafy speech, And brook-sweet utterance; With bird-like words of oak and beech, And whisperings clear as Pan's.
It led me with its childlike charm, As candor leads desire, Now with a clasp of blossomy arm, A butterfly kiss of fire; Now with a toss of tousled gold, A barefoot sound of green, A breath of musk, of mossy mold, With vague allurements keen.
It led me with remembered things Into an old-time vale, Peopled with faery glimmerings, And flower-like fancies pale; Where fungous forms stood, gold and gray, Each in its mushroom gown, And, roofed with red, glimpsed far away, A little toadstool town.
It led me with an idle ease, A vagabond look and air, A sense of ragged arms and knees In weeds grown everywhere; It led me, as a gypsy leads, To dingles no one knows, With beauty burred with thorny seeds, And tangled wild with rose.
It led me as simplicity Leads age and its demands, With bee-beat of its ecstasy, And berry-stained touch of hands; With round revealments, puff-ball white, Through rents of weedy brown, And petaled movements of delight In roseleaf limb and gown.
It led me on and on and on, Beyond the Far Away, Into a world long dead and gone, — The world of Yesterday: A faery world of memory, Old with its hills and streams, Wherein the child I used to be Still wanders with his dreams.
Sometimes. [Thomas S. Jones, Jr.]
Across the fields of yesterday He sometimes comes to me, A little lad just back from play — The lad I used to be.
And yet he smiles so wistfully Once he has crept within, I wonder if he hopes to see The man I might have been.
Renascence. [Edna St. Vincent Millay]
All I could see from where I stood Was three long mountains and a wood; I turned and looked another way, And saw three islands in a bay. So with my eyes I traced the line Of the horizon, thin and fine, Straight around till I was come Back to where I'd started from; And all I saw from where I stood Was three long mountains and a wood. Over these things I could not see; These were the things that bounded me; And I could touch them with my hand, Almost, I thought, from where I stand. And all at once things seemed so small My breath came short, and scarce at all. But, sure, the sky is big, I said; Miles and miles above my head; So here upon my back I'll lie And look my fill into the sky. And so I looked, and, after all, The sky was not so very tall. The sky, I said, must somewhere stop, And — sure enough! — I see the top! The sky, I thought, is not so grand; I 'most could touch it with my hand! And, reaching up my hand to try, I screamed to feel it touch the sky.
I screamed, and — lo! — Infinity Came down and settled over me; And, pressing of the Undefined The definition on my mind, Held up before my eyes a glass Through which my shrinking sight did pass Until it seemed I must behold Immensity made manifold; Whispered to me a word whose sound Deafened the air for worlds around, And brought unmuffled to my ears The gossiping of friendly spheres, The creaking of the tented sky, The ticking of Eternity. I saw and heard, and knew at last The How and Why of all things, past, And present, and forevermore. The universe, cleft to the core, Lay open to my probing sense That, sick'ning, I would fain pluck thence But could not, — nay! But needs must suck At the great wound, and could not pluck My lips away till I had drawn All venom out. — Ah, fearful pawn! For my omniscience paid I toll In infinite remorse of soul. All sin was of my sinning, all Atoning mine, and mine the gall Of all regret. Mine was the weight Of every brooded wrong, the hate That stood behind each envious thrust, Mine every greed, mine every lust. And all the while for every grief, Each suffering, I craved relief With individual desire, — Craved all in vain! And felt fierce fire About a thousand people crawl; Perished with each, — then mourned for all! A man was starving in Capri; He moved his eyes and looked at me; I felt his gaze, I heard his moan, And knew his hunger as my own. I saw at sea a great fog-bank Between two ships that struck and sank; A thousand screams the heavens smote; And every scream tore through my throat. No hurt I did not feel, no death That was not mine; mine each last breath That, crying, met an answering cry From the compassion that was I. All suffering mine, and mine its rod; Mine, pity like the pity of God. Ah, awful weight! Infinity Pressed down upon the finite Me! My anguished spirit, like a bird, Beating against my lips I heard; Yet lay the weight so close about There was no room for it without. And so beneath the Weight lay I And suffered death, but could not die.