THOUGHTS, MOODS AND IDEALS
Crimes of Leisure
Montreal: "WITNESS" PRINTING HOUSE, ST. JAMES STREET 1887
Dedicated to My Friends.
THOUGHTS, MOODS AND IDEALS.
THE CONFUSED DAWN.
YOUNG MAN What are the Vision and the Cry That haunt the new Canadian soul? Dim grandeur spreads we know not why O'er mountain, forest, tree and knoll, And murmurs indistinctly fly.— Some magic moment sure is nigh. O Seer, the curtain roll!
SEER The Vision, mortal, it is this— Dead mountain, forest, knoll and tree Awaken all endued with bliss, A native land—O think!—to be— Thy native land—and ne'er amiss, Its smile shall like a lover's kiss From henceforth seem to thee.
The Cry thou couldst not understand, Which runs through that new realm of light, From Breton's to Vancouver's strand O'er many a lovely landscape bright, It is their waking utterance grand, The great refrain "A NATIVE LAND!"— Thine be the ear, the sight.
To Thee whose smile is might and fame, A nation lifts united praise And asks but that Thy purpose frame A useful glory for its days.
We pray no sunset lull of rest, No pomp and bannered pride of war; We hold stern labor manliest, The just side real conqueror.
For strength we thank Thee: keep us strong, And grant us pride of skilful toil; For homes we thank Thee: may we long Have each some Eden rood of soil.
O, keep our mothers kind and dear, And make the fathers stern and wise; The maiden soul preserve sincere, And rise before the young man's eyes.
Crush out the jest of idle minds, That know not, jesting, when to hush; Keep on our lips the word that binds, And teach our children when to blush.
Forever constant to the good Still arm our faith, thou Guard Sublime, To scorn, like all who have understood, The atheist dangers of the time.
Thou hearest!—Lo, we feel our love Of loyal thoughts and actions free Toward all divine achievement move, Ennobled, blest, ensured, by Thee.
CANADA NOT LAST.
AT VENICE Lo! Venice, gay with color, lights and song, Calls from St. Mark's with ancient voice and strange: I am the Witch of Cities! glide along My silver streets that never wear by change Of years: forget the years, and pain, and wrong, And every sorrow reigning men among. Know I can soothe thee, please and marry thee To my illusions. Old and siren-strong, I smile immortal, while the mortals flee Who whiten on to death in wooing me.
AT FLORENCE Say, what more fair, by Arno's bridged gleam,[A] Than Florence, viewed from San Miniato's slope At eventide, when west along the stream, The last of day reflects a silver hope!— Lo, all else softened in the twilight beam:— The city's mass blent in one hazy cream, The brown Dome midst it, and the Lily tower, And stern Old Tower more near, and hills that seem Afar, like clouds to fade, and hills of power, On this side, greenly dark with cypress, vine and bower.
AT ROME End of desire to stray I feel would come Though Italy were all fair skies to me, Though France's fields went mad with flowery foam And Blanc put on a special majesty. Not all could match the growing thought of home Nor tempt to exile. Look I not on ROME— This ancient, modern, mediaeval queen— Yet still sigh westward over hill and dome, Imperial ruin and villa's princely scene Lovely with pictured saints and marble gods serene.
REFLECTION Rome, Florence, Venice—noble, fair and quaint, They reign in robes of magic round me here; But fading, blotted, dim, a picture faint, With spell more silent, only pleads a tear. Plead not! Thou hast my heart, O picture dim! I see the fields, I see the autumn hand Of God upon the maples! Answer Him With weird, translucent glories, ye that stand Like spirits in scarlet and in amethyst! I see the sun break over you; the mist On hills that lift from iron bases grand Their heads superb!—the dream, it is my native land.
[Footnote A: "Sovra'l bel fiume d'Arno la gran villa."—Dante.]
O DONNA DI VIRTU!
(DANTE—INFERNO, CANTO I.)
"O mystic Lady; Thou in whom alone Our human race surpasses all that stand In Paradise the nearest round the throne! So eagerly I wait for thy command That to obey were slow though ready done."
How oft I read. How agonized the turning, In those my earlier days of loss and pain,— Of eyes to space and night as though by yearning— Some wall might yield and I behold again A certain angel, fled beyond discerning; In vain I chafed and sought—alas, in vain, From spurring though my heart's dark world returned To Dante's page, those wearied thoughts of mine; Again I read, again my longing burned.— A voice melodious spake in every line, But from sad pleasure sorrow fresh I learned: Strange was the music of the Florentine.
LINES ON HEINE.
I saw a crowded circus once: The fool was in the middle. Loud laughed contemptuous Common-sense At every frisk and riddle.
I see another circus now— (The world a circus call I),— But in the centre laughs the sane; Round sit the sons of folly.
IMITATED FROM THE JAPANESE.
".......................... I have forgotten to forget."—Japanese Song. Tr. by R.H. Stoddard.
The morning flies, the evening dies; The heat of noon, the chills of night, Are but the dull varieties Of Phoebus' and of Phoebe's flight— Are but the dull varieties Of ruined night and ruined day; They bring no pleasure to mine eyes, For I have sent my soul away.
I am the man who cannot love, Yet once my heart was bright as thine, The suns that rove, the moons that move, No longer make its chambers shine; No more they light the spirit face That lit my night and made my day; No maiden feet with mine keep pace For I have sent my soul away.
O, lost! I think I see thee stand, By Mary's ivied chapel door, Where once thou stood'st, and with thy hand Wring pious pain, as once before. Impatient, crude philosopher, I scorned thy gentle wisdom's ray. All vain thy moistened eyelids were; I sent my soul and thee away.
A causeless wrath, a mood of pride, Some tears of thine, and all was done; On alien plains I travelled wide And thou wert soon a veiled nun. Not long a veiled nun, but soon Unveiled of linen and of clay; But I am March while thou art June, For I have sent my soul away.
And now when I would love thee well, There sits alone within my breast Calm guilt that dare not from its hell Look up and wish the thing thou art. I see a dreadful gulf of fright Beneath my falling life; and gray, Thy light becomes the ghost of light Above it as it falls away.
I have a life, a voice, a form, A skilful hand to lift and turn, I have emotions like a storm, A brain to throb, a heart to burn; But that which Jesus' blood can save, Which looks toward eternal day, Is gone before me to the grave.— It was my soul I sent away.
The past is past, and o'er its woe It is no comfort to repine; But I would wage my life to know Thy feet in heaven keep pace with mine. I have no hope, I will not weep, The only wish that wish I may Is this, that I may find asleep The soul I thought I sent away.
THE KNIGHT ERRANT.
CLOUD TO WIND O blow, blow high, for I descend; Friend must go to meet his friend, If to earth you tie your feet You and I will never meet.
WIND Nay, I haste. A trifle wait; I exceed my usual gait. Ha! this hill-top is sublime, But it makes me pant to climb.
CLOUD Once again, a little space, Meet we in this Alpine place, Before you leap adown the vale Or I along my pathway sail.
WIND Then let our little bell of time Ring onward with a chatty chime— How we have fled o'er earth and sky, And what you saw and what saw I.
CLOUD O, I from off my couch serene, Woods, meadows, towns and seas have seen; And in one wood, beside a cave, A hermit kneeling by a grave:— The which I felt so touched to see I wept a shower of sympathy. And in one mead I saw, methought, A brave, dark-armored knight, who fought A shining-dragon in a mist, That, mixed with flames did roll and twist Out of the beast's red mouth—a breath Of choking, blinding, sulphurous death, On which I shot my thickest rain And made the conflict fair again. And from one town I heard the swell Of a loud, melancholy bell, That past me rose in flames of sound And up to Saint Cecilia wound. And on one sea I saw a ship Bend out its full-fed sails and slip So light, so gladly o'er the tide I could not help but look inside— Its passengers were groom and bride. I floated o'er them snowily, They felt my beauty in the sky, Their eyes, their souls, their joy were one, I would not cross their happy sun. I love this life of calm and use— No bonds but windy ribbons loose, No gifts to ask but all to give, Secure Elysium fugitive.
WIND Your life, though, drinks not half the wine Of active gladness that doth mine; I spread my wings and stretch my arms Over a dozen hedged farms; I breast steep hills, through pine-groves rush, Rock birds' nests, yet no fledgling crush, Tossing the grain-fields everywhere, The trees, the grass, the school-girl's hair, Whirling away her laugh the while— (We breezes love the children's smile); And then I lag and wander down Among the roofs and dust of town, Bearing cool draughts from lake and moor To fan the faces of the poor, While sick babes, stifled half to death, Grow rosy at my country breath. I lent a shoulder to your ship; I moaned with that sad hermit's lip; I helped disperse the dragon's mist; And some bell's voice, 'twas yours I wist, I handed up to winds on high Who wing a loftier flight than I. But, hark! a rider leaves the vale.
CLOUD Ah, yes, I catch the gleam of mail.
RANDOLPH O speak again ye voiced ghosts! I heard afar your cheerful boasts. And, if I doubt not, ye are they That here have met me many a day.
WIND We are they.
CLOUD, (echoing) We are they. But whither now doth Randolph stray, And why the mail, and why the steed?
RANDOLPH This is my father's mail indeed, Bequeathed with message to his son: "Stand straight in it and yield to none."
WIND But whither off and why away?
RANDOLPH Off to the world; I cannot stay— That world I have so often viewed Here from this upper solitude— This bulwark barring strife and trade. Love calls me off. I love a maid, Loving her silently and long, Learning for her to hate the wrong, Learning for her to seek the right, To hew at sloth and faint resolve And thoughts that round but self revolve, And pray for grace and virtue—wings That bear men to the highest things, Enwrapt and rising into light. For her, for her, O Cloud and Wind! I trained my limbs and taught my mind, Ran, wrestled, clomb, and learned to bend The cross-bow with each village friend; And by my hermit-guardian spent The earliest dimness morning lent, And the faint torch that evening bore, In science and in saintly lore, Reading the stars and signs of rain, Noting each tree and herb and grain; Each bird that flutters through the leaves, Each beast, each fish that green lake cleaves, The curious deeds Devotion paints In missals and in lives of saints, And every olden subtle trick Of grammar, logic, rhetoric. But most on chivalry I turned A torrent eagerness, and burned To hear of wrong repaired, or read The working of some famous deed, Like those I dreamt that I could do When what I set myself was through: Vexed lest the inward clock of fate That ticked "Too soon!" might tick "Too late!" But now that dial points the hour When I must test my gathered power, And leave my books and leave my dreams Of steeds and towers and knightly themes, Of tourney gay and woodland quest, Of Perceval and Perceforest, Of Richard, Arthur, Charlemain, Amadis and the Cid of Spain— Must leave them all and seek alone Some grand adventure of my own.
CLOUD Yet if you seek and cannot find Or fail to work what you designed, Be it but as the steadfast sun Who bright or dim his course doth run, And last doth reach as far a spot Whether he seems to shine or not.
RANDOLPH The height, the fynial of my aim Is to be worthy of her name.
CLOUD You mortals are a curious race— More whirled by passions, hot in chase Of passions, than myself am whirled When tempests tug me o'er the world; I cannot understand your ways. We clouds live our divinest days Beneath great sunny depths of sky, High above all that you think high, Drifting through sunset's surf of gold, Dawn-lakes and moonlight's clear waves cold, In realms so distant, chill and lone, That Love, impatient, leaves the throne To meditative Amity.
RANDOLPH So would my guardian have it be, So flowed his constant voice to me, Of those to make me one, he sought, Who watch from mountain towers of thought, Or wandering into paths apart Pursue the lonely star of art.
WIND But you would rather love and do. Well said, so much the wiser you! But let your love be false as maid's, Your every fire a flame that fades— A word, a smile, an easy thing To fledge and easy taking wing. Kiss every lip, as tired of rest As I am now. I'm off to west Good-bye, and some day when you're hot I'll meet you cool.
CLOUD And I should not Delay my showers so long as this. God speed! Good-bye!
RANDOLPH Good-bye. I miss Their wonderful companionship. So onward seems the world to slip. Now one glance backward firmly cast; Thy next foot forward bears thee past The mountain's crest. Ah, I behold Our reckless river leaping bold Down all its ledges. And I see The castle where Elaine must be. Lo, in yon window sits she oft.— From yon green maze of willows soft I hear our hermitage's bell. Sweet sound, sweet many scenes, farewell. Elaine! Elaine!
CUJUS ANIMAE PROPICIETUR DEUS.
A quiet, old cathedral folds apart At Oxford, from the world of colleges A world of tombs, and shades them in its heart; Contrasting with the busy knowledges This wisdom, that they all shall end in peace.— "Vex you not, slaves of truth! there is release."
There every window is a monument Emblazoned: every slab along the pave, Each effigy with knees devoutly bent,— Or prone, with folded gauntlets,—is a grave. Unnoticed down the sands of Kronos run: Slow move the sombre shadows with the sun.
Hard by a Norman shaft, along the floor A portraiture on ancient bronze designed In Academic hood and robes of yore, Commemorates some by-gone lord of mind. Mournful the face and dignified the head: A man who pondered much upon the dead.
Repose unbroken now his dust surrounds, He is with those whom mortals honor most. Respect and tender sighs and holy sounds Of choirs, and the presence of the Holy Ghost And fellow spirits and shadowy mem'ries dear Make for his rest a sacred atmosphere.
Sometime a gentle and profound Divine, Father revered of spiritual sons. He died. They laid him here. About his shrine, Of what they wrote this remnant legend runs: "Nascitur omnis homo peccato mortuus Una post cineres virtus vivere sola facit."[A]
There as I breathed the lesson of the dead: Sudden the rich bells chorussed overhead: "O be not of the throng ephemeral To whom to-day is fame, to-morrow fate, Proud of some robe no statelier than a pall, Mad for some wreath of cypress funeral— A phantom generation fatuate. Stand thou aside and stretch a hand to save, Virtue alone revives beyond the grave."
[Footnote A: "Every man is born dead in sin. Virtue alone brings life eternal."]
Lo Zephyr floats, on pinions delicate, Past the dark belfry, where a deep-toned bell Sways back and forth, Grief tolling out the knell For thee, my friend, so young and yet so great. Dead—thou art dead. The destiny of men Is ever thus, like waves upon the main To rise, grow great, fall with a crash and wane, While still another grows to wane again, Dead—thou art dead. Would that I too were gone And that the grass which rustles on thy grave Might also over mine forever wave Made living by the death it grew upon. I ask not Orpheus-like, that Pluto give Thy soul to earth. I would not have thee live.
PRAETERITA EX INSTANTIBUS.
How strange it is that, in the after age,— When Time's clepsydra will be nearer dry— That all the accustomed things we now pass by Unmarked, because familiar, shall engage The antique reverence of men to be; And that quaint interest which prompts the sage The silent fathoms of the past to gauge Shall keep alive our own past memory, Making all great of ours—the garb we wear— Our voiceless cities, reft of roof and spire— The very skull whence now the eye of fire Glances bright sign of what the soul can dare. So shall our annals make an envied lore, And men will say, 'Thus did the men of yore.'
I saw the shining-limbed Apollo stand, Exultant, on the rim of Orient, And well and mightily his bow he bent, And unseen-swift the arrow left his hand. Far on it sped, as did those elder ones That long ago shed plague upon the Greek— Far on—and pierced the side of Night, who weak And out of breath with fright, fled to his sons, The nether ghosts; and lo! his jewelled robe No more did shade a sleep-encircled world; And thereupon the faery legions furled The silk of silence, and the wheeling globe Spun freer on its grand, accustomed way, While all things living rose to hail the day.
Fade lesser dreams, that, built of tenderness, Young trust and tinted hopes, have led me long. These jagged ways ye whiled will pain me less Than hath your falsity. Your spirit song Sent magic wafted up and down along The waves of wind to me. Your world was real. There was no ruder world that I could feel. I lived in dreams and thought you all I would, Nor knew what dread, bare truth is doomed to rise, When love and hope and all but one far Good, Like sunset lands feel the cold night of lies.
Go, sweetest visions, die amid my tears, For hence, nor cheered, nor blinded, must I seek That larger dream that cannot fade; though years Of leaden days and leagues of by-path bleak Must intervene, with austere sadness gray, Fade dimmer! lest in agony I turn, And heartsick seek ye, though the Fates shriek "Nay!" And the wroth heavens with judgment lightnings burn.
Go useless lesser dreams. And where they were, Rise, grave aerial Good! Thy texture's true. There is no good can die. "No ill," says Time, "can bear, However beautiful, my long, long earnest view."
Soul, thou hast lived before. Thy wing Hath swept the ancient folds of light Which once wrapt stilly everything, Before the advent of a Night.
O thou art blind and thou art dead Unto the knowledge that was thine. A longing and a dreamy dread Alone oft shadow the divine.
Full loud calls past eternity, But Lethe's murmur stills its roar, The one vague truth that reaches thee Is this—that thou hast lived before.
Home often comes some voice of eld Confused and low—a broken surge By fate and distance half withheld— Rich in linked sadness like a dirge.
The muffled, great bell Silence clangs His solemn call, and thou, O soul! Dost stir in sense's torpid fangs, Like the blind magnet, toward a pole.
The deep, vast, swelling organ-sound; The cadence of an evening flute, Bring oft those ancient joys around To linger till the notes are mute.
And when thy hushed breathing fills The shrine of quiet reverence, Then, too, a freeing angel stills The clanking of the chains of sense.
But nearest to that former life Another power calleth thee, Away from care, away from strife, Toward what thou wast—infinity.
And in thee, soul, the deepest chord Thrills to a strain rung from above; That strain is bound within a word, A sole, sweet word, and it is—Love.
Love—yet it cannot set thee free To sweep again those folds of light, It torches but a part to thee And dim, though fair. The rest is night.
As the fine structure of a man Fits into life's great world, foremade, So too it shadoweth the plan Of ages hidden in the shade.
And thou hast lived before; hast known The depth of every mystery, Has dwelt in Nature, hid, alone And winged the blue aetherial sea;
Hast looked upon the ends of space; Hast visited each rolling star,— Before Time measured forth his pace, Scythe-armed, on a terrestrial war.
Time, with his constant touch, has half erased The memory, but he cannot dim the fame Of one who best of all has paraphrased The tale of waters with a tale of flame, Yet left us but his accents and his name.
Upon that life, the sun of history Shines not, but Legend, like a moon in mist, Sheds over it a weird uncertainty, In which all figures wave and actions twist, So that a man may read them as he list.
We know not if he trod some Theban street, And sought compassion on his aged woe, We know not if on Chian sand his feet Left footprints once; but only this we know, How the high ways of fame those footprints show.
Along the border of the restless sea, The lonely thinker must have loved to roam, We feel his soul wrapt in its majesty, And he can speak in words that drip with foam, As though himself a deep, and depths his home.
Hark! under all and through and over all, Runs on the cadence of the changeful sea; Now pleasantly the graceful surges fall, And now they mutter in an angry key Ever, throughout their changes, grand and free.
How sternly sang he of Achilles' might, How sweetly of the sweet Andromache, How low his lyre when Ajax prays for light; (Well might he bend that lyre in sympathy For also great, and also blind was he.)
We almost see the nod of sternbrowed Jove, And feel Olympus shake; we almost hear The melodies that Greek youths interwove In paean to Apollo, and the clear, Full voice of Nestor, sounding far and near.
A dignity of sadness filled his heart, That sadness, born of immortality, Which they alone who live in art Feel in its sweetness and its mystery, Half-filled already with infinity.
Yea, Zeus was wise when he decreed him blind, And wiser still when he decreed him poor; For insight grew as outer sight declined, And want overrode the ills it could not cure, Else rhapsody had lacked its lay most pure.
OUR UNDERLYING EXISTENCE.
O Fool, that wisdom dost despise, Thou knowest not, thou canst not guess Another part of thee is wise And silent sees thy foolishness.
Yet, fool, how dare I pity thee Because my heart reveres the sages; The fool lies also deep in me; We all are one beneath the ages.
"Creation—God's kind giving— Continues: did not at one Adam end. New realms start open to each generation, Each man receives some gift, some revelation: I, in this late age living, The gift, the new-creation of a friend.
TO A DEBUTANTE.
Thou who smilest in thy freshness, Bright as bud in morning dew; Keep this thought in thy heart's bower "Ever turn, like sunward flower, To the Good, the Fair, the True."
Once, in the University of Life, Remember and Inquire, my old Professors, A question hard requested me to solve: "How can man's love be great and be eternal If Right forewarns he may be called to leave it: Whether should Love rule Duty and be all, Or Duty turn his back on sweet Love crying?"
I paused—then spoke, not having what to answer: "Ye know, Professors, how to utter problems And man perplex with his own elements. Yet I believe the ways ye teach are perfect And able are you what ye set to solve.— Admiring you, however, aids me nothing, I speak because I have not what to answer." "Ponder," they said, those quiet, sage Professors,
I had seen Love—O Vision, I was near thee When Death refused that I should speak with thee! And I had seen her soft eyes' trustful brightness Wondrous look down into the soul of many And lead it out and make it of eternity. Yes, truly, in her look men find true being!— What ruin if such being must be withered!
I had seen Duty—soldier of his God— Of Virtue and of Order sentinel— Grand his firm countenance with obedience. His troth to Love would everlasting be Or nothing. What then should commanding orders Bid him have done with her and all renounce? How can he look on Love and know this shadow?
"I see no answer," answered I dejected, "Except that either Love must be abased, Or he resign perfection in his calling."
"Nay," said they, but by strange, clear apparatus (Whereof within that College there is much) Gave illustration—paraphrased as follows: "Thou hast not reckoned for eternity. The True fears not Forever: fear thou not. Duty and Love are noble man and wife (If otherwise thou see them 'tis illusion), 'Tis she sends Duty forth with dear embrace And proudest of his battle through her tears Encourages: 'Regard me not but strike!' And 'If thou must depart alas, depart! Follow thy noblest, I am ever true!' He strikes and presses, sending back his heart As forward moves his foot on the arena; Or marches bravely far and far, until Hope of return as mortal disappears: This should true soul endure, though everlasting— But then, besides, we know that One has mercy."
TO A FELLOW-STUDENT OF KANT.
The sweet star of the Bethlehem night Beauteous guides and true, And still, to me and you With only local, legendary light.
For us who hither look with eyes afar From constellations of philosophy, All light is from the Cradle; the true star, Serene o'er distance, in the Life we see.
TO THE SOUL.
AN ODE OF EVOLUTION
O lark aspire! Aspire forever, in thy morning sky!— Forever soul, beat bravely, gladly, higher, And sing and sing that sadness is a lie.
Forever, soul, achieve! Droop not an instant into sloth and rest. Live in a changeless moment of the best And lower heights to Heaven forgotten leave.
Man still will strive. Delight of battle leaped within his sires. They laughed at death; and Life was all alive: In him not blood it seeks, but vast desires.
He wakens from a dream Reviews the forms he fought in ages gone— He or his ancestors, their shapes are one:— And also of himself the forms he battled seem.
He sees the truth! "I wrestled with myself, and rose to strength. Still be that progress mine!—I see at length All World, all Soul are one, all ages youth!"
O solemn clime to which my spirit looks, No more will I the path to thee defer,— Worn here with search—a too sad wanderer,— The dance-tune spent, surpassed the sacred books, And spurned that city's walls where I did plan A thousand lives, unwitting I was pent; As though my thousand lives could be content With any vista in the bounds of man!
Eternal clime, our exile is from thee! Flood o'er thy portals like the tender morn!— Receive! receive! and let us new be born! We are thy substance—spirit of thy degree— Mist of thy bliss—fire, love, infinity! And only by some mischance from thee torn.
THE ARTIST'S PRAYER.
I know thee not, O Spirit fair! O Life and flying Unity Of Loveliness! Must man despair Forever in his chase of thee!
When snowy clouds flash silver-gilt, Then feel I that thou art on high! When fire o'er all the west is spilt, Flames at its heart thy majesty.
Thy beauty basks on distant hills; It smiles in eve's wine-colored sea; It shakes its light on leaves and rills; In calm ideals it mocks at me;
Thy glances strike from many a lake That lines through woodland scapes a sheen; Yet to thine eyes I never wake:— They glance, but they remain unseen.
I know thee not, O Spirit fair! Thou fillest heaven: the stars are thee: Whatever fleets with beauty rare Fleets radiant from thy mystery.
Forever thou art near my grasp; Thy touches pass in twilight air; Yet still—thy shapes elude my clasp:— I know thee not, thou Spirit fair!
O Ether, proud, and vast, and great, Above the legions of the stars! To this thou art not adequate;— Nor rainbow's glorious scimitars.
I know thee not, thou Spirit sweet! I chained pursue, while thou art free. Sole by the smile I sometimes meet I know thou, Vast One, knowest me.
In old religions hadst thou place: Long, long, O Vision, our pursuit! Yea, monad, fish and childlike brute Through countless ages dreamt thy grace.
Grey nations felt thee o'er them tower; Some clothed thee in fantastic dress; Some thought thee as the unknown Power, I, e'er the unknown Loveliness.
To all, thou wert as harps of joy; To bard and sage their fulgent sun: To priests their mystic life's employ; But unto me the Lovely One.
Veils clothed thy might; veils draped thy charm; The might they tracked, but I the grace; They learnt all forces were thine Arm, I that all beauty was thy Face.
Night spares us little. Wanderers we. Our rapt delights, our wisdoms rare But shape our darknesses of thee,— We know thee not, thou Spirit fair!
Would that thine awful Peerlessness An hour could shine o'er heaven and earth And I the maddening power possess To drink the cup,—O Godlike birth!
All life impels me to thy search: Without thee, yea, to live were null; Still shall I make the dawn thy Church, And pray thee "God the Beautiful."
The Soul, the inner, immortal Ruler.—Hindu Upanishad.
"Witch-like, see it planets roll, Hear it from the cradle call— Nature?—Nature is the soul; That alone is aught and all. Grieved or broken though the song, The fount of music is elate, For the Soul is ever strong, For the Soul is ever great."
"For the Soul is ever great!"— Songless sat I by a grove, Pines, like funeral priests of state, Chanted solemn rites above. Dark and glassy far below, The River in his proud vale slept, Eve with olive-shafted bow Like a stealthy archer crept.
Why, O Masters, then I thought, Is the mantle yours, of song? Why with hours like this do not Glorious strains to all belong?
Why all choosing, why all ban? Why are lords, and why are slaves And the most of gentle man Clipt and harried to their graves? Foiled and ruined, masses die That one fair and noble be. Why are all not Masters? Why So unjust is Life's decree?
Why are poor and why are rich? Why are slaves and why are lords? Unto this the splendid niche: Those caste damneth in their words. Do not powers of evil reign? Do not flashes' storms make dread? Should not He of Life again Bring the just peace of the dead?
Oft the Pines, like priests of state, Have spoke the heavenly word to man; So above me as I sate AEol voices chanting ran: "For the Soul is ever great For the Soul is ever strong; In the murmurer it can wait— In the shortest sight see long.
"Not a yearning but is proof Thou art yet its aim to own: Thou the warp art and the woof, Not the woof or warp alone. Couldst thou drop the lead within To the bottom of thyself, All the World—and God—and Sin— And Force—and Ages—were that Elf.
"With thy breathing goes all breath, With thy striving goes all strife, In thy being, deep as death, Lies the largeness of all life. The world is but thy deepest wish, The phases thereof are thy dream; They that hunt or plough or fish Are of thee the out-turned seam.
"Helpless, thou hast every power, In thee greatness perfect sleeps— And thou comest to thy dower, And thy strength perennial keeps. Stir the Aeol harp elate! Make a triumph of its song, For the Soul is ever great, For the Soul is ever strong!"
Rushings cool as of a breeze Amened to their litany; In their pure sky smiled the trees; And no more was mystery. Clear I saw the Soul at work, All through fair Saint Francis vale, Beauty-making; like a dirk Peering bright amid the mail.
Vital the dark River wound, Glassy in his cool repose; Many a bird-like country, sound As the Soul-voice upward rose. Then as in a glass I knew I was vale and town and stream, Shadowed grove and northern blue And the stars that 'gan to gleam.
This was I, and all was mine. Mine—yea, ours—the grace and might, With the lordship of a line That laughs at any earthly knight. Ah, what music then I heard! What conceptions then I saw! Master-thoughts within me stirred, And there flashed the Master-law. Next them did the greatest shapes Of Angelo crowd in a dream:— Vain the grace that marble drapes; A village mason's these did seem.
But—the light from Angelo's eye That so deeply eager burns With its fierce sincerity!— Ah, the ancient saw returns: "Greater artist than his art;" Meaning: greater yet than he Is the vast outfeeling Heart In him lying like the sea.
With a sudden eagle-stroke How this truth can lift one wide. Then he sees the sublime joke Of humility and pride; For the Soul is ever great, The one Soul within us all: One the tone that shakes a state With the helpless cradle-call.
Yes, that wonder of the Soul Is the riddle of it all, And the answer, and the whole, Bright with joy that rends the pall. Brother-man, I pray you stand, Hear a minstrel; but the song If you do not understand, Pass and do not do it wrong.
TO CYBEL DEAR.
Though others plight for pride or gain, And mix the cup of love; Theirs be the duller troth, the stain; Ours the sweet stars approve. My riches, love, they shall be thou; My pride, thy love for me: No diamond fairer decks a brow Than thine sincerity.
Though ours be tenements, not towers, Theirs, lawns and halls of ease, Beloved, 'tis heaven, not gold, is ours, And the realities. No sordid wish doth make us one, But love, love, love. O surely, surely, that is done Which the sweet stars approve.
THE STILL TRYST.
How love transcends our mortal sphere, And sees again the spirit-world, Forgot so daily. Thou art here;— I know thee, sweet—though fair impearled Thy face in a far atmosphere To others,—hearing in the sea My love a-crying up to thee.
Thou by the surf, I on the lake:— Yet in the real world we meet; And O, for thy endeared sake, Love, all I am is at thy feet. With thy life let me breathing take, And through all nature do thou see My love a-crying up to thee.
And with thine eyes shall I pursue Yon shower-veils from the sunset flying, Blown mid clouds white and lurid-blue That crowd the rainbow's arch, defying Him who in red death shoots them through. Look with me; in this pageant see My love all glowing up to thee.
See what I see, hear what I hear, I too am with thee by the wave— One all the day, the hour, the year: Our trust of love shall be so brave, We shall deny that death is here Or any power in the grave. I know thee; thou canst love like this; Be ours the endless spirit-kiss.
Dusk falls. How purely shines that star, Concealed while day was in the sky; Life, love and thou not mortal are, Though atheist noon your world deny. Dusk falls:—though in the west a bar Of bloom on evening's pure cheek be; In beauty thy love cries to me.
The chickiebids are in their nest Overhead,— Dimpled shapes of rosy rest Curled a-bed. Night has sung her spell, and thrown Her dark net round Their heads; their pearly ears have grown Deaf to all other sound.
O of me how you are part, Babies mine! Your hearts are children of my heart. The inner sign Of my eyes lurks in your eyes, And your soul, That so brims with Paradise, Stirs what wonders roll Unsuspected in myself, Who had thought Life half death, till childhood's elf— Sign of angels men shall be— Came and taught A youth eterne within futurity.
THE CAUGHNAWAGA BEADWORK SELLER.
Kanawaki—"By the Rapid,"— Low the sunset midst thee lies; And from the wild Reservation Evening's breeze begins to rise. Faint the Konoronkwa chorus Drifts across the current strong; Spirit-like the parish steeple Stands thy ancient walls among.
Kanawaki—"By the Rapid,"— How the sun amidst thee burns! Village of the Praying Nation, Thy dark child to thee returns. All day through the pale-face city, Silent, selling beaded wares, I have wandered with my basket, Lone, excepting for their stares!
They are white men; we are Indians; What a gulf their stares proclaim! They are mounting; we are dying; All our heritage they claim. We are dying, dwindling, dying, Strait and smaller grows our bound; They are mounting up to heaven And are pressing all around.
Thou art ours,—little remnant, Ours through countless thousand years— Part of the old Indian world, Thy breath from far the Indian cheers. Back to thee, O Kanawaki! Let the rapids dash between Indian homes and white men's manners— Kanawaki and Lachine!
O my dear!—O Knife-and-Arrows! Thou art bronzed, thy limbs are lithe; How I laugh as through the crosse-game, Slipst thou like red elder withe. Thou art none of these pale-faces! When with thee I'll happy feel, For thou art the Mohawk warrior From thy scalp-lock to thy heel.
Sweet the Konoronkwa chorus Floats across the current strong; Clear behold the parish steeple Rise the ancient walls among. Speed us deftly, noiseless paddle: In my shawl my bosom burns! Kanawaki—"By the Rapid,"— Thine own child to thee returns.
Reign on, majestic Ville Marie! Spread wide thine ample robes of state; The heralds cry that thou art great, And proud are thy young sons of thee. Mistress of half a continent, Thou risest from thy girlhood's rest; We see thee conscious heave thy breast And feel thy rank and thy descent.
Sprung of the saint and chevalier! And with the Scarlet Tunic wed! Mount Royal's crown upon thy head, And—past thy footstool—broad and clear St. Lawrence sweeping to the sea; Reign on, majestic Ville Marie!
ALL HAIL TO A NIGHT.
All hail to a night when the stars stand bright Like gold dust in the sky; With a crisp track long, and an old time song, And the old time company.
Cho.—All hail to a night when the Northern Light A welcome to us waves, Then the snowshoer goes o'er the ice and the snows, And the frosty tempest braves.
The snowshoer's tent is the firmament; His breath the rush of the breeze. Earth's loveliest sprite, the frost queen at night, Lures him silvery through the trees.
Yes, the snowshoer's queen is winter serene, We meet her in the glade. Dark-blue-eyed, a fair, pale bride, In her jewelled veil arrayed.
Let us up then and toast to the uttermost Fair winter! we knights of the shoe, And in circle again join hearts with the men That of old time toasted her too.
All you who on your acres broad, Know nature in its charms, With pictured dale and fruitful sod, And herds on verdant farms, Remember those who fought the trees And early hardships braved, And so for us of all degrees All from the forest saved.
And you who stroll in leisured ease Along your city squares, Thank those who there have fought the trees, And howling wolves and bears. They met the proud woods in the face, Those gloomy shades and stern; Withstood and conquered, and your race Supplants the pine and fern.
Where'er we look, their work is there; Now land and men are free: On every side the view grows fair, And perfect yet shall be. The credit's theirs, who all day fought The stubborn giant hosts: We have but built on what they wrought; Theirs were the honor-posts.
Though plain their lives and rude their dress, No common men were they; Some came for scorn of slavishness That ruled lands far away; And some came here for conscience' sake, For Empire and the King; And some for Love a home to make, Their dear ones here to bring.
First staunch men left, for Britain's name, The South's prosperity; And Highland clans from Scotland came— Their sires had aye been free; And England oft her legions gave To found a race of pluck, And ever came the poor and brave And took the axe and struck.
Each hewed, and saw a dream-like home!— Hewed on—a settlement! Struck hard—through mists the spire and dome The distant rim indent! So honored be they midst your ease, And give them well their due, Honor to those who fought the trees And made a land for you!
In the name of many martyrs Who have died to save their country, Poured their fresh blood bravely for it, And our soil thus consecrated; In the name of Brock the peerless, In the name of Spartan Dollard, Wolfe and Montcalm—world's and ours— The high spirit of Tecumseh; Of the eight who fell at Cut Knife, Bright in early bloom and courage, When our youth leapt up for trial; In the names of thousand others Whom we proudly keep remembered As our saviours from the Indian, From the savage and the rebel, Or from Hampton, or Montgomery By Quebec's old faithful fortress; And at Chrysler's Farm and Lundy; And upon the lakes and ocean; Or who lived us calmer service;— Many is the roll, and sacred;— In their names a voice is calling, Through this native land of ours!
Hark, for we have need to listen! All our martyrs warn and shame us. Do not let them see us cowards! Why are all these faint-heart whispers In the very hour of progress?
Tattles of disquiet vex us, And among us are new enemies— Cowards, weak, ignoble whiners, Esaus, placemen, low-browed livers, Traitors, salesmen of a nation. Some would have us drop despondent And convince us we are nothing. (Us of whom ten thousand heroes Hitherto to here have conquered And we must be faithful to them!) Some are hypocrites and cynics; Some would wreck us; some would leave us; Even in the hour of peril Would the hand of many fail us; They would almost make to falter Our old simple faith in God.
Therefore this appeal, O brothers, Earnestly do I adjure you To believe and trust your country.
By the glorious star of England, Shining mast-high o'er all oceans; In the name of France the glorious; In the world-proud name of Europe; Whence you draw your great traditions; I adjure you trust your country!
By all noble thoughts of manhood; By the toil of your forefathers; By their sacrifices for you; By the Loyalist tradition; And your own heart's generous instincts; I adjure you be Canadian.
"Is there a place, a work, a rank Our Canada is called to fill:— She has but struggled till she sank Hers is it but to toil and till: No seat among the peoples ours."— So speaks the Tempter in our bowers. So soft he presses on his bonds:— But hark! a softer voice responds:
"Behold, Canadians, this your place, Your task, your rank, in earth and heaven To make you an especial race To God and human progress given." Too holy is the task for jeers, Too lofty to permit of fears.
Ignoble is the fear of loss; The call of honour all demands! What thought those generous hearts of dross Who sowed our races in these lands? Who blames the Loyalist of pelf? Champlain, what cared he for himself?
Ignoble is the dread of harm:— Expurge it for a nobler creed! Until we smile at all alarm Poor will be our Canadian breed. He may not count on victories Who will not die as patriot dies.
Ignoble the consent to take The light opinions of our worth That strangers condescending make Who own not better brains nor birth:— Children of men who toiled and fought, Build your own fate; respect your lot.
Arise! Live out a larger dream— Your nation's that ye may be man's: Advance; invent; improve; the gleam Of dawn for all illume your plans! Greece lived! the world requires again The lives of nations and of men!
THE KEERLESS PARD.
No, I'm a disappointed man, Though I've acted fer the best; But I tell ye, stranger, what it is— The Occident's not the West.
Have I got the hang of the dialeck? Ye're nearer New York ner I An' ye've seen th' latest litteracher This lingo's laid-down by.
What is Bret Harte now givin' us? How's the Colorado tongue? Bret wuz the pard that run the West When I wuz East—and young;—
That is to say, three months ago. But now I must be grey, Fer I've been out here so long I've lost The hang o' the Western way.
Way down thar in the State o' Maine, In mild Skowhegan town, I pastured as a tenderfoot An' the clerk o' Storeclothes Brown.
Till I got to readin' Roarin Camp An' about that Truthful James, Buffalo Bill an' Bloody Gulch, An' pistol-an'-poker games,
An' the pleasure o' shootin' justices An' sheriffs deeputies An' the oncomplainin' public An' the gineral mob likewise.
Then I—wich my name is Dangerous Jake— (Leastwise when took that way) Sloped unappreciative Brown An' follered the wake o' day.
An' here am I in Bismarck Jug! Fer an inoffensive spree— Puttin' some buckshot inter the leg Of a pagan-tail Chinee.
Wot is the good of our churches Ef the Mongol's goin' ter rule? An' how kin ye shoot the redskin When they're givin' him beef and school?
What are the Rockies comin' too? Well, I've acted fer the best. But the only remark I've got to make, is— The Occident's not the West
THE BATTLE OF LAPRAIRIE. (1691.)
That was a brave old epoch, Our age of chivalry, When the Briton met the Frenchman At the fight of La Prairie; And the manhood of New England, And the Netherlander true And Mohawks sworn, gave battle To the Bourbon's lilied blue.
That was a brave old governor Who gathered his array, And stood to meet, he knew not what On that alarming day. Eight hundred, amid rumors vast That filled the wild wood's gloom, With all New England's flower of youth, Fierce for New France's doom.
And the brave old half five hundred! Their's should in truth be fame; Borne down the savage Richelieu, On what emprise they came! Your hearts are great enough, O few: Only your numbers fail, New France asks more for conquerors All glorious though your tale.
It was a brave old battle That surged around the fort, When D'Hosta fell in charging, And 'twas deadly strife and short; When in the very quarters They contested face and hand, And many a goodly fellow Crimsoned yon La Prairie sand.
And those were brave old orders The colonel gave to meet That forest force with trees entrenched Opposing the retreat: "DeCalliere's strength's behind us And in front your Richelieu; We must go straightforth at them; There is nothing else to do."
And then the brave old story comes, Of Schuyler and Valrennes When "Fight," the British colonel called, Encouraging his men, "For the Protestant Religion And the honor of our King!"— "Sir, I am here to answer you!" Valrennes cried, forthstepping.
Were those not brave old races?— Well, here they still abide; And yours is one or other, And the second's at your side, So when you hear your brother say, "Some loyal deed I'll do," Like old Valrennes, be ready with "I'm here to answer you!"
WINTER'S DAWN IN LOWER CANADA.
To each there lives some beauteous sight: mine is to me most fair, I carry fadeless one clear dawn in keen December air, O'er leagues of plain from night we fled upon a pulsing train; For breath of morn, outside I stood. Then up a carmine stain Flushed calm and rich the long, low east, deep reddening till the sun Eyed from its molten fires and shot strange arrows, one by one On certain fields, and on a wood of distant evergreen, And fairy opal blues and pinks on all the snows between: (Broad earth had never such a flower, as in my country grows, When at the rising winter sun, the plain is all a rose.) Then seemed all nymphs and gods awake—heaven brightened with their smiles, The land was theirs; like mirages, stood out Elysian isles. Westward the forests smiled in strength and glory like the plain, Their bare boughs rose, an arrowy flight, and by them sped the train. But dream-crown of that porcelain sea, those plains of sunrise snow, The green woods east, the grey woods west, and molten carmine glow— A light flashed through the sappling wastes and alders nearer by, Where Phoebus worked the spell of spells that ever charmed an eye, His bright spears to the forest-flakes reached; that on their branches lay, And each shot back, as we sped by, a single peerless ray. More bright than starry hosts appeared that vision in the wood And flashed and flew like fire-flies in a nightly solitude, A maze of silver stars, a dance of diamonds in the day:
Through many lives though fly my soul as on that pulsing train, That sparkling dawn shall oftentimes enkindle it again.