Transcribed from the 1910 Gay and Hancock edition David Price, email email@example.com
BY ELLA WHEELER WILCOX
GAY AND HANCOCK, LTD. 12 & 13, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN LONDON 1910
[All rights reserved]
Foreword An Old Heart Warp and Woof So Long If I could only weep Why should we sigh A wakeful night If one should dive deep Two No comfort It does not matter The under-tone Worth living More fortunate He will not come Worn out Rondeau Trifles Courage The other Mad Which Love's burial Incomplete On rainy days Geraldine Only in dreams Circumstance Simple creeds The bridal eve Good night No place Found A man's reverie When my sweet lady sings Spectres Only a line Parting Estranged Before and after An empty crib The arrival Go back Why I love her Discontent A dream The night New Year Reverie The law Spirit of a Great Control Noon The search A man's good-bye At the hop Met Returned birds A crushed leaf A curious story Jenny Lind Life's key Bridge of prayer New year Deceitful calm Un Rencontre Burned out Only a glove Reminders A dirge Not anchored The new love An east wind Cheating time Only a slight flirtation What the rain saw After Our petty cares The ship and the boat Come near A suggestion A fisherman's baby Content and happiness The Cusine I wonder why A woman's hand Presentiment Two rooms Three at the opera A strain of music Smoke An autumn day Wishes The play As we look back Why Listen Together One night Lost nation The captive No song Two friends I didn't think A burial Their faces The lullaby Mirage Alone in the house An old bouquet At the bridal Best
This little volume might be called 'Echoes from the land of youthful imaginings'; or 'Ghosts of old dreams.' It has been compiled at the request of Messrs. Gay and Hancock (my only authorised publishers in Great Britain), and contains verses written in my early youth, and which never before (with the exception, perhaps, of three or four) have been placed in book form.
Given the poetical temperament, and a lonely environment, with few distractions, youthful imagination is sure to express itself in mournful wails and despairing moans. Such wails and moans will be found to excess in this little book, and will serve to show better than any amount of common-sense reasoning, how fleeting are the sorrows of youth, and how slight the foundation on which the young build towers of despair.
In the days when these verses were written, each little song represented a few dollars (to my emaciated purse), and so the slightest experience of my own, or of any friend, with every passing mood, every trivial happening, was utilised by my imaginative and thrifty muse.
That the writer has always possessed robust health, and has lived to a good age, is proof positive that the verses are not all expressions of personal experiences, since no human being could have borne such continual agonies and retained life and reason.
All the verses in the book were written while I bore the name of Ella Wheeler, and are quite inconsistent with the ideas and philosophy of
ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.
AN OLD HEART
How young I am! Ah! heaven, this curse of youth Doth mock me from my mirror with great eyes, And pulsing veins repeat the unwelcome truth, That I must live, though hope within me dies.
So young, and yet I have had all of life. Why, men have lived to see a hundred years, Who have not known the rapture, joy, and strife Of my brief youth, its passion and its tears.
Oh! what are years? A ripe three score and ten Hold often less of life, in its best sense, Than just a twelvemonth lived by other men, Whose high-strung souls are ardent and intense.
But having seen all depths and scaled all heights, Having a heart love thrilled, and sorrow wrung, Knowing all pains, all pleasures, all delights, Now I would die—but cannot, being young.
Nothing is left me, but supreme despair; The bitter dregs that tell of wasted wine. Come furrowed brow, dull eye, and frosted hair, Companions fit for this old heart of mine.
WARP AND WOOF
Through the sunshine, and through the rain Of these changing days of mist and splendour, I see the face of a year-old pain Looking at me with a smile half tender.
With a smile half tender, and yet all sad, Into each hour of the mild September It comes, and finding my life grown glad Looks down in my eyes, and says 'Remember.'
Says 'Remember,' and points behind To days of sorrow, and tear-wet lashes; When joy lay dead and hope was blind, And nothing was left but dust and ashes.
Dust and ashes and vain regret, Flames fanned out, and the embers falling. But the sun of the saddest day must set, And hope wakes ever with Springtime's calling.
With Springtime's calling the pulses thrill; And the heart is tuned to a sweeter measure. For never a green Spring crossed the hill That came not laden with some new pleasure.
Some new pleasure that brings content; And the heart looks up with a smile of gladness, And wonders idly when sorrow went Out of the life that seemed all sadness.
That seemed all sadness, and yet grew bright With colours we thought could tinge it never. Yet I think the pain though out of sight, Like the warp of the carpet, is there for ever.
There for ever, and by and by When the woof wears thin, or draws asunder, We see the sombre threads that lie Intertwining and twisting under.
Twisting under and binding so The brighter threads that they may not sever. Thus the pain of a year ago Must stay a part of my life for ever.
The dawn grows red in the eastern sky, (Long, so long is the day,) And I lean from my lattice and sigh and sigh, As I watch the night fog creeping by And vanish over the bay.
The thrush soars up, over green clad hills, (The day is long, so long;) Like liquid silver his music spills, And ever it quivers, and runs, and trills In a glad sweet burst of song.
Under my window there blooms a rose, (How long a day can be.) And I lean and whisper what no soul knows Of my heart's sorrows and secret woes, And the red rose sighs, 'Ah me!'
A ship sails into the waiting bay, (The day is long, alack,) But what would that matter to me, I pray If the ship that sailed out yesterday Should never more come back.
The summer sun rides high and clear, (The day is long, so long,) How long it must be ere it grows to a year— How deep the sorrow that finds no tear, But only a wail of song.
IF I COULD ONLY WEEP
If I could only weep, I think sweet help with my salt tears would come, To ease the cruel pain that is so dumb, And will not let me sleep.
Down in my heart, down deep A poisoned arrow burns. It would fall out And tears would wash the wound, I have no doubt, If I could only weep.
Maybe my pulse would leap, And bring one thrill back, of a vanished day, Instead of throbbing in this dull, dead way, If I could only weep.
O silent Fates who steep Nectar or gall for us through all the years, Take what thou wilt, but give me back my tears, And let me weep and weep.
WHY SHOULD WE SIGH
Why should we sigh o'er a summer that's dead— Let us think of the summer to be. It always better to look ahead, For the rose will come again just as red And just as fair to see.
Why should we weep o'er a pleasure past— Let us look for the pleasure to be. New shells on the shore by new waves are cast; Let us prize each new joy more than the last, And laugh if the old joy flee.
What folly to die for a love that was— Let us live for the one to be. For time is passing, and will not pause; How foolish the shore were it sad because One wave ebbed out to sea.
Then let us not sing of a year that is fled— Though dear its memory be: For though summer and pleasure and love seem dead, Love will be sweet, and the rose will be red When they blossom for you and me.
A WAKEFUL NIGHT
In the dark and the gloom when winds were fretting Like restless children worn out with play, I said to my heart, 'This task, forgetting— Is harder now than it is by day. For a hungry love that hides from the light, Like a tiger steals forth, and is bold at night.'
The wind wailed low like a woman weeping; Deeper and darker the dense gloom grew. And, oh! for the old, sweet nights of sleeping, When dreams were happy, and love was true. Before the stars from heaven went out In a sudden blackness of dread and doubt.
The wind wailed loud, like a madman shrieking, And I said to my heart, 'Oh! vain, vain strife; We cannot forget, and the peace we are seeking Can only be won at the end of life. For see! like a lurid and living spark The eyes of the tiger shine through the dark.'
The wind sighed low like a sick man dying, And the dawn crept silently over the hill. And I said, 'O heart! there is no use trying, We must remember, and love on still.' And the tiger, appeased with its midnight feast, Fled as the dawn rose red in the East.
IF ONE SHOULD DIVE DEEP
Once more on the beach with the shifting clouds o'er me (Like the friends of a day), And the sea all unchanged, like a true friend before me, How the years flow away, How the summers go by.
The shifting clouds o'er me, the shifting sands under; Why need it seem strange, Why need I feel bitter, and why should I wonder That hearts, too, should change As the summers go by.
Down here is the path where we wandered together, 'Neath the midsummer moon. Her love was sweet as the sweet summer weather, And left us as soon, And the summers go by.
The bathers laugh loud in the surf over yonder. If one should dive deep, And rise not—no more need he suffer or ponder O'er losses, or weep, But sink low and sleep While the summers go by.
As I sat in my opera box last night In a glimmer of gems and a blaze of light, And smiling that all might see, This curious thought came all unsought— That there were two of me.
One who sat in her silk and lace, With gems on her bosom and smiles on her face, And hot-house blossoms in her hair, While her fan kept time to the swaying rhyme Of the lilting opera air.
And one who sat in the dark somewhere, With her wan face hid by her falling hair, And her hands clasped over her eyes; And the sickening pain of heart and brain Breathed out in long-drawn sighs.
One in the sheen of her opera suit; And one who was swathed from head to foot, In crepe of the blackest dye. One hiding her heart and playing a part, And one with her mask thrown by.
But over the voice of the singer there, The one who sat with a rose in her hair, Seemed ever to hear the moan Of the one who kept in the dark and wept With her desolate heart alone.
O mad with mirth are the birds to-day That over my head are winging. There is nothing but glee in the roundelay That I hear them singing, singing. On wings of light, up, out of sight— I watch them airily flying. What do they know of the world below, And the hopes that are dying, dying?
The roses turn to the sun's warm sky, Their sweet lips red and tender; Oh! life to them is a dream of bliss, Of love, and passion, and splendour. What know they of the world to-day, Of hearts that are silently breaking; Of the human breast, and its great unrest, And its pitiless aching, aching?
They send me out into Nature's heart For help to bear my sorrow, Nothing of strength can she impart, No peace from her can I borrow. Her rose-red June and her billing tune, Her birds and blossoms only, Mocked at the grief that seeks relief, And leave me lonely—lonely. If I might stand on the treacherous sand, And know I was sinking, sinking, While the moaning sea sang a dirge for me,— Why, that were comfort, I'm thinking.
IT DOES NOT MATTER
It does not matter very much to me Through what strange ways my pathway now may lead; Since I know that it runs away from thee, I give it little heed.
It does not matter if in calm or strife, There ebb or flow for me the future's tide. I had but one great longing in my life, And that has been denied.
It does not matter if I stand or fall, Or walk with kings, or with the rank and file; Life's loftiest aims and best ambitions all Were centred in thy smile.
It does not matter what the world may say: I feel no interest in its blame or praise. I only know we dwell apart to-day, And shall through endless days.
It does not matter. For my restless heart Is numb to sorrow, or to pleasure's touch. Since it must be that we two drift apart, Why, nothing matters much.
In the dull, dim dawn of day I heard The twitter and thrill of a brown-backed bird, As he sat and sang in the leafless tree, A herald of beautiful days to be.
But the minor running under the strain Went to my heart with a sudden pain, For never so sad a sound I heard As the troubled thrill of the brown-backed bird.
Not in the wearisome wash of waves, With moaning murmur of wrecks and graves, Not in the weird winds' wildest wail, Not in the roar of the rushing gale.
Not in the sob of dying years Are sounds so solemn and full of tears. O herald of days that are green and glad, Why was your morning song so sad?
Have you a secret hidden away, Of sorrow to come with a coming day? Folded under a folded leaf, Lies there trouble and bitter grief?
The shadow of death, and tears, and gloom Coming to me when roses bloom? Will the beautiful days I long for so Hold like your song a strain of woe?
What is the secret you hide from me O herald of days that are to be? And why was that desolate minor moan Lurking under your gladdest tone?
I know not what the future may hold, Or how to others it seems, But I know my skies have held more gold Than I used to find in my dreams.
Though the whole world sings of hopes death chilled, In grateful truth I say, That my best hopes have been fulfilled, And more than fulfilled to-day.
Though oft my arrow I aim at the sun To see it fall into the sand, Yet just as often some work I have done Is better than I have planned.
I do not always grasp the pleasure For which I reach, maybe; But quite as frequently over-measure Is given by joy to me.
To-morrow may bring a grief behind it That will thoroughly change my mood; But we only can speak of a thing as we find it— And I have found life good.
I hold that life more fortunate by far That sits with its sweet memories alone And cherishes a joy for ever flown Beyond the reach of accident to mar. (Some joy that was extinguished like a star) Than that which makes the prize so much its own That its poor commonplacenesses are shown; (Which in all things, when viewed too closely, are.)
Better to mourn a blossom snatched away Before it reached perfection, than behold With dry, unhappy eyes, day after day, The fresh bloom fade, and the fair leaf decay. Better to lose the dream, with all its gold, Than keep it till it changes to dull grey.
HE WILL NOT COME
Take out the blossom in your hair abloom, No more it seemeth beautiful, or bright, And sickening is its subtly sweet perfume— He will not come to-night.
Take off the necklace with its sparkling gem, And rings that glow and glitter in the light, And fling them in the case that waits for them— He will not come to-night.
Take off the robe a little while ago You chose, to make you fairer in his sight; 'Tis ten o'clock. So late you can but know He will not come to-night.
He will not come. God grant you strength and grace, For never more upon your mortal sight Shall dawn a glimpse of that beloved face That did not come to-night.
He will not come. And through the shadowed years, The perfume of that blossom that you wore Shall stir the fount of salt and bitter tears— For one who comes no more.
I saw a young heart in the grasp of pain; With bruised breast, and broken, bleeding wing Shipwrecked on hopeless love's tempestuous main, Lay the poor tortured thing.
It pulsed with all the anguish of despair; It ached with all a fond heart's awful power; Yet I, who stood unhurt above it there, Envied its lot that hour.
I, who have wasted all the sacred, deep Emotions of my soul in spendthrift fashion, Until no sorrow now can make me weep— No joy stir me with passion.
I, who have scattered here and there the gold Of my heart's store, until I spent the whole; Yet unto each so little gave to hold, That I enriched no soul.
I, who have sold the birthright of sweet tears, And no more feel a thrill in pulse or brain, Would gladly have exchanged my tasteless years For one salt hour of pain.
Weep on, ye mourners. Glory in the cross Of some great grief. Thank God you do not know The greater grief that comes but with the loss Of power to suffer woe.
As you forgot I may forget, When summer dews cease to be wet. When whippoorwills disdain the night, When sun and moon are no more bright, And all the stars at midnight set.
When jay birds sing, and thrushes fret, When snowfalls come in flakes of jet, When hearts that shelter love are light, I may forget.
When mortal life no cares beset, When April brings no violet, When wrong no longer wars with right, When all hope's ships shall heave in sight, And memory holds no least regret, I may forget.
Only a spar from a broken ship Washed in by a careless wave; But it brought back the smile of a vanished lip, And his past peered out of the grave.
Only a leaf that an idle breeze Tossed at her passing feet; But she seemed to stand under the dear old trees, And life again was sweet.
Only the bar of a tender strain They sang in days gone by; But the old love woke in her heart again, The love they had sworn should die.
Only the breath of a faint perfume That floated up from a rose; But the bolts slid back from a marble tomb, And I looked on a dear dead face.
Who vaunts the might of a human will, When a perfume or a sound Can wake a Past that we bade lie still, And open a long closed wound?
Whether the way be dark or light My soul shall sing as I journey on, As sweetly sing in the deeps of night As it sang in the burst of the golden dawn.
Nothing can crush me, or silence me long, Though the heart be bowed, yet the soul will rise, Higher and higher on wings of song, Till it swims like the lark in a sea of skies.
Though youth may fade, and love grow cold, And friends prove false, and best hopes blight, Yet the sun will wade in waves of gold, And the stars in glory will shine at night.
Though all earth's joys from my life are missed, And I of the whole world stand bereft, Yet dawns will be purple and amethyst, And I cannot be sad while the seas are left.
For I am a part of the mighty whole; I belong to the system of life and death. I am under the law of a Great Central, And strong with the courage of love and faith.
All alone with my heart to-night I sit, and wonder, and sigh. What is she like, is she dark, or light, This other woman who has the right To love him better than I?
We never have spoken her name, we two; There was no need somehow, But she lives, and loves, and her heart is true; From the very first this much I knew, So why should it hurt me now.
I fancy her tall, and I think her fair, Oh! fairer than I by half. With sweet, calm eyes, and a wealth of hair, And a heart as perfectly free from care As is her silvery laugh.
She loves rich jewels that flash in the light, And revels in costly lace, And first in the morning, and last at night She kisses one ring on her finger white; (How came those tears on my face?)
She has all best things to make life sweet: Youth, and beauty, and gold, And a love that renders it quite complete. (I wonder why from my head to my feet I feel so deathly cold?)
Yet in all the store of her great delight (And she has so much, so much) She cannot be gladder than I, in the bright Sweet smile he gave her when he said good night— And his warm hand's close, kind touch.
I must put out the light and go to bed; I wonder would she care If she knew, when I knelt with low bowed head, I prayed for her, but that I said His name the last in my prayer?
Could I but hear you laugh across the street, Though I, or mine, shared nothing in your glee, Could I taste that one drop of bitter sweet, 'Twere more than life to me.
If I might see you coming through the door, Though with averted face and smileless eye, Were I allowed that little boon, no more, Then I were glad to die.
But oh, my God! this living day on day, Stripped of the only joy your starved heart had, Shut in a prison world and forced to stay— Why that way souls go mad!
To-day I heard a woman say the earth, All blossom garlanded, was fair to see. I laughed with such intensity of mirth, The woman shrank from me.
Fair? Why, I see the blackness of the tomb Where'er I turn, and grave mould on each brow; And grinning faces peer out of the gloom— Good God! I am mad now.
We are both of us sad at heart, But I wonder who can say Which has the harder part, Or the bitterer grief to-day.
You grieve for a love that was lost Before it had reached its prime; I sit here and count the cost Of a love that has lived its time.
Your blossom was plucked in its May, In its dawning beauty and pride; Mine lived till the August day, And reached fruition and died.
You pressed its leaves in a book, And you weep sweet tears o'er them. Dry eyed I sit and look On a withered and broken stem.
And now that all is told, Which is the sadder, pray, To give up your dream with its gold, Or to see it fade into grey?
See him quake and see him tremble, See him gasp for breath. Nay, dear, he does not dissemble, This is really Death. He is weak, and worn, and wasted, Bear him to his bier. All there is of life he's tasted— He has lived a year.
He has passed his day of glory, All his blood is cold, He is wrinkled, thin, and hoary, He is very old. Just a leaf's life in the wild wood, Is a love's life, dear. He has reached his second childhood When he's lived a year.
Long ago he lost his reason, Lost his trust and faith— Better far in his first season Had he met with death. Let us have no pomp or splendour, No vain pretence here. As we bury, grave, yet tender, Love that's lived a year.
All his strength and all his passion, All his pride and truth, These were wasted, spendthrift fashion, In his fiery youth. Since for him life holds no beauty Let us shed no tear, As we do the last sad duty— Love has lived a year.
The summer is just in its grandest prime, The earth is green and the skies are blue; But where is the lilt of the olden time, When life was a melody set to rhyme, And dreams were so real they all seemed true?
There is sun on the meadow, and blooms on the bushes, And never a bird but is mad with glee; But the pulse that bounds, and the blood that rushes, And the hope that soars, and the joy that gushes, Are lost for ever to you and me.
There are dawns of amber and amethyst; There are purple mountains, and pale pink seas That flush to crimson where skies have kist; But out of life there is something missed— Something better than all of these.
We miss the faces we used to know, The smiling lips and the eyes of truth. We miss the beauty and warmth and glow Of the love that brightened our long ago, And ah! we miss our youth.
ON RAINY DAYS
On rainy days old dreams arise, From graves where they have lonely lain; With wan white cheeks and mournful eyes, They press against the window pane. One dream is bolder than the rest: She enters at the door and stays, A welcome yet unbidden guest On rainy days.
On rainy days, my dream and I Turn back the hands of memory's books: We sup on pleasures long gone by— We drink of unforgotten brooks; We ransack garrets of the Past, We sing old songs, we play old plays; While hurrying Time looks on aghast, On rainy days.
On rainy days, my ghostly dreams Come clothed in garments like the mist, But through that vapoury veiling, gleams The lustrous eyes my lips have kissed. A radiant head leans on my heart, We walk in well-remembered ways; But oh! the sorrow when we part, On rainy days.
Just as the sun went bathing in a sea Of liquid amber, flecked with caps of gold, I told The sweet old story unto Geraldine, my Queen, Who long hath made the whole of life for me.
But though she smiled upon me yesterday, And heaven seemed near because she was so kind, I find She held me but as one of many men; and then Dismissed me in her proud, yet gracious way.
Ah, Geraldine! my lady of sweet arts, There waits for thee not very far away, a day When thou shalt waken out of tranquil sleep, and weep Such bitter tears as spring from anguished hearts.
Thou shalt look in thy mirror with dismay To find upon each feature of thy face, the trace Of time, the lover who shall follow thee, and see Thy rare youth slipping suddenly away.
So self-assured, so certain of thy power, It shall come on thee with a swift surprise. Thine eyes Appalled, shall fall upon each certain, strange, sad change, And rob thee of thy triumph in an hour.
And when that day shall come, as come it must, You then will think of me, sweet Geraldine, my Queen, And of the faithful heart there tossed away one day, Before thy dead sea apples turned to dust.
To dust and ashes, leaving nothing more, That day will come, my lady, I can wait; and Fate Shall right my wrongs. Thou smilest, Geraldine, my Queen! Ah well, so have fair women smiled before.
ONLY IN DREAMS
How strange are dreams. Last night I dreamed about you. All that old bitterness of loss and pain, The desolation of my lot without you, The keen regret, all, all came back again.
Again I faced that terrible old sorrow; Too numb to weep, too cowardly to pray. Again the blankness of a dread to-morrow Filled me with sickly terror and dismay.
I woke in tears; but lo! a moment after, When every vestige of my dream was fled, I broke the silence of my room with laughter, To think sleep had revived a thing so dead.
Thank God, that only in the realms of fancy Can that old sorrow wake again to strife. No fate is strong enough—no necromancy— To make it stir one pulse of my calm life.
My heart is light, my lot is blest without you, Our early sorrows are not what they seem, Now in my slumber, if I dream about you I wake to laugh at such an idle dream.
Talk not to me of souls that do conceive Sublime ideals, but, deterred by Fate And bound by circumstances, sit desolate, And long for heights they never can achieve.
It is not so. That which we most desire, With understanding, we at last obtain, In part or whole. I hold there is no rain, No deluge, that can quench a heavenly fire.
Show me thy labour, I straightway will name The nature of thy thoughts. Who bends the bow, And lets the arrow from the strained string go, Strikes somewhere near the object of his aim.
We build our ships from timbers of the brain; With products of the soul we load the hold; Where lies the blame if they bring back no gold, Or if they spring a leak upon the main?
There is no Fate, no Providence, no Chance, The will is all. So be it thou art pure, And strong of purpose, thy success is sure; But fools and sluggards prate of circumstance.
If this were our creed it were creed enough To keep us thoughtful and make us brave; On this sad journey o'er pathways rough That lead us steadily on to the grave.
Speak no evil, and cause no ache, Utter no jest that can pain awake; Guard your actions and bridle your tongue, Words are adders when hearts are stung.
If this were our aim, it were all, in sooth, That any soul needs, to climb to heaven, And we would not cumber the way of truth With dreary dogmas, or rites priest given.
Help whoever, whenever you can, Man for ever needs aid from man. Let never a day die in the West, That you have not comforted some sad heart.
Were this our belief we need not brood O'er intricate isms and modes of faith— For this embodies the highest goal For the life we are living, or after death.
We meet no trials we do not need; Well borne sorrow is holy seed; It shall rise in a harvest of golden grain, And a wise soul ever thanks God for pain.
THE BRIDAL EVE
I stand in the blaze of the candle rays, While my merry maidens three Arrange each tress, and loop my dress, And render me fair to see. But oh! for the eyes that never again Will smile like the stars on me.
I sweep down the stair, a bride most fair, And some one takes my hand. I am numb and cold, but the lie is told, I smile and my lord is bland. But oh! for a sight of my rover wild, Who wanders abroad in the land.
I am queen of the ball and the festal hall; I have beauty and youth and gold, Men bow at the shrine of this lord of mine— Lord of his sums untold. But oh! to be off in the wilds to-night With my lover brave and bold.
I dream a dream while the candles gleam, While the dancers merrily glide. Neath the evening star I am speeding far, Oh! a good steed do I ride; And my heart beats high with hope and cheer, For my love is at my side.
We ride and sing, and the echoes ring With our voices blithe and free, We have no wealth but our love and health, And our cot on the wide green lea; But I love my love with a mighty love, And I know that he loves me.
We ride away in the dying day, We ride till we reach the spot Where all alone in the wilds unknown We find our lonely cot. And I have no wish in the whole wide world, And I know that my love has not.
With a dreary moan the viols groan, And the dancers pause for breath, And my lord says, 'Dear, you are ill, I fear, You are paler than your wreath.' O God! O God! to be out in the night, Riding with love or death.
The day is at its golden height, No shadow falls on sea or land; And yet to thee I say Good night, As we stand here hand clasped in hand, Good night—Good night.
The laughing waves are summer blue, The bees hum in the sun's warm light; But frosts of winter chill me through, I shiver as I say Good night. Good night—Good night.
How often at the close of day With smiling lips we've said those words: And listened as we turned away To hear them echoed by the birds, Good night—Good night.
We did not dream then of this hour, This sad, sad hour for you and me; We did not dream there was a power Could force us for eternity To say Good night.
Good night—nay, turn your eyes away; I cannot bear their tender light. Now evermore to golden day, To golden hope, a last Good night, Good night—Good night.
When days grow long, and brain and hands grow weary, And hot the city street, Forth to the haunts, by cooling winds made cheery We fly with willing feet.
We leave our cares and labours all behind us, The city's noise and din, And, hid securely where they cannot find us, We drink the sunshine in.
But when the days grow long with bitter sorrow, And hearts grow sick with woe, Where are the haunts that we may seek to-morrow? Where can we hide or go?
Holds earth no nook, where hearts with sorrow breaking, May find a summer's rest? A season's respite from the weary aching That gnaws within the breast?
O God! if we could fly and leave behind us Our crosses and our grief, Could hide a season where they could not find us, What infinite relief.
Found—as I rushed through the great world's mart, In a race for gold and a pleasure quest, A passionate, throbbing human heart Suddenly found in my breast.
I had always laughed at the foolish word; I had said aloud in my boasting glee, That never a heart in my bosom stirred, That my brain governed me.
I was proud with the sense of my might and power 'It is will, not heart that wins,' I said. But I suddenly found one sad, strange hour That the strength of my will had fled.
For up in my breast there rose supreme A strong man's heart, and all on fire: Drunk with the wine of a wild, sweet dream, And tortured with desire.
It is tossed with hope, and fear, and doubt, It is mad with the fever of love's unrest, I wish to God I could pluck it out— This heart I found in my breast.
A MAN'S REVERIE
How cold the old porch seems. A dreary chill Creeps upward from the river at twilight, And yet, I like to linger here at night, And dream the summer tarries with us still.
The summer and the summer guests, or guest. (Men rarely dream in plurals.) Over there Beyond the pillars, stands the rustic chair, As bare and empty as a robin's nest.
No pretty head reclines its golden bands Against the back. No playful winds disclose Distracting glimpses of embroidered hose: No palm leaf waves in dainty, dangerous hands.
How cold it is! That star up yonder gleams A white ice sickle from the heavenly eaves. That bleak wind from the river sighs and grieves, Perchance o'er some poor fellow's broken dreams.
Come in, and shut the door, and leave that star To watch above the lonely portico. Summer and summer guests and dreams must go. Well, Fate was kind to leave me my cigar.
WHEN MY SWEET LADY SINGS
When she, my lady, smiles, I feel as one who, lost in darksome wilds, Sees suddenly the sun in middle sky Shining upon him like a great glad eye. When my sweet lady smiles.
When she, my lady laughs, I feel as one who some elixir quaffs; Some nameless nectar, made of wines of suns, And through my veins a subtle iveresse runs. When my sweet lady laughs.
And when my lady talks, I am as one who by a brooklet walks, Some sweet-tongued brooklet, which the whole long day, Holds converse with the birds along the way. When my loved lady talks.
And when my lady sings, Oh then I hear the beat of silver wings; All that is earthly from beneath me slips, And in the liquid cadence of her lips I float, so near the Infinite, I seem Lost in the glory of a white starred dream. When my sweet lady sings.
How terrible these nights are when alone With our scarred hearts, we sit in solitude, And some old sorrow, to the world unknown, Does suddenly with silent steps intrude.
After the guests departed, and the light Burned dimly in my room, there came to me, As noiselessly as shadows of the night, The spectre of a woe that used to be.
Out of the gruesome darkness and the gloom I saw it peering; and, in still despair, I watched it gliding swift across the room, Until it came and stood beside my chair.
Why, need I tell thee what its shape or name? Thou hast thy secret hidden from the light: And be it sin or sorrow, woe or shame, Thou dost not like to meet it in the night.
And yet it comes. As certainly as death, And far more cruel since death ends all pain, On lonesome nights we feel its icy breath, And turn and face the thing we fancied slain.
With shrinking hearts, we view the ghastly shape; We look into its eyes with fear and dread, And know that we can never more escape Until the grave doth fold us with the dead.
On the swift maelstrom of the eddying world We hurl our woes, and think they are no more. But round and round by dizzy billows whirled, They reach out sinewy arms and swim to shore.
ONLY A LINE
Only a line in the paper, That somebody read aloud, At a table of languid boarders, To the dull indifferent crowd.
Markets and deaths—and a marriage: And the reader read them all. How could he know a hope died then, And was wrapped in a funeral pall.
Only a line in the paper, Read in a casual way, But the glow went out of one young life, And left it cold and grey.
Colder than bleak December, Greyer than walls of rock, But the reader paused, and the room grew full Of laughter and idle talk.
If one slipped off to her chamber, Why, who could dream or know, That one brief line in the paper Had sent her away with her woe?
Away into lonely sorrow, To bitter and blinding tears; Only a line in the paper, But it meant such desolate years.
Lean down, and kiss me, O my love, my own; The day is near when thy fond heart will miss me; And o'er my low green bed, with bitter moan, Thou wilt lean down, but cannot clasp or kiss me.
How strange it is, that I, so loving thee, And knowing we must part, perchance to-morrow, Do comfort find, thinking how great will be Thy lonely desolation, and thy sorrow.
And stranger—sadder, O mine own other part, That I should grudge thee some surcease of weeping; Why do I not rejoice, that in thy heart, Sweet love will bloom again when I am sleeping?
Nay, make no promise. I would place no bar Upon thy future, even wouldst thou let me. Thou hast, thou dost, well love me, like a man: And, like a man, in time thou wilt forget me.
Why should I care, so near the Infinite— Why should I care, that thou wilt cease to miss me? O God! these earthly ties are knit so tight— Quick, quick, lean lower, O my love, and kiss me!
So well I knew your habits and your ways, That like a picture painted on the skies, At the sweet closing of the summer days, You stand before my eyes.
I see you on the old verandah there, While slow the shadows of the twilight fall, I see the very carving on the chair You tilt against the wall.
The West grows dim. The faithful evening star Comes out and sheds its tender patient beam. I almost catch the scent of your cigar, As you sit there and dream.
But dream of what? I know your outward life— Your ways, your habits; know they have not changed. But has one thought of me survived the strife Since we two were estranged?
I know not of the workings of your heart; And yet I sometimes make myself believe That I perchance do hold some little part Of reveries at eve.
I think you could not wholly put away The memories of a past that held so much. As birds fly homeward at the close of day, A word, a kiss, a touch,
Must sometimes come and nestle in your breast And murmur to you of the long ago. Oh do they stir you with a vague unrest? What would I give to know!
BEFORE AND AFTER
Before I lost my love, he said to me: 'Sweetheart, I like deep azure tints on you.' But I, perverse as any girl will be Who has too many lovers, wore not blue.
He said, 'I love to see my lady's hair Coiled low like Clytie's—with no wanton curl.' But I, like any silly, wilful girl, Said, 'Donald likes it high,' and wore it there.
He said, 'I wish, love, when you sing to me, You would sing sweet, sad things—they suit your voice.' I tossed my head, and sung light strains of glee— Saying, 'This song, or that, is Harold's choice.'
But now I wear no colour—none but blue. Low in my neck I coil my silken hair. He does not know it, but I strive to do Whatever in his eyes would make me fair.
I sing no songs but those he loved the best. (Ah! well, no wonder: for the mournful strain Is but the echo of the voice of pain, That sings so mournfully within my breast.)
I would not wear a ribbon or a curl For Donald, if he died from my neglect— Oh me! how many a vain and wilful girl Learns true love's worth, but—when her life is wrecked.
AN EMPTY CRIB
Beside a crib that holds a baby's stocking, A tattered picture book, a broken toy, A sleeping mother dreams that she is rocking Her fair-haired cherub boy.
Upon the cradle's side her light touch keeping, She gently rocks it, crooning low a song; And smiles to think her little one is sleeping, So peacefully and long.
Step light, breathe low, break not her rapturous dreaming, Wake not the sleeper from her trance of joy, For never more save in sweet slumber-seeming Will she watch o'er her boy.
God pity her when from her dream Elysian She wakes to see the empty crib, and weep; Knowing her joy was but a sleeper's vision, Tread lightly—let her sleep.
'What do I hear at the window? Did some one call me?' Nay, It was only the wind, my darling, Grieving the night away. Only the wind and the casement Talking as two friends may.
'But now I hear some one speaking, Oh listen and you will hear.' It is only the night bird calling To her mate in sudden fear. Only the dead leaves falling; The last lone leaves of the year.
'But now there is some one coming, I hear a step on the stair.' Nay, nay, it is nothing, darling, Rest, and be free from care. I have just been out in the hallway, I am sure there is no one there.
Never a knock at the doorway, Never a step in the hall, Yet the King is coming, coming,— How lightly his footsteps fall. A sigh, and a straightening downward— And silence is over all.
When winds of March by the springtime bidden Over the great earth race and shout, Forth from my breast where it long hath hidden My same old sorrow comes creeping out.
I think each winter—its life is ended, For it makes no stir while the snows lie deep. I say to myself, 'Its soul has blended Into the past where it lay asleep.'
But as soon as the sun, like some fond lover, Smiles and kisses the earth's round cheeks, This sad, sad sorrow throws off its cover, And out of the depths of its anguish, speaks.
In every bud by the wayside springing It finds a sword for its half-healed wounds; In every note that the thrush is singing It hears the saddest of minor sounds.
In the cup of gold that the sun is spilling It finds, unsweetened, a drop of gall; It sees through the warp that the Spring is filling, The black threads twining in under it all.
Go back, O spring! till pain, forsaking These haunts of sorrow, shall sink to rest. Go back! go back! for my heart is breaking, And the same old anguish hurts my breast.
WHY I LOVE HER
Why do I love my sweetheart? Well I really never tried to tell. I love her mayhap for her smile, So innocent and free from guile.
Perhaps I love her for her mien, So calmly cheerful and serene; Or it may be her silken hair, First caught and tangled Cupid there.
And since I came to analyse; Her chiefest beauty is her eyes. Her mouth, too, that is Cupid's bow— Perhaps that's why I love her so.
And now I think of it, her voice First made my rusty heart rejoice And then her hand—'tis my belief It quite outvies the lily leaf.
Perhaps I love her for her ways That blend in with the sunny days. Tush—to be brief and plain with you, I love her just because I do.
Like a thorn in the flesh, like a fly in the mesh, Like a boat that is chained to shore, The wild unrest of the heart in my breast Tortures me more and more. I wot not why, it should wail and cry Like a child that is lost at night, For it knew no grief, but has found relief, And it is not touched with blight.
It has had of pleasure full many a measure; It has thrilled with love's red wine; It has hope and health, and youth's rare wealth— Oh rich is this heart of mine. Yet it is not glad—it is wild and mad Like a billow before it breaks; And its ceaseless pain is worse than vain, Since it knows not why it aches.
It longs to be, like the waves of the sea That rise in their might and beat And dash and lunge, and hurry and plunge, And die at the grey rocks' feet. It wearies of life and it sickens of strife And yet it tires of rest. Oh! I know not why it should ache and cry— 'Tis a troublesome heart at best.
Though not understood, I think it a good And God-like discontent. It springs from the soul that longs for its goal— For the source from which it was sent. Then surge, O breast, with thy wild unrest— Cry, heart, like a child at night, Till the mystic shore of the Evermore Shall dawn on thy eager sight.
In the night I dreamed that you had died, And I thought you lay in your winding sheet; And I kneeled low by your coffin side, With my cheek on your heart that had ceased to beat.
And I thought as I looked on your form so still, A terrible woe, and an awful pain, Fierce as vultures that slay and kill, Tore at my bosom and maddened my brain.
And then it seemed that the chill of death Over me there like a mantle fell, And I knew by my fluttering, failing breath That the end was near, and all was well.
I woke from my dream in the black midnight— It was only a dream at worst or best— But I lay and thought till the dawn of light, Had the dream been true we had both been blest.
Better to kneel by your still dead form, With my cheek on your breast, and die that way, Than to live and battle with night and storm, And drift away from you day by day.
Better the anguish of death and loss, The sharp, quick pain, and the darkness, then, Than living on with this heavy cross To bear about in the world of men.
Oh! give me the night, the dark, dark night, The night with never a star. When the stars are veiled and the moon has sailed Beyond the horizon's bar. When thought grows weary of groping its way Through darkness dense and deep, And buries its head in oblivion's bed, Wrapped warm in the mantle of sleep.
For I hate the night, the moon-white night, The night with a pallid face, When a million eyes from the watchful skies Peers into each secret place. For thought awakes and the old wound aches, And Sorrow she cannot rest, But all night long walks to and fro Through the aisles of my troubled breast.
And Memory thinks it her royal hour When the heavens glitter and shine; And she fills the cup of the past well up With a bitter and scalding wine. And she calls for a toast to the ghastly ghost Of a joy that used to be. And that terrible face in the dear old moon Stares steadily down at me. So give me the night, the deep, dark night, The night with never a star, When the skies are veiled and the moon has sailed Beyond the horizon's bar.
The year like a ship in the distance Comes over life's mystical sea. We know not what change of existence 'Tis bringing to you or to me. But we wave out the ship that is leaving And we welcome the ship coming in, Although it be loaded with grieving, With trouble, or losses, or sin.
Old year passing over the border,— And fading away from our view; All idleness, sloth, and disorder, All hatred and spite go with you. All bitterness, gloom, and repining Down into your stronghold are cast. Sail out where the sunsets are shining, Sail out with them into the past.
Good reigns over all; and above us, As sure as the sun gives us light, Great forces watch over and love us, And lead us along through the night. Look up, and reach out, and believe them— Believe in your infinite worth. Do nothing to wound or to grieve them, And you shall find heaven on earth.
The body needs conflict and tussle, To render it forceful and grand; The soul, too, has sinew and muscle, Which sorrow alone can expand. Though troubles come faster and faster, Rise up, brace yourself for each blow; It is only Fate's great fencing Master Instructing your spirit to grow.
The new ship comes nearer and nearer, We know not what freight she may hold; Hope stands at the helm there to steer her, Our hearts are courageous and bold. Sail in with new joys and new sorrows, Sail in with new banners unfurled, Sail in with unwritten to-morrows, Sail in with new tasks for the world.
The day has been wild and stormy, And full of the wind's unrest, And I sat down alone by the window, While the sunset dyed the West; And the holy rush of twilight, As the day went over the hill, Like the voice of a spirit seemed speaking And saying, 'Peace be still.'
Then I thought with sudden longing, That it might be so with my woes; That the life so wild and restless, When it reached the eve's repose, Might glow with a sudden glory, And be crowned with peace and rest; And the holy calm of twilight Might come to my troubled breast.
All of the pain and passion That trouble my life's long day As the winds go down at sunset, May suddenly pass away. And the wild and turbulent billows, That surge in my heart at will, Shall be hushed into calm and silence By the whisper, 'Peace be still.' And my soul grew full of patience, And I said, 'I can bear it all, Though the day be long and stormy, The twilight at last must fall.'
The tide of love swells in me with such force, It sweeps away all hate and all distrust. As eddying straws and particles of dust Are lost by some swift river in its course.
So much I love my friends, my life, my art, Each shadow flies; the light dispels the gloom. Love is so fair, I find I have no room For anything less worthy in my heart.
Love is a germ which we can cultivate— To grace and perfume sweeter than the rose, Or leave neglected while our heart soil grows Rank with that vile and poison thistle, hate.
Love is a joyous thrush, that one can teach To sing sweet lute-like songs which all may hear. Or we can silence him and tune the ear To caw of crows, or to the vulture's screech.
Love is a feast; and if the guests divide With all who pass, though thousands swell the van, There shall be food and drink for every man; The loaves and fishes will be multiplied.
Love is the guide. I look to heights above So beautiful, so very far away; Yet I shall tread their sunlit peaks some day, Since close in mine I hold the hand of love.
Love is the law. But yield to its control And thou shalt find all things work for the best, And in the calm, still heaven of thy breast, That God, Himself, sits talking with thy soul.
SPIRIT OF A GREAT CONTROL
Spirit of a Great Control, Gird me with thy strength and might, Essence of the Over-Soul— Fill me, thrill me with thy light; Though the waves of sorrow beat Madly at my very feet, Though the night and storm are near, Teach me that I need not fear.
Though the clouds obscure the sky, When the tempest sweeps the lands, Still about, below, on high, God's great solar system stands. Never yet a star went out. What have I to fear or doubt?— I, a part of this great whole, Governed by the Over-Soul.
Like the great eternal hills, Like the rock that fronts the wave, Let me meet all earthly ills With a fearless heart and brave; Like the earth that drinks the rain, Let me welcome floods of pain, Till I grow in strength to be Worthy of my source in Thee.
As some contented bird doth coo She trilled a song of fond delight, The while she spread the cloth of white, And set the cups and plates for two.
She leaned beyond the window sill, And looked along the busy street, And listened for his coming feet. The skies were calm, the winds were still.
'O love, my love, why art thou late? The kettle boils, the cloth is spread, The clock points close to noon,' she said. O clock of time! O clock of fate!
She heard the moon's glad sound of cheer; (The hiss, the whirl, the crash, the creak, Of maddened wheels, the awful shriek Of awestruck men—she did not hear.)
She lightly tripped about the room, And near the window, where his eyes Might greet it with a pleased surprise, She placed a pot of fragrant bloom.
Strange nervous steps were at the gate. Why grew her heart so cold, so numb? The clock struck twelve, the noon had come. Ah! noon of time! O noon of fate!
A shattered vase beside the wall; A young face grey with awful fear, A rigid shape, a covered bier, A shadowed life, and that is all.
The rain falls long, and the rain falls light, With a desolate drip—drop, sad to hear. But never a star shines through the night As I sit afar, from the world anear.
Down in the parlour some one sings; The children laugh in the nursery hall; But my heart like a bird has spread its wings, And leaves the music, and mirth, and all.
Out in the rain and the eerie night, Into the darkness it speeds away. Ah me! ah me! 'tis a gruesome flight, Seeking for you till the dawn of day.
If it only knew which way to go; Where you wander, or where you lie. To valleys of sunshine, or hills of snow, Thither at once my heart would fly.
Fly and follow wherever you led, Over the desert and over the wave; Or if it found you lying dead, It would sit in the rain by your lonely grave.
Sit in the rain, and cover the grass With passionate kisses above your face. Sit there waiting till death should pass, And bear it to you in his strong embrace.
But hither and thither all is vain, It flies in the darkness, and seeks for you. Back in the morning, drenched with rain, The poor thing cometh with never a clue.
But all night long the rain falls down, Like a poor crazed thing that has lost its way, Through the forest and through the town It searches for you till the break of day.
A MAN'S GOOD-BYE
Do you think, dear, as you say Such a light good-bye to-day, That this parting time may be Mayhaps less to you, than me?
What a wonder of surprise Looks out from your sunny eyes. 'Just a nice acquaintance.' So We have called it, dear, I know.
Now you end it with a word, While my inmost soul is stirred. No—you cannot understand. But, dear, as I touch your hand,
Listening to your light good-bye, All a man's roused passions cry Like a tiger, stirred, at bay. Oh! you draw your hand away.
'I've no right to speak so?' Pray Was it your right day by day By your sweet coquettish arts To invade my heart of hearts?
It is death to let you go. You will hate me, dear, I know; But I swear, ere you go hence, I will have some recompense.
For those fires you lit in vain, Cheeks and lips shall bear the stain Of my kisses till you die. Go now! this is my good-bye.
AT THE HOP
'Tis time to dress. Dost hear the music surging Like sobbing waves that roll up from the sea? Yes, yes, I hear—I yield—no need of urging; I know your wishes,—send Lisette to me.
I hate the ballroom; hate its gilded pleasure; I hate the crowd within it, well you know; But what of that? I am your lawful treasure— And when you would display me I must go.
You bought me with a mother's pain and trouble. I've been a great expense to you alway. And now, if you can sell me, and get double The sum I cost—why, what have I to say?
You've done your duty: kept me in the fashion, And shown me off at every stylish place. 'Twas not your fault I had a heart of passion; 'Twas not your fault I ever saw his face.
The dream was brief, and beautiful, and tender, (O God! to live those golden hours once more. The silver moonlight, and his dark eyes' splendour, The sky above us, and the sea before.)
Come, come, Lisette, bring out those royal laces; To-night must make the victory complete. Among the crowd of masked and smiling faces, I'll move with laughter, and with smiles most sweet.
Make me most fair! with youth and grace and beauty, I needs must conquer bloated age and gold. She shall not say I have not done my duty; I'm ready now—a daughter to be sold!
How odd and strange seems our meeting Like a grim rendezvous of the dead. All day I have sat here repeating The commonplace things that we said. They sounded so oddly when uttered— They sound just as odd to me now; Was it we, or our two ghosts who muttered Last evening, with simper and bow?
I had grown used to living without you. In revel and concert and ball, I had flown from much thinking about you, And your picture I turned to the wall. For to call back the dream that was broken, To fancy your hand on my hair, To remember the words we had spoken, Was madness, and gall, and despair.
I knew I could never forget you; But I wanted to put you away. And now, just to think how I met you— It has seemed like a nightmare all day. We two with our record of passion, We two who have been as one heart, To meet in that calm, quiet fashion, And chat for a moment and part.
We two who remember such blisses Not heaven itself can eclipse, We two who had kissed with the kisses That draw out the soul through the lips, We two who have known the ideal, The rare perfect love in its might— Nay, nay, they were ghosts, and not real, Who met, and who parted, last night. They were ghosts, unprepared for the meeting; 'Twas a chance rendezvous of the dead; And all day I sit here repeating The odd sounding words that were said.
My heart to-day is like a southern wood, Through summer months it has been drunk with heat; And slumbered on unmindful of the beat Of life beyond it: sleep alone seemed good.
Now milder Autumn's tints are in the sky; The fervid heats of summer noons depart; And backward to the old haunts in my heart The golden robins and the blue birds fly.
I hear the flutter of their airy wings, They flock about the Spring's deserted nest, And suddenly I feel within my breast The stirring of sweet half-forgotten things.
Bright sunny mornings—golden growing hours— The building of glad birds among the trees; Wide open windows and the kindly breeze Bringing the perfume of half-open flowers.
A blithe face at the window fair with truth; A mellow laugh that falls like silver spray; Down through the sunlight of the perfect day, Ecstatic hopes, that bud with Spring and Youth.
The morning time grew rank with summer blight; The birds flew northward, fresher fields to find; And in our hearts we closed the folding blind, While drooping blossoms withered in the light.
The fair face at the window could not stay; The laugh grew weary, with a minor strain That borders on the foreign realm of pain, And hopes that blossomed, ripened to decay.
Come, happy birds, and sing of vanished joy, Of that sweet Spring for ever passed away; No winter lies between us and that day. (But what is sadder than the sweets that cloy.)
My heart is green with leafage; come and wake The old-time echoes with the songs of glee, For only echoes now are left to me, Though bloom and beauty cling to bush and brake.
A CRUSHED LEAF
An hour ago when the wind blew high At my lady's window a red leaf beat. Then dropped at her door, where, passing by, She carelessly trod it under her feet.
I have taken it out of the dust and dirt, With a tender pity but half defined. Ah! poor bruised leaf, with your stain and hurt, 'A fellow-feeling doth make us kind.'
On winds of passion my heart was blown, Like an autumn leaf one hapless day. At my lady's window with tap and moan It burned and fluttered its life away.
Bright with the blood of its wasting tide It glowed in the sun of her laughing eyes. What cared she though a stray heart died— What to her were its sobs and sighs.
The winds of passion were spent at last, And my heart like the leaf in her pathway lay; And under her slender foot as she passed, My lady she trod it and went her way.
So I picked the leaf from its dusty place, With a tender pity—too well defined. And I laid it here in this velvet case, Ah! a fellow-feeling doth make us kind.
A CURIOUS STORY
I heard such a curious story Of Santa Claus: once, so they say, He set out to see what people were kind, Before he took presents their way. 'This year I will give but to givers, To those who make presents themselves,' With a nod of his head old Santa Claus said To his band of bright officer-elves.
'Go into the homes of the happy Where pleasure stands page at the door. Watch well how they live, and report what they give To the hordes of God's suffering poor. Keep track of each cent and each moment; Yes, tell me each word, too, they use: To silver line clouds for earth's suffering crowds, And tell me, too, when they refuse.'
So into our homes flew the fairies, Though never a soul of us knew, And with pencil and book they sat by and took Each action, if false, or if true. White marks for the deeds done for others— Black marks for the deeds done for self. And nobody hid what he said or he did, For no one, of course, sees an elf.
Well, Christmas came all in its season, And Santa Claus, so I am told, With a very light pack of small gifts on his back, And his reindeers all left in the fold, Set out on a leisurely journey, And finished ere midnight, they say. And there never had been such surprise and chagrin Before on the breaking of day,
As there was on that bright Christmas morning When stockings, and cupboards, and shelves Were ransacked and sought in, for gifts that were not in— But wasn't it fun for the elves! And what did I get? You confuse me— I got not one thing, and that's true; But had I suspected my actions detected I would have had gifts, wouldn't you?
There was a something in your song, men say No later singer voices: some strange power Like to the essence in a rare June day, Or like the subtle perfume of a flower. Awed and inspired, your listeners turned away, Baptized in your sweet music's holy shower. For through that music shone the glorious dower Of your great soul: here all the secret lay.
Not for the honours of this earth you sang— Not for its gold or glory, not for art, Not for the fortunes at your fair feet hurled. The love of God through all your measures rang, And each pure note bespoke a noble heart. When worth weds genius, lo! they rule the world.
The hand that fashioned me, tuned my ear To chord with the major key, In the darkest moments of life I hear Strains of courage, and hope, and cheer From choirs that I cannot see. And the music of life seems so inspired That it will not let me grow sad or tired.
Yet through and under the major strain, I hear with the passing of years, The mournful minor measure of pain, Of souls that struggle and toil in vain For a goal that never nears. And the sorrowful cadence of good gone wrong, Breaks more and more into earth's glad song.
And oft in the dark of the night I wake And think of sorrowing lives, And I long to comfort the hearts that ache, To sweeten the cup that is bitter to take, And to strengthen each soul that strives. I long to cry to them 'Do not fear, Help is coming and aid is near.'
However desolate, weird, or strange Life's melody sounds to you, Before to-morrow the air may change, And the Great Director of music arrange A programme perfectly new. And the dirge in minor may suddenly be Turned into a jubilant song of glee.
BRIDGE OF PRAYER
The bridge of prayer from heavenly heights suspended Unites the earth with spirit-realms in Space. The interests of those separate worlds are blended For those whose feet turn often toward that place.
In troubled nights of sorrow and repining, When joy and hope seem sunk in dark despair, We still may see above the shadows shining, The gleaming archway of the bridge of prayer.
From that fair height, our souls may lean and listen To sounds of music from the farther shore, And through the vapours, sometimes dear eyes glisten Of loved ones who have hastened on before.
And angels come from their Celestial City— And meet us half way on the bridge of prayer. God sends them forth, full of divinest pity To strengthen us for burdens we must bear.
Oh! you whose feet walk in some shadowed by-way, Far from the scenes of pleasure and delight, Still free to you hangs this suspended highway, Where heavenly glories dawn upon the sight.
And common paths glow with a grace supernal, And happiness walks hand in hand with care, And faith becomes a knowledge fixed, eternal, For those who often seek the bridge of prayer.
Know this! there is nothing can harm you If you are at peace with your soul. Know this, and the knowledge shall arm you With courage and strength to the goal. Your spirit shall break every fetter, And love shall cast out every fear. And grander, and gladder, and better Shall be every added new year.
The winds are still; the sea lies all untroubled Beneath a cloudless sky; the morn is bright, Yet, Lord, I feel my need of Thee is doubled; Come nearer to me in this blaze of light; The night must fall,—the storm will burst at length. Oh! give me strength.
So well, so well, I know the treacherous seeming Of days like this; they are too heavenly fair. Those waves that laugh like happy children dreaming, Are mighty forces brewing some despair For thoughtless hearts, and ere the hour of need, Let mine take heed.
Joy cannot last; it must give place to sorrow As certainly as solar systems roll. I would not wait till that time comes to borrow The strength prayer offers to a suffering soul. Here in the sunlight—yet undimmed by shade, I cry for aid.
I dare not lightly drain the cup of pleasure, Though Thine the hand that proffers me the draught. Such bitter lees lie lower in the measure, I shall need courage, ere the potion's quaffed; Then strengthen me before that time befall, To drink the gall.
I need Thee in my joys and my successes, To make me humble, grateful, and not vain. I need Thee when the weight of sorrow presses The tortured heart that cries aloud in pain, So close great pleasures and great anguish lie. Lord, Lord, come nigh.
Now ought we to laugh or to weep— Was it comical, or was it grave? When we who had waded breast deep In passion's most turbulent wave Met out on an isle in Time's ocean, With never one thrill of emotion.
We had parted in sorrow and tears; Our letters were frequent and wet; We wrote about pitiless years, And we swore we could never forget. An angel you called me alway, And I thought you a god gone astray.
We met in an everyday style; Unmoved by a tremor or start; Shook hands, smiled a commonplace smile; (With a happy new love in each heart), And I thought you the homeliest man As you awkwardly picked up my fan!
And I know (or I haven't a doubt) Though you did not say so to my face, That you thought I was growing too stout: I, once your ideal of grace. And ere the encounter was o'er Each voted the other a bore.
What a proof that fond passion can die, In this prosaic meeting we had! Now, ought we to laugh or to cry— Was it sorrowful, or was it sad? 'Tis a puzzle not worthy our time, So let's give it up—with this rhyme.
Blow out the light: there is no oil to feed it: That dim blue light unworthy of the name. Better to sit with folded hands, I say, And wait for night to pass, and bring the day, Than to depend upon that flickering flame.
Take back your vow: there is no love to bind it: Take back this little shining, golden thing. Better to walk on bravely all alone, Than strive to hold up, or retain our own, By soulless pledge, or fetter of a ring.
When first the lamp was lit, too high you turned it; The oil was wasted in a blinding blaze. Your passion was too ardent in the start— Set by the lamp: farewell. God gird the heart Through darkened hours, and lone and loveless ways.
ONLY A GLOVE
Only a glove that has touched her fingers, But it seems to me something half divine. A delicate fragrance about it lingers, And it stirs my blood like wine— Yes, thrills and warms me like wine.
So well I remember the night she wore it— How I held the hand in its dainty glove, And whispered sweetly as I leaned o'er it— Whispered a tale of love— A story of my mad love.
There was mirth, and music, and light and laughter, The viols played and the dancers whirled. We were part of it all—but a moment after Were alone in love's fair world— Alone in God's own world.
But now of that night of glow and splendour, Of happy hope and beautiful love, Of youthful dreams that were sweetly tender, There is nothing left but a glove, Nothing but this one glove.
When in the early dawn I hear the thrushes, And like a flood of waters o'er my heart The memory of another summer rushes, How can I rise up, and perform my part?
When in the languid eve I hear the wailing Of the uncomforted sad mourning dove, Whose grief, like mine, seems deep as unavailing, What will I do with all this wealth of love?
When the sweet rain falls over hills and meadows, And the tall poplar's silver leaves are wet, And, like my soul, the world seems draped in shadow, How shall I hush this passionate regret?
When the wild bee is wooing the red clover, And the fair rose smiles on the butterfly, Missing thy smile and kiss, O love, my lover, Who on God's earth so desolate as I?
My tortured senses new despair will borrow From those reminders of a vanished day, That was as full of joy as this of sorrow— O beautiful, sad summer keep away!
Death and a dirge at midnight; Yet never a soul in the house Heard anything more than the throb and beat Of a beautiful waltz of Strauss.
Dead, dead, dead, and staring, With a ghastly smile on its face; But the world saw only laughing eyes And roses, and billows of lace.
Floating and whirling together, Into the beautiful night, How little you dreamed of the ghastly thing I was hiding away from your sight.
Meeting your dark eyes' splendour, Feeling your warm, sweet breath, How could you know that my passionate heart Had died a horrible death?
Died in its fever and fervour, Died in its beautiful bloom; And that waltz of Strauss was a funeral dirge, Leading the way to the tomb.
But you held my hand at parting, And I smiled back a gay good night; And you never knew of the ghastly corpse I was hiding away from your sight.
Yet whenever I hear the Danube— Under its pulsing strain, I catch the wail of the funeral dirge, And my heart dies over again.
My heart is like a ship that finds no rest, Tossed here and there upon the stormy breast Of loves of many hearts too oft conferred.
Thy love is like the harbour, safe and still, Into whose calm that ship may glide at will, Under the slope of God's Eternal Will.
So near the perfect peace that knows no word; Yet with an empty, white emotion stirred, It folds its wings like some contented bird.
At rest, and yet not anchored; and some day Out of the restful peace of this calm bay The winds of Fate will drift it far away.
THE NEW LOVE
I thought my heart was death chilled, I thought its fires were cold; But the new love, the new love, It warmeth like the old.
I thought its rooms were shadowed With the gloom of endless night; But the new love, the new love, It fills them full of light.
I thought the chambers empty, And proclaimed it unto men; But the new love, the new love, It peoples them again.
I thought its halls were silent, And hushed the whole day long; But the new love, the new love, It fills them full of song.
Then here is to the new love, Let who will sing the old; The new love, the new love, 'Tis more than fame or gold.
For it gives us joy for sorrow, And it gives us warmth for cold; Oh! the new love, the new love, 'Tis better than the old.
AN EAST WIND
The glitter of wheels far down the street (Ah me, and alack a day.) And I heard the thud of his horse's feet Beating a roundelay. And I felt a little song coming, coming Over my lips as humming, humming, I turned my eyes that way.
Somebody passed, who was wont to pause: (Ah me, and alack a day.) He bowed and smiled; yet for some cause The mirth went out of my lay. A wind from the east rose, sighing, sighing, I felt my little song dying, dying, She laughed as they rode away.
Kiss me, sweetheart. One by one Swift and sure the moments run.
Soon, too soon, for you and me Gone for aye the day will be.
Do not let time cheat us then, Kiss me often and again.
Every time a moment slips Let us count it on our lips
While we're kissing, strife and pain Cannot come between us twain.
If we pause too long a space, Who can tell what may take place?
You may pout, and I may scold, Souls be sundered, hearts grow cold;
Death may come, and love take wings; Oh! a thousand cruel things
May creep in to spoil the day, If we throw the time away.
Let us time, the cheater, cheat, Kiss me, darling, kiss me, sweet.
ONLY A SLIGHT FLIRTATION
'Twas just a slight flirtation, And where's the harm, I pray, In that amusing pastime So much in vogue to-day?
Her hand was plighted elsewhere To one she held most dear, But why should she sit lonely When other men were near?
They walked to church together, They sat upon the shore. She found him entertaining, He found her something more.
They rambled in the moonlight; It made her look so fair. She let him praise her beauty, And kiss her flowing hair.
'Twas just a nice flirtation. 'So sad the fellow died. Was drowned one day while boating, The week she was a bride.'
A life went out in darkness, A mother's fond heart broke, A maiden pined in secret— With grief she never spoke.
While robed in bridal whiteness, Queen of a festal throng, She moved, whose slight flirtation Had wrought this triple wrong.
WHAT THE RAIN SAW
Winds of the summer time what are you saying, What are ye seeking, and what do you miss? Locks like the thistledown floating and straying, Cheeks like the budding rose, tinted to kiss.
See ye yon mist rising up from the river? That is the spirit of yesterday's rain. Go to it, fly to it, call to it, cry to it, What did ye see when ye fell on the plain?
Rosewood, and velvet, and pansies, and roses, Blossoms from loving hands tenderly cast. Lids like the leaves of a lily that closes After its brief little day-life is past.
Beautiful hands on a beautiful bosom, Folded so quietly, folded in rest. Mouth like the bud of a white-petalled blossom, Creased where the lips of an angel had pressed.
Lower, and lower, and lower, and lower, Dust unto dust—but a mound on the plain. Left alone, lonely, this, and this only, Saw we, and see we to-day, said the rain.
Winds of the summer time vain is your seeking, Vain is your calling with sobs in your breath. Lips that are tender, eyes full of splendour, Wooed away, sued away, vanished with death.
After the end that is drawing near Comes, and I no more see your face Worn with suffering, lying here, What shall I do with the empty place?
You are so weary, that if I could I would not hinder, I would not keep The great Creator of all things good, From giving his own beloved sleep.
But over and over I turn this thought. After they bear you away to the tomb, And banish the glasses, and move the cot, What shall I do with the empty room?
And when you are lying at rest, my own, Hidden away in the grass and flowers, And I listen in vain for your sigh and moan, What shall I do with the silent hours?
O God! O God! in the great To Be What canst Thou give me to compensate For the terrible silence, the vacancy, Grim, and awful, and desolate?
Passing away, my beautiful one, Out of the old life into the new. But when it is over, and all is done, God of the Merciful, what shall I do?
Sweetest of slumber, and soundest rest, No more sorrow, and no more gloom. I am quite contented, and all is best,— But the empty bed—and the silent room!
OUR PETTY CARES
Our petty cares wear on us so,— More cruel than our great despairs, More rasping than a mighty woe, Our petty cares.
Less need of strength hath he who bears Courageously some stinging blow, Of Fate which takes him unawares.
Not solitary griefs we know Induce old age and whitening hairs; But that malicious, endless row— Our petty cares.
THE SHIP AND THE BOAT
In the great ship Life we speed along, With sails and pennons spread. And tethered, beside the great ship, glide The mystic boats for the dead.
Over the deck of the ship of Life Our loved and lost we lower. And calm and steady, his small boat ready, Death silently sits at the oar.
He rows our dead away from our sight— Away from our hearing or ken. We call and cry for a last good-bye, But they never come back again.
The ship of Life bounds on and on; The river of Time runs fast; And yet more swift our dear dead drift For ever back into the Past.
We do not forget those loved and lost, But they fade away like a dream: As we hurry along on the current strong Of Time's great turbulent stream.
On and on, and ever away, Our sails are filled by the wind; We see new places, we meet new faces, And the dead are far behind.
Their boats have drifted into the sea That laves God's holy feet. But the river's course, too, seeks that source, So the ship and the boat shall meet.
Come near to me, I need Thy glorious presence. Through the dense darkness of this troubled hour Shine on my soul, and fill it with the essence Of Thy pervading and uplifting power. Come near, come near to me!
Come nearer yet, I have no strength to reach Thee; My soul is like a bird with broken wings. Lean down from Thy fair height of peace, and teach me The balm Thy touch to mortal bruises brings. Lean down, O God, lean down!
Come near, and yet if those eternal places Hold greater tasks to occupy Thy hands, Send Thy blest angels whose celestial faces Smile sometimes on us from the spirit lands. Send one, send one to me!
I must have help. I am so weak and broken I cannot help myself. I know not how That moral force of which so much is spoken Will not sustain or fortify me now. I must, I must have help!
Some outside aid, some strength from spirit Sources, We all must have in hours like this, or die. To one, or all of those mysterious Forces Which men call God, I lift my voice and cry, Come near, come near to me!
As I go and shop, sir! If a car I stop, sir! Where you chance to sit, And you want to read, sir! Never mind or heed, sir! I'll not care a bit.
For it's now aesthetic To be quite athletic. That's our fad, you know. I can hold the strap, sir! And keep off your lap, sir! As we jolting go.
If you read on blindly, I shall take it kindly, All the car's not mine. But, if you sit and stare, sir! At my eyes and hair, sir! I must draw the line.
If the stare is meant, sir! For a compliment, sir! As we jog through town, Allow me to suggest, sir! A woman oft looks best, sir! When she's sitting down.
A FISHERMAN'S BABY
Oh! hush little baby, thy Papa's at sea, The big billows rock him as Mama rocks thee. He hastes to his dear ones o'er breakers of foam. Then hush little darling till Papa comes home. Sleep little baby, hush little baby, Papa is coming, no longer to roam.
The shells and the pebbles all day tossed about Are lulled into sleep by the tide ebbing out. The weary shore slumbers, stretched out in the sand, While the waves hurry off at mid ocean's command. Then hush little baby, sleep little darling, Sleep baby, rocked by thy mother's own hand.
The winds that have rollicked all day in the west Are soothed into sleep on the calm evening's breast. The boats that were out with the wild sea at play Are now rocked to sleep in the arms of the bay. Then rest little baby, sleep little baby, Papa will come at the break of the day.
CONTENT AND HAPPINESS
How is it that men pray their earthly lot May be 'content and happiness'? Dire foes Without one common trait which kinship shows I hold these two. Contentment comes when sought, While Happiness pursued was never caught. But, sudden, storms the heart with mighty throes Whenceforth, mild eyed Content affrighted goes, To seek some calmer heart, less danger fraught.
Bold Happiness knows but one rival—Fear; Who follows ever on his footsteps, sent By jealous Fate who calls great joy a crime. While in far ways 'mong leaves just turning sere, With gaze serene and placid, walks Content. No heart ere held these two guests at one time.
The woman who looks upon man as a sinner Unsaved as to soul, and uncertain in heart, Should learn how to cook, and prepare him a dinner, And serve it with talent, refinement, and art. Full many a question is solved by digestion. Bad morals are caused, oftentimes by bad cooks, And many a riot results from poor diet— Conversion may lie in the leaves of cook books.
About the dull stalk of the thorntree of duty Plant flowers of fragrance and vines of good taste. Surround the coarse needs of the body with beauty, Make common things noble, make vulgar things chaste. Put art in housekeeping, nor think culture sleeping Because the base animal, man, must be fed. Delsarte should be able to speak in the table— 'Expression' may lie in a light loaf of bread.
Though hard be the labour, the end recompenses— Though weary the journey, reward is the goal. For the soul of a man must be reached through his senses, As the senses of woman are reached through her soul. Speak first to his spirit, he never will hear it; Speak first to his body, his soul will reply; The mortal man fare for, his appetites care for, And lo! he will follow your footsteps on high.
Love born in the boudoir oft dies in the kitchen, The failure of marriage oft starts in the soup. The stomach appeal to, and men's heart you steal to— Would you reach to the last? To the first you must stoop.
I WONDER WHY
Do you remember that glorious June When we were lovers, you and I? Something there was in the robin's tune, Something there was in earth and sky, That was never before, and never since then. I wonder why.
Do you remember the bridge we crossed, And lingered to see the ships go by, With snowy sails to the free winds tossed? I never pass that bridge but I sigh With a sense at my heart as of something lost. I wonder why.
Do you remember the song we sung, Under the beautiful starlit sky? The world was bright, and our hearts were young— I cannot forget though I try and try. How you smiled in my eyes while the echoes rung. I wonder why.
Do you remember how debonair The new moon shone when we said good-bye? How it listened and smiled when we parted there? I shall hate the new moon until I die— Hate it for ever, nor think it fair. I wonder why.
A WOMAN'S HAND
All day long there has haunted me A spectre out of my lost youth-land. Because I happened last night to see A woman's beautiful snow-white hand.
Like part of a statue broken away, And carefully kept in a velvet case, On the crimson rim of her box it lay; The folds of the curtain hid her face.
Years had drifted between us two, In another clime, in another land, We had lived and parted, and yet I knew That cruelly beautiful perfect hand.
The ringless beauty of fingers fine, The sea-shell tint of their taper tips, The sight of them stirred my blood like wine, Oh, to hold them again to my lips!
To feel their tender touch on my hair, Their mute caress, and their clinging hold; Oh for the past that was green and fair, With a cloudless sky, and a sun of gold!
But the sun has set, and a dead delight Shadows my life with a dull despair, Oh why did I see that hand of white, Like a marble ornament lying there?
As unseen spheres cast shadows on the Earth Some unknown cause depresses me to-night. The house is full of laughter and sweet mirth, The day has held but pleasure and delight.
Down in the parlour some one blithely sings; A chime of laughter echoes in the hall; But all unseen by other eyes, strange things Rat-like do seem to glide along the wall.
I rise, and laugh, and say I will not care; I call them idle fancies, one and all. And yet, suspended by a single hair, The sword of Fate seems trembling soon to fall.
I leave the house, and walk the lighted street; And mingle with the pleasure-seeking throng. And close behind me follow spectre feet That pause with me, or with me move along.
I seek my room, and close and bolt the door; I draw the curtain, and turn up the light; But close beside me, closer than before, This nameless something stands, but out of sight.
Ye mystic messenger of woe to come, Ye nameless nothing called 'Presentiment,' Take form and face me; be no longer dumb, But tell who thou art, and wherefore sent.
One room is full of luxury, and dim With that soft moonlit radiance of light That she best loves, who sits and dreams of him Her heart has crowned as knight.
And one is bare, and comfortless, and dim With that strange, fitful glimmer that is shed By candles casting shadows weird and grim, Above the sheeted dead.
In one, a round and beautiful young face Is full of wordless rapture; and so fair You know her breast is joy's best dwelling-place; You know sweet love is there.
In one, there lies a white and wasted face Whereon is frozen such supreme despair, You need but look to know what left the trace; You know love has been there.
To one he comes! She leans her head of gold Upon his breast and bids him no more roam. Ah God! Ah God! and one lies stark and cold, Because he ceased to come.
THREE AT THE OPERA
Last night the house was crowded. Were you there? You thought our box held only two, maybe— Myself and chaperon, a matron fair. There was another whom you did not see.
Close, close beside me, sat a phantom form; Above the music and loud cheer on cheer That rose, and thundered like a sudden storm, I heard his low voice whispering in my ear.
A dead man's voice. You know when dead men speak There is no noise their least tone will not drown. His sweet soft words brought blushes to my cheek, And made my happy eyelids flutter down.
There were so many glasses turned on me, My chaperon was proud. She called me fair, And said I drew their glances. Well, may be. I think they saw that dead man sitting there.
A dead man at an opera: how strange! I know it must have seemed much out of place. He smiled, and spoke, and there was little change In the white pallor of his perfect face.
Yet he was dead. I knew it all the while, I do not wonder people looked that way. It seemed so odd to see a dead man smile; Its strangeness never struck me till to-day.
He rose and went out when we left our stall; Rose up, went out, and vanished in the night. He always sits beside me in that hall, But goes when goes the music and the light.
A STRAIN OF MUSIC
In through the open window To the chamber where I lay, There came the beat of merry feet, From the dancers over the way. And back on the wings of the music That rose on the midnight air, My rare youth came and spoke my name, And lo! I was young and fair.
Once more in the glitter of gaslight I stood in my life's glad prime: And heart and feet in a rhythm sweet Were keeping the music's time. Like a leaf in the breeze of summer I drifted down the hall, On an arm that is cold with death and mould, And is hidden under the pall.
Once more at a low voice's whisper (A voice that is long since stilled) I felt the flush of a rising blush, And my pulses leaped and thrilled. Once more in a sea of faces, I only saw one face; And life grew bright with a new delight, And sweet with a nameless grace.
A crash of passionate music, A hush and a silence then; The dancers rest in their pleasure quest, And lo! I am old again. Old and alone in my chamber, While the night wears wearily on, And the pallid wraith of a broken faith— Keeps watch with me till the dawn.
Last summer, lazing by the sea, I met a most entrancing creature, Her black eyes quite bewildered me— She had a Spanish cast of feature.
She often smoked a cigarette, And did it in the cutest fashion. Before a week passed by she set My young heart in a raging passion.
I swore I loved her as my life, I gave her gems (don't tell my tailor). She promised to become my wife, But whispered, 'Papa is my jailer.'
'We must be very sly, you see, For Papa will not list to reason. You must not come to call on me Until he's gone from home a season.
'I'll send you word, now don't forget, Take this as pledge, I will remember.' She gave me a perfumed cigarette, And turned and left me with September.
To-day she sent her 'cards' to me. 'My presence asked' to see her marry That millionaire old banker C—- She has my 'presents,' so I'll tarry.
And still I feel a keen regret (About the jewels that I gave her) I've smoked the little cigarette— It had a most delicious flavour.
AN AUTUMN DAY
Leaden skies and a lonesome shadow Where summer has passed with her gorgeous train; Snow on the mountain, and frost on the meadow— A white face pressed to the window pane; A cold mist falling, a bleak wind calling, And oh! but life seems vain.
Rain is better than golden weather, When the heart is dulled with a dumb despair. Dead leaves lie where they walked together, The hammock is gone, and the rustic chair. Let bleak snows cover the whole world over— It will never again seem fair.
Time laughs lightly at youth's sad 'Never,' Summer shall come again, smiling once more, High o'er the cold world the sun shines for ever, Hearts that seemed dead are alive at the core. Oh, but the pain of it—oh, but the gain of it, After the shadows pass o'er.
Whatever you want, if you wish for it long, With constant yearning and fervent desire, If your wish soars upward on wings so strong That they never grow languid and never tire,—
Why, over the storm clouds and out of the dark It shall come flying some day to you. As the dove with the olive branch flew to the ark, And the dream you have cherished—it shall come true.
But lest much rapture shall make you mad, Or too bright sunshine should strike you blind, Along with your blessing a something sad Shall come like a shadow that follows behind.
Something unwelcome and unforeseen, Yet of your hope and your wish, a part, Shall stand like a sentinel in between The perfect joy and the human heart.
I wished for a cloudless and golden day; It came, but I looked from my window to see A giant shadow which seemed to say, 'If you ask for the sunlight you must take me.'
Oh! a wonderful thing is the human will, When seeking one purpose, and serving one end; But I think it is wiser to just sit still, And accept whatever the gods may send.
In the rosy light of my day's fair morning, Ere ever a storm cloud darkened the west, Ere even a shadow of night gave warning When life seemed only a pleasure quest, Why then all humour and comedy scorning— I liked high tragedy best.
I liked the challenge, the fierce fought duel, With a death or a parting in every act. I liked the villain to be more cruel Than the basest villain could be in fact: For it fed the fires of my mind with the fuel Of the things that my life lacked.
But as time passed on, and I met real sorrow, And she played at night on the stage—my heart, I found I could not forget on the morrow The pain I had felt in her tragic part. For alas! no longer I needed to borrow My grief from the actor's art.
And as life grows older, and therefore sadder (Though sweeter maybe with its autumn haze), I find more pleasure in watching the gladder And lighter order of humorous plays. Where the mirth is as mad, or maybe madder, Than the mirth of my lost days.
I like to be forced to laugh and be merry, Though the earth with sorrow and pain is rife: I like for an evening at least to bury All thoughts of trouble, or pain, or strife. In sooth, I like to be moved to the very Emotions I miss in life.
AS WE LOOK BACK (RONDEAU)
As we look back at our lost Used-to-Be, 'The light that never was on land or sea' Touches the distant mountain peaks with gold, And through the glass of memory we behold Such blossoms as grow not on any lea.
The double leaf upon the poplar tree Turns up its silver side to you and me, And glow-worm lanterns light the lonely wold As we look back.
No sounds we hear but echoes of young glee; No winds we feel but west winds blowing free, From those fair isles that seem a thousandfold More beautiful than in the days of old; And all the clouds that hang above them flee, As we look back.
Why do eyes that were tender, Averted, turn away? Why has our dear love's splendour All faded into gray? Why is it that lips glow not That late were all aglow? I know not, dear, I know not, I only know 'tis so.
Why do you no more tremble Now when I kiss your cheek? Why do we both dissemble The thoughts we used to speak? Why is it that words flow not That used to fondly flow? I know not, dear, I know not, I only know 'tis so.
Have we outlived the passion That late lit earth and sky? And is this but the fashion A fond love takes to die? Is it, that we shall know not Again love's rapture glow? I trust not, sweet, I trust not— And yet it may be so.
Whoever you are as you read this, Whatever your trouble or grief, I want you to know and to heed this, The day draweth near with relief.
No sorrow, no woe, is unending; Though heaven seems voiceless and dumb, Remember your cry is ascending, And an answer will certainly come.