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Full text of "Modern American Poetry Modern British Poetry"

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Author L^^V lr<^v* -t 

Title 

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This book should be returned on or before the date last markea below. 




COMBINED EDITION 



Modern American Poetry 
Modern British Poetry 



A CRITICAL ANTHOLOGY 



EDITE 



D BY Louis Untermeyer 



HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, NEW YORK 



MODERN AMERICAN POETRY 



A Foreword 



TO THE SIXTH REVISED EDITION 



THIS sixth revision of Modern American Poetry continues the plan as 
well as the direction o the preceding editions. It goes even further 
than the fifth edition in placing its emphasis on the more important 
poets by enlarging their groups of poems and emphasizing their con- 
tribution to the period. The notes which introduce each group of poems and 
the amplified preface have been brought sharply up to date. The volume begins 
with Walt Whitman, with whom modern American poetry may be said to have 
begun, but it includes a representation of the latest and most experimental poets 
of the last decade. 

It is impossible, in any but a book of encyclopedic proportions, to include all 
the interesting figures of the times. Though this collection indicates the range 
of recent American poetry, many poets have been omitted from these pages. 
The editor regrets the cruel stringency of space, and apologizes to those (many 
of them his friends) whom it was impossible to include. The table of contents 
must speak for itself. Some of the poets included have been hailed as pioneers; 
some have provoked controversy and have changed the direction of contempo- 
rary art; some have maintained their quiet utterance with no regard what- 
soever to warring movements. But each has established his individuality by a 
unique command of his medium and a strongly pronounced personal idiom. 

It has already been implied that one of the aims of this collection is to 
express not only the national range but the diversity of recent American 
poetry. Yet, although the compilation is fairly inclusive, it is (as the title page 
indicates) critical. No group or "school" has been favored at the expense of 
another; the pages presume to record the best in convention as well as the most 
provocative in revolt. The object, in short, is to present a panorama in which 
outstanding figures assume logical prominence, but in which the valuable lesser 
personalities are not lost. 

It is here that debate begins and choice is likely to be arbitrary. Never before 
have so many poets distinguished themselves in America; never before has even 
the lesser verse been on such a level of competence. In the quarter of a century 
following the first appearance of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1912 more 
than one hundred magazines have devoted themselves exclusively to the print- 
ing and appraisal of verse. The rapid multiplication of magazines barely sug- 
gests the amount of verse produced in the forty-eight states. Every major city 
has its Poetry Society feverishly competing for prizes; every county has its local 
laureate. A rough calculation indicates that, in the twenty years covering the 
"renascence" of American poetry, no fewer than four thousand poets had 
volumes of their poetry offered for public sale. This figure does not include 



vi FOREWORD 

privately printed books or pamphlets which could not be catalogued. But, 
though an array of four thousand poets in any one period may be sufficiently 
imposing, this number gives no idea of the armies of writers who have whipped 
up their emotions, girded up their lines, and battled for the crucial adjective. 
It is safe to say that for every poet fortunate enough to emerge from the 
struggle with a volume or two to his credit, there were ten (the number is 
probably nearer fifty) who were not so victorious and had to content them- 
selves with publication in magazines, in trade journals, and in the poetry corner 
of the local newspaper. Forty thousand poets then. But wait. It is fair to assume 
that there must be still ten times as many who have chewed pencils, crumpled 
paper, cursed the inadequacy of the Rhyming Dictionary, and, somehow, got 
their lines to fit without the final gratification of seeing them in printer's type. 
Four hundred thousand a thorough search would probably double the figure 
four hundred thousand poets plying their difficult trade with desperate hope 
and small chance of reward. 

Selection of the fifteen or twenty "leading" poets is not so difficult. Almost 
everyone will agree on the poets whose appearance is imperative in a collection 
of this type. It is when one goes further and attempts to suggest the flux and 
fecundity of the period, or presumes to indicate the shape of things to come, 
that differences of opinion are sure to arise. Controversy and even enmity are 
likely to follow. In the end every editor is driven back upon that mixture of 
preference, prejudice, and intuition known as personal taste and it is only 
rarely that he can escape the limitations imposed by his temperament and 
training. 

That inescapable personal factor explains the method of editing as well as 
the manner of selection. That a poem has appeared in various anthologies is 
no proof that it is a good poem. Nor (in spite of those opposed to anthologies) 
is such publication anything against it. A good poem remains a good poem, no 
matter how often it is reprinted. On the other hand, it should be admitted that 
where there has been a choice between a much-quoted poem and one which 
has not been handed on from one anthologist to another, the editor has where 
both poems seemed equally worthy favored the less familiar example. 

Although humorous verse demands an omnibus of its own, its presence must 
be felt in any collection which presumes to reflect a period of growth. If the 
full extent of American humorous verse, from wit to burlesque, cannot be 
shown in this compilation, its changing form is suggested here by the light 
verse of Bret Harte, Eugene Field, T. A. Daly, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Guy 
Wetmore Carryl, Franklin P. Adams, Ogden Nash, and (immodest adden- 
dum) the editor's own parodies. 

One thing remains to be said. Although the notes as well as the number of 
poems selected make the editor's preference obvious, it should be added that he 
has attempted to make each poet's group rounded and representative. To ac- 
complish this, not only the early but the most recent writing of the contempo- 
raries appears here some of it for the first time between covers. Wherever 
possible, the selections as well as the authors have been chronologically ar- 
ranged; as a rule the earlier work is placed at the beginning of each group, and 
the later work follows in approximately the order in which it was written. The 



FOREWORD vll 

editor is greatly indebted to most of the living poets, not only for invaluable 
data, but for their collaborative assistance; many of the following pages embody 
their choice of their own poems as well as the editor's preferences. 

Finally, the compiler is grateful to the many publishers who have, in every 
instance, displayed a generosity and cooperation without which the successive 
editions of this volume would not have been possible. This indebtedness is 
alphabetically acknowledged to the following firms and agents, holders of the 
copyrights: 

THE ALCESTIS PRESS for selections from Ideas of Order by Wallace Stevens, The 
Mediterranean and Other Poems by Allen Tate, and Thirty-Six Poems by Robert 
Penn Warren. 

D. APPLETON-CENTURY COMPANY, INC. for selections from Going-to-the-Sun and 
Going-to-thc-Stars by Vachel Lindsay, Merchants from Cathay by William Rose 
Benet, War and Laughter by James Oppenheim, and Poems of People by Edgar 
Lee Masters. 

BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY for selections from the Biographical Edition of The 
Complete WorJ(s of James Whitcomb Riley, copyright 1913, reprinted by special 
permission of the publishers. 

A. AND C. BONI for selections from The Janitor s Boy and Other Poems and The 
Singing Crow by Nathalia Crane, Tulips and Chimneys by E. E. Cummings, 
For Eager Lovers by Genevieve Taggard, and Now the Sfy by Mark Van Doren. 

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY for the poem by Emily Dickinson beginning "Because 
that you are going" in the Galatea Collection, first published in The Life and 
Mind of Emily Dickinson by Genevieve Taggard (Knopf). 

BRANDT & BRANDT for poems by E. E. Cummings and Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

CURTIS BROWN, LTD. for two poems from The Bad Parent's Garden of Verse by 
Ogden Nash. 

JONATHAN CAPE AND HARRISON SMITH, INC. for selections from Blue Juniata by 
Malcolm Cowley. 

CowARD-McCANN, INC. for selections from Compass Rose by Elizabeth J. Coats- 
worth and Venus Invisible by Nathalia Crane. 

JOHN DAY COMPANY for selections from High Falcon by Leonie Adams. 

DECISION for a poem by Marya Zaturenska. 

THE DIAL PRESS for selections from Observations by Marianne Moore. 

DODD, MEAD & COMPANY for selections from Golden Fleece by William Rose Bene*t, 
Lyrics of Lowly Life (Copyright 1896) and from Lyrics of Love and Laughter 
(Copyright 1903) by Paul Laurence Dunbar, by permission of the publishers, 
Dodd, Mead & Company, Inc. 

DOUBLEDAY, DORAN & COMPANY for selections from Man Possessed and Moons of 
Grandeur by William Rose Bene*t, In Other Words and Tobogganing on Parnassus 
by Franklin P. Adams, The Man with the Hoe and Lincoln and Other Poems by 
Edwin Markham, Trine , by H. Phelps Putnam, Tiger Joy and John Bwwn's Body 
by Stephen Vincent Benet, and Leaves of Grass (Inclusive and Authorized Edi- 
tion) by Walt Whitman. 

E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY for selections from Cry of Time by Hazel Hall. 
FABER AND FABER, LTD. (London) for "J ourne Y f the Magi," "Animula," and "A 



viii FOREWORD 

Song for Simeon" from The Ariel Poems by T. S. Eliot, with the permission of 
T. S. Eliot. 

FANTASY for a poem by Wallace Stevens. 

FARRAR & RINEHART, INC. for selections from Public Speech by Archibald Mac- 
Leish, copyright 1936, The Fall of the City: A Radio Play by Archibald MacLeish, 
copyright 1937, and A Draft of XXX Cantos by Ezra Pound, reprinted by per- 
mission of Farrar & Rinehart, Inc. 

FOUR SEAS COMPANY for selections from The Charnel Rose, The Jig of Forslin, and 
The Hbuse of Dust by Conrad Aiken, and Sour Grapes by William Carlos 
Williams. 

HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC. for selections from A Miscellany of Ameri- 
can Poetry: 1920, American Poetry: A Miscellany: 1922, American Poetry: A 
Miscellany: 7925-1927, The Boo^ of the American Negro, Collected Poems by 
E. E. Cummings, copyright, 1923, 1925, 1931, 1935, 1938, by E. E. Cummings, 
and copyright, 1926, by Boni & Liveright, Canzoni and Carmina by T. A. Daly, 
Behind Dar\ Spaces by Melville Cane, Poems: 1909-7925 by T. S. Eliot and Col- 
lected Poems of T. S. Eliot, copyright, 1936, Poems: 1930-1940 by Horace Gregory, 
copyright, 1941, Land of the Free by Archibald MacLeish, copyright, 1938, The 
Noise That Time Ma\es and Six Sides to a Man by Merrill Moore, Smo\e and 
Steel by Carl Sandburg, Slabs of the Sunburnt West by Carl Sandburg, Good 
Morning, America by Carl Sandburg, The People, Yes by Carl Sandburg, copy- 
right, 1936, Food and Dnn\ and Selected Poems and Parodies by Louis Unter- 
meyejr, copyright, 1935, by permission of Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. 

HARPER & BROTHERS for selections from Sunrise Trumpets and Cyclops' Eye by 
Joseph Auslander, Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl, Color and 
Copper Sun by Countee Cullen, Renascence (Copyright 1917) by Edna St. Vin- 
cent Millay, A Few Figs from Thistles (Copyright 1922) by Edna St. Vincent 
Millay, The Buc^ in the Snow (Copyright 1928) by Edna St. Vincent Millay, 
Fatal Interview (Copyright 1931) by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Wine from 
These Grapes (Copyright 1934) by Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

HARVARD ADVOCATE for "Asides on the Oboe" by Wallace Stevens. 

HARR WAGNER PUBLISHING COMPANY for selections from The Complete Poetical 
Wor\s of Joaquin Miller. 

HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY for selections from A Boy's Will by Robert Frost, 
North of Boston by Robert Frost, Mountain Interval by Robert Frost, New Hamp- 
shire by Robert Frost, West-Running Eroo\ by Robert Frost, A Further Range 
by Robert Frost, The Collected Poems of Robert Frost, copyright 1936 and 1939, 
Chicago Poems and Cornhus^ers by Carl Sandburg, and Selected Poems by 
George Sterling. 

HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY for selections from The Complete Worlds of Bret 
Harte, The Shoes that Danced by Anna Hempstead Branch, Grimm Tales Made 
Gay by Guy Wetmore Carryl, Sea Garden by H. D., The Tall Men by Donald 
Davidson, Preludes and Symphonies by John Gould Fletcher, A Roadside Harp 
and Happy Endings by Louise Imogen Guiney, Ballads by John Hay, Sword, 
Blades and Poppy Seed by Amy Lowell, Men, Women and Ghosts by Amy 
Lowell, Pictures of the Floating World by Amy Lowell, What's O f Clocf( by Amy 
Lowell, Streets in the Moon by Archibald MacLeish, New Found Land by Archi- 



FOREWORD ix 

bald MacLeish, Poems: 1924-1933 by Archibald MacLeish, Panic by Archibald 
MacLeish, Poems and Poetic Dramas by William Vaughn Moody, Poems by 
Edward Rowland Sill, and the quotations from Some Imagist Poets all of which 
are used by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton'Mifflin 
Company, the authorized publishers. 

ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC. for selections from Punch: The Immortal Liar by Conrad 
Aiken, Advice by Maxwell Bodenheim, A Canticle of Pan by Witter Bynner, 
Verse by Adelaide Crapsey, A Letter to Robert Frost by Robert Hillyer, Pattern 
of a Day by Robert Hillyer, The Collected Verse of Robert Hillyer, Fine Clothes 
to the Jew by Langston Hughes, Songs for the New Age, Golden Bird, and The 
Sea by James Oppenheim, Lustra by Ezra Pound, Chills and Fever and Two 
Gentlemen in Bonds by John Crowe Ransom, Harmonium by Wallace Stevens, 
Travelling Standing Still by Genevieve Taggard, Nets to Catch the Wind by 
Elinor Wylie, Blac\ Armour by Elinor Wylie, Trivial Breath by Elinor Wylie, 
Angels and Earthly Creatures by Elinor Wylie, and Collected Poems (Copyright 
1932) by Elinor Wylie all of which are reprinted by permission of, and by 
special arrangement with, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., authorized publishers. 

LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY for selections from The Complete Poems of Emily 
Dickinson, Further Poems by Emily Dickinson, and The Poems of Emily Dic\- 
inson: Centenary Edition, edited by Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Alfred Leete 
Hampson, and from The Face is Familiar by Ogden Nash all of which are re- 
printed by permission of Little, Brown & Company, authorized publishers. 

THE LIVEIUGHT CORPORATION for selections from White Buildings by Hart Crane, 
The Bridge by Hart Crane, and Collected Poems by Hart Crane, Collected Poems 
by H. D., Personae by Ezra Pound, and Priapus and the Pool by Conrad Aiken. 

LONGMANS, GREEN AND COMPANY for selections from Stone Dust by Frank Ernest 

Hill. 

PHE MACMILLAN COMPANY for selections from The Chinese Nightingale by Vachel 
Lindsay, Collected Poems by Vachel Lindsay, Spoon River Anthology and Songs 
and Satires by Edgar Lee Masters, The Man Against the S^y by Edwin Arlington 
Robinson, Collected Poems by Edwin Arlington Robinson, and Dionysus in Doubt 
by Edwin Arlington Robinson, Rivers to the Sea, Love Songs, Flame and Shadow 
and Dar^ of the Moon by Sara Teasdale, Hesperides by Ridgely Torrence, Steep 
Ascent by Jean Starr Untermeyer, Cold Morning S^y by Marya Zaturenska, and 
The Listening Landscape by Marya Zaturenska. 

EDWIN MARKHAM AND VIRGIL MARKHAM for selections from The Man with the 
Hoe and Other Poems, Poems, The Shoes of Happiness and Other Poems, and 
New Poems, published by Doubleday, Doran & Company and copyright by the 
late Edwin Markham, with whose permission, by special arrangement, the poems 
are reprinted. 

EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY and her agents, Brandt & Brandt for permission to re- 
print her poems which are copyright as follows: "God's World," and "Renas- 
cence," from Renascence, published by Harper & Brothers, copyright 1917, 1924, 
by Edna St. Vincent Millay. "The Pear Tree," copyright 1919 by Edna St. Vin- 
cent Millay. "Elegy," "The Poet and His Book," "Spring," "Passer Mortuus 
Est," and "Wild Swans," from Second April, published by Harper & Brothers, 



* FOREWORD 

copyright 1921, 1924, by Edna St. Vincent Millay. "I Shall Go Back," "What 
Lips My Lips Have Kissed," "Pity Me Not," "Euclid Alone Has Looked on 
Beauty Bare," and "Departure" from The Harp-Weaver and Other Poems, pub- 
lished by Harper & Brothers, copyright 1920, 1921, 1922 and 1923 by Edna St. 
Vincent Millay. "Sonnet to Gath," "On Hearing a Symphony of Beethoven," 
"The Cameo," and "Justice Denied in Massachusetts," from The Euc\ in the 
Snow, published by Harper & Brothers, copyright 1928 by Edna St. Vincent 
Millay. "Oh, Sleep Forever in the Latmian Cave" from Fatal Interview, published 
by Harper & Brothers, copyright 1931 by Edna St. Vincent Millay. "The Return" 
and "See Where Capella with Her Golden Kids" from Wine from These Grapes, 
copyright 1934 by Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

ROBERT M. McBuiDE & COMPANY for selections from Those Not Elect by Leonie 
Adams, and Body of This Death by Louise Bogan. 

THE MANAS PRESS (Claude Bragdon) for selections from Verse by Adelaide 
Crapsey. 

THE METROPOLITAN PRESS (Portland, Oregon) for a poem from The Mountain in 
the SJ(y by Howard McKmley Corning. 

MINTON, BALCH AND COMPANY for selections from Mr. Pope and Other Poems 
by Allen Tate. 

THE MODERN LIBRARY for the selections by Robinson Jeflers originally published 
in A Miscellany of American Poetry 7927 reprinted in Roan Stallion, Tamar 
and Other Poems. 

THOMAS B. MOSHER for selections from A Quiet Road and A Wayside Lute by 
Lizette Woodworth Reese. 

NEW DIRECTIONS for selections from First Will & Testament by Kenneth Patchen, 
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities by Delmore Schwartz, The Complete Collected 
Poems: 1906-1938 of William Cailos Williams, The Broken Span by William 
Carlos Williams, and New Directions in Prose and Poetry: 1940. 

PAGAN PUBLISHING COMPANY for selections from Minna and Myself by Maxwell 
Bodenheim. 

RANDOM HOUSE for selections from Collected Poems by Kenneth Fearing, Cawdor 
by Robinson Jeffers, Dear Judas and Other Poems by Robinson Jeflers, Thurso's 
Landing by Robinson Jeffers, Solstice by Robinson Jaffers, Be Angry at the Sun 
by Robinson Jeffers, and The Selected Poetty of Robinson Jeffers. Also for the 
poems, copyright individually by the authors, first printed in The Poetry Quartos 
by Robert Frost, E. A. Robinson, Conrad Aiken, William Rose Benet, and Elinor 
Wylie. 

A. M. ROBERTSON for selections from The House of Orchids by George Sterling. 

NORMAN REMINGTON COMPANY for selections from Spicewood and Wild Cherry by 
Lizette Woodworth Reese. 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS for selections from Preludes for Memnon and Selected 
Poems by Conrad Aiken, Darf( Summer by Louise Bogan, The Complete Works 
of Eugene Field, Poems of Sidney Lamer, copyright 1884, 1891, 1916 by Mary 
D. Lanier, The Crows by David McCord, The Children of the Night and Town 
Down the River by Edwin Arlington Robinson, Poems (Revised Edition) by 
George Santayana, Poems: 1928-1931 by Allen Tate, Dust and Light and The 



FOREWORD xi 

Blac\ Panther by John Hall Wheelock all of which are printed by permission of, 
and special arrangement with, Charles Scribner's Sons. 

SHERMAN, FRENCH AND COMPANY for selections from The Human Fantasy and 

. The Beloved Adventure by John Hall Wheelock. 

SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY for selections from Ballads of Lost Haven by Bliss 
Carman, Along the Trail by Richard Hovey, Songs from Vagabondia and More 
Songs from Vagabondia by Richard Hovey and Bliss Carman. 

HARRISON SMITH & ROBERT HAAS, INC. for a poem from Dance of Fire by Lola 
Ridge. 

F. A. STOKES COMPANY for selections from War Is Kind by Stephen Crane and 
Grenstone Poems by Witter Bynner. 

STURGIS & WALTON COMPANY for a selection from Monday Mowing by James 
Oppenheim. 

THE TROUTBECK PRESS (Amenia, New York) for selections from Dear Lovely 
Death by Langston Hughes. 

HAROLD VINAL, LTD. for selections from Hate's Pond by James Whaler. 

THE VIKING PRESS for selections from Boy in the Wind and The Flowering Stone 
by George Dillon, The Seventh Hill by Robert Hillycr, God's Tiombones by 
James Weldon Johnson, The Vaunt of Man by William Ellery Leonard, The 
Ghetto and Sun-up by Lola Ridge, Under the Ttee by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, 
Song in the Meadow by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Gt owing Pains and Dreams 
Out of Darkness by Jean Starr Untermeyer. 

WASHBURN & THOMAS for a poem from Floodgate by David McCord. 

WYCKOFF & GELBER for selections from Hawaiian Hilltop by Gencvieve Taggard. 

THE YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS for selections from Young Adventure by Stephen 
Vincent Benet, The Burglar of the Zodiac by William Rose Benet, Permit Me 
Voyage by James Agee, and Theory of Flight by Muriel Rukeyser. 

For those poems which have appeared in various publications but which 
have not yet been collected in volumes by their authors I am indebted to the 
following magazines: 

THE AMERICAN MERCURY for poems by David McCord and Merrill Moore. 

THE AMERICAN REVIEW for poems by Robert Penn Warren and John Crowe 

Ransom. 

THE AMERICAN POETRY JOURNAL for a poem by Robert Hillycr. 
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY for poems by Robert Frost and Robert Hillyer. 
THE NATION for a poem by Mark Van Doren. 
THE NEW REPUBLIC for poems by Leonie Adams, George Dillon, John Crowe 

Ransom, and Robert Penn Warren. 

THE NEW YORKER for a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet. 
POETRY: A MAGAZINE OF VERSE for poems by Countec Cullen, Howard McKinley 

Corning, and Elizabeth Madox Roberts. 

THE SATURDAY REVIEW OF LITERATURE for poems by Anna Hempstead Branch, 
' Genevieve Taggard, and Robinson Jeffers. 
THE SOUTHERN REVIEW -for a poem by Robert Penn Warren. 



xii FOREWORD 

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW for poems by Elizabeth Madox Roberts, David 

McCord, and Robinson Jeffers. 
THE YALE REVIEW for poems by Robert Frost and Melville Cane. 

The introductory note to the poems by Walt Whitman is a revision of the 
paragraphs which first appeared in the editor's American Poetry from the 
Beginning to Whitman published in 1931. 

For the privilege of printing poems in manuscript and other poems not yet 
in any of their volumes, I am gratefully indebted to Leonie Adams, James 
Agee, Conrad Aiken, Stephen Vincent Benet, Elizabeth Coatsworth, Melville 
Cane, John Gould Fletcher, Robert Frost, Robert Hillyer, Robinson Jeffers, 
David McCord, Merrill Moore, the late Elizabeth Madox Roberts, Delmore 
Schwartz, Wallace Stevens, Allen Tate, Genevieve Taggard, Muriel Rukeyser, 
Robert Penn Warren, William Carlos Williams, and Marya Zaturenska. All 
rights have been reserved by the authors, and permissions to reprint any of 
their poems must be made direct to them, their agents or publishers. 

I must record my thanks to Henry A. Stickney and William W. Mathewson 
for permission to reprint the poems of Trumbull Stickney; to Julian R. Hovey 
for permission to reprint poems by Richard Hovey; and to Ruth Hall for her 
assistance concerning certain poems by her sister Hazel Hall. 

For advice and helpful suggestions during the revision of this book, I am 
grateful to Kenneth A. Robinson, Dartmouth College; Guy S. Greene, Iowa 
State College; E. O. James, Mills College; and Robert Hillyer, Harvard Uni- 
versity. Consultations, correspondence, and (especially) arguments have been 
especially fruitful with Jay Laughlm, Horace Gregory, Marya Zaturenska, and 
William Carlos Williams. Finally I must happily acknowledge the labors of my 
wife, Esther Antin, in the combined roles of critic and collaborator. 



Contents 



A FOREWORD, V 
PREFACE, 3 

WALT WHITMAN (1819-1892), 33 

I Hear America Singing, 40 
The Muse in the New World, 41 
Recorders Ages Hence, 41 
The Commonplace, 42 
"A Noiseless Patient Spider, 42 
To a Common Prostitute, 42 
When I Heard the Learn'd Astron- 
omer, 42 
Reconciliation, 43 
I Hear It Was Charged against Me, 

43 
Mannahatta, 43 

Song of Myself, 44 

Song of the Open Road, 63 

The Broad-Ax, 65 

PH the Beach at Night, 65 

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, * 

66 
Facing West from California's Shores, 

70 
When Lilacs Last in the DooryarclCr 

Bloom 'd, 71 

Captain! My Captain', 76 
After the Supper and Talk, 77 
The Last Invocation, 77 

EMILY DICKINSON (1830-1886), 77 

1 Taste a Liquor Never Brewed, 83 w 
A Bird Came Downihe Walk, 83 
Elysium Is as Far, 84 



EMILY DICKINSON (Cont^) 
I Never Saw a Moor, 84 
I Never Lost as Much, 84 
Indian Summer, 84 
I Died for Beauty, 84 
The Sky Is Low, 84 
Mysteries, 85 

I Like to See It Lap the Miles, 85 
^--The Soul Selects, 85 

My Life Closed Twice Before Its 

Close, 85 

The Heart Asks Pleasure First, 85 
I Cannot Live with You, 85 
Of Course I Prayed, 86 
There Is No Frigate Like a Book, 86 
I Had Been Hungry All the Years, 

86 

I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died, 87 < 
^--There's a Certain Slant of Light, 87 
I Measure Every Grief I Meet, 87 
The Brain Is Wider than the Sky, 87 
Bring Me the Sunset in a Cup, 88 
The Tint I Cannot Take Is Best, 88 
I Dreaded That First Robin"So, 88 
^After Great Pain a Formal Feeling 

Comes, 89 
A Cemetery, 89 
Ample Make This Bed, 89 
Although I Put Away His Life, 89 
The World Feels Dusty, 89 
Lightly Stepped a Yellow Star, 90 
Go Not Too Near a House of Rose, 

90 
I Reckon, When I Count at All, 90 



XIV 

EMILY DICKINSON (Cont.) 
Because that You Are Going, 90 
What Soft, Cherubic Creatures, 91 

^ Because I Could Not Stop for Death, i 

9 1 

The Mountains Grow Unnoticed, 92 
Truth Is as Old as God, 92 

JOHN HAY (1838-1905), 92 
Jim Bludso, 93 
Banty Tim, 93 

BRET HARTE (1839-1902), 94 
"Jim," 95 
Plain Language from Truthful James, 

What the Bullet Sang, 96 
The Aged Stranger, 97 

JOAQUIN MILLER (1841-1913), 97 
By the Pacific Ocean, 99 
Crossing the Plains, 99 
Prom "Byron," 99 
The Arctic Moon, 99 

EDWARD ROWLAND SILL (1841-1887), 
100 

Opportunity, 100 

The Fool's Prayer, 100 

SIDNEY LANIER (1842-1881), 101 
Song of the Chattahoochee, 102 
Night and Day, 103 
From "The Marshes of Glynn," 103 
Song for "The Jacquerie," 104 
A Ballad of the Trees and the Master, 
105 

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY (1849-1916), 
105 

When the Frost Is on the Punkin, 106 
A Parting Guest, 107 



CONTENTS 

EUGENE FIELD (1850-1895), 107 

Our Two Opinions, 108 
Little Boy Blue, 108 
Seem* Things, 109 

EDWIN MARKHAM (1852-1940), 101 
Outwitted, no 
The Man with the Hoe, HI 
The Avengers, 112 
Preparedness, 112 
Lincoln, the Man of the People, 112 

LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE (1856- 

1935). H3 
Tears, 114 
Spice wood, 115 
Spring Ecstasy, 115 
Ownership, 115 
A Puritan Lady, 115 
A Flower of Mullein, 116 
Miracle, 116 
Wild Cherry, 116 
Old Saul, 116 
Women, 117 
Surety, 118 
Crows, 118 

LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY (1861-1920), 

118 

The Kings, 119 
The Wild Ride, 119 

BLISS CARMAN (1861-1929), 120 
A Vagabond Song, 121 
The Gravedigger, 121 
Hem and Haw, 122 
Daisies, 122 

GEORGE SANTA YANA (1863- ), 122 
As in the Midst of Battle There Is 

Room, 124 

After Gray Vigils, Sunshine in the* 
Heart, 124 



CONTENTS 



GEORGE SANTAYANA (Cotlt.) 

On the Death of a Metaphysician, 124 
The Rustic at the Play, 125 
O World, Thou Choosest Not the 
Better Part, 125 

RICHARD HOVEY (1864-1900), 125 
At the Crossroads, 126 
Unmanifest Destiny, 127 
Love in the Winds, 127 
Comrades, 128 
Contemporaries, 128 
A Stein Song, 128 

WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY (1869- 

1910), 129 
Pandora's Song, 130 
Gloucester Moors, 130 
Road-Hymn for the Start, 131 
From "J etsarn >" 132 
On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines, 

133 

GEORGE STERLING (1869-1926), 133 
The Black Vulture, 134 
The Master Manner, 134 
The Night of Gods, 135 

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON (1869- 

!935)> 135 
Exit, 139 
Credo, 139 
James Wetherell, 140 
Miniver Cheevy, 140 
Cliff Klingenhagen, 140 
The House on the Hill, 141 
An Old Story, 141 
Richard Cory, 141 
Bewick Finzer, 141 
Reuben Bright, 142 
For a Dead Lady, 142 
Calvary, 142 
Vickery's Mountain, 143 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

Too Much Coffee, 143 

The Master, 143 

Mr. Flood's Party, 144 

George Crabbe, 145 

Luke Havergal, 146 

John Gorham, 147 

How Annandale Went Out, 148 

The Field of Glory, 148 

The Clerks, 149 

The Dark Hills, 149 

Eros Turannos, 149 

The Sheaves, 150 

Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from 

Stratford, 150 
New England, 158 
The Gift of God, 158 
The Prodigal Son, 159 

EDGAR LEE MASTERS (1869- )> l6 

Week-End by the Sea, 161 
Widows, 162 
Petit, the Poet, 164 
Lucinda Matlock, 164 
Anne Rutledge, 165 
Silence, 165 

STEPHEN CRANE (1871-1900), 167 
I Saw a Man, 168 
The Wayfarer, 168 
Hymn, 168 

The Blades of Grass, 168 
The Book of Wisdom, 168 
The Candid Man, 168 
The Heart, 169 

T. A. DALY (1871- ), 169 
Mia Carlotta, 169 
Between Two Loves, 170 

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON (1871- 

1938), 171 
The Creation, 171 



XVI 



CONTENTS 



PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR (1872- 

1906), 174 
The Turning of the Babies in the 

Bed, 174 

A Coquette Conquered, 175 
Discovered, 175 

GUY WETMORE CARRYL (1873-1904), 
175 

How Jack Found that Beans May Go 
Back on a Chap, 176 

The Sycophantic Fox and the Gul- 
lible Raven, 177 

How a Cat Was Annoyed and a Poet 
Was Booted, 178 

TRUMBULL STICKNEY (1874-1904), 
1 80 

Live Blindly and upon the Hour, 181 
In the Past, 181 
Age in Youth, 182 
Alone on Lykaion, 182 

ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH (1874- 

1937), 182 

The Monk in the Kitchen, 183 
While Loveliness Goes By, 184 
To a Dog, 184 

AMY LOWELL (1874-1925), 185 
A Lady, 188 
Solitaire, 188 
Patterns, 188 
Wind and Silver, 191 
Night Clouds, 191 
Free Fantasia on Japanese Themes, 

191 

A Decade, 192 

Madonna of the Evening Flowers, 192 
Evelyn Ray, 193 
The Taxi, 196 
In Excelsis, 197 
Meeting-House Hill, 198 



AMY LOWELL (Cont.) 

Lilacs, 198 
The Sisters, 201 

RIDGELY TORRENCE (1875- ), 204 

The Bird and the Tree, 204 
The Son, 205 

ROBERT FROST (1875- ), 205 

The Pasture, 210 

The Onset, 210 

The Tuft of Flowers, 210 

Reluctance, 212 

Mending Wall, 212 

The Cow in Apple-Time, 213 
j/flfhe Death of the Hired Man, 213 

After Apple-Picking, 218 

An Old Man's Winter Night, 218 
v' Birches, 219 /^"W. 

Brown's Descent, 220 

The Runaway, 221 

To Earthward, 222 
** x ire and Ice, 222 

Two Look at Two, 222 

A Sky Pair, 

Canis Major, 223 

The Peaceful Shepherd, 223 

Bereft, 223 

i/Tree at My Window, 224 
^West-Running Brook, 224 

Once by the Pacific, 226 

The Bear, 226 

Sand Dunes, 227 

The Lovely Shall Be Choosers, 227 

The Egg and the Machine, 228 
^/Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve 
ning, 229 

Nothing Gold Can Stay, 229 

The Road Not Taken, 229 

A Leaf-Treader, 230 

Lost in Heaven, 230 
rt Places, 230 

Two Tramps in Mud-Time, 231 



CONTENTS 

ROBERT FROST (Cotlt.) 
Departmental, 232 ^ 
A Considerable Speck, 232 
Happiness Makes Up in Height, 233 
"Come In, 233 

WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD (1876- 

)> 2 34 

The Image of Delight, 234 
To the Victor, 235 

CARL SANDBURG (1878- ), 235 
Ten Definitions of Poetry, 238 
Chicago, 238 
Fog, 239 
Grass, 239 
Cool Tombs, 239 
Nocturne in a Deserted Brickyard, 

240 

Limited, 240 
Four Preludes on Playthings of the 

Wind, 240 
A. E. F., 242 
Prayers of Steel, 242 
Jazz Fantasia, 242 
Blue Island Intersection, 242 
From "Smoke and Steel," 243 
Losers, 244 
Wind Song, 245 
Primer Lesson, 245 
Broken-Face Gargoyles, 246 
Flash Crimson, 246 
Early Lynching, 247 
Precious Moments, 247 
Moist Moon People, 248 
Bundles, 248 
Upstream, 248 
Sunsets, 249 

Elephants Are Different, 249 
For You, 249 
From "The People, Yes" 

They Have Yarns, 250 

The People Will Live On, 253 



XVII 

ADELAIDE CRAPSEY (1878-1914), 255 

Six Cinquains 

November Night, 255 

Susanna and the Elders, 255 

Triad, 256 

Niagara, 256 

The Warning, 256 

Arbutus, 256 

On Seeing Weather-Beaten Trees, 256 
Vendor's Song, 256 
The Lonely Death, 256 
Song, 256 
The Immortal Residue, 256 

VACHEL LINDSAY (1879-1931), 257 

The Congo, 259 

To a Golden-Haired Girl in a Louisi- 
ana Town, 262 

General William Booth Enters into 
Heaven, 262 

The Eagle That Is Forgotten, 264 

The Ghosts of the Buffaloes, 264 

The Traveler, 266 

A Negro Sermon: Simon Legree, 

267 

John Brown, 268 

The Dove of New Snow, 269 

The Flower-Fed Buffaloes, 269 

Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight, 
270 

When Lincoln Came to Springfield, 
270 

Nancy Hanks, Mother of Abraham 
Lincoln, 271 

Wild Cats, 271 

The Apple-Barrel of Johnny Apple- 
seed, 272 

The Voyage, 272 

The Chinese Nightingale, 272 

MELVILLE CANE (1879- ), 278 
Snow Toward Evening, 278 
Tree in December, 278 



CONTENTS 



MELVILLE CANE (Cont!) 

Dawn Has Yet to Ripple In, 279 
Hymn to Night, 279 

WALLACE STEVENS (1879- ), 280 
Anecdote of the Jar, 282 
Peter Quince at the Clavier, 282 * 
To the One of Fictive Music, 283 
Sunday Morning, 284 +** 
Domination of Black, 285 
Sea Surface Full of Clouds, 286 
Annual Gaiety, 289 
Homunculus et la Belle Etoile, 289 
Two Figures in Dense Violet Light, 

289 

Gallant Chateau, 290 
The Idea of Order at Key West, 290 
Bouquet of Belle Scavoir, 291 
Asides' on the Oboe, 292 

FRANKLIN P. ADAMS (l88l- ), 

293 

The Rich Man, 293 
Those Two Boys, 293 

WITTER BYNNER (l88l- ), 294 
Grass-Tops, 295 
Voices, 295 

A Farmer Remembers Lincoln, 295 
Train-Mates, 296 
The Singing Huntsman, 297 
Against the Cold, 297 

JAMES OPPENHEIM (1882-1932), 297 
The Slave, 298 

The Runner in the Skies, 298 
The Lincoln Child, 299 
Night Note, 301 
Tasting the Earth, 302 
Hebrews, 302 

LOLA RIDGE (l882?-I94l), 303 
Passages from "The Ghetto," 304 
Faces, 305 



LOLA RIDGE 

New. Orleans, 306 
Wind in the Alleys, 306 
Marie, 306 
April of Our Desire, 306 

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS (l 

)> 307 

Metric Figure, 308 
Dawn, 309 
Poem, 309 
January, 309 
Queen-Ann's-Lace, 309 
Daisy, 310 

On Gay Wallpaper, 310 
Tract, 310 
Smell, 312 
A Goodnight, 312 
** The Red Wheelbarrow, 314 
Flowers by the Sea, 314 
The Poor, 314 
These, 314 
Illegitimate Things, 315 

SARA TEASDALE (1884-1933), 315 
Night Song at Amalfi, 316 
Spring Night, 316 
I Shall Not Care, 317 
The Long Hill, 317 
Water-Lihes, 317 
Let It Be Forgotten, 318 
Wisdom, 318 
The Solitary, 318 
The Crystal Gazer, 318 
Appraisal, 319 
On the South Downs, 319 
August Night, 319 
Effigy of a Nun, 319 
The Flight, 320 

ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS (1885- 

1941), 321 
The Sky, 322 
Christmas Morning, 322 



GtiNTENTS 

ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 
Orpheus, 322 
Stranger, 323 

A Ballet Song of Mary, 324 
Woodcock of the Ivory Beak, 325 

ELINOR WYLIE (1885-1928), 325 
The Eagle and the Mole, 328 
The Knight Fallen on Evil Days, 328 
Pegasus Lost, 329 
Madman's Song, 329 
Sanctuary, 330 
Velvet Shoes, 330 
Escape, 330 - 
Golden Bough, 330 
August, 331 
Puritan Sonnet, 331 
Nebuchadnezzar, 331 
Let No Charitable Hope, 332 
Confession of Faith, 332 
"Desolation Is a Delicate Thing," 332 
Peter and John, 333 
Full Moon, 334 
Epitaph, 334 
Birthday Sonnet, 334 
O Virtuous Light, 335 
The Pebble, 335 
Sonnet from "One Person," 335 
This Corruptible, 336 
Hymn to Earth, 338 

EZRA POUND (1885- ), 339 
An Immorality, 342 
A Virginal, 343 
Ballad for Gloom, 343 
Greek Epigram, 344 
Ballad of the Goodly Fere, 344 
A Girl, 345 

In a Station of the Metro, 345 
Dance Figure, 345 
MIPIA, 345 
Silet, 346 
Portrait D'une Femme, 346 



xtx 

EZRA POUND (Cont!) 

The Return, 347 
Envoi, 347 
The Rest, 347 
It*, 348 
Canto I, 348 

LOUIS UNTERMEYER (1885- ), 349 

Prayer, 351 

Caliban in the Coal Mines, 352 
The Dark Chamber, 352 
Scarcely Spring, 352 
Long Feud, 353 
Unreasoning Heart, 353 
Food and Drink, 354 
Last Words Before Winter, 355 
Against Time, 355 
Five Parodies 

John Maseficld, 356 

Walter De la Mare, 357 

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 358 

Archibald MacLeish, 358 

Edgar A. Guest, 359 ^ 

JOHN GOULD FLETCHER (l886- ), 
360 

From "Irradiations," 361 

Green Symphony, 362 

London Nightfall, 365 

The Skaters, 366 

Lincoln, 366 

A Rebel, 367 

Before Olympus, 368 

Advent, 368 

The Birth of Lucifer, 369 

A New Heaven, 369 

Ad Majorem Hominis Gloriam, 370 

The Lofty House, 370 

WILLIAM ROSE BENET (l886- ), 

370 

Merchants from Cathay, 371 
Night, 372 



XX 

WILLIAM ROSE BENET (Cont.) 
The Fawn in the Snow, 373 
Whale, 373 
The Horse Thief, 374 
Brazen Tongue, 377 
Jesse James, 377 
Eternal Masculine, 379 
Inscription for a Mirror in a Deserted 

Dwelling, 379 
Sagacity, 380 

HAZEL HALL (1886-1924), 380 

Flight, 381 

Any Woman, 381 

Here Comes the Thief, 381 

Slow Death, 382 

JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER (l886- 
), 3 82 

High Tide, 383 

Autumn, 384 

Clay Hills, 385 

Sinfonia Domestica, 385 

Lake Song, 385 

Birthday, 386 

Country of No Lack, 386 

One Kind of Humility, 386 

Dew on a Dusty Heart, 387 

H.D. (1886- ), 3 8 7 
Oread, 388 
Pear Tree, 388 
Heat, 388 
Orchard, 389 
Song, 389 

From "Let Zeus Record," 389 
Lais, 389 

From "Halcyon," 390 
Songs from Cyprus, 390 
Holy Satyr, 391 
The Islands, 391 
Helen, 392 
Lethe, 393 



CONTENTS 

JOHN HALL WHEELOCK (*88f> ), 

393 

Sunday Evening in the Common, 394 
Triumph of Love, 394 
Nirvana, 395 
Love and Liberation, 395 
Earth, 395 
This Quiet Dust, 396 

ROY HELTON (l886- ), 396 
Old Christmas Morning, 397 
Lonesome Water, 398 

MARIANNE MOORE (1887- ), 399 

A Talisman, 399 

That Harp You Play So Well, 399 

To a Steam Roller, 400 

England, 400 

The Fish, 401 

ROBINSON JEFFERS (1887- ), 40^ 

Compensation, 405 

Age in Prospect, 406 

Ante Mortem, 406 

Post Mortem, 407 

Noon, 407 

Clouds of Evening, 408 

To the Stone-Cutters, 408 

Gale in April, 408 

Apology for Bad Dreams, 409 

Promise of Peace, 411 

Birth-Dues, 411 

Summer Holiday, 412 

Credo, 412 

Pelicans, 412 

Love the Wild Swan, 413 

Night, 413 

Shine, Perishing Republic, 415 

Divinely Superfluous Beauty, 415 

Hurt Hawks, 415 

Prescription of Painful Ends, 416 

May- June, 7940, 417 



CONTENTS 



xxi 



FRANK ERNEST HILL (l888- ), 418 

Earth and Air, 418 
Upper Air, 420 

T. S. ELIOT (1888- ), 420 

La Figlia Che Piange, 424 

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 

425 

Morning at the Window, 428 
Prelude, 428 
Portrait of a Lady, 429 
Conversation Galantc, 431 
Gerontion, 432 

Rhapsody on a Windy Night, 434 
Sweeney Among the Nightingales, 

434 
Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein 

with a Cigar, 435 
The Hollow Men, 435 
Animula, 437 
A Song for Simeon, 437 
Journey of the Magi, 438 
Ash-Wednesday, 439 

JOHN CROWE RANSOM (l888- ), 

444 
Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter, 

446 

Lady Lost, 447 
Blue Giils, 447 
Here Lies a Lady, 448 
Janet Waking, 448 

Spiel of the Three Mountebanks, 449 
First Travels of Max, 450 
Antique Harvesters, 451 
Piazza Piece, 452 
Captain Carpenter, 453 
Old Man Pondered, 454 
Parting, Without a Sequel, 455 
Prelude to an Evening, 456 
Painting: A Head, 456 



CONRAD AIKEN (l88p- ), 457 

Biead and Music, 459 

Miracles, 460 

Morning Song from "Senlin," 460 

The Room, 462 

The Puppet Dreams 

"Sheba, now let down your hair," 

4 6 3 
"Open a window on the world," 

' 4 6 3 
"There is a fountain in a wood," 

463 

Portrait of a Girl, 463 
And in the Hanging Gardens , 464 
The Road, 466 
Annihilation, 467 
The Quarrel, 468 
At a Concert of Mu<ic, 468 
Tetclestai, 469 
When the Tree Bares, 471 
One Star Fell and Another, 472 
But I low It Came from Earth, 472 
Prckulc VI, 473 
Cloister, 474 



JAMES WHALER (1889- 

The Pond, 477 
Monsieur Pipcreau, 478 



)> 476 



EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY (1892- 
), 486 

Renascence, 489 

The Pear Tree, 491 

God's World, 492 

Wild Swans, 492 

The Poet and His Book, 492 

Spring, 493 

Passer Mortuus Est, 494 

What Lips My Lips Have Kissed, 494 

Pity Me Not, 494 

Departure, 495 



XXII 

EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY (Cont.) 

I Shall Go Back, 495 

Elegy, 495 

Justice Denied in Massachusetts, 496 

Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty 
Bare, 497 

On Hearing a Symphony of Bee- 
thoven, 497 

Sonnet to Gath, 497 

The Cameo, 498 

Oh, Sleep Forever in the Latmian 
Cave, 498 

See Where Capella with Her Golden 
Kids, 498 

The Return, 499 

MAXWELL BODENHEIM (1892- ), 

499 

Poet to His Love, 500 
Old Age, 501 
Death, 501 
Hill-Side Tree, 501 
Factory Girl, 501 
Advice to a Blue-Bird, 502 

ARCHIBALD MAC LEISH (1892- ), 
502 

Ars Poctica, 505 

Prologue, 506 

In My Thirtieth Year, 506 

Memorial Rain, 506 

Weather, 508 

Immortal Autumn, 508 

You, Andrew Marvell, 509 

The End of the World, 509 

The Too-Late Born, 510 

Epistle to Be Left in the Earth, 510 

Burying Ground by the Tics, 511 

Panic, 512 % 

Final Chorus, 513 

The Reconciliation, 514 

Speech to a Crowd, 514 



CONTENTS 

ARCHIBALD MAC LEISH (Cotlt.) 
Land of the Free, 515 
The Fall of the City (complete text), 
516 

ELIZABETH J. COATSWORTH (1893- 
)> 535 

The Old Mare, 535 
Daniel Webster's Hoiscs, 535 
The Circus-Postered Barn, 536 
On a Night of Snow, 536 
A Lady Comes to an Inn, 537 

DONALD DAVIDSON (1893- ), 537 

Cross Section of a Landscape, 538 
Spoken at a Castle Gate, 538 
Fire on Belmont Street, 539 
Apple and Mole, 541 

MARK VAN DOREN (1894- ), 542 

Former Barn Lot, 543 

Immortal, 543 

The Pulse, 543 

The Distant Runners, 543 

The Escape, 544 

The Whisperer, 544 

RAYMOND HOLDEN (1894- ), 545 

Dead Morning, 54=5 
Geese in the Running Water, 546 
Winter Among the Days, 546 
Light the Lamp Early, 546 
Proud, Unhoped-for Light, 546 

E. E. CUMMINGS (1894- ), 547 

When God Lets My Body Be, 548 

Sunset, 548 

Impression IV, 548 

La Guerre 

"The bigness of cannon," 549 
"O sweet spontaneous earth," 549 



CONTENTS 

E. E. CUMMINGS (Cant.) 

Chanson Innocent, 550 

Always Before Your Voice, 550 

Song, 551 

Portrait, 551 

Sonnet, 551 

Tliis Is the Garden, 552 

Poem, or Beauty Hurts Mr. Vinal, 

Item, 553 

Since Feeling Is First, 554 

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, 

554 

H. PHELPS PJTNAM (1894- ), 555 

Ballad of a Strange Thing, 555 
About Women, 558 

GENEVIEVE TAGGARD (1894- ), 558 

With Child, 559 
The Enamel Girl, 559 
Solar Myth, 560 
Doomsday Morning, 561 
Try Tropic, 561 
Dilemma of the Elm, 561 
Long View, 562 

ROBERT HILLYER (1895- )>'5<>2 

As One Who Bears Beneath His 

Neighbor's Roof, 563 
Pastoral, 564 
Prothalamion, 564 
Night Piece, 565 
Variations on a Theme, 566 
The Assassination, 568 
A Letter to Robert Frost, 569 

HOWARD MCKINLEY CORNING (1896- 

), 573 

Pruning Vines, 574 
Autumn Bird, 574 



xxm 

HOWARD MCKINLEY CORNING (Cotlt.) 

Farewell to Fields, 575 

The Meadow Brook Runs Over, 575 

LOUISE BOGAN (1897- ), 575 

Medusa, 576 

Women, 576 

Decoration, 577 

Statue and Birds, 577 

The Alchemist, 578 

Simple Autumnal, 578 

Cassandia, 578 

Come, Break with Time, 579 

JOSEPH AUSLANDER (1897- ), 579 

Interval, 581 

Ulysses in Autumn, 581 

Dawn at the Rain's Edge, 581 

Touch, 582 

Elegy, 582 

DAVID MCCORD (1897- ), 582 

The Crows, 583 
Ot Red in Spring, 586 
A Bucket of Bees, 586 
Reflection in Blue, 592 

STEPHEN VINCENT BENET (1898- 

)> 59 2 

Rain After a Vaudeville Show, 594 
Winged Man, 594 
The Ballad of William Sycamore, 

595 
Love Came By from the Riversmokc, 

596 
Song of the Riders, 597 

5> 59 8 



HORACE GREGORY (1898- ), 598 

They Found Him Sitting in a Chair, 

599 
Poems for My Daughter, 600 



XXIV 

HORACE GREGORY (Cont.) 

Valediction to My Contemporaries, 

60 1 

Ask No Return, 603 
For You, My Son, 603 
The Postman's Bell Is Answered 

Everywhere, 607 
This Is the Place to Wait, 608 

MALCOLM COWLEY (1898- ), 6lO 
Blue Juniata, 610 
The Farm Died, 611 
Mine No. 6, 612 
Winter: Two Sonnets 

"The year swings over slowly," 612 
"When little daily winds have died 
away," 612 

HART CRANE (1899-1932), 613 

Voyages* II, 616 
Voyages: VI, 617 
Praise for an Urn, 618 
From "The Bridge" 

Van Winkle, 618 

The River, 619 

The Dance, 623 

Power: Cape Hatteras, 625 

The Tunnel, 626 
Royal Palm, 630 
The Air Plant, 630 
The Hurricane, 631 

ALLEN TATE (1899- ), 631 
Ode to the Confederate Dead, 632 
Mr. Pope, 634 
Death of Little Boys, 635 
Mother and Son, 635 
The Cross, 636 
The Mediterranean, 637 

LEONIE ADAMS (1899- ), 637 
April Mortality, 638 
Homc-Coming, 639 



CONTENTS 

LEONIE ADAMS (Cotlt.) 
Thought's End, 639 
Death and the Lady, 640 
Twilit Revelation, 641 
Ghostly Tree, 641 
The Horn, 642 

The River in the Meadows, 642 
Country Summer, 642 
The Mount, 643 
This Measure, 643 
Bell Tower, 643 
Kingdom of Heaven, 644 
Sundown, 644 
Night-Piece, 645 
Lullaby, 645 

LANGSTON HUGHES (1902- ), 645 
Homesick Blues, 646 
Brass Spittoons, 646 
Saturday Night, 647 
Jazz Band in a Parisian Cabaret, 647 
Drum, 647 
Florida Road Workers, 647 

KENNETH FEARING (1902- ), 648 

Portrait, 649 

American Rhapsody (4), 649 
Readings, Forecasts, Personal Guid- 
ance, 650 

MARYA ZATURENSKA (1902- ), 
6 5 I 

The Daisy, 652 
The Lovers, 652 
The White Dress, 653 
Head of Medusa, 654 
Woman at the Piano, 655 
The Tempest, 655 

OGDEN NASH (1903- ), 656 
The Rhinoceros, 657 
Adventures of Isabel, 657 
Golly, How Truth Will Out!, 658 



CONTENTS 



XXV 



OGDEN NASH (Cont.) 

Song to Be Sung by the Father of 
Infant Female Children, 658 

COUNTEE CULLEN (1903- ), 660 
Simon the Cyrenian Speaks, 660 
Three Epitaphs 

For My Grandmother, 661 

For a Virgin Lady, 66 1 

A Lady I Know, 661 
Heritage, 66 1 

MERRILL MOORE (1903- ), 662 

Old Men and Old Women Going 

Home, 664 

It Is Winter, I Know, 664 
Shot Who? Jim Lanet, 664 
Warning to One, 665 
How She Resolved to Act, 665 
Pandora and the Moon, 666 
Village Noon: Mid-Day Bells, 666 
Unknown Man in the Morgue, 666 
The Book of How, 667 
And to the Young Men, 667 
And Then Her Burial, 667 
"Final Status Never Ascertained," 668 

ROBERT PENN WARREN (1905- ), 
668 

Pondy Woods, 669 

Pro Sua Vita, 671 

Letter of a Mother, 671 

History Among the Rocks, 672 

Letter from a Coward to a Hero, 673 

The Owl, 675 

Letter to a Friend, 675 

Aubade for Hope, 676 

GEORGE DILLON (1906- ), 676 
In Two Months Now, 677 
Boy in the Wind, 677 
April's Amazing Meaning, 677 
Memory of Lake Superior, 677 
One Beauty Still, 678 



JAMES AGEE (1909- ), 678 
Lyrics, 679 
Sonnets 

"So it begins. Adam is in his earth," 

680 
"Our doom is in our being. We 

began," 680 
"Those former loves wherein our 

lives have run," 681 
"Now stands our love on that still 

verge of day," 68 1 
Permit Me Voyage, 68 1 
Song with Words, 682 
Two Songs on the Economy of 

Abundance 
Temperance Note: and Weather 

Prophecy, 682 
Red Sea, 682 
In Heavy Mind, 682 
Rapid Transit, 682 

KENNETH PATCHEN (19! I- ), 683 

In Memory of Kathleen, 683 
Do the Dead Know What Time It 

Is?, 684 

The Deer and the Snake, 684 
Street Corner College, 68$ 
Like a Mourningless Child, 685 

NATHALIA CRANE (1913- ), 686 

The Blind Girl, 687 
The Vestal, 687 
Desire, 687 
The Dead Bee, 687 
Song from "Tadmor," 688 
Requiem, 688 

DELMORE SCHWARTZ (l9*3~ )> 

688 

For Rhoda, 690 
Tired and Unhappy, You Think of 

Houses, 6yo 
For the One Who Would Take Man's 

Life in His Hands, 691 



XXVI 

DELMORE SCHWARTZ (Cont.) 

In the Naked Bed, in Plato's Cave, 

692 
Let Us Consider Where the Great 

Men Are, 692 

MURIEL RUKEYSLR (1913- ), 693 

Ceiling Unlimited, 695 
Effort at Speech Between Two People, 
696 



CONTENTS 

MURIEL RUKEYSER (Cont.) 

The Soul and Body of John Brown, 

697 

A Leg in a Plaster Cast, 700 
The Meeting, 701 
Madboy's Song, 701 
Holy Family, 702 

INDEX OF AUTHORS, 703 
INDEX OF TITLES, 705 



MODERN AMERICAN POETRY 



Walt Whitman 

\ 

WALT (ORIGINALLY WALTER) WHITMAN was born at West Hills, near Hunting- 
ton, Long Island, May 31, 1819. His mother's people were hard-working Dutch 
Quakers, his maternal grandfather having been a Long Island horse-breeder. On his 
father's side he was descended from English Puritans who had farmed American 
soil for a century and a half. 

Whitman's father was a less successful agrarian than his ancestors and, since he 
was a better carpenter than farmer, the elder Whitman moved bis family to the then 
provincial suburb of Brooklyn. Here the country child grew into the town boy, 
was lifted up for a moment by Lafayette when the hero revisited America, was 
equally fascinated by his father's wood-smelling shop and the city streets, received 
his first sight of "fish-shaped Paumanok" which was to become hu beloved Manna- 
hatta, learned at least the rudiments of the three R's, and left school before his 
teens. At eleven he was already at work as an errand-boy. At twelve he became a 
"printer's devil." By the time he was fourteen he had learned the various fonts and 
began to set type in the composing-room of The Long Island Star. At seventeen, 
taking up residence in the more profitable metropolis, he was well on the road to 
being an itinerant printer-journalist. But New York was no Golconda for an unedu- 
cated, self-conscious youth and, alter a few months, Whitman went back to Long 
Island. 

There he remained until his twenty-second year, living with his numerous rela- 
tions, intermittently teaching school, delivering papers, contributing "pieces" to 
The Long Island Democrat. In 1841 Whitman returned to Brooklyn and New York, 
writing sentimental fillers, novelettes, rhetorical and flabby verses, hack-work edi- 
torials for journals now forgotten. In 1842 he wrote a temperance tract, Ftantyin 
Evans, or The Incbnatc, a mixture of campaign material and fourth-rate Dickens, 
a volume which Whitman later claimed was written for cash in three days. Blos- 
s6ming out in frock coat and high hat, debonair, his beard smartly trimmed, 
Whitman at twenty-three was editor of The Daily Aurora. In the capacity of 
reporter-about-town, he promenaded lower Broadway, spent much time in the thea- 
ters, cultivated the opera, flirted impartially with street-corner politics and the haul 
monde. He was still Walter Whitman when, at the age of twenty-seven, he joined 
the Brooklyn Eagle. 

Various biographers Emory Holloway, in particular have ferreted out Whit- 
man's sketches and editorials of this period and, while there are occasional sugges- 
tions of the poet to come, most of them betray him as a fluent, even a prolific, 
journalist and nothing more. The style is alternately chatty and highfalutin; the 
ideas are undistinguished. At the end of two years, either because of his politics or 
his unsatisfactory articles, Whitman suddenly lost his editorial position and, with 
equal abruptness, received an offer from a stranger who was about to start an indc* 

33 



34 WALT WHITMAN 

pendent paper in New Orleans. Thereupon he left New York early in 1848 to be- 
come a special writer on the staff of the daily Crescent. 

Whitman's few months in the South have led to much speculation. Emory Hol- 
loway concludes that New Orleans was the background for the poet's first love-affair 
and implies that his inamorata was one of the demimonde, probably a quadroon 
beauty. But this is sheer guess-work, barely supported by Whitman's later poetr) 
where the wish often substitutes for the action. This much is evident: He and his 
younger brother Jeff enjoyed the more languorous tempo of the Creole culture; tK* 
"Paris of America" made him less priggish; his quickened perceptions took in * ie 
whole alphabet of sights and sounds, "not missing a letter from A to Izzard." His 
literary style, however, had not improved and, after three months, he was dismissed 
from the Crescent, possibly because of his careless, even puerile writing. 

Returning to New York, Whitman immediately plunged into editing another 
paper. His failures as a journalist had not yet convinced him he was mistaking his 
career and in his thirtieth year he was in charge of the Brooklyn Freeman. This 
free-soil journal soon shifted its political course; Whitman was not agile enough to 
turn with it; and in September, 1849, he withdrew, "taking his flag with him/* 
As a free-lance, he wrote for the New York Evening Post and the Advertiser, his 
contributions being chiefly articles and badly over-written ones on music. He 
"took up" art, gushed about Donizetti's "Favonta," became a metropolitan Bo- 
hemian. Meanwhile, finding he could not live by the pen alone, he helped his father 
and brothers build houses in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, also, he began to write the book 
which was to be his hfe-work. 

It was at this time that Walter Whitman, the dandified journalist, disappeared 
and the Walt Whitman of tradition suddenly emerged. He was, one suspects, not 
unconscious of the tradition and, from the outset, used every means to foster it. 

Whitman was now thirty-one; an entirely different apparition from the man who, 
in his late twenties, frequented the more fashionable lobbies. The once trim beard, 
streaked with premature gray, was now worn loose and prophetic; the well-tailored 
coat and spruce cane were discarded in favor of rough workman's clothes, high 
boots, a large felt hat and a red shirt with the collar nonchalantly or carefully 
opened wide enough to show red flannel underneath. He prepared several lectures 
on the democracy of art and delivered one at the Brooklyn Art Union in 1851, but 
found lecturing too tame. He consorted with ferry-men, bus-drivers and other 
"powerful, uneducated persons." The legend persists that, when one of the drivers 
was ill, Whitman took his route and drove the omnibus, shouting passages of 
Shakespeare up and down Broadway. Another legend repeated by Holloway as a 
fact pictures Whitman reading Epictetus to one of the boatmen and, afterwards, 
"cramming his own volume into the pocket of the sailor's monkey-jacket." These 
are Homeric gestures and one would like to believe them uncalculated. But even 
the most confirmed Whitman-worshiper must have his doubts. Subsequent actions 
add to the admirer's misgivings. 

The first edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1855. This epochal volume 
made its initial appearance as a poorly printed pamphlet of twelve poems brought 
out anonymously and bearing, instead of a signature, a portrait of the author with 
one hand in his pocket, one on his hip, the characteristic open shirt and a slouch 
hat rakishly tilted. One of the first copies of the pamphlet was sent to Ralph Waldo 



WALT WHITMAN ^ 

Emerson, which considering Whitman's indebtedness in spirit if not in form was 
no more than proper. Within a fortnight, Emerson, overlooking the questionable 
taste of the frontispiece, and with something of the master's gratification on being 
hailed by an unknown but fervent disciple, wrote the famous letter ofc July 21, 1855, 
in which he hailed the young writer, concluding, "I give you joy of your free and 
brave thought. I have great joy in it. ... I find the courage of treatment which so 
delights us, and which large perception only can inspire. I greet you at the begin- 
ning of a great career." 

But Emerson's lavish praise (which Whitman, without waiting for permission, 
blazoned on the cover of his second edition) was not loud enough. Nor, was Whit- 
man, despite the convictions contained m the lengthy prose preface, confident 
enough of his work; he sought to force public approval. In direct opposition to 
Emersonian standards and the spiritual ideals implied in his foreword, Whitman 
set about to cause a controversy, to inflame opinion by inflating himself. The task 
considering the howls which greeted Leaves of Grass was not difficult. It was so 
defenders have insisted the day of the anonymous review and "self-puffery" was 
not uncommon': But Whitman's offenses in this regard (and there were many of 
them) are inexcusable in view of the principles he professed. Two months after the 
first printing of Leaves of Grass, he caused one of a series of anonymous articles to 
be printed in the Brooklyn Times (September 29, 1855). In it and the idiom is 
unmistakable he wrote: "Very devilish to some, and very divine to some, will ap- 
pear the poet of these new poems, these Leaves of Grass: an attempt, as they are, of 
a naive, masculine, affectionate, contemplative, sensual, imperious person to cast into 
literature not only his own grit and arrogance, but his own flesh and form, un- 
draped, regardless of models, regardless of modesty or law." There was much more 
in the same selt-laudatory vein, stressing Whitman's unkempt virility, his firm at- 
tachment for loungers and the "free rasping talk of men," his retusal to associate 
with literary people or (forgetting his lecture programs) to appear on platforms, his 
lusty physiology '/corroborating a rugged phrenology," not even forgetting to men- 
tion the fact that he "is always dressed freshly and clean in strong clothes neck 
open, shirt-collar flat and broad." Other anonymous salutations announced that the 
author was "a fine brute," "the most masculine of beings," "one of the roughs, 
large, proud, affectionate, eating, drinking and breeding." 

It requires little psychology to analyze what is so obvious an over-compensation. 
In these anonymous tributes to himself, Whitman revealed far more than he in- 
tended. None but a blinded devotee can fail to suspect a softness beneath the blus- 
ter; a psychic impotence poorly shielded by all the talk about fine brutishness, drink- 
ing and breeding, flinging his arms right and left, "drawing men and women to 
his close embrace, loving the clasp of their hands, the touch of their necks and 
breasts." The poet protests his maleness too vociferously. 

Meanwhile, the second edition of Leaves of Grass 9 containing thirty-two instead of 
the original twelve poems (as well as the press notices written by himself) appeared 
in 1856. In the third edition (1860) the number of poems leaped to one hundred 
and fifty-seven. Then the Civil War made all other controversies negligible. 

Whitman did not go to war, although his married brother George was one of the 
first to enlist. Holloway implies an idealistic motive; Harvey O'Higgins charges a 
cowardly Narcissism. In any case, Whitman refused to join the conflict and, only 



36 WALT WHITMAN 

when George was reported missing, did he see at first hand what he had begun to 
sketch in "Drum-Taps." Finding his brother wounded in a camp on the Rappahan- 
nock, Whitman nursed him and remained in Washington, serving in the hospitals. 
He acted not only as wound-dresser but as good angel "a bearded fairy god- 
mother" for the disabled men; he wrote their letters, brought them tobacco and 
ice-cream, read tales and poems, made life livelier and death easier for the sufferers. 
These ministrations, so freely given, gave him much in return: an intimacy with 
life in the raw which, for all his assertions, he had never seen so closely. No longer 
a spectator, he was a participant, and purgation as well as passion are manifest in the 
scries of war-echoes, "Drum-Taps," and the uplifted "Memories of President Lin- 
coln" with its immortal elegy "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." The 
end of the Civil War defined a new spirit in Whitman: the man and his poetry 
became one. 

In 1864, through the pressure of friends, a minor clerkship in the Indian Bureau 
of the Interior Department was found for Whitman. But, though he was promoted, 
he did not hold the position long. His chief, Secretary James Harlan, once a Method- 
ist preacher, had heard rumors of his subordinate's "immorality." Without stopping 
to consider the ethics of the situation, Harlan purloined Whitman's private copy of 
Leaves of Crass after closing-time, and fell afoul of the "Children of Adam" sec- 
tion. Nothing more was needed to prove the truth of the rumors and, without an 
hour's notice, Whitman was dismissed. A few friends rushed to his defense but 
Harlan, a sincere bigot, stuck to his resolve. William Douglas O'Connor, an Aboli- 
tionist author who was one of Whitman's staunchest admirers, issued a pamphlet 
not merely defending but glorifying Whitman, coining, for his title, the phrase "The 
Good Gray Poet" a sobriquet which has outlasted all of O'Connor's works. 

Affairs were at a low ebb. As a person, Whitman was stranded with no livelihood 
and little influence; as a poet he was repudiated by all but a small coterie at home 
and abroad. Eight years later, and seventeen years after the first edition of Leaves of 
Grass (in January, 1872), Whitman complained to Dowden, who had praised him 
unreservedly in England, "If you write again for publication about my books . . . 
I think it would be proper and even essential to include the important facts (for 
facts they are) that the Leaves of Gtass and their author are contemptuously ignored 
by the recogni7cd literary organs here in the United States, rejected by the publish- 
ing houses, the author turned out of a government clerkship and deprived of his 
means of support . . . solely on account of having written the book." 

Transferred to the office of the Attorney General after his dismissal, Whitman re- 
mained there until 1873 when, on the night of February twenty-second, he was 
struck by paralysis. Whitman's mother, lying ill in his brother George's house, was 
spared the news of his attack. She died the following May and Whitman somehow 
rallied sufficiently to be at her bedside. For months after he could not use his limbs 
and let the psychoanalysts make what they will of it it is doubtful if he ever re- 
covered from the effect of her death. Two years later, while arranging his prose 
writings for publication, he confided, "I occupy myself . . . still enveloped in 
thoughts of my dear Mother, the most perfect and magnetic character, the rarest 
combination of practical, moral and spiritual, and the least selfish, of all and any 
I have ever known and by me O so much the most deeply loved." 

At fifty-five Whitman was almost comoletelv incapacitated. He did not suffer the 



WALT WHITMAN yj 

daily agonies of Heine on his mattress grave, but confinement in Camdcn, where his 
mother had died and* where his brother lived, was grueling enough. His solitude 
was alleviated by letters from abroad and the beginnings of recognition at home. 
Although he got out of doors a little, he could not walk any distance, and Edward 
Carpenter, John Burroughs, Richard Maurice Bucke (later one ot Whitman's execu- 
tors) and others made pilgrimages to his room in Mickle Street, near the railroad 
yards. There were intervals when his health improved sufficiently to permit small 
visits to New York and Boston, but by 1877, he was enfeebled and, in spite of 
friends, poverty-stricken. He was reduced to peddling his books from a basket in 
the streets of Philadelphia and Camden, and, although his brother "George offered 
him a special place in the house he was building in Burlington, New jersey, Whit- 
man chose to stay where he was. 

Whitman grew old with dignity and not without honor. In June, 1888, after a 
longer drive than usual, Whitman took cold. A new and more severe paralytic 
shock followed. For a time Whitman lost the power of speech. In 1890 he bought 
ground for his grave and planned an appropriately massive tomb. The following 
March he was wheeled over to Philadelphia a move that meant much discomfort 
and actual suffering to deliver a tribute to Lincoln. He was failing, but not rapidly. 
In 1891 a birthday dinner tendered by friends was served in his own rooms, a festive 
occasion, to judge from his own letter, at which Whitman drank champagne, 
speaking "a few words of honor and reverence for our Emerson, Biyant, Long- 
fellow dead and then for Whittier and Tennyson, the boss ot us all." That De- 
cember Whitman contracted pneumonia "with complications" and knew he would 
not recover. Aided by Horace Traubel, the young Jewish Quaker who became the 
Boswell of his later days, he prefaced a final "deathbed edition" o Leaves of Grass. 
Death came toward the end ot his seventy-third year, on March 26, 1892. 

Analysis of Whitman's poetry is the more difficult because it presents a paradox 
a paradox of which Whitman was not unaware. He knew his "barbaric yawp" was 
untranslatable, unconforming, impossible to transfix with a phrase or a theory. "I 
depart as air ... If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles." The 
same contradictions which marked his personality are evident in his rhapsodies. 
Leaves of Grass sets out to be the manifesto of the ordinary man, "the divine aver- 
age," yet it is doubtful if the ordinary man understands its rhetoric or, understand- 
ing, responds to it. No great common audience has rallied to Whitman's philosophy, 
no army of poets has followed his form. Few of the "powerful uneducated persons" 
for whom Whitman believed his book would be a "democratic Gospel" can appre- 
ciate, and fewer still can admire, his extraordinary mixture of self-adulation and im- 
potence, abnormality and mysticism. The same contradictions which mark his per- 
sonality are evident in his style. His work aims toward a simplification of speech 
an American language experiment yet its homeliness is not always racy. Sometimes 
it is mere flat statement, sometimes it is a, grotesque combination of the colloquial 
and the grandiose. Sometimes, indeed, it is corrupted by linguistic bad taste and 
polyglot phrasing as naively absurd as "the tangl'd long-deferr'd eclaircissement of 
human life" . . . "See my cantabile you Libertad!" "Exalte ... the mighty earth- 
eidolon" . . . "These from me, O Democracy, to serve you, ma fcmmel" "No 
dainty dolce affetuoso I!" 

Only Whitman's lack of ease and certainty in rhyme made him sacrifice its coun- 



3 8 WALT WHITMAN 

terpoint for the looser cadence. Nor was his form as revolutionary as it seemed. 
Heine's "North Sea" cycles had been composed in "free," unrhymed rhythms and 
the sonorous strophes of the Old Testament were Whitman's avowed model. Whit- 
man was the first to object to the charge that his work had "the freedom of form- 
lessness." He did not even admit its irregularity. In one of the unsigned reviews of 
Leaves of Grass he explained, "His rhythm and uniformity he will conceal in the 
roots of his verses, not to be seen of themselves, but to break forth loosely as lilacs 
on a bush or take shapes compact as the shapes of melons/yNone can deny the 
music in this poetry which is capable of the widest orchestral effects. It is a music 
accomplished in a dozen ways by the Hebraic "balance" brought to perfection in 
Job and the Psalms, by the long and extraordinarily flexible line suddenly whipped 
taut, by repetitions at the beginnings of lines and reiterations within the lines, by 
following his recitatives with a soaring ana. Thus, in the midst of the elaborate 
piling up in "Song of Myself" there are such sheer lyrical outbursts as the passages 
beginning "Press close, bare-bosomed night," "Smile, O voluptuous cool-breath 'd 
earth," "The last scud of the day holds back for me," "A /child said 'What is the 
grass?'" . . . "No counting of syllables," wrote Anne Gilchrist, "will reveal the 
mechanism of this music." But the music is there, now rising in gathering choirs of 
brasses, now falling to the rumor of a flute. 

Mass and magnitude are the result. And rightly, for mass was the material. 
Unlike the cameo-cutting Aldrich and the polished Stedman, both of whom be- 
littled him, Whitman was no lapidary. His aim was not to remodel or brighten a 
few high facets of existence; he sought to embody a universe in the rough. For 
him no aspect of life was trivial; every common, superficial cover was a cavern of 
rich and inexhaustible depths. 'A leaf of grass, with its tendrils twined about the 
core of earth, was no less than the journey-work of the stars; the cow, "crunching 
with depressed head," put Phidias to shame; the roadside running blackberry, seen 
with the eye of vision, was "fit to adorn the parlors of heaven." Nothing was mean; 
nothing was rejected. Whitman had read Blake, Dante, Shakespeare, Shelley; 
besides knowing his Bible, he was acquainted with the sacred books of the East and 
their reexpression in Emerson. His transcendentalism was not a new thing; but the 
fusion of identity and impersonality, the union of the cgo-drivcn self and the im- 
partially moving universe was newly synthesized in his rhapsodies. His aim was 
inclusive the lack of exclusiveness may be Whitman's chief defect for though he 
celebrated the person in all his separateness, he added "the word democratic, the 
word En-ma$se." All was included in "the procreant urge of the world." Opposites 
merge into one: the unseen is proved by the seen; all goes onward and outward, 
nothing collapses. Light and dark, good and evil, body and soul do not merely 
emphasize but complete each other. 

^Whitman's insistence that the body was holy in all its manifestations caused a 
great deal of contemporary misunderstanding and developed into mysterious whis- 
perings. His early commentators Burroughs (whose estimates were dictated by 
Whitman), Carpenter, Bucke, Traubel magnified his maleness, insisted too much 
on his normality, and generally misinterpreted him. As late as 1926 Emory Holloway 
made no effort to resolve the contradictions and, apart from an obscure hint or 
two, scarcely suggested that there was a split between Whitman's pronouncements 
and his nature. The split was actually a gulf. Whitman's preoccupation with the 



WALT WHITMAN & 

details of clothes he was as fastidious about the way a workman's shirt should be 
worn as he once was about the set of a high hat his role as nurse during the Civil 
War, his pathetic insistence that he was the father of six children, none of which 
ever appeared, and his avoidance of women make it clear that this "fine brute," this 
"most masculine of beings," was really an invert. Whitman's brother told Traubel 
that "Walt never fell in love. . . . He did not seem to affect the girls," and even 
Edward Carpenter concluded "there can be no doubt that his intimacies with men 
were much more numerous than with women." Not the least of his inconsistencies 
is Whitman's delusion that an "adhesive" love, the love of "comrades," was the 
basis on which a broader democracy would be built. 

Whitman's "all-inclusive love" springs not only from his own pathological eccen- 
tricities, but from an undefined Pantheism. His very eagerness to express the whole 
cosmos often results in a chaotic pouring forth of prophecy and claptrap. For this 
reason Whitman should be read, not as one reads a book of lyrics, weighing and 
appraising individual stanzas, but as one reads an epic, letting the movement, 
the swelling volume, carry the lines along. It is only in the rare instances that we 
stop to remark the particularities the extraordinarily graphic description of an old- 
time sea-fight in "Song of Myself," or images as breath-taking as "the indolent, 
sinking sun, burning, expanding the air" and "The hands of the sisters Death and 
Night incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world" and "Out 
of the cradle endlessly rocking; out of the mocking bird's throat, the musical shut- 
tle . . ." .- ' 

Here, framed in firm syllables, are large convictions, strong wants. Tenderness, 
not pretty sentiment, rises to new heights in the Lincoln elegies, in "Out of the 
Cradle Endlessly Rocking," in the superbly quiet "On the Beach at Night." There is, 
it is true, a degree of affectation here affectation of nationalism and simplicity (re- 
ferring to Six-month rather than to May, to Mannahatta rather than to New York); 
affectation of hybrid terms ("Me imperturbe'" "Camerado'" "I expose," "Dehriate, 
thus preluding," "Allons! from all formulas'" "How plenteous' how spiritual' how 
resume!" etc.); affectations, always, of too insistent a strength. It is also true that 
we read Whitman in youth as we read Swinburne for intoxication, uncritically, 
contemptuous of reservations which maturity compels. 

The contradictions resist complete synthesis. It is impossible to analyze Whit- 
man's final significance to American social and cultural development; we can only 
record the greatness of his contribution. His windy optimism remains an emotional 
rather than a rational influence. His whole-heartedncss, his large yea-saying, coming 
at a time of cautious skepticism, hesitancy and insecurity, is Whitman's gift not only 
to his period but to posterity. 

Whitman's inconsistency, especially his paradox of democracy, continues to baffle 
the literary historians. In 1930, in the third volume of his monumental Main Currents 
in American Thought (the uncompleted volume entitled The Beginnings of Critical 
Realism in America) the late Vernon L. Parrington concludes that Whitman is the 
complete embodiment of Enlightenment "the poet and prophet of a democracy 
that the America of the Gilded Age was daily betraying." Yet Parrington himself, 
though he sees Whitman as "the most deeply religious soul that American literature 
knows," sees also Whitman's failure as a prophet. "The great hopes on which he 
[Whitman] fed have been belied by after events so his critics say; as the great 



4 o WALT WHITMAN 

hopes of the Enlightenment have been belied. Certainly in this welter of today, with 
science become the drab and slut of war and industrialism, with sterile money- 
slaves instead of men, Whitman's expansive hopes seem grotesque enough. Democ- 
racy may indeed be only a euphemism for the rulership of fools." 

Yet the paradox must be grasped or, at least, admitted if one is to understand 
Whitman at all. Somehow the contradictions are resolved; somehow the prophet, 
the pamphleteer, and the poet achieve a unity if only through an intensification of 
the inner life: a liberal humanism. That Whitman was self-confounded is fairly 
obvious; he seems to have confused an ideal culture founded on quality with a 
merely quantitative conception of life. But his faith, romantic as it was resurgent, 
triumphed over his contradictions, actually imposed a sort of harmony upon them. 

Thus Whitman rises above his defects. The reader forgets the lesser flaws, the 
lumbering failures. The illumined phrases burn clear; the pictures, once etched upon 
the imagination, are there to stay. Above all, the effect remains, an effect not re- 
ducible to phrases; a sense of released power, irresistible and benevolent, immense in 
affirmation. Beyond what Symonds called "delicate and evanescent moods of sensi- 
bility" is the communication of amplitudes. It expands the air. 

Such poetry, whatever its lapses, has the stuff of permanence. It will persist not 
only because of its rebellious and compelling power, but because the poet has 
transcended his material. The personal contact is achieved, as Whitman knew it 
would be. "Who touches this book touches a man." Lascelles Abercrombie, a poet of 
an entirely different persuasion, said that Whitman created "out of the wealth of his 
experience that vividly personal figure which is surely one of the few supremely 
great things m modern poetry the figure of himself/* But his work was larger 
than the man. Whitman was not dilating his value when he claimed to contain mul- 
titudes. His book projects and creates them in a sphere nobler than our own. 
Employing words, he harnessed elements. 

I HEAR AMERICA SINGING 

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, 

Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, 

The caipcnter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, 

The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, 

The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the 
steamboat deck, 

The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, 

The wood-cutter's song, th6 plowboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon inter- 
mission or at sundown, 

The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl 
sewing or washing, 

Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, 

The day what belongs to the day at night the party of young fellows, robust, 
friendly, 

Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. 



WALT WHITMAN # 

THE MUSE IN THE NEW WORLD 

(from "Song of the Exposition") 

Come, Muse, migrate from Greece and Ionia, 

Cross out please those immensely overpaid accounts, 

That matter of Troy and Achilles' wrath,' and Aeneas', Odysseus' wanderings, 

Placard "Removed" and "To Let" on the rocks of your snowy Parnassus, 

Repeat at Jerusalem, place the notice high on Jaffa's gate and on Mount Monah, 

The same on the walls of your German, French and Spanish castles, and Italian 

collections, 
For know a better, fresher, busier sphere, a wide, untried domain awaits, demands 

you. 

Responsive to our summons, 

Or rather to her long-nurs'd inclination, 

Jom'd with an irresistible, natural gravitation, 

She comes' I hear the rustling of hci gown, 

I scent the odor of her breath's delicious tragrance, 

I mark her step divine, her curious eyes a-turnmg, rolling, 

Upon this very scene. 

I say I sec, my friends, if you do not, the illustrious emigre, (having it is true in her 

day, although the same, changed, journey VI considerable,) 
Making ducctly for this rcndc/vous, vigorously clearing a path lor heiself, striding 

through the confusion, 

By thud of machinery and shrill steam-whistle undismay'd, 
BlurTd not a bit by drain-pipe, gasometers, artificial fertilizers; 
Smiling and plcas'd with palpable intent to stay, 
She's here, install'd amid the kitchen-ware' 



RECORDERS AGES HENCE 

Recorders ages hence, 

Come, I will take you down underneath this impassive exterior, I will tell you 

what to say of rnc, 

Publish my name and hang up my picture as that of the tcnderest lover, 
The friend the lover's portrait, of whom his friend his lover was fondest, 
Who was not proud ol his songs, but of the measureless ocean of love within him, 

and freely pour'd it forth, 

Who often walk'd lonesome walks thinking of his dear friends, his lovers, 
Who pensive away from one he lov'd ottcn lay sleepless and dissatisfied at night, 
Who knew too well the sick, sick dread lest the one he lov'd might secretly be 

indifferent to him, 
Whose happiest days were far away through fields, in woods, on hills, he and 

another wandering hand in hand, they twain apart from other men, 
Who oft as he sauntcr'd the streets curv'd with his arm the shoulder of his friend, 

while the arm of his friend rested upon him also. 



42 WALT WHITMAN 

THE COMMONPLACE 

The commonplace I sing; 

How cheap is health! how cheap nobility! 

Abstinence, no falsehood, no gluttony, lust; 

The open air I sing, freedom, toleration, 

(Take here the mainest lesson less from books less from the schools,) 

The common day and night the common earth and waters, 

Your farm your work, trade, occupation, 

The democratic wisdom underneath, like solid ground for all. 



A NOISELESS PATIENT SPIDER 

A noiseless patient spider, 

I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated, 

Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding, 

It launched forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself. 

Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them. 

And you O my soul where you stand, 

Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, 

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them. 

Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold, 

Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul. 



TO A COMMON PROSTITUTE 

Be composed be at ease with me I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature, 

Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you, 

Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my 
words refuse to glisten and rustle for you. 

My girl I appoint with you an appointment, and I charge you that you make prep- 
aration to be worthy to meet me, 

And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come. 

Till then I salute you with a significant look that you do not forget me. 



WHEN I HEARD THE LEARN D ASTRONOMER 

When I heard the Icarn'd astronomer, 

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, 

When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, 

When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the 

lecture-room, 

How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, 
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself, 
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time, 
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars. 



WALT WHITMAN 



RECONCILIATION 



Word over all, beautiful as the sky, 

Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost, 

That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly sottly wash again, and 

ever again, this soiPd world; 

For my enemy is dead, a man divine as myself is dead, 
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin I draw near, 
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin. 



I HEAR IT WAS CHARGED AGAINST ME 

I hear it was charged against me that I sought to destroy institutions, 

But really I am neither for or against institutions, 

(What indeed have I in common with them? or what with the destruction of them?) 

Only I will establish in the Mannahatta and in every city of these States inland and 

seaboard, 

And in the fields and woods, and above every keel little or large that dents the water, 
Without edifices or rules or trustees or any argument, 
The institution of the dear love of comrades. 



MANNAHATTA 

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city, 
Whereupon lo' upsprang the aboriginal name. 

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane, unruly, musical, self- 
sufficient, 

I see that the word of my city is that word from of old, 
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, 
Rich, hcmm'd thick all around with sailships and steamships, an island sixteen 

miles long, solid-founded, 
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly 

uprising toward clear skies, 

Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown, 
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining islands, the heights, the 

villas, 
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters, the ferry-boats, the black 

sea-steamers well modei'd, 
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the houses of business of the 

ship-merchants and money-brokers, the river-streets, 
Immigrants arriving, fifteen thousand in a week, 

The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses, the brown-faced sailors^ 
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing clouds aloft, 
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the river, passing along up or 

down with the flood-tide or ebb-tide, 
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd, beautiful-faced, looking you 

straight in the eyes, 
Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the shops and shows, 



44 WALT WHITMAN 

A million people manners free and superb open voices hospitality the most 

courageous and friendly young men, 

City of hurried and sparkling waters' city of spires and mastsl 
City nested in bays! my city! 



SONG OF MYSELF 

I 

I celebrate myself, and sing myself, 

And what I assume you shall assume, 

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. 

I loafe and invite my soul, 

I lean and loafc at my case observing a spear oL summer grass. 

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil, this air, 

Born here of parents bom here from parents the same, and their parents the same,, 

I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, 

Hoping to cease not till death. 

Creeds and schools in abeyance, 

Retiring back a while sufficed at what they arc, but never forgotten, 

I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, 

Nature without check with original energy. 



Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, 

I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, 

The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. 

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, 

It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it, 

I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, 

I am mad for it to be in contact with me. 

The smoke of my own breath, 

Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, 

My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and 

air through my lungs, 
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color'd sea-rocks, 

and of hay in the barn, 

The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind, 
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, 
The play of shine and shade on thf trees as the supple boughs wag, 
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, 
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and 

meeting the sun. 

Have you reckoned a thousand acres much? have you reckoned the earth much? 
Have you practiced so long to learn to read? 
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? 



WALT WHITMAN 45 

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, 
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) 
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes 

of the dead, nor feed on the specters in books, 

You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, 
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. 

3 

I have heard what the talkers were talking, the talk of the beginning and the end, 
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end. 

There was never any more inception than there is now, 
Nor any more youth or age than there is now, 
And will never be any more perfection than there is now, 
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now. 

Urge and urge and urge, 

Always the procrcant urge of the world. 

Out of the dimness opposite equals advance, always substance and increase, always 

sex, 
Always a knit of identity, always distinction, always a breed of life. 

To elaborate is no avail, learn'd and unlearn'd feel that it is so. 

Sure as the most certain sure, plumb in the uprights, well center-tied, braced in the 

beams, 

Stout as a horse, aflcctionate, haughty, electrical, 
I and this mystery here we stand. 
Clear and sweet is my soul, and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul. 

Lack one lacks both, and the unseen is proved by the seen, 
Till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn. 

Showing the best and dividing it from the worst age vexes age, 
Knowing the perfect fitness and equanimity of things, while they discuss I am silent, 
and go bathe and admire myself. 

Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean, 
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than 
the rest. 

I am satisfied I see, dance, laugh, sing; 

As the hugging and loving bed-fellow sleeps at my side through the night, and 

withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread, 

Leaving me baskets covcr'd with white towels swelling the house with their plenty, 
Shall I postpone my acceptation and realization and scream at my eyes, 
That they turn from gazing after and down the road, 
And forthwith cipher and show to me a cent, 
Exactly the value of one and exactly the value of two, and which is 



46 WALT WHITMAN 

Trippers and askers surround me, 

People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, 

or the nation, 

The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new, 
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues, 
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love, 
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, 

or depressions or exaltations, 

Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; 
These come to me days and nights and go from me again, 
But they are not the Me myself. 

Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am, 
Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary, 
Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest, 
Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next, 
Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it. 

Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and 

contenders, 
I have no mockmgs or arguments, I witness and wait. 

5 

I believe in you my soul, the other I am must not abase itself to you, 
And you must not be abased to the other. 

Loafe with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat, 

Not words, not music or rhyme I want, not custom or lecture, not even the best. 

Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice. 



Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass all the 

argument of the earth, 

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, 
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own, 
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and 

lovers, , CVi , 

And that a kelson of the creation is love, 
And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields, 
And brown ants in the little wells beneath them, 
And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap'd stones, elder, mullein and poke-weed. 



A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands; 

How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he. 

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven. 



WALT WHITMAN ^ 

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord, 
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt, 

Bearing the owner's name someway in the corner, that we may see and remark, and 
say Whose? 

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the vegetation. 
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic, 

And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones, 
Growing among black folks as among white, 

Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the 
same. 

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves, 

Tenderly will I use you curling grass, 

It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men, 

It may be if I had known them I would have loved them, 

It may be you arc from old people, or from offspring taken soon out of their mothers' 

laps, 
And here you are the mothers' laps. 

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers, 

Darker than the colorless beards of old men, 

Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths. 

I perceive after all so many uttering tongues, 

And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing. 

1 wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women, 

And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their 
laps. 

What do you think has become of the young and old men? 
And what do you think has become of the women and children? 

They are alive and well somewhere, 

The smallest sprout shows there is really no death, 

And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it> 

And ceas'd the moment life appeared. 

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses, 

And to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier. 

7 

Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? 

I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it. 

I pass death with the dying and birth with tne new-wash'd babe, and am not 

contam'd between my hat and boots, 

And peruse manifold objects, no two alike and every one good, 
The earth good and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. 



48 WALT WHITMAN 

I am not an earth nor an adjunct of an earth, 

I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as 

myself, 

(They do not know how immortal, but I know.) 
Every kind for itself and its own, for me mine male and female, 
For me those that have been boys and that love women, 
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted, 
For me the sweet-heart and the old maid, for me mothers and the mothers of 

mothers, 

For me lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears, 
For me children and the begetters of children. 

Undrape' you are not guilty to me, nor stale nor discarded, 

I see through the broadcloth and gingham whether or no, 

And am around, tenacious, acquisitive, tireless, and cannot be shaken away. 

8 

The little one sleeps in its cradle, 
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand. 

The youngster and the red-laced gill turn aside up the bushy hill, 
I peeringly view them from the top. 

The suicide sprawls on the bloody floor of the bedroom, 

I witness the corpse with its dabbled hair, I note where the pistol has fallen. 

The blab of the pave, tires of carts, slufT of boot-soles, talk of the promenaders, 
The heavy omnibus, the driver with his interrogating thumb, the clank of the shod 

horses on the granite floor, 

The snow-sleighs, clinking, shouted jokes, pelts of snow-balls, 
The hurrahs for popular favorites, the fury of rous'd mobs, 
The flap of the curtam'd litter, a sick man inside borne to the hospital, 
The meeting of enemies, the sudden oath, the blows and fall, 
The excited crowd, the policeman with his star quickly working his passage to the 

center of the crowd, 

The impassive stones that receive and return so many echoes, 
What groans of over-fed or half-star v'd who fall sunstruck or in fits, 
What exclamations of women taken suddenly who hurry home and give birth to 

babes, 
What living and buried speech is always vibrating here, what howls restrained by 

decorum, 
Arrests of criminals, slights, adulterous offers made, acceptances, rejections with 

convex lips, 
I mind them or the show or resonance of them I come and I depart. 

9 

The big doors of the country barn stand open and ready, 
The dried grass of the harvest-time loads the slow-drawn wagon, 
The clear light plays on the brown gray and green intertinged, 
The armfuls are pack'd to the sagging mow. 



WALT WHITMAN 49 

I am there, I help, I came stretch 'd atop of the load, 

I felt its soft jolts, one leg reclined on the other, 

I jump from the cross-beams and seize the clover and timothy, 

And roll head over heels and tangle my hair full of wisps. 

10 

Alone far in the wilds and mountains I hunt, 

Wandering amazed at my own lightness and glee, 

In the late afternoon choosing a safe spot to pass the night, 

Kindling a fire and broiling the fresh-kill'd game, 

Falling asleep on the gathered leaves with my dog and gun by my side. 

The Yankee clipper is under her sky-sails, she cuts the sparkle and scud, 
My eyes settle the land, I bend at her prow or shout joyously from the deck* 

The boatmen and clam-diggers arose early and stopt for me, 

I tuck'd my trowser-ends in my boots and went and had a good time; 

You should have been with us that day round the chowdcr-kcttlc. 

I saw the marriage of the trapper in the open air in the far west, the bride was a 

red girl, 
Her father and his friends sat near cross-legged and dumbly smoking, they had 

moccasins to their feet and large thick blankets hanging troni their shoulders, 
On a bank lounged the trapper, he was drcst mostly in skins, his luxuriant beard 

and curls protected his neck, he held his bride by the hand, 
She had long eyelashes, her head was bare, her coarse straight locks descended upon 

her voluptuous limbs and rcach'd to her feet. 

The runaway slave came to my house and stopt outside, 

I heard his motions crackling the twigs of the woodpile, 

Through the swung half-door of the kitchen I saw him limpsy and weak, 

And went where he sat on a log and led him in and assured him, 

And brought water and fill'd a tub for his sweated body and bruis'd feet, 

And gave him a room that entcr'd from my own, and gave him some coarse clean 

clothes, 

And remember perfectly well his revolving eyes and his awkwardness, 
And remember putting plasters on the galls of his neck and ankles; 
He staid with me a week before he was recuperated and pas&'d north, 
I had him sit next me at table, my fire-lock lean'd in the corner. 

ii 

Twenty-eight young men bathe by the shore. 

Twenty-eight young men and all so friendly; 

Twenty-eight years of womanly life and ail so lonesome. 

She owns the fine house by the rise of the bank, 

She hides handsome and richly drest aft the blinds of the window. 

Which of the young men does she like the best? 
Ah the homeliest of them is beautiful to her. 



50 WALT WHITMAN 

Where are you off to, lady? for I see you, 

You splash in the water there, yet stay stock still in your room. 

Dancing and laughing along the beach came the twenty-ninth bather, 
The rest did not see her, but she saw them and loved them. 

The beards of the young men ghsten'd with wet, it ran from their long hair, 
Little streams pass'd all over their bodies. 

An Unseen hand also pass'd over their bodies, 

It descended tremblingly from their temples and ribs. 

The young men float on their backs, their white bellies bulge to the sun, they do 

not ask who seizes fast to them, 

They do not know who puffs and declines with pendant and bending arch, 
They do not think whom they souse with spray. 



The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night, 
Ya-hon^ he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation, 
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listening close, 
Find its purpose and place up there toward the wintry sky. 

The sharp-hoof d moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the 

prairie-dog, 

The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats, 
The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings, 
I sec in them and myself the same old law. 

The press of rny foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, 
They scorn the best I can do to relate them. 

I am anamour'd of growing out-doors, 

Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods, 

Of the builders and steercrs of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the 

drivers of horses, 
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out. 

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, 
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, 
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me, 
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will, 
Scattering it freely forever. 

15 

The pure contralto sings in the organ loft, 
The carpenter dresses his plank, the tongue of his foreplane whistles its wild ascend- 

ing lisp, 

The married and unmarried children ride home to their Thanksgiving dinner, 
The pilot seizes the king-pin, he heaves down with a strong arm, 
The mate stands braced in the whale-boat, lance and harpoon are ready, 



WALT WHITMAN 57 

The duck-shooter walks by silent and cautious stretches, 

The deacons are ordam'd with cross'd hands at the altar, 

The spinning-girl retreats and advances to the hum of the big wheel, 

The farmer stops by the bars as he walks on a First-day loaf and looks at the oats 

and rye, 

The lunatic is carried at last to the asylum a confirm'd case, 
(He will never sleep any more as he did in the cot in his mother's bedroom;) 
The jour printer with gray head and gaunt jaws works at his case, 
He turns his quid of tobacco while his eyes blur with the manuscript; 
The malform'd limbs are tied to the surgeon's table, 
What is removed drops horribly in a pail; 

The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand, the drunkard nods by the bar- 
room stove, 
The machinist rolls up his sleeves, the policeman travels his beat, the gate-keeper 

marks who pass, 
The young fellow drives the express-wagon, (I love him, though T do not know 

him;) 

The halt-breed straps on his light boots lo compete in the race, 
The western turkey-shooting draws old and young, some lean on their rifles, some 

sit on logs, 

Out from the crowd steps the marksman, takes his position, levels his piece; 
The groups of newly-come immigrants cover the wharf or levee, 
As the woolly-pates hoe m the sugar-field, the overseer views them Irom his saddle, 
The bugle calls in the ball-room, the gentlemen run for their partners, the dancers 

bow to each other, 

The youth lies awake in the cedar-roof'd garret and harks to the musical ram, 
The Wolverine sets traps on the creek that helps fill the Huron, 
The squaw wrapt in her yellow-hcmm'd cloth is offering moccasins and bead-bags 

for sale, 

The connoisseur peers along the exhibition-gallery with half-shut eyes bent sideways, 
As the deck-hands make fast the steamboat the plank is thrown for the shore-going 

passengers, 
The young sister holds out the skein while the elder sister winds it off in a ball, and 

stops now and then for the knots, 

The one-year wife is recovering and happy having a week ago borne her first child, 
The clean-hair'd Yankee girl works with her sewing machine or in the factory or 

mill, 
The paving-man leans on his two-handed rammer, the reporter's lead flies swiftly 

over the note-book, the sign-painter is lettering with blue and gold, 
The canal boy trots on the tow-path, the book-keeper counts at his desk, the shoe- 
maker waxes his thread, 

The conductor beats time for the band and all the performers follow him, 
The child is baptized, the convert is making his first profession, 
The regatta is spread on the bay, the race is begun, (how the white sails sparkle!) 
The drover watching his drove sings out to them that would stray, 
The peddler sweats with his pack on his back, (the purchaser higgling about the 

odd cent;) 

The bride unrumples her white dress, the minute-hand of the clock moves slowly, 
The opium-eater reclines with rigid head and just-open'd lips, 
The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck, 



52 WALT WHITMAN 

The crowd laugh at her blackguard oaths, the men jeer and wink to each other, 

(Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you;) 

The President holding a cabinet council is surrounded by the great Secretaries, 

On the piazza, walk three matrons stately and friendly with twined arms, 

The crew of the fish-smack pack repeated layers of halibut in the hold, 

Coon-seekers go through the regions of the Red river or through those drain'd by 

the Tennessee, or through those of the Arkansas, 

Torches shine m the dark that hangs on the Chattahooche or Aitamahaw, 
Patriarchs sit at supper with sons and grandsons and great grandsons around them, 
In walls of adobie, in canvas tents, rest hunters and trappers after their day's sport 
The city sleeps and the country sleeps, 
The living sleep for their time, the dead sleep for their time, 
The old husband sleeps by his wife and the young husband sleeps by his wife; 
And these tend inward to me, and I tend outward to them, 
And such as it is to be of these more or less I am, 
And of these one and all 1 weave the song of myself. 

18 

With music strong I come, with my cornets and my drums, 

I play not marches for accepted victors only, I play marches for conquer'd and 
slam persons. . 

Have you heard that it was good to gain the day? 

I also say it is good to fall, battles are lost m the same spirit in which they are won. 

I beat and pound for the dead, 

I blow through my embouchures my loudest and gayest for them. 

Vivas to those who have fail'd! 

And to those whose war- vessels sank m the sea' 

And to those themselves who sank m the sea' 

And to all generals that lost engagements, and all overcome heroes' 

And the numberless unknown heroes equal to the greatest heroes known I 

19 

This is the meal equally set, this the meat for natural hunger, 

It is for the wicked just the same as the righteous, I make appointments with all, 
I will not have a single person slighted or left away, 
The kept-woman, sponger, thief, are hereby invited, 
There shall be no difference between them and the rest. 

This is the press of a bashful hand, this the float and odor of hair, 
This the touch of my lips to yours, this the murmur of yearning, 
This the far-oil depth and height reflecting my own face, 
This the thoughtful meige of myself, and the outlet again. 
Do you guess I have some intricate purpose? 

Well I have, for the Fourth-month showers have, and the mica on the side of the 
rock has. 

Do you take it I would astonish? 

Does the daylight astonish? does the early redstart twittering through the woods? 

Do I astonish more than thev? 



WALT WHITMAN 5J 

This hour I tell things in confidence, 

I might not tell everybody, but I will tell you. 

20 

Who goes there? hankering, gross, mystical, nude; 
How is it I extract strength from the beef I eat? 

What is a man anyhow? what am I? what are you? 

All I mark as my own you shall offset it with your own, 
Else it were time lost listening to me. 

I do not snivel that snivel the world over, 

That months are vacuums and the ground but wallow and filth. 

Whimpering and truckling fold with powders for invalids, coniormity goes to the 

fourth-removed, 
I wear my hat as I please indoors or out. 

Why should I pray ? why should I venerate and be ceremonious? 

Having pried through the strata, analyzed to a hair, counscl'd with doctors and 

calculated close, 
I find no sweeter tat than sticks to my own bones. 

In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less, 

And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. 

I know I am solid and sound, 

To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, 

All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. 

I know I am deathless, 

I know this orbit of mine cannot be swept by a carpenter's compass, 

I know I shall not pass like a child's carlacue cut with a burnt stick at night. 

I know I am august^ 

I do not trouble my spirit to vindicate itself or be understood, 

I see that the elementary laws never apologize, 

(I reckon I behave no prouder than the level I plant my house by, after all.) 

I exist as I am, that is enough, 

If no other in the world be aware I sit content, 

And if each and all be aware I sit content. 

One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that is myself, 

And whether I come to my own today or in ten thousand or ten million years, 

I can cheerfully take it now, or with equal cheerfulness I can wait. 

My foothold is tenon'd and mortis'd in granite, 
I laugh at what you call dissolution, 
And I know the amplitude of time. 



54 WALT WHITMAN 

21 

I am the poet of the Body and I am the poet of the Soul, 

The pleasures of heaven are with me and the pains of hell are with me, 

The first I graft and increase upon myself, the latter I translate into a new tongue, 

I am the poet of the woman the same as the man, 

And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, 

And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men. 

I chant the chant of dilation or pride, 

We have had ducking and deprecating about enough, 

I show that size is only development. 

Have you outstript the rest? are you the President? 

It is a trifle, they will more than arrive there every one, and still pass on. 

I am he that walks with the tender and growing night, 
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night. 

Press close bare-bosom'd night press close magnetic nourishing night! 
Night of south winds night of the large few stars! 
Still nodding night mad naked summer night. 

Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth' 

Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees! 

Earth of departed sunset earth of the mountains misty-topt! 

Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue! 

Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river! 

Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake! 

Far-swooping clbow'd earth rich apple-blossom'd earth! 

Smile, for your lover comes. 

Prodigal, you have given me love therefore I to you give love! 

unspeakable passionate love. 

22 

You sea' I resign myself to you also I guess what you mean, 

1 behold from the beach your crooked inviting fingers, 
I believe you refuse to go back without feeling of me, 

We must have a turn together, I undress, hurry me out of sight of the land, 
Cushion me soft, rock me in billowy drowse, 
Dash me with amorous wet, I can repay you. 

Sea of stfetch'd ground-swells, 

Sea breathing broad and convulsive breaths, 

Sea of the brine of life and of unshovel'd yet always-ready graves, 

Howler and scooper of storms, capricious and dainty sea, 

I am integral with you, I too am of one phase and of all phases. 

Partaker of influx and efflux I, extoller of hate and conciliation, 
Extoller of amies * and those that sleep in each other's arms. 

1 Friends, as distinguished from lovers. 



WALT WHITMAN 55 

I am he attesting sympathy, 

(Shall I make my list of things in the house and skip the house that supports them?) 

I am not the poet of goodness only, I do not decline to be the poet of wickedness also 

What blurt is this about virtue and about vice? 

Evil propels me and reform of evil propels me, I stand indifferent, 

My gait is no fault-finder's or rejecter's gait, 

I moisten the roots of all that has grown. 

Did you fear some scrofula out of the unflagging pregnancy? 

Did you guess the celestial laws are yet to be work'd over and rectified? 

I find one side a balance and the antipodal side a balance, 

Soft doctrine as steady help as stable doctrine, 

Thoughts and deeds of the present our rouse and early start. 

This minute that comes to me over the past decilhons, 
There is no better than it and now. 

What behaved well in the past or behaves well today is not such a wonder, 
The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel. 

2 5 

Dazzling and tremendous how quick the sunrise would kill me, 
If I could not now and always send sun-rise out of rne. 

We also ascend dazzling and tremendous as the sun, 

We found our own O my soul in the calm and cool of the daybreak. 

My voice goes after what my eyes cannot reach, 

With the twirl of my tongue I encompass worlds and volumes of worlds. 

Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, 

It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, 

Walt you contain enough, why don't you let it out then? 

Come now I will not be tantalized, you conceive too much of articulation, 

Do you not know O speech how the buds beneath you arc folded? 

Waiting in gloom, protected by frost, 

The dirt receding before my prophetical screams, 

I underlying causes to balance them at last, 

My knowledge my live parts, it keeping tally with the meaning of all things, 

Happiness, (which whoever hears me let him or her set out in search of this day.) 

My final merit I refuse you, I refuse putting from me what I really am, 

Encompass worlds, but never try to encompass me, 

I crowd your sleekest and best by simply looking toward you. 

Writing and talking do not prove me, 

I carry the plenum of proof and every thing else in my face, 

With the hush of my lips I wholly confound the skeptic. 



56 WALT WHITMAN 

3 

All truths wait in all things, 

They neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, 

They do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, 

The insignificant is as big to me as any, 

(What is less or more than a touch ? ) 

Logic and sermons never convince, 

The damp of the night drives deeper into my soul. 

(Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, 
Only what nobody denies is so.) 

A minute and a drop of me settle my brain, 

I believe the soggy clods shall become lovers and lamps, 

And a compcnd o compends is the meat of a man or woman, 

And a summit and flower there is the feeling they have for each other, 

And they are to branch boundlessly out of that lesson until it becomes omnific, 

And until one and all shall delight us, and we them. 



I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars, 

And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and the egg of the wren, 

And the tree-toad is a chef-d'oeuvre for the highest, 

And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of heaven, 

And the narrowest hinge m my hand puts to scorn all machinery, 

And the cow crunching with depressed head surpasses any statue, 

And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextilhons of infidels. 

v t 

I find I incorporate gneiss, coal, long-threaded moss, fruits, grains, esculent roots, 

And am stucco'd with quadrupeds and birds all over, 

And have distanced what is behind me for good reasons, 

But call any thing back again when I desire it. 

In vairi the speeding or shyness, 

In vain the plutomc rocks send their old heat against my approach, 

In vain the mastodon retreats beneath its own powder'd bones, 

In vain objects stand leagues off. and assume manifold shapes, 

In vain the ocean settling in hollows and the great monsters lying low, 

In vain the buzzard houses herself with the sky, 

In vain the snake slides through the creepers and logs, 

In vain the elk takes to the inner passes of the woods, 

In vain the razor-bill'd auk sails far north to Labrador, 

I follow quickly, I ascend to the nest in the fissure of the cliff. 

3 2 

I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contam'd, 
I stand and look at them long and long. 

They do not sweat and whine about their condition, 
They do not he awake m the dark and weep for their sins, 



WALT WHITMAN 57 

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God, 
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things, 
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago, 
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. 

So they show their relations to me and I accept them, 

They bring me tokens of myself, they evince them plainly in their possession. 

I wonder where they get those tokens, 

Did I pass that way huge times ago and negligently drop them? 

Myself moving forward then and now and forever, 

Gathering and showing more always and with velocity, 

Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them, 

Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers, 

Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on brotherly terms. 

A gigantic beauty of a stallion, fresh and responsive to my caresses, 

Head high in the forehead, wide between the ears, 

Limbs glossy and supple, tail dusting the ground, 

Eyes full of sparkling wickedness, ears finely cut, flexibly moving. 

His nostrils dilate as my heels embrace him, 

His well-built limbs tremble with pleasure as we race around and return. 

I but use you a minute, then I resign you, stallion, 

Why do I need your paces when I myself out-gallop them? 

Even as I stand or sit passing faster than you. 

35 

Would you hear of an old-time sea-fight ? 

Would you learn who won by the light of the moon and stars? 
List to the yarn, as my grandmother's father the sailor told it to me. 

Our foe was no skulk in his ship I tell you, (said he,) 

His was the surly English pluck, and there is no tougher or truer, and never was, 

and never will be; 
Along the lower'd eve he came horribly raking us. 

We closed with him, the yards entangled, the cannon touch'd, 
My captain lash'd fast with his own hands. 

We had rcceiv'd some eighteen pound shots under trie water, 
On our lower-gun-deck two large pieces had burst at the first fire, killing all around 
and blowing up overhead. 

Fighting at sun-down, fighting at dark, 

Ten o'clock at night, the full moon well up, our leaks on the gain, and five feet of 

water reported, 
The master-at-arms loosing the prisoners confined in the afterhold to give them a 

chance for themselves. 

The transit to and from the magazine is now stopt by the sentinels, 
They see so many strange faces they do not know whom to trust. 



5 WALT WHITMAN 

Our frigate takes fire, 

The other asks if we demand quarter? 

If our colors are struck and the fighting done? 

Mow I lau^h content, for I hear the voice of my little captain, 

We have not stmc\, he composedly cries, we have just begun our part of the fighting. 

Only three guns are in use, 

One is directed by the captain himself against the enemy's mainmast, 

Two well serv'd with grape and canister silence his musketry and clear his decks. 

The tops alone second the fire of this little battery, especially the main-top, 
They hold out bravely during the whole of the action. 

Not a moment's cease. 

The leaks gain fast on the pumps, the fire eats toward the powder-magazine. 

One of the pumps has been shot away, it is generally thought we are sinking. 

lerene stands the little captain, 

He is not hurried, his voice is neither high nor low, 
His eyes give more light to us than our battle-lanterns. 

Toward twelve there in the beams of the moon they surrender to us. 

36 

Stretch'd and still lies the midnight, 

Two great hulls motionless on the breast of the darkness, 

Our vessel riddled and slowly sinking, preparations to pass to the one we have 
conquered, 

The captain on the quarter-deck coldly giving his orders through a countenance 
white as a sheet, 

^ear by the corpse of the child that serv'd in the cabin, 

The dead face of an old salt with long white hair and carefully curl'd whiskers, 

The flames spite of all that can be done flickering aloft and below, 

The husky voices of the two or three officers yet fit for duty, 

Formless stacks of bodies and bodies by themselves, dabs of flesh upon the masts and 
spars, 

Cut of cordage, dangle of rigging, slight shock of the soothe of waves, 

Black and impassive guns, litter of powder-parcels, strong scent, 

A few large stars overhead, silent and mournful shining, 

Delicate sniffs of sea-breeze, smells of sedgy grass and fields by the shore, death- 
messages given m charge to survivors, 

The hiss of the surgeon's knife, the gnawing teeth of his saw, 

Wheeze, cluck, swash of falling blood, short wild scream, and long, dull, tapering 
groan, 

These so, these irretrievable. 

37 

You laggards there on guard! look to your arms' 
In at the conquer'd doors they crowd' I am possess'dl 
Embody all presences outlaw'd or suffering, 



WALT WHITMAN 

See myself in prison shaped like another man, 
And feel the dull intermitted pain. 



59 



For me the keepers of convicts shoulder their carbines and keep watch, 

It is I let out in the morning and barr'd at night. 

Not a mutineer walks handcuff'd to jail but I am handcuiFd to him and walk by 

his side, 
(I am less the jolly one there, and more the silent one with sweat on my twitching 

hps.) 

Not a youngster is taken for larceny but I go up too, and am tried and sentenced. 

Not a cholera patient lies at the last gasp but I also he at the last gasp, 
My face is ash-color'd, my sinews gnarl, away from me people retreat. 

Askcrs embody themselves in me and I am embodied in them, 
I project my hat, sit shame-faced, and beg. 

38 

Enough' enough' enough' 

Somehow I have been stunn'd. Stand back' 

Give me a little time beyond my curl'd head, slumbers, dreams, gaping, 

I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake. 

That I could forget the mockers and insults' 

That I could forget the trickling tears and the- blows of the bludgeons and hammers! 

That I could look with a separate look on my own crucifixion and bloody crowning! 

I remember now, 

I resume the overstaid fraction, 

The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it, or to any graves, 

Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me. 

I troop forth replenished with supreme power, one of an avciagc unending pro- 
cession, 

Inland and sea-coast we go, and pass all boundary lines, 
Our swift ordinances on their way over the whole earth, 
The blossoms we wear in our hats the growth of thousands of years. 

40 

Flaunt of the sunshine I need not your bask he over' 
You light surfaces only, I force surfaces and depths also. 

Earth! you seem to look for something at my hands, 
Say, old top-knot, what do you want? 

Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity, 
When I give I give myself. 

You there, impotent, loose in the knees, 

Open your scarfd chops till I blow grit within you 



60 WALT WHITMAN 

Spread your palms and lift the flaps of your pockets, 

I am not to be denied, I compel, I have stores plenty and to spare, 

And any thing I have I bestow. 

I do not ask who you are, that is not important to me, 

You can do nothing and be nothing but what I will infold you. 

To cotton-field drudge or cleaner of privies I lean, 

On his right cheek I put the family kiss, 

And in my soul I swear I never will deny him. 

To anyone dying, thither I speed and twist the knob of the door, 
Turn the bed-clothes toward the foot of the bed, 
Let the physician and the priest go home. 

I seize the descending man and raise him with resistless will, 

despairer, here is my neck, 

By God, you shall not go down! hang your whole weight upon me. 

44 
It is time to explain myself let us stand up. 

What is known I strip away, 

1 launch all men and women forward with me into the Unknown. 

The clock indicates the moment but what docs eternity indicate? 

We have thus far exhausted trillions of winters and summers, 
There are trillions ahead, and trillions ahead ot them. 

Rise after rise bow the phantoms behind me, 
Afar down I see the huge first Nothing, I know I was even there, 
I waited unseen and always, and slept through the lethargic mist, 
And took my time, and took no hurt from the fetid carbon. 

Long I was hugg'd close long and long. 
Immense have been the preparations for me, 
Faithful and friendly the arms that have help'd me. 

Cycles ferried my cradle, rowing and rowing like cheerful boatmen, 
For room to me stars kept aside in their own rings, 
They sent influences to look after what was to hold me. 

Before I was born out of my mother generations guided me, 
My embryo has never been torpid, nothing could overlay it. 

For it the nebula cohered to an orb, 

The long slow strata piled to rest it on, 

Vast vegetables gave it sustenance, 

Monstrous sauroids transported it in their mouths and deposited it with care. 



WALT WHITMAN fa 

All forces have been steadily employed to complete and delight me, 
Now on this spot I stand with my robust soul. 



I have said that the soul is not more than the body, 

And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, 

And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is, 

And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest 

in his shroud, 

And I or you pocketlcss of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth, 
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all 

times, 
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become 

a hero, 

And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the whcel'd universe, 
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a 

million universes. 

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God, 

For I who am curious about each am not curious about God, 

(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.) 

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least, 
Nor do I understand who there can be more wondcriul than myself. 

Why should I wish to see God better than this day? 

I sec something of God each hour of the twenty-tour, and each moment then, 

In the faces of men and women I sec God, and m my own lace in the glass, 

I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name, 

And I leave them where they aic, for I know that wheresoever I go, 

Others will punctually come for ever and ever. 

49 
And as to you Death, and you bitter hug of mortality, it is idle to try to alarm me. 

To his work without flinching the accoucheur comes, 

I see the elder-hand pressing receiving supporting, 

I recline by the sills of the exquisite flexible doors, 

And mark the outlet, and mark the relief and escape. 

And as to you Corpse I think you are good manure, but that does not offend me, 

I smell the white roses sweet-scented and growing, 

I reach to the leafy lips, I reach to the polish'd breasts of melons. 

And as to you Life I reckon you arc the leavings of many deaths, 
(No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before.) 

I hear you whispering there O stars of heaven, 

O suns () grass of graves O perpetual transfers and promotions, 

If you do not say any thing how can I say any thing? 



6 2 WALT WHITMAN 

Of the turbid pool that lies in the autumn forest, 

Of the moon that descends the steeps of the soughing twilight, 

Toss, sparkles of day and dusk toss on the black stems that decay in the muck, 

Toss to the moaning gibberish of the dry limbs. 

I ascend from the moon, I ascend from the night, 

I perceive that the ghastly glimmer is noonday sunbeams reflected, 

And debouch to the steady and central from the offspring great or small. 

5 
There is that in me I do not know what it is but I know it is in me. 

Wrench'd and sweaty calm and cool then my body becomes, 
I sleep I sleep long. 

I do not know it it is without name it is a word unsaid, 
It is not in any dictionary, utterance, symbol. 

Something it swings on more than the earth I swing on, 

To it the creation is the friend whose embracing awakes me. 

Perhaps I might tell more. Outlines' I plead for my brothers and sisters. 

Do you see O my brothers and sisters' 5 

It is not chaos or death it is form, union, plan it is eternal life it is Happiness. 

5 1 

The past and present wilt I have fill'd them, emptied them, 
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. 

Listener up there' what have you to confide to me? 
Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, 
(Talk honestly, no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer.) 

Do I contradict myself? 

Very well then I contradict myself, 

(I am large, I contain multitudes.) 

I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. 

Who has done his day's work? who will soonest be through with his supper? 
Who wishes to walk with me? 

Will you speak before I am gone? will you prove already too late? 



The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my gab and my 
loitenng. 

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, 

I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. 



WALT WHITMAN 6? 

The last scud of day holds back for me, 

It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd wilds, 

It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk. 

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun, 

I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags. 

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, 
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles. 

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, 
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless, 
And filter and fiber your blood. 



Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, 
Missing me one place search another, 
I stop somewhere waiting for you. 



SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD 

( Condensed) 

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, 

Healthy, free, the world before me, 

The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. 

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, 
Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no moie, need nothing", 
Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, 
Strong and content I travel the open road. 

The earth, that is sufficient, 

I do not want the constellations any nearer, 

I know they are very well where they are, 

I know they suffice for those who belong to them 

(Still here I carry my old delicious burden*, 

I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go, 

I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them, 

I am fiird with them, and I will fill them in return.) 

You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here, 

I believe that much unseen is also here. 

Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial, 

The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseased, the illiterate person, are not 
denied; 

The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar's tramp, the drunkard's stag- 
ger, the laughing party of mechanics, 

The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop, the eloping couple, 

The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return 
back from the town, 



64 WALT WHITMAN 

They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted, 
None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me. 

You air that serves me with breath to speak' 

You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape! 

You light that wraps me and ail things in delicate equable showers' 

You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides! 

I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me. 

I inhale great draughts of space, 

The east and the west arc mine, and the north and the south are mine. 

I am larger, better than I thought, 

I did not know I held so much goodness. 

All seems beautiful to me, 

I can repeat ovci to men and women, You have done such good to me I would do 

the same to you, 

I will recruit for myself and you as I go, 
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go, 
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them, 
Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me, 
Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me. 

Allons! whoever you are come travel with me' 
Traveling with me you find what never tires. 

The earth never tires, 

The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incompre- 
hensible at first, 

Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd, 
I swear to you there arc divine things more beautiful than words can Jell. 

Allons' we must not stop here, 

However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot 

remain here, 
However sheltered this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor 

here, 
However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it 

but a little while. 

Allons' the inducements shall be greater, 
We will sail pathless and wild seas, 

We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under 
full sail. 

Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements, 

Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity; 

Allons' from all formules' 

From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests. 



WALT WHITMAN 65 

Aliens! through struggles and wars! 

The goal that was named cannot be countermanded. 

Have the past struggles succeeded? 

What has succeeded" 3 yourself ? your nation? Nature? 

Now understand me well it is provided in the essence of things that from any 

fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a 

greater struggle necessary. 

My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion, 

He going with me must go well arm'd. 

He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions. 

Aliens' the road is before us' 

It is safe I have tried it my own feet have tried it well be not dctam'd! 
Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen'd! 
Let the tools remain in the workshop' let the money remain uncarn'd' 
Let the school stand' mind not the cry of the teacher' 

Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the 
judge expound the law. 

Camerado, I give you my hand! 

I give you my love more precious than money, 

I give you myself before preaching or law; 

Will you give me yourself' 5 will you come tiavcl with me? 

Shall we stick by each other as long as we live? 



THE BROAD- AX 

(from "Song of the Broad-Ax") 

Weapon shapely, naked, wan, 

Head from the mother's bowels drawn, 

Wooded flesh and metal bone, limb only one and lip only one, 

Gray-blue leaf by red-heat grown, helve produced from a little seed sown, 

Resting the grass amid and upon, 

To be lean'd and to lean on. 

ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT 

On the beach at night, 
Stands a child with her father, 
Watching the east, the autumn sky. 

Up through the darkness, 

While ravening clouds, the burial clouds, in black masses spreading, 

Lower sullen and fast athwart and down the sky, 

Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east, 

Ascends large and calm the lord-star Jupiter, 

And nigh at hand, only a very little above, 

Swim the delicate sisters the Pleiades. 



66 WALT WHITMAN 

From the beach the child holding the hand of her father, 
Those burial clouds that lower victorious soon to devour all, 
Watching, silently weeps. 

Weep not, child, 

Weep not, my darling, 

With these kisses let me remove your tears, 

The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious; 

They shall not long possess the sky, they devour the stars only in apparition, 

Jupiter shall emerge, be patient, watch again another night, the Pleiades shall 

emerge, 

They are immortal, all those stars both silvery and golden shall shine out again, 
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again, they endure, 
The vast immortal suns and the long-enduring pensive moons shall again shine. 

Then dearest child mournest thou only for Jupiter? 
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars? 

Something there is, 

(With my lips soothing thee, adding I whisper, 

I give thce the first suggestion, the problem and indirection,) 

Something there is more immortal even than the stars, 

(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,) 

Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter, 

Longer than sun or any revolving satellite, 

Or the radiant sisters the Pleiades. 



OUT OF THE CRADLE ENDLESSLY ROCKING 

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking, 

Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle, 

Out of the Ninth-month midnight, 

Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond where the child leaving his bed wan- 

der'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot, 
Down from the shower'd halo, 

Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive, 
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries, 
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me, 

From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings I heard, 
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with tears, 
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist, 
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease, 
From the myriad thence-arous'd words, 
From the word stronger and more delicious than any, 
From such as now they start the scene revisiting, 
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing, 
Borne hither, eie all eludes me, hurriedly, 
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again, 
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, 
I, chanter of pains and joys, umter of here and hereafter, 
Taking. all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them, 
A reminiscence sing. 



WALT WHITMAN 67 

Once Paumanok, 

When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was growing, 

Up this seashore in some briers, 

Two fcather'd guests from Alabama, two together, 

And their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown, 

And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand, 

And every day the she-bird crouch'd on her nest, silent, with bright eyes, 

And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing them, 

Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating. 

Shine! shinel shine! 

Pour down your watmth, great sun! 

While we bas\, we two together, 

Two together! 

Winds blow south, or winds blow north, 
Day come white, or night come blac\, 
Home, or uveis and mountains jtom home. 
Singing all time, minding no time, 
While we^two %eep togethet. 

Till of a sudden, 

May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate, 

One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest, 

Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next, 

Nor ever appear'd again. 

And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea, 

And at night under the full of the moon in calmer weather, 

Over the hoarse surging of the sea, 

Or flitting from bner to brier by day, 

I saw, T heard at intervals the remaining one, the he-bird, 

The solitary guest from Alabama. 

Blow! blowl blow! 

Blow up sea-winds along Paumanol^s shore; 

I wait and / wait till you blow my mate to me. 

Yes, when the stars glisten'd, 

All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop' d stake, 

Down almost amid the slapping waves, 

Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears. 

He call'd on his mate, 

He pour'd forth the meanings which I of all men know. 

Yes my brother I know, 

The rest might not, but I have treasured every note, 

For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding, 

Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows, 

Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights after their sorts, 



68 WALT WHITMAN 

The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing, 
I, with bare tcet, a child, the wind wafting my hair, 
Listened long and long. 

Listen'd to keep, to sing, now translating the notes, 
Following you my brother. 

Soothe^ soothe? soothe? 

Close on its wave soothes the wave behind, 

And again anotho behind embracing and lapping, evety one close, 

But my love soothes not me, not me. 

Low hangs the moon, it rose late, 

It is lagging O / thinly it is heavy with love, with love. 

O madly the sea pushes upon the land, 
With love, with love. 

O night* do I not see my love fluttering out among the bt eaters? 
What is that little blac^ thing I see thete in the white? 

Loud? loudl loud? 

Loud I call to you, my love! 

High and cleat I shoot my voice over the waves, 

Sutely you must fyww who is heie, is hete, 

You must kjiow who I am, my love. 

Low-hanging moonl 

What is that dtts^y spot in you) blown yellow? 

O it is the shape, the shape of my matel 

O moon do not fcep het pom me any longer. 



land! Q 
Whi(heve) way I tuin, O I thinly you could give me my mate bac\ again if you 

only would, 
For I am almost suie I see her dimly whichever way I 



O tiding stats! 

Pet haps the one I want so much ivill use, will use with some of you. 

O thioatl O tiembling thtoatl 

Sound clearer through the atmosphetel 

Pietce the woods, the earth, 

Somcwhete listening to catch you must be the one I want. 

Sha1(c out catoW 

Sohtaty hete, the night's caiols! 

Cawls of lonesome lovcl death's carols! 

Carols undei that lagging, yellow, waning moon! 

O undet that moon where she dtoops almost down into the sea! 

O reckless despaning caiols. 



WALT WHITMAN 69 

But soft! sin\ low! 

Soft, let me just mutmur, 

And do you wait a moment you husty-nois'd sea, 

For somewhere I believe I heatd my mate responding to me, 

So jamt, I must be still, be still to listen, 

But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately to me. 

Hither my lovel 

Here I ami hetel 

With this imt-sustain' d note I announce myself to you, 

This gentle call is jot you my love, for you. 

Do not be decoy d elsewhere, 

That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice, 

That is the fluttenng, the ftutteting of the spiay, 

Those ate the shadows of leaves. 

O datfyessl O in vam^ 

O I am vety sicl^ and sottowjul. 

blown halo in the s1{y near the moon, drooping upon the seal 

O troubled reflection in the seal 

O thtoat* O thtobbing heattf 

And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night. 

O past! O happy life! O songs of joy! 
In the an , in the woods, ovet fields, 
Lovedl loved) loved^ lovcd^ lovedt 
But my mate no mote, no mote with me! 
We two togethet no mote. 

The ana sinking, 

All else continuing, the stars shining, 

The winds blowing, the notes ot the bird continuous echoing, 

With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning, 

On the sands of Paumanok's shore gray and rustling, 

The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the lace of the sea almost 

touching, 

The boy ecstatic, with his bare feet the waves, with his hair the atmosphere dallying, 
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last tumultuously bursting, 
The ana's meaning, the ears, the soul, swiftly depositing, 
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing, 
The colloquy triere^hcjrio, each uttering, 
The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying, 
To the boy's soul's questions sullenly timing, some drown'd secret hissing, 
To the outsettmg bard. 

P 
Dernon or bird' (said the boy's soul,) 

Is it indeed toward your mate you sing^ or is it really to me ? 

For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard you, 



70 WALT WHITMAN 

Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake, 

And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder and more sorrow- 
ful than yours, 
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to die. 

O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, 

O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you, 

Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations, 

Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, 

Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what there in the night, 

By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, 

The messenger there arous'd, the fire, the sweet hell within, 

The unknown want, the destiny of me. 

O give me the clue' (it lurks in the night here somewhere,) 
O if I am to have so much, let me have more! 

A word then, (for I will conquer it,) 

The word final, superior to all, 

Subtle, sent up what is it? I listen; 

Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves? 

Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands ? 

Whereto answering, the sea, 

Delaying not, hurrying not, 

Whisper'd me through the night, and very plainly before daybreak, 

Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word death, 

And again death, death, death, death, 

Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my arous'd child's heart, 

But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet, 

Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all over, 

Death, death, death, death, death. 

Which I do not forget, 

But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother, 

That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumonok's gray beach, 

With the thousand responsive songs at random, 

My own songs awaked from that hour, 

And with them the key, the word up from the waves, 

The word of the sweetest song and all songs, 

That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet, 

(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle, swathed in sweet garments, bending 

aside,) - ' 

The sea whisper 'd me. 



FACING WEST FROM CALIFORNIA'S SHORES 

Facing west from California's shores, 
Inquiring, tireless, seeking what is yet unfound, 

I, a child, very old, over waves, towards the house of maternity, the land of migra- 
tions, look atar, 



WALT WHITMAN 

Look off the shores of my Western sea, the circle almost circled; 
For starting westward from Hindustan, from the vales of Kashmere, 
From Asia, from the north, from the God, the sage, and the hero, 
From the south, from the flowery peninsulas and the spice islands, 
Long having wander'd since, round the earth having wandcrM, 
Now I face home again, very pleas'd and joyous, 
(But where is what I started for so long ago? 
And why is it yet unfound?) 

WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DO OR YARD BLOOM 1 



When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd, 

And the great star early droop'd in the western sky in the night, 

I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring. 

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring, 
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west, 
And thought of him I love. 

2 

O powerful western fallen star! 
O shades ol night O moody, tearful night' 
O great star disappeared O the black murk that hides the star! 
O cruel hands that hold me powerless () helpless soul ot me' 
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul. 

3 

In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the whitewashed palings, 
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love, 
With every leat a miracle and from this bush in the dooryard, 
With dchcate-color'd blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green, 
A sprig with its flower I break. 

4 

In the swamp in secluded recesses, 
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song. 

Solitary the thrush, 

The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements, 

Sings by himself a song. 

Song of the bleeding throat, 

Death's outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know, 

If thou wast not granted to sing thou would'st surely die.) 

5 

Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities, 

Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep'd from the ground, 
spotting the gray debris, 

1 This, one of the noblest elegies in the language, and the rhymed stanzas that follow on the 
same theme, are part of a group which Whitman entitled "Memories of President Lincoln.*' 



7 2 WALT WHITMAN 

Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass, 
Passing the yellow-spear 'd wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown 

fields uprisen, 

Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards, 
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave, 
Night and day journeys a coffin. 

6 

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, 

Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land, 

With the pomp of the mloop'd flags with the cities draped in black, 

With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil'd women standing, 

With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night, 

With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads, 

With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the somber faces, 

With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn, 

With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour'd around the coffin, 

The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs where amid these you journey, 

With the tolling tolling bells' perpetual clang, 

Here, coffin that slowly passes, 

I give you my sprig of lilac. 

7 
(Nor for you, for one alone, 

Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring, 

For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred 
death. 

All over bouquets of roses, 

() death, I cover you over with roses and early lilies, 

But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first, 

Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes, 

With loaded arms I come, pouring for you, 

For you and the coffins all of you O death.) 

8 

O western orb sailing the heaven, 

Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk'd, 
As I walk'd in silence the transparent shadowy night, 
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night, 
As you droop'd from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all 

lookVl on,) 
As we wander'd together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept 

me fiom sleep,) 

As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe, 
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night, 
As I watch 'd where you pass'd and was lost in the netherward black of the night, 
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb, 
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone. 

9 

Sing on there in the swamp, 

singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call, 

1 hear, I come presently, I understand you, 



WALT WHITMAN 73 

But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detained me, 
The star my departing comrade holds and detains me. 

10 

O how shall I warbje myself for the dead one there I loved? 

And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone? 

And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love? 

Sea-winds blown from east and west, 

Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the 

prairies meeting, 

These and with these and the breath of my chant, 
I'll perfume the grave of him I love. 

ii 

O what shall I hang on the chamber walls? 

And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls, 

To adorn the burial-house of him I love? 

Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes, 

With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the giay smoke lucid and bright, 

With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, ex- 
panding the air, 

With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves ol the trees 
prolific, 

In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here 
and there, 

With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows, 

And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys, 

And all the scenes of lite and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning. 

12 

Lo, body and soul this land, 

My own Manhattan with spires, and the spackhng and hurrying tides, and the ships, 
The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio's shores 

and flashing Missouri, 
And ever the far-spreading prairies covered with grass and corn. 

Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty, 

The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes, 

The gentle soit-born measureless light, 

The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfilPd noon, 

The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars, 

Over njy cities shining all, enveloping man and land. 

13 

Sing on, sing on you gray-brown bird, 

Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes, 
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines. 
Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song, 
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe. 



74 



WALT WHITMAN 



O liquid and free and tender! 

O wild and loose to my soul O wondrous singer! 

You only I hear yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,) 

Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me. 



Now while I sat in the day and look'd forth, 

In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers pre- 

paring their crops, ^ 

In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests, 
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb'd winds and the storms,) 
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of chil- 

dren and women, 

The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sa*il'd, 
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor, 
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and 

minutia of daily usages, 
And the streets how their throbbings throbb'd, and the cities pent lo, then and 

there, 

Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest, 
Appeared the cloud, appeared the long black trail, 
And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death. 

Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me, 

And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me, 

And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions, 

I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not, 

Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness, 

To the solemn shadowy cedars and ghostly pmcs so still. 

And the singer so shy to the rest rcceiv'd me, 

The gray-brown bird I know recciv'd us comrades three, 

And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love. 

From deep secluded recesses, 

From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still, 

Came the carol of the bird. 

And the charm of the carol rapt me 

As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night, 

And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird. 

Come lovely and soothing death, 

Undulate wund the wot Id, sctenely at living, arriving, 

In the day, in the night, to all, to each, 

Sooner or latct delicate death. 

Piais'd be the fathomless universe, 
For life and joy, and fur objects and \nowledge curious, 
And jot love, sweet love but ptaisel praise^ piaisel 
For the surc-enwinding atms of cool-enfolding death. 



WALT WHITMAN 

Dar\ mother always gliding neat with soft feet, 

Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? 

Then I chant it for thee t I glonfy thee above all, 

I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly. 

Approach strong deliver ess, 

When it is so, when thou hast ta\en them I joyously sing the dead, 

Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee, 

Laved in the flood of thy bliss O death. 

From me to thee glad serenades, 

Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feasting* for t/iee f 
And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread ^y we fitting, 
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night. 

The night in silence under many a star, 

The ocean shote and the hus\y whispering wave whose voice I bjnow, 

And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil d death, 

And the body g> ate fully nestling close to thee. 

Over the tree-tops 1 float thee a song, 

Over the using and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prames wide 

Over the dense-pact^ d cities all and the teeming wharves and ways, 

I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death. 

15 

To the tally of my soul, 

Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, 
With pure deliberate notes spicading filling the night. 

Loud in the pines and cedars dim, 

Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume, 

And I with my comrades there in the night 

While my sight that was bound m my eyes unclosed, 
As to long panoramas of visions. 

And I saw askant the armies, 

I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-Hags, 

Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierc'd with missiles I saw them, 

And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody, 

And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,) 

And the stalls all splmter'd and broken. 

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them, 

And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them, 

I saw the debris and debris of all the slain soldiers of the war, 

But I saw they were not as was thought, 

They themselves were fully at rest, they sufTer'd not, 

The living remained and sufTer'd, the mother sufTer'd, 

And the wife and the child and the musing comrade sufTer'd, 

And the armies that remam'd sufTer'd. 

16 

Passing the visions, passing the night, 
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades' hands, 



7 6 WALT WHITMAN 

Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul, 
Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song, 
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, 
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with 

joy> 

Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven, 

As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses, 

Passing, I leave thce lilac with heart-shaped leaves, 

I leave thee there in the dooryard, blooming, returning with spring. 

I cease from my song for thee, 

From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee, 

O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night. 

Yet each to keep and all, retnevements out of the night, 

The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird, 

And the tallying chant, the echo arous'd in my soul, 

With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe, 

With the holders holding my hand nearmg the call of the bird, 

Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep, for the dead I 

loved so well, 

For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands and this for his dear sake, 
Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul, 
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim. 

o CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! 

O Captain' my Captain' our fearful trip is done, 
The ship has wcather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won, 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, 
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; 
But O heart' heart' heart' 
O the bleeding diops of red, 
Where on the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead. 

O Captain' my Captain' rise up and hear the bells; 
Rise up for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills, 
For you bouquets and nbbon'd wreaths for you the shores a-crowdmg, 
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; 
Here Captain' dear father' 
The arm beneath your head' 

It is some dream that on the deck, 
You've fallen cold and dead. 

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, 
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will, 
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done, 
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won; 
Exult O shores, and ring O bells' 
But I with mournful tread, 
Walk the deck my Captain lies, 
Fallen cold and dead. 



WALT WHITMAN 77 

AFTER THE SUPPER AND TALK 

After the supper and talk after the day is done, 

As a friend from friends his final withdrawal prolonging, 

Good-by and Good-by with emotional lips repeating, 

(So hard for his hand to release those hands no more will they meet, 

No more for communion of sorrow and joy, of old and young, 

A far-stretching journey awaits him, to return no more,) 

Shunning, postponing severance seeking to ward oft the last word ever so little, 

E'en at the exit-door turning charges superfluous calling back e'en as he descends 

the steps, 

Something to eke out a minute additional shadows of nightfall deepening, 
Farewells, messages lessening dimmer the forthgoer's visage and form, 
Soon to be lost for aye in the darkness loth, O so loth to depart! 
Garrulous to the very last. 



THE LAST INVOCATION 

At the last, tenderly, 

From the walls of the powerful fortrcss'd house, 

From the clasp of the knitted locks, from the keep of the well-closed doors, 

Let me be wafted. 

Let me glide noiselessly forth; 

With the key of softness unlock the locks with a whisper, 

Set ope the doors O soul. 

Tenderly be not impatient, 
(Strong is your hold O mortal flesh. 
Strong is your hold O love.) 



Emily Dickinson 

EMILY (ELIZABETH 1 ) DICKINSON was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, December 10, 
1830. Her life was, except for a circumstance which has caused much specula- 
tion and a controversy among her biographers, bare of outward event. She died in 
the house in which she was born; after she was twenty-six she rarely left it. Her 
childhood had the ordinary uneventful events common to other children in Amherst 
which at that time was so remote that, only a few years before, her mother's dower 
had been brought to the town by a team of oxen. Her family was not quite like 
other families; it was a distillation of all that was New England, a synthesis and 
refinement of its reticence and high thinking. A contemporary, Samuel G. Ward, 
commented shrewdly, "We came to this country to think our own thoughts with 
nobody to hinder. We conversed with our own souls till we lost the art of communi- 
cating with other people. ... It was awfully high but awfully lonesome. ... If 

1 Often given as "Norcross," which was not her middle name, but her sister Lavima's. 



j8 EMILY DICKINSON 

the gift of articulateness was not denied, you had Channing, Emerson, Hawthorne, 
a stupendous example, and many others. Mostly, it was denied, and became a family 
fate. This is where Emily Dickinson comes in. She was the articulate inarticulate." 

Emily Dickinson's father, Edward Dickinson, was a lawyer who was nominated 
for the office of Lieutenant Governor (which he declined) and one of the town's 
most influential men. Emily adored him. In the Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson 
Martha Dickinson Bianchi, Emily's niece, quotes her as saying, "If father is asleep 
on the sofa the house is full." At sixteen she formed a close friendship with a girl 
who visited Amhcrst and later married her brother Austin (the "sister Sue" of The 
Single Hound) and who disputed with Lavima the belated honor of being Emily's 
confidante. At seventeen Emily entered South Hadley Female Seminary, disliked it 
intensely, grew homesick, rebelled at the extremities of its Puritanism and, on one 
occasion, packed her bags and took the stage home. From eighteen to twenty-three 
she was, according to her first biographer, "a social creature in the highest sense." 

When she was twenty-three she spent some weeks in Washington with her father 
who was in Congress for two terms. On the return to Arnherst Emily visited in 
Philadelphia and met the Reverend Charles Wadsworth a meeting which, accord- 
ing to one of her biographers, determined not only the course of her life but the 
character of her poetry. As late as 1929 Mme. Bianchi (Sue's daughter) wrote, 
"Even now, after the many slow years she has been removed from us in the body, 
her spirit hinders the baring of that chapter which has been so universally misunder- 
stood." Nothing could have done more to further the misunderstanding; it provoked 
speculation, inspired the very gossip it purported to evade, and placed the emphasis 
on a puzzle rather than on the poetry. 

But this was part of a posthumous wrangle from which Emily Dickinson was 
mercifully spared. The known facts arc these: After 1856 she immured herself in 
the family mansion. She was rarely seen even in the house except as a figure van- 
ishing ghostily down a corridor; she loved music, but refused to come in the parlor 
where it was played, and remained seated, out of view, in the hall. She developed 
certain idiosyncrasies: was an indefatigable letter-writer but had a congenital preju- 
dice against addressing her notes and got others to do this for her; invariably dressed 
in white, but refused to be "fitted," her sister performing this task for her; sent 
perennial roots and cookies with cryptic lines to neighbors and even to children, 
and became, in short, the village oddity. She died of Bnght's disease, May 15, 1886, 
in her fifty-sixth year. 

Thus the flat physical data of the woman. The poet made her appearance only 
after her death. During her lifetime four of her poems had been published 
through no desire of her own. She never cared to see her emotions in print; "she 
habitually concealed her mind, like her person, from all but a very few friends," 
wrote Higgmson. Even more deeply than Heine she might have cried, "Aus meincn 
grossen Schmerzen mach ich die \leinen Lieder" and these brief, almost tele- 
graphic revelations tucked away in boxes and hidden in bureau drawers have out- 
lasted the more pretentious writing of a century. After Emily's death her executors 
were amazed at the amount of material which she had left. More than twelve hun- 
dred poems were unearthed, of which many are still unpublished. "Sister Sue" had 
written a tribute to Emily in the town paper, but it was upon Lavinia that the 
burden fell. Lavinia assumed it. She knew her limitations, but she knew, or at 



EMILY DICKINSON 79 

least surmised, the greatness of which she was guardian. She called upon her friends 
Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wcntworth Higginson. Mrs. Todd began to copy 
the poems, and not only to copy but to edit them, for Emily usually appended a 
list of alternative words and it was Mrs. Todd who had to decide which word 
should appear as Emily's choice. In November, 1890, the first volume of the Poems 
of Emily Dickinson appeared with an introduction by Thomas Went worth Higgin- 
son. It has been supposed that these spontaneous illuminations, so different from the 
politely prepared verse of the day, fell on barren ground. The opposite is true. 
Though there were many scoffers and parodists, critics were not slow to see the 
essential quality a Blake-like purity combined with a most un-Puritan pertness 
readers responded, and six editions were printed in as many weeks. A year later 
Poems of Emily Dickinson Second Series (1891) appeared, again edited by Mabel 
Loomis Todd and Thomas Went worth Higginson. In 189} the first I^cttcts of Emily 
Dickinson was edited by Mrs. Todd, incorporated by Mmc. Bianchi in her later 
volume, and revised and enlarged in 1931, the original two volumes being an in- 
valuable mine of source material. In 1896 Mrs. Todd alone was responsible for 
Poems Third Series. 

The public taste changed; for thirty years little was heard of Emily Dickinson; 
her Letters went out of print, the publishers thought so little of them that they did 
not even renew the copyright. The "authorities" contained only slighting rclerenccs 
to her or none at all. One of the encyclopedias (The New International) decided 
that her lyrics were "striking, but deficient in form"; the Biitanmca, as late as 1926, 
failed to mention her name except as a cross-reference, omitting her entirely in the 
Index. 

In 1914 Mme. Bianchi prepared a further volume, The Single Hound, but, though 
the reception was cordial, it was by no means overwhelming. An occasional article 
appeared, showing the poet's "lack of control" or, beneath a cover of condescension, 
ridiculing her "hit-or-miss grammar, sterile rhythms, and appalling rhymes." A 
devotee here and there defended the quaint charm of her use of assonance and half- 
rhyming vowels. Her audience grew, but gradually. Suddenly, in 1924, Emily Dick- 
inson became a figure of international importance. Almost forty years alter her death 
her name became a poetic shibboleth when in one year there were published 
Martha Dickinson Bianchi's The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson, the first col- 
lected Complete Poems (a misnomer as it turned out to be), and the first English 
compilation, Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited with a penetrating preface 
by Conrad Aiken. 

The enthusiasm attending the triple appearance was unprecedented. Martin Arm- 
strong, the English poet, said, "Mr. Aiken calls Emily Dickinson's poetry 'perhaps 
the finest by a woman in the English language.' I quarrel only with his 'perhaps.' " 
Nor were other plaudits less vociferous. "A feminine Blake," "an epigrammatic Walt 
Whitman," "a New England mystic," were a few of the characterizations fastened 
upon her. Other appraisals sought to "interpret" her involved but seldom obscure 
verses in the light of the "mystery" of her life. But "The Amherst Nun" would 
have repudiated the amateur psychoanalysts as vigorously as she, whose verses and 
letters brim with mischievous fancy, would have laughed at their epithets. 

In 1929 there was published another generous collection of "undiscovered" or 
"withheld" poems, Further Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Martha Dickinson 



So EMILY DICKINSON 

Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson. There were one hundred and seventy-six hith- 
erto unpublished pieces, and their clear beauty as well as mysterious appearance, all 
too vaguely explained, caused something of a furore. The excitement increased in 
1930, the centenary of Emily Dickinson's birth. A new volume, Unpublished Poems 
by Emily Dickinson, appeared toward the end of 1935. 

In the centenary year three new biographies appeared: Emily Dickinson: The 
Human Background by Josephine Pollitt, The Lt]e and Mind of Emily Dickinson 
by Genevieve Taggard, and Emily Dickinson: Fnend and Neighbor by Macgregor 
Jenkins. Jenkins' little book concerned itself chiefly with his boyhood memories; it 
was amiable and undistinguished. It was with the two other full-size volumes that 
interpretation grew fabulous and legend-making ran amok. Had someone written 
a dispassionate authoritative life immediately after Emily Dickinson's death this 
could not have happened; had Mme. Bianchi been more explicit it could have been 
avoided. But Mme. Bianchi chose to tell a vague story vaguely and helped swell the 
growing flood of conjecture. She spread the now familiar tale of Emily's "lover" in 
her chapter "The End of Peace." Mme. Bianchi told of the "fateful" visit to Phila- 
delphia, of an encounter with a man already married rumor had not scrupled to 
repeat the name of the Reverend Charles Wadsworth of family's refusal to deviate 
from "her high sense of duty" and be "the inevitable destruction of another woman's 
life," of a precipitate flight back to Amherst, of a pursuit by the reckless lover, of a 
last agonized abnegation, denying herself not only to her lover but to the world. 
In Emily Dickinson Face to Face (1932) Mme. Bianchi amplified the account, be- 
came more specific, and supplied further valuable details, proving among other 
things that Emily's "dissonant" rhymes were not accidental but calculated. 

The other two biographies betrayed far wilder attempts to supply "the missing 
chapter" and identify the man who prompted the love poems. Josephine Pollitt 
seized upon a scrap of a letter written by Higgmson, and concluded that Emily's 
secret lover was Edward Bissell Hunt, the husband of the talented author Helen 
Hunt (Jackson), who happened to be Emily's closest friend. This theory was used 
as the basis of a drama, Buttle Heaven, by Frederick J. Pohl and Vincent York, pro- 
duced m 1934, a morc theatrical if less literary structure than Susan Glaspell's earlier 
Alison's House, a play based on the posthumous publication of the poems, which 
won the Pulitzer Prize for 1932. 

Genevieve Taggard in her sensitive though over-written study discovered an under- 
graduate who "conditioned" Emily and her work. He was George Gould, one of the 
Indicator staff at Amherst College, and Miss Taggard believes Emily was engaged 
to him but that her father, a fire-breathing patriarch, opposed the union in true Old 
Testament New England style; whereupon Emily refused the young man, dressed in 
white, and dismissed him from her life except for a prolonged secret correspond- 
ence, which has never been discovered forever. 

All the theories are possible. But there are others equally plausible. It might be sug- 
gested that there was no love story at all none, that is, in the sense of a mutual 
rappott. It was an age of rhetoric. Male friends wrote effusively to each other; Emily 
herself used the word "love" indiscriminately. Whoever it was that captured Emily's 
regard may have been quite unconscious of it. He may have been impressed and a 
bit puzzled by the girl's crisp rejoinders, but he probably soon forgot the plain 
girl with her fancy phrases. It may have been nothing to him; to Emily it was All. 



EMILY DICKINSON 8j 

This, too, is conjecture. And all of it tends to belittle the poetry by a probing of 
the person; so lengthy a concern about the "mystery" in Emily's life obscures the 
mastery of her work. For mastery it is. The seal of genius, that unmistakable in- 
signia, is on everything she wrote. Here is that inimitable idiom, playful yet 
profound; here are the rapid ascent of images and the sudden swoop of immensities, 
the keen epithet that cuts to the deepest layer ot consciousness, and the paradox on 
whose point innumerable angels dance. She is Blake one moment, Vaughan the 
next, then Jonathan Edwards, and herself all the time. Emotion, idea, and words 
are not marshaled in their usual order; they spring simultaneously, inevitably, one 
including the other. Here is the effect never the affectation of emotion and its 
enveloping phrase. 

More fully than her biographers Emily Dickinson told the secret of her love, her 
first rebellious impulse, her inner denial, her resignation, her assured waiting tor 
reunion in Eternity. There is little to add except meaningless names and irrelevant 
street numbers. 

I took one draught of life, 

I'll tell you what I paid, 

Precisely an existence 

The market-price, they said. 

They weighed me dust by dust, 
They balanced film with film, 
Then handed me my being's worth 
A single dram of Heaven. 

The poetry of Emily Dickinson courts criticism and defies it. (An interesting dis- 
cussion of her syntactical peculiarities, A Study of Unusual Verb Constructions in the 
Poems of Emily Dickinson by Grace B. Sherrer, may be found in the quarterly 
Ameitcan Ltteiature for March, 1935.) That her verses were sometimes erratic, 
half-done, and thrown off in the heat of creation is self-evident. But, in the great 
majority of her poems, the leap of thought is so daring, the idea so provocative, 
that passages which, in a smaller spirit, would be merely pretty or audacious con- 
ceits become snatches of revelation. Is it a flippancy or an anguished cry when, robbed 
by Life, she stands "a beggar before the floor oi God," and confronts Him with 
"Burglar, banker, father!" Is it anything less than Olympian satire when, asking 
God to accept "the supreme iniquity," she declares: 

We apologize to Thee 
For Thine own duplicity. 

Beauty, Love, Justice these were no abstractions to her, but entities, weights and 
measures, which the architect had failed to use perfectly. She sought the Builder 
not to commend but to question Him. Emily argued, upbraided, accused Creation; 
she recognized an angel only when she wrestled with him. Paradox was her native 
element. 

Her gnomk imagery was tremendous in implication, and her range is far greater 
than a first reading reveals. Although the poet often indulged herself by retreating 
into a style cryptic and wayward, her tiny quatrains are/ lavish with huge ideas and 
almost overpowering figures. She speaks of music as "the silver strife"; she sees the 



82 EMILY DICKINSON 

railway train "lap the miles and lick the valleys up"; she speaks ironically of splitting 
the lark to find the music "bulb after bulb in silver rolled"; she pictures the thunder 
crumbling "like a stuff' while the lightning "skipped like mice"; she glimpses 
evening as "the house-wife in the west" sweeping the sunset "with many colored 
brooms"; she asks "who laid the rainbow piers." Pondering on the power of words, 
she meditates: 

Could mortal lip divine 
The undeveloped freight 

Of a delivered syllable, 

'Twould crumble with the weight. 

Her lightest phrases bear the accent of finality. Without striving to be clever sht 
achieves one startling epigram after another; no poet ever existed with a more apho- 
ristic mind. "Denial is the only fact received by the denied." "At leisure is the soul 
that gets a staggering blow." "Renunciation is the choosing against itself." "Longing 
is like the seed that wrestles in the ground." 

Her letters, sometimes marred with affectations, have an unpredictable way of 
turning about their subject; they combine the impish with the mystical; they an- 
nounce tremendous things in an ofthand tone of voice. Few definitions of poetry 
give us the sense of poetry as sharply as her informal: 

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, 
I know it is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I 
know this is poetry. These are the only ways I know it." 

Are there no reservations? In the midst of her telegraphic concisions all sparks 
and flashes does one never miss the long line, the sustained breath? She lived in 
metaphor, and the terse luxuriance of her figures the impulse to point every adjec- 
tive has had an unhappy effect on most of her admirers, an effect of pretty artifice. 
Worse still is her habit of acting coy among the immensities. She is overfond of 
playing the spoiled, "old-fashioned, naughty child" a little girl who sits in the lap 
of Drily and tweaks His beard and asks God coyly to lift her over the stile, an 
imperious child for whose success guns should be fired at sea, for a glimpse of 
whom saints should run to windows and seraphs swing their snowy hats. The 
impulse to pirouette before the mirror of her soul has already had its result in hun- 
dreds of young "female poets" (Gris wold's phrase) who, lacking their model's in- 
tensities, have succeeded only in being verbally arresting and "cute." 

A critical appraisal docs not have to be a condemnatory one, but it must steer a 
course between the early ridicule and the present unreserved adulation. The un- 
doubted charm does not necessarily extend to errors in grammar, nor docs the taut, 
uncanny Tightness of her epithets disguise her frequent failure to differentiate 
between inspiration and whim. Can one, need one, applaud all the eccentricities, the 
familiarities, the pertnesses- 5 Banter may be refreshing, but is archness with God 
always delightful ? And what is one to say of that more reprehensible spinsterly 
failing, archness to children ? 

And yet >t is a tough and poetry-resisting soul which does not eventually succumb 
to her rhetoric, irregularities and all. Her vivacity covers self-consciousness and carries 
off her contradictions. Her swift condensations surpassed by no writer of any age 
win the most reluctant. One. gasps at the way she packs huge ideas into an explosive 
quatrain (a living poet has called her verse "uncombusted meteors") fascinated by 



EMILY DICKINSON 83 

an utterance so paradoxical, so seemingly naive, so actually metaphysical. She may 
annoy us with her self-indulgent waywardness, but illumination is never far off; 
out of a smooth, even sentimental sky, comes a crackling telegram trom God and, 
tucked in a phrase, the "imperial thunderbolt that scalps your naked soul." 

The obvious defects and quaint irregularities have been accepted; they even have 
a charm of their own. The brilliance of her imagery blinds us to her overfrequent 
coyness and the overstressed self-pity which could allow the poet to call herself 
"Empress of Calvary." The consistency of her imperfections is, in itself, a kind of 
perfection. Her personal magic a kind of super-observation lives in such phrases as 
a dog's "belated feet, like intermittent plush," a humming bird whose flight is "a 
route of evanescence, a resonance of emerald," an engine "neighing like Boanerges," 
a mushroom whose whole career "is shorter than a snake's delay," the wind "tap- 
ping like a tired man." 

What else, then, matters ? Whatever the provocation, all that remains is the poetry. 
The much-sought but still unknown inspirer of the love poems may have been 
Wads worth or Gould or Hunt or Legion but it is not he who is immortalized in 
her book; it is Emily. Though there are evocations of the vanished lover, we are 
never made to see him, hear him, realize his being, whereas we have (in the same 
poems) a complete projection of Emily, her heart, soul, and housekeeping, her books, 
birds, and influences, her bodily postures, tricks of thought, even her way of crossing 
the room and reading a letter. 

Denied a public, even of one, Emily perfected her imperfections in secret. Lacking 
the partner, she played her game with herself. Yet, when all the biographies are con- 
sidered and contrasted, possibly the most successful game was the one she played on 
the world. A solitary recluse who had the world in her garden; an escapist who 
summoned infinity with the trick of a forefinger and the crook of her mind It is 
doubtful if, in spite of her geographical isolation, there was ever a less lonely woman. 
She who contained a universe did not need the world. Everything, whether seen or 
imagined, lived for her in full immediacy; all, she knew, existed only in thought. 
"Captivity's consciousness," she said, "so's liberty." In that rich and nimble con- 
sciousness she was always at home and always free. 



I TASTE A LIQUOR NEVER 
BREWED 

taste a liquor never brewed, 
7 rom tankards scooped in pearl; 
^ot all the vats upon the Rhine 
field such an alcohol' 

nebriate of air am I, 

\nd debauchee of dew, 

leelmg, through endless summer days, 

7 rom inns of molten blue. 

Afhen landlords turn the drunken bee 
Dut of the foxglove's door, 
Afheai butterflies renounce their drams, 
shall but drink the more! 



Till seraphs swing their snowy hats, 
And saints to windows run, 
To see the little tippler 
Leaning against the sun! 

A BIRD CAME DOWN THE WALK 

A bird came down the walk: 
He did not know I saw; 
He bit an angle- worm in halves 
And ate the fellow, raw. 

And then he drank a dew 

From a convenient grass, 

And then hopped sidevyise to the wall 

To let a beetle pass. 



8 4 



EMILY DICKINSON 



He glanced with rapid eyes 

That hurried all abroad, 

They looked like frightened beads, I thought 

He stirred his velvet head 

Like one in danger; cautious, 
I offered him a crumb, 
And he unrolled his feathers 
And rowed him softer home 

Than oars divide the ocean, 
Too silver for a seam, 
Or butterflies, off banks of noon, 
Leap, plashless, as they swim. 



ELYSIUM IS AS FAR 

Elysium is as far as to 
The very nearest room, 
If m that room a friend await 
Felicity or doom. 

What fortitude the soul contains, 
That it can so endure 
The accent of a coming foot, 
The opening of a door. 



INDIAN SUMMER 

These are the days when birds come back, 
A very few, a bird or two, 
To take a backward look. 



These are the days when skies put on 
The old, old sophistries of June, 
A blue and gold mistake. 

Oh, fraud that cannot cheat the bee, 
Almost thy plausibility 
Induces my belief, 

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear, 
And softly through the altered air 
Hurries a timid leafl 

Oh, sacrament of summer days, 
Oh, last communion in the haze, 
Permit a child to join, 

Thy sacred emblems to partake, 
Thy consecrated bread to break, 
Taste thine immortal wine' 



I NEVER SAW A MOOR 

I never saw a moor, 

I never saw the sea; 

Yet know I how the heather looks, 

And what a wave must be. 

I never spoke with God, 
Nor visited in Heaven; 
Yet certain am I of the spot 
As if the chart were given. 



I NEVER LOST AS MUCH 

I never lost as much but twice, 
And that was m the sod; 
Twice have I stood a beggar 
Before the door of God! 

Angels, twice descending, 
Reimbursed my store. 
Burglar, banker, father, 
'I am poor once moftl 



I DIED FOR BEAUTY 

I died for beauty, but was scarce 
Adjusted in the tomb, 
When one who died for truth was lain 
In an adjoining room. 

He questioned softly why I failed? 
"For beauty," I replied. 
"And I for truth, the two are one; 
We brethren are," he said. 

And so, as kinsmen met a night, 
We talked between the rooms, 
Until the moss had reached our lips 
And covered up our names. 



THE SKY IS LOW 

The sky is low, the clouds are mean, 
A traveling flake of snow 
Across a barn or through a rut 
Debates if it will go. 



EMILY DICKINSON 

A narrow wind complains all day 
How someone treated him. 
Nature, like us, is sometimes caught 
Without her diadem. 



MYSTERIES 

The murmur of a bee 
A witchcraft yieldeth me. 
If any ask me why, 
'Twere easier to die 
Than tell. 

The red upon the hill 
Taketh away my will; 
If anybody sneer, 
Take care, for God is here, 
That's all. 

The breaking of the day 
Addeth to my degree; 
If any ask me how, 
Artist, who drew me so, 
Must tell! 



I LIKE TO SEE IT LAP 
THE MILES 

I like to see it lap the miles, 
And lick the valleys up, 
And stop to feed itself at tanks; 
And then, prodigious, step 

Around a pile of mountains, 
And, supercilious, peer 
In shanties by the sides of roads; 
And then a quarry pare 

To fit its sides, and crawl between, 
Complaining all the while 
In horrid, hooting stanza; 
Then chase itself down hill 

And neigh like Boanerges; . 
Then, punctual as a star, 
Stop docile and omnipotent 
At its own stable door. 



THE SOUL SELECTS 

The soul selects her own society, 
Then shuts the door; 



5 



On her divine majority 
Obtrude no more. 



Unmoved, she notes the chariots pausing 
At her low gate; 

Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling 
Upon her mat. 

I've known her from an ample nation 
Choose one; 

Then close the valves of her attention 
Like stone. 



MY LIFE CLOSED TWICE BEFORE 
ITS CLOSE 

My life closed twice before its close; 
It yet remains to sec 
If Immortality unveil 
A third event to me, 

So huge, so hopeless to conceive, 
As these that twice befell. 
Parting is all we know of heaven, 
And all we need of hell. 



THE HEART ASKS PLEASURE 
FIRST 

The heart asks pleasure first; 
And then, excuse from pain; 
And then, those little anodynes 
That deaden suffering; 

And then, to go to sleep; 
And then, if it should be 
The will of its Inquisrtor, 
The liberty to die. 



I CANNOT LIVE WITH YOU 

I cannot live with you. 
It would be life, 
And life is over there 
Behind the shelf 

The sexton keeps the key to, 
Putting up 

Our life, his porcelain, 
Like a cup 



86 



EMILY DICKINSON 



Discarded of the housewife, 
Quaint or broken; 
A newer Sevres pleases, 
Old ones crack. 

I could not die with you, 
For one must wait 
To shut the other's gaze down, 
You could not. 

And I, could I stand by 
And see you freeze, 
Without my right of frost, 
Death's privilege? 

Nor could I rise with you, 
Because your face 
Would put out Jesus', 
That new grace 

Grow plain and foreign 
On my homesick eye, 
Except that you, than he 
Shone closer by. 

They'd judge us how? 

For you served Heaven, you know, 

Or sought to; 

I could not, 

Because you saturated sight, 
And I had no more eyes 
For sordid excellence 
As Paradise. 

And were you lost, I would be, 

Though my name 

Rang loudest 

On the heavenly fame. 

And were you saved, 
And I condemned to be 
Where you were not, 
That self were hell to me. 

So we must keep apart, 

You there, I here, 

With just the door ajar 

That oceans are, 

And prayer, 

And that pale sustenance, 

Despair! 



OF COURSE I PRAYED 

Of course I prayed 

And did God care? 

He cared as much as 

On the air 

A bird had stamped her foot 

And cried "Give me!" 

My reason, life, 

I had not had, but for yourself. 

'Twere better charity 

To leave me in the atom's tomb, 

Merry and nought and gay and numb, 

Than this smart misery. 



THERE IS NO FRIGATE LIKE 
A BOOK 

There is no frigate like a book 

To take us lands away, 
Nor any coursers like a page 

Of prancing poetry. 
This traverse may the poorest take 

Without oppress of toll; 
How frugal is the chariot 

That bears a human soul! 



I HAD BEEN HUNGRY ALL 
THE YEARS 

I had been hungry all the years; 
My noon had come to dine; 
I, trembling, drew the table near, 
And touched the curious wine. 

'Twas this on tables I had seen, 
When turning, hungry, lone, 
I looked m windows, for the wealth 
I could not hope to own. 

I did not know the ample bread; 
'Twas so unlike the crumb 
The birds and I had often shared 
In Nature's dining-room. 

The plenty hurt me, 'twas so new, 
Myself felt ill and odd, 
As berry of a mountain bush 
Transplanted to the road. 



EMILY DICKINSON 



Nor was I hungry; so I found 
That hunger was a way 
Of persons outside windows, 
The entering takes away. 



I HEARD A FLY BUZZ WHEN 
I DIED 

I heard a fly buzz when I died; 

The stillness round my form 
Was like the stillness in the air 

Between the heaves of storm. 

The eyes beside had wrung them dry, 
And breaths were gathering sure 

For that last onset, when the king 
Be witnessed in his power. 

I willed my keepsakes, signed away 

What portion of me I 
Could make assignable, and then 

There interposed a fly, 

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz, 

Between the light and me; 
And then the windows failed, and then 

I could not see to see. 



THERE S A CERTAIN SLANT 
OF LIGHT 

There's a certain slant of light, 
On winter afternoons, 
That oppresses, like the weight 
Of cathedral tunes. 

Heavenly hurt it gives us; 
We can find no scar, 
But internal difference 
Where the meanings are. 

None may teach it anything, 
'Tis the seal, despair, 
An imperial affliction 
Sent us of the air. 

When it comes, the landscape listens, 
Shadows hold their breath; 
When it goes, 'tis like the distance 
On the look of death. 



I MEASURE EVERY GRIEF I MEET 

I measure every griet I meet 

With analytic eyes; 
I wonder it it weighs like mine, 

Or has an easier size. 

I wonder if they bore it long, 

Or did it just begin? 
I could not tell the date of mine, 

It feels so old a pain. 

I wonder if it hurts to live, 

And if they have to try, 
And whether, could they choose between, 

They would not rather die. 

I wonder if when years have piled 
Some thousands on the cause 

Of early hurt, it such a lapse 
Could give them any pause; 

Or would they go on aching still 

Through centuries above, 
Enlightened to a larger pain 

By contrast with the love. 

Thd grieved are many, I am told; 

The reason deeper lies, 
Death is but one and comes but once, 

And only nails the eyes. 

There's grief of want, and grief of cold, 

A sort they call "despair"; 
There's banishment from native eyes, 

In sight of native air. 

And though I may not guess the kind 

Correctly, yet to me 
A piercing comfort it affords 

In passing Calvary, 

To note the fashions of the cross, 

Of those that stand alone, 
Still fascinated to presume 

That some arc like my own. 



THE BRAIN IS WIDER THAN 
THE SKY 

The brain is wider than the sky, 
For, put them side by side, 



EMILY DICKINSON 



The one the other will include 
With ease, and you beside. 

The brain is deeper than the sea, 
For, hold them, blue to blue, 

The one the other will absorb, 
As sponges, buckets do. 

The brain is just the weight of God, 
For, lift them, pound for pound, 

And they will differ, if they do, 
As syllable from sound. 



BRING ME THE SUNSET 
IN A CUP 

Bring me the sunset in a cup, 
Reckon the morning's flagons up, 

And say how many dew; 
Tell me how far the morning leaps, 
Tell me what time the weaver sleeps 

Who spun the breadths of blue! 

Write me how many notes there be 
In the new robin's ecstasy 

Among astonished boughs; 
How many trips the tortoise makes, 
How many cups the bee partakes, 

The debauchee of dews' 

Also, who laid the rainbow's piers, 
Also, who leads the docile spheres 

By withes of supple blue? 
Whose fingers string the stalactite, 
Who counts the wampum of the night, 

To see that none is due? 

Who built this little Alban house 
And shut the windows down so close 

My spirit cannot see? 
Who'll let me out some gala day, 
With implements to fly away, 

Passing pomposity? 



THE TINT I CANNOT TAKE 
IS BEST 

The tint I cannot take is best, 
The color too remote 
That I could show it in bazaar 
A guinea at a sight 



The fine impalpable array 
That swaggers on the eye 
Like Cleopatra's company 
Repeated in the sky 

The moments of dominion 
That happen on the Soul 
And leave it with a discontent 
Too exquisite to tell 

The eager look on landscapes 
As if they just repressed 
Some secret that was pushing, 
Like chariots, in the breast 

The pleading of the Summer, 
That other prank of snow 
That covers mystery with tulle 
For fear the squirrels know 

Their graspless manners mock us, 
Until the cheated eye 
Shuts arrogantly in the grave, 
Another way to see. 



I DREADED THAT FIRST ROBIN SO 

I dreaded that first robin so, 

But he is mastered now, 

And I'm accustomed to him grown, 

He hurts a little, though. 

I thought if I could only live 
Till that first shout got by, 
Not all pianos in the woods 
Had power to mangle me. 

I dared not meet the daffodils, 
For fear their yellow gown 
Would pierce me with a fashion 
So foreign to my own. 

I wished the grass would hurry, 
So when 'twas time to see, 
He'd be too tall, the tallest one 
Could sfretch to look at me. 

I could not bear the bees should come, 
I wished they'd stay away 
In those dim countries where they go: 
What word had they for me? 



EMILY DICKINSON 



They're here, though; not a creature failed, 
No blossom stayed away 
In gentle deference to me, 
A Queen of Calvary. 

Each one salutes me as he goes, 
And I my childish plumes 
Lift, in bereaved acknowledgment 
Of their unthinking drums. * 



AFTER GREAT PAIN A FORMAL 
FEELING COMES 

After great pain a formal feeling comes 
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs; 
The stiff heart questions was it He that 

bore ? 
And yesterday or centuries before? 

The feet mechanical go round 

A wooden way, 

Of ground or air of Ought, 

Regardless grown; 

A quartz contentment like a stone. 

This is the hour of lead 
Remembered if outlived 
As freezing persons recollect 
The snow 

First chill, then stupor, then 
The letting go. 



A CEMETERY 

This quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies, 

And Lads and Girls; 
Was laughter and ability and sighing, 

And frocks and curls. 

This passive place a Summer's nimble man- 
sion, 

Where Bloom and Bees 
Fulfilled their Oriental Circuit, 

Then ceased like these. 



Be its mattress straight, 
Be its pillow round; 
Let no sunrise* yellow noise 
Interrupt this ground. 



ALTHOUGH I PUT AWAY 
HIS LIFE 

Although I put away his life, 
An ornament too grand 
For forehead low as mine to wear, 
This might have been the hand 

That sowed the flowers he preferred, 
Or smoothed a homely pain, 
Or puslied a pebble from his path, 
Or played his chosen tune 

On lute the least, the latest, 
But just his ear could know 
That whatsoe'er delighted it 
I never would let go. 

The foot to bear his errand 
A little boot I know 
Would leap abroad like antelope 
With just the grant to do. 

His weariest commandment 

A sweeter to obey 

Than "Hide and Seek," or skip to flutes, 

Or all day chase the bee. 

Your servant, Sir, will weary, 
The surgeon will not come, 
The world will have its own to do, 
The dust will vex your fame 

The cold will force your tightest door 
Some February day, 
But say my apron bring the sticks 
To make your cottage gay, 

That I may take that promise 
To Paradise with me 
To teach the angels avarice 
Your kiss first taught to me! 



AMPLE MAKE THIS BED 

Ample make this bed, 
Make this bed with awe; 
In it wait till judgment break 
Excellent and fair. 



THE WORLD FEELS DUSTY 

The world feels dusty 
When we stop to die; 
We want the dew then, 
Honors taste dry. 



po 

Flags vex a dying face, 
But the least fan 
Stirred by a friend's hand 
Cools like the rain. 

Mine be the ministry 
When thy thirst comes, 
Dews of thyself to fetch 
And holy balms. 

LIGHTLY STEPPED A YELLOW 
STAR 

Lightly stepped a yellow star 
To its lofty place, 
Loosed the Moon her silver hat 
From her lustral face. 



EMILY DICKINSON 

All of evening softly lit 

As an astral hall 

"Father," I observed to Heaven, 

"You are punctual!" 



GO NOT TOO NEAR A HOUSE 
OF ROSE 

Go not too near a house of rose, 
The depredation of a breeze 
Or inundation of a dew 
Alarm its walls away; 
Nor try to tie the butterfly; 
Nor climb the bars of ecstasy. 
In insecurity to lie 
Is joy's insuring quality. 



I RECKON, WHEN I COUNT AT ALL 

I reckon, when I count at all, 

First Poets then the Sun 

Then Summer then the Heaven of God 

And then the list is done. 

But looking back the first so seems 

To comprehend the whole 

The others look a needless show, 

So I write Poets All. 

Their summer lasts a solid year, 

They can afford a sun 

The East would deem extravagant, 

And if the final Heaven 

Be beautiful as they disclose 

To those who trust in them, 

It is too difficult a grace 

To justify the dream. 



BECAUSE THAT YOU ARE GOING 



Because that you are going 
And never coming back 
And I, however absolute 
May overlook your track 

Because that breath is final, 
However first it be 
This instant be suspended 
Above Mortality. 

Significance that each has lived 
The other to detect 
Discovery not God himself 
Could now annihilate. 



Eternity, Presumption 
The instant I perceive 
That you, who were existence 
Yourself forgot to live. 

The "Life that is" will then have been 
A thing I never knew, 
As Paradise fictitious 
Until the Realm of you. 

The "Life that is to be," to me 
A Residence too plain 
Unless in my Redeemer's Face 
I recognize your own. 



EMILY DICKINSON 

Of Immortality who doubts If "God is Love" as he admits 

He may exchange with me We think that he must be 

Curtailed by your obscuring Face Because he is a "jealous God" 

Of Everything but He. He tells as certainly. 

Of Heaven and Hell I also yield If "all is possible with him" 

The Right to reprehend As he besides concedes, 

To whoso would commute this Face He will refund as finally 

For his less priceless Friend. Our confiscated Gods. 



WHAT SOFT, CHERUBIC CREATURES 

What soft, cherubic creatures 

These gentlewomen are' 
One would as soon assault a plush 

Or violate a star. 

Such dimity convictions, 

A horror so refined 
Of freckled human nature, 

Of Deity ashamed, 

It's such a common glory, 

A fisherman's degree! 
Redemption, brittle lady, 

Be so ashamed of thcc. 



BECAUSE I COULD NOT STOP FOR DEATH 

Because I could not stop for Death, 
He kindly stopped for me; 
The carriage held but just ourselves 
And Immortality. 

We slowly drove, he knew no haste, 
And I had put away 
My labor, and my leisure too, 
For his civility. 

We passed the school where children played, 

Their lessons scarcely done; 

We passed the fields of gazing grain, 

We passed the setting sun. 

We paused before a house that seemed 
A swelling on the ground; 
The roof was scarcely visible, 
The cornice but a mound. 

Since then 'tis centuries; but each 
Feels shorter than the day 
I first surmised the horses' heads 
Were toward eternity. 



92 EMILY DICKINSON 

THE MOUNTAINS GROW UNNOTICED 

The mountains grow unnoticed, 
Their purple figures rise 
Without attempt, exhaustion, 
Assistance or applause. 

In their eternal faces 
The sun with broad delight 
Looks long and last and golden 
For fellowship at night. 



TRUTH IS AS OLD AS GOD 

Truth is as old as God, 

His twin identity 

And will endure as long as He, 

A co-eternity, 

And perish on the clay 

That He is borne away 

Fiom mansion of the universe, 

A lifeless Deity. 



John Hay 



JOHN HAY was born October 8, 1838, in Salem, Indiana, graduated from Brown 
University in 1858 and was admitted to the Illinois bar a few years later. At 
nineteen, when he went back to Warsaw, the little Mississippi town where he had 
lived as a boy, he dreamed only of being a poet a poet, it must be added, of the 
pleasantly conventional, transition type. But the Civil War was to disturb his mild 
fantasies. He went to the front and saw active service under General Hunter. He 
became private secretary to Lincoln, then major and assistant adjutant-general under 
General Gilmore, then a colonel by brevet, then secretary of the Legation at Pans, 
charge d'affaires at Vienna and Secretary of Legation at Madrid. 

His few vivid Pi\e County Ballads came more as a happy accident than as a 
deliberate creative cflort. When Hay returned from Spain m 1870, bringing with 
him his Castilian Days, he still had visions of becoming an orthodox lyric poet. But 
he found everyone reading Bret Harte's short stories and the new expression of the 
rude West. He speculated upon the possibility of doing something similar, translating 
the characters into poetry. The result was the six racy ballads in a vein utterly dif- 
ferent from everything Hay wrote before or after. The poet-politician seems to have 
regarded this series somewhat in the nature of light, extempore verse, belonging to a 
far lower plane than his serious publications; he talked about them reluctantly; he 
even hoped that these "diversions" would be forgotten. It is difficult to say whether 
this regret grew because Hay, loving the refinements of culture, at heart hated any 



JOHN HAY 9 ; 

suggestion of vulgarity, or because of a basic lack of courage Hay having published 
his novel of labor unrest in the early 8o's (The Eieadwinneis) anonymously. 

The fact remains, his rhymes of Pike County have survived all his more "clas- 
sical" lines. They served for a time as a fresh influence; they remain a creative 
accomplishment. "Banty Tim" is quoted not only ior its own sake, but as an inter- 
esting anticipation of Kipling's "Gunga Dm"; "Jim Bkulso" was the first of a long 
line of dramatic "recitations." 

Hay was in politics all the later part of his life, ranking as one of the most bril- 
liant Secretaries of State the country has ever had. Under President Hayes he was 
ambassador to Great Britain. In collaboration with J. G. Nicolay he wrote a most 
authoritative and vivid life of Lincoln, a biography which was uncqualed until Carl 
Sandburg's volumes. He died in 1905. 



> JIM BLUDSO 
OF THE PRAIRIE BELLE 

Wall, no' I can't ttll whar he lives, 

Becase he don't live, you sec; 
Leastways, he's got out of the habit 

Of livm' like you and me. ' 
Whar have you been for the last three year 

That you haven't heard folks tell 
How Jimmy Bludso passed in his checks 

The night of the Prairie Belle ? 

He warn't no saint, them engineers 

Is all pretty much alike, 
One wife in Natchez-undcr-thc-Hill 

And another one here, in Pike; 
A keerlcss man in his talk was Jim, 

And an awkward hand in a row, 
But he never flunked, and he never lied, 

I reckon he never knowed how. 

And this was all the religion he had: 

To treat his engine well; 
Never be passed on the river; 

To mind the pilot's bell; 
And if ever the Prairie Belle took fire, 

A thousand times he swore, 
He'd hold her nozzle agin the bank 

Till the last soul got ashore. 

All boats has their day on the Mississip, 

And her day come at last, 
The Movastar was a better boat, 

But the Belle she wouldn't be passed. 
And so she came tearm' along that night 

The oldest craft on the line 
With a nigger squat on her safety-valve, 

And her furnace crammed, rosin and pine. 



The fiic bust out as she clar'd the bar, 

And burnt a hole in the night, 
And quick as a flash she turned and made 

For that wilier-bank on the right. 
Thar was runnm' and cussm', but Jim yelled 
out, 

Over all the infernal roar, 
'Til hold her no/yle agin the bank 

Till the last galoot's ashore." 

Through the hot, black breath of the burnin' 
boat 

Jim Bludso's voice was heard, 
And they all had tiust in his cussedness, 

And knowed he would keep his woid. 
And, sine's you're born, they all got off 

Afore the smokestacks fell, 
And Bludso's ghost went up alone 

In the smoke of the Prairie Belle. 

He warn't no saint, but at judgement 

I'd run my chance with Jim, 
'Longside of some pious gentlemen 

That wouldn't shook hands with him. 
He seen his duty, a dead-sure thing, 

And went for it thar and then; 
And Christ ain't a-gom' to be too hard 

On a man that died for men. 



BANTY TIM 

(Remaps of Sergeant Tilmon Joy to the 
White Mans Committee of Spunky Point, 
Illinois) 

I reckon I git your drift, gents, 
You 'low the boy sha'n't stay; 



94 

This is a white man's country; 

You're Dimocrats, you say; 
And whereas, and seem', and wherefore, 

The times bein' all out o' j'int, 
The nigger has got to mosey 

From the limits o' Spunky P'int! 

Let's reason the thing a minute: 

I'm an old-fashioned Dimocrat too, 
Though I laid my politics out o' the way 

For to keep till the war was through. 
But I come back here, allowm' 

To vote as I used to do, 
Though it gravels me like the devil to train 

Along o' sich fools as you. 

Now dog my cats ef I kin see, 

In all the light of the day, 
What you've got to do with the question 

Ef Tim shill go or stay. 
And furder than that I give notice, 

Ef one of you tetches the boy, 
He km check his trunks to a warmer clime 

Than he'll find in Illanoy. 

Why, blame your hearts, jest hear me! 

You know that ungodly day 
When our left struck Vicksburg Heights, 
how ripped 

And torn and tattered we lay. 
When the rest retreated I stayed behind, 

Fur reasons sufficient to me, 



JOHN HAY 

With a rib caved in, and a leg on a strike, 
I sprawled on that damned glacee. 

Lord' how the hot sun went for us, 

And br'iled and blistered and burned! 
How the Rebel bullets whizzed round us 

When a cuss in his death-grip turned! 
Till along toward dusk I seen a thing 

I couldn't believe for a spell: 
That nigger that Tim was a-crawlin* to 
me 

Through that fire-proof, gilt-edged hell! 

The Rebels seen him as quick as me, 

And the bullets buzzed like bees; 
But he jumped for me, and shouldered me, 

Though a shot brought him once to his 

knees; 
But he staggered up, and packed me oil, 

With a dozen stumbles and falls, 
Till safe in our lines he drapped us both, 

His black hide riddled with balls. 

So, my gentle gazelles, thar's my answer, 

And here stays Banty Tim: 
He trumped Death's ace for me that day, 

And I'm not goin' back on him' 
You may rezoloot till the cows come home, 

But ef one of you tetches the boy, 
He'll wrastle his hash tonight in hell, 

Or my name's not Tilmon Joy! 



Bret Harte 



FRANCIS BRET HARTE was born August 25, 1839, at Albany, New York. (In cer- 
tain quarters doubt is thrown on the date of his birth. One or two sources 
maintain that a compositor, upsetting a 6, made the "correct" date, 1836, "wrongly" 
1839. However, practically all the encyclopedias and biographies agree upon 1839 as 
authentic.) His childhood was spent in various cities of the East. Late in 1853 his 
widowed mother went to California with a party of relatives, and two months later, 
when he was fifteen, Bret Harte and his sister followed. During the next few years 
he was engaged in school-teaching, typesetting, politics, mining and journalism, 
becoming editor of The Ovetland Monthly in San Francisco in 1868. 

Harte's fame came suddenly. Late in the Sixties he had written a burlesque in 
rhyme of two Western gamblers trying to fleece a guileless Chinaman who claimed 
to know nothing about cards, but who, it turned out, was scarcely as innocent as 



BRET HARTE 95 

he appeared. Harte, in the midst of writing serious poetry, had put the verses aside 
as too crude and trifling for publication. Some time later, just as The Overland 
Monthly was going to press, it was discovered that the form was one page short. 
Having nothing else on hand, Harte had these rhymes set up. Instead of passing 
unnoticed, the poem was quoted everywhere; it swept the West and captivated the 
East. When The Luc\ of Roaring Camp followed, Harte became not only a national 
but an international figure. England acclaimed him and The Atlantic Monthly paid 
him $10,000 to write for a year in his Pike County vein. 

East and West Poems appeared in 1871; in 1872 Harte published an enlarged 
Poetical Worlds including many earlier pieces. His scores of short stories represent 
Harte at his best; "M'liss," "Tennessee's Partner," "The Outcast of Poker Flat" 
these are the work of a lesser, transplanted Dickens. His novels are of minor im- 
portance; they are carelessly constructed, theatrically conceived. 

His serious poetry has many of the faults of his prose. A melodramatic crudeness 
alternates with an equally exaggerated sentimentahsm; even those verses not in 
dialect (like "What the Bullet Sang") suffer from defects of emphasis. But the 
occasional verse will remain to delight readers who rarely glance at Harte's other 
work except for documentation. 

In 1872 Harte, encouraged by his success, returned to his native East; in 1878 he 
went to Germany as consul at Crefeld. Two years later he was transferred to Scot- 
land and, after five years there, went to London, where he remained the rest of his 
life. Harte's later period remains mysteriously shrouded. He never came back to 
America, not even for a visit; he ceased to correspond with his family; he separated 
himself from all the most intimate associations of his early life. He died, suddenly, at 
Camberley, England, May 6, 1902. 

"JIM" Well, this yer Jim, 

Did you know him? 
Say there' Praps j es > bout your S1ZC . 

Some on you chaps Same kmd of eyes; __ 

Might know Jim Wild? Well, that is strange: 

Well no offense: W hy, lt > s two year 

Thar ain't no sense Smce he came here> 

In gittm' riled! Sickj or a c h ang e. 

Jim was my chum Well, here's to us: 

Up on the Bar: Eh? 

That's why I come The h you say I 

Down from up yar, Dead? 

Lookin' for Jim. That little cuss? 
Thank ye, sir! You 

Ain't of that crew, What makes you star', 

Blest if you are! You over thar? 

Can't a man drop 

Money? Not much: 's glass in yer shop 

That ain't my kind; But you must r'ar? 

I ain't no such. It wouldn't take 

Rum? I don't mind, D d much to break 

Seein' it's you. You and your bar. 



9 6 



Dead! 

Poor little Jim! 
Why, thar was me, 
Jones, and Bob Lee, 
Harry and Ben, 
No-account men: 
Then to take him! 

Well, thar-Good-by. 
No more, sir I 

Eh? 

What's that you say? 
Why, dern it! sho' 
No? Yes' By Joe! 

Sold! 

Sold! Why, you limb. 
You ornery, 

Derned, old, 
Long-legged Jim. 



PLAIN LANGUAGE FROM 
TRUTHFUL JAMES 

(Table Mountain, iSjo) 

Which I wish to remark, 

And my language is plain, 
That for ways that are dark 

And for tricks that are vain, 
The heathen Chinee is peculiar, 

Which the same I would rise to explain. 

Ah Sin was his name; 

And I shall not deny, 
In regard to the same, 

What that name might imply; 
But his smile it was pensive and childlike, 

As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye. 

It was August the third, 

And quite soft was the skies; 
Which it might be inferred 

That Ah Sin was likewise; 
Yet he played it that day upon William 

And me in a way I despise. 

Which we had a small game, 

And Ah Sin took a hand: 
It was Euchre. The same 

He did not understand; 
But he smiled as he sat by the table, 

With a smile that was childlike and bland. 



BRET HARTE 

Yet the cards they were stocked 

In a way that I grieve, 
And my feelings were shocked 

At the state of Nye's sleeve, 
Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers, 

And the same with intent to deceive. 

But the hands that were played 

By that heathen Chinee, 
And the points that he made, 

Were quite frightful to see, 
Till at last he put down a right bower, 

Which the same Nye had dealt unto me! 

Then I looked up at Nye, 

And he gazed upon me; 
And he rose with a sigh, 

And said, "Can this be? 
We arc ruined by Chinese cheap labor," 

And he went for that heathen Chinee. 

In the scene that ensued 

I did not take a hand, 
But the floor it was strewed 

Like the leaves on the strand 
With the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding, 

In the game "he did not understand." 

In his sleeves, which were long, 

He has twenty-four packs, 
Which was coming it strong, 

Yet I state but the facts; 
And we found on his nails, which were taper, 

What is frequent in tapers, that's wax. 

Which is why I remark, 

And my language is plain, 
That for ways that are dark 

And for tricks that are vain, 
The heathen Chinee is peculiar, 

Which the same I am free to maintain. 



WHAT THE BULLET SANG 

O joy of creation, 
To be! 

rapture, to fly 
And be free! 

Be the battle lost or won, 

Though the smoke shall hide the sun, 

1 shall find my love, the one 
Born for me! 



BRET HARTE 

I shall know him where he stands 

All alone, 
With the power in his hands 

Not o'crthrown; 
I shall know him hy his face, 
By his godlike front and grace; 
I shall hold him for a space 

All my own! 

It is he O my love! 

So bold! 
It is I all thy love 

Foretold' 

It is I O love, what bliss' 
Dost thou answer to my kiss? 
O sweetheart' what is this 

Lieth there so cold? 



THE AGED STRANGER 
(An Incident of the Civil Wat) 

"I was with Grant" the stranger said; 

Said the farmer, "Say no more, 
But rest thcc here at my cottage porch, 

For thy feet are weary and sore." 

"I was with Grant"- the stranger said; 
Said the farmer, "Nay, no more. 



97 

I prithee sit at my frugal board, 
And eat ot my humble store. 

"How fares my boy, my soldier boy, 

Of the old Ninth Army Corps? 
I warrant he bore him gallantly 

In the smoke and the battle's roar!" 

"I know him not," said the aged man, 

"And, as I remarked before, 
I was with Grant" "Nay, nay, I know," 

Said the farmer, "say no more. 

"He fell in battle, I sec, alas' 
Thou'dst smooth these tidings o'er. 

Nay, speak the truth, whatever it be, 
Though it icnd my bosom's core." 

"I cannot tell," said the aged man, 
"And should have remarked before, 

That I was with Grant, in Illinois, 
Three years before the war." 

Then the farmer spake him never a word, 

But beat with his fist full sore 
That aged man, who had worked for Grant 

Three years before the war. 



Joaquin Miller 



JOAQUIN MILLER was, as he desired to be, a mysterious figure. The date of his birth 
is conjectural; even his name is a matter of doubt. However, from recent evi- 
dence particularly the researches of Frank R. Readc it seems safe to say that his 
name was originally Cincmnatus Hmcr Miller: Cmcmnatus, according to his brother, 
"for a certain Roman General (') and mother named him Hiner for Dr. Hiner, 
who brought him into the world." Although Joaquin Miller claimed that his middle 
name was "Heine" and that his mother named him Heine because of her love for 
the German poet, there is proof that Miller adopted the Heine after he had heard 
of the author of Buck der Lieder. The date of his birth is also disputed. March tenth 
seems to be the favored day assigned to his entry into the world and, although 1839 
has been advanced as the latest "definite" date, most biographers choose 1841 as the 
year in which Miller was born. 

A few facts are indisputable. Miller was of mixed Dutch anc! Scotch stock, his 
father's father having been killed at Fort Meigs in the War of 1812. As Miller 
himself wrote (and this particular bit of biography has stood the scrutiny of his more 



9 8 JOAQUIN MILLER 

exact commentators), "My cradle was a covered wagon, pointed west. I was born in 
a covered wagon, I am told, at or about the time it crossed the line dividing Indiana 
from Ohio." When Miller was twelve, his family left the mid- West with "two big 
heavily laden wagons, with eight yoke of oxen to each, a carriage and two horses 
for mother and baby sister, and a single horse for the three boys to ride." The dis- 
tance covered in their cross-country exodus (they took a roundabout route to Oregon) 
was nearly three thousand miles and the time consumed was more than seven 
months. 

At fifteen we find Miller living with the Indians as one of them; in 1859 (at the 
age of eighteen) he attends a mission-school "college" in Eugene, Oregon; between 
1860 and 1865 he is express-messenger, editor of a pacifist newspaper that is sup- 
pressed for opposing the Civil War, lawyer and, occasionally, a poet. He holds a 
minor judgeship from 1866 to 1870. 

His first book (Specimens) appears in 1868, his second (Joaquin et al. t from 
which he took his name) in 1869. No response not even from "the bards of San 
Francisco Bay" to whom he had dedicated the latter volume. He is chagrined, dis- 
couraged, angry. He resolves to quit America, to go to the land that has always 
been the nursing-ground of poets. "Three months later, September i, 1870, I was 
kneeling at the grave of Burns. I really expected to die there in the land of my 
fathers." He arrives in London, unheralded, unknown. He takes his manuscripts to 
one publisher after another with the same negative result. Finally, with a pioneer 
desperation, he prints privately one hundred copies of his Pacific Poems, sending 
them out for review. The result is a sensation; the reversal of Miller's fortunes is 
one of the most startling in all literature. The reviews are a series of superlatives, 
the personal tributes still more fervid. Miller becomes famous overnight. He is 
feted, lauded, lionized; he is ranked as an equal of Browning, given a dinner by 
the Pre-Raphaclites, acclaimed as "the great interpreter of America," "the Byron 
of Oregon!" 

His dramatic success in England is easily explained. He brought to the calm air of 
literary London a breath of the great winds of the plain. The more he exaggerated 
his crashing effects, the louder he roared, the better the English public liked it. 
When he entered Victorian parlors in his velvet jacket, hip-boots and flowing hair, 
childhood visions of the "wild and woolly Westerner" were realized and the very 
bombast of his work was glorified as "typically American." 

And yet, for all his overstressed muscularity, Miller is strangely lacking in creative 
energy. His whipped-up rhetoric cannot disguise the essential weakness of his verse. 
It is, in spite of a certain breezmess and a few magnificent descriptions of canons and 
mountain-chains, feeble, full of cheap heroics, atrocious taste, impossible men and 
women. One or two individual poems, like "Crossing the Plains," "The Yukon," 
and parts of his apostrophes to the Sierras, the Pacific Ocean and the Missouri River 
may live; the rest seem doomed to extinction. 

From 1872 to 1876 Miller traveled in Europe and the Holy Land, and, although 
he speaks of being in Egypt in 1879, there is good ground for believing this to be 
another romantic exaggeration. At all events, he built a log cabin in Washington in 
1883, after spending some time in Boston and New York. After being married for 
the third time, he returned to California in 1885. In 1886 he bought "The Hights" 



JOAQUIN MILLER 



99 



and tried to found an experimental Greek Academy tor aspiring writers. Me died 
there, after a determinedly picturesque life, m sight of the Golden Gate in 1913. 



BY THE PACIFIC OCEAN 

Here room and kingly silence keep 
Companionship in state austere; 
The dignity of death is here, 
The large, lone vastness of the deep. 
Here toil has pitched his camp to rest: 
The west is banked against the west. 

Above yon gleaming skies of gold 
One lone imperial peak is seen; 
While gathered at his feet in green 
Ten thousand foresters arc told. 
And all so still' so still the air 
That duty drops the web of care. 

Beneath the sunset's golden sheaves 

The awful deep walks with the deep, 

Where silent sea-doves slip and sweep, 

And commerce keeps her loom and weaves. 

The dead red men refuse to rest; 

Their ghosts illume my lurid West. 



> CROSSING THE PLAINS 

What great yoked brutes with briskets low, 
With wrinkled necks like buffalo, 
With round, brown, liquid, pleading eyes, 
That turn'd so slow and sad to you. 
That shone like love's eyes soft with tears, 
That secm'd to plead, and make replies, 
The while they bow'd their necks and drew 
The creaking load; and looked at you. 
Their sable briskets swept the ground, 
Their cloven feet kept solemn sound. 

Two sullen bullocks led the line, 
Their great eyes shining bright like wine; 
Two sullen captive kings were they, 
That had in time held herds at bay, 
And even now they crush'd the sod 
With stolid sense of majesty, 
And stately stepp'd and stately trod, 
As if 'twere something still to be 
Kings even in captivity. 



FROM BYRON 

In men whom men condemn as ill 

I find so much of goodness still, 

In men whom men pronounce divine 

I find so much oh sin and blot, 

I do not dare to draw a line 

Between the two, where God has not. 



THE ARCTIC MOON 

(pom "The Yu{on") 

The moon resumed all heaven now, 

She shepherded the stars below 

Along her wide, white sleeps of snow, 

Nor stooped nor rested, where or how. 

She bared her full white breast, she dared 

The sun to show his face again. 

She seemed to know no change, she kept 

Carousal constantly, nor slept, 

Nor turned aside a breath, nor spared 

The fear! ul meaning, the mad pain, 

The weary eyes, the poor dazed brain, 

That came at last to feel, to see 

The dread, dead touch of lunacy. 

How loud the bilcnce' Oh, how loud! 
How more than beautiful the shroud 
Of dead Light in the moon-mad north 
When great torch-tipping stars stand forth 
Above the black, slow-moving pall 
As at some fearful funeral' 

The moon blares as mad trumpets blare 
To marshaled warriors long and loud; 
The cobalt blue knows not a cloud, 
But, oh, beware that moon, beware 
Her ghostly, graveyard, moon-mad stare I 
Beware white silence more than white! 
Beware the five-horned starry rune; 
Beware the groaning gorge below; 
Beware the wide, white world of snow, 
Where trees hang white as hooded nun 
No thing not white, not one, not one! 
But most beware that mad white moon. 



ioo EDWARD ROWLAND SILL 



Edward Rowland Sill 

EDWARD ROWLAND SILL was born at Windsor, Connecticut, in 1841. In 1861 he was 
graduated from Yale and shortly thereafter his poor health compelled him to 
go West. After various unsuccessful experiments, he drifted into teaching, first in 
the high schools in Ohio, later in the English department of the University of Cali- 
fornia. His uncertain physical condition added to his mental insecurity. Unable to 
ally himself either with the conservative forces whom he hated or with the radicals 
whom he distrusted, Sill became an uncomfortable solitary; half rebellious, half 
resigned. During the last decade of his life, his brooding seriousness was less pro- 
nounced, a lighter irony took the place of dark reflections. Although Sill remains 
among the minor poets both in scope and style, a few of his poems (such as "The 
Fool's Prayer" and "Opportunity") have established themselves securely. 

The Ho milage, his first volume, was published in 1867, a later edition (including 
later poems) appearing in 1889. His two posthumous books are Poems (1887) and 
Hermione and Other Poems (1899). A volume of his prose "essays in literature and 
education" was published in 1900. His later and little known work deserved and 
deserves a wider audience. It established a serenity that was not without flashes 
of spirit, a gravity compounded with quiet wit. 

Sill died, after bringing something of the Eastern culture and "finish" to the 
West, in 1887. 

OPPORTUNITY 

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream: 
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain; 
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged 
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords 
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner 
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes. 
A craven hung along the battle's edge, 
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel 
That blue blade that the king's son bears, but this 
Blunt thing !" he snapt, and flung it from his hand, 
And lowering crept away and left the field. 
Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead, 
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword, 
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand, 
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout 
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down, 
And saved a great cause that heroic day. 



THE FOOL S PRAYER 

The royal feast was done; the King 
Sought some new sport to banish care, 

And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool, 

Kneel now, and make for us a prayer 1" 



EDWARD ROWLAND SILL I0f 

The jester doffed his cap and bells, 

And stood the mocking court before; 
They could not see the bitter smile 

Behind the painted grin he wore. 

He bowed his head, and bent his knee 

Upon the monarch's silken stool; 
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord, 

Be merciful to me, a fool' 

" 'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep 

Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay; 
J Tis by our follies that so long 

We hold the earth from heaven away. 

"These clumsy feet, still in the mire, 

Go crushing blossoms without end; 
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust 

Among the heart-strings of a friend. 

''The ill-timed truth we might have kept 
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung? 

The word we had not sense to say 
Who knows how grandly it had rung? 

"Our faults no tenderness should ask, 

The chastening stripes must cleanse them all; 

But for our blunders oh, in shame 
Before the eyes of heaven we fall. 

"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes; 

Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool 
That did his will; but Thou, O Lord, 

Be merciful to me, a fool!" 

The room was hushed; in silence rose 

The King, and sought his gardens cool, 
And walked apart, and murmured low, 

"Be merciful to me, a fool!" 



Sidney Lamer 

LANIER was born at Macon, Georgia, February 3, 1842. His was a family 
O of musicians (Lamer himself was a skillful performer on various instruments), 
and it is not surprising that his verse emphasizes even overstresses the influence 
of music on poetry. He attended Oglcthorpe College, graduating at the age of eight- 
een (1860), and, a year later, volunteered as a private in the Confederate army. After 
several months' imprisonment (he had been captured while acting as signal officer 



702 SIDNEY LANIER 

on a blockade-runner), Lanier was released in February, 1865, returning from Point 
Lookout to Georgia on foot, accompanied only by his flute. His physical health, 
never the most robust, had been further impaired by his incarceration, and he was 
already suffering from tuberculosis. The rest of his life was spent in an unequal 
struggle against it. 

He was now only twenty-three years old and the problem of choosing a vocation 
was complicated by his marriage in 1867. He spent five years in the study and 
practice of law, during which time he wrote comparatively little verse. But the law 
could not hold him; he felt premonitions of death and realized he must devote his 
talents to art before it was too late. He was fortunate enough to obtain a position 
as flautist with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in 1873 in Baltimore, where he 
had free access to the music and literature he craved. Here he wrote all his best 
poetry. In 1879, he was made lecturer on English in Johns Hopkins University, and 
it was for his courses there that he wrote his chief prose work, a brilliant if incon- 
clusive study, The Science of English Verse. Besides his poetry, he wrote several 
books for boys, the two most popular being The Boys' Froissart (1878) and The 
Boys King Arthur (1880). 

Lamer's poetry suffers from his all too frequent theorizing, his too-conscious ef- 
fort to bring verse over into the province of pure music. He thought almost en- 
tirely in terms of musical form. His main theory that English verse has for its es- 
sential basis not accent but a strict musical quantity is a wholly erroneous conclu- 
sion, possible only to one who could write "whatever turn I have for art is purely 
musical poetry being with me a mere tangent into which I shoot." Lanier is at 
his best in his ballads, although a few of his lyrics have a similar spontaneity. In 
spite of novel schemes of rhythm and stanza-structure, much of his work is marred 
by strained effects, literary conceits (especially his use of pseudo-Shakespearean 
images) and a kind of verse that approaches mere pattern-making. But such a ballad 
as the "Song of the Chattahoochce," lyrics like "Night and Day," and parts of the 
symphonic "Hymns of the Marshes" have won a place in American literature. His 
triumphs over the exigencies of disease and his accomplishments in two arts were 
the result of undefeated spirit, a bravery that dazzled his commentators, who con- 
fused the attainments of courage with those of creation. 

A comprehensive collection of Lamer's verse was first issued in 1906: Collected 
Poems of Sidney Lamer, edited by his wife, with a memorial by William Hayes 
Ward. It includes not only the poet's well-known musical experiments, but the rarely 
printed dialect verses and all that remains of "The Jacquerie." 

Lanier died, a victim of his disease, in the mountains of North Carolina, Septem- 
ber 7, 1881. 

SONG OF THE CHATTAHOOCHEE With a lover's pain to attain the plain 

^ riin / TT i L F ar fr m the hills of Habersham, 

Out of the h, Is of Habersham, Faf from ^ yall Q ^ 

Down the valleys of Hall, ' 

I hurry amain to reach the plain, All down the hills of Habersham, 

Run the rapid and leap the fall, All through the valleys of Hall, 

Split at the rock and together again, The rushes cried Abide, abide, 

Accept my bed, or narrow or wide, The willful waterweeds held me thrall, 

And flee from folly on every side The laving laurel turned my tide, 



SIDNEY LANIER 

The ferns and the fondling grass said Stay, 
The dewberry dipped for to work delay, 
And the little reeds sighed Abide, abide, 

Here in the hills of Habersham, 

Here in the valleys of Hall. 

High o'er the hills of Habersham, 

Veiling the valleys of Hall, 
The hickory told me manifold 
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall 
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold, 
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine, 
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and 

sign, 
Said, Pass not, so cold, these manifold 

Deep shades of the hills of Habersham, 

These glades in the valleys of Hall. 

And oft in the hills of Habersham, 

And oft in the valleys of Hall, 
The white quartz shone, and the smooth 

brook-stone 

Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl, 
And many a luminous jewel lone 
Crystals clear or acloud with mist, 
Ruby, garnet and amethyst 
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone 

In the clefts of the hills of Habersham, 

In the beds of the valleys of Hall. 

But oh, not the hills of Habersham, 
And oh, not the valleys of Hall 



103 

Avail: I am fain for to water the plain. 
Downward the voices of Duty call 
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the 

main, 
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to 

turn, 

And a myriad flowers mortally yearn, 
And the lordly mam from beyond the plain 
Calls o'er the hills of Habersham, 
Calls through the valleys of Hall. 

NIGHT AND DAY 

The innocent, sweet Day is dead. 
Dark Night hath slain her in her bed. 
O, Moors are as fierce to kill as to wed! 
Put out the light, said he. 

A sweeter light than ever rayed 
From star of heaven or eye of maid 
Has vanished in the unknown Shade 
She's dead, she's dead, said he. 

Now, in a wild, sad after-mood 
The tawny Ntght sits still to brood 
Upon the dawn-time when he wooed 
I would she lived, said he. 

Star-memories of happier times, 
Of loving deeds and lovers' rhymes, 
Throng forth in silvery pantomimes. 
Come back, O Day' said he. 



FROM THE MARSHES OF GLYNN 

Inward and outward to northward and southward the beach-lines linger and curl 

As a silver-wrought garment clings to and follows the firm sweet limbs of a girl, 

Vanishing, swerving, evermore curving again into sight, 

Softly the sand-beach wavers away to a dim gray looping of light. 

And what if behind me to westward the wall of the woods stands high? 

The world lies east: how ample, the marsh and the sea and the sky! 

A league and a league of marsh-grass, waist-high, broad in the blade, 
Green, and all of a height, and unflecked with a light or a shade, 
Stretch leisurely off, in a pleasant plain, 
To the terminal blue of the main. 



Ye marshes, how candid and simple and nothing-withholding and free 
Ye publish yourselves to the sky and offer yourselves to the sea! 
Tolerant plains, that suffer the sea and the rams and the sun, 
Ye spread and span like the catholic man who hath mightily woo 



T04 SIDNEY LAN1ER 

God out of knowledge and good out of infinite pain 
And sight out of blindness and purity out of a stain. 

As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod, 

Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God: 

I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies 

In the freedom that fills all the space 'twixt the marsh and the skies: 

By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod 

I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God: 

Oh, like to the greatness of God is the greatness within 

The range of the marshes, the liberal marshes of Glynn. 

And the sea lends large, as the marsh: lo, out of his plenty the sea 
Pours fast: full soon the time of the flood-tide must be: 
Look how the grace of the sea doth go 
About and about through the intricate channels that flow 
Here and there, 

Everywhere, 

Till his waters have flooded the uttermost creeks and the low-lying lanes, 
And the marsh isjneshed with a million veins, 
That like as with rosy and silvery essences flow 
In the rose-and-silver evening glow. 

Farewell, my lord Sun! 
The creeks overflow: a thousand rivulets run 
'Twixt the roots of the sod; the blades of the marsh-grass stir; 
Passeth a hurrying sound of wings that westward whirr; 
Passeth, and all is still; and the currents cease to run; 
And the sea and the marsh are one. 
How still the plains of the waters be! 
The tide in his ecstasy. 
The tide is at his highest height: 

And it is night. 

And now from the Vast of the Lord will the waters of sleep 

Roll in on the souls of men, 

But who will reveal to our waking ken 

The forms that swim and the shapes that creep 

Under the waters of sleep? 

And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in 
On the length and breadth of the marvelous marshes of Glynn. 

SONG FOR "THE JACQUERIE" 

The hound was cuffed, the hound was kicked, 
O' the ears was cropped, o* the tail was nicked, 
(AH.) Oo-hoo-o, howled the hound. 

The hound into his kennel crept; 
He rarely wept, he never slept. 
His mouth he always open kept 
Licking his bitter wound, 

The hound, 
(All.) U-lu-lo, howled the hound. 



SIDNEY LAN1ER 105 

A star upon his kennel shone 
That showed the hound a meat-bare bone. 
(All.) O hungry was the hound' 

The hound had but a churlish wit. 
He seized the bone, he crunched, he bit. 
"An thou wert Master, I had slit 

Thy throat with a huge wound," 

Quo* hound. 
(All.) O, angry was the hound. 

The star in castle-window shone, 
The Master lay abed, alone. 
(All.) Oh ho, why not? quo' hound. 

He leapt, he seized the throat, he tore 
The Master, head from neck, to floor, 
And rolled the head i* the kennel door, 
And fled and salved his wound, 

Good hound! 
(All.) U-lu-lo, howled the hound. 



A BALLAD OF THE TREES AND THE MASTER 

Into the woods my Master went, 

Clean forspent, forspent. 

Into the woods my Master came, 

Forspent with love and shame. 

But the olives they were not blind to Him, 

The little gray leaves were kind to Him: 

The thorn-tree had a mind to Him 

When into the woods He came. 

Out of the woods my Master went, 

And He was well content. 

Out of the woods my Master came, 

Content with death and shame. 

When Death and Shame would woo Him last, 

From under the trees they drew Him last: 

'Twas on a tree they slew Him last 

When out of the woods He came. 



James Whitcomb Rilcy 

JAMES WHITCOMB RiLEY, possibly the most widely read native poet of his day, was 
born October 7, 1849, in Greenfield, Indiana, a small town twenty miles from 
Indianapolis, where he spent his later years. Contrary to popular belief, Riley was 
not, as many have gathered from his bucolic poems, a struggling child of the soil; 
his father was a lawyer in comfortable circumstances, and Riley was given not only 
a good education, but was prepared for the law. His temperament, however, craved 



Io6 JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY 

something more adventurous. At eighteen he shut the pages of Blackstone, slipped 
out of the office and joined a traveling troupe of actors who sold patent medicines 
during the intermissions. Riley's functions were varied: he beat the bass-drum, 
painted their flaring banners, wrote local versions of old songs, coached the actors 
and, when occasion arose, took part in the performance himself. 

Even before this time, Riley had begun to send verses to the newspapers, young 
experiments, bits of homely sentiment, simple snatches and elaborate hoaxes the 
poem "Leonainie," published over the initials "E. A. P.," being accepted in many 
quarters as a newly discovered poem by Poe. In 1882, when he was on the staff of 
the Indianapolis Journal, he began printing the series ot dialect poems which he 
claimed were by a rude and unlettered farmer, one "Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone, 
the Hoosier poet." A collection of these rustic verses appeared, in 1883, as The Ole 
Swimmin' Hole, and Riley leaped into widespread popularity. 

Other collections followed rapidly: Ajterwhiles (1887), Old-Fashioned Roses 
(1888), Pipes o' Pan at Ze^esbwy (1889), Rhymes of Childhood (1890). All met 
an instant response; Riley endeared himself, by his homely idiom and his ingenuity, 
to a countryful of readers, adolescent and adult. 

But Riley 's simplicity is seldom as artless as it seems. Time and again, one can 
watch him trading wantonly on the emotions of his unsophisticated readers. He sees 
them about to smile and broadens the point of his joke; he observes them on the 
point of tears and pulls out the sobbing tremolo stop. In many respects he is pat- 
ently the most artificial of those poets who claim to give us the stuff of the soil. He is 
the poet of obtrusive sentiment rather than of quiet convictions, the poet of lulling 
assurance, of philosophies that never disturb his readers, of sweet truisms rather 
than searching truths. His influence has given rise to an entire school of "cheerful 
philosophy" versifiers; its lowest ebb may be seen in the newspaper columns of the 
"A Smile a Day" variety and the syndicated syrup of Edgar A. Guest. 

That work of his which may endure will survive because of the personal flavor 
that Riley often gave it. Such poems as "When the Frost Is on the Punkm," and 
"The Raggedy Man," seem part of American folk-literature; "Little Orphant Annie" 
was read wherever there was a schoolhouse or, for that matter, a nursery. 

Riley died in his little house in Lockerbie Street, Indianapolis, July 22, 1916. 

WHEN THE FROST IS ON THE PUNKIN 

When the frost is on the punkm and the fodder's in the shock, 

And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock, 

And the clackm* of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens, 

And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence; 

O, it's then the time a feller is a-feclin* at his best, 

With the nsin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest, 

As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock, 

When the frost is on the punkm and the fodder's in the shock. 

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere 
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here 
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees, 
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees; 



JAMES WH1TCOMB RILEY 107 

But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze 
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days 
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colonn' to mock 
When the frost is on the punkm and the fodder's in the shock. 

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn, 
And the raspm' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn; 
The stuhbie in the furrics kindo* lonesome-like, but still 
A-preachm' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed; 
The bosses in theyr stalls below the clover overhead! 
O, it sets my hart a-chckin' like the tickin' of a clock, 
When the frost is on the punkm and the fodder's in the shock. 

Then your apples all is gcthcred, and the ones a feller keeps 

Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yallcr heaps; 

And your cidcr-makin's over, and your wimmern-tolks is through 

With thcyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too! , 

I don't know how to tell it but ct such a thing could be 

As the angels wantm* boardm', and they'd call around on me 

I'd want to 'commodatc 'em all the whole-indurm' flock 

When the frost is on the punkm and the fodder's in the shock. 



A PARTING GUEST 

What delightful hosts are they 

Life and Love' 
Lingcnngly I turn away, 

This late hour, yet glad enough 
They have not withheld from me 

Their high hospitality. 
So, with lace lit with delight 

And all gratitude, I stay 

Yet to press their hands and say, 
"Thanks. So fine a time' Good night." 



Eugene Field 

A .THOUGH Eugene Field was born September 2, 1850, in St. Louis, Missouri, his 
work belongs to the literature of the West. Colorado and the Rocky Mountain 
region claimed him as their own and Field never repudiated the allegiance; he even 
called most of his poetry "Western Verse." 

Field's area of education embraced New England, Missouri, and what European 
territory he could cover in six months. At twenty-three he became a reporter on 
the St. Louis Evening Journal; the rest of his life was given, with a dogged devo- 
tion, to journalism. Driven by the demands of his unique daily columns (those on 
the Denver Tribune [1881-1883] and the Chicago Daily News [1883-1805] were 



io8 



EUGENE FIELD 



widely copied), Field first capitalized and then standardized his high spirits, his 
erudition, his whimsicality, his fondness for children. He wrote so often with his 
tongue in his cheek that it is difficult to say where true sentiment stops and where 
exaggerated sentimentality begins. "Field," says Fred Lewis Pattee, in his detailed 
study of American Literature Since 1870, "more than any other writer of the period, 
illustrates the way the old type of literary scholar was to be modified and changed 
by the newspaper. Every scrap of Field's voluminous product was written for im- 
mediate newspaper consumption. . . . He was a pioneer in a peculiar province: he 
stands for the journalization of literature, a process that, if carried to its logical ex- 
treme, will make of the man of letters a mere newspaper reporter." 

Though Field was overrated by his confreres, some of his child lyrics, his homely 
philosophic ballads (in the vein which HarLe and Riley popularized) and his bur 
lesques won him, for the time, a conspicuous place. Readers of all tastes found much 
to delight them in A Little Boof( of Western Verse (1889), With Tiumpet and 
Drum (1892), A Second Boof( of Verse (1893) and those remarkable versions (and 
perversions) of Horace, Echoes from the Sabine Farm (1893), written m collabo* 
ration with his equally adroit though practically unknown brother, Roswell M 
Field. A complete one-volume edition of his verse was issued in 1910. 

Field died in Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 1895. 



OUR TWO OPINIONS 

Us two wuz boys when we fell out, 

Nigh to the age uv my youngest now; 
Don't rec'lect what 'twuz about, 

Some small deefPrence, I'll allow. 
Lived next neighbors twenty years, 

A-hatin' each other, me 'nd Jim, 
He havin' his opinyin uv me, 

'Nd / havin' my opinyin uv him. 

Grew up together J nd wouldn't speak, 

Courted sisters, 'nd marr'd 'em, too; 
Tended same meetin'-house oncet a week, 

A-hatin' each other through 'nd through' 
But when Abe Lmkern asked the West 

F'r soldiers, we answered, me 'nd Jim, 
He havin' his opinyin uv me, 

'Nd / havin' my opinyin uv him. 

But down in Tennessee one night 

Trier* wuz sound uv firm' fur away, 
'Nd the sergeant allowed ther'd be a fight 

With the Johnnie Rebs some time nex j 

day; 
'Nd as I wuz thinkin' uv Lizzie 'nd home 

Jim stood afore me, long 'nd slim, 
He havin' his opinyin uv me, 

'Nd / havin' my opinyin uv him. 



Seemed like we knew triers wuz goin' lo be 

Serious trouble f r me 'nd him; 
Us two shuck hands, did Jim 'nd me, 

But never a word from me or Jim! 
He went his way 'nd / went mine, 

'Nd into the battle's roar went we, 
7 havin' my opinyin uv ]im, 

'Nd he havin' his opinyin uv me. 

Jim never came back from the war again, 

But I hain't forgot that last, last night 
When, waitin' f'r orders, us two men 

Made up 'nd shuck hands, afore the fight. 
'Nd after it all, it's soothin' to know 

That here I be 'nd younder's Jim, 
He havin' his opinyin uv me, 

'Nd / havin' my opinyin uv him. 



LITTLE BOY BLUE 

The little toy dog is covered with dust, 

But sturdy and staunch he stands; 
The little toy soldier is red with rust, 

And his musket molds in his hands. 
Time was when the little toy dog was new. 

And the soldier was passing fair; 
And that was the time when our Little Boy 
Blue 

Kissed them and put them there. 



EUGENE FIELD 109 

"Now don't you go till I come," he said, Aye, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand, 

"And don't you make any noise!" Each in the same old place, 

So, toddling off to his trundle bed, Awaiting the touch of a little hand, 

He dreamt of the pretty toys; The smile of a little face; 

And, as he was dreaming, an angel song And they wonder, as waiting the long years 

Awakened our Little Boy Blue through 
Oh! the years are many, the years are In the dust of that little chair, 

long, What has become of our Little Boy Blue, 

But the little toy friends are true! Since he kissed them and put them there, 



SEEIN THINGS 

I ain't afraid uv snakes or toads, or bugs or worms or mice, 

An' things 'at girls are skccred uv I think are awtul nice' 

I'm pretty brave I guess; an* yet I hate to go to bed, 

For, when I'm tucked up warm an' snug an' when my prayers are said, 

Mother tells me "Happy Dreams" an' takes away the light, 

An' leaves me lyin' all alone an' seein' things at night' 

Sometimes they're in the corner, sometimes they're by the door, 
Sometimes they're all a-standm' in the middle uv the floor; 
Sometimes they are a-sittm' down, sometimes they're walkin' round 
So softly and so creepy-hke they never make a sound! 
Sometimes they are as black as ink, an' other times they're white 
But color ain't no difference when you see things at night! 

Once, when I licked a feller 'at had just moved on our street, 

An' father sent me up to bed without a bite to cat, 

I woke up m the dark an' saw things standm' in a row, 

A-lookin' at me cross-eyed an' p'mtin' at me so! 

Oh, my' I wuz so skcered 'at time I never slep' a mite 

It's almost alluz when I'm bad I see things at night! 

Lucky thing I ain't a girl or I'd be skeered to death! 
Bein' I'm a boy, I duck my head an' hold my breath. 
An' I am, oh so sorry I'm a naughty boy, an' then 
I promise to be better an' I say my prayers again' 
Gran'ma tells me that's the only way to make it right 
When a feller has been wicked an' sees things at mghtl 

An' so when other naughty boys would coax me into sin, 
I try to skwush the Tempter's voice 'at urges me within; 
An' when they's pie for supper, or cakes 'at's big an' nice, 
I want to but I do not pass my plate f'r them things twice! 
No, ruther let Starvation wipe me slowly out o' sight 
Than I should keep aJivin' on an* seein' things at night! 



no EDWIN MARKHAM 



Edwin Markham 

EDWIN MARKHAM was born in Oregon City, Oregon, April 23, 1852, the youngest 
son of pioneer parents. His father died before he reached his fifth year and in 
1857 he was taken by his mother to a wild valley in the Suisun Hills in central 
California. Here he grew to young manhood: farming, broncho-riding, laboring on 
a cattle ranch, educating himself in the primitive country schools. At eighteen he 
determined to be a teacher and entered the State Normal School at San Jose. 

Since childhood, Markham had been writing verses of no extraordinary merit, one 
of his earliest pieces being a Byronic echo (A Dream of Chaos) full of the high- 
sounding fustian of the period. Several years before he uttered his famous challenge, 
Markham was writing poems of protest, insurrectionary in theme but conventional 
in effect. Suddenly, in 1899, a sense of outrage at the inequality of human struggle 
voiced itself in the sonorous poem, "The Man with the Hoe." Inspired by Millet's 
painting, Markham made the bowed, broken French peasant a symbol of the 
poverty-stricken toiler in all lands his was a protest not against toil but the ex- 
ploitation of labor. "The Yeoman is the landed and well-to-do farmer," says Mark- 
ham, "you need shed no tears for him. But here in the Millet picture is his oppo- 
site the Hoeman; the landless workman of the world." 

The success of the poem upon its appearance in the San Francisco Examiner 
(January 15, 1899) was instantaneous. The lines appeared in every part of the 
globe; they were quoted and copied in every walk of life, in the literary and the 
labor world. The same year of its publication, it was incorporated in Markham's 
first volume, The Man with the Floe and Other Poems (1899). Two years later, his 
almost equally well known poem was published. The same passion that fired Mark- 
ham to champion the great common workers equipped him to write of the great 
Commoner in Lincoln, and Other Poems (1901). His later volumes are a descent, 
melodious but scarcely remarkable. They have the rhetoric without the resonance 
of the forerunners. Never reaching the heights, there are, nevertheless, moments of 
dignity in The Shoes of Happiness (1914), The Gates of Paradise (1920), and New 
Poems: Eighty Songs at Eighty (1932), published with a nice appropriateness on 
the poet's eightieth birthday. Many of the quatrains are memorable epigrams. 

Markham came East in 1901 and made his home on Statcn Island, New York, 
until death in his eighty-eighth year. His life spanned the continent; born near one 
ocean, he died facing the other on March 7, 1940. 



OUTWITTED 

He drew a circle that shut me out 
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. 
But Love and I had the wit to win: 
We drew a circle that took him in! 



EDWIN MARKHAM in 

THE MAN WITH THE HOE 1 
(Written after seeing Millet's world-famous painting) 

Bowed by the weight of centuries he leans 
Upon his hoe and gazes on the ground, 
The emptiness of ages in his face, 
And on his back the burden of the world. 
Who made him dead to rapture and despair, 
A j.hing_that grieves not and that never hopes, 
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox? 
Who loosened and let down this brutal jaw? 
Whose was the hand that slanted back this brow? 
Whose breath blew out the light within this brain? 

Is this the Thing the Lord God made and gave 

To have dominion over sea and land; 

To trace the stars and search the heavens for power; 

To feel the passion of Eternity ? 

Is this the dream He dreamed who shaped the suns 

And marked their ways upon the ancient deep? 

Down all the caverns of Hell to their last gulf 

There is no shape more terrible than this 

More tongued with censure of the world's blind greed 

More filled with signs and portents for the soul 

More packt with danger to the universe. 

What gulfs between him and the seraphim! 
Slave of the wheel of labor, what to him 
Are Plato and the swing of Pleiades? 
What the long reaches of the peaks of song, 
The rift of dawn, the reddening of the rose? 
Through this dread shape the suffering ages look; 
Time's tragedy is in that aching stoop; 
Through this dread shape humanity betrayed, 
Plundered, profaned, and disinherited, 
Cries protest to the Judges of the World, 
A protest that is also prophecy. 

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, 

Is this the handiwork you give to God, 

This monstrous thing distorted and soul-quenched? 

How will you ever straighten up this shape; 

Touch it again with immortality; 

Give back the upward looking and the light; 

Rebuild in it the music and the dream; 

Make right the immemorial infamies, 

Perfidious wrongs, immedicable woes? 

O masters, lords and rulers in all lands, 
How will the Future reckon with this man? 

1 Revised version, 1920. Copyright by Edwin Markham. 



112 



EDWIN MARKHAM 



How answer his brute question in that hour 
When whirlwinds of rebellion shake all shores? 
How will it be with kingdoms and with kings 
With those who shaped him to the thing he is 
When this dumb terror shall rise to judge the world, 
After the silence of the centuries? 



THE AVENGERS 

The laws are the secret avengers, 
And they rule above all lands; 

They come on wool-soft sandals, 
But they strike with iron hands. 



PREPAREDNESS 

For all your days prepare, 
And meet them ever alike: 

When you are the anvil, bear 
When you are the hammer, strike. 



LINCOLN, THE MAN OF THE PEOPLE 

When the Norn Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour 
Greatemng and darkening as it hurried on, 
She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down 
To make a man to meet the mortal need. 
She took the tried clay of the common road 
Clay warm yet with the genial heat ot earth, 
Dasht through it all a strain of prophecy; 
Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears; 
Then mixt a laughter with the serious stuff. 
Into the shape she breathed a flame to light 
That tender, tragic, ever-changing face; 
And laid on him a sense of the Mystic Powers, 
Moving all husht behind the mortal veil. 
Here was a man to hold against the world, 
A man to match the mountains and the sea. 

The color of the ground was in him, the red earth; 

The smack and tang of elemental things: 

The rectitude and patience ot the cliff; 

The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves; 

The friendly welcome of the wayside well; 

The courage of the bird that dares the sea; 

The gladness of the wind that shakes the corn; 

The pity of the snow that hides all scars; 

The secrecy of streams that make their way 

Under the mountain to the rifted rock; 

The tolerance and equity of light 

That gives as freely to the shrinking flower 

As to the great oak flaring to the wind 

To the grave's low hill as to the Matterhorn 

That shoulders out the sky. Sprung from the West, 

He drank the valorous youth of a new world. 

The strength of virgin forests braced his mind, 

The hush of spacious prairies stilled his soul. 



EDWIN MARKHAM 



His words were oaks in acorns; and his thoughts 
Were roots that firmly gnpt the granite truth. 

Up from log cabin to the Capitol, 

One fire was on his spirit, one resolve 

To send the keen ax to the root of wrong, 

Clearing a free way for the feet of God, 

The eyes of conscience testing every stroke, 

To make his deed the measure ot a man. 

He built the rail-pile as he built the State, 

Pouring his splendid strength through every blow: 

The grip that swung the ax in Illinois 

Was on the pen that set a people free. 

So came the Captain with the mighty heart. 
And when the judgment thunders split the house, 
Wrenching the rafters from their ancient rest, 
He held the ridgepole up, and spiked again 
The rafters of the Home. He held his place 
Held the long purpose like a growing tree 
Held on through blame and i altered not at praise. 
And when he fell m whirlwind, he went down 
As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs, 
Goes down with a great shout upon the hills, 
And leaves a lonesome place against the sky. 



Lizette Woodworth Reese 

LZETTE WOODWORTII REESE was born January 9, 1856, in Waverly, Baltimore 
County, Maryland, of mixed English and German stock. After receiving an edu- 
cation chiefly in private schools she taught English at the Western High School in 
Baltimore, where she lived. After many years of service, she retired in 1921. In 1923, 
the alumni of the High School where she had taught for a score of years, together 
with the teachers and pupils, presented the school with a bronze tablet inscribed 
with her poem, "Tears," one of the most famous sonnets written by an American. 

At first glance, Miss Reese's work seems merely a continuation of the traditional 
strain; some of her critics decried her poetry as being English rather than American. 
But it was natural that her verse should sound a note which has been the dominant 
one in English pastoral poetry from Wordsworth to Hou&man. Nor was Miss 
Reese's inheritance alone responsible for this. The country around Baltimore, every 
tree and path of which Miss Reese knew intimately, was settled by the English and 
had the shape and color of counties like Sussex and Buckinghamshire. 

Miss Reese's first book, A Branch of May (1887), had an undercurrent of intensity 
beneath its quiet contours. Few of its readers in the Nineties would have dreamed 
that this straightforward undidactic speech would pave the way for the direct songs 
of Sara Teasdale and Edna St. Vincent Millay. In a period of sugared sentiment and 



H4 LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE 

lace valentine lyrics, Miss Reese's crisp lines were a generation ahead of the times 
and were consequently appreciated only for their pictorial if somewhat prim felici- 
ties. A Handful of Lavender (1891), A Quiet Road (1896), and A Wayside Lute 
(1909) established an artistry which, for all its seemingly old-fashioned elegance, is 
as spontaneous as it is skillful. Here are no verbal tricks, no false postures; here is 
a simple record which is, somehow, never banal. "This poetry of hers," writes Mary 
Colum, "will persist, not because the author was cleverer or more original than 
other writers, but because in some way her nerves were more subtle in response to 
the kinds of life and experiences that came her way." 

From 1909 to 1920 there was a silence. During" these ten years, Miss Reese wrote 
little, and published less. Suddenly her work appeared again, more concise than 
ever. Spicewood was published in 1920; Wild Cherry in 1923; a generous Selected 
Poems in 1926; Little Henrietta in 1927, the poet's seventy -second year; A Victorian 
Village, her reminiscences of a changing world, in 1929. 

White Aptil (1930) and Pastures (1933), published in the poet's seventy-eighth 
year, are as fresh as anything she wrote in her youth. The limitations are obvious, 
but they are the limitations which marked her from the beginning: a preoccupation 
with the surprise of spring, the inevitable changes of love, the unchanging heart of 
nature. Individual poems make romance out of the commonplace, juxtaposing the 
minute with the momentous, and, while the poems lack singularity, the verve is un- 
mistakable. 

These volumes, like the earlier ones, reveal the qualities which influenced a gen- 
eration of women poets. In her late seventies, writing like a young girl, the poet 
sings of lilacs in Old York Lane, of thorn trees and blackberry ram, of Judas-blos- 
soms and daffodils, of spring ecstasy and lost love, of a dead lady in her garden, 
and Mary at the manger. But there is always something personal, always something 
which makes the very repetitions take on a light which is fresh and clear. At least 
a dozen of her brief songs and lyrical sonnets have found a niche in American litera- 
ture. Hers is a singing that is not dependent on a fashion. 

Lizette Reese died, after a brief illness a few weeks before her eightieth birthday, 
December 17, 1935. 

TEARS 

When I consider Life and its few years 

A wisp of fog betwixt us and the sun; 

A call to battle, and the battle done 

Ere the last echo dies within our ears; 

A rose choked in the grass; an hour of fears; 

The gusts that past a darkening shore do beat; 

The burst of music down an unhstening street, 

I wonder at the idleness of tears. 

Ye old, old dead, and ye of yesternight, 
Chieftains, and bards, and keepers of the sheep, 
By every cup of sorrow that you had, 
Loose me from tears, and make me see aright 
How each hath back what once he stayed to weep: 
Homer his sight, David his little lad! 



LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE 

SPICEWOOD 

The spicewood burns along the gray, spent sky, 
In moist unchimneyed places, in a wind, 
That whips it all before, and all behind, 
Into one thick, rude flame, now low, now high. 
It is the first, the homeliest thing of all 
At sight of it, that lad that by it fares, 
Whistles afresh his foolish, town-caught airs 
A thing so honey-colored and so tall! 

It is as though the young Year, ere he pass 
To the white not of the cherry tree, 
Would fain accustom us, or here, or there, 
To his new sudden ways with bough and grass, 
So starts with what is humble, plain to see, 
And all familiar as a cup, a chair. 



SPRING ECSTASY 

Oh, let me run and hide, 
Let me run straight to God; 

The weather is so mad with white 
From sky down to the clod! 

If but one thing were so, 

Lilac, or thorn out there, 
It would not be, indeed, 

So hard to bear. 

The weather has gone mad with white; 

The cloud, the highway touch. 
White lilac is enough; 

White thorn too much! 



OWNERSHIP 

Love not a loveliness too much, 
For it may turn and clutch you so, 
That you be less than any serf, 
And at its nodding go. 

Be master; otherwise you grow 
Too small, too humble, like to one 
Long dispossessed, who stares through tears 
At his lost house across the sun. 

Wild carrot in an old field here, 
Or steeple choked with music there, 
Possess, as part of what is yours; 
Thus prove yourself the heir. 



Your barony is sky and land, 
From morning's start to the night's close 
Bend to your need Orion'!* hounds, 
Or the small fagot of a rose. 



A PURITAN LADY 

Wild Carthage held her, Rome, 

Sidon. She staicd to tears 
Tall, golden Helen, wearying 

Behind the Trojan spears. 

Towered Antwerp knew her well; 

She wore her quiet gown 
In some hushed house in Oxford grass, 

Or lane in Salem town. 

Humble and high in one, 

Cool, certain, different, 
She lasts; scarce saint, yet half a child, 

As hard, as innocent. 

What grave, long afternoons, 
What caged airs round her blown, 

Stripped her of humor, left her bare 
As cloud, or wayside stone? 

Made her as clear a thing, 

In this slack world as plain 
As a white flower on a grave, 

Or sleet sharp at a pane? 



//6 LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE 

A FLOWER OF MULLEIN 

I am too near, too clear a thing for you, 

A flower of mullein in a crack of wall, 

The villagers half-see, or not at all; 

Part of the weather, like the wind or dew. 

You love to pluck the different, and find 

Stuff for your joy in cloudy loveliness; 

You love to fumble at a door, and guess 

At some strange happening that may wait behind. 

Yet life is full of tricks, and it is plain, 

That men drift back to some worn field or roof, 

To grip at comfort in a room, a stair; 

To warm themselves at some flower down a lane: 

You, too, may long, grown tired of the aloof, 

For the sweet surety of the common air. 

MIRACLE 

Who is in love with loveliness, 

Need not shake with cold; 
For he may tear a star in two, 

And frock himself in gold. 

Who holds her first within his heart, 

Tn certain favor goes; 
If his roof tumbles, he may find 

Harbor in a rose. 



WILD CHF,RRY 

Why make your lodging here in this spent lane, 

Where but an old man, with his sheep each day, 

Twice through the forgotten grass goes by your way, 

Half sees you there, and not once looks again? 

For you are of the very ribs of spring, 

And should have many lovers, who have none. 

In silver cloaks, in hushed troops down the sun 

Should they draw near, oh, strange and lovely thing' 

Beauty has no set weather, no sure place; 

Her careful pageantries are here as there, 

With nothing lost. And soon, some lad may start 

A strayed Mayer in this unremembered space 

At your tall white, and know you very fair, 

Let all else go to roof within your heart. 

OLD SAUL 

I cannot think of any word 

To make it plain to you, 

How white a thing the hawthorn bush 

That delicately blew 



LIZETTE WOODWORTH REESE //; 

Within a crook of Tinges Lane; 
Each May Day there it stood; 
And lit a flame of loveliness 
For the small neighborhood. 

So fragile-white a thing it was, 
I cannot make it plain. 
Or the sweet fumbling of the bees, 
Like the break in a ram. 

Old Saul lived near. And this his life: 

To cobble for his bread; 

To mourn a tall son lost at sea; 

A daughter worse than dead. 

And so, in place of all his lack, 

He set the hawthorn-tree; 

Made it his wealth, his mirth, his god, 

His Zion to touch and see. 

Born English he. Down Tinges Lane 
His lad's years came and went, 
He saw out there behind his thorn, 
A hundred thorns of Kent. 

At lovers slipping through the dusk, 

He shook a lover's head; 

Grudged them each flower. It was too white 

For any but the dead. 

Once on a blurred, wet, silver day, 
He said to two or three: 
"Folks, when I go, pluck yonder bloom, 
That I may take with me." 

But it was winter when he went, 
The road wind-wrenched and torn; 
They laid upon his coffin lid 
A wreath made all of thorn. 



WOMEN 

Some women herd such little things a box 

Oval and glossy, in its gilt and red, 

Or squares of satin, or a high, dark bed 

But when love comes, they drive to it all their flocks; 

Yield up their crooks; take little; gain for fold 

And pasture each a small, forgotten grave. 

When they are gone, then lesser women crave 

And squander their sad hoards; their shepherds' gold. 



//* 



L1ZETTE WOODWORTH REESE 

Some gather life like faggots in a wood, 

And crouch its blaze, without a thought at all 

Past warming their pinched selves to the last spark. 

And women as a whole are swift and good, 

In humor scarce, their measure being small; 

They plunge and leap, yet somehow miss the dark. 



SURETY 

How do I know that you will come again? 
I judge you by imperishable things 
Like crab-trees rosy as the cloaks of kings, 
That twice a year blow down the same tall lane. 
I dare the silence in the house, each place 
Without you, as a stalk of leaf, the wrong 
The neighbors do you in their talk, the song 
Beaten out of bells, and dusk, and a great space. 
Nothing can tear the spring from out the year, 
Or love from out the heart. Both hands have I 
Filled with crab-bloom November as in May. 
Is bloom to bough than you to me more dear? 
Has the old trick of flowering been put by? 
You will come back, you will come back and stay. 



CROWS 

Earth is raw with this one note, 
This tattered making of a song, 

Narrowed down to a crow's throat, 
Above the willow-trees that throng 

The crooking field from end to end. 

Fixed as the sun, the grave, this sound; 
Of what the weather has to spend 

As much a part as sky or ground. 

The primal yellow of that flower, 
The tansy making August plain; 



And the stored wildness of this hour 
It sucks up like a bitter rain. 

Miss it we would, were it not here, 
Simple as water, rough as spring, 

It hurls us at the point of spear, 
Back to some naked, early thing. 

Listen now. As with a hoof 
It stamps an image on the gust; 

Chimney by chimney a lost roof 
Starts for a moment from its dust. 



Louise Imogen Guiney 

EUISE IMOGEN GUINEY was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1861. Although she 
attended Elmhurst Academy in Providence, most of her studying was with pri- 
vate tutors. In 1901 she went to England, where she lived until her death. 

Traditional in form and feeling, Miss Guiney's work has a distinctly personal 
vigor; even her earliest collections, Songs at the Start (1884) and The White Sail 
and Other Poems (1887), are not without individuality. Her two most characteristic 



LOUlSti IMOGEN GUINEA 



119 



volumes are A Roadside Harp (1893) and Patrins (1897). Happy Ending appeared 
in 1909, and was reissued with additional poems in 1927. 

Though much of her work is poeticizing rather than poetry, there is no mistaking 
the high seriousness of her aimrKespbhding to the influence of the Cavalier poets 
whom she greatly admired, her best lines beat with a galloping 'courage. Aware of 
the poet's mission, she held her pen "in trust to Art, not serving shame or lust"; 
a militant faith was the very keynote of her writing. Contemporary life aflected her 
but little; even her peasant songs ("In Leinster" for example) have a remoteness 
which escapes the impact of the present. Still, she was not a literary escapist; a mys- 
tic with vitality, her verse was vigorous even when she was most spiritual. "The 
Kings" and "The Wild Ride" are assured of a place as long as American antholo- 
gies are made. 

Miss Gumey died at Chipping-Campden, near Oxford, England, November 3, 
1920. 



THE KINGS 

A man said unto his Angel: 
"My spirits are fallen low, 

And I cannot carry this battle: 
O brother! where might I go? 

"The terrible Kings are on me 
With spears that are deadly bright; 

Against me so from the cradle 
Do fate and my fathers fight." 

Then said to the man his Angel: 
"Thou wavering, witless soul, 

Back to the ranks! What matter 
To win or lose the whole, 

"As judged by the little judges 
Who hearken not well, nor see? 

Not thus, by the outer issue, 
The Wise shall interpret thee. 

"Thy will is the sovereign measure 
And only event of things: 



The puniest heart, defying, 

Were stronger than all these Kings. 

"Though out of the past they gather, 
Mind's Doubt, and Bodily Pain, 

And pallid Thirst of the Spirit 
That is km to the other twain. 



"And Grief, in a cloud of banners, 
And ringleted Vain Desires, 

And Vice, with the spoils upon him 
Of thee and thy beaten sires, 

"While Kings of eternal evil 
Yet darken the hills about, 

Thy part is with broken saber 
To rise on the last redoubt; 

"To fear not sensible failure, 
Nor covet the game at all, 

But fighting, fighting, fighting, 
Die, driven against the wall!" 



THE WILD RIDE 

1 hear In my heart, I hear in its ominous pulses, 

All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses, 

All night, from their stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing. 

Let cowards and laggards fall back! But alert to the saddle 
Weatherworn and abreast, go men of our galloping legion, 
With a stirrup-cup each to the lily of women that loves him. 



120 LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY 

The trail is through dolor and dread, over crags and morasses; 
There are shapes by the way, there are things that appal or entice us; 
What odds? We are Knights of the Grail, we are vowed to the riding. 

Thought's ,self is a vanishing wing, and joy is a cobweb, 
And friendship a flower in the dust, and glory a sunbeam: 
Not here is our prize, nor, alas! after these our pursuing. 

A dipping of plumes, a tear, a shake of the bridle, 
A passing salute to this world and her pitiful beauty; 
We hurry with never 'a word in the track of our fathers. 

/ hear in my heart, 1 hear in its ominous pulses, 

All day, on the road, the hoofs of invisible horses, 

All night, from then stalls, the importunate pawing and neighing. 

We spur to a land of no name, outracing the storm-wind; 

We leap to the infinite dark like sparks from the anvil. 

Thou leadest, O God! All's well with Thy troopers that follow. 



Bliss Carman 

(William) Bliss Carman was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, April 
15, 1 86 1, of a long line of United Empire Loyalists who withdrew from Connecticut 
at the time of the Revolutionary War. Carman was educated at the University of 
New Brunswick (1879-81), at Edinburgh (1882-3), and Harvard (1886-8). He took 
up his residence in the United States about 1889. 

In 1893, Carman issued his first book, Low Tide on Gtand Pie: A Boo\ of Lyrics. 
From the outset, it was evident that Carman possessed lyrical power: the ability to 
interpret the external world through personal intensity. A buoyancy, new to Ameri- 
can literature, made his camaraderie with Nature frankly pagan in contrast to the 
moralizing tributes of his contemporaries. This freshness and whimsy made Car- 
man the natural collaborator for Richard Hovcy, and when their first joint Songs 
from Vagabondia appeared in 1894 Carman's fame was established. Even so devout 
a poet as Francis Thompson was enthusiastic about the book's irresponsibility: 
"These snatches," wrote Thompson, "have the spirit of a gypsy Omar Khayyam. 
They have always careless verve and often careless felicity; they are masculine and 
rough as roving songs should be." 

Although the three Vagabondia collections contain Carman's best poems, several 
of his other volumes (he published over twenty of them) vibrate with something of 
the same pulse. A physical gayety rises from Ballads of Lost Haven (1897), From 
the Boo\ of Myths (1902) and Songs of the Sea Children (1904), songs for the 
open road, the windy beach, the mountamtop. 

Carman also wrote several volumes of essays and, in conjunction with Mary Perry 
Kmg, devised poem-dances (Daughters of Dawn, 1913), suggesting Vachel Lind- 
say's later poem-games. Although the strength is diluted and the music thinned in 



BLISS CARMAN 



121 



the later collections, such as April Airs (1916) and Wild Gaiden (1929), some of 
the old magic persists; the spell is over-familiar but it is not quite powerless. 

Carman died in June, 1929, at New Canaan, Connecticut, and was buried in his 
native province of New Brunswick. 



A VAGABOND SONG 

There is something in the autumn that is native to my blood- 
Touch of manner, hint of mood; 
And my heart is like a rhyme, 
With the yellow and the purple and the crimson keeping time. 

The scarlet of the maples can shake me like a cry 

Of bugles going by. 

And my lonely spirit thrills 

To see the frosty asters like a smoke upon the hills. 

There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir; 

We must rise and follow her, 

When from every hill of flame 

She calls and calls each vagabond by name. 



THE GRAVEDIGGER 

Oh, the shambling sea is a sexton old, 
And well his work is done. 
With an equal grave for lord and knave, 
He buries them every one. 

Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip, 
He makes for the nearest shore; 
And God, who sent him a thousand ship, 
Will send him a thousand more; 

But some he'll save for a bleaching grave, 
And shoulder fhem m to shore, 
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in, 
Shoulder them in to shore. 

Oh, the ships of Greece and the ships of Tyre 
Went out, and where are they? 
In the port they made, they are delayed 
With the ships of yesterday. 

He followed the ships of England far, 

As the ships of long ago; 

And the ships of France they led him a 

dance, 
But he laid them all arow. 

Oh, a loafing, idle lubber to him 
Is the sexton of the town; 



For sure and swift, with a guiding lift, 
He shovels the dead men down. 

But though he delves so fierce and grim, 
His honest graves arc wide, 
As well they know who sleep below 
The dredge of the deepest tide. 

Oh, he works with a rollicking stave at lip 
And loud is the chorus skirled; 
With the burly rote of his rumbling throat 
He batters it down the world. 

He learned it once in his father's house, 
Where the ballads of eld were sung; 
And merry enough is the burden rough, 
But no man knows the tongue. 

Oh, fair, they say, was his bride to see, 
And willful she must have been, 
That she could bide at his gruesome side 
When the first red dawn came in. 

And sweet, they say, is her kiss to those 
She greets to his border home; 
And softer than sleep her hand's first sweep 
That beckons, and they come. 



722 



BLISS CARMAN 



Oh, crooked is he, but strong enough 
To handle the tallest mast; 
From the royal barque to the slaver dark, 
He buries them all at last. 

Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip, 
He mafys for the neatest shore; 
And God, who sent him a thousand ship, 
Will send him a thousand more; 
But some he'll save for a bleaching grave, 
And shoulder them in to shore, 
Shoulder them in, shoulder them in, 
Shoulder them in to shore. 



HEM AND HAW 

Hem and Haw were the sons of sin, 
Created to shally and shirk; 
Hem lay 'round and Haw looked on 
While God did all the work. 

Hem was foggy, and Haw was a prig, 
For both had the dull, dull mind; 
And whenever they found a thing to do, 
They yammered and went it blind. 

Hem was the father of bigots and bores; 
As the sands of the sea were they. 
And Haw was the father of all the tribe 
Who criticize today. 

But God was an artist from the first, 
And knew what he was about; 



While over his shoulder sneered these two, 
And advised him to rub it out. 

They prophesied ruin ere man was made; 

"Such folly must surely fail'" 

And when he was done, "Do you think, my 

Lord, 
He's better without a tail?" 

And still in the honest working world, 
With posture and hint and smirk, 
These sons of the devil are standing by 
While man does all the work. 

They balk endeavor and baffle reform, 
In the sacred name of law; 
And over the quavering voice of Hem 
Is the droning voice of Haw. 



DAISIES 

Over the shoulders and slopes of the dune^ 
I saw the white daisies go down to the sea, 
A host in the sunshine, an army in June, 
The people God sends us to set our hearts 
free. 

The bobolinks rallied them up from the dell, 
The orioles whistled them out of the wood; 
And all of their singing was, "Earth, it is 

well!" 
And all of their dancing was, "Life, thou art 

good!" 



George Santayana 



GiORGE SANTAYANA was born in Madrid, Spain, December 16, 1863, came to the 
United States at the age of nine, and was educated at Harvard, where later he 
became instructor of philosophy the same year he received his Ph.D. This was in 
1889. From 1889 to 1912 he remained at Harvard, becoming not merely one of the 
most noted professors in the history of the University, but one of the most notable 
minds in America. In 1914, he went abroad; since then he has been living in France, 
in England and in Italy. 

Santayana's first work was in verse, Sonnets and Poems (1894). It is a wise seri- 
ousness which is here proclaimed, although the idiom is as traditional as the figures 
are orthodox. The Sense of Beauty (1896), and The Life of Reason (1905), a study 
of the phases of human progress in five volumes, received far more attention than 



GEORGE SANTAYANA 123 

Santayana's verse. In the interval he achieved fame as a philosopher, and it was 
with an almost apologetic air that Santayana prefaced his collected Poems which, 
after a process of revision, appeared in 1923. "Of impassioned tenderness or Dio- 
nysiac frenzy I have nothing, nor even of that magic and pregnancy of phrase 
really the creation of a fresh idiom which marks the high lights of poetry. Even 
if my temperament had been naturally warmer, the fact that the English language 
(and I can write no other with assurance) was not my mother-tongue would of 
itself preclude any inspired use of it on my part; its roots do not quite reach to 
my center. I never drank in in childhood the homely cadences and ditties which in 
pure spontaneous poetry set the essential key." 

Yet, as Santayana himself maintained later on, the thoughts which prompted his 
verses could not have been transcribed in any other form. If the prosody is worn 
somewhat thin, it is because the poet-philosopher chose the classic mold in the be- 
lief that the innate freedom of poets to hazard new forms docs not abolish the free- 
dom to attempt the old ones. The moralizing is personal, even the rhetoric is justi- 
fied. "Here is the hand of an apprentice, but of an apprentice in a great school." 

The tradition has, even in these experimental days, its defenders. One of the most 
persuasive of them, Robert Hillyer, writes, "In the shrewd, though perhaps too 
deprecatory, preface to his Collected Poems, George Santayana builds up the case 
for what is sometimes called the rhetorical style. He affirms the validity ot the tradi- 
tional, even the conventional, mode not to the exclusion of more experimental pat- 
terns but as equally defensible with the newer forms. Such is his statement; his im- 
plication is clearly m favor of tradition. 'To say that what was good once is good 
no longer is to give too much importance to chronology. Esthetic fashions may 
change, losing as much beauty at one end as they gain at the other, but innate taste 
continues to recognize its affinities, however remote, and need never change/ His 
poetry shows both the virtues and the defects inherent in such standards. Some of 
the sonnets are among the finest in the language; the 'Athletic Ode/ on the other 
hand, is a set piece wherein half-backs and Greek deities quite naturally eye each 
other askance. 

"Mr. Santayana's output in verse has not been large. Besides the sonnets and odes, 
he composed an epic drama, Lucifer, which deserves study for the frequent mag- 
nificence of its style and the intricacy of its thought. But for the common reader, 
the sonnets will be most easily acceptable. Many modern readers are as dogmatic in 
their rejection of the traditional style as professors are supposed to be in their re- 
jection of the new. But if our ears and minds are not wholly closed to dignity and 
sumptuousness of phrasing, we shall not hesitate to place Mr. Santayana's sequence 
among the greatest in our literature. Had he composed it two or three hundred 
years ago no one would quibble; but that a contemporary should insist on Parnassus 
is almost as shocking as a preference for old Bohemia over new Czechoslovakia. 
Mr. Santayana is definitely behind the times. Perhaps he is also ahead of them/* 

Not even the most casual appraisal of Santayana's contribution to the period can 
be complete without a tribute to his prose. At seventy-two he made his debut as 
novelist with The Last Puritan (1936). The quality of Santayana's thinking is 
heightened by his style, a style which is both firm and flexible, the gift of one of 
the unquestionable masters of English prose. 



124 GEORGE SANTAS AN A 

AS IN THE MIDST OF BATTLE THERE IS ROOM 

As in the midst of battle there is room 

For thoughts of love, and in foul sin for mirth; 

As gossips whisper of a trinket's worth 

Spied by the death-bed's flickering candle-gloom; 

As in the crevices of Caesar's tomb 

The sweet herbs flourish on a little earth: 

So in this great disaster of our birth 

We can be happy, and forget our doom. 

For morning, with a ray of tendcrcst joy 

Gilding the iron heaven, hides the truth, 

And evening gently woos us to employ 

Our grief in idle catches. Such is youth; 

Till from that summer's trance we wake, to find 

Despair before us, vanity behind. 



AFTER GRAY VIGILS, SUNSHINE IN THE HEART 

After gray vigils, sunshine in the heart; 

After long fasting on the journey, food; 

After sharp thirst, a draught ot perfect good 

To flood the soul, and heal her ancient smart. 

Joy of my sorrow, never can we part; 

Thou broodest o'er me in the haunted wood, 

And with new music fill'st the solitude 

By but so sweetly being what thou art. 

He who hath made thee perfect, makes me blest. 

O fiery minister, on mighty wings 

Bear me, great love, to mine eternal rest. 

Heaven it is to be at peace with things; 

Come chaos now, and in a whirlwind's rings 

Engulf the planets. I have seen the best. 



ON THE DEATH OF A METAPHYSICIAN 

Unhappy dreamer, who outwinged in flight 
The pleasant region of the things I love, 
And soared beyond the sunshine, and above 
The golden cornfields and the dear and bright 
Warmth of the hearth, blasphemer of delight, 
Was your proud bosom not at peace with Jove, 
That you sought, thankless for his guarded grove 
The empty horror of abysmal night ? 

Ah, the thin air is cold above the moon! 
I stood and saw you fall, befooled in death, 
As, in your numbed spirit's fatal swoon, 
You cried you were a god, or were to be; 
I heard with feeble moan your boastful breath 
Bubble from depths of the Icarian sea. 



GEORGE S ANT AY ANA 725 

THE RUSTIC AT THE PLAY 

Our youth is like a rustic at the play 

That cries aloud in simple-hearted tear, 

Curses the villain, shudders at the fray, 

And weeps before the maiden's wreathed bier. 

Yet once familiar with the changeful show, 

He starts no longer at a brandished knife, 

But, his heart chastened at the sight of woe, 

Ponders the mirrored sorrows of his life. 

So tutored too, I watch the moving art 

Of all this magic and impassioned pain 

That tells the story of the human- heart 

In a false instance, such as poets feign; 

I smile, and keep within the parchment furled 

That prompts the passions of this strutting world. 

O WORLD, THOU CHOOSEST NOT THE BETTER PART 

O world, thou choosest not the better parti 
It is not wisdom to be only wise, 
And on the inward vision close the eyes, 
But it is wisdom to believe the heart. 
* Columbus found a world, and had no chart 
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies; 
To trust the soul's invincible surmise 
Was all his science and his only art. 
Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine 
That lights the pathway but one step ahead 
Across a void of mystery and dread. 
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine 
By which alone the mortal heart is led 
Unto the thinking of the thought divine. 



Richard Hovey 

RICHARD IIOVEY was born May 4, 1864, at Normal, Illinois, and graduated from 
Dartmouth in 1885. After leaving college, he became, in rapid succession, theo- 
logian, actor, journalist, lecturer, professor of English literature at Barnard, poet and 
dramatist. 

His first volume, The Laurel. An Ode (1889), betrayed the over-musical influence 
of Lamer but gave promise of that extraordinary facility which often brought Hovey 
perilously close to mere technique. His exuberant virility found its outlet in the 
series of poems published in collaboration with Bliss Carman: the three volumes of 
Songs from Vagabondia (1894, 1896, 1900). Here he let himself go completely; 
nothing remained sober or static. His lines flung themselves across the page; danced 
with intoxicating abandon; shouted, laughed, and carried off the reader in a gale 



/26 RICHARD HOVEY 

of high spirits. The famous Stein Song is an interlude in the midst of a far finer 
poem that, with its flavor of Whitman, begins: 

I said in my heart, "I am sick of four walls and a ceiling. 

I have need of the sky. 

I have business with the grass. 

I will up and get me away where the hawk is wheeling, 

Lone and high, 

And the slow clouds go by. 

I will get me away to the waters that glass 

The clouds as they pass. . . ." 

Hovey's attitude to his art was expressed in his own words concerning the poet: "It 
is not his mission," wrote Hovey in the Dartmouth Magazine, "to write elegant 
canzonettas for the delectation of the dilettanti, but to comfort the sorrowful and 
hearten the despairing, to champion the oppressed and declare to humanity its in- 
alienable rights, to lay open to the world the heart of man all its heights and 
depths, all its glooms and glories, to reveal the beauty in things and breathe into his 
fellows a love of it." This too conscious awareness of the poet's "mission" marred 
Hovey's work; responding to a program, he frequently ovcrstressed his ringing 
enthusiasm, and strained his muscularity. But his power was as unflagging as his 
energy was persuasive. 

Some of Hovey's best work was accomplished without shouting. The little known 
"Contemporaries" showed how well he could handle double portraiture, antedating 
the psycho-philosophical delineations of E. A. Robinson. As he grew older, Hovey 
became dissatisfied with the wanderlusty motif and its panacea of open roads and 
youthful comradeship. His subjects grew larger, his symbols were less obvious and 
not confined to "something potent brimming through the earth." The work on 
which he was engaged at the time of his death is significant; Launcdot and Guene- 
vete: A Poem in Five Diamas, exemplary in its restrained force. 

Although the varied lyrics in Songs from Vagabondia are the heartiest examples 
of Hovey, a representative collection of his riper work may be found in Along the 
Ttail (1898). Hovey was slow to mature; this volume, in conjunction with the un- 
completed Taliesm' A Masque, shows his later, more intensive power. The mood 
reflected is spiritual rather than physical; the note is high but never shrill. Besides 
the later work, Along the Trail contains "Spring" and the stirring "Comrades" in 
full. 

Hovey died, during his thirty-sixth year, in New York, February 24, 1900. 

AT THE CROSSROADS Here's luck! 

You to the left and I to the right, For we know not where we are ^S- 

For the ways of men must sever Whether we win or whether we lose 

And it well may be for a day and a night, With the hands that life is dealing, 

And it well may be forever. It is not we nor the ways we choose 

But whether we meet or whether we part But the fall of the cards that's sealing. 

(For our ways are past our knowing), There's a fate in love and a fate in fight, 

A pledge from the heart to its fellow And the best of us all go under 

heart And whether we're wrong or whether we're 
On the ways we all are going! right, 



RICHARD HOVEY 

We win, sometimes, to our wonder. 

Here's luck' 

That we may not yet go under! 

With a steady swing and an open brow 

We have tramped the ways together, 

But we're clasping hands at the crossroads 

now 

In the Fiend's own night for weather; 
And whether we bleed or whether we smile 
In the leagues that lie before us 
The ways of life are many a mile 
And the dark of Fate is o'er us. 
Here's luck! 
And a cheer for the dark before us! 

You to the left and I to the right, 

For the ways of men must sever, 

And it well may be for a day and a night 

And it well may be forever' 

But whether we live or whether we die 

(For the end is past our knowing), 

Here's two frank hearts and the open sky, 

Be a fair or an ill wind blowing! 

Here's luc{! 

In the teeth of all winds blowing. 



UNMANII-EST DESTINY' 

To what new fates, my country, far 
And unforeseen of foe or friend, 



727 

Beneath what unexpected star 
Compelled to what unchosen end, 

Across the sea that knows no beach, 
The Admiral of Nations guides 

Thy blind obedient keels to reach 
The harbor where thy future rides' 

The guns that spoke at Lexington 
Knew not that God was planning then 

The trumpet word of Jefferson 
To bugle forth the rights of men. 

To them that wept and cursed Bull Run, 
What was it but despair and shame? 

Who saw behind the cloud the sun? 
Who knew that God was in the flame? 

Had not defeat upon defeat, 

Disaster on disaster come, 
The slave's emancipated feet 

Had never marched behind the drum. 

There is a Hand jhat bends our deeds 
To mightier issues than we planned; 

Each son that triumphs, each that bleeds, 
My country, serves Its dark command, 

I do not know beneath what sky 
Nor on what seas shall be thy fate; 

I only know it shall be high, 
I only know it shall be great. 



LOVE IN THE WTNDS 

When I am standing on a mountain crest, 
Or hold the tiller in the dashing spray, 
My love of you leaps foaming in my breast, 
Shouts with the winds and sweeps to their foray. 
My heart bounds with the horses of the sea 
And plunges in the wild ride of the night, 
Flaunts in the teeth of tempest the large glee 
That rides out Fate and welcomes gods to fight. 

Ho, love, I laugh aloud for love of you, 
Glad that our love is fellow to rough weather, 
No fretful orchid hothouscd from the dew, 
But hale and hardy as the highland heather, 

Rejoicing in the wind that stings and thrills, 

Comrade of ocean, playmate of the hills. 

1 The phrase "manifest destiny,** which came into usage during the Spanish-American War, 
was meant to indicate America's paternal (or, as the opposing faction cUimcd, imperialistic) mis- 
sion. Hovey was one who denied any but unselfish motives to the conduct of his country. 



728 



RICHARD HOVEY 



COMRADES 

Comrades, pour the wmc tonight, 
" For the parting is with dawn. 
Oh, the clink of cups together, 
With the daylight coming on! 

Greet the morn 

With a double horn, 
When strong men drink together ' 

Comrades, gird your swords tonight, 

For the battle is with dawn. 
Oh, the clash of shields together, 
With the triumph coming on! 
Greet the foe 
And lay him low, 
When strong men fight together. 

Comrades, watch the tides tonight, 

For the sailing is with dawn. 
Oh, to face the spray together, 
With the tempest coming on' 
Greet the Sea - 
With a shout of glee, 
When strong men roam together. 

Comrades, give a cheer tonight, 

For the dying is with dawn. 
Oh, to meet the stars together, 
With the silence coming on' 
Greet the end 
As a friend a friend, 
When strong men die together. 



CONTEMPORARIES 

"A barbcrcd woman's man," yes, so 
He seemed to me a twelvemonth since; 
And so he may be let it go 
Admit his flaws we need not wince 
To find our noblest not all great. 
What of it ? He is still the prince, 
And we the pages of his state. 

The world applauds his words; his fame 

Is noised wherever knowledge be; 

Even the trader hears his name, 

As one far inland hears the sea; 

The lady quotes him to the beau 

Across the cup of Russian tea; 

They know him and they do not know. 



I know him. In the nascent years 

Men's eyes shall see him as one crowned; 

His voice shall gather in their ears 

With each new age prophetic sound; 

And you and I and all the rest, 

Whose brows today are laurel-bound, 

Shall be but plumes upon his crest. 

A year ago this man was poor, 

This Alfred whom the nations praise; 

He stood a beggar at my door 

For one mere word to help him raise 

From fainting limbs and shoulders bent 

The burden of the weary days; 

And I withheld it and he went. 

I knew him then, as I know now, 
Our largest heart, our loftiest mind; 
Yet for the curls upon his brow 
And for his lisp, I could not line) 
The helping word, the cheering touch. 
Ah, to be just, as well as kind, 
It costs so little and so much' 

It seemed unmanly in my sight 

That he, whose spirit was so strong 

To lead the blind world to the light, 

Should look so like the mincing throng 

Who advertise the tailor's art. 

It angered me I did him wrong 

I grudged my groat and shut my heart. 

I might have been the prophet's friend, 
Helped him who is to help the world' 
Now, when the striving is at end, 
The reek-stained battle-banners furled, 
And the age hears its muster-call, 
Then I, because his hair was curled, 
I shall have lost my chance that's all. 



A STEIN SONG 

(fwm ''Spring") 

Give a rouse, then, in the Maytime 

For a life that knows no fear! 
Turn night-time into daytime 
With the sunlight of good cheer! 
For it's always fair weather 
When good fellows get together, 
With a stem on the table and a good song 
ringing clear. 



RICHARD HOFEY /2? 

When the wind conies up from Cuba, And it's birds of a feather 

And the birds are on the wing, When we all get together, 

And our hearts are patting juba With a stein on the table and a heart without 

To the banjo of the spring, a care. 
Then it's no wonder whether 

The boys will get together, For wc know lhc wor , c , ^ lor j ou ^ 
With a stein on the table and a cheer for And thc goal a goldcn t}m% 

everything. And that ( ; od ]s m)f ccnsorious 

When his children ha\c their fling; 

For we're all frank-and-twenty And lite slips its tether 

When the spring is in thc air; When the boys get together, 

And we've faith and hope a-plenty, With a stein on the table in the fellowship of 

And we\e hie and love to spare: spring. 



William Vaughn Moody 

WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY was born in Spencer, Indiana, July 8, 1869, and was 
educated at Harvard. Alter graduation, he spent the remaining eighteen years 
of his life in travel and intensive study he taught, for eight years, at the Univer- 
sity ol Chicago his death coming at the very height of his creative power. 

Thc Masque of Judgment, his first work, was published in 1900. A richer and 
more representative collection appeared thc year following; in Poems (1901) 
Moody effected that mingling of challenging lyricism and spiritual philosophy which 
became more and more insistent. Throughout his career, and particularly in such 
lines as the hotly expostulating "On a Soldier Fallen in the Philippines" and the 
uncompleted "The Death of Eve," Moody successfully achieved the union of poet and 
preacher. "Gloucester Moors" was an outcry against the few exploiting the many; 
"The Quarry" and "An Ode in Time of Hesitation" were impassioned and pro- 
phetic. His last extended works were little read; their too crowded details and 
difficult diction prevented them from becoming popular. Further, Moody did not 
offer a happy solution of life as was attempted by the vague socialism ol Markham 
or the reckless optimism of Hovey; he maintained, rather, that men's spirits were 
"plagued, impatient things, all dream and unaccountable desire." Creation, he felt, 
was moving toward some far end, but he never presumed to know the goal, he 
would not even declare of our destiny: "I only know it shall be great." Man, to 
Moody, must make himself greater before he could claim to be the object of great 
purposes. 

Moody's prose play JJuLJjmLjtivide (1907) was extremely successful when 
produced by Henry Miller. The faith Healer (1909), another play in prose, because 
of its more exalted tone, did not win the favor of the theater-going public. A com- 
plete edition of The Poems and Poetic Dtamas of William Vaughn Moody was 
published m 1912 in two volumes. 

In the summer of 1909 Moody was stricken with the illness from which he never 



'30 



WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY 



recovered. Had he lived he might well have become one of the major poets of his 
country. He died in October, 1910. 



PANDORA S SONG 

(from "The Fire-Bnngcr") 

I stood within the heart of God; 
It seemed a place that I had known: 
(I was blood-sister to the clod, 
Blood-brother to the stone.) 

I found my love and labor there, 
My house, my raiment, meat and wine, 
My ancient rage, my old despair, 
Yea, all things that were mine. 

I saw the spring and summer pass, 
The trees grow bare, and winter come; 
All was the same as once it was 
Upon my hills at home. 

Then suddenly in my own heart 
I felt God walk and gaze about; 
He spoke; his words seemed held apart 
With gladness and with doubt. 

"Here is my meat and wmc," He said, 
"My love, my toil, my ancient care; 
Here is my cloak, my book, my bed, 
And here my old despair. 

"Here are my seasons: winter, spring, 
Summer the same, and autumn spills 
The fruits I look for; everything 
As on my heavenly hills." 



GLOUCESTER MOORS 

A mile behind is Gloucester town 
Where the fishing fleets put in, 
A mile ahead the land dips down 
And the woods and farms begin. 
Here where the moors stretch free 
In the high blue afternoon, 
Are the marching sun and talking sea, 
And the racing winds that whdd and flee 
On the flying heels of June. 

Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue, 
Blue is the quaker-maid, 



The wild geranium holds its dew 

Long in the bowlder's shade. 

Wax-red hangs the cup 

From the huckleberry boughs, 

In barberry bells the gray moths sup, 

Or where the choke-cherry lifts high up 

Sweet bowls for their carouse. 

Over the shelf of the sandy cove 

Beach-peas blossom late. 

By copse and cliff the swallows rove 

Each calling to his mate. 

Seaward the sea-gulls go, 

And the land-birds all are here: 

That green-gold flash was a vireo, 

And yonder flame where the marsh-flags 

grow 
Was a scarlet tanagcr. 

This earth is not the steadfast place 
We landsmen build upon; 
From deep to deep she varies pace, 
And while she comes is gone. 
Beneath my feet I feel 
Her smooth bulk heave and dip; 
With velvet plunge and soft uprcel 
She swings and steadies to her keel 
Like a gallant, gallant ship. 

These summer clouds she sets for sail, 
The sun is her masthead light, 
She tows the moon like a pinnace frail 
Where her phosphor wake churns bright. 
Now hid, now looming clear, 
On the face of the dangerous blue 
The star fleets tack and wheel and veer, 
But on, but on does the old earth steer 
As if her port she knew. 

God, dear God! Does she know her port, 

Though she goes so far about ? 

Or blind astray, does she make her sport 

To brazen and chance it out? 

I watched when her captains passed: 

She were better captainless. 

Men in the cabin, before the mast, 

But some were reckless and some aghast, 

And some sat gorged at mess. 



WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY 137 

By her battened hatch I leaned and caught Scattering wide or blown in ranks, 

Sounds from the noisome hold, Yellow and white and brown, 

Cursing and sighing of souls distraught Boats and boats from the fishing banks 

And cries too sad to be told. Come home to Gloucester town. 

Then I strove to go down and see; There is cash to purse and spend, 

But they said, "Thou art not of us'" There are wives to be embraced, 

I turned to those on the deck with me Hearts to borrow and hearts to lend, 

And cried, "Give help!" But they said, "Let And hearts to take and keep to the end, 

be: O little sails, make haste' 
Our ship sails faster thus." 

But thou, \ast outbound ship of souls, 

Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue, What harbor town ioi thcc? 

Blue is the quaker-maid, What shapes, when thy arriving tolls, 

The alder-clump where the brook comes Shall crowd the banks to sec? 

through Shall all the happy shipmates then 

Breeds cresses in its shade. Stand singing brotherly? 

To be out of the moiling street Or shall a haggard ruthless few 

With its swelter and its sin' Warp her over and bring her to, 

Who has given to me this sweet, . While the many broken souls of men 

And given my brother dust to eat? Fester down in the slaver's pen, 

And when will his wage come in" 5 And nothing to say or do? 



ROAD-HYMN FOR THE START 

Leave the early bells at chime, 

Leave the kindled hearth to blaze, 

Leave the trclhsed panes where children linger out the waking-time, 
Leave the forms of sons and lathers trudging through the misty ways, 
Leave the sounds of mothers taking up their sweet, laborious days. 

Pass them by' even while our soul 

Yearns to them with keen distress. 

Unto them a part is given; we will strive to sec the whole. 
Dear shall be the banquet table where their singing spirits press; 
Dearer be our sacred hunger, and our pilgrim loneliness. 

We have felt the ancient swaying 

Of the earth before the sun, 

On the darkened marge of midnight heard sidereal rivers playing; 
Rash it was to bathe our souls there, but we plunged and all was done. 
That is lives and lives behind us lo, our journey is begun' 

Careless where our face is set, 

Let us take the open way, 

What we are no tongue has told us: Errand-goers who forget? 
Soldiers heedless of their harry? Pilgrim people gone astray? 
We have heard a voice cry "Wander!" That v/as all we heard it say. 

Ask no more: 'Tis much, 'tis much! 
Down the road the day-star calls; 
Touched with change in the wide heavens like a leaf the frost winds touch, 



I 3 2 WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY 

Flames the failing moon a moment, ere it shrivels white and falls; 
Hid aloft, a wild throat holdeth sweet and sweeter intervals. 

Leave him still to ease in song 

Half his little heart's unrest: 

Speech is his, but we may journey toward the life for which we long. 
God, who gives the bird its anguish, maketh nothing manifest, 
But upon our lifted foreheads pours the boon of endless quest. 



FROM JETSAM 

Once at a simple turning of the way 

I met God walking; and although the dawn 

Was large behind Him, and the morning stars 

Circled and sang about his face as birds 

About the fieldward morning cottager, 

My coward heart said faintly, "Let us haste! 

Day grows and it is far to market-town." 

Once where I lay in darkness after fight, 

Sore smitten, thrilled a little thread of song 

Searching and searching all my muffled sense 

Until it shook sweet pangs through all my blood, 

And I beheld one globed in ghostly fire 

Singing, star-strong, her golden canticle; 

And her mouth sang, "The hosts of Plate roll past, 

A dance of dust-motes in the sliding sun; 

Love's battle comes on the wide wings of storm, 

From cast to west one legion' Wilt thou strive?" 

Then, since the splendor of her sword-bright gaze 

Was heavy on me with yearning and with scorn, 

My sick heart muttered, "Yca x the little strife, 

Yet see, the grievous wounds! I fain would sleep." 

O heart, shalt thou not once be strong to go 
Where all sweet throats are calling^ once be brave 
To slake with deed thy dumbness ? Let us go 
The path her singing face looms low to point, 
Pendulous, blanched with longing, shedding flames 
Of silver on the brown grope of the flood; 
For all my spirit's soilure is put by 
And all my body's soilure, lacking now 
But the last lustral sacrament of death 
To make me clean for those near-searching eyes 
That question yonder whether all be well, 
And pause a little ere they dare rejoice. 

Question and be thou answered, passionate face! 
For I am worthy, worthy now at last 
After so long unwoith; strong now at last 
To give myself to beauty and be saved. 



WILLIAM VAUGHN MOODY 133 

ON A SOLDIER FALLEN IN THE PHILIPPINES 1 

Streets of the roaring town, 

Hush for him; hush, be still! 

He comes, who was stricken down 

Doing the word of our will. 

Hush' Let him have his state. 

Give him his soldier's crown, 

The grists of trade can wait 

Their grinding at the mill. 

But he cannot wait for his honor, now the trumpet has been blown. 
Wreathe pride now for his granite brow, lay love on his breast of stone. 

Toll' Let the great bells toll 

Till the clashing air is dim, 

Did we wrong this parted soul? 

We will make it up to him. 

Toll' Let him never guess 

What work we sent him to. 

Laurel, laurel, yes. 

He did what we bade him do. 

Praise, and never a whispered hint but the fight he fought was good; 
Never a word that the blood on his sword was his country's own hcart's-blood. 

A flag for a soldier's bier 

Who dies that his land may live; 

O banners, banners here, 

That he doubt not nor misgive I 

That he heed not from the tomb 

The evil days draw near 

When the nation robed in gloom 

With its faithless past shall strive. 

Let him never dream that his bullet's scream went wide of its island mark, 
Home to the heart of his darling land where she stumbled and sinned in the darkc 



George Sterling 



EORGE STERLING was born at Sag Harbor, New York, December i, 1869, and 
educated at various private schools in the Eastern States. He moved to the Far 
West about 1895 and lived in California until, discouraged and dipsomaniac, he 
met death by his own hand in 1926. 

Of Sterling's ten volumes of poetry, The Testimony of the Suns (1903), A Wine 
of Wizardry (1908) and The House of Orchids and Other Poems (1911) are the 
most characteristic. Ambrose Bierce was the first to hail Sterling with what now 

1 Compare the point of view expressed in Hovey's "Unmamfcst Destiny" on page 128. This 
poem was likewise written at the time of the Spanish-American War. 



j]4 GEORGE STERLING 

seems extravagant praise; he declared that A Wine of Wizardry contained some of 
the greatest lines in English poetry. 

As the titles of Sterling's volumes indicate, this is poetry of a flamboyant and 
rhetorical type, of luxuriant sentences and emotions declared in "the grand manner." 
Yet Sterling added vigor to his ornate tropes. He was not always hurling suns 
about, sweeping the skies with orchids, strange gods and exotic stars. His extrava- 
gances, partly temperamental, partly climatic, are Calitorman as he intended them 
to lie. He was not at ease when attempting to curb his grandiose periods; but a few 
of his simpler verses, though not in his most familiar vein, show what Sterling might 
have accomplished with more discipline. The least memorable poems are not with- 
out a redeeming line. 

A comprehensive Selected Poems was published in 1923. 



THE BLACK VULTURE 

Aloof upon the day's unmeasured dome, 

He holds unshared the silence of the sky. 

Far dow n his bleak, relentless eyes desc/y 
The eagle's empire and the falcon's home 
Far down, the galleons of sunset roam; 

His hazards on the sea of morning he; 

Serene, he hears the broken tempest sigh 
Where cold sierras gleam like scattered foam. 

And least of all he holds the human swarm 
Unwitting now that envious men prepare 

To make their dream and its fulfillment one, 
When, poised above the caldrons of the storm, 
Their hearts, contemptuous of death, shall dare 
His roads between the thunder and the sun. 



THE MASTER MARINER The thrush at dawn beguiles my glade, 

* , 1 . 111 r i And once, 'tis said, I woke to hear. 
My grandsirc sailed three years from home 

And slew unmoved the sounding whale: M dsifc ^ hw {c ^ 

Here on a windless beach I roam * j h {^ men: 

And watch far out the hardy sail. Behold ob * dient P to my P wrist 

The lions of the surf that cry A g ra Y gullWeather for my pen! 

Upon this lion-colored shore 

On reefs of midnight met his eye: U P on m y giclsirc s leathern cheek 

He knew their fangs as I their roar. n Five zones their bitter bronze had set: 

Some day their hazards I will seek, 

My grandsirc sailed uncharted seas, I promise me at times. Not yet. 

And toll of all their leagues he took: 

I scan the shallow bays at ease, I think my grandsire now would turn 

And tell their colors m a book. A mild but speculative eye 

On me, my pen and its concern, 

The anchor-chains his music made Then gaze again to sea and sigh. 

And wind in shrouds and running-gear: 



GEORGE STERLING i 35 

THE NIGHT OF GODS 

Their mouths have drunken the eternal wine 
The draught that Baal in oblivion sips. 
Unseen about their courts the adder slips, 
Unheard the sucklings of the leopard whine; 
The toad has found a resting-place divine, 
And bloats in stupor between Ammon's lips. 
O Carthage and the unreturnmg ships, 
The fallen pinnacle, the shifting Sign ' 

Lo! when I hear from voiceless court and fane 
Time's adoration of eternity, 
The cry of kingdoms past and gods undone, 
* I stand as one whose feet at noontide gam 
A lonely shore; who feels his soul set free, 
And hears the blind sea chanting to the sun. 



Edwin Arlington Robinson 

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON was born December 22, 1869, in the village of Head 
Tide, Maine. When he was still a child, the Robinson family moved to the 
near-by town of Gardiner, which figures in Robinson's poetry as "Tilbury Town." 
In 1891 he entered Harvard College, but left in 189$. A little collection of verse 
(The Torrent and the Night Before) was privately printed in 1896 and the follow- 
ing year much of it was incorporated with other work in The Childtcn of the Night 
(1897), a first volume which contains some of Robinson's most quoted verse. 

Somewhat later, Robinson was struggling in various capacities to make a living in 
New York, five years passing before the publication of Captain Ctaig (1902). This 
richly detailed narrative, recalling Browning's method, increased Robinson's audi- 
ence, and his work was brought to the attention of Theodore Roosevelt (then Presi- 
dent of the United States), who became interested in the poet, at the time earning 
a living as an inspector in the New York Subway, then in course of construction. 
In 1904, President Roosevelt offered him a clerkship in the New York Custom 
House. Robinson held this position from 1905 to 1910, leaving it the same year 
which marked the appearance of his volume, The Town Down the River. Robin- 
son's three books, up to this time, showed his clean, firmly drawn quality, but, in 
spite of their excellences, they seem little more than a succession of preludes for the 
dynamic volume that was to establish him in the first rank of American poets. 
The Man Against the S^y t in many ways Robinson's fullest and most penetrating 
work, appeared in 1916. This was followed by The Three Taverns (1920), a less 
arresting but equally concentrated, many voiced collection of poems. 

In all these books there is manifest a searching for the light beyond illusion. But 
Robinson's transcendentalism is no mere emotional escape; his temper subjects the 
slightest phrase to critical analysis, his intuitions are supported or scrutinized by 
a vigorous intellectuality. Purely as a psychological portrait painter, Robinson has 



/j6 EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

given American literature an entire gallery of memora&fe figures: Richard Cory, who 
"glittered when he walked," gnawing his dark heart while he fluttered pulses with 
his apparent good fortune; Miniver Cheevy, frustrate dreamer, sighing "for what 
was not"; Aaron Stark, the miser with eyes "like little dollars in the dark"; the 
nameless mother in "The Gift of God," transmuting her mediocrity of a son into 
a shining demigod; Bewick Finzer, the wreck of wealth, coming for his pittance, 
"familiar as an old mistake, and futile as regret," Luke Havergal, Cliff Klingenhagen, 
Reuben Bright, Annandale, the tippling Mr. Flood they persist in the mind more 
vividly than most living people. Such sympathetic illuminations reveal Robinson's 
sensitive power, especially in his proiection of the apparent failures of life. Indeed, 
much of Robinson's work seems a protest, a criticism by implication, of that type of 
standardized success which so much of the world worships. Frustration and defeat 
are like an organ-point heard below the varying music of his verse; failure is almost 
glorified in his pages. 

Technically, Robinson is as precise as he is dexterous. He is, in company with 
Frost, a master of the slowly diminished ending. But he is capable of cadences as 
rich as that which ends "The Gift of God," as pungent as the climax of "Calvary," 
as brilliantly fanciful as the sestet of his sonnet, "The Sheaves," as muted but sus- 
tained as the finale of "Eros Turannos" which might have been composed by a more 
controlled Swinburne. 

There is never a false image or a blurred line in any of these verses which, while 
adhering to the strictest models and executed according to traditional forms, are 
always fresh and surprising. It is interesting to observe how the smoothness of his 
rhymes, playing against the hard outlines of his verse, emphasizes the epigrammatic 
strength of poems like "The Gift of God," that magnificent modern ballad "John 
Gorham," "For a Dead Lady," and "The Master," one of the finest evocations of 
Lincoln which is, at the same time, a bitter commentary on the commercialism of 
the times and the "shopman's test of age and worth." 

Robinson's blank verse is scarcely less individual. It is astringent, personal, packed 
with the instant. In "Ben Jonson Entertains a Man from Stratford" we have the 
clearest and most human portrait of Shakespeare ever attempted; the lines run as 
fluently as good conversation, as inevitably as a perfect melody. In his rcammations 
of the Arthurian legends, Metlin (1917), Launcelot (1920), Tristram (1927), Rob- 
inson, shaming the tea-table idyls of Tennyson, has colored the tale with somber 
reflections of the collapse of old orders, the darkness of an age in ashes. 

Avon's Harvest, which the author has called "a dime novel in verse," a study of 
a fear-haunted, hate-driven man, appeared in 1921. In the same year the Macmillan 
Company issued his Collected Poems, which received the Pulitzer Prize for 1921 
and which was enlarged in 1929. Subsequent volumes strengthened his admirers' 
convictions and disproved any fears that Robinson might have "written himself out." 
Roman Battholow (1923) is a single poem of almost two hundred pages; a dramatic 
and introspective narrative in blank verse. The Man Who Died Twice (1924), 
which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for that year, is likewise one long poem: a 
tale which is a cross between a grotesque recital and inspired metaphysics. Curiously 
enough, the mixture is one of Robinson's greatest triumphs; none of his portraits, 
either miniatures or full-length canvases, has given us a profounder insight of a 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON iff 

tortured soul than this of Fernando Nash, "the king who lost his crown before he 
had it." 

Dionysus in Dotfbt (1925) begins and ends with a caustic arraignment of our 
mechanistic civilization, and is primarily a scornful and caret ully premeditated con- 
demnation: of the Eighteenth Amendment, an attack which never descends to 
polemics or political diatribe. Robinson's ironic accents lift every phrase above the 
argumentative matter; the darkest of his doubts are illumined by "the salvage of a 
smile." Besides two other longish poems, this volume includes eighteen sonnets which 
again display Robinson's supremacy in the form. Time and again, he packs huge 
scenes into fourteen lines; if sonnets can assume the propoition ot dramatic narra- 
tives, Robinson's have achieved the almost impossible teat. 

Possibly the fact that Robinson had already won the Pulitzer Prize twice, possibly 
the increasing interest of his work may have accounted for his increased audience. 
Not even his most enthusiastic admirers awaited the reception accorded to Tnstrarn 
(1927). Adopted by the most prominent book-club as its "book-of-the-month," 
awarded unstinted praise and the Pulitzer Prize for the third time, it outsold most 
"best-selling" novels. This was something of a phenomenon, for Tnsttam was not 
only a single poem of over forty thousand words, it was Robinson's most intricate 
and knotted work. But it was no mere problem in involution; Robinson, as though 
reacting against the charge of Puritanism, abandoned himself to a drama passionate 
and headlong. 

Calender's House (1929) was scarcely less esteemed. Formerly regarded as a poet's 
poet, the later volumes established Robinson in popular favor, no matter irom what 
epoch he chose his theme. Ttisttam was medieval, Calender's House was modern. 
Like Avon's Hat vest and Roman Battholow, the latter was melodrama glorified, but 
sharper and tenser than its predecessors. Both renewed the inevitable and laf c 
comparisons. Robinson's manner was likened to Browning's, his matter (particu- 
larly in the Arthurian tales) to Tennyson's. The comparison to Browning, though 
superficial and inaccurate, is at least comprehensible. The author of Mahn, like 
the author of Sordcllo, delights in subtly psychological portraiture, in the half- 
withheld inner drama, in the shift of suspensions and nuances of tension. But where 
Browning is forthright, Robinson is tangential; where Browning is lavish with 
imagery and flaring interjections, Robinson is sparse in metaphor and so economic 
with words that almost every phrase seems twisted and wrung of everything except 
its essential meaning. But the principal dissimilarity lies in their Weltanschauung, 
here they are diametrically opposed. Where Browning regards the universe compact 
of sweetness and light, Robinson observes a scheme whose chief components are bit- 
terness and blight; the realm where "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world" 
becomes (as in the significantly entitled The Man Against the S{y)*a place where 

He may go forward like a stoic Roman 
Where pangs and terrors in his pathway lie 
Or, seizing the swift logic of a woman, 
Curse God and die. 

Although Robinson was accused o'f holding consistently a negative attitude toward 
life, his poetry reveals a restless, uncertain, but persistent search for moral values. 
This quest and questioning of ultimates runs through his work as it ran through 



I3 8 EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

an age no longer satisfied with arid skepticism. It is significant that the same year 
which disclosed Eliot turning to a faith beyond intellect showed Robinson driving 
past reason to find 

. . . There must be God; or if not God, a purpose and a law. 
The conclusion of his sonnet to Crabbe might well be applied to him: 

Whether or not we read him, we can feel 
From time to time the vigor of his name 
Against us like a finger for the shame 
And emptiness of what our^ouls reveal 
In books that are as altars where we kneel 
To consecrate the flicker, not the flame. 

After 1928 Robinson's poetry tended to become repetitious and prolix. Writing for 
an income and fearing the future, he felt it incumbent upon him to write an annual 
volume. Each year for seven years, until the very month of his death, he planned 
and issued a narrative poem in which personal as well as physical fatigue was 
increasingly evident. The Glory of the Nightingales (1930) is a melancholy tragedy 
which suffers from dryncss of thought and atrophy of emotion. Matthias at the 
Door (1931) is another gloomy study which exhibits the author's narrowing limita- 
tions the dark, deliberate idiom spoken indiscriminately by all the characters, the 
lack of life in any of the diamatis personae who function only as disembodied intel- 
lects in a state of continually painful thought, and a sense of hopeless defeatism. 
Nlcodemus (1932) attempts to revive earlier spirits, but the summoned Annandale, 
Ponce dc Leon, and Toussaint L'Ouverture are little more than garrulous ghosts. 
Talifer (1933) is far better, the happiest and most teasing of Robinson's longer 
poems, an unexpected blend of wisdom and wicked irony. Amatanth (1954) 1S an- 
other nightmare narrative of deluded failures and dream-ridden mediocrities. Unfor- 
tunately the poem, for all its dramatic possibilities, is wholly without drama, and it 
is difficult to tell whether Robinson is sympathi/ing with his lost shadows or satiriz- 
ing them. The theme of frustration is continued in the posthumous King Jasper 
(1935) which was introduced with a shrewd analysis of "new ways of being new" 
by Robert Frost; unfortunately King Jasper is an involved and dubious allegory. 

Subsequent to 1911 Robinson lived most of his summers at Peterborough, New 
Hampshire, at the MacDowell Colony, of which he was the unofficial but acknowl- 
edged presiding genius. He divided his winters between New York and Boston until 
ill health forced him to forego travel of any sort. His last winter in Boston was full 
of suffering, chiefly due to a growth in the pancreas, and when he was taken to the 
New York Hospital he was in a pitifully weakened condition. It was impossible to 
operate successfully and he died there April 6, 1935. 

Upon his death there were the inevitable belated tributes to an unhappy poet and 
a lonely man. The most eloquent of them was Robinson Jcffers* spontaneous response. 
"I cannot speak of E. A. Robinson's work," wrote Jeffers. "Better critics than I have 
praised its qualities, and will again. Let me notice instead the debt we owe him for 
the qualities of his life; for the dignity with which he wore his fame, for the example 
of his reticence and steady concentration, for the single-mindedness with which he 
followed his own sense of direction, unbewildered and undiverted. . . . We are 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 139 

grateful that he was not what they call 'a good showman,' but gave himself to his 
work, not to his audience, and would have preferred complete failure to any success 
with the least taint of charlatanry." It was this undeviating integrity which carried 
Robinson through his difficulties and won him the admiration of all his contem- 
poraries, irrespective ot their preferences or poetic affiliations. 

It has been said that Robinson's pessimism alienated part of his audience. But 
Robinson always took pains to refute this charge, not only in his private protests 
in his letters and conversations but in his poems. He denied that life was merely a 
material phenomenon. In the sonnet "Credo" he implied his faith; he said it ex- 
plicitly when he maintained that humanity might be unaware of its destiny and 
unsure of its divinity, but it could not surrender its belief: "The world is not a 
'prison-house* but a kind of spiritual kindergarten, where millions of bewildered 
infants are trying to spell God with the wrong blocks." 



EXIT 

For what we owe to other days, 
Before we poisoned him with praise, 
May we who shrank to find him weak 
Remember that he cannot speak. 

For envy that we may recall, 
And for our faith before the fall, 
May we who are alive be slow 
To tell what we shall never know. 

For penance he would not confess, 
And for the fateful emptiness 
Of early triumph undermined, 
May we now venture to be kind. 



CREDO 

I cannot find my way: there is no star 
In all the shrouded heavens anywhere; 
And there is not a whisper in the air 
Of any living voice but one so far 
That I can hear it only as a bar 
Of lost, imperial music, played when fair 
And angel fingers wove, and unaware, 
Dead leaves to garlands where no roses are. 

No, there is not a glimmer, nor a call, 
For one that welcomes, welcomes when he fears, 
The black and awful chaos of the night; 
But through it all, above, beyond it all 
I know the far-sent message of the years, 
I feel the coming glory of the Light! 



140 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



JAMES WETHERELL 

We never half believed the stuff 

They told about James Wethercll; 

We always liked him well enough, 

And always tried to use him well; 

But now some things have come to light, 

And James has vanished from our view. 

There isn't very much to write, 

There isn't very much to do. 

MINIVER C H E E V Y 

Miniver Checvy, child of scorn, 

Grew lean while he assailed the seasons; 
He wept that he was ever born, 

And he had reasons. 



Miniver loved the days of old 
When swords were bright and steeds were 

prancing; 

The vision of a warrior bold 
Would set him dancing. 

Miniver sighed for what was not, 
And dreamed, and rested irom his labors; 



He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot, 
And Priam's neighbors. 

Miniver mourned the npe renown' 
That made so many a name so fragrant; 

He mourned Romance, now on the town, 
And Art, a vagrant. 

Miniver loved the Medici, 

Albeit he had never seen one; 
He would have sinned incessantly 

Could he have been one. 

Miniver cursed the commonplace 
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing; 

He missed the medieval grace 
Of iron clothing. 

Miniver scorned the gold he sought, 
But sore annoyed was he without it; 

Miniver thought, and thought, and thought, 
And thought about it. 

Miniver Chcevy, born too late, 

Scratched his head and kept on thinking; 
Miniver coughed, and called it fate, 

And kept on drinking. 



CLIFF KLINGENHAGEN 

Cliff Klmgenhagen had me in to dine 
With him one day; and alter soup and meat, 
And all the other things there were to eat, 
ClifT took two glasses and filled one with wine 
And one with wormwood. Then, without a sign 
For me to choose at all, he took the draught 
Of bitterness himself, and lightly quaffed 
It off, and said the other one was mine. 

And when I asked him what the deuce he meant 
By doing that, he only looked at me 
And grinned, and said it was a way of his. 
Anil though T know the fellow, I have spent 
Long time a-wondenng when I shall be 
As happy as Cliff Klmgenhagen is. 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



141 



THE HOUSE ON THE HILL 

They are all gone away, 

The House is shut and still, 
There is nothing more to say. 

Through hroken walls and gray 

The winds blow hlcak and shrill; 
They are all gone away. 

Nor is there one today 

To speak them good or ill: 
There is nothing more to say. 

Why is it then we stray 

Around that sunken sill? 
They are all gone away, 

And our poor fancy-play 

For them is wasted skill: 
There is nothing more to say. 



There is rum and decay 

In the House on the Hill: 
They are all gone away, 
There is nothing more to say. 



AN OLD STORY 

Strange that I did not know him then, 

That friend of mine. 
I did not even show him then 

One fucndly sign; 

But cursed him for the ways he had 

To make me see 
My envy of the praise he had 

For praising me. 

I would have rid the earth of him 

Once, in my pride. 
I never knew the worth of him 

Until he died. 



RICHARD CORY 

Whenever Richard Cory went clown town, 
We people on the pavement looked at him: 

He was a gentleman from sole to crown, 
Clean favored, and imperially slim. 

And he was always quietly arrayed, 

And he was always human when he talked; 

But still he fluttered pulses when he said, 
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked. 

And he was rich yes, richer than a king 
And admirably schooled in every grace: 

In fine, we thought that he was everything 
To make us wish that we were in his place. 

So on we worked, and waited for the light, 
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; 

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, 
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 



BEWICK F INZER 

Time was when his half million drew 
The breath of six per cent; 

But soon the worm of what-was-not 
Fed hard on his content; 

And something crumbled in his brain 
When his half million went* 



Time passed, and filled along with his 

The place of many more; 
Time came, and hardly one of us 

Had credence to restore, 
From what appeared one day, the man 

Whom we had known before. 

The broken voice, the withered neck, 
The coat worn out with care, 



142 

The cleanliness of indigence, 

The brilliance of despair, 
The fond imponderable dreams 

Of affluence, all were there. 

Poor Finzer, with his dreams and schemes, 

Fares hard now in the race, 
With heart and eye that have a task 

When he looks in the face 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

Of one who might so easily 
Have been in Fmzer's place. 



He comes unfailing for the loan 
We give* and then forget; 

He comes, and probably for years 
Will he be coming yet, 

Familiar as an old mistake, 
And futile as regret. 



REUBEN BRIGHT 

Because he was a butcher and thereby 

Did earn an honest living (and did right) 

I would not have you think that Reuben Bright 

Was any more a brute than you or I; 

For when they told him that his wife must die, 

He stared at them and shook with grief and fright, 

And cried like a great baby half that night, 

And made the women cry to see him cry. 

And after she was dead, and he had paid 

The singers and the sexton and the rest, 

He packed a lot of things that she had made 

Most mournfully away m an old chest 

Of hers, and put some chopped-up cedar boughs 

In with them, and tore down the slaughter-house. 



FOR A DEAD LADY 

No more with overflowing light 
Shall fill the eyes that now arc faded, 
Nor shall another's fringe with night 
Their woman-hidden world as they did. 
No more shall quiver down the days 
The flowing wonder of her ways, 
Whereof no language may requite 
The shifting and the many-shaded. 

The grace, divine, definitive, 
Clings only as a faint forestalling; 
The laugh that love could not forgive 
Is hushed, and answers to no calling; 



The forehead and the little ears 
Have gone where Saturn keeps the years; 
The breast where roses could not live 
Has done with rising and with falling. 

The beauty, shattered by the laws 
That have creation in their keeping, 
No longer trembles at applause, 
Or over children that are sleeping; 
And we who delve in beauty's lore 
Know all that we have known before 
Of what inexorable cause 
Makes Time so vicious in his reaping. 



CALVARY 

Friendless and faint, with martyred steps and slow, 
Faint for the flesh, but for the spirit free, 
Stung by the mob that came to see the show, 
The Master toiled along to Calvary; 
We gibed him, as he went, with houndish glee, 
Till his dimmed eyes for us did overflow; 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

We cursed his vengeless hands thrice wretchedly, 
And this was nineteen hundred years ago. 
But after nineteen hundred years the shame 
Still clings, and we have not made good the loss 
That outraged faith has entered in his name. 
Ah, when shall come love's courage to he strong! 
Tell me, O Lord tell me, O Lord, how long 
Are we to keep Christ writhing on the cross! 



'43 



/VICKERY'S MOUNTAIN 

Blue in the west the mountain stands, 

And through the long twilight 
Vickery sits with folded hands, 

And Vickery's eyes are bright. 

Bright, for he knows what no man else 

On earth as yet may know: 
There's a golden word that he never tells, 

And a gift that he will not show. 

He dreams of honor and wealth and fame, 

He smiles, and well he may; 
For to Vickery once a sick man came 

Who did not go away. 

The day before the day to be, 

"Vickery," said the guest, 
"You know as you live what's left of me 

And you shall know the rest. 

"You know as you live that I have come 

To what we call the end. 
No doubt you have found me troublesome, 

But you've also found a friend; 

"For we shall give and you shall take 

The gold that is in view; 
The mountain there and I shall make 

A golden man of you. 

"And you shall leave a friend behind 

Who neither frets nor feels; 
And you shall move among your kind 

With hundreds at your heels. 

"Now this I have written here 

Tells all that need be told; 
So, Vickery, take the way that's clear, 

And be a man of gold." 

Vickery turned his eyes again 
TQ the far mountain-side, 



And wept a tear for worthy men 
Defeated and defied. 

Since then a crafty scoie of yeais 
Have come, anil they have gone; 

But Vickery counts no lost arrears: 
He lingers and lives on. 

Blue in the west the mountain stands, 

Familiar as a face, 
Blue, but Vickery knows what sands 

Are golden at its base. 

He dreams and lives upon the day 
When he shall walk with kings. 

Vickery smiles and well he may: 
The hfe-cagcd linnet sings. 

Vickery thinks the time will come 

To go for what is his; 
But hovering, unseen hands at home 

Will hold him where he is. 

There's a golden word that he never tells 
And a gitt that he will not show. 

All to be given to someone else 
And Vickcry shall not know. 



TOO MUCH COFFEE 

Together in infinite shade 
They defy the invincible dawn: 

The Measure that never was made, 
The Line that never was drawn. 



THE MASTER 

(Lincoln. Supposed to have been written not 
long after the Civil War) 

A flying word from here and there 
Had sown the name at which we sneered, 
But soon the name was everywhere, 
To be reviled and then revered: 



144 

A presence to be loved and feared, 
We cannot hide it, or deny 
That we, the gentlemen who jeered, 
May be forgotten by and by. 



He came when days were perilous 
And hearts of men were sore beguiled; 
And having made his note of us, 
He pondered and was reconciled. 
Was ever master yet so mild 
As he, and so untamable ? 
We doubted, even when he smiled, 
Not knowing what he knew so well. 

He knew that undeceiving fate 

Would shame us whom he served unsought; 

He knew that he must wince and wait 

The jest of those for whom he fought; 

He knew devoutly what he thought 

Of us and of our ridicule; 

He knew that we must all be taught 

Like little children in a school. 

We gave a glamour to the task 

That he encountered and saw through, 

But little of us did he ask, 

And little did we ever do. 

And what appears if we review 

The season when we railed and chaffed? 

It is the face of one who knew 

That we were learning while we laughed. 

The face that in our vision feels 
Again the venom that we flung, 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

Transfigured to the world reveals 
The vigilance to which we clung. 
Shrewd, hallowed, harassed, and among 
The mysteries that are untold, 
The face we see was never young, 
Nor could it ever have been old. 



For he, to whom we had applied 
Our shopman's test of age and worth, 
Was elemental when he died, 
As he was ancient at his birth: 
The saddest among kings of earth, 
Bowed with a galling crown, this man 
Met rancor with a cryptic mirth, 
Laconic and Olympian. 

The love, the grandeur, and the fame 
Are bounded by the world alone; 
The calm, the smoldering, and the flame 
Of awful patience were his own: 
With him they are forever flown 
Past all our fond self-sha do wings, 
Wherewith we cumber the Unknown 
As with inept Icanan wings. 

For we were not as other men: 
'Twas ours to soar and his to see. 
But we are coming down again, 
And we shall come down pleasantly; 
Nor shall we longer disagree 
On what it is to be sublime, 
But flourish in our perigee 
And have one Titan at a time. 



MR. FLOOD S PARTY 

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night 
Over the hill between the town below 
And the forsaken upland hermitage 
That held as much as he should ever know 
On earth again of home, paused wanly. 
The road was his with not a native near; 
And Eben, having leisure, said aloud, 
For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear: 

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon 
Again, and we may not have many more; 
The bird is on the wing, the poet says, 
And you and I have said it here betorc. 
Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light 
The jug that he had gone so far to fill, 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 14$ 

And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood, 
Since you propose it, I believe I will." 

Alone, as if enduring to the end 

A valiant armor ol scarred hopes outworn, 

He stood there in the middle of the road 

Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn. 

Below him, in the town among the trees, 

Where friends of other days had honored him, 

A phantom salutation of the dead 

Rang thinly till old Eben's eyes were dim. 

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child 

Down tenderly, fearing it may awake, 

He set the jug down slowly at his feet 

With trembling care, knowing that most things break; 

And only when assured that on firm earth 

It stood, as the uncertain lives of men 

Assuredly did not, he paced away, 

And with his hand extended paused again: 

"Well, Mr. Flood, we have not met like this 
In a long time; and many a change has come 
To both of us, I fear, since last it was 
We had a drop together. Welcome home'" 
Convivially returning with himself, 
Again he raised the jug up to the light; 
And with an acquiescent quaver said: 
"Well, Mr. Flood, if you insist, I might. 

"Only a very little, Mr. Flood 

For auld lang syne. No more, sir; that will do." 

So, for the time, apparently it did, 

And Ebcn evidently thought so too; 

For soon amid the silver loneliness 

Of night he lifted up his voice and sang, 

Secure, with only two moons listening, 

Until the whole harmonious landscape rang 

"For auld lang syne." The weary throat gave out, 
The last word wavered, and the song being done, 
He raised again the jug regretfully 
And shook his head, and was again alone. 
There was not much that was ahead of him, 
And there was nothing in the town below 
Where strangers would have shut the many doors 
That many friends had opened long ago. 



GEORGE C R A B BE 

Give him the darkest inch your shelf allows, 
Hide him in lonely garrets, if you will, 



146 EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

But his hard, human pulse is throbbing still 

With the sure strength that fearless truth endows. 

In spite of all fine science disavows, 

Of his plain excellence and stubborn skill 

There yet remains what fashion cannot kill, 

Though years have thinned the laurel from his brows. 

Whether or not we read him, we can feel 
From time to time the vigor of his name 
Against us like a finger for the shame 
And emptiness of what our souls reveal 
In books that are as altars where we kneel 
To consecrate the flicker, not the flame. 



LUKE HAVERGAL 

Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal, 
There where the vines cling crimson on the wall, 
And in the twilight wait for what will come. 
The leaves will whisper there of her, and some, 
Like flying words, will strike you as they fall; 
But go, and if you listen, she will call. 
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal 
Luke Havergal. 

No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies 
To rift the fiery night that's in your eyes; 
But there, where western glooms are gathering, 
The dark will end the dark, if anything: 
God slays himself with every leaf that flies, 
And hell is more than half of paradise. 
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies 
In eastern skies. 

Out of a grave I come to tell you this, 
Out of a grave I come to quench the kiss 
That flames upon your forehead with a glow 
That blinds you to the way that you must go. 
Yes, there is yet one way to where she is, 
Bitter, but one that faith may never miss. 
Out of a grave I come to tell you this 
To tell you this. 

There is the western gate, Luke Havergal, 
There are the crimson leaves upon the wall. 
Go, for the winds are tearing them away, 
Nor think to riddle the dead words they say, 
Nor any more to feel them as they fall; 
But go, and if you trust her she will call. 
There is the western gate, Luke Havergal 
Luke Havergal. 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 147 

JOHN GORHAM 

"Tell me what you're doing over here, John Gorham, 
Sighing hard and seeming to be sorry when you're not; 
Make me laugh or let me go now, for long faces in the moonlight 
Are a sign for me to say again a word that you forgot." 

'Tm over here to tell you what the moon already 
May have said or maybe shouted ever since a year ago; 
I'm over here to tell you what you are, Jane Wayland, 
And to make you rather sorry, I should say, for being so." 

"Tell me what you're saying to me now, John Gorham, 
Or you'll never see as much of me as ribbons any more; 
I'll vanish in as many ways as I have toes and fingers, 
And you'll not follow far for one where flocks have been before." 

"I'm sorry now you never saw the flocks, Jane Wayland, 
But you're the one to make of them as many as you need. 
And then about the vanishing: It's I who mean to vanish; 
And when I'm here no longer you'll be done with me indeed." 

"That's a way to tell me what I am, John Gorham' 
How am I to know mysclr. until I make you smile? 
Try to look as if the moon were making faces at you, 
And a little more as if you meant to stay a little while." 

"You are what it is that over rose-blown gardens 
Makes a pretty flutter for a season in the sun; 
You are what it is that with a mouse, Jane Wayland, 
Catches him and lets him go and eats him up lor fun." 

"Sure I never took you for a mouse, John Gorham; 
All you say is easy, but so far from being true, 
That I wish you wouldn't ever be again the one to think so; 
For it isn't cats and butterflies that I would be to you." 

"All your little animals are in one picture 
One I've had before me since a year ago tonight; 
And the picture where they live will be of you, Jane Wayland, 
Till you find a way to kill them or to keep them out of sight." 

"Won't you ever see me as I am, John Gorham, 
Leaving out the foolishness and all I never meant? 
Somewhere in me there's a woman, if you know the way to find her. 
Will you like me any better if I prove it and repent?" 

"I doubt if I shall ever have the time, Jane Wayland; 
And I dare say all this moonlight lying round us might as well 
Fall for nothing on the shards of broken urns that are forgotten, 
As on two that have no longer much of anything to tell." 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



HOW ANNANDALE WENT OUT 

"They called it Annandale and I was there 
To flourish, to find words, and to attend: 
Liar, physician, hypocrite, and friend, 
I watched him; and the sight was not so fair 
As one or two that I have seen elsewhere: 
An apparatus not for me to mend 
A wreck, with hell between him and the end, 
Remained of Annandale; and I was there. 

"I knew the rum as I knew the man; 
So put the two together, if you can, 
Remembering the worst you know of me. 
Now view yourself as I was, on the spot, 
With a slight kind of engine. Do you see? 
Like this . . . You wouldn't hang me? I thought not." 



THE FIELD OF GLORY 

War shook the land where Levi dwelt, 
And fired the dismal wrath he felt, 
That such a doom was ever wrought 
As his, to toil while others tought; 
To toil, to dream and still to dream, 
With one day barren as another; 
To consummate, as it would seem, 
The dry despair of his old mother. 

Far of! one afternoon began 
The sound of man destroying man; 
And Levi, sick with nameless rage, 
Condemned again his heritage, 
And sighed for scars that might have come, 
And would, if once he could have sundered 
Those harsh, inhering claims of home 
That held him while he cursed and won- 
dered. 

Another day, and then there came, 
Rough, bloody, ribald, hungry, lame, 
But yet themselves, to Levi' s door, 
Two remnants of the day before. 
They laughed at him and what he sought; 
They jeered him and his painful acre; 
But Levi knew that they had fought, 
And left their manners to their Maker. 



That night, for the grim widow's ears, 
With hopes that hid themselves in fears, 
He told of arms, and fiery deeds, 
Whereat one leaps the while he reads, 
And said he'd be no more a clown, 
While others drew the breath of battle. 
The mother looked him up and down, 
And laughed a scant laugh with a rattle. 

She told him what she found to tell, 
And Levi listened, and heard well 
Some admonitions of a voice 
That left him no cause to rejoice. 
He sought a friend, and found the stars, 
And prayed aloud that they should aid him; 
But they said not a word of wars, 
Or of a reason why God made him. 

And who's of this or that estate 
We do not wholly calculate, 
When baffling shades that shift and cling 
Are not without their glimmering; 
When even Levi, tired of faith, 
Beloved of none, forgot by many, 
Dismissed as an inferior wraith, 
Reborn may be as great as any. 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

THE CLERKS 

I did not think that I should find them there 
When I came back again; but there they stood, 
As in the days they dreamed of when young blood 
Was in their cheeks and women called them iair. 
Be sure they met me with an ancient air, 
And yes, there was a shop-worn brotherhood 
About them; but the men were just as good, 
And just as human as they ever were. 

And you that ache so much to be sublime, 
And you that teed yourselves with your descent, 
What comes of all your visions and your fears? 
Poets and kings are but the clerks of Time, 
Tiering the same dull webs of discontent 
Clipping the same sad alnage ot the years. 



THE DARK HILLS 

Dark hills at evening in the west, 
Where sunset hovers like a sound 
Of golden horns that sang to rest 
Old bones of warriors under ground, 
Far now irom all the bannered ways 
Where flash the legions of the sun, 
You fade as if the last of days 
Were fading and all wars were done. 



EROS TURANNOS 

She fears him, and will always ask 

What fated her to choose him; 
She meets in his engaging mask 

Ail reasons to refuse him; 
But what she meets and what she fears 
Are less than are the downward years, 
Drawn slowly to the foamless weirs 
Of age, were she to lose him. 

Between a blurred sagacity 

That once had power to sound him, 
And Love, that will not let him be 

The Judas that she found him, 
Her pride assuages her almost, 
As if it were alone the cost. 
He sees that he will not be lost, 

And waits and looks around him. 

A sense of ocean and old trees 
Envelops and allures him; 



Tiadition, touching all he sees, 

Beguiles and reassures him; 
And all her doubts of what he says 
Arc dimmed with what she knows of days 
Till even prejudice delays 

And fades, and she secures him. 

The falling leat inaugurates 

The reign of her contusion; 
The pounding wave reverberates 

The dirge of her illusion; 
And home, where passion lived and died, 
Becomes a place where she can hide, 
While all the town and harbor-side 

Vibrate with her seclusion. 

We tell you, tapping on our brows, 

The story as it should be, 
As if the story of a house 

Were told, or ever could be; 
We'll have no kindly veil between 
Her visions and those we have seen, 
As if we guessed what hers have been, 

Or what they arc or would be. 

Meanwhile we do no harm; for they 

That with a god have striven, 
Not hearing much of what we say, 

Take what the god has given; 
Though like waves breaking it may be, 
Or like a changed familiar tree, 
Or like a stairway to the sea 

Where down the blind are driven. 



i 5 o EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

THE SHEAVES 

Where long the shadows of the wind had rolled, 
Green wheat was yielding to the change assigned; 
And as by some vast magic undivmed 
The world was turning slowly into gold. 
Like nothing that was ever bought or sold 
It waited there, the body and the mind; 
And with a mighty meaning of a kind 
That tells the more the more it is not told. 

So in a land where all days are not fair, 
Fair days went on till on another day 
A thousand golden sheaves were lying there, 
Shining and still, but not for long to stay 
As if a thousand girls with golden hair 
Might rise from where they slept and go away. 



BEN JONSON ENTERTAINS A MAN FROM STRATFORD 

You are a friend then, as I make it out, 

Of our man Shakespeare, who alone of us 

Will put an ass's head in Fairyland 

As he would add a shilling to more shillings, 

All most harmonious and out of his 

Miraculous inviolable increase 

Fills Ihon, Rome, or any town you like 

Of olden time with timeless Englishmen; 

And I must wonder what you think of him 

All you down there where your small Avon flows 

By Stratford, and where you're an Alderman. 

Some, for a guess, would have him riding back 

To be a farrier there, or say a dyer; 

Or maybe one of your adept surveyors; 

Or like enough the wizard of all tanners. 

Not you no fear of that; for I discern 

In you a kindling of the flame that saves 

The nimble element, the true caloric; 

I see it, and was told of it, moreover, 

By our discriminate friend himself, no other. 

Had you been one of the sad average, 

As he would have it meaning, as I take it, 

The sinew and the solvent of our Island, 

You'd not be buying beer for this Terpander's 

Approved and estimated friend Ben Jonson; 

He'd never foist it as a part of his 

Contingent entertainment of a townsman 

While he goes off rehearsing, as he must, 

If he shall ever be the Duke of Stratford. 

And my words are no shadow on your town 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON i 5 t 

Far from it; for one town's like another 

As all are unlike London. Oh, he knows it 

And there's the Stratford in him; he denies it, 

And there's the Shakespeare in him. So, God help him! 

I tell him he needs Greek; but neither God 
Nor Greek will help him. Nothing will help that man. 
You see the fates have given him so much, 
He must have all or perish or look out 
Of London, where he sees too many lords. 
They're part of half what ails him: I suppose 
There's nothing fouler down among the demons 
Than what it is he feels when he remembers 
The dust and sweat and ointment of his calling 
With his lords looking on and laughing at him. 
King as he is, he can't be king de facto, 
And that's as well, because he wouldn't like it; 
He'd "Frame a lower rating of men then 
Than he has now; and after that would come 
An abdication or an apoplexy. 
He can't be king, not even king of Stratford- 
Though halt the world, if not the whole ot it, 
May crown him with a crown that (its no king 
Save Lord Apollo's homesick emissary: 
Not there on Avon, or on any stream 
Where Naiads and their white arms are no more 
Shall he find home again. It's all too bad. 
But there's a comfort, tor he'll have that House 
The best you ever saw; and he'll be there 
Anon, as you're an Alderman. Good God' 
He makes me he awake o' nights and laugh. 

And you have known him from his origin, 
You tell me; and a most uncommon urchin 
He must have been to the few seeing ones 
A trifle terrifying, I dare say, 
Discovering a world with his man's eyes, 
Quite as another lad might see some finches, 
If he looked haid and had an eye for Nature. 
But this one had his eyes and their foretelling, 
And he had you to fare with, and what else? 
He must have had a father and a mother 
In fact I've heard him say so and a dog, 
As a boy should, I venture; and the dog, 
Most likely, was the only man who knew him. 
A dog, for all I know, is what he needs 
As much as anything right here today, 
To counsel him about his disillusions, 
Old aches, and parturitions of what's coming 
A dog of orders, an emeritus, 
To wag his tail at him when he comes home, 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



And then to put his paws up on his knees 
And say, "For God's sake, what's it all about?" 

I don't know whether he needs a dog or not 

Or what he needs. I tell him he needs Greek; 

I'll talk of rules and Aristotle with him, 

And if his tongue's at home he'll say to that, 

"I have your word that Aristotle knows, 

And you mine that I don't know Aristotle." 

He's all at odds with ail the unities, 

And what's yet worse it doesn't seem to matter; 

He treads along through Time's old wilderness 

As if the tramp of all the centuries 

Had left no roads and there are none, for him; 

He doesn't see them, even with those eyes 

And that's a pity, or I say it is. 

Accordingly we have him as we have him 

Going his way, the way that he goes best, 

A pleasant animal with no great noise 

Or nonsense anywheie to set him of! 

Save only divers and inclement devils 

Have made of late his heart their dwelling-place. 

A flame half ready to fly out sometimes 

At some annoyance may be fanned up in him, 

But soon it falls, and when it falls goes out; 

He knows how little room there is in there 

For crude and futile animosities, 

And how much for the joy of being whole, 

And how much for long sorrow and old pain. 

On our side there are some who may be given 

To grow old wondering what he thinks of us 

And some above us, who are, in his eyes, 

Above himself and that's quite right and English. 

Yet here we smile, or disappoint the gods 

Who made it so; the gods have always eyes 

To see men scratch; and they see one down here 

Who itches, manor-bitten, to the bone, 

Albeit he knows himself yes, yes, he knows 

The lord ot more than England and of more 

Than all the seas of England in all time 

Shall ever wash. D'ye wonder that I laugh? 

He sees me, and he doesn't seem to care; 

And why the devil should he? I can't tell you. 

I'll meet him out alone of a bright Sunday, 

Trim, rather spruce, and quite the gentleman. 

"What, ho, my lord!" say L He doesn't hear me; 

Wherefore I have to pause and look at him. 

He's not enormous, but one looks at him. 

A little on the round if you insist, 

For now, God save the mark, he's growing old; 

He's five and forty, and to hear him talk 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

These days you'd call him eighty; then you'd add 

More years to that. lie's old enough to be 

The father of a world, and so he is. 

"Ben, you're a scholar, what's the time of day?" 

Says he; and there shines out of him again 

An aged light that has no age or station 

The mystery that's his a mischievous 

Half-mad serenity that laughs at fame 

For being won so easy, and at friends 

Who laugh at him for what he wants the most, 

And for his dukedom down in Warwickshire; 

By which you see we're all a little jealous. . . . 

Poor Greene! I fear the color of his name 

Was even as that of his ascending soul; 

And he was one where there are many others 

Some scrivening to the end against their fate, 

Their puppets all in ink and all to die there; 

And some with hands that once would shade an eye 

That scanned Euripides and Aeschylus 

Will reach by this time for a pot-house mop 

To slush their first and last of royalties. 

Poor devils' and they all play to his hand; 

For so it was in Athens and old Rome. 

But that's not here or there; I've wandered off. 

Greene does it, or I'm careful. Where's that boy? 

Yes, he'll go back to Stratford. And we'll miss him? 

Dear sir, there'll be no London here without him. 

We'll all be riding, one of these fine days, 

Down there to see him and his wife won't like us; 

And then we'll think of what he never said 

Of women which, if taken all in all 

With what he did say, would buy many horses. 

Though nowadays he's not so much tor women. 

"So few of them," he says, "are worth the guessing.'* 

But there's a worm at work when he says that, 

And while he says it one feels in the air 

A deal of circumambient hocus-pocus. 

They've had him dancing till his toes were tender, 

And he can feel 'em now, come chilly rains. 

There's no long cry for going into it, 

However, and we don't know much about it. 

But you in Stratford, like most here in London, 

Have more now in the Sonnets than you paid for; 

He's put one there with all her poison on, 

To make a singing fiction of a shadow 

That's in his life a fact, and always will be. 

But she's no care of ours, though Time, I fear, 

Will have a more reverberant ado 

About her than about another one 

Who seems to have decoyed him, married him, 



I 54 EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

And sent him scuttling on his way to London 

With much already learned, and more to learn, 

And more to follow. Lord' how I see him now, 

Pretending, maybe trying, to be like us. 

Whatever he may have meant, we never had him; 

He failed us, or escaped, or what you will 

And there was that about him (God knows what 

We'd flayed another had he tried it on us) 

That made as many of us as had wits 

More fond of all his easy distances 

Than one another's noise and clap-your-shoulder. 

But think you not, my friend, he'd never talk! 

Talk? He was eldritch at it; and we listened 

Thereby acquiring much we knew before 

About ourselves, and hitherto had held 

Irrelevant, or not prime to the purpose. 

And there were some, of course, and there be now, 

Disordered and reduced amazedly 

To resignation by the mystic seal 

Of young finality the gods had laid 

On everything that made him a young demon; 

And one or two shot looks at him already 

As he had been their executioner; 

And once or twice he was, not knowing it 

Or knowing, being sorry for poor clay 

And saying nothing . . . Yet, for all his engines, 

You'll meet a thousand of an afternoon 

Who strut and sun themselves and see around 'em 

A world made out of more that has a reason 

Than his, I swear, that he sees here today; 

Though he may scarcely give a Fool an exit 

But we mark how he sees in everything 

A law that, given that we flout it once too often, 

Brings fire and iron down on our naked heads. 

To me it looks as if the power that made him, 

For fear of giving all things to one creature, 

Left out the first faith, innocence, illusion, 

Whatever 'tis that keeps us out o' Bedlam 

And thereby, for his too consuming vision, 

Empowered him out of nature; though to see him, 

You'd never guess what's going on inside him. 

He'll break out some day like a keg of ale 

With too much independent frenzy in it; 

And all for cellaring what he knows won't keep, 

And what he'd best forget but that he can't. 

You'll have it, and have more than I'm foretelling; 

And there'll be such a roaring at the Globe 

As never stunned the bleeding gladiators. 

He'll have to change the color of its hair 

A bit, for now he calls it Cleopatra. 

Black hair would never do for Cleopatra. 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 755 

But you and I arc not yet two old women, 

And you're a man of office. What he does 

Is more to you than how it is he does it 

And that's what the Lord God has never told him. 

They work together, and the Devil helps 'cm; 

They do it of a morning, or if not, 

They do it of a night; in which event 

He's peevish of a morning. He seems old; 

He's not the proper stomach or the sleep 

And they're two sovran agents to conserve him 

Against the fiery art that has no mercy 

But what's in that prodigious grand new House. 

I gather something happening in his boyhood 

Fulfilled him with a boy's determination 

To make all Stratford 'ware of him. Well, well, 

I hope at last hell have his joy of it, 

And all his pigs and sheep and bellowing beeves, 

And frogs and owls and unicorns, moreover, 

Be less than hell to his attendant ears. 

Oh, past a doubt we'll all go down to see him. 

He may be wise. With London two days off, 

Down there some wind of heaven may yet revive him, 

But there's no quickening breath from anywhere 

Shall make of him again the young poised faun 

From Warwickshire, who'd made, it seems, already 

A legend of himself before I came 

To blink before the last of his first lightning. 

Whatever there be, there'll be no more oC that; 

The coming on of his old monster Time 

Has made him a still man; and he has dreams 

Were fair to think on once, and all found hollow. 

He knows how much of what men paint themselves 

Would blister in the light of what they are; 

He sees how much of what was great now shares 

An eminence transformed and ordinary; 

He knows too much of what the world has hushed 

In others, to be loud now for himself; 

He knows now at what height low enemies 

May reach his heart, and high friends let him fall; 

But what not even such as he may know 

Bedevils him the worst: his lark may sing 

At heaven's gate how he will, and for as long 

As joy may listen, but he sees no gate, 

Save one whereat the spent clay waits a little 

Before the churchyard has it, and the worm. 

Not long ago, late in an afternoon, 

I came on him unseen down Lambeth way, 

And on my life I was afear'd of him: 

He gloomed and mumbled like a soul from Tophet* 



756 EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

His hands behind him and his head bent solemn. 
"What is it now," said I, "another woman?" 
That made him sorry for me, and he smiled. 
"No, Ben," he mused; "it's Nothing. It's all Nothing. 
We come, we go; and when we're done, we're done; 
Spiders and flies we're mostly one or t'other 
We come, we go; and when we're done, we're done." 
"By God, you sing that song as if you knew it'" 
Said I, by way of cheering him; "what ails ye?" 
"I think I must have come down here to think," 
Says he to that, and pulls his little beard; 
"Your fly will serve as well as anybody, 
And what's his hour? He flies, and flies, and flies, 
And in his fly's mind has a brave appearance; 
And then your spider gets him in her net, 
And eats him out, and hangs him up to dry. 
' That's Nature, the kind mother of us all. 
And then your slattern housemaid swings her broom, 
And wherc's your spider? And that's Nature, also. 
It's Nature, and it's Nothing. It's all Nothing. 
It's all a world where bugs and emperors 
Go singularly back to the same dust, 
Each in his time; and the old, ordered stars 
That sang together, Ben, will sing the same 
Old stave tomorrow." 

When he talks like that, 
There's nothing for a human man to do 
But lead him to some grateful nook like this 
Where we be now, and there to make him drink. 
He'll drink, for love of me, and then be sick; 
A sad sign always in a man of parts, 
And always very ominous. The great 
Should be as large in liquor as in love 
And our great friend is not so large in either: 
One disaflects him, and the other fails him; 
Whatso he drinks that has an antic in it, 
He's wondering what's to pay in his insides; 
And while his eyes are on the Cyprian ', 
He's fribbling all the time with that damned House. 
We laugh here at his thrift, but after all 
It may be thrift that saves him from the devil; 
God gave it, anyhow and we'll suppose 
He knew the compound of His handiwork. 
Today the clouds are with him, but anon 
He'll out of 'em enough to shake the tree 
Of life itself and bring down fruit unheard-of 
And, throwing in the bruised and whole together, 
Prepare a wine to make us drunk with wonder; 
And if he live, there'll be a sunset spell 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 157 

Thrown over him as over a glassed lake 
That yesterday was all a black wild water. 

God send he live to give us, if no more, 

What now's a-rampage in him, and exhibit, 

With a decent half-allegiance to the ages 

An earnest of at least a casual eye 

Turned once on what he owes to Gutenberg, 

And to the fealty of more centuries 

Than are as yet a picture in our vision. 

"There's time enough I'll do it when I'm old, 

And we're immortal men," he says to that; 

And then he says to me, "Ben, what's 'immortal 1 ? 

Think you by any force of ordination 

It may be nothing of a sort more noisy 

Than a small oblivion of component ashes 

That of a dream-addicted world was once 

A moving atomy much like your friend here?" 

Nothing will help that man. To make him laugh 

I said then he was a mad mountebank 

And by the Lord I nearer made him cry. 

I could have cat an eft then, on my knees, 

Tails, claws, and all of him; for I had stung 

The king of men, who had no sting for me, 

And I had hurt him in his memories; 

And I say now, as I shall say again, 

I love the man this side idolatry. 

He'll do it when he's old, he says. I wonder. 

He may not be so ancient as all that. 

For such as he the thing that is to do 

Will do itself but there's a reckoning; 

The sessions that aic now too much his own, 

The roiling inward of a still outside, 

The churning out of all those blood-fed lines, 

The nights of many schemes and little sleep, 

The full brain hammered hot with too much thinking, 

The vexed heart over-worn with too much aching 

This weary jangling of conjoined affairs 

Made out of elements that have no end, 

And all confused at once, I understand, 

Is not what makes a man to live forever. 

O, no, not now' He'll not be going now: 

There'll be time yet for God knows what explosions 

Before he goes. He'll stay awhile. Just wait: 

Just wait a year or two for Cleopatra, 

For she's to be a balsam and a comfort; 

And that's not all a jape of mine now, either. 

For granted once the old way of Apollo 

Sings in a man, he may then, if he's able, 

Strike unafraid whatever strings he will 

Upon the last and wildest of new lyres; 

Nor out of his new magic, though it hymn 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 

The shrieks of dungeoned hell, shall he create 

A madness or a gloom to shut quite out 

A cleaving daylight, and a last great calm 

Triumphant over shipwreck and all storms. 

He might have given Aristotle creeps, 

But surely would have given him his Catharsis. 

Hell not be going yet. There's too much yet 

Unsung within the man. But when he goes, 

I'd stake ye coin o' the realm his only care 

For a phantom world he sounded and found wanting 

Will be a portion here, a portion there, 

Of this or that thing or some other thing 

That has a patent and intrinsical 

Equivalence in those egregious shillings. 

And yet he knows, God help him! Tell me, now, 

If ever there was anything let loose 

On earth by gods or devils heretofore 

Like this mad, careful, proud, indifferent Shakespeare! 

Where was it, if it ever was? By heaven, 

'Twas never yet in Rhodes or Pergamon 

In Thebes or Nmcvch, a thing like this' 

No thing like this was ever out of England; 

And that he knows. I wonder if he cares. 

Perhaps he does. . . . O Lord, that House in Stratford! 



NEW ENGLAND 

Here where the wind is always north-north-east 
And children learn to walk on frozen toes, 
Wonder begets an envy of all those 
Who boil elsewhere with such a lyric yeast 
Of love that you will hear them at a feast 
Where demons would appeal for some repose, 
Still clamoring where the chalice overflows 
And crying wildest who have drunk the least. 

Passion is here a soilure of the wits, 
We're told, and Love a cross for them to bear; 
Joy shivers in the corner where she knits 
And Conscience always has the rocking-chair, 
Cheerful as when she tortured into fits 
The first cat that was ever killed by Care. 

THE GIFT OF GOD That she may scarcely bear the weight 

Blessed with a ,oy that only she O her b wil ding reward. 
Of all alive shall ever know, 

She wears a proud humility As one apart, immune, alone, 

For what it was that willed it so, Or featured for the shining ones, 

That her degree should be so great And like to none that she has known 

Among the favored of the Lord Of other women's other sons, 



EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON 



'59 



The firm fruition of her need, 
He shines anointed; and he blurs 
Her vision, till it seems indeed 
A sacrilege to call him hers. 

She fears a little for so much 
Of what is best, and hardly dares 
To think of him as one to touch 
With aches, indignities, and cares; 
She sees him rather at the goal, 
Still shining; and her dream foretells 
The proper shining of a soul 
Where nothing ordinary dwells. 

Perchance a canvass of the town 
Would find him far from flags and shouts, 
And leave him only the renown 
Of many smiles and many doubts; 
Perchance the crude and common tongue 
Would havoc strangely with his worth; 



But she, with innocence unwrung. 
Would read his name aiound the earth. 

And others, knowing how this youth 
Would shine, it love could make him great, 
When caught and tortured for the truth 
Would only writhe and hesitate; 
While she, arranging for his days 
What centuries could not fulfill, 
Transmutes him with her faith and praise, 
And has him shining where she will. 

She crowns him with her gratefulness, 

And says again that life is good; 

And should the gift of God be less 

In him than in her motherhood, 

His fame, though vague, will not be small, 

As upward through her dream he fares, 

Half clouded with a crimson fall 

Of roses thrown on marble stairs. 



THE PRODIGAL SON 

You are not merry, brother. Why not laugh, 
As I do, and acclaim the fatted calf? 
For, unless ways arc changing hcie at home, 
You might not have it if I had not come. 
And were I not a thing for you and me 
To execrate m anguish, you would be 
As indigent a stranger to surprise, 
I fear, as I was once, and as unwise. 
Brother, believe as I do, it is best 
For you that I'm again in the old nest 
Draggled, I grant you, but your brother still, 
Full of good wine, good viands, and good will. 
You will thank God, some day, that I returned, 
And may be singing for what you have learned, 
Some other day; and one day you may find 
Yourself a little nearer to mankind. 
And having hated me till you are tired, 
You will begin to see, as if inspired, 
It was fate's way of educating us. 
Remembering then when you were venomous, 
You will be glad enough that I am gone, 
But you will know more of what's going on; 
For you will see more of what makes it go, 
And in more ways than are for you to know. 
We are so different when we are dead, 
That you, alive, may weep for what you said; 
And I, the ghost of one you could not save, 
May find you planting lentils on my grave. 



160 EDGAR LEE MASTERS 



Edgar Lee Masters 

EDGAR LEE MASTERS was born at Garnett, Kansas, August 23, 1869, of Puritan and 
pioneering stock. When he was still a boy, the family moved to Illinois, where, 
after desultory schooling, he studied law m his father's office at Lewiston. For a year 
he practiced with his father and then went to Chicago, where he became a successful 
attorney. Before going to Chicago, Masters had composed a quantity of rhymed 
verse in traditional forms on traditional themes; by the time he was twenty-four he 
had written about four hundred poems, the result of wide reading and the influence 
of Poe, Keats, Shelley, and Swinburne. 

Masters' first volume of poems, published in his twenty-ninth year, was modestly 
entitled (perhaps with an implied bow to Omar Khayyam) A Boo^ of Verses. 
With even greater modesty his second volume, The Blood of the Prophets (1905), 
was signed with a pseudonym, "Dexter Wallis." For the third book, Songs and 
Sonnets (1910), Masters adopted another pseudonym composed, this time, of the 
names of two Elizabethan dramatists: "Webster Ford." Meanwhile, under his 
own name, the author had published several plays Maximilian (1902), Althca 
(1907), The Tnfler (1908), The Leaves of the Tree (1909), Eileen (1910), The 
Locket (1910) and a set of essays, The New Star Chamber (1904). 

Although industry is evident in the number and variety of these volumes there 
is little to indicate the vigor and driving honesty which propelled the succeeding 
work. Masters himself felt uncertain of his future, crippled by his environment. 
"I feel that no poet in English or American history had a harder life than mine 
was in the beginning at Lewiston," he wrote in his autobiography, Aooss Spoon 
River (1936), "among a people whose flesh and whose vibrations were better cal- 
culated to poison, to pervert, and even to kill a sensitive nature." 

Masters left Lewiston for Chicago and became the partner of a famous criminal 
lawyer. Eight years later, his partner defaulted, professional and political enemies 
combined against him, and he plunged into the excited Chicago literary "move- 
ment" of 1912. 

In 1914, Masters, at the suggestion of his friend, William Marion Reedy, turned 
from his preoccupation with classic subjects and began to draw upon the life he 
knew for those concise records which made him famous. Taking as his model The 
Gice\ Anthology, which Reedy had pressed upon him, Masters evolved Spoon River 
Anthology, that astonishing assemblage of over two hundred self-inscribed epitaphs, 
in which the dead of a Middle Western town are supposed to have written the truth 
about themselves. Through these frank revelations, many of them interrelated, the 
village is re-created; it lives again with all its intrigues, hypocrisies, feuds, martyr- 
doms and occasional exaltations. The monotony of existence in a drab township, 
the defeat of ideals, the struggle toward higher goals are synthesized in these 
crowded pages. All moods and all manner of voices arc heard here even Masters', 
who explains the selection of his form through "Petit, the Poet/' 

The success of the volume was extraordinary. With every new attack (and its 
frankness continued to make fresh enemies) its readers increased. It was imitated, 
parodied, reviled as "a piece of yellow journalism"; it was hailed as "an American 



EDGAR LEE MASTERS 161 

Comedie Humaine." Finally, after the storm of controversy, it has taken its plate 
as a landmark in American literature. 

With Spoon River Anthology Masters arrived and left. He went back to his first 
rhetorical style, resurrecting many of his earlier trifles, reprinting dull echoes of 
Tennyson, imitations of Shelley, archaic paraphrases in the manner of Swinburne. 
Yet though none of Masters' subsequent volumes can be compared to his master- 
piece, all of them contain passages of the same straightforwardness and the stubborn 
searching that intensified his best-known characterizations. 

Songs and Satnes (1916) includes the startling "All Life in a Life" and the 
gravely moving "Silence." The Gtcat Valley (1917) is packed with echoes and a 
growing dependence on Browning. In Towatd the Gulf (1918), the Browning 
influence predominates. Starved Roct^ (1919), Domesday Boo^ (1920) and The 
New Spoon River (1924) are queerly assembled mixtures of good, bad, and deriva- 
tive verse. These volumes prepared us for the novels which, in their mixture of 
sharp concept and dull writing, were as uneven as his verse. The Pate of the Juiy 
(1929) is a continuation of Domesday Boo\ with its mechanics suggested by The 
Ring and the Bool{, large in outline, feeble in detail. Godbey (1931) is a dramatic 
poem containing six thousand lines of rhymed verse with a few sharply projected 
ideas, an occasionally vivid scene, and literally thousands of pedestrian couplets 
given over to debate and diatribe. Invisible Landscapes (1935) contains several 
ambitious poems devoted to varying manifestations of Nature, but they are impres- 
sive chiefly in length. One has only to compare Masters' "Hymn to Earth" with 
Elinor Wylic's poem of the same title to realize the difference between clairvoyance 
and doggedness. 

Between 1935 and 1938 Masters was more prolific than ever. In less than three 
years he published a long autobiography, a novel, three biographies, three books 
of poems eight volumes of declining merit. One of them, The New World (1937), 
was a quasi-epic which attempted to synthesize history and philosophy, law and 
literature. Poems of People (1936) was the best of the six; it marked a return to 
Masters' power of characterization plus a wider range than he had ever accom- 
plished. The manner was equally varied, alternating from the gracefully lyrical 
"Week-End by the Sea" to the deeply etched "Widows," which contrasts the women 
living in "forsakeness and listless ease" with their menial sisters. 

Mote People (1939) again reveals Masters as a grim historian of American life, 
lonely and bitter, but frequently turning the minutiae of history into poetry. The 
prairie section where Masters was born and where he grew up is spread out in the 
indigenous Illinois Poems (1941), in which the poet demonstrates his early environ- 
ment and his late nostalgia. In spite of his repetitions and rhetoric, Masters' work 
is a continual if irritable quest for some key to the mystery of truth and the mas- 
tery of life. And there is always that milestone, the original Spoon River Anthology. 

WEEK-END BY THE SEA 

I 

Far off the sea is gray and still as the sky, 

Great waves roar to the shore like conch shells water-groined. 



162 EDGAR LEE MASTERS 

With a flapping coat I step, brace back as the wind drags by; 
No ship as far as the seam where the sea and the sky are joined. 

I am watched from the hotel, I think. Who faces the cold? 

Why does he walk alone? 'Tis a bitter day. 

But I trade dreams with the sea, for the sea is old, 

And knows the dreams of a heart whose dreams are gray. 

Two apple trees alone in the waste on a sandy ledge, 
Grappled and woven together with sprouts in a blackened mesh, 
They are dead almost at the roots, but nourish the sedge; 
They are dead and at truce, like souls of outlived flesh. 

I have startled a gull to flight. I thought him a wave: 
White of his wings seemed foam, breast hued like the sand-hued roll. 
When a part of the sea takes wing you would think that the grave 
Of dead days might release to the heights a soul. 

ii 

I slept as the day was ending: scarlet and gilt 
Behind the Japan screen of shrubs and trees. 
I awoke to the scabbard of night and the starry hilt 
Of the sunken sun, to the old uncase. 

Sleeping, a void in my heart is awake; 
Waking, there is the moon and the wind's moan. 
I would I were as the sea that can break 
Over the rocks, indifferent and alone. 

in 

I have climbed to the little burial plot of the lost 
In wrecks at sea. West of me lies the town. 
Below are the apple trees, pulling each other down. 
Children are romping to school, ruddy from frost. 

How the wind grieves around these weedy wisps. 
And shakes them like a dog, sniffing from patch to patch. 
I try the battered gate, lift up the latch, 
And enter where the grass like a thistle lisps. 

Lost at sea' Nothing thought out or planned' 
What need" 5 Thought enough in a moment that battles a wave! 
What words tell more? And where is the hand to 'grave 
Words that tell so much for the lost on land? 



WIDOWS 

For twenty years and more surviving after 

Their husbands have been hidden away, 

Gray, old, thin, or obese, day after day 

Pillowed in luxury, waking with quavering laughter 

From the drowsiness of midday food, 

They sit, fingering long strands of crystals, 

Reading a little in a waking mood; 



EDGAR LEE MASTERS 163 

Or waiting for the postman with epistles, 

Or for telephones, or callers coming to tea. 

Bonds, stocks, are theirs; or pensions it may be, 

Since the long-dead husband, under-salaried, 

Helped to subdue some barbarous isle; 

Now that he lies with the half-forgotten dead, 

His widow draws an honorarium, 

To prop her prestige yet a little while. 

The public treasury is rich, and feels 

The drain but little; yet it is a sum 

Which would relieve the anxious mind whose zeals 

For thought and progress dread the time to come. 

In the hives of all the cities, high above 

The smoke and noise, where the air is pure, 

Are numberless widows, comfortable and secure, 

Protected by the watchman and God's love; 

Saved by the Church, and by the lawyer served, 

And by the actor, dancer, novelist amused. 

Some practise poetry; some, who are younger nerved, 

Dabble in sculpture; but all are used 

To win the attention of celebrities 

At dinners, or at the opera, to imbibe 

The high vitality of purchased devotees. 

But when not modeling, or scribbling verse, 

Nor drinking tea, nor tottering forth to dine, 

They sit concocting some new bribe 

To life for soul relief; they count what's in their purse; 

They stare at the window half asleep from wine 

Or poppy juice; they wait the luncheon hour; 

They visit with their maids; or they receive 

The heads of research schools, the which they dower, 

Or magazines, the better to achieve 

A place in memory or a present power; 

Or out of social bitterness they dictate 

The policies of journals, and compel 

Adherence to their husbands' inveterate 

Violence, like souls that brood in hell. 

From rents and funds, prescriptions, old mortmains 

They gather with fingers brown fron^ moldy spots 

Exhaustless gold, with which they feed the veins 

Of palsied privilege, and they foil the plots 

Of living generations against the dying brains. 

The hives of all the cities are full of these 

Widows, who in a complexity of combs 

Live in forsakeness and listless ease: 

All is deserted about them in such homes. 

Long has the rain fallen, and the snow been piled 

On the man under the trees outdoors; 

Even the bones in granite domiciled 

Have fallen apart but still the widow sits 



164 EDGAR LEE MASTERS 

By the window resting above the city's floors. 

The drone, the gadfly, or the hornet flits 

About her lifeless hive; and she may gasp 

Beholding at times the black bees of the rites 

Of dead men, drag a fallen bee or wasp 

To the outdoors of ram or starry nights. 

And then she shudders, knowing the time is soon 

When the chaufTeur of the ebon car will call 

To take her from the city where the moon 

Will eye the loneliness of hills; and all 

Her crystal necklaces and possessions will be strewn; 

And all the rentals of her lands, 

And dividends will re-assume with wings 

New shapes before the same insatiate hands. 

And in the city there are numberless women, 
Widows grown old and lame, who scrub, or wait 
On entrance doors, or cook; whose lonely fate 
Is part of the city's pageant, part of the human 
Necessity, victims of profligate 
Or unprevisioned life' They have no spoil, 
No dividends, and no power of subsidy 
Over the world of care and poverty; 
They have but patience and a little room, 
Patience and the withered hands of toil. 



PETIT, THE POET 

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, 

Tick, tick, tick, like mites in a quarrel 

Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens 

But the pine tree makes a symphony thereof. 

Triolets, vilLmelles, rondels, rondeaus. 

Ballades by the score with the same old thought- 

The snows and the roses of yesterday arc vanished; 

And what is love but a rose that fades ? 

Life all around me here in the village: 

Tragedy, comedy, valor and truth, 

Courage, constancy, heroism, failure 

All in the loom, and, oh, what patterns! 

Woodlands, meadows, streams and rivers 

Blind to all of it all my life long. 

Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus, 

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, 

Tick, tick, tick, what little iambics, 

While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines! 

LUCINDA MATLOCK 

I went to the dances at Chandlerville, 
And played snap-out at Winchester. 
One time we changed partners, 



EDGAR LEE MASTERS 165 

Driving home in the moonlight of middle June, 

And then I found Davis. 

We were married and lived together for seventy years, 

Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children, 

Eight of whom we lost 

Ere I had reached the age of sixty. 

I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick, 

I made the garden, and for holiday 

Rambled over the fields where sang the larks, 

And by Spoon River gathering many a shell, 

And many a flower and medicinal weed 

Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys. 

At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all, 

And passed to a sweet repose. 

What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, 

Anger, discontent and drooping hopes? 

Degenerate sons and daughters, 

Life is too strong for you 

It takes life to love Life. 



ANNE RUTLEDGE 

Out of me unworthy and unknown 

The vibrations of deathless music: 

"With malice toward none, with charity for all." 

Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions, 

And the beneficent face of a nation 

Shining with justice and truth. 

I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds, 

Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln, 

Wedded to him, not through union, 

But through separation. 

Bloom forever, O Republic, 

From the dust of my bosom! 

SILENCE 

I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea, 

And the silence of the city when it pauses, 

And the silence of a man and a maid, 

And the silence for which music alone finds the word, 

And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin, 

And the silence of the sick . 

When their eyes roam about the room. 

And I ask: For the depths 

Of what use is language? 

A beast of the field moans a few times 

When death takes its young. 

And we are voiceless in the presence of realities 

We cannot speak. 



/66 EDGAR LEE MASTERS 

A curious boy asks an old soldier 

Sitting in front of the grocery store, 

"How did you lose your leg?" 

And the old soldier is struck with silence, 

Or his mind flies away 

Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg. 

It comes back jocosely 

And he says, "A bear bit it off." 

And the boy wonders, while the old soldier 

Dumbly, feebly lives over 

The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon, 

The shrieks of the slain, 

And himself lying on the ground, 

And the hospital surgeons, the knives, 

And the long days in bed. 

But if he could describe it all 

He would be an artist. 

But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds 

Which he could not describe. 

There is the silence of a great hatred, 

And the silence of a great love, 

And the silence of a deep peace of mind, 

And the silence of an embittered friendship, 

There is the silence of a spiritual crisis, 

Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured, 

Comes with visions not to be uttered 

Into a realm of higher life. 

And the silence of the gods who understand each other without speech, 

There is the silence of defeat. 

There is the silence of those unjustly punished; 

And the silence of the dying whose hand 

Suddenly grips yours. 

There is the silence between father and son, 

When the father cannot explain his life, 

Even though he be misunderstood for it. 

There is the silence that comes between husband and wife 

There is the silence of those who have failed; 

And the vast silence that covers 

Broken nations and vanquished leaders. 

There is the silence of Lincoln, 

Thinking of the poverty of his youth. 

And the silence of Napoleon 

After Waterloo. 

And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc 

Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus" 

Revealing in two words all sorrow, all hope. 

And there is the silence of: age, 

Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it 

In words intelligible to those who have not lived 

The great range of life. 



EDGAR LEE MASTERS 



And there is the silence of the dead. 

If we who are in life cannot speak 

Of profound experiences, 

Why do you marvel that the dead 

Do not tell you of death? 

Their silence shall be interpreted 

As we approach them. 



Stephen Crane 

STEPHEN CRANE, whose literary career was one of the most meteoric in American 
O letters, was born in Newark, New Jersey, November i, 1871. Atter taking a par- 
tial course at Lafayette College, he entered journalism at sixteen and, until the time 
of his death, was a reporter and writer of newspaper sketches. When he died pre- 
maturely, at the age of thirty, he had ten printed volumes to his credit, two more 
announced for publication, and two others which were appearing serially. 

Crane's most famous novel, The Red Badge of Coutage (1895), was a tour de 
force, written when he was twenty-two years old. What is even more astonishing 
is the fact that this detailed description of blood and battlefields was written by a 
civilian far from the scene of conflict. The Atlantic Monthly pronounced it "great 
enough to set a new fashion in literature"; H. G. Wells, speaking of its influence 
in England, said Crane was "the first expression of the opening mind of a new 
period ... a record of intensity beyond all precedent." 

Crane's other books, although less powerful than The Red Badge of Courage, 
are scarcely less vivid. The Open Boat (1898) and The Monster (1899) are full of 
an intuitive wisdom and a passionate sensitivity that caused Wells to exclaim, 
"The man who can call these 4 bnlliant fragments' would reproach Rodin for not 
'completing* his fragments." 

At various periods in Crane's brief career, he experimented in verse, seeking to 
find new effects in unrhymed lines, a new acutencss of symbol and vision. The 
results were embodied in two volumes of unusual poetry The Elac\ Riders (1895) 
and War Is Kind (1899), lines that strangely anticipated the Imagists and the el- 
liptical free verse that followed fifteen years later. Acidulous and biting, these con- 
cisions were unappreciated in his day; Crane's suggestive verse has not yet received 
its due in an age which employs its very technique. But it was forty years before 
Emily Dickinson won her rightful audience, and a quarter of a century passed be- 
fore a publisher risked a Complete Worlds of Stephen Crane. It was not until 1930 
that a Collected Poems appeared. 

Besides novels, short stories and poems, Crane was writing, at the time of his 
death, descriptions of the world's great battles for Lippincott's Magazine; his droll 
Whilomville Stones for boys were appearing in Harper s Monthly, and he was 
beginning a series of similar stories for girls. It is more than probable that this 
feverish energy of production aggravated the illness that caused Crane's death. He 
reached hisTefuge in the Black Forest only to die at the journey's end, June 5, 1900. 



i68 



STEPHEN CRANE 



I SAW A MAN 

I saw a man pursuing the horizon; 
Round and round they sped. 
I was disturbed at this; 
I accosted the man. 
"It is futile," I said, 
"You can never " 
"You he," he cried, 
And ran on. 



THE WAYFARER 

The wayfarer, 

Perceiving the pathway to truth, 

Was struck with astonishment. 

It was thickly grown with weeds. 

"Ha," he said, 

"I see that no one has passed here 

In a long time." 

Later he saw that each weed 

Was a singular knife. 

"Well," he mumbled at last, 

"Doubtless there are other roads." 



HYMN 

A slant of sun on dull brown walls, 
A forgotten sky of bashful blue. 

Toward God a mighty hymn, 

A song of collisions and cries, 

Rumbling wheels, hoof-beats, bells, 

Welcomes, farewells, love-calls, final moans, 

Voices of joy, idiocy, warning, despair, 

The unknown appeals of brutes, 

The chanting of flowers, 

The screams of cut trees, 

The senseless babble of hens and wise men 

A cluttered incoherency that says to the stars: 

"O God, save us!" 

THE BLADES OF GRASS 

In Heaven, 

Some little blades of grass 

Stood before God. 

"What did you do?" 

Then all save one of the little blades 

Began eagerly to relate 

The merits of their lives. 



This one stayed a small way behind, 
Ashamed. 

Presently, God said, 

"And what did you do?" 

The little blade answered, "Oh, my Lord, 

Memory is bitter to me, 

For, if I did good deeds, 

I know not of them." 

Then God, in all his splendor, 

Arose from his throne. 

"Oh, best little blade of grass!" he said. 



THE BOOK OF WISDOM 

I met a seer. 

He held in his hands 

The book of wisdom. 

"Sir," I addressed him, 

"Let me read." 

"Child-" he began. 

"Sir," I said, 

"Think not that I am a child, 

For already I know much 

Of that which you hold; 

Aye, much." 

He smiled. 

Then he opened the book 
And held it before me. 
Strange that I should have grown so sud- 
denly blind. 



THE CANDID MAN 

Forth went the candid man 
And spoke freely to the wind 
When he looked about him he was in a far 
strange country. 

Forth went the candid man 
And spoke freely to the stars- 
Yellow light tore sight from his eyes. 

"My good fool," said a learned bystander, 
"Your operations arc mad." 

"You are too candid," cried the candid man. 
And when his stick left the head of the 

learned bystander 
It was two sticks. 



STEPHEN CRANE 



169 



THE HEART 



In the desert 

I saw a creature, naked, bestial, 
Who, squatting upon the ground, 
Held his heart in his hands, 



And ate of it. 

I said, "Is it good, friend ? " 

"It is bitter bitter," he answered; 

"But I like it 

Because it is bitter, 

And because it is my heart." 



T. A. Daly 



AUGUSTINE DALY was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 28, 1871. 
-L He attended Villanova College and Fordham University, but quit education 
at the end of his sophomore year to become a newspaper man Since 1891 he has 
been with various Philadelphia journals, writing reviews, editorials, travel-notes and, 
chiefly, running the columns in which his verse originally appeared. 

Canzoni (1906) and Catmma (1909) contain the best known of Daly's varied 
dialect verse. Although he has written in half a dozen diflercnt idioms including 
"straight" English (vide Songs of Wedlocl^, 1916) his half-humorous, hdlf-patheuc 
interpretations of the Irish and Italian immigrants are his foite. "Mia Carlotta" and 
"Between Two Loves" rank with the best dialect rhyming of the period. 

Seldom descending to caricature, Daly exhibits the foibles of his characters with- 
out exploiting them; even the lightest passages in Me Atom Ballads (1919) are done 
with delicacy and a not too sentimental appreciation. Less popular than Riley or 
Dunbar, Daly is more skillful and versatile than either; his range and quality are 
comparable to Field's. 



MIA CARLOTTA 

Giuseppe, da barber, ees greata for "mash," 
He gotta da bigga, da blacka mustache, 
Good clo'es an' good styla an' playnta good cash. 

W'enevra Giuseppe ccs walk on da street, 
Da people dey talka, "how nobby t how neat' 
How softa da handa, how smalla da feet." 

He raisa hees hat an* he shaka hees curls, 
An' smila weeth teetha so shiny like pearls; 
O! many da heart of da scely young girls 

He gotta. 
Yes, playnta he gotta 

But notta 

Carlotta! 

Giuseppe, da barber, he maka da eye, 
An' lika da steam engine pufla an' sigh, 
For catena Carlotta w'en she ces go by. 



i 7 o T. A. DALY 

Carlotta she walka weeth nose in da air, 

An* look through Giuseppe weeth tar-away stare, 

As eef she no see clere ees somebody derc. 

Giuseppe, da barber, he gotta da cash, 
He gotta da clo'es an' da bigga mustache, 
He gotta da seely young girls for da "mash," 

But notta 
You bat my life, notta 

Carlotta. 

I gotta! 



BETWEEN TWO LOVES 

I gotta lov' for Angela, 

I lov' Carlotta, too. 
I no can marry both o' dem, 

So w'at I gonna do ? 

O' Angela ees pretta girl, 
She gotta hair so black, so curl, 
An' teeth so white as anytheeng. 
An' O' she gotta voice to seeng, 
Dat mak' your hearta feel eet must 
Jump up an' dance or eet weel bust. 
An' alia time she seeng, her eyes 
Dey smila like Itaha's skies, 
An' makin' flirtin' looks at you 
But dat ees all w'at she can do. 

Carlotta ees no gotta song, 

But she ees twice so big an' strong 

As Angela, an' she no look 

So beautiful but she can cook. 

You oughta see her carry wood' 

I tal you w'at, eet do you good. 

When she ccs be som'body's wife 

She worka hard, you bat my life! 

She never gattm' tired, too 

But dat ees all w'at she can do. 

O' my' I weesh dat Angela 

Was strong for carry wood, 
Or else Carlotta gotta song 

An' looka pretta good. 
I gotta lov' for Angela, 

I lov' Carlotta, too. 
I no can marry both o' dem, 

So w'at I gonna do? 



JAMES WELDON JOHNSON 171 



James Weldon Johnson 

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON was born in Jacksonville, Florida, June 17, 1871. He was 
educated at Atlanta University and at Columbia University, where he received 
his A.M. He was principal of the colored high school in Jacksonville, was admitted 
to the Florida bar in 1897, and in 1901 removed to New York City, where he col- 
laborated with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson in writing for vaudeville and the 
light opera stage. He served seven years as United States Consul in Venezuela and 
Nicaragua, became secretary of the National Association for Advancement of Colored 
People, and occupied the chair of Creative Literature at Fisk University. His version 
of the libretto of Goyescas was produced at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1915. 
His death came suddenly and tragically; his automobile was struck by a railroad 
train near Wiscasset, Maine, June 26, 1938. 

His first book of verse Fifty Years and Other Poems (1918) contains much that is 
meretricious and facile; but, half buried in the midst of cliches, there is not only 
the humor but the stern pathos characteristic of the Negro as singer. This quality 
was pronounced in God's Ttombones (1927), Johnson's richest book of poems. The 
volume consists of seven Negro sermons in verse, done after the manner of the old 
Negro plantation sermons. In these poems the folk-stuff is used much as a composer 
might use folk-themes in writing a larger musical composition. "The Creation" and 
"Go Down, Death," in particular are large in conception; sonorous, strongly 
rhythmical free verse, reflecting the unctuous periods, the uninhibited imagery of the 
plantation preacher. They and, in a lesser degree, the other poems in God's Trom- 
bones, are a rambling mixture of Biblical and tropical figures, but always an artis- 
tically governed expression. 

Saint Peter Relates an Incident of the Resurrection Day (privately distributed in 
1930 and re-issued, with other poems, for general circulation in 1935) is a stirring 
expression in which irony masks a sense of outrage. Johnson was at work on the 
manuscript of a book when he picked up a newspaper and read that the govern- 
ment was sending to France a contingent of Gold Star mothers whose soldier sons 
were buried there, but that the Negro Gold Star mothers would not be allowed to 
sail on the ship with the white mothers. He threw the manuscript he was writing 
aside and did not take it up until he had finished the long satirical poem. 

Among Johnson's other work are the novel The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored 
Man (1912, republished in 1927), Blac^ Manhattan (1930), the story of the Negro 
in New York, and the eloquent autobiography Along this Way (1933). He also 
collaborated with his brother in the two collections of American Negro Spirituals 
in 1925 and 1926 and edited The Eoo\ of American Negro Poetry. 

THE CREATION 

(A Negto Sermon) 

And God stepped out on space, 
And He looked around and said, 
"I'm lonely 
I'll ma^e me a world!' 



772 JAMES WELDON JOHNSON 

And far as the eye of God could see 
Darkness covered everything, 
Blacker than a hundred midnights 
Down in a cypress swamp. 

Then God smiled, 

And the light broke, 

And the darkness rolled up on one side, 

And the light stood shining on the other, 

And God said, "That's good*" 

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands, 

And God rolled the light around in His hands, 

Until He made the sun; 

And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens. 

And the light that was left from making the sun 

God gathered up in a shining ball 

And flung against the darkness, 

Spangling the night with the moon and stars. 

Then down between 

The darkness and the light 

He hurled the world; 

And God said, ''That's good!" 

Then God himself stepped down 
And the sun was on His right hand, 
And the moon was on His left; 
The stars were clustered about His head, 
And the earth was under His feet. 
And God walked, and where He trod 
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out 
And bulged the mountains up. 

Then He stopped and looked and saw 

That the earth was hot and barren. 

So God stepped over to the edge of the world 

And He spat out the seven seas; 

He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed; 

He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled; 

And the waters above the earth came down, 

The cooling waters came down. 

Then the green grass sprouted, 

And the little red flowers blossomed, 

The pine-tree pointed his finger to the sky, 

And the oak spread out his arms; 

The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground, 

And the rivers ran down to the sea; 

And God smiled again, 

And the rainbow appeared, 

And curled itself around His shoulder. 



JAMES WELDON JOHNSON 

Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand 

Over the sea and over the land, 

And He said, "Bring forth? Bring forth!" 

And quicker than God could drop His hand, 

Fishes and fowls 

And beasts and birds 

Swam the rivers and the seas, 

Roamed the forests and the woods, 

And split the air with their wings, 

And God said, "That's good!" 

Then God walked around 

And God looked around 

On all that He had made. 

He looked at His sun, 

And He looked at His moon, 

And He looked at His little stars; 

He looked on His world 

With all its living things, 

And God said, "I'm lonely still" 

Then God sat down 

On the side of a hill where He could think; 

By a deep, wide river He sat down; 

With His head in His hands, 

God thought and thought, 

Till He thought, "/'// mci^e me a man!" 

Up from the bed of the river 

God scooped the clay; 

And by the bank of the river 

He kneeled Him down; 

And there the great God Almighty, 

Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky, 

Who flung the stars to the most far comer of the night, 

Who rounded the earth in the middle ot His hand 

This Great God, 

Like a mammy bending over her baby, 

Kneeled down in the dust 

Toiling over a lump of clay 

Till He shaped it in His own image; 

Then into it He blew the breath of life, 

And man became a living soul. 

Amen. Amen. 



PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 



Paul Laurence Dunbar 

PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR was born in 1 872 at Dayton, Ohio, the son of Negro slaves. 
He was, before and after he began to write his verse, an elevator-boy. He tried 
newspaper work unsuccessfully and, in 1899, was given a position in the Library of 
Congress at Washington, D. C. 

Although Dunbar wrote several volumes of short stories and two novels, he was 
most at home in his verse. Even here, his best work is not those "literary English" 
pieces by which he set such store, but the racy rhymes written in Negro dialect^ 
alternately tender and mocking. Dunbar's first collection, Lyncs of Lowly Life 
(1896), contains many of his most characteristic poems. In an introduction, in which 
mention was made of the octoroon Dumas and the great Russian poet Pushkin, who 
was a mulatto, William Dean Howelis wrote, "So far as I could remember, Paul 
Dunbar was the first man of pure African blood and of American civilization to 
feel the Negro life esthetically and express it lyrically. . . . His brilliant and unique 
achievement was to have studied the American Negro objectively, and to have rep- 
resented him as he found him with humor, with sympathy, and yet with what the 
reader must instinctively feel to be entire truthfulness." Dunbar was the precursor of 
those Negro poets who, turning away trom sentimentality, genuinely expressed the 
Negro, even though Dunbar avoided anything which seemed "controversial." 

Lytics of the Hearthside (1899) and Lyncs of Love and Laughter (1903) are two 
other volumes full of folk-stuff. Though the final Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow 
(1905) is less original, being crowded with echoes of all kinds of poetry from the 
songs of Robert Burns to the childhood rhymes of J. W. Riley, it contains a few of 
Dunbar's least known but keenest interpretations. 

Dunbar died in his birthplace, Dayton, Ohio, February 9, 1906. 

THE TURNING OF THE BABIES IN THE BED 

Woman's sho' a cur'ous critter, an' dey ain't no doubtin' dat. 
She's a mess o' funny capahs f'om huh shppahs to huh hat. 
Ef yo' tries to un'erstan' huh, an' yo' fails, des' up an' say: 
"D' ain't a bit o' use to try to un'erstan' a woman's way." 

I don' mean to be complainin', but I's jes' a-settm' down 
Some o' my own obscrwations, w'en I cas' my eye eroun'. 
Ef yo' ax me fu' to prove it, I ken do it mighty fine, 
Fu' dey ain't no bettah 'zample den dis ve'y wife o' mine. 

In de ve'y hea't o' midnight, w'en I's sleepin' good an* soun', 

I kin hyeah a so't o' rustlin' an' somebody movm' 'roun'. 

An' I say, "Lize, whut yo' doin'?" But she frown an' shek huh haid, 

"Hesh yo' mouf, I's only tu'nin' of de chillun in de bed. 

"Don* yo' know a chile gits restless, layin' all de night one way? 
An' yo' got to kind o' 'range him sev'al times befo' de day? 
So de little necks won't worry, an' de little backs won't break; 
Don' yo' t'mk 'cause chillun's chillun dey hamt got no pain an* ache." 



PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR 

So she shakes 'cm, an' she twists 'em, an' she tu'ns 'cm 'roun' erbout, 
'Twell I don' sec how de chillun evah keeps f om hollahin' out. 
Den she lif s 'em up head down'ards, so's dey won't git livah-grown, 
But dey snoozes des' ez peaceful ez a hza'd on a stone. 

Wen hit's mos' nigh time fu' wakin' on de dawn o' jedgement day, 
Seems lak I km hyeah ol' Gab'iel lay his trumpet down an* say, 
"Who dat walkin' 'roun' so easy, down on carf ermong de dead?" 
'Twill be Lizy up a-tu'nm' of de chillun in de bed. 



'75 



A COQUETTE CONQUERED 

Yes, my ha't's ez ha'd ez stone 
Go 'way, Sam, an' lemme 'lone. 
No; I ain't gwme change my mm'; 
Ain't gwme ma'y you nuffin' de km*. 

Phmy loves you true an' deah? 
Go ma'y Phmy; whut I keer? 
Oh, you needn't mou'n an' cry 
I don't keer how soon you die. 

Got a present' What you got? 
Somcf'n fu' de pan er pot' 
Huh' Yo' sass do sholy beat 
Think I don't git 'nough to eat? 

Whut's dat un'neaf yo' coat? 
Looks des lak a little shoat. 
'Tain't no possum? Bless de Lambl 
Yes, it is, you rascal, Sam! 

Gin it to me; whut you say? 
Ain't you sma't' Oh, go 'way! 
Possum do look mighty nice; 
But you ax too big a price. 

Tell me, is you talkm' true, 
Dat's de gal's whut ma'ies you? 
Come back, Sam; now whah's you gwine? 
Co'se you knows dat possum's mine! 



DISCOVERED 

Seen you down at chu'ch las' night, 

Nevah mm', Miss Lucy. 
What I mean? Oh, dat's all right, 

Nevah rnin', Miss Lucy. 
You was sma't cz sma't could be, 
But you couldn't hide t'om me. 
Ain't I got two eyes to see 1 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 

Guess you thought you's awful keen; 

Nevah mm', Miss Lucy. 
Evahthing you done, I seen; 

Nevah mm', Miss Lucy. 
Seen him tck yo' ahm jes' so, 
When he got outside dc do' 
Oh, I know dat man's yo' beau! 

Nevah mm', Miss Lucy. 

Say now, honey, wa'd he say? 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 
Keep yo' secrets dat's yo' way 

Nevah mm', Miss Lucy. 
Won't tell me, an' I'm yo' pal! 
I'm gwine tell his othah gal, 
Know huh, too; huh name is Sal. 

Nevah min', Miss Lucy. 



Guy Wetmore Carryl 

GUY WETMORE CARRYL, son of Charles Edward Carryl, author of Davy and the 
Goblin and The Admiral's Caravan, was born in New York City, March 4, 
1873. He, was graduated from Columbia University in 1895, was editor of Munsey's 
Magazine, 1895-6, and, during the time he lived abroad (from 1897 to 1902), was the 
foreign representative of various American publications. 



I 7 6 GUY WETMORE CARRYL 

As a writer of prose he was received with no little acclaim; his stories, The Ttans- 
gression of Andrew Vane (1902) and Zut and Othet Parisians (1903), held the 
attention of a restless reading public. But it was as a writer of light verse that 
Carryl became preeminent. Inheriting a remarkable technical gift from his father, 
young Carryl soon surpassed him as well as other rivals in the field of brilliantly 
rhymed, adroitly turned burlesques. 

Although he wrote several serious poems which were collected in the post- 
humously published The Garden of Years (1904), Carryl's most characteristic work 
is to be found in his perversions of the parables of Aesop, Fables fot the Fnvolous 
(1898); the topsy-turvy interpretations of nursery rhymes, Mother Goose fot Grown- 
ups (1900); and the fantastic variations on fairy tales in Gnmm Tales Made Gay 
(1903) all of them with a surprising (and punning) Moral attached. Even those 
who scorn the gymnastics of most light verse usually succumb to the ease with which 
Carryl overcomes seemingly impossible hazards in the rhyme-leaping fable of the 
fox and the raven or the appalling pun-juggling in the new version of Puss-m-Boots. 
He lacked only a Sullivan and a sense of satire to be called the Gilbert of America. 

This extraordinary versifier died, before reaching the height of his power, at the 
age of thirty-one, in the summer of 1904. 



HOW JACK FOUND THAT BEANS MAY GO BACK ON A CHAP 

Without the slightest basis 
For hypochondnasis 

A widow had forebodings which a cloud around her flung, 
And with expression cynical 
For half the day a clinical 

Thermometer she held beneath her tongue. 

Whene'er she read the papers 
She suffered from the vapors, 

At every tale of malady or accident she'd groan; 
In every new and smart disease, 
From housemaid's knee to heart disease, 

She recognized the symptoms as her own! 

She had a yearning chronic 
To try each novel tonic, 

Elixir, panacea, lotion, opiate, and balm; 
And from a homeopathist 
Would change to an hydropathist, 

And back again, with stupefying calm! 

She was nervous, cataleptic, 
And anemic, and dyspeptic: 

Though not convinced of apoplexy, yet she had her fears. 
She dwelt with force fanatical 
Upon a twinge rheumatical, 

And said she had a buzzing in her earsl 



GUY WETMORE CARRYL 

Now all of this bemoaning 

And this grumbling and this groaning 

The mind of Jack, her son and heir, unconscionably bored. 
His heart completely hardening, 
He gave his time to gardening, 

For raising beans was something he adored. 

Each hour in accents morbid 
This limp maternal bore bid 

Her callous son affectionate and lachrymose good-bys. 
She never granted Jack a day 
Without some long "Alackaday'" 

Accompanied by rolling of the eyes. 

But Jack, no panic showing, 

Just watched his beanstalk growing, 

And twined with tender fingers the tendrils up the pole. 
At all her words funereal 
He smiled a smile ethereal, 

Or sighed an absent-minded "Bless my soul!" 

That hollow-hearted creature 
Would never change a feature: 

No tear beclimmed his eye, however touching was her talk. 
She never fussed or flurried him, 
The only thing that worried him 

Was when no bean-pods grew upon the stalk! 

But then he wabbled loosely 
His head, and wept profusely, 

And, taking out his handkerchief to mop away hi$ tears, 
Exclaimed: "It hasn't got any!" 
He found this blow to botany 

Was sadder than were all his mother's fears. 

The Mojal is that gardeners pine 
Whene'er no pods adorn the vine. 
Of all sad words experience gleans 
The saddest are: "It might have beans." 

(I did not make this up myself: 

'Twas in a book upon my shelf. 

It's witty, but I don't deny 

It's rather Whittier than I') 



THE SYCOPHANTIC FOX AND THE GULLIBLE RAVEN 

A raven sat upon a tree, 

And not a word he spoke, for 
His beak contained a piece of Brie, 
Or, maybe, it was Roquefort. 
We'll make it any kind you please 
At all events it was a cheese. 



177 



ij8 GUY WETMORE CARRYL 

Beneath the tree's umbrageous limb 

A hungry fox sat smiling; 
He saw the raven watching him, 
And spoke in words beguiling: 
"]' admit e," said he, "ton beau plumage" 
(The which was simply persiflage). 

Two things there are, no doubt you know, 

To which a fox is used: 
A rooster that is bound to crow, 
A crow that's bound to roost; 
And whichsoever he espies 
He tells the most unblushing lies. 

"Sweet foul," he said, "I understand 

You're more than merely natty, 
I hear you sing to beat the band 
And Adelma Patti. 

Pray render with your liquid tongue 
A bit from 'Gotterdammerung.' " 

This subtle speech was aimed to please 

The crow, and it succeeded; 
He thought no bird in all the trees 
Could sing as well as he did. 
In flattery completely doused, 
He gave the "Jewel Song" from "Faust." 

But gravitation's law, of course, 

As Isaac Newton showed it, 
Exerted on the cheese its force, 
And elsewhere soon bestowed it. 
In fact, there is no need to tell 
What happened when to earth it fell. 

I blush to add that when the bird 

Took in the situation 
He said one brief, emphatic word, 
Unfit for publication. 

The fox was greatly startled, but 
He only sighed and answered "Tut." 

The Moral is: A fox is bound 

To be a shameless sinner. 
And also: When the cheese comes round 
You know it's after dinner. 
But (what is only known to few) 
The fox is after dinner, too. 



HOW A CAT WAS ANNOYED AND A POET WAS BOOTED 

A poet had a cat. 

There was nothing odd in that 



GUY WETMORE CARRYL 179 

(I might make a little pun about the Mewsl) 
But what is really more 
Remarkable, she wore 

A pair ol pointed patent-leather shoes. 
And I doubt me greatly whether 
You have heard the like of that: 
Pointed shoes of patent-leather 
On a cat! 

His time he used to pass 
Writing sonnets, on the grass 

(I might say something good on fen and swatd!) 
While the cat sat near at hand, 
Trying hard to understand 
The poems he occasionally roared. 
(I myself possess a feline, 
But when poetry I roar 
He is sure to make a bee-line 
For the door.) 

The poet, cent by cent, 
All his patrimony spent 

(I might tell how he went from verse to worse!) 
Till the cat was sure she could, 
By advising, do him good. 

So addressed him in a manner that was terse: 
"We are bound toward the scuppers, 

And the time has come to act, 
Or we'll both be on our uppers 
For a fact!" 

On her boot she fixed her eye, 
But the boot made no reply 

(I might say: "Couldn't speak to save its sole!") 
And the foolish bard, instead 
Of responding, only read 

A verse that wasn't bad upon the whole. 
And it pleased the cat so greatly, 

Though she knew not what it meant, 
That I'll quote approximately 
How it went: 

"If I should live to be 

The last leaf upon the tree" 

(I might put in: "I think I'd just as leaf I") 
"Let them smile, as I do now, 
At the old forsaken bough" 
Well, he'd plagiarized it bodily, in brief! 
But that cat of simple breeding 

Couldn't read the lines between, 
So she took it to a leading 
Magazine. 



i8o GUY WETMORE CARRY? 

She was jarred and very sore 
When they showed her to the door. 

(I might hit off the door that was a jar!) 
To the spot she swift returned 
Where the poet sighed and yearned, 

And she told him that he'd gone a little far, 
"Your performance with this rhyme has 

Made me absolutely sick," 
She remarked. "I think the time has 
Come to kick!" 

I could fill up half the page 
With descriptions of her rage 

(I might say that she went a bit too jut!) 
When he smiled and murmured: "Shoo'" 
"There is one thing I can do'" 

She answered with a wrathful kind of purr. 
"You may shoe me, an it suit you, 

But I feel my conscience bid 
Me, as tit for tat, to boot you!" 
(Which she did.) 

The Moial of the plot 

(Though I say it, as should not!) 

Is: An editor is difficult to suit. 
But again there're other times 
When the man who fashions rhymes 

Is a rascal, and a bully one to bootl 



Trumbull Sticfyiey 



(Joseph) Trumbull Stickney was born June 20, 1874, at Geneva, Switzerland, of 
New England parents. In 1891 he entered Harvard and was graduated with high 
classical honors in 1895. Immediately thereafter, he went abroad, studying at the 
Sorbonne and College de France for seven years. The University of Pans gave him 
the Doctoral es Lettres, never before conferred on an American, for two scholarly 
theses in 1903, the critic Masqueray pronouncing his "Les Sentences dans la Poeste 
Gtecque" one of the best modern studies of Hellenic literature. A few months later 
he returned to America, where he became instructor of Greek at Harvard University. 
Here his work was suddenly interrupted by death, caused by a tumor on the brain, 
and he died at the age of thirty, October u, 1904. 

One year after his death, his friends, George Cabot Lodge, John Ellerton Lodge 
and William Vaughn Moody, edited his posthumous Poems (1905), a small and 
wholly forgotten volume, Diamatic Verses, having appeared in 1902. Stickney seems 
to have found no wider circle of readers than his restricted intimate one. The collec- 
tions of the period have no record ot him; Stedman's voluminous anthology does not 
even mention his name. Yet there can be no question but that Stickney was a repre- 



TRUMBULL STICKNEY 



181 



sentative poet of his generation, worthy to stand beside Moody, whose point of 
view as well as his rhetoric he shared. There is a note, however, in Stickney's poetry 
wholly unlike Moody 's, a preoccupation with death that relates him in spirit at 
least to the later Jeffers. He spoke of divinely learning to suflcr loneliness; his, he 
wrote, were the "wise denials." 

LIVE BLINDLY AND UPON THE HOUR 

Live blindly and upon the hour. The Lord, 
Who was the Future, died full long ago. 
Knowledge which is the Past is folly. Go, 
Poor child, and be not to thyself abhorred. 
Around thine earth sun-winged winds do blow 
And planets roll; a meteor draws his sword; 
The rainbow breaks his seven-colored chord 
And the long strips of river-silver flow: 
Awake' Give thyself to the lovely hours. 
Drinking their lips, catch thou the dream in flight 
About their fragile hairs' aerial gold. 
Thou art divine, thou livest, as of old 
Apollo springing naked to the light, 
And all his island shivered into flowers. 



IN THE PAST 

There lies a somnolent lake 
Under a noiseless sky, 
Where never the mornings break 
Nor the evenings die. 

Mad flakes of color 
Whirl on its even face 
Iridescent and streaked with pallor; 
And, warding the silent place, 

The rocks rise sheer and gray 
From the sedgclcss brink to the sky 
Dull-lit with the light of pale half-day 
Thro' a void space and dry. 

And the hours lag dead in the air 
With a sense of coming eternity 
To the heart of the lonely boatman there: 
That boatman am I, 

I, in my lonely boat, 
A waif on the somnolent lake, 
Watching the colors creep and float 
With the sinuous track of a snake. 

Now I lean o'er the side 

And lazy shades in the water see, 



Lapped in the sweep of a sluggish tide 
Crawled in from the living sea; 

And next I fix mine eyes, 

So long that the heart declines, 

On the changeless face of the open skies 

Where no star shines; 

And now to the rocks I turn, 
To the rocks, around 
That he like walls of a circling urn 
Wherein lie bound 

The waters that feel my powerless strength 
And meet my homeless oar 
Laboring over their ashen length 
Never to find a shore. 

But the gleam still skims 
At times on the somnolent lake, 
And a light there is that swims 
With the whirl of a snake; 

And tho' dead be the hours in tne air, 
And dayless the sky, 
The heart is alive of the boatman there: 
That boatman am I. 



TRUMBULL ST1CKNEY 



AGE IN YOUTH 

From far she's come, and very old, 
And very soiled with wandering. 
The dust of seasons she has brought 
Unbidden to this field of Spring. 

She's halted at the log-barred gate. 
The May-day waits, a tangled spill 
Of light that weaves and moves along 
The daisied margin of the hill, 

Where Nature bares her bridal heart, 
And on her snowy soul the sun 
Languors desirously and dull, 
An amorous pale vermilion. 

She's halted, propped her rigid arms, 
With dead big eyes she drinks the west; 
The brown rags hang like clotted dust 
About her, save her withered breast. 

A very soilure of a dream 
Runs in the furrows of her brow, 
And with a crazy voice she croons 
An ugly catch of long ago. 

But look' Along the molten sky 
There runs strange havoc of the sun. 
"What a strange sight this is," she says, 
"I'll cross the field, I'll follow on." 

The bars are falling from the gate. 
The meshes of the meadow yield; 
And trudging sunsetward she draws 
A journey thro' the daisy field. 

The daisies shudder at her hem. 
Her dry face laughs with flowery light; 
An aureole lifts her soiled gray hair: 
"I'll on," she says, "to see this sight." 



In the rude math her torn shoe mows 
Juices of trod grass and crushed stalk 
Mix with a soiled and earthy dew, 
With smear of petals gray as chalk. 

The Spring grows sour along her track; 
The winy airs of amethyst 
Turn acid. "Just beyond the ledge," 
She says, "I'll see the sun at rest."* 

And to the tremor of her croon, 
Her old, old catch of long ago, 
The newest daisies of the grass 
She shreds and passes on below. . . . 

The sun is gone where nothing is 
And the black-bladed shadows war. 
She came and passed, she passed along 
That wet, black curve of scimitar. 

In vain the flower-lifting morn 

With golden fingers to uprear; 

The weak Spring here shall pause awhile: 

This is a scar upon the year. 

ALONE ON LYKAION 

Alone on Lykaion since man hath been 
Stand on the height two columns, where at 

rest 

Two eagles hewn of gold sit looking East 
Forever; and the sun goc$ up between. 
Far down around the mountain's oval green 
An order keeps the falling stones abreast. 
Below within the chaos last and least 
A river like a curl of light is seen. 
Beyond the river lies the even sea, 
Beyond the sea another ghost of sky, 
O God, support the sickness of my eye 
Lest the far space and long antiquity 
Suck out my heart, and on this awful ground 
The great wind kill my little shell with 

sound. 



Anna Hempstead Branch 

ATNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH was born at New London, Connecticut. She was grad- 
uated from Smith College in 1897 and has devoted herself to literature and 
social service, mostly in New York. She died in her home September 8, 1937. 
Her two chief volumes. The Shoes That Danced (1905) and Rose of the Wind 



ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH 



183 



(1910), reveal the lyrist, but they show a singer who is less fanciful than philosophic. 
Often, indeed, Miss Branch weighs down her simple melodies with intellectuality; 
more often, she attains a high level of lyricism. Her lines are admirably condensed; 
rich in personal as well as poetic value, they maintain a high and austere level. A 
typical poem is "The Monk in the Kitchen," which, with its spiritual loveliness 
and verbal felicity, is a celebration of cleanness that gives order an almost mystical 
nobility and recalls George Herbert. 

Although nothing she has ever written has attained the popularity of her shorter 
works, "Nimrod" has an epic sweep, a large movement which, within the greater 
curve, contains moments of exalted imagery. The deeply religious feeling implicit 
governs the author as person no less than as poet, for Miss Branch had given a great 
part of her life to settlement work at Chnstadora House on New York's East Side. 
"To a Dog" is more direct than is Miss Branch's wont; "The Monk in the Kitchen" 
is no less straightforward, though its metaphysics make it seem less forthright. 



THE MONK IN THE KITCHEN 

I 

Order is a lovely thing; 

On disarray it lays its wing, 

Teaching simplicity to sing. 

It has a meek and lowly grace, 

Quiet as a nun's face. 

Lo I will have thec in this place 1 

Tranquil well of deep delight, 

All things that shine through thee appear 

As stones through water, sweetly clear. 

Thou clarity, 

That with angelic charity 

Revealest beauty where thou art, 

Spread thyself like a clean pool. 

Then all the things that in thee are, 

Shall seem more spiritual and fair, 

Reflection from scrcner air 

Sunken shapes of many a star 

In the high heavens set afar. 

ii 

Ye stolid, homely, visible things, 
Above you all brood glorious wings 
Of your deep entities, set high, 
Like slow moons in a hidden sky. 
But you, their likenesses, are spent 
Upon another element. 
Truly ye are but seemings 
The shadowy cast-off gleamings 
Of bright solidities. Ye seem 
Soft as water, vague as dream; 
Image, cast in a shifting stream. 



in 

What are ye? 

I know not. 

Brazen pan and iron pot, 

Yellow brick and gray flagstone 

Thar my feet have trod upon 

Ye seem to me 

Vessels of bright mystery 

For yc do bear a shape, and so 

Though ye were made by man, I know 

An inner Spirit also made, 

And ye his breathings have obeyed. 

IV 

Shape, the strong and awful Spirit, 

Laid his ancient hand on you. 

He waste chaos doth inherit; 

He can alter and subdue. 

Verily, he doth lift up 

Matter, like a sacred cup. 

Into deep substance he reached, and lo 

Where ye were not, ye were; and so 

Out of useless nothing, ye 

Groaned and laughed and came to be, 

And I use you, as I can, 

Wonderful uses, made for man, 

Iron pot and brazen pan. 

v 

What are ye? 

I know not; 

Nor what I really do 

When I move and govern you. 

There is no small work unto God. 

He required of us greatness; 

Of his least creature 



184 

A high angelic nature, 

Stature superb and bright completeness. 

He sets to us no humble duty. 

Each act that he would have us do 

Is haloed round with strangest beauty; 

Terrific deeds and cosmic tasks 

Of his plainest child he asks. 

When I polish the brazen pan 

I hear a creature laugh afar 

In the gardens of a star, 

And from his burning presence run 

Flaming wheels of many a sun. 

Whoever makes a thing more bright, 

He is an angel of all light. 

When I cleanse this earthen floor 

My spirit leaps to see 

Bright garments trailing over it, 

A cleanness made by me. 

Purger of all men's thoughts and ways, 

With labor do I sound Thy praise, 

My work is done for Thee. 

Whoever makes a thing more bright, 

He is an angel of all light. 

Therefore let me spread abroad 

The beautiful cleanness of my God. 



ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH 

VT 

One time in the cool of dawn 

Angels came and worked with me. 

The air was soft with many a wing. 

They laughed amid my solitude 

And cast bright looks on everything. 

Sweetly of me did they ask 

That they might do my common task, 

And all were beautiful but one 

With garments whiter than the sun 

Had such a face 

Of deep, remembered grace; 

That when I saw I cried "Thou art 

The great Blood-Brother of my heart. 

Where have I seen thce ? " And he said, 

"When we were dancing round God's throne. 

How often thou art there. 

Beauties from thy hands have flown 

Like white doves wheeling in mid-air. 

Nay thy soul icmcmbers not? 

Work on, and cleanse thy iron pot." 

VII 

What are we ? I know not. 



WHILE LOVELINESS GOES BY 

Sometimes when all the world seems gray and dun 

And nothing beautiful, a voice will cry, 

"Look out, look out' Angels are drawing nigh'" 

Then my slow burdens leave me one by one, 

And swiftly does my heart arise and run 

Even like a child while loveliness goes by 

And common folk seem children of the sky, 

And common things seem shaped of the sun, 

Oh, pitiful 1 that I who love them, must 

So soon perceive their shining garments fade! 

And slowly, slowly, from my eyes of trust 

Their flaming banners sink into a shade' 

While this earth's sunshine seems the golden dust 

Slow settling from that radiant cavalcade. 



TO A DOG 

I 



If there is no God for thee 
Then there is no God for me, 

If He sees not when you share 
With the poor your frugal fare, 



Does not see you at a grave, 
Every instinct bred to save; 

As if you were the only one 
Believing m a resurrection; 

When you wait, as lovers do, 
Watching till your friend comes true; 



ANNA HEMPSTEAD BRANCH 



185 



Does not reverence when you take 
Angry words for love's sweet sake; 

If his eye does not approve 

All your faith and pain and love; 

If the heart of justice fail 
And is for you of no avail; 

If there is no heaven for thee 
Then there is no heaven for me. 



If the Lord they tell us of 
Died for men yet loves not love, 

If from out His Paradise 

He shuts the innocent and wise, 

The gay, ohedient, simple, good, 
The docile ones, of friendly mood, 

Those who die to save a friend 
Heavenly faithful to the end; 

If there is no cross for thee 
Then there is no cross for me. 



HI 



If its boughs reach not so high 
That they bowed star and sky, 

If its roots are not so sound 

That they cleave the heavy ground, 

If it thrills not through all Nature 
Plunged through every living creature, 

If its leaves do not enmesh 
Every bit of groaning flesh, 

If it strike no mighty spur 

Through fang and claw and tooth and fur 

Piercing tree and earth and stone, 
Then indeed I stand alone. 

Nothing less than this can save 
Me, from out my fleshly grave, 

Me, in whom such jungles are 
Where the beasts go out to war. 

If there is no God for thcc 
Then there is no God for me. 



Amy Lowell 

Any LOWELL was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, February 9, 1874, f a 
line of noted publicists and poets; the first colonist (a Pcrcival Lowell) arrived 
in Newburyport in 1637. fames Russell Lowell was a cousin of her grandfather; 
Abbott Lawrence, her mother's father, was minister to England; Percival Lowell, the 
astronomer who charted the conjectural canals on Mars, was a brother; and Abbott 
Lawrence Lowell, her other brother, was president of Harvard University. 

Miss Lowell obtained her early education through private tuition and travel abroad. 
These European journeys were the background upon which much of Miss Lowell's 
later work was unconsciously woven; her visits to France, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece 
bore fruit, many years later, in the exotic colors of her verse. As a young girl, she 
had vague aspirations toward being a writer; but it was not until 1902, when she 
was twenty-eight years old, that she definitely determined to be a poet. For eight 
years she served a rigorous apprenticeship, reading the classics of all schools, studying 
the technique of verse, but never attempting to publish a line. In 1910 her first verse 
was printed in The Atlantic Monthly; two years later her first book appeared. 

This volume, A Dome of Many-colored Glass (1912), was a strangely unpromising 
first book. Subject and treatment were conventional; the influence of Keats and 



186 AMY LOWELL 

Tennyson was evident; the tone was soft and sentimental, without a trace of per- 
sonality. It was a queer prologue to the vivid Sword Blades and Poppy Seed (1914), 
which marked not only an extraordinary advance but a new individuality. This 
second volume contained many poems written in the usual forms, a score of pictorial 
pieces illustrating Miss Lowell's identification with the Jmagists, and, possibly most 
important from a technical standpoint, the first appearance in English of "poly- 
phonic prose." Of this extremely flexible form, Miss Lowell, in an essay on John 
Gould Fletcher, wrote, " 'Polyphonic* means 'many-voiced/ and the form is so-called 
because it makes use of the 'voices' of poetry, namely: meter, vers libre, assonance, 
alliteration, rhyme and return. It employs every form of rhythm, even prose rhythm 
at times." By this time Miss Lowell had "captured" the Imagist movement from 
Ezra Pound, had reorganized it, and, by her belligerent championing of vers hbre, 
freedom of choice of subject, and other seeming innovations, had made poetry a 
fighting word. 

It was because of her experiments in form and technique that Miss Lowell first 
attracted attention and is still best known. But, beneath a preoccupation with theories 
and novelty of utterance, there was the skilled story-teller, who revivified history with 
creative excitement. Men, Women and Ghosts (1916) brims with this contagious 
vitality; it is richer in variety than its predecessors, swifter in movement. It is, in 
common with all of Miss Lowell's work, best in its portrayal of colors and sounds, 
of physical perceptions rather than the reactions of inner experience. She is, pre- 
eminently, the poet of the external world; her visual effects are as "hard and clear" 
as the most uncompromising Imagist could desire. The colors with which her works 
are studded seem like bits of bright enamel; every leaf and flower has a lacquered 
brilliance. To compensate for the lack of the spirit's warmth, Miss Lowell feverishly 
agitates all she touches; nothing remains quiescent. Whether she writes about a 
fruit shop, or a flower-garden, or a string quartet, or a Japanese print everything 
flashes, leaps, startles, and burns with dynamic, almost savage, speed. Motion too 
often takes the place of emotion. 

In Can Gtande's Castle (1918) Miss Lowell achieves a broader line; the teller of 
stories, the bizarre decorator, and the experimenter finally fuse. The poems in this 
volume are only four in number four polyphonic prose-poems of unusual length, 
extraordinarily varied in their sense of amplitude and time. Pictures of the Floating 
World (1919) which followed is, in many ways, Miss Lowell's most personal revela- 
tion. Although there are pages devoted to the merely dazzling and grotesque, most 
of the poems are in a quieter key. 

Legends (1921) is closely related to Can Grande' s Castle; eleven stories are placed 
against seven different backgrounds. The first poem must be rated among Miss 
Lowell's most dazzling achievements: a tour de force with colors as strange and 
metallic as the scene it pictures. The next years were devoted to her Keats researches. 

Besides Miss Lowell's original poetry, she undertook many studies in foreign litera- 
tures; she made the English versions of the poems translated from the Chinese by 
Florence Ayscough in the vivid Fir-Flower Tablets (1921). She also wrote two 
volumes of critical essays: Six French Poets (1915) and Tendencies in Modern Amer- 
ican Poetry (1917), valuable aids to the student of contemporary literature. Two 
years after its publication she acknowledged the authorship of the anonymous A 
Critical Fable (1922), a modern sequel to James Russell Lowell's A Fable for Critics. 



AMY LOWELL 187 

Her monumental John Keats, an exhaustive biography and analysis of the poet in 
two volumes, appeared early in 1925. 

For years Miss Lowell had been suffering from ill health; she had been operated 
upon several times, but her general condition, as well as her continual desire to work, 
nullified the effects of the operations. In April, 1925, her condition became worse; 
she was forced to cancel a projected lecture trip through England and to cease all 
work. She died as the result of a paralytic stroke on May 12, 1925. Her death 
occasioned nation-wide tributes; the very journals which had ridiculed her during 
her life were loud in praise: it was agreed that hers was one of the most daring 
and picturesque figures in contemporary literature. Like all pioneers, she was the 
target of scorn and hostility; but, unlike most innovators, she lived to sec her experi- 
ments rise from the limbo of ridicule to a definite place in their period. 

Three posthumous volumes appeared at yearly intervals immediately after her 
death: What's O'ClocI^ (1925) which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for that year, 
East Wind (1926), and Ballads for Sale (1927). The first was arranged by the poet 
herself and includes such poems as "Meeting-House Hill" and "Lilacs" which are 
tart and native; the second is a set of dialect and highly ovcrdramatized New 
England narratives; the third is a miscellaneous collection. Her qualities are epito- 
mized in these three books and the fact that they show no particular advance upon 
the earlier "Patterns" is significant. Her brilliance, her command of the lacquered 
phrase and the glazed figure, her pyrotechniquc which causes words to bloom and 
burst at the same moment as though issuing from firework flower-pots, her restless 
excitement provoking inanimate objects to a furious life of their own these were 
characteristics recognizable from the first. In some of the new poems, the juxta- 
position of the thing observed and the thing imagined ("Meeting-House Hill" is a 
particularly vivid example) is more than ordinarily surprising, but one is prepared 
for the verve and alacrity of upspnnging colors, for the purposeful shifting and dis- 
tortion of surfaces like the clash of planes in an agitated canvas. Perhaps the most 
important of the posthumous poems are the expressive and personal "Lilacs," 
"Evelyn Ray," a virtuoso piece in couplets, and "The Sisters," a shrewd commentary 
on the "queer lot of women who write poetry," particularly her "spiritual relations" 
Sappho, Mrs. Browning, and Emily Dickinson. 

At the end of "The Sisters" the poet confesses that, in spite of her admiration for 
the Greek poet, the Englishwoman, and the American genius, none of the three 
has any word for her. They were, first of all, deeply emotional poets; Miss Lowell 
was not at home among the emotions. She triumphed in the visual world, in the 
reflection of reflections, in capturing the minute disturbances of light and move- 
ment. It has been said that, though a poet, she failed as a humanist, that she never 
touched deep feelings because she never knew where to look for them. This con- 
tradicted by such poems as "Patterns," "Madonna of the Evening Flowers" and the 
ecstatic "In Excelsis" is true in the sense that passion was not this poet's domain 
nor, except in a few instances, her concern. Color and finesse were her preoccupa- 
tions, and her many volumes testify to a continually adroit craftsmanship. 

Amy Lowell, storm-center, Imagist, strategist, poet, and personality, is shown in 
her vigorous many-sidedness in the comprehensive, if uncritical, biography Amy 
Lowell (1935) by S. Foster Damon. 



i88 A M^ LOWELL 

A LADY 

You are beautiful and faded, 

Like an old opera tune 

Played upon a harpsichord; 

Or like the sun-flooded silks 

Of an eighteenth-century boudoir. 

In your eyes 

Smolder the fallen roses of outlived minutes, 

And the perfume of your soul 

Is vague and suffusing, 

With the pungence of sealed sp?ce-jars. 

Your half-tones delight me, 

And I grow mad with gazing 

At your blent colors. 

My vigor is a new minted penny, 
Which I cast at your feet. 
Gather it up from the dust 
That its sparkle may amuse you. 



SOLITAIRE 

When night drifts along the streets of the city, 

And sifts down between the uneven roofs, 

My mind begins to peek and peer. 

It plays at ball in odd, blue Chinese gardens, 

And shakes wrought dice-cups in Pagan temples 

Amid the broken flutings of white pillars. 

It dances with purple and yellow crocuses in its hair, 

And its feet shine as they flutter over drenched grasses. 

How light and laughing my mind is, 

When all good folk have put out their bedroom candles, 

And the city is still. 



PATTERNS 

I walk down the garden-paths, 

And all the daffodils 

Are blowing, and the bright blue squills. 

I walk down the patterned garden-paths 

In my stiff, brocaded gown. 

With my powdered hair and jeweled fan, 

I too am a rare 

Pattern. As I wander down 

The garden-paths. 

My dress is richly figured, 
And the train 

Makes a pink and silver stain 
On the gravel, and the thrift 



AMY LOWELL 18 

Of the borders. 

Just a plate of current fashion, 

Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes. 

Not a softness anywhere about me, 

Only whalebone and brocade. 

And I sink on a seat in the shade 

Of a lime tree. For my passion 

Wars against the stiff brocade. 

The daffodils and squills 

Flutter in the breeze 

As they please. 

And I weep; 

For the lime-tree is in blossom 

And -one small flower has dropped upon my bosom. 

And the plashing of watcrdrops 

In the marble fountain 

Comes down the garden-paths. 

The dripping never stops. 

Underneath my stiffened gown 

Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin, 

A basin in the midst of hedges grown 

So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding, 

But she guesses he is near, 

And the sliding of the water 

Seems the stroking of a dear 

Hand upon her. 

What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown! 

I should like to sec it lying in a heap upon the ground. 

All the pink and silver crumpled up on the giound. 

I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths, 

And he would stumble after, 

Bewildered by my laughter. 

I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes, 

I would choose 

To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths, 

A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover. 

Till he caught me in the shade, 

And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me, 

Aching, melting, unafraid. 

With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops, 

And the plopping of the waterdrops, 

All about us in the open afternoon 

I am very like to swoon 

With the weight of this brocade. 

For the sun sifts through the shade. 

Underneath the fallen blossom 

In my bosom 

Is a letter I have hul. 

It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke. 



AMY LOWEL1 



"Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell 

Died in action Thursday se'nnight." 

As I read it in the white, morning sunlight, 

The letters squirmed like snakes. 

"Any answer, Madam," said my footman. 

"No," I told him. 

"See that the messenger takes some refreshment. 

No, no answer." 

And I walked into the garden, 

Up and down the patterned paths, 

In my stiff, correct brocade. 

The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun, 

Each one. 

I stood upright too, 

Held rigid to the pattern 

By the stiffness of my gown; 

Up and down I walked, 

Up and down. 

In a month he would have been my husband. 

In a month, here, underneath this lime, 

We would have broke the pattern; 

He for me, and I for him, 

He as Colonel, I as Lady, 

On this shady scat. 

He had a whim 

That sunlight carried blessing. 

And I answered, "It shall be as you have said." 

Now he is dead. 

In Summer and in Winter I shall walk 

Up and down 

The patterned garden-paths 

In my stiff, brocaded gown. 

The squills and daffodils 

Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow. 

I shall go 

Up and down 

In my gown. 

Gorgeously arrayed, 

Boned and stayed. 

And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace 

By each button, hook, and lace. 

For the man who should loose me is dead, 

Fighting with the Duke in Flanderc, - 

In a pattern called a war. 

Christ! What are patterns for? 



AMY LOWELL igi 

WIND AND SILVER 

Greatly shining, 

The Autumn moon floats in the thin sky; 

And the fish-ponds shake their backs and flash their dragon scales 

As she passes over them. 

NIGHT CLOUDS 

The white mares of the moon rush along the sky 

Beating their golden hoofs upon the glass Heavens; 

The white mares of the moon arc all standing on their hind legs 

Pawing at the green porcelain doors of the remote Heavens. 

Fly, mares' 

Strain your utmost, 

Scatter the milky dust of stars, 

Or the tiger sun will leap upon you and destroy you 

With one lick of his vermilion tongue. 

FREE FANTASIA ON JAPANESE THEMES 

All the afternoon there has been a chirping of birds, 

And the sun lies warm and still on the western sides of swollen branches, 

There is no wind; 

Even the little twigs at the ends of the branches do not move, 

And the needles of the pines are solid 

Bands of marticulated blackness 

Against the blue-white sky, 

Still, but alert; 

And my heart is still and alert, 

Passive with sunshine, 

Avid of adventure. 

I would experience new emotions, 

Submit to strange enchantments, 

Bend to influences 

Bizarre, exotic, 

Fresh with burgeoning. 

I would climb a sacred mountain 

Struggle with other pilgrims up a steep path through pine-trees, 

Above to the smooth, treeless slopes, 

And prostrate myself before a painted shrine, 

Beating my hands upon the hot earth, 

Quieting my eyes upon the distant sparkle 

Of the faint spring sea. 

I would recline upon a balcony 

In purple curving folds of silk, 

And my dress should be silvered with a pattern 

Of butterflies and swallows, 

And the black band of my obi 

Should flash with gold circular threads, 



4MY LOWELL 



And glitter when I moved. 

I would lean against the railing 

While you sang to me of wars 

Past and to come 

Sang, and played the samiscn. 

Perhaps I would beat a little hand drum 

In time to your singing; 

Perhaps I would only watch the play of light 

Upon the hilt of your two swords. 

I would sit in a covered boat, 

Rocking slowly to the narrow waves of a river, 

While above us, an arc of moving lanterns, 

Curved a bridge, 

A hiss of gold 

Blooming out of darkness, 

Rockets exploded, 

And died in a soft dripping of colored stars. 

We would float between the high trestles, 

And drift away from other boats, 

Until the rockets flared soundless, 

And their falling stars hung silent in the sky, 

Like wistaria clusters above the ancient entrance of a temple. 

I would anything 

Rather than this cold paper; 

With outside, the quiet sun on the sides of burgeoning branches, 

And inside, only my books. 

A DECADE 

When you came, you were like red wine and honey, 

And the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness. 

Now you are like morning bread, 

Smooth and pleasant. 

I hardly taste you at all, for I know your savor; 

But I am completely nourished. 

MADONNA OF THE EVENING FLOWERS 

All day long I have been working, 

Now I am tired. 

I call: "Where are you?" 

But there is only the oak tree rustling in the wind. 

The house is very quiet, 

The sun shines in on your books, 

On your scissors and thimble just put down, 

But you are not there. 

Suddenly I am lonely: 

Where are you? 

I go about searching. 



AMY LOWELL i 93 

Then I see you, 

Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur, 

With a basket of roses on your arm. 

You arc cool, like siher, 

And you smile. 

I think the Canterbury bells arc playing little tunes, 

You tell me that the peonies need spraying, 

That the columbines have overrun all bounds, 

That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded. 

You tell me these things. 

But I look at you, heart of silver, 

White heart-flame of polished silver, 

Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur, 

And I long to kneel instantly at your feet, 

While all about us peal the loud, sweet Te Deums of the Canterbury bells. 



EVELYN RAY 

No decent man will cross a field 
Laid down to hay, until its yield 

Is cut and cocked, yet there was the track 
Going in from the lane and none coming back. 

But that was afterwards; before, 

The field was smooth as a sea oil shore 

On a shimmering afternoon, waist-high 
With bent, and red top, and timothy. 

Lush with oat grass and tall fescue, 
And the purple green of Kentucky blue; 

A noble meadow, so broad each way 

It took three good scythes to mow in a day. 

Just where the field broke into a wood 
A knotted old catalpa stood, 

And in the old catalpa-tree 
A cat-bird sang immoderately. 

The sky above him was round and big 
And its center seemed just over his twig. 

The earth below him was fresh and fair, , 
With the sun's long fingers everywhere. 

The cat-bird perched where a great leaf hung, 
And the great leaf tilted, and flickered, and swung. 



194 AMY LOWELL 

The cat-bird sang with a piercing glee 
Up in the sun-specked catalpa-trec. 

He sang so loud and he sang so long 

That his cars were drowned in his own sweet song. 

But the little peering leaves of grass 
Shook and sundered to let them pass, 

To let them pass, the men who heard 
Nothing the grass said, nothing the bird. 

Each man was still as a shining stone, 
Each man's head was a buzzing bone 

Wherein two words screeched in and out 
Like a grinding saw with its turn about: 

"Evelyn Ray," each stone man said, 

And the words cut back and forth through his head, 

And each of them wondered if he were dead. 

The cat-bird sang with his head cocked up 
Gazing into the sky's blue cup. 

The grasses waved back into place, 
The sun's long fingers stroked each face, 

Each grim, cold face that saw no sun. 
And the icet led the faces on and on. 

They stopped beside the catalpa-tree, 
Said one stone face to the other: "See!" 

The other face had nothing to say, 
Its lips were frozen on "Evelyn Ray." 

They laid their hats in the tail green grass 

Where the crickets and grasshoppers pass and pass. 

They hung their coats in the crotch of a pine 
And paced five feet in an even line. 

They measured five paces either way, 

And the saws in their heads screeched "Evelyn Ray." 

The cat-bird sang so loud and clear 

He heard nothing at all, there was nothing to hear. 

Even the swish of long legs pushing 

Through grass had ceased, there was only the hushing 



AMY LOWELL 195 

Of a windless wind in the daisy tops, 

And the jar stalks make when a grasshopper hops. 

Every now and then a bee boomed over 
The black-eyed Susans in search of clover, 

And crickets shrilled as crickets do: 
One two. One two. 

The cat-bird sang with his head in the air, 

And the sun's bright fingers poked here and there, 

Past leaf, and branch, and needle, and cone. 
But the stone men stood like men of stone. 

Each man lifted a dull stone hand 
And his fingers telt like weaving sand, 

And his feet seemed standing on a ball 
Which tossed and turned in a waterfall. 

Each man heard a shot somewhere 
Dropping out of the distant air. 

But the screaming saws no longer said 
"Evelyn Ray," for the men were dead. 



I often think of Evelyn Ray. 
What did she do, what did she say? 
Did she ever chance to pass that way? 

I remember it as a lovely spot 

Where a cat-bird sang. When he heard the shot, 

Did he fly away? I have quite forgot. 

When I went there last, he was singing again 
Through a little fleeting, misty rain, 
And pine-cones lay where they had lain. 

This is the tale as I heard it when 

I was young from a man who was threescore and ten. 

A lady of clay and two stone men. 

A pretty problem is here, no doubt, 

If you have a fancy to work it out: 

What happens to stone when clay is about? 

Muse upon it as long as you will, 

I think myself it will baffle your skill, 

And your answer will be what mine is nil. 



796 AMY LOWELL 

But every sunny Summer's day 

I am teased with the thought of Evelyn Ray, 

Poor little image of painted clay. 

And Heigh-ot I say. 

What if there be a judgment-day? 

What if all religions be true, 

And Gabriel's trumpet blow for you 

And blow for them what will you do? 

Evelyn Ray, will you rise alone? 

Or will your lovers of dull gray stone 

Pace beside you through the wan 

Twilight of that bitter day 

To be judged as stone and judged as clay, 

And no one to say the judgment nay? 

Better be nothing, Evelyn Ray, 
A handful of buttercups that sway 
In the wind for a children's holiday. 

For earth to earth is the best we know, 
Where the good blind worms push to and fro 
Turning us into the seeds which grow, 

And lovers and ladies are dead indeed, 
Lost in the sap of a flower seed. 
Is this, think you, a sorry creed? 

Well, be it so, for the world is wide 

And opinions jostle on every side. 

What has always been hidden will always hide. 

And every year when the fields are high 
With oat grass, and red top, and timothy, 
I know that a creed is the shell of a lie. 

Peace be with you, Evelyn Ray, 
And to your lovers, if so it may, 
For earth made stone and earth made clay. 



THE TAXI 

When I go away from you 

The world beats dead 

Like a slackened drum. 

I call out for you against the jutted stars 

And shout into the ridges of the wind. 

Streets coming fast, 

One after the other, 



AMY LOWELL 



197 



Wedge you away from me, 

And the lamps of the city prick my eyes 

So that I can no longer see your face. 

Why should I leave you, 

To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night? 



IN EXCELS is 

You you 

Your shadow is sunlight on a plate of silver; 

Your footsteps, the seedmg-place of lilies; 

Your hands moving, a chime of bells across a windless air. 

The movement of your hands is the long, golden running of light from a rising sun; 
It is the hopping of birds upon a garden-path. 

As the perfume of jonquils, you come forth m the morning. 

Young horses are not more sudden than your thought, 

Your words are bees about a pear-tree, 

Your fancies are the gold-and-black striped wasps buzzing among red apples. 

I drink your lips, 

I cat the whiteness of your hands and feet. 

My mouth is open, 

As a new jar I am empty and open. 

Like white water are you who fill the cup of my mouth, 

Like a brook of water thronged with lilies. 

You arc frozen as the clouds, 

You are far and sweet as the high clouds. 

I dare reach to you, 

I dare touch the rim of your brightness. 

I leap beyond the winds, 

I cry and shout, 

For my throat is keen as a sword 

Sharpened on a hone of ivory. 

My throat sings the joy of my eyes, 

The rushing gladness of my love. 

How has the rainbow fallen upon my heart? 

How have I snared the seas to he in my fingers 

And caught the sky to be a cover for my head? 

How have you come to dwell with me, 

Compassing me with the four circles of your mystic lightness, 

So that I say "Glory' Glory!" and bow before you 

As to a shrine? 

Do I tease myself that morning is morning and a day after? 

Do I think the air a condescension, 

The earth a politeness, 

Heaven a boon deserving thanks? 

So you air earth heaven 



AMY LOWELL 



I do not thank you, 

I take you, 

I live. 

And those things which I say in consequence 

Are rubies mortised in a gate of stone. 

MEETING-HOUSE HILL 

I must be mad, or very tired, 

When the curve of a blue bay beyond a railroad track 

Is shrill and sweet to me like the sudden springing of a tune, 

And the sight of a white church above thin trees in a city square 

Amazes my eyes as though it were the Parthenon. 

Clear, reticent, superbly final, 

With the pillars of its portico refined to a cautious elegance, 

It dominates the weak trees, 

And the shot of its spire 

Is cool and candid, 

Rising into an unresisting sky. 

Strange meeting-house 

Pausing a moment upon a squalid hill-top. 

I watch the spire sweeping the sky, 

I am dizzy with the movement of the sky; 

I might be watching a mast 

With its royals set full 

Straining before a two-reef breeze. 

I might be sighting a tea-clipper, 

Tacking into the blue bay, 

Just back from Canton 

With her hold full of green and blue porcelain 

And a Chinese coolie leaning over the rail 

Gazing at the white spire 

With dull, sea-spent eyes. 



LILACS 

Lilacs, 

False blue, 

White, 

Purple, 

Color of lilac, 

Your great puffs of flowers 

Are everywhere in this my New England. 

Among your heart-shaped leaves 

Orange orioles hop like music-box birds and sing 

Their little weak soft songs; 

In the crooks of your branches 

The bright eyes of song sparrows sitting on spotted eggs 

Peer restlessly through the light and shadow 

Of all Springs. 



AMY LOWELL 799 

Lilacs in dooryards 

Holding quiet conversations with an early moon; 

Lilacs watching a deserted house 

Settling sideways into the grass of an old road; 

Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom 

Above a cellar dug into a hill. 

You are everywhere. 

You were everywhere. 

You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon, 

And ran along the road beside the boy going to school. 

You stood by pasture-bars to give the cows good milking, 

You persuaded the housewife that her dish-pan was of silver 

And her husband an image of pure gold. 

You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms 

Through the wide doors of Custom Houses 

You, and sandalwood, and tea, 

Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks 

When a ship was in from China. 

You called to them: "Goose-quill men, goose-quill men, 

May is n month for flitting," 

Until they writhed on their high stools 

And wrote poetry on their letter-sheets behind the propped-up ledgers. 

Paradoxical New England clerks, 

Writing inventories in ledgers, reading the "Song of Solomon" at night, 

So many verses before bedtime, 

Because it was the Bible. 

The dead fed you 

Amid the slant stones of graveyards. 

Pale ghosts who planted you 

Came in the night time 

And let their thin hair blow through your clustered stems. 

You are of the green sea, 

And of the stone hills which reach a long distance. 

You are of elm-shaded streets with little shops where they sell kites and marbles, 

You are of great parks where everyone walks and nobody is at home. 

You cover the blind sides of greenhouses 

And lean over the top to say a hurry-word through the glass 

To your friends, the grapes, inside. 

Lilacs, 

False blue, 

White, 

Purple, 

Color of lilac, 

You have forgotten your Eastern origin, 

The veiled women with eyes like panthrr? 

The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled Pasha r 

Now you are a very decent flower, 

A reticent flower, 

A curiously clear-cut, candid flower, 

Standing beside clean doorways, 



200 AMY LOWEL 

Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles, 
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight 
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms. 

Maine knows you, 

Has for years and years; 

New Hampshire knows you, 

And Massachusetts 

And Vermont. 

Cape Cod starts you along the beaches to Rhode Island; 

Connecticut takes you from a river to the sea. 

You are brighter than apples, 

Sweeter than tulips, 

You are the great flood of our souls 

Bursting above the leaf-shapes of our hearts, 

You are the smell of all Summers, 

The love of wives and children, 

The recollection of the gardens of little .children, 

You arc State Houses and Charters 

And the familiar treading of the foot to and fro on a road it knows. 

May is lilac here in New England, 

May is a thrush singing "Sun up'" on a tip-top ash-tree, 

May is white clouds behind pine-trees 

Puffed out and marching upon a blue sky. 

May is a green as no other, 

May is much sun through small leaves, 

May is soft earth, 

And apple-blossoms, 

And windows open to a South wind. 

May is a full light wind of lilac 

From Canada to Narragansett Bay. 

Lilacs, 

False blue, 

White, 

Purple, 

Color of lilac, 

Heart-leaves of lilac all over New England, 

Roots of lilac under all the soil of New England, 

Lilac in me because I am New England, 

Because my roots are in it, 

Because my leaves are of it, 

Because my flowers are for it, 

Because it is my country 

And I speak to it of itself 

And sing of it with my own voiot 

Since certainly it is min _ 



AMY LOWELL 



THE SISTERS 



Taking us by and large, we're a queer lot 

We women who write poetry. And when you think 

How few of us thcre've been, it's queerer still. 

I wonder what it is that makes us do it, 

Singles us out to scribble down, man-wise, 

The fragments of ourselves. Why are we 

Already mother-creatures, double-bearing, 

With matrices in body and in brain ? 

I rather think that there is just the reason 

We are so sparse a kind of human being; 

The strength of forty thousand Atlases 

Is needed for our cvery-day concerns. 

There's Sapho, now I wonder what was Sapho. 

I know a single slender thing about her: 

That, loving, she was like a burning birch-tree 

All tall and glittering fire, and that she wrote 

Like the same fire caught up to Heaven and held there, 

A frozen blaze before it broke and fell. 

Ah, me' I wish I could have talked to Sapho, 

Surprised her reticences by flinging mine 

Into the wind. This tossing oil of garments 

Which cloud the soul is none too easy doing 

With us today. But still I think with Sapho 

One might accomplish it, were she in the mood 

To bare her loveliness of words and tell 

The reasons, as she possibly conceived them, 

Of why they are so lovely. Just to know 

How she came at them, just to watch 

The crisp sea sunshine playing on her hair, 

And listen, thinking all the while 'twas she 

Who spoke and that we two were sisters 

Of a strange, isolated little family. 

And she is Sapho Sapho not Miss or Mrs., 

A leaping fire we call so for convenience. 

But Mrs. Browning who would ever think 

Of such presumption as to call her "Ba." 

Which draws the perfect line between sea-clifTs 

And a closc-shuttcrcd room in Wimpolc Street. 

Sapho could fly her impulses like bright 

Balloons tip-tilting to a morning air 

And write about it. Mrs. Browning's heart 

Was squeezed in stiff conventions. So she lay 

Stretched out upon a sofa, reading Greek 

And speculating, as I must suppose, 

In just this way on Sapho; all the need, 

The huge, imperious need of loving, crushed 

Within the body she believed so sick. 

And it was sick, poor lady, because words 

Are merely simulacra after deeds 



202 AMY LOWELL 

Have wrought a pattern; when they take the place 

Of actions they breed a poisonous miasma 

Which, though it leave the brain, eats up the body. 

So Mrs. Browning, aloof and delicate, 

Lay still upon her sofa, all her strength 

Going to uphold her over-topping brain. 

It seems miraculous, but she escaped 

To freedom and another motherhood 

Than that of poems. She was a very woman 

And needed both. 

If I had gone to call, 

Would Wimpole Street have been the kindlier place, 
Or Casa Guidi, in which to have met her? 
I am a little doubtful of that meeting, 
For Queen Victoria was very young and strong 
And all-pervading m her apogee 
At just that time. If we had stuck to poetry, 
Sternly refusing to be drawn ofl by mesmerism 
Or Roman revolutions, it might have done. 
For, after all, she is another sister, 
But always, I rather think, an older sister 
And not herself so curious a technician 
As to admit newfangled modes of writing 
"Except, of course, in Robert, and that is neither 
Here nor there for Robert is a genius." 
I do not like the turn this dream is taking, 
Since I am very fond of Mrs. Browning 
And very much indeed should like to hear her 
Graciously asking me to call her "Ba." 
But then the Devil of Verisimilitude 
Creeps in and forces me to know she wouldn't. 
Convention again, and how it chafes my nerves, 
For we are such a little family 
Of singing sisters, and as if I didn't know 
What those years felt like tied down to the sofa. 
Confound Victoria, and the slimy inhibitions 
She loosed on all us Anglo-Saxon creatures' 
Suppose there hadn't been a Robert Browning, 
No "Sonnets from the Portuguese" would have been written. 
They are the first of all her poems to be, 
One might say, fertilized. For, after all, 
A poet is flesh and blood as well as brain; 
And Mrs. Browning, as I said before, 
Was very, very woman. Well, there are two 
Of us, and vastly unlike that's for certain. 
Unlike at least until we tear the veils 
Away which commonly gird souls. I scarcely think 
Mrs. Browning would have approved the process 
In spite of what had surely been relief; 
For speaking souls must always want to speak 
Even when bat-eyed, narrow-minded Queens 



AMY LOWELL 203 

Set prudishness to keep the keys of impulse. 
Then do the frowning Gods invent new banes 
And make the need of sofas. But Sapho was dead 
And I, and others, not yet peeped above 
The edge of possibility. So that's an end 
To speculating over tea-time talks 
Beyond the movement of pentameters 
With Mrs. Browning. 

But I go dreaming on, 
* In love with these my spiritual relations. 
I rather think I see myself walk up 
A flight of wooden steps and ring a bell 
And send a card in to Miss Dickinson. 
Yet that's a very silly way to do. 
I should have taken the dream twist-ends about 
And climbed over the fence and found her deep 
Engrossed in the doings of a humming-bird 
Among nasturtiums. Not having expected strangers, 
She might forget to think me one, and holding up 
A finger say quite casually: "Take care. 
Don't frighten him, he's only just begun." 
"Now this," I well believe I should have thought, 
"Is even better than Sapho. With Emily 
You're really here, or never anywhere at all 
In range of mind." Wherefore, having begun 
In the strict center, we could slowly progress 
To various circumferences, as we pleased. 



Good-by, my sisters, all of you are great, 

And all of you are marvelously strange, 

And none of you has any word for me. 

I cannot write like you, I cannot think 

In terms of Pagan or of Christian now. 

I only hope that possibly some day 

Some other woman with an itch for writing 

May turn to me as I have turned to you 

And chat with me a brief few minutes. How 

We lie, we poets! It is three good hours 

I have been dreaming. Has it seemed so long 

To you? And yet I thank you for the time, 

Although you leave me sad and self-distrustful, 

For older sisters are very sobering things. 

Put on your cloaks, my dears, the motor's waiting. 

No, you have not seemed strange to me, but near, 

Frightfully near, and rather terrifying. 

I understand you all, for in myself 

Is that presumption? Yet indeed it's true 

We are one family. And still my answer 

Will not be any one of yours, I see. 

Well, never mind that now. Good night! Good night I 



204 



RIDGELY TORRENCE 



Ridgely Torrence 

(Frederic) Ridgely Torrence was born at Xenia, Ohio, November 27, 1875, and 
was educated at Miami and Princeton University. For several years he was librarian 
of the Astor Library in New York City (1897-1901), later assuming an editorial 
position on the Cosmopolitan Magazine. He was, for several years, poetry editor of 
The New Republic. 

His first volume, The House of a Hundred Lights (1900), bears the grave sub- 
title "A Psalm of Experience after Reading a Couplet of Bidpai." It is a whimsical 
hodge-podge of philosophy, love lyrics, artlcssncss and impudence. 

Not until a quarter of a century later did Torrence publish his second volume of 
verse. In the meantime, poems of his had attracted attention upon their appearance 
in magazines and a few of his lyrics had been quoted so often that they were fa- 
miliar to those who had never heard of Torrcnce's other work. Torrence had re- 
mained in the peculiar position of one whose best verse was not only unprocurable, 
but unprinted. Hespendes (1925) remedied this strange circumstance. Like his> first 
volume, this is not a large book, but these one hundred pages contain definite and 
distinguished poetry. In Hespendes one finds the magnificent "Eye-Witness," a most 
original treatment of the theme of Christ's second coming, the purely lyrical "The 
Singers in a Cloud" and that brief epic, "The Bird and the Tree" which is as famous 
as it is stirring. Poems ( 1941) contains some new and some previously published work. 

Between Torrcnce's earliest and most recent volume, three of his plays were pub- 
lished: El Dorado (1903), Abelard and Heloise (1907), and Granny Maumec, The 
Rider of Di earns, Simon the Cytenian (1917). The last group, being three plays for 
a Negro theater, contains the best of Torrence's dramatic writing. lie has caught 
here, particularly in Gianny Maumee and The Rider of Dreams, something of that 
high color which the Negro himself has begun to articulate. 



THE BIRD AND THE TREE 

Blackbird, blackbird in the cage, 
There's something wrong tonight. 
Far off the sheriff's footfall dies, 
The minutes crawl like last year's flies 
Between the bars, and like an age 

The hours are long tonight. 

* 

The sky is like a heavy lid 
Out here beyond the door tonight. 
What's that? A mutter down the street. 
What's that? The sound of yells and feet. 
For what you didn't do or did 
You'll pay the score tonight. 

No use to reek with reddened sweat, 
No use to whimper and to sweat. 
They've got the rope; they've got the guns, 
They've got the courage and the guns; 



An' that's the reason why tonight 

No use to ask them any more. 

They'll fire the answer through the door 

You're out to die tonight. 

There where the lonely cross-road lies, 
There is no place to make replies; 
But silence, inch by inch, is there, 
And the right limb for a lynch is there; 
And a lean daw waits for both your eyes, 
Blackbird. 

Perhaps you'll meet again some place. 
Look for the mask upon the face; 
That's the way you'll know them there 
A white mask to hide the face. 
And you can halt and show them there 
The things that they are deaf to now, 
And they can tell you what they meant 



RIDGELY TORRENCE 

To wash the blood with blood. But how 
If you are innocent? 

Blackbird singer, blackbird mute, 

They choked the seed you might- have found. 

Out of a thorny field you go 

For you it may be better so 

And leave the sowers of the ground 

To eat the harvest of the fruit, 

Blackbird. 



THE SON 

(Southern Ohio Market Town) 

I heard an old farm-wife, 
Selling some barley, 



205 



Mingle her life with life 
And the name "Charley." 

Saying: "The crop's all in, 
We're about through now; 
Long nights will soon begin, 
We're just us two now. 

"Twelve bushels at sixty cents, 
It's all I carried 
He sickened making fence; 
He was to be married 

"It feels like frost was near 
His hair was curly. 
The spring was late that year, 
But the harvest early." 



Robert Frost 

ALTHOUGH known as the chief interpreter of New England, Robert (Lcc) Frost 
was born in San Francisco-California, March 26, 1875. His father, bom in 
New Hampshire, taught school, edited a paper, entered politics, and moved to San 
Francisco where his "copperhead" sympathy with the South led him to christen his 
son Robert Lee. Frost's mother, after the death of her husband, supported herself 
and her children by teaching school; bringing the family back East to the towns 
and hills where, for eight generations, his forefathers had lived and where, much 
later, Frost was to uphold the tradition by lecturing, accepting an "idle professor- 
ship" ("being a sort of poetic radiator") at Amherst, and buying farms in Vermont. 
Atter graduating from the high school at Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1892, Frost 
entered Dartmouth College, where he remained only a few months. The routine of 
study was too much for him and he decided to earn his living and became a bobbin- 
boy in one of the mills at Lawrence. He had already begun to write poetryjaTew 
oThis verses had appeared in The Independent. But the strange, soil-flavored^ quality 
which even then distinguished his lines was not relished by the editors, and the 
very magazines to- which he sent poems that today arc famous rejected his verse 
with unanimity. For twenty years Frost continued to write his highly characteristic 
work in spite of the discouraging apathy, and for twenty years the poet remained 
unknown. 

In 1897, two years after his marriage, Frost moved his family to Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, pntcring Harvard in a final determination to achieve culture. This 
time he followed the curriculum for two years, but at the end of that dry period he 
stopped trying to learn and started to teach. (Curiously enough, though Frost made 
light of and even ridiculed his scholarship, his marks in Greek and the classical 
studies were always exceptionally high.) For three years he followed the family tra- 
dition and taught school in New England; he also made shoes, edited a weekly 



206 ROBERT FROST 

paper, and in 1900 became a farmer at Derry, New Hampshire. During the next 
eleven years Frost labored to wrest a living from stubborn hills with scant success. 
Loneliness claimed him for its own; the rocks refused to give him a living; the 
literary world continued to remain oblivious of his existence. Frost sought a change 
of environment and, after a few years' teaching at Derry and Plymouth, New Hamp- 
shire, sold his farm and, with his wife and four children, sailed for England in 
September, 1912. 

For the first time in his life, Frost moved in a literary world. Groups merged, 
dissolved and separated overnight; controversy,, and creation were in the air. A 
friendship was established with the poets Abercrombie, Brooke and Gibson, a close 
intimacy with Edward Thomas. Here Frost wrote most of his longer narratives, 
took his lyrics to a publisher with few hopes, went back to the suburban town of 
Beaconsfield and turned to other matters. A few months later A Bov's Will (1913) 
was published and Frost was recognized at once as one of the authentic voices of 
modern poetry. 

A Boy's Will is seemingly subjective; in spite of certain reminiscences of Brown- 
ing it is no set of derivations, An A Boy's Will Frost is not yet completely in pos- 
session of his own idiom; but the timbre is recognizably his. No one but Frost could 
have written "Reluctance" or "The Tuft of Flowers." Wholly lyrical, this volume, 
lacking the concentrated emotion of his subsequent works, is a significant introduc- 
tion to the following book, which became an international classic. Early in 1914, 
Frost leased a small place in Gloucestershire; in the spring of the same yearjNorth 
of Boston (1914), one of the most intensely American books ever printed, was pub- 
lished in England. (See Preface. )/This is, as he has called it, a "bookjof j>eople." And 
it is more than that it is a book of backgrounds as living and dramatic as the 
people they overshadow. Frost vivifies a stone wall, an empty cottage, a grindstone, 
a mountain, a forgotten wood-pile left 

To warm the frozen swamp as best it could 
With the slow, smokeless burning of decay. 

North of Boston, like its successor, contains much of the finest poetry of our time. 
fijch in it^ actualities, richer in its spiritual values, very_ line JJiavjCS. with the double 
force of observation. .and_unplication. The very first poem in the book illustrates 
this power of character and symbohsni. Although Frost is not arguing for anything 
in particular, one senses here something more than the enemies of walls. In "Mend- 
ing Wall," we see two elemental and opposed forces. "Something there is that 
doesn't love a wall," insists the seeker after causes; "Good fences make good neigh- 
bors," doggedly replies the literal-minded lover of tradition. Here, beneath the whim- 
sical turns and pungency of expression, we have the essence of nationalism versus 
the internationalist: the struggle, though the poet would be the last to prod the 
point, between blind obedience to custom and questioning iconoclasm. 

So with all of Frost's characters. Like the worn-out incompetent in "The Death 
of the Hired Man" (one of the finest genre pictures of our time),f^r the autobio- 
graphical country boy climbing "black branches up a snow-white trunk toward 
heaven" in "Birches,>or the positive, tight-lipped old lady in "The Black Cottage," 
or the headlong but laconic Brown of "Brown's Descent," /nis people are always 
amplified through the poet's circumlocutory but precise psychology. They remain 



ROBERT FROST 207 

close to their soil/Frost's monologs and dramatic idyls, written in a conversational 
blank verse, establish the connection between the vernacular and the language of 
literature; they remain rooted in realism. But Frost is never ajphptographic realist. 
"There are," he once said, "two types of realist the one who offers a good deal of 
dirt with his potato to show that it is a real one; and the one who is satisfied with 
the potato brushed clean. I'm inclined to be the second kind. . . . To me, the thing 
that art does for life is to clean it, to strip it to form." X 

In March, 1915, Frost came back to America to a hill outside of Franconia, New 
Hampshire. Noi th of Boston had been reprinted in the United States and its author, 
who had left the country an unknown writer, returned to find himself famous. 
Honors were awarded to him; within ten years one university after another con- 
ferred degrees upon him who was unwilling to graduate from any of them; he be- 
came "professor in residence" at Amherst. His lectures (actually glorifi 



speculations) were notable, although he permitted only one of them, Education by 
Poetry (1930), which Frost called "a meditative monologue," to be reduced to print. 

Mountain Interval, containing some of Frost's most characteristic poems 
("Birches," and "An Old Man's Winter Night" are typical), appeared in 1916. The 
idiom is the same as in the earlier volumes, but the notes arc more varied, the lyrics 
intensified, the assurance is stronger. The subtle variations of the tones of speech 
find their sympathetic reporter here; the lines disclose delicate shades of emphasis 
in the way they present an entire scene by giving only a significant detail. Alto- 
gether natural, yet fanciful no less than realistic, this poetry escapes labels, "but," 
Frost once said, with a suspicion of a twinkle, "if I must be classified as a poet, I 
might be called a Synecdochist; for I prefer the synecdoche in poetry that figure 
of speech in which we use a part for the whole." 

New Hampshire (1923), which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the best vol- 
ume of poetry published in 1923, synthesizes Frost's qualities: it combines the stark 
unity of North of Boston and the diffused geniality of Mountain IntetvaL If one 
thing predominates, it is a feeling of quiet classicism; the poet has lowered his voice 
but not the strength of his convictions. To say, as was said, that Frost gives us a 
poetry "without the delight of the senses, without the glow of warm feeling" is 
particularly when faced with New Hampshire to utter an absurdity. Frost, in spite 
of a superficial underemphasis, does not hesitate to declare his close affection. Such 
poems as "Two Look at Two," with its tremendous wave of love, "To Earthward," 
with its unreserved intensity, even the brilliantly condensed "Fire and Ice," with its 
candidly registered passion all these brim with a physical radiance, with the very 
delight and pain of the senses. Nor is the fanciful by-play, the sly banter so char- 
acteristic of this poet, absent from the volume. Who but Frost could put so whim- 
sical an accent in the farewell to an orchard entitled "Good-by and Keep Cold"; who 
but he could summon, with so few strokes, the frightened colt "with one forefoot 
on the wall, the other curled at his breast" in "The Runaway"? The very scheme of 
New Hampshire is an extended whimsicality: he offers the contents of the volume 
as a series of explanatory notes (and grace notes) to the title poem, which is sup- 
posed to be the book's laison d'etre. The long poems (the "notes") rank with the 
narrative monologs in North of Boston; the "grace notes" contain not merely Frost's 
finest lines but some of the most haunting lyrics ever written by an American. Such 
a poem as "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" once in the mind of a reader 



208 * ROBERT FROST 

will never leave it. Had Frost written nothing but these thirty "grace notes" his 
place in poetry would be assured. A revised Selected Poems (revised in 1928 and 
1935) and a rearranged Collected Poems (1930) which again won the Pulitzer Prize, 
confirmed the conclusions; the unpretentious bucolics had become contemporary 
classics. 

It has been said that Frost's work suffers from an exclusiveness, and even his 
most ardent admirers would be willing to admit that his is not an indiscriminately 
inclusive passion like Whitman's./But Frost loves what he loves with a fierce at- 
tachment, a tenderness fixed beyond a more easily transferred regard. His devotion 
to the intimacies of earth is, even more than Wordsworth's, rich, almost inordinate 
in its fidelity; what his emotion (or his poetry) may lack in windy range, is trebly 
compensated for by its untroubled depths, r 

This is more true than ever of West-Running Broo^ (1928) which was hailed 
with loud and misleading enthusiasm. No contemporary poet received more 
praise than Frost, and none was more praised for the wrong attributes. As late as 
1928, most of the critics were surprised that the writer identified with the long mono- 
logs in North of Boston should turn to lyrics, forgetting that Frost's first volume 
(written in the 1890*5 and published twenty years later) was wholly and insistently 
lyrical. One reviewer, echoing the false platitude concerning New England bleak- 
ness, applauded Frost's almost colorless reticence, his "preference for black and 
white." Another made the discovery that "where he was formerly content to f lunix.a 
landscape . . . here the emphasis is primarily the poet's emotion." A more under- 
standing consideration of Frost's poetry would have instructed the critics. They 
would have seen that no volumes have ever been less black and white, no poetry 
so delicately shaded. The so-called inhibitions disappear upon rereading. Frost's 
poems are only superficially reticent; actually they are profound and personal revela- 
tions. Frost has never been "content to limn a landscape." He cannot suggest a 
character or a countryside without informing the subject with his own philosophy, 
a philosophy whose bantering accents cannot hide a moral earnestness. Beyond the 
fact ("the dearest dream that labor knows"), beyond the tone of voice, which is 
at least technically the poet's first concern, there is that ardent and unifying emo- 
tion which is Frost's peculiar quality and his essential spirit. Nothing could prove 
it more fully than the title-poem with its seemingly casual but actually cosmic phi- 
losophy. Such poetry, with its genius for suggestive understatement, establishes 
Frost among the first of contemporary writers and places him with the very best 
of American poets past or present. It is not the technique nor even the thought, 
but the essence which finally convinces; the reader is fortified by Frost's serenity, 

Zengthencd by his strength. 
West-Running Eroo\ is a reflection and restatement of all that has gone before. 
The autobiographical references are a little more outspoken; Amy Lowell's assertion 
that "there is no poem which has San Francisco as a background nor which seems 
to owe its inception to the author's early life" is answered again and again by poems 
which are packed with the poet's youthyThus a student will learn that the pre- 
sumably "late" poem entitled "On Going Unnoticed" was written as early as 1901; 
the poem "Bereft" was conceived about 1893; and "Once by the Pacific" is half- 
humorously dated "as of about 1880" at which time the poet was exactly six 
years old. 



ROBERT FROST 209 

/ The poetry published between Frost's fiftieth and sixtieth years grew in serenity 
and intimacy. The lyrics became warmer and more musical, the communication 
more expansive. The poet still maintained his role of half-earnest synecdochist. 
He reaffirmed his conviction: "All that an artist needs is samples." This employ- 
ment of the part for the whole sharpens the ruminating accents of "Tree at My 
Window," fastens the epigrammatic irony of "The Peaceful Shepherd," quickens 
the somber power of "Bereft" and "Once by the Pacific," points the teasing play of 
"The Bear. V 

A Further Range (1936) reveals the renewed play of the serious mind. It is 
emphasized by the self-disclosing "A Leaf-Treader" and "Desert Places" and "Two 
Tramps in Mud-Time," the last being one of the most persuasive poems of the 
period. In the later poems Frost is more than ever a "revisionist"; he uses his 
power to revise stereotypes of thought as well as cliches of expression. If it were not 
for the journalistic connotations one might acid the term "humorist" to the roll-call 
of "classicist," "realist," and "revisionist." His style, so seemingly casual and yet 
so inimitable, so colloquial and so elevated, has a way of uniting oppositcs It is a 
remarkable prestidigitation in which fact becomes fantasy, and the fancy is more 
convincing than the fact. Inner seriousness and outer humor continually shift their 
centers of gravity and levity until it must be plain to all but pedants that 
Frost's banter is as full of serious implications as his somber speculations, that his 
playfulness is even more profound than his profundity. 

A new and comprehensive Collected Poems (1939) reveals the greater scope and 
increasing depth of the poet's gift. Published in Frost's sixty-fifth year, much of the 
poetry seems younger than ever. Retaining the tart accent of his forclathcis, and 
sometimes recording what might be called New England's heritage of chronic 
adversity, Frost sounds a new tenderness and humor./From the early burlesque at 
"Brown's Descent" through the ironic "The Egg and the Machine" to the out- 
right jocularity of "Departmental" there is a pungcnce which is also poignant. 
Here is disclosed the poetry of one who, like Wordsworth, knows Nature inti- 
mately, but one who, unlike the poet to whom Frost has been compared, refuses 
to sentimentalize "the spirit that impels all things." It is the expression of a man 
who has lived among men of many kinds, who has understood and even sympa- 
thized with the conventions, but who has never been deceived by them./ 

To the 1939 Collected Poems Frost furnished a preface entitled "The Figure a 
Poem Makes," a piece of prose as characteristic as his poetry. In it he wrote: "A 
poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom. It has an outcome that, though un- 
foreseen, was predestined from the first image of the mood. , . . No surprise for 
the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise 
of remembering something I didn't know I knew."^< 

It is not hard to discover the reason for Frost's popularity among those who 
create poetry as well as those who do not otten turn to it. Readers are grateful 
to such a poet because they have been charmed and, at the same time, intellectually 
challenged. They are happy not only because they have learned something new 
but because they have experienced something old the initial delight oi "remem- 
bering something" they didn't know they knew. 



210 ROBERT FROST 



THE PASTURE 



I'm going out to clean the pasture spring; I'm going out to fetch the little calf 

I'll only stop to rake the leaves away That's standing by the mother. It's so young, 

(And wait to watch the water clear, I may): It totters when she licks it with her tongue. 

I shan't be gone long. You come too. I shan't be gone long. You come too. 



THE ONSET 

Always the same when on a fated night 
At last the gathered snow lets down as white 
As may be in dark woods, and with a song 
It shall not make again all winter long 
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground 
I almost stumble looking up and round, 
As one, who, overtaken by the end, 
Gives up his errand and lets death descend 
Upon him where he is, with nothing done 
To evil, no important triumph won 
More than if life had never been begun. 

Yet all the precedent is on my side: 

I know that winter-death has never tried 

The earth but it has failed; the snow may heap 

In long storms an undnfted four feet deep 

As measured against maple, birch or oak; 

It cannot check the Peeper's silver croak; 

And I shall sec the snow all go down hill 

In water of a slender April rill 

That flashes tail through last year's withered brake 

And dead weed like a disappearing snake. 

Nothing will be left white but here a birch 

And there a clump of houses with a church. 



THE TUFT OF FLOWERS 

I went to turn the grass once after one 
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun. 

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen 
Before I came to view the leveled scene. 

I looked for him behind an isle of trees; 
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze. 

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown, 
And I must be, as he had been, alone, 



ROBERT FROST 211 

"As all must be,'* I said within my heart,. 
"Whether they work together or apart." 

But as I said it, swift there passed me by 
On noiseless wing a bewildered butterfly, 

Seeking with memories grown dim over night 
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight 

And once I marked his flight go round and round, 
As where some flower lay withering on the ground. 

And then he flew as far as eye could see, 

And then on tremulous wing came back to me. 

I thought of questions that have no reply, 
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry; 

But he turned first, and led my eye to look 
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a biook, 

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared 
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared. 

I left my place to know them by their name, 
Finding them butterfly-weed when I came. 

The mower in the dew had loved them thus, 
By leaving them to flourish, not for us, 

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him, 
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim. 

The butterfly and I had lit upon, 
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn, 

That made me hear the wakening birds around, 
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground, 

And feel a spirit kindred to my own; 

So that henceforth 1 worked no more alone; 

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid, 
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade; 

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech 
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach. 

"Men work together," I told him from the heart, 
"Whether they work together or apart." 



212 ROBERT FROST 

RELUCTANCE 

Out through the fields and the woods 

And over the walls I have wended; 
I have climbed the hills of view 

And looked at the world, and descended; 
I have come by the highway home, 

And lo, it is ended. 

The leaves arc all dead on the ground, 

Save those that the oak is keeping 
To ravel them one by one 

And let them go scraping and creeping 
Out over the crusted snow, 

When others are sleeping. 

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still, 

No longer blown hither and thither; 
The last lone aster is gone; 

The flowers of the witch-hazel wither; 
The heart is still aching to seek, 

But the feet question "Whither?" 

Ah, when to the heart of man 

Was it ever less than a treason 
To go with the drift of things 

To yield with a grace to reason, 
And bow and accept the end 

Of a love or a season ? 



MENDING WALL 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the fro/en-ground-swcll under it, 
And spills the upper bowlders in the sun; 
And makes gaps e\en two can pass abreast. 
The work ot hunters is another thing: 
I have come after them and made repair 
Where they have left not one stone on a stone, 
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, 
No one has seen them made or heard them made, 
But at spring mending-time we find them there. 
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill; 
And on a day we meet to walk the line 
And set the wall between us once again. 
We keep the wall between us as we go. 
To each the bowlders that have fallen to each. 
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls 
We have to use a spell to make them balance: * 
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned'" 



ROBERT FROST 



213 



We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 

Oh, just another kind of outdoor game, 

One on a side. It comes to little more: 

There where it is we do not need the wall: 

He is all pine and I am apple-orchard. 

My apple trees will never get across 

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him 

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbors." 

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder 

If I could put a notion in his head: 

"Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it 

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. 

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know 

What I was walling in or walling out, 

And to whom I was like to give o (Tense. 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 

That wants it down!" I could say "elves" to him, 

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather 

He said it for himself I see him there, 

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top 

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed. 

He moves in darkness, as it seems to me, 

Not of woods only and the shade of trees. 

He will not go behind his fathei's saying, 

And he likes having thought of it so well 

He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors." 



THE COW IN APPLE-TIME 

Something inspires the only cow of late 

To make no more of a wall than an open gate, 

And think no more of wall-builders than fools. 

Pier face is flecked with pomace and she drools 

A cider sirup. Having tasted fruit, 

She scorns a pasture withering to the root. 

She runs from tree to tree where lie and sweeten 

The windfalls spiked with stubble and worm-eaten. 

She leaves them bitten when she has to fly. 

She bellows on a knoll against the sky. 

Her udder shrivels and the milk goes dry, 

THE DEATH OF THE HIRED MAN 

Mar^sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table 
Waiting fon, Warren. When she heard his step, 
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage 
To meet him in the doorway with the news 
And put htm on his guard. "Silas Is back." 
She pushed him outward with her through the door 
And shut it after her. "Be kind," she said. 



ROBERT FROST 



She took the market things from Warren's arms 

And set them on the porch, then drew him down 

To sit beside her on the wooden steps. 

"When was I ever anything but kind to him? 

But I'll not have the fellow back," he said. 

"I told him so last haying, didn't I? 

'If he left then/ I said, 'that ended it.' 

What good is hc ? Who else will harbor him 

At his age for the little he can do ? 

What help he is there's no depending on. 

OfT he goes always when I need him most. 

'He thinks he ought to earn a little pay, 

Enough at least to buy tobacco with, 

So he won't have to beg and be beholden/ 

'All right,' I say, 'I can't atford to pay 

Any fixed wages, though I wish I could/ 

'Someone else can/ 'Then someone else will have to/ 

I shouldn't mind his bettering himself 

If that was what it was. You can be certain, 

When he begins like that, there's someone at him 

Trying to coax him off with pocket-money, 

In haying time, when any help is scarce. 

In winter he comes back to us. I'm done." 

"Shf not so loud: he'll hear you," Mary said. 
"I want him to: he'll have to soon or late." 

"He's worn out. He's asleep beside the stove. 
When I came up from Rowe's I found him here, 
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep, 
A miserable sight, and frightening, too 
You needn't smile I didn't recognize him 
I wasn't looking for him and he's changed. 
Wait till you see." 

"Where did you say he'd been?" 

"He didn't say. I dragged him to the house, 
And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke. 
I tried to make him talk about his travels, 
Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off." 

"What did he say? Did he say anything?" 
"But little." 

"Anything? Mary, confess 
Fie said he'd come to ditch the meadow for me/' 

"Warren'" 



ROBERT FROST 2/5 

"But did he? I just want to know." 

"Of course he did. What would you have him say? 

Surely you wouldn't grudge the jx>or old man 

Some humble way to save his self-respect. 

He added, if you really care to know, 

He meant to clear the upper pasture, too. 

That sounds like something you have heard before? 

Warren, I wish you could have heard the way 

He jumbled everything. I stopped to look 

Two or three times he made me feel so queer 

To see if he was talking in his sleep. 

He ran on Harold Wilson you remember 

The boy you had in haying four years since. 

He's finished school, and teaching in his college. 

Silas declares you'll have to get him back. 

He says they two will make a team for work: 

Between them they will lay tins tarm as smooth' 

The way he mixed that in with other things. 

He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft 

On education you know how they fought 

All through July under the blazing sun, 

Silas up on the cart to build the- load, 

Harold along beside to pitch it on." 

"Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot." 

"Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream. 

You wouldn't think they would How some things linger! 

Harold's young college boy's assurance piqued him. 

After so many years he slill keeps finding^ 

Good arguments he sees he might have used. 

I sympathize. I know just how it feds 

To think of the right thing to say too late. 

Harold's associated in his mind with Latin. 

He asked me what I thought of Harold's saying 

He studied Latin like the violin 

Because he liked it that an argument' 

He said he couldn't make the boy believe 

He could find water with a hazel prong 

Which showed how much good school had ever done him. 

He wanted to go over that. But most of all 

He thinks if he could have another chance 

To teach him how to build a load of hay " 

"I know, that's Silas' one accomplishment. 
He bundles every forkful in its place, 
And tags and numbers it for future reference, 
So he can find and easily dislodge it 
In the unloading. Silas does that well. 
He takes it out m bunches like birds' nests. 



2/ 6 ROBERT FROST 

You never see him standing on the hay 
He's trying to lift, straining to lift himself." 

"He thinks if he could teach him that, he'd be 
Some good perhaps to someone in the world. 
He hates to see a boy the fool of books. 
Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk, 
And nothing to look backward to with pride, 
And nothing to look forward to with hope, 
Sonow and never any different." 

Part of a moon was falling down the west, 
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills. 
Its light poured softly m her lap. She saw 
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand 
Among the harp-like morning-glory strings, 
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves, 
As if she played unheard the tenderness 
That wrought on him beside her in the night. 
"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die: 
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time." 

"Home," he mocked gently. 

"Yes, what else but home? 
It all depends on what you mean by home. 
Of course he's nothing to us, any more 
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us 
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail." 

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, 
They have to take you in." 

"I should have called it 
Something you somehow haven't to deserve." 

Warren leaned out and took a step or two, 
Picked up a little stick, and brought it back 
And broke it in his hand and tossed it by. 
"Silas has better claim on us, you think, 
Than on his brother ? Thirteen little miles 
As the road winds would bring him to his door. 
Silas has walked that far no doubt today. 
Why didn't he go there ? His brother's rich, 
A somebody director in the bank." 

"He never told us that." 

"We know it though." 

"I think his brother ought to help, of course. 
I'll see to that if there is need. He ought of right 



ROBERT FROST 217 

To take him in, and might be willing to 

He may be better than appearances. 

But have some pity on Silas Do you think 

If he'd had any pride in claiming kin 

Or anything he looked for from his brother, 

He'd keep so still about him all this time?*' 

"I wonder what's between them." 

"I can tell you. 

Silas is what he is we wouldn't mind him 
But just the kind that kinsfolk can't abide. 
He never did a thing so very bad. 
He don't know why he isn't quite as good 
As anyone. He won't be made ashamed 
To please his brother, worthless though he is." 

"I can't think Si ever hurt anyone." 

"No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay 

And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back. 

He wouldn't let me put him on the lounge. 

You must go in and see what you can do. 

I made the bed up for him there tonight. 

You'll be surprised at him how much he's broken. 

His working days are done; I'm sure of it." 

"I'd not be in a hurry to say that." 

"I haven't been. Go, look, see for yourself. 
But, Warren, please remember how it is: 
He's come to help you ditch the meadow. 
He has a plan. You mustn't laugh at him. 
He may not speak of it, and then he may. 
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud 
Will hit or miss the moon." 

It hit the moon. 

Then there were three there, making a dim row, 
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she. 

Warren returned too soon, it seemed to her, 
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited. 

"Warren?" she questioned. 

"Dead," was all he answered. 



2J 8 ROBERT FROST 

AFTER APPLE-PICKING 

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree 

Toward heaven still, 

And there's a barrel that I didn't fill 

Beside it, and there may be two or three 

Apples I didn't pick upon some bough. 

But I am done with apple-picking now. 

Essence of winter sleep is on the night, 

The scent of apples: I am drowsing off. 

I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight 

I got from looking through a pane of glass 

I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough 

And held against the world of hoary grass. 

It melted, and I let it fall and break. 

But I was well 

Upon my way to sleep before it fell, 

And I could ttll 

What form my dreaming was about to take. 

Magnified apples appear and disappear, 

Stem-end and blossom-end, 

And every fleck of russet showing clear. 

My instep arch not only keeps the ache, 

It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round. 

I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend. 

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin 

The rumbling sound 

Of load on load of apples coming in. 

For I have had too much 

Of apple-picking: I am overtired 

Of the great harvest I myself desired. 

There were ten thousand fruit to touch, 

Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall. 

For all 

That struck the earth, 

No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble, 

Went surely to the cider-apple heap 

As of no worth. 

One can sec what will trouble 

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is. 

Were he not gone, 

The woodchuck could say whether it's like his 

Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, 

Or just some human sleep. 



AN OLD MAN S WINTER NIGHT 

All out of doors looked darkly in at him 
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars, 
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms. 
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze 



ROBERT FROST 



Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand. 

What kept him from remembering what it was 

That brought him to that creaking room was age. 

He stood with barrels round him at a loss. 

And having scared the cellar under him 

In clomping there, he scared it once again 

In clomping off; and scared the outer night, 

Which has its sounds, familiar, kkc the roar 

Of trees and crack of branches, common things, 

But nothing so like beating on a box. 

A light he was to no one but himself 

Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what; 

A quiet light, and then not even that. 

He consigned to the moon, such as she was, 

So late-arising, to the broken moon 

As better than the sun in any case 

For such a charge, his snow upon the roof, 

His icicles along the wall to keep; 

And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt 

Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted, 

And cased his heavy breathing, but still slept. 

One aged man one man can't fill a house, 

A farm, a countryside, or if he can, 

It's thus he does it of a winter night. 

BIRCHES , 

When I see birches bend to left and right 

Across the line of straightcr darker trees, 

I like to think some boy's been swinging them. 

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay. 

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them 

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning 

After a rain. They click upon themselves 

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored 

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. 

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells 

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust 

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away 

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. 

They arc dragged to the withered bracken by the load, 

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed 

So low for long, they never right themselves: 

You may see their trunks arching in the woods 

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground 

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair 

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. 

But I was going to say when Truth broke in 

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm 

I should prefer to have some boy bend them 

As he went out and in to fetch the cows 



220 ROBERT FROST 

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, 

Whose only play was what he found himself, 

Summer or winter, and could play alone. 

One by one he subdued his father's trees 

By riding them down over and over again 

Until he took the stiffness out of them, 

And not one but hung limp, not one was left 

For him to conquer. He learned all there was 

To learn about not launching out too soon 

And so not carrying the tree away 

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise 

To the top branches, climbing carefully 

With the same pains you use to fill a cup 

Up to the brim, and even above the brim. 

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, 

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground. 

So was I once myself a swinger of birches; 

And so I dream of going back to be. 

It's when I'm weary of considerations, 

And life is too much like a pathless wood 

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs 

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping 

From a twig's having lashed across it open. 

I'd like to get away from earth awhile 

And then come back to it and begin over. 

May no fate willfully misunderstand me 

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away 

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love: 

I don't know where it's likely to go better. 

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree, 

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk 

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, 

But dipped its top and set me down again. 

That would be good both going and coming back. 

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 

BROWN'S DESCENT And blew him out on the icy crust 

OR, THE WILLY-NILLY SLIDE That cased the world, and he was gone! 

Brown lived at such a lofty farm 

That everyone for miles could sec Walls were all buried, trees were few: 

His lantern when he did his chores He saw no stay unless he stove 

In winter after half-past three. A hole in somewhere with his heel. 

And many must have seen him make But thou S h repeatedly he strove 

His wild descent from there one night, 

'Cross lots, 'cross walls 'cross everything, An(J s d ^ ^ th; {0 y^ 

Descnbmg rings of lantern light. AnJ somctlmes something seeme d to yield, 

Between the house and barn the gale He gained no foothold, but pursued 

Got him by something he had on His journey down from field to field. 



ROBERT FROST 



221 



Sometimes he came with arms outspread 
Like wings revolving in the scene 

Upon his longer axis, and 
With no small dignity of mien. 

Faster or slower as he chanced, 
Sitting or standing as he chose, 

According as he feared to risk 
His neck, or thought to spare his clothes, 

He never let the lantern drop. 

And some exclaimed who saw afar 
The figure he described with it, 

"I wonder what those signals are 

"Brown makes at such an hour of night! 

He's celebrating something strange. 
I wonder if he's sold his farm, 

Or been made Master of the Grange." 

He reeled, he lurched, he bobbed, he checked; 

He fell and made the lantern rattle 
(But saved the light from going out). 

So half-way down he fought the battle 

Incredulous of his own bad luck. 

And then becoming reconciled 
To everything, he gave it up 

And came down like a coasting child. 

"Well I be " that was all he said, 
As standing in the river road, 



He looked back up the slippery slope 
(Two miles it was) to his abode. 

Sometimes as an authority 
On motor-cars, I'm asked if I 

Should say our stock was petered out, 
And this is my sincere reply: 

Yankees are what they always were. 

Don't think Brown ever gave up hope 
Of getting home again because 

He couldn't climb that slippery slope; 

Or even thought of standing there 

Until the January thaw 
Should take the polish off the crust. 

lie bowed with grace to natural law, 

And then went round it on his feet, 
After the manner of our stock; 

Not much concerned for those to whom, 
At that particular time o'clock, 

It must have looked as if the course 
He steered was really straight away 

From that which he was headed for 
Not much concerned for them, I say, 

But now he snapped his eyes three times; 

Then shook his lantern, saying, "He's 
'Bout out'" and took the long way home 

By road, a matter of several miles. 



THE RUNAWAY 

Once when the snow of the year was beginning to fall, 

We stopped by a mountain pasture to say, "Whose colt?" 

A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall, 

The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head 

And snorted to us. And then he had to bolt. 

We heard the miniature thunder where he fled, 

And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and gray, 

Like a shadow against the curtain of falling flakes. 

"I think the little fellow's afraid of the snow. 

He isn't winter-broken. It isn't play 

With the little fellow at all. He's running away. 

I doubt if even his mother could tell him, 'Sakes, 

It's only weather.' He'd think she didn't knowl 

Where is his mother? He can't be out alone." 

And now he comes again with a clatter ot stone 

And mounts the wall again with whitcd eyes 



222 



ROBERT FROST 



And all his tail that isn't hair up straight. 
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies. 
"Whoever it is that leaves him out so late, 
When other creatures have gone to stall and bin, 
Ought to be told to come and take him in." 



TO EARTHWARD 

Love at the lips was touch 
As sweet as I could bear; 
And once that seemed too much; 
I lived on air 

That crossed me from -sweet things, 
The flow of was it musk 
From hidden grapevine springs 
Down hill at dusk ? 

I had the swirl and ache 
From sprays of honeysuckle 
That when they're gathered shake 
Dew on the knuckle. 

I craved strong sweets, but those 
Seemed strong when I was young; 
The petal of the rose 
It was that stung. 

Now no joy but lacks salt 
That is not dashed with pain 
And weariness and fault; 
I crave the stain 



Of tears, the aftermark 
Of almost too much love, 
The sweet of bitter bark 
And burning clove. 

When stiff and sore and scarred 
I take away my hand 
From leaning on it hard 
In grass and sand, 

The hurt is not enough: 
I long for weight and strength 
To feel the earth as rough 
To all my length. 

FIRE AND ICE 

Some say the world will end in fire> 

Some say in ice. 

From what I've tasted of desire 

I hold with those who favor fire. 

But if it had to perish twice, 

I think I know enough of hate 

To say that for destruction ice 

Is also great 

And would suffice. 



TWO LOOK AT TWO 

Love and forgetting might have carried them 

A little further up the mountain side 

With night so near, but not much further up. 

They must have halted soon in any case 

With thoughts of the path back, how rough it was 

With rock and washout, and unsafe in darkness; 

When they were halted by a tumbled wall 

With barbed-wire binding. They stood facing this, 

Spending what onward impulse they still had 

In one last look the way they must not go, 

On up the failing path, where, if a stone 

Or earthslide moved at night, it moved itself; 

No footstep moved it. "This is all," they sighed, 

"Good-night to woods." But not so; there was more. 

A doe from round a spruce stood looking at them 

Across the wall as near the wall as they. 



ROBERT FROST 223 

She saw them in their field, they her in hers. 

The difficulty of seeing what stood still, 

Like some up-ended bowlder split in two, 

Was in her clouded eyes: they saw no fear there. 

She seemed to think that two thus they were safe. 

Then, as if they were something that, though strange, 

She could not trouble her mind with too long, 

She sighed and passed unscared along the wall. 

"This, then, is all. What more is there to ask?" 

But no, not yet. A snort to bid them wait. 

A buck from round the spruce stood looking at them 

Across the wall, as near the wall as they. 

This was an antlered buck of lusty nostril. 

Not the same doe come back into her place. 

He viewed them quizzically with jerks of head, 

As if to ask, "Why don't you make some motion? 

Or give some sign of life? Because you can't. 

I doubt if you're as living as you look." 

Thus till he had them almost feeling dared 

To stretch a proffering hand and a spell-breaking. 

Then he too passed unscared along the wall. 

Two had seen two, whichever side you spoke from. 

"This must be all." It was all. Still they stood, 

A great wave from it going over them, 

As if the earth in one unlooked-for favor 

Had made them certain earth returned their love. 



ASKYPAIR I should be tempted to forget, 

I think, the Crown of Rule, 
CANIS MAJOR Thc Scalcs o Tradc> the Cross of 

The Great Ovcrdog, As hardly worth renewaL 

That heavenly beast 

With a star in one eye, For these have governed in our lives, 

Gives a leap in the East. And sec how men have warred' 

The Cross, the Crown, the Scales, may all 

He dances upright As well have been the Sword. 

All the way to the West, 
And never once drops 

j-*. !// B li K J!i l 4 1 

On his forefeet to rest. 

Where had I heard this wind before 

I'm a poor Underdog; Change like this to a deeper roar? 

But tonight I will bark, What would it take my standing there for, 

With the Great Overdog Holding open a restive door, 

That romps through the dark. Looking down hill to a frothy shore? 

Summer was past and day was past. 

THE PEACEFUL SHEPHERD Somber clouds on the West were massed. 

If heaven were to do again, Out in the porch's sagging floor 

And on the pasture bars Leaves got up in a coil and hissed, 

I leaned to line the figures in Blindly struck at my knee and missed. 

Between the dotted stars, Something sinister in the tone 



224 ROBERT FROST 

Told me my secret must be known: Not all your light tongues talking aloud 

Word I was in the house alone Could be profound. 

Somehow must have gotten abroad; 

Word I was in my life alone: r> . . T u i j i 

\\r j T L j i r i ^ i ^ ut > trce > I have seen you taken and tossed, 

Word I had no one left but God. A r L t T i 

And it you have seen me when 1 slept, 

You have seen me when I was taken and 

TREE AT MY WINDOW Swept 

And all but lost. 
Tree at my window, window tree, 

My sash is lowered when night comes on; 

But let there never be curtain drawn That da Y she P ut our hca(3s together, 

Between you and me, Fate had her imagination about her, 

Your head so much concerned with outer, 

Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground, Mine with inner, weather. 
And thing next most diffuse to cloud, 



WEST-RUNNING BROOK 

"Fred, where is north?" 

"North? North is there, my love. 
The brook runs west." 

"West-running Brook then call it." 
(West-running Brook men call it to this day.) 
"What docs it think it's doing running west 
When all the other country brooks flow cast 
To reach the ocean? It must be the brook 
Can trust itself to go by contraries 
The way I can with you and you with me 
Because we're we're I don't know what we are. 
What are we?" 

"Young or ne\v ? " 

"We must be something. 

We've said we two. Let's change that to we three. 
As you and T are married to each other, 
We'll both be married to the brook. We'll build 
Our bridge across it, and the bridge shall be 
Our arm thrown over it asleep beside it. 
Look, look, it's waving to us with a wave 
To let us know it hears me." 

"Why, my dear, 

That wave's been standing off this jut of shore " 
(The black stream, catching on a sunken rock, 
Flung backward on itself in one white wave, 
And the white water rode the black forever, 
Not gaining but not losing, like a bird 
While feathers from the struggle of whose breast 
Flecked the dark stream and flecked the darker pool 
Below the point, and were at last driven wrinkled 
In a white scarf against the far shore alders.) 
"That wave's been standing off this jut of shore 



ROBERT FROST 225 

Ever since rivers, I was going to say, 

Were made in heaven. It wasn't waved to us." 

"It wasn't, yet it was. If not to you 
It was to me in an annunciation." 

"Oh, if you take it of! to lady-land, 

As 'twere the country of the Amazons 

We men must see you to the confines of 

And leave you there, ourselves forbid to enter, 

It is your brook' I have no more to say." 

"Yes, you have, too. Go on. You thought of something." 

"Speaking of contraries, see how the brook 

In that white wave runs counter to itself. 

It is from that in water we were from 

Long, long before we were from any creature. 

Here we, in our impatience of the steps, 

Get back to the beginning of beginnings, 

The stream of everything that runs away. 

Some say existence like a Pirouot 

And Pirouette, forever in one place, 

Stands still and dances, but it runs away, 

It seriously, sadly, runs away 

To fill the abyss' void with emptiness. 

It flows beside us in this water brook,. 

But it flows over us. It flows between us 

To separate us for a panic moment. 

It flows between us, over us, and with us. 

And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love 

And even substance lapsing unsubstantial; 

The universal cataract of death 

That spends to nothingness and unresisted, 

Save by some strange resistance in itself, 

Not just a swerving, but a throwing back, 

As if regret were in it and were sacred. 

It has this throwing backward on itself 

So that the fall of most of it is always 

Raising a little, sending up a little. 

Our life runs down in sending up the clock. 

The brook runs down in sending up our life. 

The sun runs down in sending up the brook. 

And there is something sending up the sun. 

It is this backward motion toward the source, 

Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in. 

The tribute of the current to the source. 

It is from this in nature we are from. 

It is most us." 

"Today will be the day 



226 ROBERT FROST 

You said so." 

"No, today will be the day 
You said the brook was called West-running Brook." 

"Today will be the day of what we both said." 

ONCE BY THE PACIFIC 

The shattered water made a misty din, 
Great waves looked over others coming in, 
And thought of doing something to the shore 
That water never did to land before. 
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies 
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes. 
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if 
The sand was lucky m being backed by cliff, 
The cliff in being backed by continent. 
It looked as if a night of dark intent 
Was coming, and not only a night, an age. 
Someone had better be prepared for rage. 
There would be more than ocean water broken 
Before God's last Put out the light was spoken. 

; THE BEAR 

The bear puts both arms around the tree above her 

And draws it down as if it were a lover 

And its chokc-cherncs lips to kiss good-by, 

Then lets it snap back upright in the sky. 

Her next step rocks a bowlder on the wall 

(She's making her cross-country in the fall.) 

Her great weight creaks the barbed- wire in its staples 

As she flings over and of! down through the maples, 

Leaving on one wire tooth a lock of hair. 

Such is the uncaged progress of the bear. 

The world has room to make a bear feel free; 

The universe seems cramped to you and me. 

Man acts more like a poor bear in a cage 

That all day fights a nervous inward rage, 

His mood rejecting all his mind suggests. 

He paces back and forth and never rests 

The toe-nail click and shuffle of his feet, 

The telescope at one end of his beat, 

And at the other end the microscope, 

Two instruments of nearly equal hope, 

And in conjunction giving quite a spread. 

Or if he rests from scientific tread, 

'Tis only to sit back and sway his head 

Through ninety odd degrees of arc, it seems, 

Between two metaphysical extremes. 



ROBERT FROST 227 

He sits back on his fundamental butt 
With lifted snout and eyes (if any) shut, 
.(He almost looks religious but he's not), 
And back and forth he sways from cheek to cheek, 
At one extreme agreeing with one Greek, 
At the other agreeing with another Greek 
Which may be thought, but only so to speak. 
A baggy figure, equally pathetic 
When sedentary and when peripatetic. 



SAND DUNES 

Sea waves are green and wet, 
But up from where they die 
Rise others vaster yet, 
And those are brown and dry. 

They are the sea made land 
To come at the fisher town, 
And bury in solid sand 
The men she could not drown. 

She may know cove and cape, 
But she docs not know mankind 
If by any change of shape 
She hopes to cut off mind. 

Men left her a ship to sink; 
They can leave her a hut as well, 
And be but more free to think 
For the one more cast-off shell. 



THE LOVELY SHALL BE CHOOSERS 

The Voice said, "Hurl her down!" 
The Voices, "How far down?" 
"Seven levels of the world." 
"How much time have we?" 

"Take twenty years. 

She would refuse love safe with wealth and honor. 

The Lovely shall be choosers, shall they? 

Then let them choose!" 

"Then we shall let her choose?" 

"Yes, let her choose. 

Take up the task beyond her choosing." 

Invisible hands crowded on her shoulder 
In readiness to weigh upon her. 



228 ROBERT FROST 

But she stood straight still, 

In broad round ear-rings, gold and jet with pearls, 

And broad round suchlike brooch, 

Her checks high colored, 

Proud and the pride of friends. 

The Voice asked, "You can let her choose?" 
"Yes, we can let her and still triumph." 

"Do it by joys. And leave her always blameless. 

Be her first joy her wedding, 

That though a wedding, 

Is yet well, something they know, he and she. 

And after that her next joy 

That though she grieves, her grief is secret: 

Those iricnds know nothing of her grief to make it shameful. 

Her third joy that though now they cannot help but know, 

They move in pleasure too far off 

To think much or much care. 

Give her a child at either knee for fourth joy 

To tell once and once only, for them never to forget, 

How once she walked in brightness, 

And make them see in the winter firelight. 

But give her friends, for them she dares not tell 

For their foregone incredulousness. 

And be her next joy this: 

Her never having deigned to tell them. 

Make her among the humblest even 

Seem to them less than they are. 

Hopeless of being known for what she has been, 

Failing of being loved ior what she is, 

Give her the comfoit for her sixth of knowing 

She fails from strangeness to a way ot life 

She came to from too high too late to learn. 

Then send some one with eye to see 

And wonder at her where she is 

And words to wonder in her* hearing how she came there. 

But without time to stay and hear her story. 

Be her last joy her heart's going out to this one 

So that she almost speaks. 

You know them seven in all." 
"Trust us," the Voices said. 



THE EGG AND THE MACHINE 

He gave the solid rail a hateful kick. 
From far away there came an answering tick; 
And then another tick. He knew the code: 
His hate had roused an engine up the road. 



ROBERT FROST 



229 



He wished when he had had the track alone 

He had attacked it with a club or stone 

And bent some rail wide open like a switch 

So as to wreck the engine in the ditch. 

Too late, though, now to throw it down the bank; 

Its click was rising to a nearer clank. 

Here it came breasting like a horse in skirts. 

(He stood well back for fear of scalding squirts.) 

Then for a moment there was only size, 

Confusion, and a roar that drowned the cries 

lie raised against the gods in the machine. 

Then once again the sand-bank lay serene. 

The traveler's eye picked up a turtle trail, 

Between the dotted feet a streak of tail, 

And followed it to where he made out vague, 

But certain signs of buried turtle egg; 

And probing with one finger not too rough, 

He found suspicious sand, and sure enough 

The pocket of a little tuitle mine. 

If there was one egg m it, there were nine, 

Torpcdo-hkc, with shell ot gritty leather 

All packed in sand to wait the trump together. 

"You'd better not disturb me any more," 

He told the distance. "I am armed for war. 

The next machine that has the power to pass 

Will get this plasm in its goggle glass." 



STOPPING BY WOODS ON A 
SNOWY EVENING 

Whose woods these arc I think I know. 
His house is in the village though; 
He will not see me stopping here 
To watch his woods fill up with snow. 

My little horse must think it queer 
To stop without a farmhouse near 
Between the woods and frozen lake 
The darkest evening of the year. 

He gives his harness bells a shake 
To ask if there is some mistake. 
The only other sound's the sweep 
Of easy wind and downy flake. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 



NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY 

Nature's first green is gold, 
Tier hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a (lower; 
But only so an hour 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Rdcn sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 



THE ROAD NOT TAKEN 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them rcallv about the same, 



xyo ROBERT FROST 

And both that morning equally lay I shall be telling this with a sigh 

In leaves no step had trodden black. Somewhere ages and ages hence: 

Oh, I kept the first for another day ! Two roads diverged in a wood, and I 

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I took the one less traveled by, 

I doubted if I should ever come back. And that has made all the difference. 



A LEAF-TREADER 

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired. 
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired. 
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength and been too fierce from fear. 
I have safely trodden under foot the leaves of another year. 

All summer long they were overhead more lifted up than I; 

To come to their final place in earth they had to pass me by. 

All summer long I thought I heard them threatening under their breath, 

And when they came it seemed with a will to carry me with them to death. 

They spoke to the fugitive in my heart as if it were leaves to leaf; 

They tapped at my eyelids and touched my lips with an invitation to grief. 

But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go. 

Now up, my knee, to keep on top of another year of snow. 



LOST IN HEAVEN 

The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy night 
Offered an opening to the source of dew, 
Which I accepted with impatient sight, 
Looking for my old sky-marks in the blue. 

But stars were scarce in that part of the sky, 
And no two were of the same constellation 
No one was bright enough to identify. 
So 'twas with not ungrateful consternation, 

Seeing myself well lost once more, I sighed, 
"Where, where in heaven am P But don't tell me," 
I warned the clouds, "by opening me wide' 
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me." 



V DESERT PLACES 

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast 
In a field I looked into going past, 
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow, 
But a few weeds and stubble showing last. 

The woods around it have it it is theirs. 
All animals are smothered in their lairs. 
I am too absent-spirited to count: 
The loneliness includes me unawares. 



ROBERT FROST 



And lonely as it is, that loneliness 
Will be more lonely ere it will be less, 
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow, 
With no expression nothing to express. 

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces 
Between stars on stars void of human races. 
I have it in me so much nearer home 
To scare myself with my own desert places. 



TWO TRAMPS IN MUD-TIME 

Out of the mud two strangers came 

And caught me splitting wood in the yard. 

And one of them put me oft my aim 

By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard'" 

I knew pretty well why he dropped behind 

And let the other go on a way. 

I knew pretty well what he had in mind: 

He wanted to take my job for pay. 

Good blocks of beech it was I split, 
As large around as the chopping-block; 
And every piece I squarely hit 
Fell spimterless as a cloven rock. 
The blows that a life of self-control 
Spares to strike for the common good 
That day, giving a loose to my soul, 
I spent on the unimportant wood. 

The sun was warm but the wind was chill. 
You know how it is with an April day: 
When the sun is out and the wind is still, 
You're one month on in the middle of May. 
But if you so much as dare to speak, 
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch, 
A wind comes of! a frozen peak, 
And you're two months back in the middle 
of March. 

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight 

And fronts the wind to unruffle a plume, 

His song so pitched as not to excite 

A single flower as yet to bloom. 

It is snowing a flake: and he half knew 

Winter was only playing possum. 

Except in color he isn't blue, 

But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom. 

The water for which we may have to look 
In summertime with a witching-wand, 
In every wheelrut's now a brook, 



In every print of a hoof a pond. 
Be glad of water, but don't forget 
The lurking frost in the earth beneath 
That will steal forth after the sun is set 
And show on the water its crystal teeth. 

The time when most I loved my task 
These two must make me love it more 
By coming with what they came to ask. 
You'd think I never had felt before 
The weight of an ax head poised aloft, 
The grip on earth of outspread feet, 
The life of muscles rocking soit 
And smooth and moist in vernal heat. 

Out of the woods two hulking tramps 
(From sleeping God knows where last night 
But not long since in the lumber camps). 
They thought all chopping was theirs of 

right. 

Men of the woods and lumber-jacks, 
They judged me by their appropriate tool. 
Except as a fellow handled an ax, 
They had no way of knowing a fool. 

Nothing on either side was said. 

They knew they had but to stay their stay 

And all their logic would fill my head: 

As that I had no right to play 

With what was another man's work for gain, 

My right might be love but theirs was need, 

And where the two exist in twain 

Theirs was the better right -agreed. 

But yield who will to their separation, 

My object in life is to unite 

My avocation and my vocation 

As my two eyes make one in sight. 

Only where love and need are one, 

And the work is play for mortal stakes, 

Is the deed ever really done 

For Heaven and the future's sakcs. 



232 



ROBERT FROST 



DEPARTMENTAL 
OR, MY ANT JERRY 

An ant on the table-cloth 
Ran into a dormant moth 
Of many times her size. 
He showed not the least surprise. 
His business wasn't with such. 
He gave it scarcely a touch, 
And was off on his duty run. 
Yet if he encountered one 
Of the hive's enquiry squad 
Whose work is to find out God 
And the nature of time and space, 
He would put him onto the case. 
Ants are a curious race; 
One crossing with hurried tread 
The body of one of their dead 
Isn't given a moment's arrest 
Seems not even impressed. 
But he no doubt reports to any 
With whom he crosses antennae, 
And they no doubt report 



To the higher up at court. 
Then word goes forth in Formic: 
"Death's come to Jerry McCormic, 
Our selfless forager Jerry. 
Will the special Janizary 
Whose office it is to bury 
The dead of the commissary 
Go bring him home to his people. 
Lay him in state on a sepal. 
Wrap him for shroud in a petal. 
Embalm him with ichor of nettle. 
This is the word of your Quee"n." 
And presently on the scene 
Appears a solemn mortician; 
And taking formal position 
With feelers calmly atwiddle, 
Seizes the dead by the middle, 
And heaving him high in air, 
Carries him out of there. 
No one stands round to stare. 
It is nobody else's affair. 

It couldn't be called ungentle. 
But how thoroughly departmental. 



A CONSIDERABLE SPECK 

A speck that would have been beneath my sight 

On any but a paper sheet so white 

Set oft across what I had written there, 

And I had idly poised my pen m air 

To stop it with a period of ink, 

When something strange about it made me think 

This was no dust speck by my breathing blown, 

But unmistakably a living mite 

With inclinations it could call its own. 

It paused as with suspicion of my pen, 

And then came racing wildly on again 

To where my manuscript was not yet dry, 

Then paused again and cither drank or smelt 

With horror, for again it turned to fly. 

Plainly with an intelligence I dealt. 

It seemed too tiny to have room for feet, 

Yet must have had a set of them complete 

To express how much it didn't want to die. 

It ran with terror and with cunning crept. 

It faltered! I could see it hesitate 

Then in the middle of the open sheet 

Cower down in desperation to accept 

Whatever I accorded it of fate. 

I have none of the tenderer-than-thou 



ROBERT FROST 



Political collectivistic love 

With which the modern world is being swept 

But this poor microscopic item now' 

Since it was nothing I knew evil ofc 

I let it he there till I hope it slept. 

I have a mind myself, and recognize 

Mind where I meet with it in any guise. 

Na.one can know how glad I am to find 

On any sheet the least display of mind. 



L-1APPINESS MAKES UP IN HEIGHT FOR WHAT 
IT LACKS IN LENGTH 

Oh stormy, stormy world, 
The days you were not swirled 
Around with mist and cloud, 
Or wrapped as in a shroud, 
And the sun's brilliant lull 
Was not in part "or all 
Obscured from mortal* view, 
Were days so very few 
I can but wonder whence 
I get the lasting sense 
Of so much warmth and light. 
If my mistrust is right 
It may be altogether 
From one day's perfect weather 
When starting clear at dawn 
The day went clearly on 
To finish clear at eve. 
I verily believe 
My fair impression may 
Be ail from that one day 
No shadow crossed but ours, 
As through the blazing flowers 
We went from house to wood 
For change of solitude. 



COME IN 



As I came to the edge of the woods, 
Thrush music hark' 
Now if it was dusk outside, 
Inside it was dark. 

Too dark in the woods for a bird 
By sleight of wing 
To better its perch for the night, 
Though it still could sing. 

The last of the light of the sun 
That had died in the west 



Still lived for one song more 
In a thrush's breast. 

Far in the pillared dark 
Thrush music went 
Almost like a call to come in 
To the dark and lament. 

But no, Pwas out for stars: 
I would not come in. 
I meant not even if asked; 
And I hadn't been. 



WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD 



William Ellery Leonard 

WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, January 25, 1876. 
He received his A.M. at Harvard in 1899 and completed his studies at the 
Universities of Gottingen and Bonn. After traveling for several years throughout 
Europe, he became a teacher and has been professor of English in the University of 
Wisconsin since 1906. 

The Vaunt of Man (1912) is a characteristic volume. Traditional in form and 
material, it is anything but conservative in spirit. Leonard's fervor speaks in the 
simplest of his quatrains and sonnets. This protesting passion is given an even wider 
sweep in The Lynching Bee and Other Poems (1920). 

Tutankhamen and After (1924) is an ambitious attempt to picture the continuity 
of man's life in three pages, but in spite of a few felicitous lines the title-poem is 
prosy. It was a grave injustice to claim this as Leonard's "most representative vol- 
ume." That distinction must be claimed by Two Lives, which was privately issued 
in 1923 and publicly offered in 1925. Reminiscent of Richard Dchmel's Zwel 
Menschen t this chain of sonnets compresses an intensity m which the effect of the 
cumulative drama is far greater than that of any single poem. 

The Locomotive God (1927) is a strange document written in autobiographical 
prose. It is the narrative of a student and poet who ends as a neurotic confined by 
an unusual phobia within a few blocks' radius of his home. Disproportionate in its 
concern with trifles, painful as analysis of fevered imagination, the book has a per- 
sonal interest beyond the case history; it is frankly autobiographical. 

A Son of Earth (1929) is composed of selections from Leonard's previous poetry 
with the exception of his translations and Two Lives. It, too, was arranged auto- 
biographical ly "with reference to activities, aims, influences, crises." This larger 
collection suffers the same defects as Two Lives; its sincerity is compelling, its can- 
dor unreserved, but only a few pages could be offered as examples of poetry per se. 
A Son of Eaith contains page after page of inversions and pomposities incredibly 
preserved; one can understand the youth that luxuriated in such cliches as "golden 
fee," "slumbering aeons," "shadowy woodlands," "white nymphs," "brazen trum- 
pets," "immemorial tides," but it is hard to credit a maturity that proudly reprints 
them. Rhetoric aside, there is wisdom here and wit, a malicious sparkle in the re- 
vised fables grouped under "Aesop and Hyssop." 

Besides his original poetry, Leonard has published several volumes of translations 
of Beowulf, Empedocles and Lucretius. 

THE IMAGE OF DELIGHT 

how came I that loved stars, moon, and flame, 
And unimaginable wind and sea, 

All inner shrines and temples of the free, 
Legends and hopes and golden books of fame; 

1 that upon the mountain carved my name 
With cliffs and clouds and eagles over me* 



WILLIAM ELLERY LEONARD 



how came I to stoop to loving thce 

1 that had never stooped before to shame? 

'twas not thee! Too eager of a white 
Far beauty and a voice to answer mine, 
Myself I built an image of delight, 

Which all one purple day I deemed divine 
And when it vanished in the fiery night, 

1 lost not thee, nor any shape of thine. 

TO THE VICTOR 

Man's mind is larger than his brow of tears; 
This hour is not my ail of time; this place 
My all of earth; nor this obscene disgrace 
My all of life; and thy complacent sneers 
Shall not pronounce my doom to my compeers 
While the Hereafter lights me in the face, 
And from the Past, as from the mountain's base, 
Rise, as I rise, the long tumultuous cheers. 
And who slays me must overcome a world: 
Heroes at arms, and virgins who became 
Mothers of children, prophecy and song; 
Walls of old cities with their flags unfurled; 
Peaks, headlands, ocean and its isles of fame 
And sun and moon and all that made me strong! 



Carl Sandburg 

CARL (AUGUST) SANDBURG was born of Swedish stock at Galesburg, Illinois, Janu- 
ary 6, 1878. His schooling was haphazard; at thirteen he went to Work on a 
milk wagon. During the next six years he was, in rapid succession, porter in a barber 
shop, scene-shifter in a cheap theater, truck-handler in a brickyard, turner-apprentice 
in a pottery, dish-washer in Denver and Omaha hotels, harvest hand in Kansas 
whcatfields. These tasks equipped him, as no amount of learning could have done, 
to be the laureate of industrial America. When war with Spain was declared in 1898, 
Sandburg, avid for fresh adventure, enlisted in Company C, Sixth Illinois Vol- 
unteers. 

On his return from the campaign in Porto Rico, Sandburg entered Lombard Col- 
lege in Galesburg and, for the first time, began to think in terms of literature. After 
leaving college, where he had been captain of the basket-ball team as well as editor- 
in-chief of the college paper, Sandburg did all manner of things to earn a living. 
He was advertising manager for a department store and worked as district organ- 
izer for the Social-Democratic party of Wisconsin. He became salesman, pamphleteer, 
newspaperman. 

In 1904 Sandburg published the proverbial "slender sheaf," a tiny pamphlet of 
Twenty-two poems, uneven in quality, but strangely like the work of the mature 



2 3 6 CARL SANDBURG 

Sandburg in feeling. What is more, these experiments anticipated the inflection of 
the later poems, with their spiritual kinship to Henley and Whitman; several of 
these early experiments (with the exception of the rhymed verses) might be placed, 
without seeming incongruous, in the later collections. The idiom of Stnofc and 
Steel (1920) is more intensified, but it is the same idiom as that of "Milville" (1903), 
which begins: 

Down in southern New Jersey they make glass. 

By day and by night, the fires burn on in Milville and bid the sand let in the light. 

Meanwhile the newspaperman was struggling to keep the poet alive. Until he 
was thirty-six years old Sandburg was unknown to the literary woild. In 1914 a 
group of his poems appeared in Poetry A Magazine of Vet sc; during the same year 
one of the group (the now famous "Chicago") was awarded the Lcvinson prize of 
two hundred dollars. A little more than a year later his first real book was pub- 
lished, and Sandburg's stature was apparent to all who cared to look. 

Chicago Poems (1916) is full of ferment; it seethes with loose energy. If Frost 
is an intellectual aristocrat, Sandburg might be termed an emotional democrat. Sand- 
burg's speech is simple and powerful; he uses slang as freely as his predecessors used 
the now aichaic tongue of their times. Never has the American vulgate been used 
with such aitistry and effect. Immediately cries of protest were heard: Sandburg was 
coarse and brutal; his work ugly and distorted; his language unrefined, unfit for 
poetry. His detractors forgot that Sandburg was brutal only to condemn brutality; 
that beneath his toughness, he was one of the tenclerest of living poets; that, when 
he used colloquialisms and a richly metaphorical slang, he was seaiching for new 
poetic values in "limber, lasting, fierce words" unconsciously answering Whitman 
who asked, "Do you suppose the liberties and brawn of These States have to do 
only with delicate lady-words ? With gloved gentleman-words?" 

Coinhus1{cts (1918) is another step forward; it is as sweeping as its forerunner 
and more sensitive. The gain in power and restraint is evident in the very first poem, 
a wide-swept vision of the prairie. Here is something of the surge of a Norse saga; 
Cotnhust(is is keen with a salty vigor, a sympathy lor all that is splendid and ter- 
rible in Nature. But the raw violence is restrained to the point ot half-withheld mys- 
ticism. There are, in this volume, dozens of those delicate perceptions of beauty that 
must astonish those who think that Sandburg can write only a big-fisted, rough- 
neck sort of poetry. As Sandburg has sounded some of the most jottissimo notes in 
modern poetry, he has also breathed some of its softest phrases. "Cool Tombs," one 
of the most poignant lyrics of our times, moves with a low music; "Grass" whispers 
as quietly as the earlier "Fog" stole in on stealthy, cat feet. 

Smofe and Steel (1920) is the synthesis of its predecessors. In this collection, 
Sandburg has fused mood, accent and image. Whether the poet evokes the spirit of 
a jazz-band or, having had the radiance (the "flash crimson"), prays to touch life 
at its other extreme, this volume is not so vociferous as it is assured. Smoke-belching 
chimneys are here, quarries and great bowlders of iron-ribbed rock; here are titanic 
visions: the dreams of men and machinery. And silence is here the silence of sleep- 
ing tenements and sun-soaked cornfields. 

Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1923) is a fresh fusing: here in quick succession are 
the sardonic invectives of "And So Today," the rhapsody of "The Windy City" (an 



CARL SANDBURG 257 

amplification of the early "Chicago"), and the panoramic title-poem. Although the 
book's chief exhibit is the amplitude of its longer poems, there are a few brevities 
(such as "Upstream") which have the vigor of a jubilant cry. Sandburg is still 
tempted to talk at the top of his voice, to bang the table and hurl his loudest epi- 
thets into the teeth of his opponents. But often he goes to the other extreme; he is 
likely to leave his material soft and loose instead of solidifying his emotions. There 
are times when the poet seems unsure whether or not he can furnish more than a 
clew to the half-realized wisps of his imagination. But though his meaning may not 
always be clear, there is no mistaking the power of his feeling nor the curious 
cadences of his music. 

Good Morning, America (1928) is characteristically Sandburg at his best and 
worst. There are passages which are hopelessly enigmatic, passages which are only 
inflations of commonplace ideas. On the other hand, there are pages which aie re- 
markable experiments in suspension, pages sensitive with a beauty delicately per- 
ceived. The thirty-eight "Tentative (First Model) Definitions of Poetry" with which 
the volume is prefaced are footnotes as well as prologues to his work in general, and 
the purely descriptive pieces are among his finest. Incidentally, the volume shows 
how far Sandburg has gone in critical esteem since the time when his Chicago 
Poems was openly derided, the title poem of Good Monnng, America, having been 
read as a Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard. Hcie, too, one is impressed by Sand- 
burg's hatred of war; Sandburg was one of the first American poets to express the 
growing protests in "A. E. F." and other poems. 

Besides his poetry, Sandburg has written three volumes of imaginative and, if 
one can conceive of such a tiling, humorously mystical talcs for children: Rootabaga 
Stoties (1922), Rootabaga Pigeons (1923) and Potato Face (1930), the last being 
so the poet and publisher insist tales for adults of all ages. A collection of the 
Rootabaga stones was illustrated by Peggy Bacon in 1929. Eight years were spent 
traveling and studying documents for his vitalized Abraham Lincoln' The Prante 
Yeats (1926), and assembling material for his collection of native folk-tunes The 
American Songbag (1927), a massive and revealing folio of words, music, and ac- 
companiments to two hundred and eighty songs, more than one hundred of them 
never in print until Sandburg's car and notebook gathered them from pioneer grand- 
mothers, workf-gangs, railroad men, hoboes, convicts, cowboys, mountain people, and 
others who sing "because they must." Another ten years prepared him to write 
Abiaham Lincoln' The Wai Years, the six volumes constituting the most exten- 
sive modern presentation of Lincoln and his times. 

In 1924 the poet perfected a unique lecture part recital, part singing of American 
folk-tunes, part "circus," as he describes it which he continued to give throughout 
the country. Accompanied by his guitar, Sandburg brought new values to the read- 
ing of poetry. His low-toned footnotes were full of philosophic asides. Speaking of 
realism and romanticism, he once told the following fable: "There was a man who 
did not find in his house all he desired. One day he came in to find his wife work- 
ing with a workbasket full of bright silk threads. He caught up a handful. He held 
them tight for a moment. Then he opened his hand. The threads became hundreds 
of brilliant butterflies flying joyfully about the room. The man watched them. Then 
he opened his hand, gathered them all in, tightened his hold. They became silk 



238 CARL SANDBURG 

threads; he returned them to the workbasket. . . . And if you can believe that," 
Sandburg concluded, "you are a romanticist." 

Suddenly in his fifty-eighth year the poet emerged tougher and more resolute 
than ever. The People, Yes (1936) is a synthesis of research and rhapsody, of the 
collector's energy and the creator's imagination. The work is a carryall of folk-tales, 
catch-phrases, tall stories, gossip and history. With a new gusto and an old reliance 
on the native idiom, Sandburg affirms his faith. Never, except in Whitman, has the 
common man been so celebrated; never has there been a greater tribute to the 
people's shrewd skepticism and stubborn optimism, their patience and their power. 
Here are the people, misled and misunderstood, bewildered and betrayed, but 
stronger and wiser than they know: "a reservoir of the human reserves that shape 
history." 

TEN DEFINITIONS OF POETRY 

1 Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence 

with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths. 

2 Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air. 

3 Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for 

explanations. 

4 Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the 

unknowable. 

5 Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed 

in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue 
sky in spring. 

6 Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a 

sunlit blossom of that flower. 

7 Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entomb- 

ing it. 

8 Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. 

9 Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. 

10 Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to 
guess about what is seen during a moment. 

CHICAGO 

Hog Butcher for the World, 
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, 

Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler; 
Stormy, husky, brawling, 
City of the Big Shoulders: 
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted 

women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys. 
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the 

gunman kill and go free to kill again. 
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and 

children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger. 
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and 

I give them back the sneer and say to them: 

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and 
coarse and strong and cunning. 



CARL SANDBURG 



239 



Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold 

slugger set vivid against the little soft cities; 

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against 
the wilderness, 
Bareheaded, 
Shoveling, 
Wrecking, 
Planning, 

Building, breaking, rebuilding. 

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth, 
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs, 
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle, 
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the 
heart of the people, 

Laughing' 

Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, 
proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads 
and Freight Handler to the Nation. 



FOG 

The fog comes 
on little cat feet. 
It sits looking 
over harbor and city 
on silent haunches 
and then moves on. 



GRASS 

Pile the bodies high at Austcrlitz and Waterloo. 
Shovel them under and let me work 
I am the grass; I cover all. 

And pile them high at Gettysburg 

And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. 

Shovel them under and let me work. 

Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: 

What place is tms ? 

Wheie are we now? 

I am the grass. 
Let me work. 



COOL TOMBS 

When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs, he forgot the copperheads 
and the assassin ... in the dust, in the cool tombs. 

And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall Street, cash and collateral 
turned ashes ... in the dust, in the cool tombs. 



240 CARL SANDBURG 

Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw in November or a pawpaw 
in May, did she wonder? does she remember? ... in the dust, in the cool 
tombs ? 

Take any strectful of people buying clothes and groceries, cheering a hero or throw- 
ing confetti and blowing tin horns . . . tell me if the lovers are losers . . . 
tell me if any get more than the lovers ... in the dust ... in the cool tombs. 



NOCTURNE IN A DESERTED BRICKYARD 

Stuff of the moon 

Runs on the lapping sand 

Out to the longest shadows. 

Under the curving willows, 

And round the creep of the wave line, 

Fluxions of yellow and dusk on the waters 

Make a wide dreaming pansy of an old pond in the night. 



LIMITED 

I am riding on a limited express, one of the crack trains of the nation. 

Hurtling across the prairie into blue haze and dark air go fifteen all-stccl coaches 

holding a thousand people. 
(All the coaches shall be scrap and rust and all the men and women laughing in 

the diners and sleepers shall pass to ashes.) 
I ask a man in the smoker where he is going and he answers: "Omaha." 



FOUR PRELUDES ON PLAYTHINGS OF THE WIND 

"The Past Is a Bucket of Ashes" 

i 

The woman named Tomorrow 
sits with a hairpin in her teeth 
and takes her time 

and docs her hair the way she wants it 
and fastens at last the last braid and coil 
and puts the hairpin where it belongs 
and turns and drawls: Well, what of it? 
My grandmother, Yesterday, is gone. 
What of it? Let the dead be dead. 

2 

The doors were cedar 
and the panel strips of gold 
and the girls were golden girls 
. and the panels read and the girls chanted: 
We are the greatest city, 
and the greatest nation: 
nothing like us ever was. 



CARL SANDBURG 241 

The doors are twisted on broken hinges, 
Sheets of ram swish through on the wind 

where the golden girls ran and the panels read: 

We are the greatest city, 

the greatest nation, 

nothing like us ever was. 

3 

It has happened before. 

Strong men put up a city and got 

a nation together, 

And paid singers to sing and women 
to warble: We arc the greatest city, 
the greatest nation, 
nothing like us ever was. 

And while the singers sang 
and the strong men listened 
and paid the singers well, 

there were rats and lizards who listened 

. . . and the only listeners left now 

... are ... the rats . . . and the lizards. 

And there are black crows 

crying, "Caw, caw," 

bringing mud and sticks 

building a nest 

over the words carved 

on the doors where the panels were cedar 

and the strips on the panels were gold 

and the golden girls came singing: 
We are the greatest city, 
the greatest nation: 
nothing like us ever was. 

The only singers now are crows crying, "Caw, caw," 

And the sheets of rain whine in the wind and doorways. 

And the only listeners now are ... the rats . . . and the li/ards. 

4 

The feet of the rats 
scribble on the doorsills; 
the hieroglyphs of the rat footprints 
chatter the pedigrees of the rats 
and babble of the blood 
and gabble of the breed 

of the grandfathers and the great-grandfathers 
of the rats. 

And the wind shifts 

and the dust on a doorsill shifts 

and even the writing of the rat footprints 

tells us nothing, nothing at all 



242 



CARL SANDBURG 



about the greatest city, the greatest nation 

where the strong men listened 

and the women warbled: Nothing like us ever was. 



A. E. F. 

There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart, 

The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust. 

A spider will make a silver string nest in the darkest, warmest corner of it. 

The trigger and the range-finder, they too will be rusty. 

And no hands will polish the gun, and it will hang on the wall. 

Forefingers and thumbs will point absently and casually toward it. 

It will be spoken among half-forgotten, wished-to-be-forgotten things. 

They will tell the spider: Go on, you're doing good work. 



PRAYERS OF STEEL 

Lay me on an anvil, O God. 

Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar. 

Let me pry loose old walls; 

Let me lift and loosen old foundations. 

Lay me on an anvil, O God. 

Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike. 

Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together. 

Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders. 

Let me be the gieat nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars. 



JAZZ FANTASIA 

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjos, sob on the long cool winding saxo- 
phones. Go to it, O jazzmen. 

Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy tin pans, let your trombones ooze, 
and go husha-husha-hush with the slippery sandpaper. 

Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops, moan soft like you 
wanted somebody terrible, cry like a racing car slipping away from a motor- 
cycle-cop, bang-bang' you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjos, horns, 
tin cans make two people fight on the top of a stairway and scratch each 
other's eyes in a clinch tumbling down the stairs. 

Can the rough stuff . . . Now a Mississippi steamboat pushes up the night river 
with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo . . . and the green lanterns calling to the high soft 
stars ... a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills. ... Go to 
it, O jazzmen. 



BLUE ISLAND INTERSECTION 

Six street-ends come together here. 

They feed people and wagons into the center. 



CARL SANDBURG 



In and out all day horses >vith thoughts of nose-bags, 
Men with shovels, women with baskets and baby buggies. 
Six ends of streets and no sleep for them all day. 
The people and wagons come and go, out and in. 
Triangles of banks and drug stores watch. 
The policemen whistle, the trolley cars bump: 
Wheels, wheels, feet, feet, all day. 

In the false dawn where the chickens bhnk 

And the east shakes a lazy baby toe at tomorrow, 

And the east fixes a pink half-eye this way, 

In the time when only one milk wagon crosses 

These three streets, these six street-ends 

It is the sleep time and they rest. 

The triangle banks and drug stores rest. 

The policeman is gone, his star and gun sleep. 

The owl car blutters along in a sleep-walk. 

FROM "SMOKE AND STEEL" 

Smoke of the fields in spring is one, 

Smoke of the leaves in autumn another. 

Smoke of a steel-mill roof or a battleship funnel, 

They all go up in a line with a smokestack, 

Or they twist ... in the slow twist . . . ot the wind. 

If the north wind comes they run to the south. 
If the west wind comes they run to the cast. 

By this sign 

all smokes 

know each other. 

Smoke of the fields in spring and leaves in autumn. 
Smoke of the finished steel, chilled and blue, 
By the oath of work they swear: "I know you." 

Hunted and hissed from the center 
Deep down long ago when God made us over, 
Deep down are the cinders we came from 
You and I and our heads of smoke. 



Some of the smokes God dropped on the job 
Cross on the sky and count our years 
And sing in the secrets of our numbers; 
Sing their dawns and sing their evenings, 
Sing an old log-fire song: 

You may put the damper up, 

You may put the damper down, 

The smoke goes up the chimney just the same. 



CARL SANDBURG 



Smoke of a city sunset skyline, 
Smoke of a country dusk horizon 

They cross on the sky and count our years. 



Smoke of a brick-red dust 

Winds on a spiral 

Out of the stacks 

For a hidden and glimpsing moon. 
This, said the bar-iron shed to tht blooming mill, 
This is the slang of coal and steel. 
The day-gang hands it to the night-gang, 
The night-gang hands it back. 

Stammer at the slang of this 
Let us understand half of it. 

In the rolling mills and sheet mills, 

In the harr and boom of the blast fires, 

The smoke changes its shadow 

And men change their shadow; 

A nigger, a wop, a bohunk changes. 

A bar of steel it is only 

Smoke at the heart of it, smoke and the blood of a man. 
A runner of fire ran in it, ran out, ran somewhere else, 
And left smoke and the blood of a man 
And the finished steel, chilled and blue. 

So fire runs in, runs out, runs somewhere else again, 
And the bar of steel is a gun, a wheel, a nail, a shovel, 
A rudder under the sea, a steering-gear in the sky; 
And always dark in the heart and through it, 

Smoke and the blood of a man. 
Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Gary, they make their steel with men. 

In the blood of men and the ink of chimneys 

The smoke nights write their oaths: 

Smoke into steel and blood into steel; 

Homestead, Braddock, Birmingham, they make their steel with men. 

Smoke and blood is the mix of steel. . . . 



LOSERS 

If I should pass the tomb of Jonah 

I would* stop there and sit for a while; 

Because I was swallowed one time deep in the dark 

And came out alive after all. 

If I pass the burial spot of Nero 

I shall soy to the wind, "Well, well!" 



CARL SANDBURG 245 

I who have fiddled in a world on fire, 

I who have done so many stunts not worth the doing. 

I am looking for the grave of Smbad too. 
I want to shake his ghost-hand and say, 
"Neither of us died very early, did we?" 

And the last sleeping-place of Nebuchadnezzar 
When I arrive there I shall tell the wind: 
"You ate grass; I have eaten crow 
Who is better off now or next year?" 

Jack Cade, John Brown, Jesse James, 

There too I could sit down and stop for a while. 

I think I could tell their headstones: 

"God, let me remember all good losers." 

I could ask people to throw ashes on their heads 
In the name of that sergeant at Belleau Woods, 
Walking into the drumfires, calling his men, 
"Come on, you . . . Do you want to live forever?" 



WIND SONG 

Long ago I learned how to sleep, 

In an old apple orchard where the wind swept by counting its money and throwing 

it away, 
In a wind-gaunt orchard where the limbs forked out and listened or never listened 

at all, 
In a passel of trees where the branches trapped the wind into whistling, "Who, who 

are you?" 
I slept with my head in an elbow on a summer afternoon and there I took a sleep 

lesson. 
There I went away saying: I know why they sleep, I know how they trap the tricky 

winds. 
Long ago I learned how to listen to the singing wind and how to forget and how 

to hear the deep whine, 

Slapping and lapsing under the day blue and the night stars: 
Who, who are you? 

Who can ever forget 
listening to the wind go by 
counting its money 
and throwing it away? 



PRIMER LESSON 

Look out how you use proud words. 

When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back. 

They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can't hear you calling 

Look out how you use proud words. 



246 CARL SANDBURG 

BROKEN-FACE GARGOYLES 

All I can give you is broken-face gargoyles. 

It is too early to sing and dance at funerals, 

Though I can whisper to you I am looking for an undertaker humming a lullaby 

and throwing his feet m a swift and mystic buck-and-wing, now you see it and 

now you don't. 

Fish to swim a pool in your garden flashing a speckled silver, 

A basket of wine-saps filling your room with flame-dark for your eyes and the tang 

of valley orchards for your nose, 
Such a beautiful pail of fish, such a beautiful peck of apples, I cannot bring you 

now. 
It is too early and I am not footloose yet. 

I shall come in the night when I come with a hammer and saw. 

I shall come near your window, where you look out when your eyes open in the 

morning, 
And there I shall slam together bird-houses and bird-baths for wing-loose wrens 

and hummers to live in, birds with yellow wing tips to blur and buzz soft all 

summer. 

So I shall make little fool homes with doors, always open doors for all and each to 

run away when they want to. 

I shall come just like that even though now it is early and I am not yet footloose, 
Even though I am still looking fo A an undertaker with a raw, wind-bitten face and 

a dance in his feet. 
I make a date with you (put it down) for six o'clock in the evening a thousand 

years from now. 

All I can give you now is broken-face gargoyles. 

All I can give you now is a double gorilla head with two fish mouths and four eagle 
eyes hooked on a street wall, spouting water and looking two ways to the ends 
of the street for the new people, the young strangers, coming, coming, always 
coming. 

It is early. 

I shall yet be footloose. 



FLASH CRI MSON 

I shall cry God to give me a broken foot. 
I shall ask for a scar and a slashed nose. 
I shall take the last and the worst. 

I shall be eaten by gray creepers in a bunkhouse where no runners of the sun come 
and no dogs live. 

And yet of all "and yets" this is the bronze strongest 



CARL SANDBURG 247 

I shall keep one thing better than all else; there is the blue steel of a great star ot 
early evening in it; it lives longer than a broken foot or any scar. 

The broken foot goes to a hole dug with a shovel or the bone of a nose may whiten 
on a hilltop and yet "and yet" 

There is one crimson pinch of ashes left after all; and none of the shifting winds 
that whip the grass and none of the pounding rains that beat the dust know 
how to touch or find the flash of this crimson. 

I cry to God to give me a broken foot, a scar, or a lousy death. 

I who have seen the flash of this crimson, I ask God for the last and worst. 



EARLY LYNCHING 

Two Christs were at Golgotha. 

One took the vinegar, another looked on. 

One was on the cross, another in the mob. 

One had the nails in his hands, another the stiff fingers holding a hammer driving 

nails. 
There were many more Christs at Golgotha, many more thief pals, many many 

more in the mob howling the Judean equivalent of "Kill Him' Kill Him!" 
The Christ they killed, the Christ they didn't kill, those were the two at Golgotha. 

Pity, pity, the bones of these broken ankles. 
Pity, pity, the slimp of these broken wrists 
The mother's arms are strong to the last. 
She holds him and counts the heart drips. 

The smell of the slums was on him, 

Wrongs of the slums lit his eyes. 

Songs of the slums wove in his voice 

The haters of the slums hated his slum heart. 

The leaves of a mountain tree, 

Leaves with a spinning star shook in them, 

Rocks with a song of water, water, over them, 

Hawks with an eye for death any time, any time, 

The smell and the sway of these were on his sleeves, were in his nostrils, his words. 

The slum man they killed, the mountain man lives on. 



PRECIOUS MOMENTS 

Bright vocabularies are transient as rainbows. 
Speech requires blood and air to make it. 
Before the word comes off the end of the tongue, 
While the diaphragms of flesh negotiate the word, 
In the moment of doom when the word forms 
It is born, alive, registering an imprint 



248 CARL SANDBURG 

Afterward it is a mummy, a dry fact, done and gone, 
The warning holds yet: Speak now or forever hold your peace. 
Ecce homo had meanings: Behold the man! Look at him! 
Dying he lives and speaks! 



MOIST MOON PEOPLE 

The moon is able to command the valley tonight. 

The green mist shall go a-roammg, the white river shall go a-roaming. 

Yet the moon shall be commanding, the moon shall take a high stand on the sky, 

When the cats crept up the gullies, 

And the goats fed at the rim a-laughing, 

When the spiders swept their rooms in the burr oaks, 

And the katydids first searched for this year's accordions, 

And the crickets began a-looking for last year's concertinas 

I was there, I saw that hour, I know God had grand intentions about it. 
If not, why did the moon command the valley, the green mist and white river gt 
a-roaming, and the moon by itself take so high a stand on the sky? 

If God and I alone saw it, the show was worth putting on, 

Yet I remember others were there, Amos and Priscilla, Axel and Hulda, Hank and 

Jo, Big Charley and Little Mornmgstar. 
They were all there; the clock ticks spoke with castanet clicks. 



BUNDLES 

I have thought of beaches, fields, 
Tears, laughter. 

I have thought of homes put up 
And blown away. 

I have thought of meetings and for 
Every meeting a good-by. 

I have thought of stars going alone, 
Orioles in pairs, sunsets in blundering 
Wistful deaths. 

I have wanted to let go and cross over 
To a next star, a last star. 

I have asked to be left a few tears 
And some laughter. 



UPSTREAM 

The strong men keep coming on, 

They go down shot, hanged, sick, broken. 



CARL SANDBURG 



249 



They live on fighting, singing, lucky as plungers. 

The strong mothers pulling them on ... 

The strong mothers pulling them from a dark sea, a great prairie, a long mountain. 

Call hallelujah, call amen, call deep thanks. 

The strong men keep comfng on. 



SUNSETS 



There are sunsets who whisper a good-by. 
Ir is a short dusk and a way for stars. 
Prairie and sea rim they go level and even, 
And the sleep is easy. 



There are sunsets who dance good-by. 
They fling scarves half to the arc, 
To the aic then and ovci the arc 
Ribbons at the cars, sashes at the hips, 
Dancing, dancing good-by. And here sleep 
Tosses a little with dreams. 



ELEPHANTS ARE DIFFERENT TO D I F I E R h N T PEOPLE 

Wilson and Pilcer and Snack stood before the zoo elephant. 

Wilson said, "What is its name? Is it from Asia or Africa? Who feeds it? Is it 
a he or a she 5 How old is it? Do they have twins? I low much does it cost to feed? 
I low much does it weigh? II it dies how much will another one cost? If it dies what 
will they use the bones, the fat, and the hide for? What use is it besides to look at?" 

Pilcer didn't have any questions; he was murmuring to himself, "It's a house by 
itself, walls and windows, the ears came from tall cornfields, by (Joel; the architect 
of those legs was a workman, by God; he stands like a bridge out across deep water; 
the face is sad and the eyes are kind; I know elephants arc good to babies." 

Snack looked up and down and at last said to himself, "He's a lough son-of-a- 
gun outside and I'll bet he's got a strong heart, Til bet he's strong as a copper- 
riveted boiler inside." 

They didn't put up any arguments. 

They didn't throw anything in each other's faces. 

Three men saw the elephant three ways 

And let it go at that. 

They didn't spoil a sunny Sunday afternoon; 

"Sunday comes only once a week," they told each other. 



FOR YOU 

The peace of great doors be for you. 
Wait at the knobs, at the panel oblongs; 
Wait for the great hinges. 

The peace of great churches be for you, 
Where the players of loft pipe-organs 
Practice old lovely fragments, alone. 

The peace of great books be for you, 
Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages, 
Bleach of the light of years held in leather. 

The peace of great prairies be for you. 
Listen among windplayers in cornfields, 
The wind learning over its oldest music. 



The peace of great seas be for you. 
Wait on a hook of land, a rock footing 
For you, wait in the salt wash. 

The peace of great mountains be for you, 
The sleep and the eyesight of eagles, 
Sheet mist shadows and the long look across 

The peace of great hearts be for you, 
Valves of the blood of the sun, 
Pumps of the strongest wants we cry. 

The peace of great silhouettes be for you, 
Shadow dancers alive in your blood now, 
Alive and crying, "Let us out, let us out." 



250 CARL SANDBURG 

The peace of great changes be for you. The peace of great ghosts be for you, 

Whispers, oh beginners in the hills. Phantoms of night-gray eyes, ready to go 

Tumble, oh cubs tomorrow belongs to you. To the fog-star dumps, to the fire-white 

The peace of great loves be for you. 

Ram, soak these roots; wind, shatter the dry Yes, the peace of great phantoms be for you, 

rot. Phantom iron men, mothers of bronze, 

Bars of sunlight, grips of the earth; hug these. ' Keepers of the lean clean breeds. 

THEY HAVE YARNS 

(from "The People, Yes") 

They have yarns 

Of a skyscraper so tall they had to put hinges 
On the two top stones so to let the moon go by, 
Of one corn crop in Missouri when the roots " . 
Went so deep and drew off so much water 
The Mississippi riverbed that year was dry, 
Of pancakes so thm they had only one side, 

Of "a fog so thick we shingled the barn and six feet out on the fog," 
Of Pecos Pete straddling a cyclone in Texas and riding it to the west coast where 

"it rained out under him," 
Of the man who drove a swarm of bees across the Rocky Mountains and the Desert 

"and didn't lose a bee," 
Of a mountain railroad curve where the engineer in his cab can touch the caboose 

and spit in the conductor's eye, 
Of the boy who climbed a cornstalk growing so fast he would have starved to death 

if they hadn't shot biscuits up to him, 
Of the old man's whiskers: "When the wind was with him his whiskers arrived 

a day before he did," 
Of the hen laying a square egg and cackling, "Ouch'" and of hens laying eggs 

with the dates printed on them, 

Of the ship captain's shadow: it froze to the deck one cold winter night, 
Of mutineers on that same ship put to chipping rust with rubber hammers, 
Of the sheep counter who was fast and accurate: "I just count their feet and divide 

by four," 

Of the man so tall he must climb a ladder to shave himself, 
Of the runt so teeny-weeny it takes two men and a boy to see him, 
Of mosquitoes: one can kill a dog, two of them a man, 
Of a cyclone that sucked cookstoves out of the kitchen, up the chimney flue, and 

on to the next town, 
Of the same cyclone picking up wagon-tracks in Nebraska and dropping them over 

in the Dakotas, 
Of the hook-and-eye snake unlocking itself into forty pieces, each piece two inches 

long, then in nine seconds flat snapping itself together again, 
Of the watch swallowed by the cow when they butchered her a year later the 

watch was running and had the correct time, 
Of horned snakes, hoop snakes that roll themselves where they want to go, and 

rattlesnakes carrying bells instead of rattles on their tails, 
Of the herd of cattle in California getting lost in a giant redwood tree that had 

hollowed out, 



CARL SANDBURG 251 

Of the man who killed a snake by putting its tail in its mouth so it swallowed itself, 
Of railroad trains whizzing along so fast they reach the station before the whistle, 
Of pigs so thin the farmer had to tie knots in their tails to keep them from crawling 

through the cracks in their pens, 

Of Paul Bunyan's big blue ox, Babe, measuring between the eyes forty-two ax- 
handles and a plug of Star tobacco exactly, 

Of John Henry's hammer and the curve of its swing and his singing of it as "a 
rainbow round my shoulder." 

"Do tell!" 
"I want to know!" 
"You don't say so'" 
"For the land's sake'" 
"Gosh all fish-hooks'" 
"Tell me some more. 

I don't believe a word you say 

but I love to listen 

to your sweet harmonica 

to your chin-music. 

Your fish stories hang together 

when they're just a pack ot lies: 

you ought to have a leather medal: 

you ought to have a statue 

carved of butter: you deserve 

a large bouquet of turnips." 

"Yessir," the traveler drawled, 
"Away out there in the petrified forest 
everything goes on the same as usual. 
The petrified birds sit in their petrified nests 
and hatch their petrified young from petrified eggs." 

A high pressure salesman jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and was saved by a 
policeman. But it didn't take him long to sell the idea to the policeman. So 
together they jumped off the bridge. 

One of the oil men in heaven started a rumor of a gusher down in hell All the 
other oil men left in a hurry for hell. As he gets to thinking about the rumor 
he had started he says to himself there might be something in it after all. So he 
leaves for hell in a hurry. 

"The number 42 will win this raffle, that's my number." And when he won they 
asked him whether he guessed the number or had a system. He said he had 
a system, "I took up the old family album and there on page 7 was my grand- 
father and grandmother both on page 7. I said to myself this is easy for 7 
times 7 is the number that will win and 7 times 7 is 42." 

Once a shipwrecked sailor caught hold of a stateroom door and floated for hours 
till friendly hands from out of the darkness threw him a rope. And he called 
across the night, "What country is this?" and hearing voices answer, "New 
Jersey," he took a fresh hold on the floating stateroom door and called back 
half-weanly, "I guess I'll float a little farther." 



252 CARL SANDBURG 

An Ohio man bundled up the tin roof of a summer kitchen and sent it to a motor 
car maker with a complaint of his car not giving service. In three weeks a 
new car arrived for him and a letter: "We regret delay in shipment but your 
car was received in a very bad order." 

A Dakota cousin of this Ohio man sent six years of tin can accumulations to the 
same works, asking them to overhaul his car. Two weeks later came a rebuilt 
car, five old tin cans, and a letter: "We are also forwarding you five parts not 
necessary m our new model." 

Thus fantasies heard at filling stations in the midwest. Another relates to a Missouri 
mule who took aim with his heels at an automobile rattling by. The car turned 
a somersault, lit next a fence, ran right along through a cornfield till it came 
to a gate, moved onto the road and went on its way as though nothing had 
happened. The mule heehawed with desolation, "What's the use?" 

Another tells of a farmer and his family stalled on a railroad crossing, how they 
jumped out m time to see a limited express knock it into flinders, the farmer 
calling, "Well, I always did say that car was no shucks in a real pinch." 

When the Masonic Temple in Chicago was the tallest building in the United States 
west of New York, two men who would cheat the eyes out of you it you gave 
'em a chance, look an Iowa farmer to the top of the building and asked him, 
"How is this for high?" They told him that for $25 they would go down m 
the basement and turn the building around on its turn-table for him while he 
stood on the roof and saw how this seventh wonder of the world worked. He 
handed them $25. They went. He waited. They never came back. 

This is told in Chicago as a folk tale, the same as the legend of Mrs. O'Leary's 
cow kicking over the barn lamp that started the Chicago fire, when the Georgia 
visitor, Robert Toombs, telegraphed an Atlanta crony, "Chicago is on fire, 
the whole city burning down, God be praised'" 

Nor is the prize sleeper Rip Van Winkle and his scolding wife forgotten, nor the 
headless horseman scooting through Sleepy Hollow 

Nor the sunken treasure-ships in coves and harbors, the hideouts of gold and silver 
sought by Coronado, nor the Flying Dutchman rounding the Cape doomed to 
nevermore pound his ear nor ever again take a snooze for himself 

Nor the sailor's caretaker Mother Carey seeing to it that every seafaring man in 
the afterworld has a seabird to bring him news of ships and women, an alba- 
tross for the admiral, a gull for the deckhand 

Nor the sailor with a sweetheart in every port of the world, nor the ships that 
set out with flying colors and all the promises you could ask, the ships never 
heard of again 

Nor Jim Liverpool, the rivcrman who could jump across any river and back with- 
out touching land he was that quick on his feet 

Nor Mike Fink along the Ohio and the Mississippi, half wild horse and half cock- 
eyed alligator, the rest of him snags and snapping turtle. "I can out-run, out- 
jump, out-shoot, out-brag, out-drink, and out-fight, rough and tumble, iu> holts 
barred, any man on both sides of the river from Pittsburgh to New Orleans 
and back again to St. Louis. My trigger finger itches and I want to go redhot. 
War, famine and bloodshed puts flesh on my bones, and hardship's my daily 
bread." 

Nor the man so lean he threw no shadow: six rattlesnakes struck at him at one 
time and every one missed him. 



CARL SANDBURG 



253 



THE PEOPLE WILL LIVE ON 

(from "The People, Yes") 

The people will live on. 

The learning and blundering people will live on. 
They will be tricked and sold and again sold 

And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds, 

The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback, 
You can't laugh off their capacity to take it. 

The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas. 

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic, 
is a vast huddle with many units saying: 
"I earn my living. 

I make enough to get by 

and it takes all my time. 

If I had more time 

I could do more for myself 

and maybe for others. 

I could read and study 

and talk things over 

and find out about things. 

It takes time. 

I wish I had the time." 

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: 
hero and hoodlum: phantom and gorilla twist- 
ing to moan with a gargoyle mouth- "They 
buy me and sell me . . . it's a game . . . 
sometime I'll break loose . . ." 

Once having marched 
Over the margins of animal necessity, 
Over the grim line of sheer subsistence 

Then man came 

To the deeper rituals of his bones, 
To the lights lighter than any bones, 
To the time for thinking things over, 
To the dance, the song, the story, 
Or the hours given over to dreaming, 

Once having so marched. 

Between the finite limitations of the five senses 

and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond 

the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food 

while reaching out when it comes their way 

for lights beyond the prison of the five senses, 

for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death. 

This reaching is alive. 
The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it. 

Yet this reaching is alive yet 

for lights and keepsakes. 



254 CARL SANDBURG 

The people know the salt of the sea 

and the strength of the winds 

lashing the corners of the earth. 

The people take the earth 

as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope. 

Who else speaks for the Family of Man? 

They are in tune "and step 

with constellations of universal law. 

The people is a polychrome, 

a spectrum and a prism 

held in a moving monolith, 

a console organ of changing themes, 

a clavilux of color poems 

wherein the sea offers fog 

and the fog moves off in ram 

and the labrador sunset shortens 

to a nocturne of clear stars 

serene over the shot spray 

of northern lights. 

The steel mill sky is alive. 

The fire breaks white and zigzag 

shot on a gun-metal gloaming. 

Man is a long time coming. 

Man will yet win. 

Brother may yet line up with brother: 

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers. 
There are men who can't be bought. 
The fircborn are at home in fire. 
The stars make no noise. 
You can't hinder the wind from blowing. 
Time is a great teacher. 
Who can live without hope? 

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief 

the people march. 
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for 

keeps, the people march: 

"Where to? what next?'* 



ADELAIDE CRAPSEY 255 

Adelaide Crapsey 

DELAIDE CRAPSEY, daughter of the famous minister, Algernon S. Crapsey, was 
. born, September 9, 1878, in Rochester, New York, where she spent her child- 
hood. She entered Vassar College in 1897, graduating with the class of 1901. Two 
years after graduation she began work as a teacher of History and Literature, in 
Kemper Hall, Kenosha, Wisconsin, where she had attended preparatory school. In 
1905 she went abroad, studying archeology in Rome. After her return she tried again 
to teach, but her failing health compelled her to discontinue, and though she became 
instructor in Poetics at Smith College in 1911 the burden was too great for her. 

Prior to this time she had written little verse, her chief work being an analysis of 
English metrics, an investigation (which she never finished) of problems in verse 
structure. In 1913, after her breakdown, she began to write her precise and some- 
times poignant lines; most of her tiny volume was composed during the last few 
months of her life. She was particularly happy in her brief "Cmquains," a form 
which she originated. These five-line stanzas in the strictest possible pattern (the 
lines having, respectively, two, four, six, eight and two syllables) doubtless owe 
something to the Japanese hokjtu, but Adelaide Crapsey saturated them with her 
own fragile loveliness. 

"Her death," writes Claude Bragdon, who was not only her friend but her first 
publisher, "was tragic. Full of the desire of life she was forced to go, leaving her 
work all unfinished. Pier last year was spent in exile at Saranac. From her window 
she looked down on the graveyard 'Trudeau's Garden/ she called it, with grim-gay 
irony. Here, forbidden the work her metrical study entailed, these poems grew 
flowers of a battlefield ot the spirit." She died at her home in Rochester, New York, 
on October 8, 1914. 

Her small volume Verse appeared in 1915, and a part of the unfinished Study in 
English Metrics was posthumously published in 1918. A second edition of Verse 
with a few additional poems appeared in 1922. An unconscious Imagist, she gave 
fragility a firmness which saved the smallest of her designs from preciosity. 

SIX CINQUAINS 
NOVEMBER NIGHT 

Listen . . . 

With faint dry sound, 

Like steps of passing ghosts, 

The leaves, frost-cnsp'd, break from the trees 

And fall. 

SUSANNA AND THE ELDERS 

"Why do 

You thus devise 

Evil against her?" "For that 

She is beautiful, delicate. 

Therefore." 



ADELAIDE CRAPSEY 



TRIAD 

These be 

Three silent things: 

The falling snow . . . the hour 

Before the dawn ... the mouth of one 

Just dead. 

NIAGARA 

(Seen on a night in Novembei) 

How frail 

Above the bulk 

Of crashing water hangs, 

Autumnal, evanescent, wan, 

The moon. 

THE WARNING 

Just now, 

Out of the strange 

Still dusk ... as strange, as still . . . 

A white moth flew. Why am I grown 

So cold? 

ARBUTUS 

Not Spring's 

Thou art, but hcr's, 

Most cool, most virginal, 

Winter's, with thy faint breath, thy snows 

Rose-tinged. 



My songs to sell, sweet maid! 

I pray you buy. 
This one will teach you Lihth's lore, 

And this what Helen knew, 
And this will keep your gold hair gold, 

And this your blue eyes blue; 
Sweet maid, I pray you buy! 

Oh, no, she will not buy. 

If I'd as much money as I could tell, 
I never would cry my songs to sell, 
I never would cry my songs to sell. 



THE LONELY DEATH 

In the cold I will rise, I will bathe 
In waters of ice; myself 
Will shiver and shrive myself, 
Alone in the dawn, and anoint 
Forehead and feet and hands; 
I will shutter the windows from light, 
I will place m their sockets the four 
Tall candles and set them a-flame 
In the gray of the dawn; and myself 
Will lay myself straight in my bed, 
And draw the sheet up under my chin. 



ON SEEING WEATHER-BEATEN 
TREES 

Is it as plainly in our living shown, 
By slant and twist, which way the wind hath 
blown ? 



VENDOR'S SONG 

My songs to sell, good sir! 

I pray you buy. 
Here's one will win a lady's tears, 

Here's one will make her gay, 
Here's one will charm your true love true 

Forever and a day; 
Good sir, I pray you buy! 

Oh, no, he will not buy. 



SONG 

I make my shroud, but no one knows 
So shimmering fine it is and fair, 
With stitches set in even rows. 
I make my shroud, but no one knows. 

In door-way where the lilac blows, 
Humming a little wandering air, 
I make my shroud and no one knows, 
So shimmering fine it is and fair. 

THE IMMORTAL RESIDUE 

Wouldst thou find my ashes? Look 
In the pages of my book; 
And, as these thy hand doth turn, 
Know here is my funeral urn. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 257 



Vachcl Lindsay 

(Nicholas) Vachcl Lindsay was born in Springfield, Illinois, November TO, 1879. 
Hfs home for many years was next door to the executive mansion of the State of 
Illinois; from the window where Lindsay did most of his writing, he saw governors 
come and go, including the martyred John P. Altgeld, whom he has celebrated m 
one of his finest poems. He graduated from the Springfield High School, attended 
Hiram College (1897-1900), studied at the Art Institute at Chicago (1900-3) and at 
the New York School of Art (1904). After two years of lecturing and settlement 
work, he took the first of his long tramps, walking through Florida, Georgia, and 
the Carolmas, preaching "the gospel of beauty," and formulating his unique plans 
for a communal art. During the following five years, Lindsay made several of these 
trips, traveling as a combination missionary and minstrel. Like a true revivalist, he 
attempted to wake a response to beauty, distributing a little pamphlet entitled 
"Rhymes to Be Traded for Bread." 

Lindsay began to create more poetry to reach the public all of his verse was 
written in his role of apostle. He was, primarily, a rhyming John the Baptist sing- 
ing to convert the heathen, to stimulate and encourage the hall -hearted dreams that 
hide and are smothered in sordid villages and townships. But the great audiences 
he was endeavoring to reach did not hear him, even though his collection General 
William Booth Entets Into Heaven (1913) struck many a loud and racy note. 

Lindsay broadened his effects, developed the chant, and, the following year, pub- 
lished his The Congo and Other Poems (1914), an infectious blend of rhyme, reli- 
gion, and rag-time. In the title-poem and, in a lesser degree, the three companion 
chants, Lindsay struck his most powerful and most popular vein. When intoned 
in Lindsay's resonant baritone, it gave people that primitive joy in syncopated sound 
that is at the very base of song. In these experiments in breaking down the barriers 
between poetry and music, Lindsay (obviously infected by the echolaha of Poe's 
"Bells") tried to create what he called a "Higher Vaudeville" imagination, carrying 
the form back to the old Greek precedent where every line was half-*poken, half- 
sung. Gestures and stage directions, even chanted responses, were added. 

Lindsay's innovation succeeded at once. The novelty, the speed, the clatter, forced 
the attention of people who had never paid the slightest heed to the poet's quieter 
verses. Men heard the sounds of hurtling America in these lines even when they 
were deaf to its spirit. They failed to see that, beneath the noise of "The Kallyope 
Yell" and "The Santa Fe Trail," Lindsay was partly an admirer, partly an ironical 
critic of the shrieking energy of these states. By his effort to win the enemy over, 
Lindsay had persuaded the proverbially tired business man to listen at last. But, in 
overstressmg the vaudeville features, there arose the danger of Lindsay the poet 
being lost m Lindsay the entertainer. The sympathetic celebration of Negro spirits 
and psychology (seen at their best in "The Congo," "John Brown" and "Simon 
Legree") degenerated into the crude buffooneries of "The .Daniel Jazz" and "The 
Blacksmith's Serenade." The three bracketed poems, and a few others, are certain 
of a place in the history of American poetry. 

Lindsay's earnestness, keyed up by an exuberant fancy, saved him. The Chinese 



258 VACHEL LINDSAY 

Nightingale (1917) begins with the most whimsical extended rhymes Lindsay ever 
devised. This title-poem, with its air of free improvisation, is his finest piece of 
sheer texture. And if the subsequent The Golden Whales of California (1920) is 
less distinctive, it is principally because the author had written too much and too 
speedily to be self-critical. It is his peculiar appraisal of loveliness, the rollicking 
high spirits joined to a stubborn evangelism, that makes Lindsay so representative 
a product of his environment. 

Collected Poems (1923) is a complete and almost cruel exhibit of Lindsay's best 
and worst. Inflated stanzas alternate with some of the most charming children's 
poetry of the times; the set of fanciful Moon Poems would be enough to keep 
Lindsay's name alive. That Lindsay had lost whatever faculty of self-appraisal he 
may have possessed is evidenced by page after page of crudities; verses are propelled 
by nothing more than physical energy whipping up a trivial idea. What mars so 
much of this writing is Lindsay's attempt to give every wisp of fancy a cosmic or 
at least a national significance. Thus that intoxicating chant "The Ghosts of the 
Buffaloes" appears in the later edition with an unfortunate appendage, an irrelevant 
hortatory appeal beginning, "Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all'" But, in 
spite of the fact that the poet suffered from a complex of undiscnminating patri- 
otism, a curious hero-worship which makes him link Woodrow Wilson with Socra- 
tes, his very catholicity was representative of a great part of his country. Johnny 
Appleseed and John L. Sullivan, Daniel Boone and William Jennings Bryan, Andrew 
Jackson and P. T. Barnum such figures were the symbols of his motley America. 
They were not merely heroes but derm-gods. They typified the incongruous blend 
of high idealism and childish fantasy, of beauty and ballyhoo which made America 
resemble (to Lindsay) a County Fair 

every soul resident 
In the earth's one circus tent. 

It was a combination that made the United States "the golden dream" created by 
pioneers and baseball players, Presidents and movie-queens. Nuances of thought or 
expression were forgotten; exuberance, uncontrolled by taste or reason, triumphed. 
Going'tO'thc-Sun (1923), Going-to-the-Stars (1926), and The Candle in the Cabin 
(1927), illustrated with Lindsay's characteristic and flowery drawings, contain some 
charming and almost girlish verses, but followed each other in too rapid succession 
and betray Lindsay's uncritical loquacity. His prose is far better than the later verse. 
The Litany of Washington Street (1929), described as "a kind of Washington's 
birthday, Lincoln's birthday, Whitman's birthday, Jefferson's birthday book," is a set 
of Fourth of July orations on an idealized Mam Street stretching from Connecticut 
to Calcutta. 

Much of Lindsay will die; he will not live as either a prophet or a politician. But 
the vitality which impels the best of his galloping meters will persist; his innocent 
wildness of imagination, outlasting his naive programs, will charm even those to 
whom his declamations are no longer a novelty. His gospel is no less original for 
being preached through a saxophone. 

Besides his original poetry, Lindsay had embodied his experiences and meditations 
on the road in two prose volumes, A Handy Guide for Beggars (1916) and Adven- 
tures While Pt caching the Gospel of Beauty (1914), as well as an enthusiastic study 



VACHEL LINDSAY 259 

of the "silent drama," The Art of the Moving Picture (1915). A curious document, 
half rhapsody, halt visionary novel, entitled The Golden Boo^ of S pun g field, ap- 
peared in 1920. 

Lindsay traded on his surplus energy. Some of it went into private games, such 
as the establishment of each individual's "personal hieroglyphics," some into giandi- 
ose but futile schemes, most into lecturing. For more than twenty years he ranged 
the country, exciting his audiences and exhausting himself. Alter lifty the strain 
was too much for him. He collapsed at the beginning of his fifty-third year just as 
he should have been turning to the larger works he had so often discussed with 
friends. The fear of poverty overcame him; his exuberance vanished; he was plagued 
with self-doubt. He felt that he was being neglected, even persecuted; he convinced 
himself he was a failure. The high-spirited "broncho that would not be biokcn" 
was broken at last. He committed suicide on the night of December 5, 1931. 



THE CONGO 

(A Study of the Negto Race) 

I. THEIR BASIC SAVAGERY 

Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room, 

Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable, 

Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table, A deep rolling 

Pounded on the table, bass. 

Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom, 

Hard as they were able, 

Boom, boom, BOOM, 

With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom, 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM. 

THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision. 

I could not turn from their revel in derision. 

THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK, Moiedchbeiatc. 

CUTTING THROUGH THE JUNGLE WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. Solemnly chanted. 

Then along that rivcrbank 

A thousand miles 

Tattooed cannibals danced in files; 

Then I heard the boom of the blood-lust song 

And a thigh-bone beating on a tin-pan gong. A rapidly piling 

And "BLOOD" screamed the whistles and the fifes of the warriors, climax of <pecd 

"BLOOD" screamed the skull-faced, lean witch-doctors, and racket. 

"Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle, 

Harry the uplands, 

Steal all the cattle, 

Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle, 

Bmgl 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM," 

A roaring, epic, rag-time tune With a philo- 

From the mouth of the Congo sophic pause. 

To the Mountains of the Moon. 



260 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



Death is an Elephant, 

Torch-eyed and horrible, 

Foam-flanked and terrible. 

BOOM, steal the pygmies, 

BOOM, kill the Arabs, 

BOOM, kill the white men, 

Hoo, Hoo, Hoo. 

Listen to the yell of Leopold's ghost 

Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host. 

Hear how the demons chuckle and yell 

Cutting his hands off, down in Hell. 

Listen to the creepy proclamation, 

Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation, 

Blown past the white-ants' hill of clay, 

Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play: 

"Be careful what you do, 

Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo, 

And all of the other 

Gods of the Congo, 

Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo doo you, 

Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you, 

Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you." 

II. THEIR IRREPRESSIBLE HIGH SPIRITS 

Wild crap-shooters with a whoop and a call 

Danced the juba in their gambling-hall 

And laughed fit to kill, and shook the town, 

And guyed the policemen and laughed them down 

With a boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM. . . . 

THEN I s\w THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK, 

CUTTING THROUGH THE JUNGLE WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. 

A negro fairyland swung into view, 

A minstrel river 

Where dreams come true. 

The ebony palace soared on high 

Through the blossoming trees to the evening sky, 

The inlaid porches and casements shone 

With gold and ivory and elephant-bone. 

And the black crowd laughed till their sides were sore 

At the baboon butler in the agate door, 

And the well-known tunes of the parrot band 

That trilled on the bushes of that magic land. 

A troupe of skull-faced witch-men came 

Through the agate doorway in suits of flame, 

Yes, long-tailed coats with a gold-leaf crust 

And hats that were covered with diamond-dust. 

And the crowd in the court gave a whoop and a call 

And danced the juba from wall to wall. 

But the witch-men suddenly stilled the throng 

With a stern cold glare, and a stern old song: 

"Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you." . . . 



Shrilly and with a 
heavily accented 
meter. 



Life the wind in 
the chimney. 



All the o founds 
vety golden 
Heavy accents 
vcty heavy 
Light accents 
vet y light Last 
line whispered. 



Rather shrill 
and high. 



Read exactly as 
in ft) / section. 

Lay emphasis on 
the delicate ideas. 
Keep a\ light - 
footed as possible. 



With pomposity. 



With a great 
deliberation and 
ghostlmess. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



261 



Just then from the doorway, as fat as shotes, 
Came the cake-walk princes in their long red coats, 
Shoes with a patent leather shine, 
And tall silk hats that were red as wine. 
And they pranced with their butterfly partners there, 
Coal-black maidens with pearls in their hair, 
Knee-skirts trimmed with the jessamine sweet, 
And bells on their ankles and little black feet. 
And the couples railed at the chant and the trown 
Of the witch-men lean, and laughed them down. 
(O rare was the revel, and well worth while 
That made those glowering witch-men smile). 

The cake-walk royalty then began 

To walk for a cake that was tall as a man 

To the tune of "Boomlay, boomlay, BOOM," 

While the witch-men laughed, with a sinister air, 

And sang with the scalawags prancing there: 

"Walk with care, walk with care, 

Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo, 

And all of the other 

Gods* of the Congo, 

Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you. 

Beware, beware, walk with care, 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom. 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom, 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom, 

Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, 

BOOM/' 

O rare was the revel, and well worth while 

That made those glowering witch-men smile. 

III. THE HOPE OF THEIR RELIGION 

A good old negro in the slums of the town 

Preached at a sister for her velvet gown. 

Howled at a brother for his low-clown ways, 

His prowling, guzzling, sneak-thief days. 

Beat on the Bible till he wore it out, 

Starting the jubilee revival shout. 

And some had visions, as they stood on chairs, 

And sang of Jacob, and the golden stairs. 

And they all repented, a thousand strong, 

From their stupor and savagery and sin and wrong 

And slammed their hymn books till they shook the room 

With "Glory, glory, glory," 

And "Boom, boom, BOOM." 

THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK, 

CUTTING THROUGH THE JUNGLE WITH A GOLDEN TRACK. 

And the gray sky opened like a new-rent veil 

And showed the Apostles with their coats of mail. 

In bright white steel they were seated round 



With overwhelm- 
tng a "'t trance, 
good cheer, and 
pomp. 

With growing 
<pcfd and 
shatply Mailed 
dance-rhythm. 



With a touch of 
ni^to dial t it t 
and 

asiapidly as 
po^ihlc towatd 
the end. 



Slow philo- 
sophic culm. 



Ucuvy bif<< 
With alitnal 
imitation of 
dim p- meeting 
iail{ct,and 
trance. 



Exactly as in 
the first section. 



262 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



And their fire-eyes watched where the Congo wound. 
And the twelve Apostles, from their thrones on high, 
Thrilled all the forest with their heavenly cry: 
"Mumbo- Jumbo will die in the jungle; 
Never again will he hoo-doo you, 
Never again will he hoo-doo you." 

Then along that river, a thousand miles 

The vine-snared trees fell down in files. 

Pioneer angels cleared the way 

For a Congo paradise, for babes at play, 

For sacred capitals, for temples clean. 

Gone were the skull-faced witch-men lean. 

There, where the wild ghost-gods had wailed 

A million boats of the angels sailed 

With oars of silver, and prows of blue 

And silken pennants that the sun shone through. 

'Twas a land transfigured, 'twas a new creation. 

Oh, a singing wind swept the negro nation 

And on through the backwoods clearing flew: 

"Mumbo-Jumbo is dead in the jungle. 

Never again will he hoo-doo you. 

Never again will he hoo-doo you." 

Redeemed were the forests, the beasts and the men, 

And only the vulture dared again 

By the far, lone mountains of the moon 

To cry, in the silence, the Congo tune: 

"Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you, 

Mumbo . . . Jumbo . . . will . . . hoo-doo . . . you." 



Stwg to the tune 
oj "Hark, ten 
thousand harps 
and voices." 



With gt owing 
dclibeiation 
and joy. 



In a rather 
high f^cy as 
delicately as 
possible. 



To the tune of 



thousand harps 
and voices" 



Dying off into 
a penetrating, 
terrified whisper. 



TO A GOLDEN- HAIRED GIRL IN A LOUISIANA TOWN 

You are a sunrise, 

If a star should rise instead of the sun. 

You are a moonrise, 

If a star should come in the place of the moon. 

You are the Spring, 

If a face should bloom instead of an apple-bough. 

You are my love, 

If your heart is as kind 

As your young eyes now. 



GENERAL WILLIAM BOOTH ENTERS INTO HEAVEN 

(To be sung to the tune of "The Blood of the Lamb" with indicated instruments) 



(Bass drum beaten loudly.) 
Booth led boldly with his big bass drum 
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 
The Saints smiled gravely and they said: "He's come." 



VACHEL LINDSAY 263 

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank, 
Lurching bravos from the ditches dank, 
Drabs tram the alleyways and drug fiends pale 
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail: 
Vermin-eaten saints with moldy breath, 
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death 
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

(Banjos.) 

Every slum had sent its half-a-score 
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.) 
Every banner that the wide world flies 
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes. 
Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang, 
Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang: 
"Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?" 
Hallelujah' It was queer to see 
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free. 
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare 
On, on upward thro* the golden air! 
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 

ii 

(Bass drum slower and softer.) 
Booth died blind and still by faith he trod, 
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God. 
Booth ltd boldly, and he looked the chief, 
Eagle countenance in sharp relief, 
Beard a-flymg, air of high command 
Unabated in that holy land. 

(Sweet flute music.) 

Jesus came from out the court-house door, 
Stretched his hands above the passing poor. 
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there 
Round and round the mighty court-house square. 
Yet in an instant all that blear review 
Marched on spotless, clad m raiment new. 
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled 
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world. 

(Bass drum louder.) 

Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole! 
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl! 
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean, 
Rulers of empires, and of forests green! 

(Grand chorus of all instruments. Tambourines to the foreground.) 
The hosts were sandaled, and their wings were fire! 
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb ? ) 
But their noise played havoc with the angel-choir. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?) 
Oh, shout Salvation' It was good to sec 
Kings and Princes by the Lamb set free. 
The banjos rattled and the tambourines 
Jing-jing-jingled in the hands of Queens. 

(Reverently sung, no instruments.) 
And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer 
He saw his Master thro' the flag-filled air. 
Christ came gently with a robe and crown 
For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down. 
He saw King Jesus. They were face to face, 
And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place. 
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? 



THE EAGLE THAT IS FORGOTTEN 

(John P. Altgeld. Botn December 30, 1847; died March 12, 7902) 

Sleep softly . . . eagle forgotten . . . under the stone. 

Time has its way with you there, and the clay has its own. 

"We have buried him now," thought your foes, and in secret rejoiced. 

They made a brave show of their mourning, their hatred unvoiced, 

They had snarled at you, barked at you, foamed at you, day after day, 

Now you were ended. They praised you, . . . and laid you away. 

The others that mourned you in silence and terror and truth, 

The widow bereft of her pittance, the boy without youth, 

The mocked and the scorned and the wounded, the lame and the poor 

That should have remembered forever, . . . remember no more. 

Where are those lovers of yours, on what name do they call 
The lost, that in armies wept over your funeral pall? 
They call on the names of a hundred high-valiant ones, 
A hundred white eagles have risen, the sons of your sons, 
The zeal in their wings is a zeal that your dreaming began 
The valor that wore out your soul in the service of man. 

Sleep softly, . . . eagle forgotten, . . . under the stone, 

Time has its way with you there, and the day has its own. 

Sleep on, O brave-hearted, O wise man, that kindled the flame 

To live in mankind is far more than to live in a name, 

To live in mankind, far, far more . . . than to live in a name. 



THE GHOSTS OF THE BUFFALOES 

Last night at black midnight I woke with a cry, 

The windows were shaking, there was thunder on high, 

The floor was atremble, the door was ajar, 

White fires, crimson fires, shone from afar. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 265 

I rushed to the dooryard. The city was gone. 

My home was a hut without orchard or lawn. 

It was mud-smear and logs near a whispering stream, 

Nothing else built by man could I see in my dream . . c 

Then . . . 

Ghost-kings came headlong, row upon row, 

Gods of the Indians, torches aglow. 

They mounted the bear and the elk and the deer, 

And eagles gigantic, aged and sere, 

They rode long-horn cattle, they cried "A-la-la." 

They lifted the knife, the bow, and the spear, 

They lifted ghost-torches from dead fires below, 

The midnight made grand with the cry "A-la-la." 

The midnight made grand with a red-god charge, 

A red-god show, 

A red-god show, 

"A-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la." 

With bodies like bronze, and terrible eyes 

Came the rank and the file, with catamount cries, 

Gibbering, yipping, with hollow-skull clacks, 

Riding white bronchos with skeleton backs, 

Scalp-hunters, beaded and spangled and bad, 

Naked and lustful and foaming and mad, 

Flashing primeval demoniac scorn, 

Blood-thirst and pomp amid darkness reborn, 

Power and glory that sleep in the grass 

While the winds and the snows and the great rains pass 

They crossed the gray river, thousands abreast, 

They rode out in infinite lines to the west, 

Tide upon tide of strange fury and foam, 

Spirits and wraiths, the blue was their home, 

The sky was their goal where the star-flags are furled, 

And on past those far golden splendors they whirled. 

They burned to dim meteors, lost in the deep, 

And I turned in dazed wonder, thinking of sleep. 

And the wind crept by 

Alone, unkempt, unsatisfied, 

The wind cried and cried 

Muttered of massacres long past, 

Buffaloes in shambles vast . . . 

An owl said, "Hark, what is a-wing?" 

I heard a cricket caroling, 

I heard a cricket caroling, 

I heard a cricket caroling. 

Then . . . 

Snuffing the lightning that crashed from on high 

Rose royal old buffaloes, row upon row. 

The lords of the prairie came galloping by. 



266 VACHEL LINDSAY 

And I cried in my heart "A-la-la, a-la-la. 

A red-god show, 

A red-god show, 

A-la-la, a-la-la, a-la-la." 

Buffaloes, buffaloes, thousands abreast, 

A scourge and amazement, they swept to the west. 

With black bobbing noses, with red rolling tongues, 

Coughing forth steam from their leather-wrapped lungs, 

Cows with their calves, bulls big and vain, 

Goring the laggards, shaking the mane, 

Stamping flint feet, flashing moon eyes, 

Pompous and owlish, shaggy and wise. 

Like sea-cliffs and caves resounded their ranks 
With shoulders like waves, and undulant flanks. 
Tide upon tide of strange fury and foam, 
Spirits and wraiths, the blue was their home, 
The sky was their goal where the star-flags are furled, 
And on past those far golden splendors they whirled. 
They burned to dim meteors, lost in the deep, 
And I turned in dazed wonder, thinking of sleep. 

I heard a cricket's cymbals play, 

A scarecrow lightly flapped his rags, 

And a pan that hung by his shoulder rang, 

Rattled and thumped in a listless way, 

And now the wind in the chimney sang, 

The wind in the chimney, 

The wind in the chimney, 

The wind in the chimney, 

Seemed to say: 

"Dream, boy, dream, 

If you anywise can. 

To dream is the work 

Of beast or man. 

Life is the west-going dream-storm's breath, 

Lite is a dream, the sigh of the skies, 

The breath of the stars, that nod on their pillows 

With their golden hair mussed over their eyes." 

The locust played on his musical wing, 

Sang to his mate of love's delight. 

I heard the whippoorwill's soft fret. 

I heard a cricket caroling, 

I heard a cricket caroling, 

I heard a cricket say: "Good-night, good night, 

Good-night, good-night, . . . good-night." 



THE TRAVELER 

The moon's a devil jester 
Who makes himself too free. 



VACHtiL LINDSAY 267 

The rascal is not always 
Where he appears to be. 
Sometimes he is in my heart 
Sometimes he is in the sea; 
Then tides are in my heart, 
And tides are in the sea. 

O traveler, abiding not 
Where he pretends to be! 



A NEGRO SERMON: SIMON LEGREE 

Legree's big house was white and green. 

His cotton-fields were the best to be seen. 

He had strong horses and opulent cattle, 

And bloodhounds bold, with chains that would rattle. 

His garret was full of curious things: 

Books of magic, bags of gold, 

And rabbits' feet on long twine strings, 

But he went down to the Devil. 

Legree, he sported a brass-buttoned coat, 

A snake-skin necktie, a blood-red shirt. 

Legree, he had a beard like a goat, 

And a thick hairy neck, and eyes like dirt. 

His puffed-out cheeks were fish-belly white, 

He had great long teeth, and an appetite. 

He ate raw meat, 'most every meal, 

And rolled his eyes till the cat would squeal. 

His fist was an enormous size 

To mash poor niggers that told him lies: 

He was surely a witch-man in disguise. 

But he went down to the Devil. 

He wore hip-boots, and would wade all day 

To capture his slaves that had fled away. 

But he went down to the Devil. 

He beat poor Uncle Tom to death 

Who prayed for Legree with his last breath. 

Then Uncle Tom to Eva flew, 

To the high sanctoriums bright and new; 

And Simon Legree stared up beneath, 

And cracked his heels, and ground his teeth: 

And went down to the Devil. 

He crossed the yard in the storm and gloom; 

He went into his grand front room. 

He said, "I killed him, and I don't care." 

He kicked a hound, he gave a swear; 

He tightened his belt, he took a lamp, 

Went down cellar to the webs and damp. 



268 VACHEL LINDSAY 

There in the middle of the moldy floor 
He heaved up a sLib; he found a door 
And went down to the Devil. 

His lamp blew out, but his eyes burned bright. 

Simon Lcgree stepped down all night- - 

Down, down to the Devil. 

Simon Lcgrec he reached the place, 

He saw one half of the human race, 

He saw the Devil on a wide green throne, 

Gnawing the meat from a big ham-bone, 

And he said to Mister Dc\il* 

"I see that you have much to eat 

A red ham-bone is surely sweet. 

I see that you have lion's ftct; 

I see your frame is fat and fine, 

1 see you drink your poison wine 

Blood and burning turpentine." 

And the Devil said to Simon Lcgrec: 

"I like your style, so wicked and free. 

Come sit and share my throne with me, 

And let us bark and revel " 
And theie they sit and gnash their teeth, 
And each one wears a hop-vine wreath 
They are matching pennies ami shooting craps. 
They arc playing poker and taking naps. 
And old Legree is fat and fine: 
He eats the fire, he drinks the wine 
Blood and burning turpentine 

Down, down wilh ihe Dcnl; 
Down, down with the Devil; 
Down, down with the Devil. 

jo UN BROWN 1'^ hccn to Palestine. 

,_ , , f , , , , , What did you sec in Palestine' 

(To be suns; by a kadi r and ihoiii*, the Iriuoi T i 

smU the bcxlv of the poem, while the ch,us m- Isawabominations 

ttrrupts with the question) And Ci.ulari.nc swine. 

I saw the sinful Canaanitcs 

I ve been to Palestine Upon the sncu l )rLtK l j me> 

What did you see in Palestine? Anc ] spol j thc tcmple vesse j s 

I saw the ark of Noah- An j drmk lhc tcmplc wmc 

It was made of pitch and pine. j saw Lol > s Wlfej a pl || ar of salt 

I saw old Father Noah Standing in the brine- 

Asleep beneath his vine. By a weqjmg W1 ]i ow tree 

I saw Shorn, Ham and Japhet Beside the Dead Sea. 
Standing in a line. 

I saw the tower of Babel I've been to Palestine. 
In the gorgeous sunrise shine What did you see in Palestine? 

By a weeping willow tree Cedars on Mount Lebanon, 

Beside the Dead Sea. Gold in Ophir's mine, 



VACHEL LINDSAY 

And a wicked generation 

Seeking for a sign, 

And Baal's howling worshipers 

Their god with leaves entwine. 

And . . . 

I saw the war-horse ramping 

And shake his forelock fine 

By a weeping willow tree 

Beside the Dead Sea. 

I've been to Palestine. 

What did you see in Palestine? 
Old John Brown. 
Old John Brown. 
I saw his gracious wife 
Dressed in a homespun gown. 
I saw his seven sons 
Before his feet how down 
And he marched with his si vcn sons, 
His wagons and goods and guns, 
To his campfire by the sea, 
By the waves of Galilee. 

I've been to Palestine 

Whnt did you see in Palestine? 
I saw the harp and psalt'ry 
Played for Old John Brown 
I hoard the ram's horn blow, 
Blow for Old John Brown. 
I saw the Bulls of Bashan 
They cheered for Old John Brown. 
I saw the big Behemoth 
He cheered for Old John Brown. 
I saw the big J,c\iathan 
He cheered for Old John Brown. 
I saw the Angel Gabriel 
Great power to him assign. 
I saw him fight the Canaanites 
And set God's Israel free. 
I saw him when the war was done 
In his rustic chair recline 
By his campfire by the sea 
By the waves of Galilee. 

I've been to Palestine. 

What did you sec in Palestine? 
Old John Brown. 
Old John Brown. 
And there he sits 



269 



To judge the world. 
His hunting dogs 
At his feet are curled. 
His e\cs half-closed, 
But John BIOVMI sees 
The ends of the earth, 
The Day ol Doom 
And his shot gun lies 
Across his knees 
Old John Brown, 
Old John Brown. 



THE DOVE OF NEW SNOW 

I give you a house of snow, 

T give you the flag of the vvind above it, 

T gnc you snow-bushes 

Tn n long row, 

I gi\e you a snow-dove, 

Ami ask you 

To love it. 

The snow-dove flus in 

At the snow-house window, 

I Ic is a ghost 

And he casts no shadow. 

His cry is the cry of love 

From the meadow, 

The meadow of snow whi re he walked in a 

glow, 
The glittering, angelic meadow. 

THE I- LOWER -! ED BUFFALOES 

The flower-fed burl aloes of the spring 

In the days of long ago, 

Ranged where the locomotives sing 

And the prairie flowers lie low; 

The tossing, blooming, perfumed grass 

Is swept away by wheat, 

Wheels and wheels and wheels spin by 

In the spring that still is sweet. 

But the flower-fed buffaloes of the spring 

Left us long ago. 

They gore no more, they bellow no more, 

They trundle around the hills no more: 

With the Blackfeet lying low, 

With the Pawnees lying low. 



270 VACHEL LINDSAY 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN WALKS AT MIDNIGHT 

(In Springfield, Illinois) 

It is portentous, and a thing of state 
That heie at midnight, in our little town 
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest, 
Near the old court-house pacing up and down, 

Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards 
He lingers where his children used to play, 
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones 
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away. 

A bronzed, lank man' His suit of ancient black, 
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl 
Make him the quaint great figure that men love, 
The prairie-lawyer, master of us all. 

He cannot sleep upon his hillside now. 
He is among us- as in times before' 
And we who toss and lie awake for long, 
Breathe d^cp, and start, to see him pass the door. 

His head is bowed He thinks of men and kings. 
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep? 
Too many peasants fight, they know not why; 
Too many homesteads in black terror weep. 

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart. 
He sees the drcadnaughts scouring every main. 
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now 
The bitterness, the folly and the pain. 

He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn 
Shall come; the shining hope of Europe free: 
A league of sober folk, the workers' earth, 
Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea. 

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still, 
That all his hours of travail here for men 
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace 
That he may sleep upon his hill again? 

WHEN LINCOLN CAME To Leaving log cabins behind him. 

SPRINGFIELD For the mud streets of this place, 

TTTI . 0-^11 Sorrow for Anne Rutledge 

When Lmcoln came to Springfield, Bumed in hig face 

In the ancient days, 

Queer were the streets and sketchy, He threw his muddy saddle bags 

And he was in a maze. On Joshua Speed's floor, 



VACHEL LINDSAY 

He took off his old hat, 
He looked around the store. 

He shook his long hair 

On his bison-head, 
He sat down on the counter, 

"Speed, I've moved," he said. 



NANCY HANKS, MOTHER OF 
ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

"Otif of the cater came jotth mtat. und out of the 
stiong came forth swtctncs*" Judges 14' 14 

A sweet girl graduate, lean as a fawn, 

The very whimsy of time, 

Read her class upon Commencement Day 

A trembling filigree rhyme. 

The pansy that blooms on the window sill, 

Blooms in exactly the proper place; 

And she nodded just like a pansy there, 

And her poem was all about bowers and 

showers, 

Sugary streamlet and mossy rill, 
All about daisies on dale and hill 
A.nd she was the mother of Buffalo Bill. 

Another girl, a cloud-drift sort, 
Dreamht, moonlit, marble-white, 
Light-footed saint on the pilgrim shore, 
The best since New England iaines began, 
Was the mother of Barnum, the circus man 



271 

A girl from Missouri, snippy and vain, 

As frothy a miss as any you know, 

A wren, a toy, a pink silk bow. 

The belle ot the choir, she dro\c insane 

Missoun deacons and all the sleek, 

Her utter tomfoolery made men weak, 

Till they could not stand and they could not 

speak. 

Oh, queen of fifteen and sixteen, 
Missouri sweetened beneath lur reign 
And she was the mother of bad Mark Twain. 

Not always are lions born of lions, 

Rooscvdt sprang from a palace of lace; 

On the other hand is the di//y tiuth: 

Not always is beauty born oi beauty 

Some treasures vuut in a bidden place 

All over the world were thousands of belles. 

In farolTcighle.cn hundred and nine, 

(iirls of filteen, girls ol twenty, 

Their mammas dressed them up a-plenty 

Each garter was bnght, each stocking fine, 

But for all their innocent devices, 

Their cheeks ol I nut and their eyes of wine, 

And eaeh voluptuous design, 

And all sofl glories that we trace 

In hm ope 's palaces ol Lue, 

A girl who slept in dust and sorrow, 

Nancy Hanks, in a lost cabin, 

Nancy Hanks had the loveliest face! 



WILD c A i b 

Here, as it were, in the heart of roaring Rome, 

Here as far as men may get from the soil, 

Here where political lords 

Are proud of oil, 

Oil in their skins, 

Oil in their robber wells, 

Where money and stone and orations arc combined, 

Here in Washington, D. C , 

Here where sins arc rcfincel and over-refined, 

Here where they ape the very walls of Rome, 

The temples and pillars of Imperial Rome, 

We think of the time the wilel cats kept awake 

Our little camp, and filled our hearts with fright, 

When porcupine and bear-cub stirred the brake, 

And the friendliest wind seemed cold and impolite. 

We think of our terror through the camp-fire night, 

Of how we hoped to kiss the earth aright, 



272 VACHEL LINDSAY 

In spite of fear, and hoped not all in vain, 

Of how we hoped for wild clays, clean with power, 

Of how we sought the fine log-cabin hour, 

Of how we thought to rule 

By leading men to a lone log-cabin school. 

We think of our pioneer American pride, 

Our high defiance that has not yet died, 

Here, as it were, in the heart of roaring Rome, 

In Washington, D. C. 

Where they ape the very walls of Rome. 



THE APPLE-BARREL OF JOHNNY APPLE SEtD 

On the mountain peak, called "(iomg-To-Thc-Sun," 
I saw gray Johnny Appleseed at prayer 
Just as the sunset made the old earth fair. 
Then darkness came; in an instant, like great smoke, 
The sun fell down as though its gteat hoops broke 
And dark rich apples, poured from the dim flame 
Where the sun set, came rolling toward the peak, 
A storm of fruit, a mighty cider-reek, 
The perfume of the orchards of the world, 
From appk -shadows' led and russtt domes 
That tinned to clouds of glory and strange homes 
Above the mountain tops (or cloud-bom souls -- 
Reproofs ior men who build the world like moles, 
Models for nun, if they would build the world 
As Johnny Appk seed would have it done 
Praying, and reading the books of Swedcnborg 
On the mountain top called "Cjomg-To-The-Sun." 



THE VOYAGE 

What is my mast ? A pen. 

What are my sails ? Ten crescent moons. 

What is my sea? A bottle of ink. 

Where do I go? To heaven again. 

What do I eat ? The amaranth flower, 

While the winds through the jungles think old tunes. 

I eat that flower with ivory spoons 

While the winds through the jungles play old tunes; 

The songs the angels used to sing 

When heaven was not old autumn, but spring 

The bold, old songs of heaven and spring. 



THE CHINESE NIGHTINGALE 

(A Song in Chinese Tapesnies) 

"How, how," he said. '* Friend Chang," I said, 
"San Francisco sleeps as the dead 



VACHEL LINDSAY 273 

Ended license, lust and play: 

Why do you iron the night away? 

Your big elock speaks \\ith a deadly sound. 

With a tick and a wail till dawn comes round, 

While the monster shadows glower and creep, 

What can be better for man than sleep?" 

"I will tell you a seciet," Chang replied; 

"My bieast \\ith vision is satisfied, 

And I see green trees and fluttering wings, 

And my eleathless bud Irom Shanghai sings*' 

Then he lit (i\e fireciackus in a pan, 

"Pop, pop/' said the firecrackers, "eracia crack." 

lie lit a joss stiek long and black 

Then the proud gray joss in the corner stirred; 

On his wrist appeared a gray small bud. 

And this was the song oi the- gray small bud: 

"Where is the princess, loved forever, 

Who made Chang first of the kings of men?" 

Anel the joss in the corner stirred again; 

Anel the carved dosj, curlid in his aims, awoke, 

Barked loith a smoke eloud that whiiUd and bioke. 

It piled in a maze round the uomng place, 

And there on the snowy table wide 

Stood a Chinese lady of high degree, 

With a scorn I ul, wit thing, tea-rose lace. . . . 

Yet she put away all form and pride , 

And laid her glimmering ^tll asiele 

With a childlike smile lor Chang anel me. 

The walls fell back, night was aflower, 

The table gleamed in a moonlit bovver, 

While Chang, with a countenance carved of stone, 

Ironed anel ironed, all alone. 

And thus she sang to the busy man Chang: 

"Have you forgotten . . . 

Deep in the ages, long, long ago, 

I was your sweetheart, there on the sand 

Storm-worn beach of the Chinese land? 

We sold our grain in the peacock town 

Built on the edge of the sea-sands brown 

Built on the edge of the sea -sands brown. . . . 

When all the world was drinking blood 

From the skulls of men and bulls 

And all the world had swords and clubs of stone, 

We drank our tea in China beneath the sacred spicc-treeSj 

And heard the curled waves of the harbor moan 

And this gray bird, in Love's first spring, 

With a bright-bronze breast and a bronze-brown wing, 

Captured the world with his carol my. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 



Do you remember, ages after, 
At last the world we were born to own? 
You were the heir of the yellow throne 
The world was the field of the Chinese man 
And we were the pride of the Sons of Han ? 
We copied deep books and we carved in jade, 
And wove blue silks in the mulberry shade. . . .' 

"I remember, I remember 
That Spring came on forever, 
That Spring came on forever," 
Said the Chinese nightingale. 

My heart was filled with marvel and dream, 
Though I saw the western street-lamps gleam, 
Though dawn was bringing the western elay, 
Though Chang was a laundryman ironing away. . . 
Mingled there with the streets and alleys, 
The railroael-yard and the clock-tower bright, 
Demon clouds crossed ancient valleys; 
Across wide lotus-ponds of light 
I marked a giant firefly's flight. 

And the lady, rosy-red, 

Flourished her fan, her shimmering fan, 

Stretched her liand toward Chang, and said: 

"Do you remember, 

Ages after, 

Our palace of heart-red stone ? 

Do you remember 

The little doll-laced children 

With their lanterns full of moon-fire, 

That came from all the empire 

Honoring the throne? 

The loveliest fete and carnival 

Our worlel had ever known ? 

The sages sat about us 

With their heads bowed in their beards, 

With proper meditation on the sight. 

Confucius was not born; 

We lived in those great days 

Confucius later said were lived aright. . . . 

And this gray bird, on that day of spring, 

With a bright-bronze breast and a bronze-brown wing. 

Captured the world with his caroling. 

Late at night his tune was spent. 

Peasants, 

Sages, 

Children, 

Homeward went, 

And then the bronze bird sang for you and me. 



VACHEL LINDSAY 275 

We walked alone Our hearts were high and free. 
I had a sihery name, I had a silvery name, 
I had a silvery name do you remember 
The name you cried beside the tumbling sea?" 

Chang turned not to the lady slim 

He bent to his work, ironing away; 

But she was arch, and knowing and gloumg, 

For the bird on his shoulder spoke for him. 

"Darling . . . darling . . darling . . . darling . . ." 
Said the Chinese nightingale. 

The great gray joss on the rustic shelf, 

Rakish and shrewd, with his collar awry, 

Sang impolitely, as though by himself, 

Drowning with his bellowing the nightingale's cry: 

"Back through a hundred, hundred years 

Hear the wa\es as they climb the piers, 

Hear the howl of the silver seas, 

Hear the thunder. 

Hear the gongs of holy China 

How the waves and tunes combine 

In a rhythmic clashing wonder, 

Incantation old and fine* 

'Dragons, dragons, Chinese dragons, 

Red firecrackers, and green firecrackers 

And dragons, dragons, Chinese dragons.' " 

Then the lady, rosy-red, 

Turned to her lover Chang and said: 

"Dare you forget that turquoise dawn 

When we stood in our mist-hung velvet lawn, 

And worked a spell this great joss taught 

Till a God of the Dragons was charmed and caught? 

From the flag high over our palace home 

lie flew to our feet in rainbow-foam 

A king of beauty and tempest and thunder 

Panting to tear our sorrows asunder. 

A dragon of fair adventure and wonder. 

We mounted the back of that royal slave 

With thoughts of desire that were noble and grave. 

We swam down the shore to the dragon-mountains, 

We whirled to the peaks and the fiery fountains 

To our secret ivory house we were borne. 

We looked down the wonderful wind-filled regions 

Where the dragons darted in glimmering legions. 

Right by my breast the nightingale sang; 

The old rhymes rang in the sunlit mist 

That we this hour regain 

Song-fire for the brain. 



276 VACHEL LINDSAY 

When tny hands and my hair and my feet you kUsed, 
When you cried for your heart's new pain, 
What was my name in the dragon-mist, 
In the rings of the rambowcd rain?' 1 

"Sorrow and love, glory and love," 
Sang the Chinese nightingale, 
"Sorrow and love, glory and love," 
Said the Chinese nightingale. 

And now the joss broke in with his song: 

"Dying ember, bird of Chang, 

Soul of Chang, do you remember? 

Ere you returned to the shining harbor 

There were pirates by ten thousand 

Descended on the town 

In vessels mountain-high and red and brown, 

Moon-ships that climbed the storms and cut the skies. 

On their prows were painted terrible bright eyes. 

But I was then a wizaid and a scholar and a priest; 

I stood upon the sand; 

With lifted hand I looked upon them 

And sunk their vessels with my wizaid eyes, 

And the stately lacquer-gate made safe again 

Deep, deep below the bay, the seaweed and the spray, 

Embalmed in amber every pirate lies, 

Embalmed in amber every pirate lies." 

Then this did the noble lady say 

"Bird, do you dream of our home-coming day 

When yem flew like a count r on before 

From the dragon-peak to our palace -door, 

And we drove the steed in your singing path 

The ramping dragon of laughter and wrath: 

And found our city all aglow, 

And knighted this joss that decked it so ? 

There were golden fishes in the purple river 

And silver fishes and rainbow fishes 

There were golden junks in the laughing river, 

Anel silver junks and lainbow junks- 

There were ge>lden lilies by the bay and river, 

And silver lilies and tiger-lilies, 

And tinkling wind-bells in the gardens of the town 

By the j black -lacquer gate 

Where walked in state 

The kind king Chang 

And his sweetheart mate. . . . 

With his flag-born dragon 

Anel his crown of pearl . . . and . . . jade, 

Anel his nightingale reigning in the mulberry shade, 

Anel sailors and soldiers on the sea-sands brown, 

Anel priests who bowed them down to your song 



VACHEL LINDSAY 277 

By the city called Han, the peacock town, 
By the city called Han, the nightingale town, 
The nightingale town." 

Then sang the bird, so strangely gay, 
Fluttering, fluttering, ghostly and gray, 
A vague, unraveling, final tune, 
Like a long unwinding silk cocoon; 
Sang as though for the soul of him 
Who ironed away in that bower dim: 

"I have forgotten 

Your dragons great, 

Merry and mad and friendly and bold. 
Dim is your proud lost palace-gate. 
I vaguely know 
There were heroes of old, 
Troubles more than the heart could hold, 
There were wolves in the woods 
Yet lambs in the fold, 
Nests in the top of the almond tree. . . . 
The evergreen tree . . . and the mulberry tree. . . , 
Life and hurry and joy forgotten, 
Years and years I but half-remember . . . 
Man is a torch, then ashes soon, 
May and June, then dead December, 
Dead December, then again June. 
Who shall end my dream's confusion? 
Life is a loom, weaving illusion. . . . 
I remember, I remember 
There were ghostly vnls and lacts. . . . 
In the shadowy bowery places. . . . 
With lovers' ardent faces 
Bending to one another, 
Speaking each his part. 
They infinitely echo 
In the red cave of my heart. 
'Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart,' 
They said to one another. 
They spoke, I think, of perils past. 
They spoke, I think, of peace at last 
One thing I remember: 
Spring came on forever, 
Spring came on forever," 
Said the Chinese nightingale. 



2 7 8 



MELVILLE CANE 



Melville Cane 



MELVILLE CANE was born April 15, 1879, at Plattsburg, New York. He was edu- 
cated at Columbia Grammar School, received his A B. at Columbia in 1900, 
LL.B. in 1903. At Columbia he was editor-in-chief of the Literary Monthly; he wrote 
the lyrics of the Varsity operetta, the music of which was supplied by John Erskine. 
While still in college he contributed light verse to PucJ{, Judge, and the more sedate 
Centwy and was a reporter on the Neu, YorJ( Evening Post. Upon graduation he 
engaged in the practice of law, specializing in the law of copyright and the theater. 

After an interval of twenty years, he resumed writing and turned to a wholly un- 
foreseen expression. Januaty Gat den (1926) is the antithesis of the light verse of 
Cane's youth; it is sensitive and unequivocally serious. Most of the volume is in a 
free verse whose contours are shaped by introspection. A somber cast may have ac- 
counted for the sparse enthusiasm with winch it was received, but it is more diffi- 
cult to account for failure to recognize the delicacy of the pictorial effects. 

Cane's Behind Dai\ Spaces (1930) is less impressionistic, but what it loses in 
suggestion it gains in sharpness. Mixing "pure" and "suspended" rhyme, his tone- 
color has grown ncher; concentrating on instead of writing around the object, he 
has developed power without resorting to force. Since 1934 Cane has written in a 
new genre, a type of poetry which blends seriousness and vets de soctete with a nice 
balance. 



SNOW TOWARD EVENING 

Suddenly the sky turned gray, 

The day, 

Which had been bitter and chill, 

Grew solt and still. 

Quietly 

From some invisible blossoming tree 

Millions of petals cool and white 

Drifted and blew, 

Lifted and flew, 

Fell with the falling night. 

TREE IN DECEMBER 

Frost has scaled 
The still December field. 
Over fern and furrow, 
Over the quickening 
Within each meadowy acre, 
Frost, invisibly thorough, 
Spreads its thickening 
Stiffening lacquer. 

Above the field, beneath a sky 
Heavy with snow stirring to fly, 



A tree stands alone, 
Bare of fruit, leaves gone 
Bleak as stone. 

Once, on a similar glazed 

Field, on a similar tree, 

Dead as the eye could see, 

The first man, dazed 

In the first December, grimly gazed, 

Never having seen 

The miracle of recurring green, 

The shining spectacle of rebirth 

Rising out of frozen earth. 

Snow fell and all about 

Covered earth, and him with doubt. 

More chill grew the air 

And his mute despair. 

Leaves that April had uncurled 
Now were blown dust in the world, 
Apples mellowing sweet and sound 
Now were icy rot in the ground; 
Roses August sunned in bloom 
Now were less than lost perfume. 



MELVILLE CANE 

Had he seen the final hour 

Of fruit and leaf and flower? 

Had the last bird taken wing, 

Nevermore to sing? 

Never to fly in the light of another spring? 

The man trembled with cold, with dread, 
Thinking of all things dead 
And his own earthen bed. 

Trembling, he grew aware 
Of a new quiet in the air; 
Snow had ceased; 
A ray came faintly through; 
The wavering slit of blue 
Vaguely increased. 

Trembling, the first man gazed 
At the glazed 
And glittering tree, 
Dead as the eye could see. 

Whence came the sight 

To read the sign aright? 

The hint, 

The glad intimation, flashing: 

"Wintry lains 

Are blood in the veins, 

Under snows and binding sleets 

Locked roots live, a heart still beats"? 

From what impalpable breath 

Issued the faith, 

The inner cry: "This is not death"? 



DAWN HAS YET TO RIPPLE IN 

What is this that I have heard? 
Scurrying rat or stirring bird? 
Scratching in the wall of sleep? 
Twitching on the eaves of sleep? 
I can hear it working close 
Through a space along the house, 
Through a space obscure and thm. 
Night is swiftly running out, 
Dawn has yet to ripple in, 
Dawn has yet to clear the doubt, 
Rat within or bird without. 



279 

HYMN TO NIGHT 

Now it grows daik. 

Red goes 

Out of the rose; 

Out of the lawn 

Green's withdiawn; 

Lach buttercup now yields 

Its gold fiom blurring fields; 

Larkspur and sky surrender 

Blue wonder. 

We were dark \\ithm, we relied 

For our strength on the nourishing sun; 

Now it is under and gone. 

Now, as the light grows duller, 

We, \vho had flourished on color, 

Stand, in the ever-deepening shade, 

Bereft, dismayed 

We were dark within, it was death 

We saw, we had never seen 

Within the dark, we had never known 

The spark, the vital breath. 

If only we had known 

That black is nci'lur loss nor lack 

But holds the essential seed 

Of mortal hope and ncuH 

Now sheltering dusk, 

Shephcul of color and light for dawns un- 
ending, 
Tends the holy task. 

Praise be to black, the benign, 
No longer malign, 
Prolonger of days' 
Praise the preserver of shine, 
The keeper of bla/cl 

Praise Night, 
Forever praise 
Savior Night, 
Who surely stays 
The arm of time, 
Who guards the flame, 
Who hoards the light. 

Praised be the Night. 



a8o WALLACE STEVENS 



Wallace Stevens 

WALLACE STEVENS was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1879. A stu- 
dent at Harvard University and New York Law School, he was admitted to 
the Bar in 1904 and engaged in the general practice of law in New York City. In 
1916 he became associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, 
of which he became vice-president in 1934. 

A poet of peculiar reticence, he kept himself from book publication for a long 
and rigorous time. Although many of his poems appeared as early as 1913, he was 
so self-critical that he refused to publish a volume until 1923 when the first edition 
of Harmonium appeared. The most casual reading of this volume discloses that 
Stevens is a stylist of unusual delicacy * Even the least sympathetic reader must be 
struck by the poet's hypersensitive and ingenious imagination. It is a curiously am- 
biguous world which Stevens paints: a world of merging half-lights, of finicking 
shadows, of disembodied emotions. Even this last word is an exaggeration, for emo- 
tion itself seems absent from the clear and often fiercely colored segments of the 
poet's designs. 

Considered as a painter, Stevens is one of the most original impressionists of the 
times. He is fond of little blocks of color, verbal mosaics in which syllables are used 
as pigments. Little related to any human struggle, the content of Harmonium pro- 
gresses toward a sort of "absolute" poetry which, depending on tone rather than on 
passion, aims to flower in an air of pure estheticism. His very titles which deliber- 
ately add to the reader's confusion by having little or no connection with most of the 
poems betray this quality: "Hymn from a Watermelon Pavilion," "The Paltry 
Nude Starts on a Spring Voyage," "Frogs Eat Butterflies, Snakes Eat Frogs, Hogs 
Eat Snakes, Men Eat Hogs." Such poems have much for the eye, something for the 
ear, but little for that central hunger which is at the core of all the senses. 

Chieftain Iffucan of Azcan in caftan 
Of tan with henna hackles, halt! 

Thus Stevens begins his "Bantam in Pine- Woods" and his pleasure in play- 
ing with sounds must be evident to the most perplexed reader. Like Williams, 
to whose Collected Poems Stevens furnished an introduction, Stevens is interested 
in things chiefly from their "unreal" aspect. He is, nevertheless, romantic. A roman- 
tic poet nowadays, says Stevens, "happens to be one who still dwells in an ivory 
tower, but who insists that life there would be intolerable except for the fact that 
one has, from the top, such an exceptional view of the public dump and the adver- 
tising signs. . . . He is the hermit who dwells alone with the sun and moon, and 
insists on taking a rotten newspaper. '/^That is why Stevens can write of "The 
Worms at Heaven's Gate" with no disrespect to Shakespeare, make a study in 
esthetics of the contents of a cab, and entitle a poem on death ("the finale of seem") 
"The Emperor of Ice-Cream." 

"Sunday Morning" and "Sea Surface Full of Clouds" are blends of disintegrated 
fantasy and fictitious reality. These poems are highly selective in choice of allusions, 



WALLACE STEVENS 2 8r 

inner harmonies, and special luxuriance of sound. They burst into strange bloom; 
they foliate in a region where the esthetic impulse encroaches on the reasoning in- 
tellect. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" and "Domination of Black" 
have a delicacy of design which suggests the Chinese; "Peter Quince at the Clavier" 
and the exquisite "To the One of Fictive Music" (Stevens' most obviously musical 
moment) reveal a distinction which places "this auditor of insects, this lutanist of 
fleas" as one who has perfected a kind of poetry which is a remarkable, if strangely 
hermetic, art. 

After a twelve years' silence Stevens published Ideas of Order (1935) in a limited 
edition. The format of the book and its private publication emphasizes the limita- 
tion as well as the elegance of the contents. Here, as in Harmonium, Stevens seldom 
writes poetry about the Ding an sich, but almost always about the overtones which 
the thing creates in his mind. Here the candid surface breaks into cryptic epigrams, 
and the scenes are recorded in a deft but elusive phrase. Often enough a poem 
refuses to yield its meaning, but "Academic Discourse at Havana" and "The Idea 
of Order at Key West" surrender themselves in an almost pure music. 

The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), with a bow to Picasso, places its emphasis 
on man as artist and on the complicated relations between art and life. It is a far 
cry from the delight in luxuriance for its own sake which Stevens once called "the 
essential gaudiness of poetry." There is little mischievous playing with the sound of 
words, as in the much-quoted line (from "The Emperor of Ice-Cream") which had 
the "roller of big cigars" whip 

In kitchen cups concupiscent curds. 

There is, instead, an increasing concern with the problem of a society in chaos 
and the difficult "idea of order." Stevens has sacrifted some of the barbaric piling up 
of eflects; his work is no longer a pageant of colors, sounds, and smells. The riotous- 
ness has been replaced by a grave awareness of the plight of man. Without losing 
the wit and delicacy of what Allen Tate has characterized as "floating images," 
Stevens has gained compassion. A new preoccupation with man's bewilderment and 
despair strengthens Stevens* later work. The poet's "place" is established by critical 
estimates in the Wallace Stevens number of The Harvard Advocate (December, 
1940), and his own attitude is clearly pronounced in "Asides on the Oboe" from 
that issue. Without discarding the early resonance and free play of associations, he 
hails the provoked intelligence: 

The impossible possible philosopher's man, 

The man who has had the time to think enough. 

Stevens has never been more pointed than in his later poems, which are both 
rhetorical and 'profound. 

He is the transparence of the place in which 
He is, and in his poems we find peace. 

But Stevens does not insist that peace is to be found in poetry. The "central man" 
finds no panacea but "the sum of men ... the central evil, the central good." 



282 



WALLACE STEVENS 



ANECDOTE OF THE JAR 

I placed a jar in Tennessee, 
And round it was, upon a hill. 
It made the slovenly wilderness 
Surround that hill. 

The wilderness rose up to it, 
And sprawled around, no longer wild. 
The jar was round upon the ground 
And tall and of a port in air. 

It took dominion everywhere. 
The jar was gray and bare. 
It did not give of bird or bush, 
Like nothing else in Tennessee. 



PETER QUINCE AT THE CLAVIER 



Just as my fingers on these keys 
Make music, so the self-same sounds 
On my spirit make a music, too. 

Music is feeling, then, not sound; 
And thus it is that what I feel, 
Here in this room, desiring you, 

Thinking of your blue-shadowed silk, 
Is music. It is like the strain 
Waked in the elders by Susanna: 

Of a green evening, clear and warm, 
She bathed in her still garden, while 
The red-eyed elders, watching, felt 

The basses of their beings throb 

In witching chords, and their thin blood 

Pulse pizzicati of Hosanna. 



In the green water, clear and warm, 

Susanna lay, 

She searched 

The touch of springs, 

And found 

Concealed imaginings. 

She sighed, 

For so much melody. 

Upon the bank, she stood 
In the cool 



Of spent emotions. 

She felt, among the leaves, 

The dew 

Of old devotions. 

She walked upon the grass, 

Still quavering. 

The winds were like her maids 

On timid feet, 

Fetching her woven scarves, 

Yet wavering. 

A breath upon her hand 
Muted the night. 
She turned 
A cymbal crashed, 
And roaring horns. 

in 

Soon, with a noise like tambourines, 
Came her attendant Byzantines. 

They wondered why Susanna cried 
Against the elders by her side; 

And as they whispered, the refrain 
Was like a willow swept by rain. 

Anon, their lamps' uplifted flame 
Revealed Susanna and her shame. 

And then, the simpering Byzantines 
Fled, with a noise like tambourines. 



WALLACE STEVENS 283 

iv The cowl of Winter, done repenting, 

ty is momentary in the mind So maidens die, to the auroral 

fitful tracing of a portal; Celebration of a maiden's choral. 

Bu. in the flesh it is immortal. Susanna>s ^ touched ^ baw(Jy 

Of those white elders; but, escaping, 
The body dies; the body's beauty lives. Left only Death's ironic scraping. 

So evenings die, in their green going, Now, in its immortality, it plays 

A wave, interminably flowing. On the clear viol of her memory, 

So gardens die, their meek breath scenting And makes a constant sacrament of praise 

TO THE ONE OF FICTIVE MUSIC 

Sister and mother and diviner love, 

And of the sisterhood of the living dead 

Most near, most clear, and of the clearest bloom, 

And of the fragrant mothers the most dear 

And queen, and of diviner love the day 

And flame and summer and sweet fire, no thread 

Of cloudy silver sprinkles in your gown 

Its venom of renown, and on your head 

No crown is simpler than the simple hair. 

Now, of the music summoned by the birth 
That separates us from the wind and sea, 
Yet leaves us in them, until earth becomes, 
By being so much of the things we are, 
Gross effigy and simulacrum, none 
Gives motion to perfection more serene 
Than yours, out of our imperfections wrought, 
Most rare, or ever of more kindred air 
In the laborious weaving that you wear. 

For so retentive of themselves are men 

That music is intensest which proclaims 

The near, the clear, and vaunts the clearest bloom, 

And of all vigils musing the obscure, 

That apprehends the most which sees and names, 

As in your name, an image that is sure, 

Among the arrant spices of the sun, 

O bough and bush and scented vine, in whom 

We give ourselves our likest issuance. 

Yet not too like, yet not so like to be 

Too near, too clear, saving a little to endow 

Our feigning with the strange unlike, whence springs 

The difference that heavenly pity brings. 

For this, musician, in your girdle fixed 

Bear other perfumes. On "your pale head wear 

A band entwining, set with fatal stones. 

Unreal, give back to us what once you gave: 

The imagination that we spurned and crave. 



WALLACE STEVENS 



SUNDAY MORNING 

I 

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late 
CoiTee and oranges in a sunny chair, 
And the green freedom of a cockatoo 
Upon a rug, mingle to dissipate 
The holy hush of ancient sacrifice. 
She dreams a little, and she feels the dark 
Encroachment of that old catastrophe, 
As a calm darkens among water-lights. 
The pungent oranges and bright green wings 
Seem things in some procession of the dead, 
Winding across wide water, without sound. 
The day is like wide water, without sound, 
Stilled for the passing of her dreaming feet 
Over the seas, to silent Palestine, 
Dominion of the blood and sepulcher. 

ii 

She hears, upon that water without sound, 
A voice that cries: "The tomb in Palestine 
Is not the porch of spirits lingering; 
It is the grave of Jesus, where He lay." 
We live in an old chaos of the sun, 
Or old dependency of day and night, 
Or island solitude, unsponsored, free, 
Of that wide water, inescapable. 
Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail 
Whistle about us their spontaneous cries: 
Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness; 
And in the isolation of the sky, 
At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make 
Ambiguous undulations as they sink, 
Downward to darkness, on extended wings. 

in 

She says: "I am content when wakened birds, 
Before they fly, test the reality 
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings; 
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields 
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?" 
There is not any haunt of prophecy, 
Nor any old chimera of the grave, 
Neither the golden underground, nor isle 
Melodious, where spirits gat them home, 
Nor visionary South, nor cloudy palm 
Remote on heaven's hill, that has endured 
As April's green endures; or will endure 
Like her remembrance of awakened birds, 
Or her desire for June and evening, tipped 
By consummation of the swallow's wings. 



WALLACE STEVENS 285 

IV 

She says, "But in contentment I still feel 

The need of some imperishable bliss." 

Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her, 

Alone, shall come fulfillment to our dreams 

And our desires. Although she strews the leaves 

Of sure obliteration on our paths 

The path sick sorrow took, the many paths 

Where triumph rang its brassy phrase, or love 

Whispered a little out of tenderness 

She makes the willow shiver in the sun 

For maidens who were wont to sit and gaze 

Upon the grass, relinquished to their feet. 

She causes boys to bring sweet-smelling pears 

And plums in ponderous piles. The maidens taste 

And stray impassioned in the littering leaves. 

v 

Supple and turbulent, a ring of men 

Shall chant in orgy on a summer morn 

Their boisterous devotion to the sun 

Not as a god, but as a god might be, 

Naked among them, like a savage source. 

Their chant shall be a chant of paradise, 

Out of their blood, returning to the sky; 

And in their chant shall enter, voice by voice, 

The windy lake wherein their lord delights, 

The trees, like seraphim, and echoing hills, 

That choir among themselves long afterward. 

They shall know well the heavenly fellowship 

Of men that perish and of summer morn 

And whence they came and whither they shall go, 

The dew upon their feet shall manifest. 



DOMINATION OF BLACK 

At night, by the fire, 

The colors of the bushes 

And of the fallen leaves, 

Repeating themselves, 

Turned in the room, 

Like the leaves themselves 

Turning in the wind. 

Yes: but the color of the heavy hemlocks 

Came striding. 

And I remembered the cry of the peacocks 8 

The colors of their tails 
Were like the leaves themselves 
Turning in the wind, 
In the twilight wind. 



WALLACE STEVENS 



They swept over the room, 

Just as they flew from the boughs of the hemlocks 

Down to the ground. 

I heard them cry the peacocks. 

Was it a cry against the twilight 

Or against the leaves themselves 

Turning in the wind, 

Turning as the flames 

Turned in the fire, 

Turning as the tails of the peacocks 

Turned in the loud fire, 

Loud as the hemlocks 

Full of the cry of the peacocks? 

Or was it a cry against the hemlocks? 

Out of the window, 

I saw how the planets gathered 

Like the leaves themselves 

Turning in the wind. 

I saw how the night came, 

Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks. 

I felt afraid. 

And I remembered the cry of the peacocks. 



SEA SURFACE FULL OF CLOUDS 

I 

In that November off Tehuantepec, 

The slopping of the sea grew still one night 

And in the morning summer hued the deck 

And made one think of rosy chocolate 
And gilt umbrellas. Paradisal green 
Gave suavity to the perplexed machine 

Of ocean, which like limpid water lay. 

Who, then, in that ambrosial latitude 

Out of the light evolved the moving blooms, 

Who, then, evolved the sea-blooms from the clouds 
Diffusing balm in that Pacific calm? 
C'etatt mon enfant, mon bijou, mon dme. 

The sea-clouds whitened far below the calm 

And moved, as blooms move, in the swimming green 

And in its watery radiance, while the hue 

Of heaven in an antique reflection rolled 
Round those flotillas. And sometimes the sea 
Poured brilliant iris on the glistening blue. 



WALLACE STEVENS 287 

ii 

In that November off Tehuantepec 
The slopping of the sea grew still one night. 
At breakfast jelly yellow streaked the deck 

And made one think of chop-house chocolate 
And sham umbrellas. And a sham-like green 
Capped summer-seeming on the tense machine 

Of ocean, which in sinister flatness lay. 

Who, then, beheld the rising of the clouds 

That strode submerged in that malevolent sheen, 

Who saw the mortal massives of the blooms 
Of water moving on the water-floor? 
C'etalt mon jrere du del, ma vie, mon or. 

The gongs rang loudly as the windy blooms 

Hoo-hooed it in the darkened ocean-blooms. 

The gongs grew still. And then blue heaven spread 

Its crystalline pendentives on the sea 
And the macabre of the water-glooms. 
In an enormous undulation fled. 

in 

In that November off Tehuantepec, 
The slopping of the sea grew still one night, 
And a pale silver patterned on the deck 

Made one think of porcelain chocolate 
And pied umbrellas. An uncertain green, 
Piano-polished, held the tranced machine 

Of ocean, as a prelude holds and holds. 
Who, seeing silver petals of white blooms 
Unfolding in the water, feeling sure 

Of the milk within the saltiest spurge, heard, then, 
The sea unfolding in the sunken clouds? 
Ohl C'6tait mon cxtase et mon amour. 

So deeply sunken were they that the shrouds, 
The shrouding shadows, made the petals black 
Until the rolling heaven made them blue, 

A blue beyond the rainy hyacinth, 
And smiting the crevasses of the leaves 
Deluged the ocean with a sapphire hue. 



WALLACE STEVENS 



IV 

In that November off Tehuantepec 

The night-long slopping of the sea grew still. 

A mallow morning dozed upon the deck 

And made one think of musky chocolate 
And frail umbrellas. A too-fluent green 
Suggested malice in the dry machine 

Of ocean, pondering dank stratagem. 
Who then beheld the figures of the clouds, 
Like blooms secluded in the thick marine? 

Like blooms ? Like damasks that were shaken of! 
From the loosed girdles in the spangling must. 
Cetalt ma jot, la nonchalance divine. 

The nakedness would rise and suddenly turn 
Salt masks of beard and mouths of bellowing, 
Would But more suddenly the heaven rolled 

Its bluest sea-clouds in the thinking green 

And the nakedness became the broadest blooms, 

Mile-mallows that a mallow sun cajoled. 



In that November off Tehuantepec 

Night stilled the slopping of the sea. The day 

Came, bowing and voluble, upon the deck, 

Good clown. . . . One thought of Chinese chocolate 
And large umbrellas. And a motley green 
Followed the drift of the obese machine 

Of ocean, perfected in indolence. 
What pistache one, ingenious and droll, 
Beheld the sovereign clouds as jugglery 

And the sea as turquoise-turbaned Sambo, neat 
At tossing saucers cloudy-conjuring sea? 
C6tait mon esprit batard, I'ignominic. 

The sovereign clouds came clustering. The conch 

Of loyal conjuration trumped. The wind 

Of green blooms turning crisped the motley hue 

To clearing opalescence. Then the sea 
And heaven rolled as one and from the two 
Came fresh transfiguring* of freshest blue. 



WALLACE STEVENS 



289 



ANNUAL GAIETY 

In the morning in the blue snow 

The catholic sun, its majesty, 

Pinks and pinks the ice-hard melanchole. 

Wherefore those prayers to the moon? 
Or is it that alligators lie 
Along the edges of your eye 
Basking in desert Florida ? 

Pere Guzz, in heaven, thumb your lyre 
And chant the January fire 
And joy of snow and snow. 



HOMUNCULUS ET LA BELLE 
ETOILE 

In the sea, Biscayne, there prinks 
The young emerald, evening star, 
Good light for drunkards, poets, widows, 
And ladies soon to be married. 

By this light the salty fishes 
Arch in the sea like tree-branches, 
Going in many directions 
Up and down. 

This light conducts 

The thoughts of drunkards, the feelings 
Of widows and trembling ladies, 
The movements of fishes. 



How pleasant an existence it is 
That this emerald charms philosophers, 
Until they become thoughtlessly willing 
To bathe their hearts in later moonlight, 

Knowing that they can bring back thought 
In the night that is still to be silent, 
Reflecting this thing and that, 
Before they sleep! 

It is better that, as scholars, 

They should think hard in the dark cuffs 

Of voluminous cloaks, 

And shave their heads and bodies. 

It might well be that their mistress 
Is no gaunt fugitive phantom. 
She might, after all, be a wanton, 
Abundantly bcautitul, eager, 

Fecund, 

From whose being by starlight, on sea-coast, 
The innermost good of their seeking 
Might come in the simplest of speech. 

It is a good light, then, for those 
That know the ultimate Plato, 
Tranquil i zing with this jewel 
The torments of confusion. 



TWO FIGURES IN DENSE VIOLET LIGHT 

I had as lief be embraced by the porter at the hotel 
As to get no more from the moonlight 
Than your moist hand. 

Be the voice of night and Florida in my ear. 
Use dusky words and dusky images. 
Darken your speech. 

Speak, even, as if I did not hear you speaking, 
But spoke for you perfectly in my thoughts, 
Conceiving words, 

As the night conceives the sea-sounds in silence, 
And out of their droning sibilants makes 
A serenade. 

Say, puerile, that the buzzards crouch on the ridge-pole 
And sleep with one eye watching the stars fail 
Below Key West. 



290 WALLACE STEVENS 

Say that the palms are clear in a total blue, 
Are clear and are obscure; that it is night; 
That the moon shines. 

GALLANT CHATEAU There might have been the immense solitude 

Is it bad to have come here f the Wmd U P n the curtains ' 

And to have found the bed empty? pkiless vcrse? A few words tuncd 

One might have found tragic hair, And tuned and tuned and tuned. 

Bitter eyes, hands hostile and cold. 

It is good. The bed is empty, 

There might have been a light on a book The curtains are stiff and prim and still. 
Lighting a pitiless verse or two. 

THE IDEA OF ORDER AT KEY WEST 

She sang beyond the genius of the sea. 
The water never formed to mind or voice, 
Like a body wholly body, fluttering 
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mirnic motion 
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry, 
That was not ours although we understood, 
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean. 

The sea was not a mask. No more was she. 
The song and water were not medleyed sound, 
Even if what she sang was what she heard, 
Since what she sang she uttered word by word. 
It may be that in all her phrases stirred 
The grinding water and the gasping wind; 
But it was she and not the sea we heard. 

For she was the maker of the song she sang. 
The ever-hooded, tragic-gestured sea 
Was merely a place by which she walked to sing. 
Whose spirit is this? we said, because we knew 
It was the spirit that we sought and knew 
That we should ask this often as she sang. 

If it was only the dark voice of the sea 

That rose, or even colored by many waves; 

If it was only the outer voice of sky 

And cloud, of the sunken coral water-walled, 

However clear, it would have been deep air, 

The heaving speech of air, a summer sound 

Repeated in a summer without end 

And sound alone. But it was more than that, 

More even than her voice, and ours, among 

The meaningless plungings of water and the wind, 

Theatrical distances, bronze shadows heaped 

On high horizons, mountainous atmospheres 

Of sky and sea. 



WALLACE STEVENS 297 

It was her voice that made 
The sky acutest at its vanishing. 
She measured to the hour its solitude, 
She was the single artificer of the world 
In which she sang. And when she sang, the sea, 
Whatever self it had, became the self 
That was her song, for she was maker. Then we, 
As we beheld her striding there alone, 
Knew that there never was a world for her 
Except the one she sang and, singing, made. 

Ramon Fernandez, tell me, if you know, 
Why, when the singing ended and we turned 
Toward the town, tell why the glassy lights, 
The lights in the fishing boats at anchor there, 
As the night descended, tilting in the air, 
Mastered the night and portioned out the sea, 
Fixing emblazoned zones and fiery poles, 
Arranging, deepening, enchanting night. 



Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon, 
The maker's rage to order words of the sea, 
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred, 
And of ourselves and of our origins, 
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds. 

BOUQUET OF BELLE SCAVOIR 

It is she alone that matters. 

She made it. It is easy to say 

The figures of speech, as why she chose 

This dark, particular rose. 

Everything in it is herself. 

Yet the freshness of the leaves, the burn 

Of the colors, are tinsel changes, 

Out of the changes of both light and dew. 

How often had he walked 

Beneath summer and the sky 

To receive her shadow into his mind . . . 

Miserable that it was not she. 

The sky is too blue, the earth too wide. 
The thought of her takes her away 
The form of her in something else 
Is not enough. 

The reflection of her here, and then there, 
Is another shadow, another evasion, 



292 WALLACE STEVENS 

Another denial. If she is everywhere, 
She is nowhere, to him. 

But this she has made. If it is 
Another image, it is one she has made. 
It is she that he wants, to look at directly, 
Someone before him to see and to know. 

ASIDES ON THE OBOE 

The prologues are over. It is question, now, 
Of final belief. So, say that final belief 
Must be in a fiction. It is time to choose. 

That obsolete fiction of the wide river in 

An empty land; the gods that Boucher killed; 

And the metal heroes that time granulates 

The philosophers' man alone still walks in dew, 

Still by the sea-side mutters milky lines 

Concerning an immaculate imagery. 

If you say on the hautboy man is not enough 

Can never stand as god, is ever wrong 

In the end, however naked, tall, there is still 

The impossible possible philosophers' man, 

The man who has had the time to think enough, 

The central man, the human globe, responsive 

As a mirror with a voice, the man of glass, 

Who in a million diamonds sums us up. 

2 

He is the transparence of the place in which 

He is, and in his poems we find peace. 

He sets this peddler's pie and cries in summer, 

The glass man, cold and numbered, dewily cries, 

"Thou art not August unless I make thee so." 

Clandestine steps upon imagined stairs 

Climb through the night, because his cuckoos call. 

One year, death and war prevented the jasmine scent 
And the jasmine islands were bloody martyrdoms. 
How was it then with the central man? Did we 
Find peace? We found the sum of men. We found, 
It we found the central evil, the central good. 
We buried the fallen without jasmine crowns. 
There was nothing he did not suffer, no; nor we. 

It was not as if the jasmine ever returned. 

But we and the diamond globe at last were one. 

We had always been partly one. It was as we came 

To see him, that we were wholly one, as we heard 

Him chanting for those buried in their blood, 

In the forests that had been jasmine, that we knew 

The glass man, without external reference. 



FRANKLIN P. ADAMS 



Franklin P. Adams 

FRANKLIN PIERCE ADAMS, better known to the readers of his column as F. P. A., 
was born in Chicago, Illinois, November 15, 1881. He attended the University 
of Michigan and, after a brief career as insurance agent, plunged into journalism. 
In 1904 he came to New York, running his section on The Evening Mail until 
1914, when he started "The Conning Tower" for the New York Tribune, trans- 
ferring it some years later to the New York World and, later still, to the New York 
Herald Tribune. He is one of the experts on "Information Please." 

Adams is the author of several volumes of a light verse that is unusually skillful. 
Tobogganing on Parnassus (1909), In Other Wotds (1912), By and Large (1914), 
and So There (1923) reveal a spirit which is essentially one of mockery. These 
contain impudent paraphrases of Horace and Propcrtius, and a healthy satire that 
runs sharply through the smooth lines. The best of his later work is in Christopher 
Columbus (1930) and that modern metropolitan chronicle The Diary of Out Own 
Samuel Pefys (1935), a prose portrait of himself and a period. 



THE RICH MAN 

The rich man has his motor-car, His lot seems light, his heart seems gay; 

His country and his town estate. He has a cinch. 

He smokes a fifty-cent cigar ,, . , , , t . ,. 

And jeers at Fate. Yet thou # h m ? lam P burns Iow and dim > 

} Though I must slave for livelihood 

He frivols through the livelong day, Think you that I would change with him? 

He knows not Poverty, her pinch. You bet I would! 



THOSE TWO BOYS 

When Bill was a lad he was terribly bad. 

He worried his parents a lot; 
He'd lie and he'd swear and pull little girls' hair; 

His boyhood was naught but a blot. 

At play and in school he would fracture each rule 

In mischief from autumn to spring; 
And the villagers knew when to manhood he grew 

He would never amount to a thing. 

When Jim was a child he was not very wild; 

He was known as a good little boy; 
He was honest and bright and the teacher's delight 

To his mother and father a joy. 

All the neighbors were sure that his virtue'd endure, 

That his life would be free of a spot; 
They were certain that Jim had a great head on him 

And that Jim would amount to a lot. 



294 FRANKLIN P. ADAMS 

And Jim grew to manhood and honor and fame 

And bears a good name; 
While Bill is shut up in a dark prison cell 

You never can tell. 



Witter Bynner 

BYNNER was born in Brooklyn, New York, August 10, 1881. He was 
graduated from Harvard in 1902 and was assistant editor of various periodi- 
cals as well as adviser to publishers. He spent much of his time lecturing on poetry, 
traveling in the Orient and studying the American Indian. He lived most of the 
year in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Young Harvard (1907), the first of Bynner's volumes, was, as the name implies, a 
celebration of his Alma Mater. The New World (1915) is a far more ambitious 
effort. In this extended poem, Bynner sought almost too determinedly to translate 
the ideals of democracy into verse. Neither of these volumes displays its author's 
gifts at their best, for Bynner is, first of all, a lyric poet. Grenstone Poems (1917) 
and A Canticle of Pan (1920) reveal a natural singing voice. Bynner harmonizes in 
many keys; transposing, modulating, and shifting from one tonality to another. 
This very ease is his handicap, for Bynner's facility leads him not only to write too 
much, but in too many different styles. Instead of a fusion of gifts we have, too 
often, as in Caravan (1925), only a confusion. When Bynner is least dexterous he is 
most ingratiating. Even in The Beloved Stranger (1919), where the borrowed accents 
of his alter ego are only too apparent, one is arrested by lines of charm and fluency. 

Under the pseudonym "Emanuel Morgan" Bynner was co-author with Arthur 
Davison Ficke (writing under the name of "Anne Kmsh") of Spectra (1916). 
Spectra was a serious burlesque of some of the extreme manifestations of modern 
poetic tendencies a hoax that deceived many of the radical propagandists as well as 
most of the conservative critics. 

A volume in collaboration with Kiang Kang-Hu, The Jade Mountain (1929), 
included three hundred translations of poems of the Tang Dynasty. Indian Earth 
(1929) summons the effect rather than the rhythms of the buffalo dance at Santo 
Domingo, the rain invocation at Cochiti, and the Shalako dance-dramas in a tech- 
nique as delicate as the brush-strokes used to evoke the shifting scene. 

Eden Tree (1931) is Bynner's own synthesis of himself and his work viewed in 
retrospect at fifty. The tone is a troubled one, the approach is by way of fantasy 
running into phantasmagoria; but the mood between clear perception and cloudy 
consciousness is skillfully maintained. Guest Bool^ (1935) is a lighter volume, a 
series of seventy sonnets which "portray" contemporary persons with more rhetoric 
than accuracy. The complimentary poems are not deeply registered and the satirical 
ones are not sharp enough to be effective caricatures. Bynner, as host, is too tactful 
a recorder; the real poet is in Eden Tree. 

Selected Poems (1936), edited by Robert Hunt, is a summary of Bynner's best 
work. 



WITTER BYNNER 



295 



GRASS-TOPS 

What bird are you in the grass-tops? 
Your poise is enough of an answer, 
With your wing-tips like up-curving fingers 
Of the slow-moving hands of a dancer . . . 

And what is so nameless as beauty, 
Which poets, who give it a name, 
Are only unnaming forever? 
Content, though it go, that it came. 



VOICES 

O there were lights and laughter 
And the motions to and fro 

Of people as they enter 
And people as they go ... 

And there were many voices 

Vying at the feast, 
But mostly I remember 

Yours who spoke the least. 



A FARMER REMEMBERS LINCOLN 

"Lincoln? 

Well, I was in the old Second Maine, 

The first regiment in Washington from the Pine Tree State. 
Of course I didn't get the butt of the clip; 
We was there for guardin' Washington 
We was all green. 

"I ain't never ben to the theayter in my life 
I didn't know how to behave. 
I ain't never ben since. 

I can see as plain as my hat the box where he sat in 
When he was shot. 
I can tell you, sir, there was a panic 

When we found our President was in the shape he was in! 
Never saw a soldier in the world but what liked him. 

"Yes, sir. His looks was kind o' hard to forget. 
He was a spare man; 
An old farmer. 

Everything was all right, you know, 
But he wasn't a smooth-appearin' man at all 
Not in no ways; 
Thin-faced, long-necked, 
And a swellin' kind of a thick lip like. 

"And he was a jolly old fellow always cheerful; 
He wasn't so high but the boys could talk to him their own ways. 
While I was servin' at the Hospital 
He'd come in and say, 'You look nice in here/ 
Praise us up, you know. 
And he'd bend over and talk to the boys 
And he'd talk so good to 'em so close 
That's why I call him a farmer. 

I don't mean that everything about him wasn't all right, you understand, 
It's just well, I was a farmer 
And he was my neighbor, anybody's neighbor. 
I guess even you young folks would 'a* liked him." 



296 WITTER BYNNER 

TRAIN-MATES 

Outside hove Shasta, snowy height on height, 
A glory; but a negligible sight, 
For you had often seen a mountain-peak 
But not my paper. So we came to speak . . . 
A smoke, a smile, a good way to commence 
The comfortable exchange of difference! 
You a young engineer, five feet eleven, 
Forty-five chest, with football in your heaven, 
Liking a road-bed newly built and clean, 
Your fingers hot to cut away the green 
Of brush and flowers that bring beside a track 
The kind of beauty steel lines ought to lack, 
And I a poet, wistful of my betters, 
Reading George Meredith's high-hearted letters, 
Joining betwecnwhiles in the mingled speech 
Of a drummer, circus-man, and parson, each 
Absorbing to himself as I to me 
And you to you a glad identity! 

After a time, when others went away, 
A curious kinship made us choose to stay, 
Which I could tell you now; but at the time 
You thought of baseball teams and I of rhyme, 
Until we found that we were college men 
And smoked more easily and smiled again; 
And I from Cambridge cried, the poet still: 
"I know your fine Greek theater on the hill 
At Berkeley'" With your happy Grecian head 
Upraised, "I never saw the place," you said 
"Once I was free of class, I always went 
Out to the field." 



Young engineer, you meant 
As fair a tribute to the better part 
As ever I did. Beauty of the heart 
Is evident in temples. But it breathes 
Alive where athletes quicken curly wreaths, 
Which are the lovelier because they die. 
You are a poet quite as much as I, 
Though differences appear in what we do, 
And I an athlete quite as much as you. 
Because you half-surmise my quarter-mile 
And I your quatrain, we could greet and smile. 
Who knows but we shall look again and find 
The circus-man and drummer, not behind 
But leading in our visible estate 
As discus-thrower and as laureate? 



WITTER BYNNER 



297 



THE SINGING HUNTSMAN 

The huntswoman-moon was my mother, 
And the song-man, Apollo, my sire; 
And I know either trick like the other, 
The trick of the bow and the lyre. 

And when beauty darts by me or lingers, 
When it opens or folds its wing, 
On bow and on lyre are my fingers, 
And I shoot, and I sing. 



AGAINST THE COLD 

Autumn is only winter in disguise, 
A summer-skeleton in scarlet cover. 



Now is no spring nor summer in the skies 
Nor early song of nightingale or plover. 
Bones are the fingers now that touch the 

grass 

And turn the edge of timothy and clover; 
Bones are the feet that on the highway pass 
And tread the weeds and turn the gravel 

over. 
Bear backward, then, within the warming 

walls 

Of stone or wood or clay, no more a rover 
Beside the meadowlands and waterfalls 
But an abashed and reverential lover 
And build of better stuff than spring, the 

old 
Unceasing fortitude against the cold. 



James Oppenhelm 



JAMES OPPENHEIM was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, May 24, 1882. Two years later 
his family moved to New York City, where he lived most of his life. After a 
public school education, he took special courses at Columbia University (1901-3) and 
engaged in settlement work, acting in the capacity of assistant head worker of the 
Hudson Guild Settlement, and superintendent of the Hebrew Technical School for 
Girls (1904-7). His studies and experiences on the lower East Side of New York 
furnished material for his first book of short stories, Doctor Rast (1909). 

Oppenheim's initial venture as a poet, Monday Morning and Other Poems (1909), 
was imitative and experimental. In spite of its obvious indebtedness to Whitman, 
most of the verses are in formal meters and regular (though ragged) rhyme. Beauty 
is sought, but seldom captured here; the message is coughed out between bursts of 
eloquence and fits of stammering. 

Songs for the New Age (1914) made Oppenheim his own liberator. The speech, 
echoing the Whitmanic sonority, develops a music that is strangely Biblical and yet 
native. It is the expression of an ancient people reacting to modernity, of a race in 
solution. This volume, like all of Oppcnhcim's subsequent work, is analysis in terms 
of poetry; a slow searching beneath the musical surface attempts to diagnose the 
tortured soul of man and the twisted times he lives in. The old Isaiah note, with 
a new introspection, rises out of such poems as "The Slave," "We Dead," "Tasting 
the Earth"; the music and imagery of the Psalms are heard in "The Flocks," and 
"The Runner in the Skies." 

War and Laughter (1916) holds much of its predecessor's fervor. The Semitic 
blend of delight and disillusion that quality which hates the world for its hypocri- 
sies and loves it in spite of them is revealed in "Greed," in the ironic "Report on 
the Planet Earth" and the affirmative "Laughter." 

The Boof( of Self (1917) is an imperfect fusion Oppenheim's preoccupation with 



29 8 JAMES OPPENHEIM 

analytical psychology mars the effect of the long passages which contain flashes of 
clairvoyance. Most of it reads like Leaves of Grass translated by Freud. The Solitary 
(1919) is a stride forward; its major section, a long symbolic poem called "The Sea," 
breathes the same note that was the burden of the earlier books: "We are flesh on 
the way to godhood." 

The Mystic Warrior (1921) is an autobiography in free verse. It is a chronicle of 
inhibition, the effort of an artist to find himself and freedom in a rigid, mechanistic 
environment. Oppenheim's studies and practice in psychoanalysis are, again, some- 
what too evident in this volume; the chief figure emerges as a weak and groping 
stumbler towards immensities, a figure lost between self-contempt and over-reaching 
egotism. Golden Bitd (1923) is a return to Oppenheim's less personal mysticism. It 
suffers from loquacity and a curious "yearning back," but some of the poems (such 
as "Hebrews") rise from a rather cloying catalog of perished beauty. 

The Sea, Oppenheim's most comprehensive volume, was published in 1923. It 
includes the best of all his previous books of poetry with the addition of several 
"connecting" verses. 

Besides his poetry, Oppenheim has published several volumes of short stories, five 
novels, and two poetic plays. During 1916-17 he was editor of that provoking but 
short-lived magazine, The Seven Arts. Later he tried hack-work; he prepared a 
"popular" handbook on psychoanalysis and another, American Types (1931), of a 
similar nature. He died, after a severe illness, August 4, 1932. 



THE SLAVE 

They set the slave free, striking off his chains 
Then he was as much of a slave as ever. 

He was still chained to servility, 

He was still manacled to indolence and sloth, 

He was still bound by fear and superstition, 

By ignorance, suspicion, and savagery . . . 

His slavery was not in the chains, 

But m himself. . . . 

They can only set free men free . . . 
And there is no need of that: 
Free men set themselves free. 



THE RUNNER IN THE SKIES 

Who is the runner in the skies, 

With her blowing scarf of stars, 

And our Earth and sun hovering like bees about her blossoming heart? 

Her feet are on the winds, where space is deep, 

Her eyes are nebulous and veiled; 

She hurries through the night to a far lover . . . 



JAMES OPPENHEIM 299 

THE LINCOLN CHILD 

Clearing in the forest, 
In the wild Kentucky forest, 
And the stars, wintry stars strewn above! 
O Night that is the starriest 
Since Earth began to roll 
For a Soul 
Is born out of Love! 

Mother love, father love, love of Eternal God 
Stars have pushed aside to let him through 
Through heaven's sun-sown deeps 
One sparkling ray of God 
Strikes the clod 

(And while an angel-host through wood and clearing sweeps!) 
Born in the wild 
The Child- 
Naked, ruddy, new, 
Wakes with the piteous human cry and at the mother-heart sleeps,. 

To the mother wild berries and honey, 

To the father awe without end, 

To the child a swaddling of flannel 

And a dawn rolls sharp and sunny 

And the skies of winter bend 

To see the first sweet word penned 

In the godhest human annal. 

Frail Mother of the Wilderness, 
How strange the world shines in 
And the cabin becomes chapel 
And the baby lies secure 
Sweet Mother of the Wilderness, 
New worlds for you begin, 
You have tasted of the apple 
That giveth wisdom sure. . . . 

Soon in the wide wilderness, 

On a branch blown over a creek, 

Up a trail of the wild coon, 

In a lair of the wild bee, 

The rugged boy, by danger's stress, 

Learnt the speech the wild things speak, 

Learnt the Earth's eternal tune 

Of strife-engendered harmony 

Went to school where Life itself was master, 

Went to church where Earth was minister 

And in Danger and Disaster 

Felt his future manhood stir! 



3 oo JAMES OPPENHEIM 

All about him the land, 

Eastern cities, Western prairie, 

Wild, immeasurable, grand; 

But he was lost where blossomy boughs make airy 

Bowers in the forest, and the sand 

Makes brook-water a clear mirror that gives back 

Green branches and trunks black 

And clouds across the heavens lightly fanned. 

Yet all the Future dreams, eager to waken, 

Within that woodland soul 

And the bough of boy has only to be shaken 

That the fruit drop whereby this Earth shall roll 

A little nearer God than ever before. 

Little recks he of war, 

Of national millions waiting on his word 

Dreams still the Event unstirred 

In the heart of the boy, the little babe of the wild - 

But the years hurry and the tide of the sea 

Of Time Hows fast and ebbs, and he, even he, 

Must leave the wilderness, the wood-haunts wild. 

Soon shall the cyclone of Humanity 

Tearing through Earth suck up this little child 

And whirl him to the top, where he shall be 

Riding the storm-column in the lightning-stroke, 

Calm at the peak, while down below worlds rage, 

And Earth goes out in blood and battle-smoke, 

And leaves him with the Sun an epoch and an age! 

And lo, as he grew ugly, gaunt, 
And gnarled his way into a man, 
What wisdom came to feed his want, 
What worlds came near to let him scan* 
And as he fathomed through and through 
Our dark and sorry human scheme, 
He knew what Shakespeare never knew, 
What Dante never dared to dream 
That Men are one 
Beneath the sun, 

And before God are equal souls 
This truth was his, 
And this it is 

That round him such a glory rolls 
For not alone he knew it as a truth, 
lie made it of his blood, and of his brain 
He crowned it on the day when piteous Booth 
Sent a whole land to weeping with world pain- 
When a black cloud blotted the sun 
And men stopped in the streets to sob, 
To think Old Abe was dead. 
Dead, and the day's work still undone, 
Dead, and war's ruining heart athrob, 



JAMES OPPENHE1M 301 

And earth with fields of carnage freshly spread 

Millions died fighting, 

But in this man we mourned 

Those millions, and one other 

And the States today uniting, 

North and South, 

East and West, 

Speak with a people's mouth 

A rhapsody of rest 

To him our beloved best, 

Our big, gaunt, homely brother 

Our huge Atlantic coast-storm in a shawl, 

Our cyclone in a smile our President, 

Who knew and loved us all 

With love more eloquent 

Than his own words with Love that in real deeds was spent. . . c 

O living God, O Thou who living art, 

And real, and near, draw, as at that babe's birth, 

Into our souls and sanctify our Earth 

Let down Thy strength that we endure 

Mighty and pure 

As mothers and fathers of our own Lincoln-child 

Make us more wise, more true, more strong, more mild, 

That we may day by day 

Rear this wild blossom through its soft petals of clay; 

That hour by hour 

We may endow it with more human power 

Than is our own 

That it may reach the goal 

Our Lincoln long has shown! 

O Child, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, 

Soul torn from out our Soul! 

May you be great, and pure, and beautiful 

A Soul to search this world 

To be a father, brother, comrade, son, 

A toiler powerful; 

A man whose. toil is done 

One with God's Law above: 

Work wrought through Love! 



NIGHT NOTE 

A little moon was restless in Eternity 

And, shivering beneath the stars, 

Dropped in the hiding arms of the western hill. 

Night's discord ceased: 

The visible universe moved in an endless rhythm: 

The wheel of the heavens turned to the pulse of a cricket in the grass. 



J02 JAMES OPPENHEIM 

TASTING THE EARTH 

In a dark hour, tasting the Earth. 

As I lay on my couch in the muffled night, and the rain lashed my window, 

And my forsaken heart would give me no rest, no pause and no peace, 

Though I turned my face far from the wailing of my bereavement. . . . 

Then I said: I will eat of this sorrow to its last shred, 

I will take it unto me utterly, 

I will see if I be not strong enough to contain it. ... 

What do I fear? Discomfort? 

How can it hurt me, this bitterness" 5 

The miracle, then! 

Turning toward it, and giving up to it, 

I found it deeper than my own self. . . . 

O dark great mother-globe so close beneath me . . . 

It was she with her inexhaustible grief, 

Ages of blood-drenched jungles, and the smoking of craters, and the roar of 
tempests, 

And moan of the forsaken seas, 

It was she with the hills beginning to walk in the shapes of the dark-hearted 
animals, 

It was she risen, dashing away tears and praying to dumb skies, in the pomp- 
crumbling tragedy of man . . . 

It was she, container of all griefs, and the buried dust of broken hearts, 

Cry of the chnsts and the lovers and the child-stripped mothers, 

And ambition gone down to defeat, and the battle overborne, 

And the dreams that have no waking. . . . 

My heart became her ancient heart: 

On the food of the strong I fed, on dark strange life itself* 

Wisdom-giving and somber with the unremitting love of ages. . . . 

There was dank soil m my mouth, 

And bitter sea on my lips, 

In a dark hour, tasting the Earth. 



HEBREWS 

I come of a mighty race ... I come of a very mighty race . . . 

Adam was a mighty man, and Noah a captain of the moving waters, 

Moses was a stern and splendid king, yea, so was Moses . . . 

Give me more songs like David's to shake my throat to the pit of the belly, 

And let me roll in the Isaiah thunder . . . 

Ho! the mightiest of our young men was born under a star in midwinter . . c 

His name is written on the sun and it is frosted on the moon . . . 

Earth breathes him like an eternal spring; he is a second sky over the Earth. 

Mighty race! mighty race! my flesh,, my flesh 

Is a cup of song, 

Is a well in Asia . . . 



JAMES OPPENHEIM 303 

I go about with a dark heart where the Ages sit in a divine thunder . . . 

My blood is cymbal-clashed and the anklets of the dancers tinkle there . . . 

Harp and psaltery, harp and psaltery make drunk my spirit . . . 

I am of the terrible people, I am of the strange Hebrews . . . 

Amongst the swarms fixed like the rooted stars, my folk is a streaming Comet, 

The Wanderer of Eternity, the eternal Wandering Jew . . . 

Ho! we have turned against the mightiest of our young men 

And in that denial we have taken on the Christ, 

And the two thieves beside the Christ, 

And the Magdalen at the feet of the Christ, 

And the Judas with thirty silver pieces selling the Christ, 

And our twenty centuries in Europe have the shape of a Cross 

On which we have hung in disaster and glory . . . 

Mighty race! mighty race! my flesh, my flesh 
Is a cup of song, 
Is a well in Asia. 



Lola Ridge 

L)LA RIDGE was born in Dublin, Ireland, leaving there in infancy and spending her 
childhood in Sydney, Australia. After living some years in New Zealand, she re- 
turned to Australia to study art. In 1907, she came to the United States, and sup- 
ported herself for three years by writing fiction for popular magazines. She stopped 
this work only, as she says, "because I found I would have to do so if I wished to 
survive as an artist." For several years she earned her living in a variety of ways 
as organizer for an educational movement, as advertisement writer, as illustrator, 
artist's model, factory-worker. In 1918, The New Republic published her long poem, 
"The Ghetto," and Miss Ridge, until then totally unknown, became the "discovery" 
of the year. She died m Brooklyn on May 19, 1941. 

Her volume, The Ghetto and Other Poems (1918), contains one poem that is 
brilliant, several that are powerful, and none that is mediocre. The title-poem is its 
pinnacle; it is a poem of the city, of its sodden brutalities, its sudden beauties. Swift 
figures shine from these lines, like barbaric colors leaping out of darkness; images 
are surprising but never strained; confusion is given clarity. In the other poems 
especially in "The Song of Iron," "Faces" and the poignant portrait "Marie" the 
same dignity is maintained, though with somewhat less magic. 

Sun-Up (1920) and Red Flag (1924) are less integrated, more frankly experi- 
mental. But the same vibrancy and restrained power that distinguished her first book 
are manifest here. Her delineations are sensitive, her phrases vivid yet natural. In 
spite of an overuse of similes, she accomplishes the maximum in effect with a mini- 
mum of effort. 

Firehead (1929) is a narrative poem, the time and scene of which are the day of 
the Crucifixion. Making John, Peter and the two Marys interpret the significance of 
the event, Miss Ridge constructed a poem of dtrpih and urgent penetration. If 



304 LOLA RIDGE 

anything, the effort is too grandiose; the reader loses sight of the central figure in a 
bright cloud of metaphors. Phrases rise, not from the core of the tragedy, but from 
the prodded literary mind; the Passion is lost in a panorama. And yet there is a 
finality in Fnehcad beyond the finality of phrase. Passages move in and out of the 
large design taking possession of the imagination, passages that are music visualized 
and "time made audible " 

In Dance of Fuc (1935) her gift of unusual but accurate image, her undcviating 
integrity, and her passion tor social justice are fused and concentrated in the clean fire 
which she celebrates. Miss Ridge was a revolutionary in a technical as well as a spir- 
itual sense; yet it is a curious thing that, whereas her first published work was 
wholly in free verse, Dance of Fttc is cast almost entirely in regular patterns, the 
peak of the volume being the three-part section "Via Ignis, 1 ' a series of twenty- 
eight sonnets. These sonnets reveal a discipline which makes them worthy to stand 
with the best sonnet cycles produced in this period. 

PASSAGES FROM " T II E GHETTO" 

Old Sodos no longer makes saddles. 

He has forgotten how , f . . 

Time spins like a crazy dial m his brain, 

And night by night 

I see the love-gesture of his arm 

In its green-greasy coat-sleeve 

Circling the Book, 

And the candles gleaming starkly 

On the blotchccl-paper whiteness of his face, 

Like a miswntten psalm . . . 

Night by night 

I hear his lifted praise, 

Like a broken whinnying 

Before the Lord's shut gate. 

+ 

Lights go out 

And the stark trunks of the factories 
Melt into the drawn darkness, 
Sheathing like a seamless garment. 

And mothers take home their babies, 

Waxen and delicately curled, 

Like little potted flowers closed under the stars. . . e 

Lights go out . . . 

And colors rush together, 

Fusing and floating away. 

Pale worn gold like the settings of old jewels . . . 

Mauve, exquisite, tremulous, and luminous purples, 

And burning spires in aureoles of light 

Like shimmering auras. 

They are covering up the pushcarts . . . 



LOLA RIDGE 305 

Now all have gone save an old man witfi mirrors 

Little oval mirrors like tiny pools. 

He shuffles up a darkened street 

And the moon burnishes his mirrors till they shine like phosphorus. . . , 

The moon like a skull, 

Staring out of eyeless sockets at the old men trundling home the pushcarts. 



A sallow dawn is in the sky 

As I enter my little green room. 

Without, the frail moon, 

Worn to a silvery tissue, 

Throws a faint glamor on the roofs, 

And down the shadowy spires 

Lights tip-toe out . . . 

Softly as when lovers close street doors. 

Out of the Battery 

A little wind 

Stirs idly as an arm 

Trails over a boat's side in dalliance 

Rippling the smooth dead surface of the heat, 

And Hester Street, 

Like a forlorn woman over-borne 

By many babies at her teats, 

Turns on her trampled bed to meet the day. 



FACES 

A late snow beats 

With cold white fists upon the tenements 

Hurriedly drawing blinds and shutters, 

Like tall old slatterns 

Pulling aprons about their heads. 

Lights slanting out of Mott Street 

Gibber out, 

Or dribble through bar-room slits, 

Anonymous shapes 

Conniving behind shuttered panes 

Caper and disappear . . . 

Where the Bowery 

Is throbbing like a fistula 

Back of her ice-scabbed fronts. 

Livid faces 

Glimmer in furtive doorways, 

Or spill out of the black pockets of alleys, 

Smears of faces like muddied beads, 

Making a ghastly rosary 

The night mumbles over 



And the snow with its devilish and silken 

whisper . . . 
Patrolling arcs 

Blowing shrill blasts over the Bread Line 
Stalk them as they pass, 
Silent as though accouched of the darkness, 
And the wind noses among them, 

Like a skunk 
That roots about the heart . . . 

Colder: 

And the Elevated slams upon the silence 

Like a ponderous door. 

Then all is still again, 

Save for the wind fumbling over 

The emptily swaying faces 

The wind rummaging 

Like an old Jew . . . 

Faces in glimmering rows . . . 
(No sign of the abject life 
Not even a blasphemy . . .) 
But the spindle legs keep time 
To a limping rhythm, 



LOLA RIDGE 



And the shadows twitch upon the snow 

Convulsively 
As though death played 
With some ungainly dolls. 



NEW ORLEANS 

Do you remember 

Honey-melon moon 

Dripping thick sweet light 

Where Canal Street saunters off by herself 

among quiet trees ? 
And the faint decayed patchouli 
Fragrance of New Orleans . . . 
New Orleans, 
Like a dead tube rose 
Upheld in the warm air ... 
Miraculously whole. 



WIND IN THE ALLEYS 

Wind, rising in the alleys, 

My spirit lifts in you like a banner 

streaming free of hot walls. 
You are full of unshaped dreams . . . 
You are laden with beginnings . . . 
There is hope in you ... not sweet . 

acrid as blood in the mouth. 
Come into my tossing dust 
Scattering the peace of old deaths, 
Wind rising out of the alleys 
Carrying stuff of flame. 

MARIE 

Marie's face is a weathered sign 

To the palace of gliding cars 

Over the bend where the trolley dips: 

A dime for a wired rose, 

Nickel-a-nde to the zig-zag stars, 

And then men in elegant clothes, 



That feed you on cardboard ships, 
And the sea-floats so fine' 
Like a green and gorgeous bubble 
God blew out of his lips. 

When Marie carries down the stair 

The ritual of her face, 

Your greeting takes her unaware, 

And her glance is timid-bold 

As a dcg's unsure of its place. 

With that hair, of the rubbed-off gold 

Of a wedding-ring worn to a thread, 

In a halo about the head, 

And those luminous eyes in their rims of 

paint, 
She looks a bedizened saint. 

But when the worn moon, like a face still 

beautiful, 

Wavers above the Battery, 
And light comes in, mauve-gray, 
Squeezing through shutters of furnished 

rooms 

Till only corners hold spots of darkness 
As a tablecloth its purple stains 
When a festival is ended 
Then Mane creeps into the house. 

The paint is lonesome on her cheek. 

The paint is gone from off her mouth 

That curls back loosely away from her teeth, 

She pushes slackly at the dawn 

That crawls upon the yellow blind, 

And enters like an aimless moth 

Whose dim wings hover and alight 

Upon the blurred face of the clock, 

Or on the pallor of her feet 

Or anything that's white. 

Until dispersed upon the sheet, 

All limp, her waxen body lies 

In its delinquent grace, 

Like a warm bent candle 

That flares about its place. 



APRIL OF OUR DESIRE 

Is not this April of our brief desire 

That stirs the robins to a twittering 

But waste vibration of some vaster spring 

Which moves the void to utterance. This fire 

Once babbled on our hills (that have forgot 

Their fiery accents) when the earth was cleft 



LOLA RIDGE 3 o 7 

And flooding in her canyons, raging hot, 
Ere this intricate, fair design was lett. 

Long, long before strange creatures overhead 

Cast wheeling shadows on the desert, wings 

Flamed from out the mountains, radiant things, 

That stood erect upon each bla/ing nm 

Of horned horizons, shone like seraphim 

And shook the earth with their enormous tread. 



William Carlos Williams 

CARLOS WILLIAMS was born September 17, 1883, in Rutherford, New 
Jersey, where he has lived and practiced medicine ever since. His father, Wil- 
liam George Williams, was born in Birmingham, England; his father's mother's 
name was, curiously enough, Emily Dickinson. His mother, Raquel Ellen Rose 
Hoheb, was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Her mother, a Basque named Mehnc 
Hurrard, was born in Martinique; her father, Solomon Hoheb, of Dutch-Spanish- 
Jewish descent, was born in St. Thomas. This liberal mixture o( bloods made Wil- 
liams a complete melting-pot in himself; there arc those who claim that the mingled 
strains fused logically into some of the most definitely American writing of the 
period. 

Williams was educated at Horace Mann High School, New York, at Chateau de 
Lancy, near Geneva, Switzerland, and at the University of Pennsylvania, from 
which he graduated in medicine in 1906. There followed two years of intcrneship 
in New York and a year of graduate study in pediatrics in Leipzig. In his twenty- 
third year he published the traditionally imitative first volume, Poems (1909), which 
was followed by The Tempers (1913), published in London and bearing the influ- 
ence of Pound and his fellow-imagists. Al Quc Quicie (1917) strikes a more deci- 
sive experimental note; from the mocking directions for a funeral which Williams 
has entitled "Tract" to the extended suite called "January Morning" Williams 
achieves a purposeful distortion which intensifies his objects in sharp detail. Kora in 
Hell (1921) and Sour Grapes (1922) pay increasing attention to the "pure" value 
of physical things. Spring and All (1923) was followed by The Descent of Winter 
in which Williams alternated between exact description and an attempt to record 
the wavering outlines of the unconscious. At one moment Williams declared he was 
"sick of rime," but, almost immediately after, he concluded: "And we thought to 
escape rime / by imitation of the senseless / unarrangement of wild things the 
stupidest rime of all." Those who have been quick to accuse Williams of disorgan- 
ization have not examined the strong color and delicate movement of such poems as 
"Metric Figure," "Dawn," "Queen-Ann's-Lacc," "Daisy," and the remarkable 
"Poem" beginning "By the road to the contagious hospital." 

When the first Collected Poems appeared in 1934 Wallace Stevens wrote in the 
Preface: "The man has spent his life in rejecting the accepted sense of things. His 
passion for the anti-poetic is a blood passion and not a passion for the ink-pot. Some- 
thing of the unreal is necessary to fecundate the real; something of the sentimental 



jo8 WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 

is necessary to fecundate the anti-poetic. . . . One might run through these pages 
and point out how often the essential poetry is the result of the conjunction of the 
unreal and the real, the sentimental and the anti-poetic, the constant interaction of 
two opposites." A few years later, in "A Note on Poetry/' Williams replied to those 
who had attacked his poems for being bare in outline and violent in idiom. "The 
American writer, 1 * Williams began, "uses a language . . . which has been modi- 
fied by time and the accidents of place to acquire a character differing greatly from 
that of present-day English. For the appreciation of American poetry it is necessary 
that the reader accept this language difference from the beginning " 

The Complete Collected Poems 1906-1938 reveals with what increasing strength 
Williams has developed in the idiom of the United States. Although his lines rarely 
descend to slang, they arc full ot the conversational speech of the country; they 
express the brusque nervous tension, the vigor and rhetoric of American life. Even 
when they are purposely unadorned and non-melodic they intensify some common 
object with pointed detail ami confident, if clipped, emotion. "Emotion," says Wil- 
liams, "clusters about common things, the pathetic often stimulates the imagination 
to new patterns but the job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own 
language, the only language which is to him authentic. In my own work it has 
always sufficed that the object of my attention be presented without further com- 
ment." Actually Williams' gamut is much greater than he implies. With character- 
istic growth he freed himself from Pound and the pretty escapism of the Imagisls; 
some of the richest and most mdividualr/cd free verse of the period can be found 
in "Flowers by the Sea," "The Poor," "The Yachts," and "These." Again and again 
Williams proves that everything in the world is the poet's material, and that the most 
tawdry objects have their use and beauty "if the imagination can lighten them." 

The scope and quality of his work justify Williams' theory. His poems have 
grown simpler and more austere; his compositions are stricter in form, the colors 
are flat but fresh. This is evident even in the thirty-page pamphlet, The Btot^en 
Span (1941), which ranges from the early objective poetry of sheer sensation to a 
deep concern with the ordinary aspects of everyday life. His later work shows an 
observation especially sharp but rarely malicious, and a sympathy which is wide 
but never maudlin. More and more rigorously it tends to cut away all excessive 
decoration and place the stress upon the object itself. This later poetry, even when 
it remains a poetry of non-intellectual feeling, achieves a technique matching the 
wide-ranging curiosity. The fusion of content and design is so simple and, at the 
same time, so subtle that it often conceals the poet's mastery of his material. 

Various prose works, notably the essays In the Amencan Gtain (1925), and the 
novels A Voyage to Pagany (1928), White Mule (1937), and In the Money (1940) 
mingle history and reappraisal, reportonal accuracy and creative imagination. 

METRIC FIGURE Day is on his wings. 

^, , , i Phoenix! 

There is a bird in the poplars Ti . , , , . 

T . . * * It is he that is making 

It is the sun The leam am thc j 

1 he leaves are little yellow fish Jt is s ^ * p p 

Swimming in the river; Outshines the noise 

The bird skims above them Of leaves clashing in the wind. 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



39 



DAWN 

Ecstatic bird songs pound 

the hollow vastness of the sky 

with metallic clinkings 

beating color up into it 

at a far edge, beating it, beating it 

with rising, triumphant ardor, 

stirring it into warmth, 

quickening in it a spreading change, 

bursting wildly against it as 

dividing the horizon, a heavy sun 

lifts himself: is lifted 

bit by bit above the edge 

of things, runs free at last 

out into the open ' lumbering 

glorified in full release upward 

songs cease. 



POEM 

By the road to the contagious hospital, 

under the surge of the blue 

mottled clouds driven from the 

northeast cold wind. Beyond, the 

waste of broad, muddy fields, 

brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen, 

patches of standing water, 
the scattering of tall trees. 

All along the road the reddish, 
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy 
stuff of brushes and small trees 



with dead, brown leaves under them 
leafless vines 

Lifeless m appearance, sluggish, 
dazed spring approaches 

They enter the new world naked, 
cold, uncertain of all 
save that they enter. All about them 
the cold, familiar wind 

Now the grass, tomorrow 

the stifT curl of wild-carrot leaf. 

One by one objects are defined 
It quickens* clarity, outline of leaf, 

But now the stark dignity of 
entrance Still, the profound change 
has come upon them; rooted, they 
grip down and begin to awaken. 



JANUARY 

Again I reply to the triple winds 
running chiomatic fifths of derision 
outside my window: 

Play louder. 

You will not succeed. 1 am 
bound more to my sentences 
the more you batter at me 
to follow you. 

And the wind, 
as before, fingers perfectly 
its derisive music. 



QUEEN-ANN S-LACE 

Her body is not so white as 

anemone petals nor so smooth nor 

so remote a thing. It is a field 

of the wild carrot taking 

the field by force; the grass 

does not raise above it. 

Here is no question of whiteness, 

white as can be, with a purple mole 

at the center of each flower. 

Each flower is a hand's span 

of her whiteness. Wherever 

his hand has lain there is 

a tiny purple blemish. Each part 



J/0 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



is a blossom under his touch 

to which the fibers of her being 

stem one by one, each to its end, 

until the whole field is a 

white desire, empty, a single stem, 

a cluster, flower by flower, 

a pious wish to whiteness gone over 

or nothing. 



DAISY 

The dayseye hugging the earth 

in August, ha' Spring is 

gone down in purple, 

weeds stand high in the corn, 

the rambeatcn furrow 

is clotted with sorrel 

and crabgrass, the 

branch is black under 

the heavy mass of the leaves 

The sun is upon a 

slender green stem 

ribbed lengthwise. 

He lies on his back 

it is a woman also 

he regards his former 

majesty and 

round the yellow center, 

split and creviced and done into 

minute flowerheads, he sends out 

his twenty rays a little 

and the wind is among them 

to grow cool there' 

One turns the thing over 

in his hand and looks 

at it from the rear: browned ged, 

green and pointed scales 

armor his yellow. 

But turn and turn, 

the crisp petals remain 

brief, translucent, green fastened, 



barely touching at the edges: 
blades of limpid seashell. 



ON GAY WALLPAPER 

The green-blue ground 
is ruled with silver lines 
to say the sun is shining 

And on this mural sea 

of grass or dreams lie flowers 

or baskets of desires 

Heaven knows what they are 
between cerulean shapes 
laid regularly round 

Mat roses and tridentate 

leaves of gold 

threes, threes and threes 

Three roses and three stems 

the basket floating 

standing in the horns of blue 

Repeated to the ceiling 
to the windows 
where the day 

Blows in 

the scalloped curtains to 

the sound of ram. 



TRACT 

I will teach you my townspeople 

how to perform a funeral 

for you have it over a troop 

of artists 

unless one should scour the world 

you have the ground sense necessary. 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



See' the hearse leads. 

I begin with a design for a hearse. 

For Christ's sake not black 

nor white either and not polished! 

Let it be weathered like a farm wagon 

with gilt wheels (this could be 

applied fresh at small expense) 

or no wheels at all: 

a rough dray to drag over the ground. 

Knock the glass out! 

My God glass, my townspeople! 

For what purpose ? Is it for the dead 

to look out or for us to see 

how well he is housed or to see 

the flowers or the lack of them 

or what? 

To keep the ram and snow from him? 

He will have a heavier ram soon: 

pebbles and dirt and what not. 

Let there be no glass 

and no upholstery! phew! 

and no little brass rollers 

and small easy wheels on the bottom 

my townspeople what are you thinking of 

A rough plain hearse then 
with gilt wheels and no top at all. 
On this the coffin lies 
by its own weight. 

No wreaths please 
especially no hot-house flowers. 
Some common memento is better, 
something he prized and is known by: 
his old clothes a few books perhaps 
God knows what! You realize 
how we are about these things, 
my townspeople 

something will be found anything 
even flowers if he had come to that. 
So much for the hearse. 

For heaven's sake though see to the driver! 

Take off the silk hat' In fact 

that's no place at all for him 

up there unceremoniously 

dragging our friend out to his own dignity! 

Bring him down bring him down' 

Low and inconspicuous! I'd not have him ride 

on the wagon at all damn him 



312 WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 

the undertaker's understrapper I 
Let him hold the reins 
and walk at the side 
and inconspicuously too! 

Then briefly as to yourselves: 

Walk behind as they do in France, 

seventh class, or if you ride 

Hell take curtains 1 Go with some show 

of inconvenience; sit openly 

to the weather as to grief. 

Or do you think you can shut grief in? 

What from us? We who have peihaps 

nothing to lose? Share with us 

share with us it will be money 

in your pockets. 

Go now 
I think you are ready. 



SMELL 

Oh strong ridged and deeply hollowed 

nose of mine' what will you not be smelling? 

What tactless asses we are, you and I, boney nose, 

always indiscriminate, always unashamed, 

and now it is the souring ilowers of the bedraggled 

poplars: a festering pulp on the wet earth 

beneath them. With what deep thirst 

we quicken our desires 

to that rank odor of a passing springtime' 

Can you not be decent? Can you not reserve your ardors 

for something less unlovely? What girl will care 

for us, do you think, if we continue in these ways? 

Must you taste everything? Must you know everything? 

Must you have a part in everything? 

A GOODNIGHT 

Go to sleep though of course you will not 
to tidelcss waves thundering slantwise against 
strong embankments, rattle and swish of spray 
dashed thirty feet high, caught by the lake wind, 
scattered and strewn broadcast in over the steady 
car rails' Sleep, sleep' Gulls' cries in a wind-gust 
broken by the wind; calculating wings set above 
the field of waves breaking. 
Go to sleep to the lunge between foam-crests, 
refuse churned in the recoil. Food' Food'- 
Offal' Offal! that holds them in the air, wave-white 
for the one purpose, feather upon feather, the wild 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 

chill in their eyes, the hoarseness in their voices 
sleep, sleep . . . 

Gentlcfooted crowds are treading out your lullaby. 
Their arms nudge, they brush shoulders,- 
hitch this way, then that, mass and surge at the crossings 
lullaby, lullaby 1 The wild-iowl police whistles, 
the enraged roar of the traffic, machine shrieks: 
> it is all to put you to sleep, 
to soften your limbs in relaxed postures, 
and that your head slip sidcwisc, and your hair loosen 
and fall over your eyes and over your mouth, 
brushing your lips wistfully that you may dream, 
sleep and dream 

A black fungus springs out about lonely church doors 

sleep, sleep. The Night, coming down upon 

the wet boulevard, would start you awake with his 

message, to have in at your window. Pay no 

heed to him. Pie storms at your sill with 

rooings, with gesticulations, curses' 

You will not let him in lie would keep you from sleeping. 

He would have you sit under your desk lamp 

brooding, pondering; he would have you 

slide out the drawer, take up the ornamented dagger 

and handle it. It is late, it is nmctcen-mnctcen 

go to sleep, his cries are a lullaby; 

his jabbering is a sleep-well-my-baby; he is 

a crackbramcd messenger. 

The maid waking you in the morning 

when you are up and dressing, 

the rustle of your clothes as you raise them 

it is the same tune. 

At table the cold, greenish, split grapefruit, its juice 

on the tongue, the clink of the spoon in 

your coffee, the toast odors say it over and over. 

The open street-door lets in the breath of 

the morning wind from over the lake. 

The bus coming to a halt grinds from its sullen brakes 

lullaby, lullaby. The crackle of a newspaper, 

the movement of the troubled coat beside you 

sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep . . . 

It is the sting of snow, the burning liquor of 

the moonlight, the rush of rain in the gutters packed 

with dead leaves: go to sleep, go to sleep. 

And the night passes and never passes 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



THE RED WHEELBARROW 

so much depends 
upon 

a red wheel 
barrow 

glazed with rain 
water 

beside the white 
chickens 



FLOWERS BY THE SEA 

When over the flowery, sharp pasture's 
edge, unseen, the salt ocean 

lifts its form chicory and daisies 

tide, released, seem hardly flowers alone 

but color and the movement or the shape 
perhaps of restlessness, whereas 

the sea is circled and sways 
peacefully upon its planthkc stem 



THE POOR 

It's the anarchy of poverty 
delights me, the old 
yellow wooden house indented 
among the new brick tenements 

Or a cast iron balcony 

with panels showing oak branches 

in full leaf. It fits 

the dress of the children 

reflecting every stage and 
custom of necessity 
Chimneys, roofs, fences of 
wood and metal in an unfenced 

age and enclosing next to 
nothing at all: the old man 
in a sweater and soft black 
hat who sweeps the sidewalk 

his own ten feet of it 
in a wind that fitfully 
turning his corner has 
overwhelmed the entire city 



THESE 

are the desolate, dark weeks 
when nature in its barrenness 
equals the stupidity of man. 

The year plunges into night 
and the heart plunges 
lower than night 

to an empty, windswept place 

without sun, stars or moon 

but a peculiar light as of thought 

that spins a dark fire 
whirling upon itself until, 
in the cold, it kindles 

to make a man aware of nothing 
that he knows, not loneliness 
itself Not a ghost but 

would be embraced emptiness, 

despair (They 

whine and whistle) among 



WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS 



the flashes and 'booms of war; 

houses of whose rooms 

the cold is greater than can be thought, 

the people gone that we loved, 
the beds lying empty, the couches 
damp, the chairs unused 

Hide it away somewhere 

out of the mind, let it get roots 

and grow, unrelated to jealous 

ears and eyes for itself. 

In this mine they come to dig all. 

Is this the counterfoil to sweetest 

music? 1 The source of poetry that 
seeing the clock stopped, says, 
The clock has stopped 

that ticked yesterday so welP 
and hears the sound of lakewater 
splashing that is now stone. 



ILLEGITIMATE THINGS 

Water still flows 
The thrush still sings 

though in 

the skirts of the sky 

at the bottom of 
the distance 

huddle . . . 

. . . echoing cannon! 

Whose silence revives 
valley after 

valley to peace 

as poems still conserve 

the language 
of old ecstasies. 



Sara Teasdale 

SARA TEASDALE was born August 8, 1884, in St. Louis, Missouri, and educated there. 
After leaving school she traveled in Europe and the Near East. She was fasci- 
nated and frightened by the poet Vachel Lindsay who courted her with over- 
whelming exuberance. In 1914 she married Ernst Filsmger and, two years later, 
moved with him to New York. But she was essentially the solitary spirit pictured 
in her poem on page 318, and the marriage was not successful. After her divorce, 
she lived in seclusion, and ill health emphasized her unhappmess. She was found 
drowned in the bath of her New York apartment, January 28, 1933. 

Her first book was a slight volume, Sonnets to Duse (1907), which gave little 
promise of the lyricism to follow. Helen of Troy and Other Poems (1911) contains 
hints of that delicate craftsmanship which this poet brought to such finesse. The six 
opening monologues are written in a blank verse as musical as many of her lyrics. 
At times her quatrains suffer from too conscious a cleverness; the dexterity with 
which Miss Teasdale turns a phrase or twists her last line is frequently too ob- 
trusive to be unreservedly enjoyable. Moreover, they seem written in a mood of 
predetermined and too picturesque romance, the mood of languishing roses, silken 
balconies, moonlight on guitars, and abstract kisses for unreal Cohns. 

Rivers to the Sea (1915) emphasizes a new skill and a greater restraint. The vol- 
ume contains at least a dozen unforgettable snatches, lyrics in which the words 
seem to fall into place without art or effort. Seldom employing metaphor or striking 



j/6 SARA TEASDALE 

imagery, almost bare of ornament, these poems have the touch of folk-song. Theirs 
is an artlessness that is something more than art. 

Love Songs (1917) is a collection of Miss Teasdale's previous melodies for the 
viola d'amoi e together with several in which the turns are no longer obviously unex- 
pected. Maturity is evident in the poet's rejection of many of her facile stanzas and 
her choice of firmer material. 

Flame and Shadow (1920; revised edition, published in England, in 1924) is the 
ripest of her books. Here the emotion is fuller and deeper; an almost mystic radiance 
plays from these verses. Technically, also, this volume marks Miss Teasdale's great- 
est advance. The words are chosen with a keener sense of their actual as well as 
their musical values; the rhythms are more subtle and varied; the line moves with a 
greater naturalness. Beneath the symbolism of poems like "Water-Lilies," "The 
Long Hill," and "Let It Be Forgotten," one is conscious of a finer artistry, a more 
flexible speech that is all the lovelier for its slight (and logical) irregularities. 

After Flame and Shadow Miss Teasdale's theme became somewhat autumnal. 
Though never funereal, the songs are preoccupied with the coming of age, the gath- 
ering of night, the mutability of things. Dat^ of the Moon (1926) is more thought- 
ful than any other previous verse. It is, as the title indicates, even more somber. If 
the movement is slower it is a no less delicate music that moves under the surface 
rhythms. "Wisdom," "The Solitary," "The Flight" may not be the most popular 
poems that Miss Tcasdale has written, but they must be numbered among her best. 
Hers is a disillusion without cynicism; her proud acceptance of life's darker aspects 
adds new dignity to the old lyricism. 

Stiange Victoty (1933) is Sara Teasdale's posthumous memorial to a world she 
never quite despised yet never wholly trusted. The poems are sad yet not sentimental. 
Though death overshadows the book there is never the querulous cry of frustration 
nor the melodrama of dying. As in the later lyrics the lines are direct, the emotion 
unwhippcd; the beauty is in the restiamt, the careful selection, the compression into 
the essential spirit, into a last serenity. It is an irony that as her admirers grew less 
voluble her work increased in value. 

Besides her own books, Miss Teasdale had compiled an anthology, The Answering 
Voice (1917), comprising one hundred love lyrics by women, and a collection for 
children, Rainbow Gold (1922). 



NIGHT SONG AT AMALFI 

I asked the heaven of stars 
What I should give my love 

It answered me with silence, 
Silence above. 

I asked the darkened sea 

Down where the fishermen go 
It answered me with silence, 

Silence betew. 

Oh, I could give him weeping, 
Or I could give him song 



But how can I give silence 
My whole life long? 

SPRING NIGHT 

The park is filled with night and fog, 
The veils are drawn about the world, 

The drowsy lights along the paths 
Are dim and pearled. 

Gold and gleaming the empty streets, 
Gold and gleaming the misty lake, 

The mirrored lights like sunken swords, 
Glimmer and shake. 



SARA TEASDALE 3/7 

Oh, is it not enough to be Why have I put off my pride, 

Here with this beauty over me? Why am I unsatisfied, 

My throat should ache with praise, and I I, for whom the pensive night 

Should kneel in joy beneath the sky. Binds her cloudy hair with light, 

O beauty, are you not enough? I, for whom all beauty burns 

Why am I crying after love Like incense in a million urns? 

With youth, a singing voice, and eyes () beauty, are you not enough? 

To take earth's wonder with surprise? Why am I crying after love? 



I SHALL NOT CARE 

When I am dead and over me bright April 

Shakes out her rain-drenched hair, 
Though you should lean above me broken-hearted, 

I shall not care. 

I shall have peace, as leafy trees arc peaceful 

When rain bends down the bough; 
And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted 

Than you are now. 



THE LONG HILL 

I must have passed the crest a while ago 

And now I am going down 
Strange to have crossed the crest and not to know, 

But the brambles were always catching the hem of my gown. 

All the morning I thought how proud I should be 

To stand there straight as a queen, 
Wrapped in the wind and the sun with the world under me 

But the air was dull, there was little I could have seen, 

It was nearly level along the beaten track 

And the brambles caught in my gown 
But it's no use now to think of turning back, 

The rest of the way will be only going down. 



WATER-LILIES 

If you have forgotten waterdilies floating 

On a dark lake among mountains in the afternoon shade, 
If you have forgotten their wet, sleepy fragrance, 

Then you can return and not be afraid. 

But if you remember, then turn away forever 
To the plains and the prairies where pools are far apart, 

There you will not come at dusk on closing water-lilies, 
And the shadow of mountains will not fall on your heart. 



SARA TEASDALE 



LET IT BE FORGOTTEN 

Let it be forgotten, as a flower is forgotten, 
Forgotten as a fire that once was singing gold, 

Let it be forgotten for ever and ever, 

Time is a kind friend, he will make us old. 

If anyone asks, say it was forgotten 

Long and long ago, 
As a flower, as a fire, as a hushed footfall 

In a long-forgotten snow. 



WISDOM 

It was a night of early spring, 
The winter-sleep was scarcely broken; 

Around us shadows and the wind 
Listened for what was never spoken. 

Though half a score of years are gone, 
Spring comes as sharply now as then 

But if we had it all to do 

It would be done the same again. 

It was a spring that never came; 

But we have lived enough to know 
That what we never have, remains; 

It is the things we have that go. 

THE SOLITARY 

My heart has grown rich with the passing of years, 
I have less need now than when I was young 
To share myself with every comer, 
Or shape my thoughts into words with my tongue. 

It is one to me that they come or go 

If I have myself and the drive of my will, 

And strength to climb on a summer night 
And watch the stars swarm over the hill. 

Let them think I love them more than I do, 
Let them think I care, though I go alone, 

If it lifts their pride, what is it to me, 
Who am self -complete as a flower or a stone? 



THE CRYSTAL GAZER 

I shall gather myself into myself again, 

I shall take my scattered selves and make them one. 
I shall fuse them into a polished crystal ball 

Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun. 



SARA TEASDALE 



3*9 



I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent, 
Watching the future come and the present go 

And the little shifting pictures of people rushing 
In tiny self-importance to and fro. 



APPRAISAL 

Never think she loves him wholly, 
Never believe her love is blind, 
All his faults are locked securely 
In a closet of her mind; 
All his indecisions folded 
Like old flags that time has faded, 
Limp and streaked with ram, 
And his cautiousness like garments 
Frayed and thin, with many a stain- 
Let them be, oh, let them be, 
There is treasure to outweigh them, 
His proud will that sharply stirred, 
Climbs as surely as the tide, 
Senses strained too taut to sleep, 
Gentleness to beast and bird, 
Humor flickering hushed and wide 
As the moon on moving water, 



And a tenderness too deep 
To be gathered in a word. 



ON THE SOUTH DOWNS 

Over the downs there were birds flying, 

Far o/T glittered the sea, 
And toward the north the weald of Sussex 

Lay like a kingdom under me. 

I was happier than the larks 

That nest on the downs and sing to the 

sky 
Over the downs the birds flying 

Were not so happy as I. 

It was not you, though you were near, 
Though you were good to hear and see; 

It was not earth, it was not heaven, 
It was myself that sang in me. 



AUGUST NIGHT 

On a midsummer night, on a night that was eerie with stars, 

In a wood too deep for a single star to look through, 
You led down a path whose turnings you knew in the darkness, 

But the scent of the dew-dripping cedars was all that I knew. 

I drank of the darkness, I was fed with the honey of fragrance, 
I was glad of my life, the drawing of breath was sweet; 

I heard your voice, you said, "Look down, sec the glow-worm'" 
It was there before me, a small star white at my feet. 

We watched while it brightened as though it were breathed on and burning, 

This tiny creature moving over earth's floor 
" 'L'amor c he move il sole e I'altre stelle' " 

You said, and no more. 



EFFIGY OF A NUN 

(Sixteenth Century) 

Infinite gentleness, infinite irony 
Are in this face with fast-sealed eyes, 

And round this mouth that learned in loneliness 
How useless their wisdom is to the wise. 



3 20 



SARA TEASDALE 



In her nun's habit carved, patiently, lovingly, 
By one who knew the ways of womankind, 

This woman's face still keeps, in its cold wistful calm, 
All of the subtle pride of her mind. 

These long patrician hands, clasping the crucifix, 
Show she had weighed the world, her will was set; 

These pale curved lips of hers, holding their hidden smile 
Once having made their choice, knew no regret. 

She was of those who hoard their own thoughts carefully, 

Feeling them far too dear to give away, 
Content to look at life with the high, insolent 

Air of an audience watching a play. 

If she was curious, if she was passionate 

She must have told herself that love was great, 

But that the lacking it might be as great a thing 
If she held fast to it, challenging fate. 

She who so loved herself and her own warring thoughts, 
Watching their humorous, tragic rebound, 

In her thick habit's fold, sleeping, sleeping, 
Is she amused at dreams she has found? 

Infinite tenderness, infinite irony 

Are hidden forever in her closed eyes, 
Who must have learned too well in her long loneliness 

How empty wisdom is, even to the wise. 



THE FLIGHT 

We are two eagles 
Flying together, 
Under the heavens, 
Over the mountains, 
Stretched on the wind. 
Sunlight heartens us, 
Blind snow baffles us, 
Clouds wheel after us, 
Raveled and thinned. 

We are like eagles; 
But when Death harries us, 
Human and humbled 
When one of us goes, 
Let the other follow 
Let the flight be ended, 
Let the fire blacken, 
Let the book close. 



ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 



Elizabeth Madox Roberts 

T^LIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS was born in 1885, at Perry villc, near Springfield, Ken- 
JLj tucky, and attended the University of Chicago, where she received her Ph. 13. in 
1921. Except when obliged to travel for health or warmth, she lived in the Salt River 
country of Kentucky, twenty-eight miles from Harrodsburg, old Fort Harrod, the 
first settlement in the state. Suffering from anemia she died March 13, 1941. 

As an undergraduate she won the local Fiskc Prize with a group of poems which 
later appeared in Poetry: A Magazine of Veise. An amplification of these verses ap- 
peared as Under the Tree (1922) and critics were^ quick to recognize the unusually 
fresh accents in this first volume. Under the Ttee spoke directly to the young, for it 
was written, not so much for children, but as a sensitive child might write. The 
observation is precise, the reflections are candidly clear, the humor delicate, never 
simpering or archly beribboned. Here is a simplicity which is straightforward with- 
out being shrill or mincing. The verse is graceful where grace commands the gesture, 
but Miss Roberts' unforced naivete allows her to be gauche whenever awkwardness 
is natural. 

After this volume Miss Roberts returned to her native state, and spent much of her 
time studying the archaic English speech still spoken in the remote parts of Ken- 
tucky. "Orpheus/* although written later than her first book, is a highly interesting 
use of her early idiom, localizing as well as vitalizing the old myth. "Stranger" is 
more definitely indigenous; it has something of the flavor of the Lonesome Tunes 
collected by Howard Brockway and Lorame Wyman. Concerning this poem, Miss 
Roberts writes, "In these verses I have used material from the old ballads or 
suggestions from them, material which may be found abundantly in Kentucky, 
together with modern syncopation and a refrain designed to call up banjo notes." 
"A Ballet Song of Mary," which won the John Reed Memorial Prize in Poetry 
(1928), is an "artificial" piece using the adjective in the best sense founded on 
ancient archaic words and uses. Here, as in her prose, Miss Roberts writes with an 
ear always tuned to local phrase and feeling. 

In 1925 Miss Roberts turned to the prose for which she has been so widely cele- 
brated. The Time of Man (1926), one of the most moving novels of the period, is 
an epic of the Appalachians in which every chapter has the effect of a poem. My 
Heart and My Flesh (1927), a darker and more difficult exploration, discloses less 
local and more universal regions of the spirit. Jingling in the Wind (1928) is a less 
successful experiment, a light farce which tries but fails to be a satire on industrial 
civilization. All three are characterized by a lyrical charm and an inscrutability which 
set Miss Roberts apart from the competent writers of easy fiction. 

The Great Meadow (1930) is an exploration of the material uncovered in her first 
novel. Placed in the Kentucky meadow-lands against the heroic backgrounds of early 
American history, it is a pioneering panorama. Native to the least grass-blade, it 
is much more than a narrative of the soil; it is a widening saga of the men and 
women who imposed themselves and their pattern on the unshaped wilderness. 
Thus The Great Meadow acts both as the preparation for and the rich completion of 
The Time of Man. A novel He Sent Forth a Raven (1935) combines her early 



322 



ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 



individual diction with the later restrained mysticism, a combination that is curi- 
ously lilting and intense. 



THE SKY 

I saw a shadow on the ground 
And heard a blucjay going by; 
A shadow went across the ground, 
And I looked up and saw the sky. 

It hung up on the poplar tree, 
But while I looked it did not stay; 
It gave a tiny sort of jerk 
And moved a little bit away. 

And farther on and farther on 
It moved and never seemed to stop. 
I think it must be tied with chains 
And something pulls it from the top. 

It never has come down again, 
And every time I look to see, 
The sky is always slipping back 
And getting far away from me. 

CHRISTMAS MORNING 

If Bethlehem were here today, 
Or this were very long ago, 
There wouldn't be a winter time 
Nor any cold or snow. 

I'd run out through the garden gate, 
And down along the pasture walk; 
\nd off beside the cattle barns 
I'd hear a kind of gentle talk. 

I'd move the heavy iron chain 
And pull away the wooden pin; 
I'd push the door a little bit 
And tiptoe very softly in. 

The pigeons and the yellow hens 

And all the cows would stand away; 

Their eyes would open wid^ to see 

A lady in the manger hay, 

If this were very long ago 

And Bethlehem were here today. 

And Mother held my hand and smiled 
I mean the lady would and she 



Would take the woolly blankets off 
Her little boy so I could see. 

His shut-up eyes would be asleep, 
And he would look just like our John, 
And he would be all crumpled too, 
And have a pinkish color on. 

I'd watch his breath go in and out. 
His little clothes would all be white. 
I'd slip my finger in his hand 
To feel how he could hold it tight. 

And she would smile and say, "Take care 
The mother, Mary, would, "Take care"; 
And I would kiss his little hand 
And touch his hair. 

While Mary put the blankets back 
The gentle talk would soon begin. 
And when I'd tiptoe softly out 
I'd meet the wise men going in. 



ORPHEUS 

He could sing sweetly on a string. 
He'd make the music curve around; 
He'd make it tremble through the woods 
And all the trees would leave the ground. 

The tunes would walk on steps of air, 
For in his hand a wire would smg; 
The songs would fly like wild quick geese- 
He could play sweetly on a string. 



If Orpheus would come today, 
Our trees would lean far out to hear, 
And they would stretch limb after limb; 
Then the ellum trees would leave the ground, 
And the sycamores would follow him. 

And the poplar tree and the locust tree 
And the coffeeberry tree would come 
And all the rows of osage thorns, 
And then the little twisted plum. 



ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 323 

He'd lead them off across the hill. And it would reach up toward his ear 

They'd flow like water toward his feet. To hear the music in his mind. 
He'd walk through fields and turn in roads; 

He'd bring them down our street. And when the road turned by the kiln, 

Then Orpheus would happen to see 

And he'd go by the blacksmith shop, The little plum and the sycamore 

And one would say, "Now who are these? And the poplar tree and the chinabcrry tree, 
I wonder who that fellow is, 

And where he's going with the trees!" A " d al th , e rows o Osa 8 c dw- 

When he happened once to look 

"To the sawmill, likely," one would say, " e>d s ' c * em ""Jing after him . 

"Oh, yes, the sawmill, I should think." Thrcc birches > and he d sce the oak - 

And then he'd cut the horse's hoof ^ h( , wou]d kad them back 

And hammers would go clm\ and chn\. ^ bnng ^ ^ (o ^ own 

+ He'd bring each to its growing-place 

And set them back with sound and sound. 
He could play sweetly on a wire. 

And he would lean down near his lyre He'd fit them in with whispered chords, 

To hear its songs unfold and wind, And tap them down with humming words 



STRANGER 

When Polly lived back in the old deep woods, 
Sing, sing, sing and howdy, howdy-o! 
Nobody ever went by her door, 
Turn a-tum turn and danky, danky-o' 

Valentine worked all day in the brush, 
He grubbed out stumps and he chopped with his ax, 
He chopped a clear road up out of the branch; 
Their wheels made all the tracks. 

And all they could see out doors were the trees, 
And all the night they could hear the wolves go; 
But one cold time when the dark came on 
A man's voice said, "Hello, there, hello'" 

He stood away by the black oak tree 

When they opened the door in the halfway light; 

He stood away by the buttonwood stump, 

And Valentine said, "Won't you stay all night?" 

He sat by the fire and warmed his bones. 
He had something hidden down deep in a sack, 
And Polly watched close while she baked her pones; 
He felt of it once when she turned her back 
Polly had a fear of his sack. 

Nobody lived this way or there, 

And the night came down and the woods came dark, 

A thin man sat by the fire that night, 

And the cabin pane was one red spark. 



324 ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 

He took the something out of his sack, 
When the candle dimmed and the logs fell low, 
It was something dark, as Polly could see, 
Sing, sing, sing and howdy, howdy-o 1 

Pic held it up against his chest, 
And the logs came bright with a fresh new glow, 
And it was a riddle that was on his breast, 
Turn tunva turn and danky, danky-o! 

He played one tune and one tune more; 
He played five tunes all m a long row. 
The logs never heard any songs before. 
Sing, sing, sing and howdy, howdy-o! 

The tunes lay down like drowsy cats; 
They tumbled over rocks where the waterfalls go; 
They twinkled in the sun like little June gnats; 
Turn a-tum turn and danky dee-o' 

The stumps stood back in Valentine's mind; 

The wolves went back so Polly couldn't see; 

She forgot how they howled and forgot how they whined. 

Turn turn a-tum and danky-dee' 

The tunes flew by like wild quick geese, 
Sing, sing, sing and howdy howdy-o! 
And Polly said, "That's a right good piece." 
Turn turn turn and danky danky-o f 
Turn a-tum turn and danky dee-of 



A BALLET SONG OF MARY 

Her smock was of the holland fine, 
Skinkled with colors three; 
Her shawl was of the velvet blue, 
The Queen of Galilee. 

Her hair was yellow like the wax, 
Like the silken floss fine-spun; 
The girdle for her golden cloak 
Was all in gold bcdonc. 

She sat her down in her own bower place 
And dressed herself her hair. 
Her gold kemb in her braid she laid, 
And a sound fell on the door. 

He came within her own bower room 
"Hail, Mary, hail I" says he; 
"A goodly grace is on your head, 
For the Lord is now with thee." 



She folded down her little white hands 
When Gabriel spoke again. 
She set her shawl, the corners right,* 
For ceremony then. 

"And the God will overshadow thee 
And bring a holy sweven. 
Fear not, fear not," then Gabriel said, 
"It's the God of the good high heaven. 

"And what must be born it will heal the 

sick; 

It will make a goodly lear; 
It will fettle men for christentie 
And to keep holy gear." 

Then up then rose this little maid 
When Gabriel's word was said, 
And out of the bower she ran in haste, 
And out of the hall she is sped. 

She is running far to Zachary's house 
"Is this the way?" says she. 



ELIZABETH MADOX ROBERTS 325 

"A little maid in haste," they said, It will give men drink fiom the horn of the 

"Has gone to the hills of Judce." wind, 

And give men meat from the song of a bird; 

And what will be born it will ope their eyes; Their cloak they will get from the sheen of 

It will hearten men in their stcar; the grass, 

It will fettle men for chnstentie And a roof from a singm* word. 
And to have holy gear. 

And when they come to the Brig o* Dread, 

It will scourge with a thong when those And they cry, "I fall! I'm afcar'" 

make gain ' It will close their eyes and gne them sleep 

Where a humble man should be; To heal them outcn their lonesome cheer, 

It will cast the witches from out of his saule When they come to the Brig o' Dread. 
And drown them into the sea. 



WOODCOCK OF THE IVORY BEAK 

Bough of the plane tree, where is the clear-beaked bird 

That was promised? When I walked here, now, I heard 

A swift cry in my own voice lifted in laughter absurd 

Mock at a crow crying under the glee-wrung woid, 

Saying, "Where?" Saying, "When?" Saying, "Will it be? Here? 

The woodcock of the ivory bill ? Will it be? Where?" 

Old winds that blew deep chaos down through the valley, 
Moan-haunted, sob-tosoed, shudder and shackle, rout and rally, 
Where? Did you toss a feather and bend plume a cold May early 
Morning, when the ivory bill shone, song lifted, pearly 
Clear on the rose-stippled, blue-shadowed trunk of the plane tree? 
Oh, woodcock of the ivory beak, I came here to see ... 



Elinor Wylie 

ELINOR (HOYT) WYLIE was born September 7, 1885, in Somerville, New Jersey, 
but she was, as she often protested, of pure Pennsylvania stock. The family was 
a literary one and it was soon evident that Elinor, the first born, was a prodigy. The 
facts of her life, if not the inner conflicts and personal sufferings, have been recorded 
by Nancy Hoyt, her younger sister, in Elinor Wylie' The Pot trait of an Unknown 
Woman (1935), and, though the biography might have been fuller and franker 
without diminishing the poet's stature, it is invaluable source material. On both 
sides Elinor Wylie traced her ancestry back through old American families. A 
grandfather was Governor of Pennsylvania; her father, at the age of thirty-six, was 
Assistant Attorney-General under McKinley, later Solicitor General during Theodore 
Roosevelt's administration. 

Elinor Hoyt's youth was spent in Washington, D. C. At eighteen she attended 
a life-class at the Corcoran Museum of Art, composing poems in secret, and waver- 
ing between painting and writing as a possible career. Shortly after her "corning* 



32 6 ELINOR WYLIE 

out party" there was a youthful romance and, disappointed because it was incon- 
clusive, Elinor "rushed off and, without the knowledge of her parents, became 
engaged to a nice-looking and well-born young suitor with a bad temper," Philip 
Hichborn, son of an admiral. A son was born of the union, but the marriage was 
an unhappy one. Three years after, when scarcely twenty-four, she eloped with 
Horace Wylie, unable to obtain a divorce, disrupting the social circles in which 
she had conducted herself so primly. Elinor and Horace Wylie lived in England, 
where they were married some years later, until the World War forced them to 
return to America. It was in England that her first work wa^ published, a tiny book 
of forty-three pages entitled Incidental Numbers (1912), privately printed and un- 
signed. It is a tentative collection and Elinor was so sensitive about its "incredible 
immaturity" that she pleaded with the few who knew of its existence never to refer 
to it until after her death. But she had no reason to be ashamed of it. ("I think the 
juvenilia superior to the rest," she wrote to the editor many years later.) Much of it 
is manifestly immature, since most of it was written in her early twenties and the 
rest was the product of her teens. Yet her characteristic touch the firm thought 
matched by the firmly molded line is already suggested, especially in such poems 
as "The Knight Fallen on Evil Days," anticipating the later beautifully knit sonnets, 
and "Pegasus Lost," a strangely ironic fantasy written at seventeen. 

She returned to America in the summer of 1916, and lived in Boston and in 
Mount Desert, Maine. Her poems began to appear in the magazines; she moved to 
Washington, where she met various friends of her brother Henry, including William 
Rose Benct. In 1921 her first "real" volume, Nets to Catch the Wind, appeared. 
Three years later she was a famous person, the author of two volumes of poems 
and an extraordinary first novel (Jennifer Loin), married to William Rose Benet, and 
part of the literary life of New York. 

Nets to Catch the Wind impresses immediately because of its brilliance. The bril- 
liance is one which, at first, seems to sparkle without burning. In several of the 
poems the author achieves a frigid ecstasy; emotion is not absent from her lines, but 
too frequently it seems a passion frozen at its source. It is the brilliance of moon- 
light coruscating on a plain of ice. But if Mis. Wylie seldom allows her verses to 
grow agitated, she never permits them to remain dull. As a technician, she is 
always admirable; in "August" the sense of heat is conveyed by tropic luxuriance 
and contrast; in "The Eagle and the Mole" she lifts didacticism to a proud level. 
Her auditory effects arc scarcely less remarkable; never has snow-silence been more 
unerringly communicated than in "Velvet Shoes." 

Blac\ Atnwur (1923) exhibits Mrs. Wylie's keenness against a mellower back- 
ground. The beauty evoked in this volume no longer has "the hard heart of a 
child." The intellect has grown more fiery, the mood has grown warmer, and the 
craftsmanship is more dazzling than ever. This devotee of severe elegance has per- 
fected an accent which is clipped and patrician; she varies the perfect modulation 
with rhymes that are delightfully acrid and unique departures which never fail of 
success. Mrs. Wylie, it is evident from the very titles of her volumes, had read the 
metaphysicans; Donne, Webster, and Eliot found a voice in her lines. She felt 

"behind a carnal mesh, 
The clean bones crying in the flesh." 



ELINOR WYLIE J2 ; 

Possibly the most obvious and arresting feature of her work is the variety of her 
gifts. She reached from the nimble dexterity of a rondo like "Peregrine" to the in- 
trospective poignance of "Self Portrait," from the fanciful "Escape" to the grave 
mockery of "Let No Charitable Hope." But a greater unfoldment was to come. 

Trivial Breath (1928) is the work of a poet in transition. At times the craftsman is 
uppermost; at times the creative genius. A preoccupation with her material obscures 
the half-uttered wisdom. Many of the verses, steeped in literature, pay homage to 
the letter; a smaller number, less absorbed in shaping an immaculate phrase, do 
r&verence to the spirit. Mrs. Wylie recognized the danger of her own cxquisiteness, 
of a style where elegance was too often a richly embroidered cloak draped upon a 
neat triviality. In "Minotaur" she admonished herself: 

Go study to disdain 
The frail, the overfine 
That tapers to a line 
Knotted about the brain. 

Her distrust of the "overfine" deepened; she became more influenced by the fiery 
spirit of Shelley; her prose grew less mannered and more searching; her poetry at- 
tained a new richness. While in England during the summer of 1928 she wrote, with 
almost breathless haste but with calm certainty, the verses which compose her 
posthumous volume. In the autumn she returned to America; suffering from high 
blood pressure and partial paralysis, she began to arrange her final work. The day 
before she died she decided on the order of the poems, afBxcd the motto from 
Donne, and got the manuscript ready for the printer. She died December 16, 1928. 

Angels and Earthly Creatures (1929) is the sublimation of all her gifts. Here arc 
the cunningly poised and polished syllables, here are the old concerns with freezing 
silvers, frail china, and pea*rly monotones, but here is a quality which lifts them 
high above themselves. Still indebted to the Jacobean metaphysicians, the poet 
transcends her influences and develops a highly personal mysticism. To say that her 
emotion is governed and disciplined is not to say that An gels and Einthly Ctccttuies 
suffers from a lack of emotion. On the contrary, the sequence of nineteen sonnets 
has the spontaneity of a passionate improvisation, of something close to abandon- 
ment. The other poems share this intensity. "This Corruptible" is both visionary and 
philosophic; "O Virtuous Light" deals with that piercing clarity, the intuition which 
disturbs the senses, threatens reason and, "begotten of itself," unreconciled to ordi- 
nary experience, is "not a light by which to live." The other poems are scarcely less 
uplifted, finding their summit in "Hymn to Earth," which is possibly the deepest 
of her poems and one which is certain to endure. It was, as it happened, a clear 
premonition; it remains a noble valedictory. She could go no further. She had per- 
fected her technique; without discarding her idiom, her spirit reached toward a final 
expression. She had suddenly attained the emotional stature of a great poet. 

A sumptuous Collected Poems of Elinor Wylie was published in 1932, containing, 
with the exception of the booklet issued in England, her four books of poems as well 
as a section of forty-eight poems hitherto uncollected. Some of the posthumous verse 
had never seen print; others published in magazines notably "Golden Bough" 
and "The Pebble" may be ranked among the poet's ripest utterances. "The Pebble" 



32 8 ELINOR WYL1E 

is significant not only as a fine piece of craftsmanship but as a revealing bit of 
spiritual autobiography. 

Though more mannered than her verse, her prose was scarcely less accomplished. 
Jennifer Lorn (1923), subtitled "A Sedate Extravaganza," The Venetian Glass 
Nephew (1925), and The Orphan Angel (1926) adroitly juggle a harlequin style, 
even when it is least appropriate to the matter. Mr. Hodge and Mr. Hazard is a 
somewhat more serious and ironic allegory. Differing widely from each other in plot, 
ranging from macabre artifice to an apocryphal legend of Shelley redivivus in 
America, the manipulation of these novels is always deft and the iridescent phrasing 
is the product of an unusually "jeweled" brain. An omnibus volume Collected Prose 
of Elinor Wyhc (1933) includes the four novels besides ten uncollccted short 
stories and essays introduced by William Rose Benet in the section "Fugitive Prose." 
Although one must admire the fine-spun filigree of Jennifer Loin and the delicate 
diablerie of The Venetian Glass Nephew, even the height of her prose cannot match 
the peaks attained by such poems as "This Corruptible," "Hymn to Earth" and 
"O Virtuous Light." 

For it was as a poet that Elinor Wyhe was most at home in the world, and it is 
as a poet that she will be remembered. Whether she spins a web of words to catch 
an elusive whimsicality, or satirizes herself, or plunges from the fragmentary to the 
profound, every line bears her authentic stamp. The intellectual versatility is even- 
tually rccnforced by spiritual strength, insuring permanence to work which "pre- 
serves a shape utterly its own." 



THE EAGLE AND THE MOLE 

Avoid the recking herd, 
Shun the polluted flock, 
Live like that stoic bird, 
The eagle of the rock. 

The huddled warmth of crowds 
Begets and fosters hate; 
He keeps, above the clouds, 
His cliff inviolate. 

When flocks arc folded warm, 
And herds to shelter run, 
He sails above the storm, 
He stares into the sun. 



If in the eagle's track 
Your sinews cannot leap, 
Avoid the lathered pack, 
Turn from the steaming sheep. 

If you would keep your soul 
From spotted sight or sound, 
Live like the velvet mole; 
Go burrow underground. 

And there hold intercourse 
With roots of trees and stones^ 
With rivers at their source, 
And disembodied bones. 



THE KNIGHT FALLEN ON EVIL DAYS 

God send the Devil is a gentleman, 
Else had I none amongst mine enemies! 
O what uncouth and cruel times are these 
In which the unlettered Boor and Artisan, 
The snarling Priest and smirking Lawyer can 
Spit filthy enmity at whom they please 
At one, returned from spilling overseas 
The Princely blood of foes Olympian. 



ELINOR WYLIE 329 

Apothecaries curse me, who of late 

Was cursed by Kings for slaughtering French lords ' 

Friendless and lovcrless is my estate, 

Yet God be praised that Hell at least ailords 

An adversary worthy of my hate, 

With whom the Angels deigned to measure swords! 



PEGASUS LOST 

And there I found a gray and ancient ass, 

With dull glazed stare, and stubborn wrinkled smile, 

Sardonic, mocking my widc-cycd amaze. 

A clumsy hulking form in that white place 

At odds with the small stable, cleanly, Greek, 

The marble manger and the golden oats. 

With loathing hands I felt the ass's side, 

Solidly real and hairy to the touch. 

Then knew I that I dreamed not, but saw truth; 

And knowing, wished I still might hope I dreamed. 

The door stood wide, I went into the air. 

The day was blue and filled with rushing wind, 

A day to ride high in the heavens and taste 

The glory of the gods who tread the stars. 

Up in the mighty purity I saw 

A flashing shape that gladly sprang aloft 

My little Pegasus, like a far white bird 

Seeking sun-regions, never to return. 

Silently then I turned my steps about, 

Entered the stable, saddled the slow ass; 

Then on its back I journeyed dustily 

Between sun-wilted hedgerows into town. 



MADMAN S SONG 

Better to see your cheek grown hollow, 
Better to see your temple worn, 
Than to forget to follow, follow, 
After the sound of a silver horn. 

Better to bind your brow with willow 

And follow, follow until you die, 

Than to sleep with your head on a golden pillow, 

Nor lift it up when the hunt goes by. 

Better to see your cheek grown sallow 
And your hair grown gray, so soon, so soon, 
Than to forget to hallo, hallo, 
After the milk-white hounds of the moon. 



'330 



ELINOR WYLIE 



SANCTUARY 

This is the bricklayer; hear the thud 
Of his heavy load dumped down on stone. 
His lustrous bricks are brighter than blood, 
His smoking mortar whiter than bone. 

Set each sharp-edged, fire-bitten brick 
Straight by the plumb-line's shivering length; 
Make my marvelous wall so thick 
Dead nor living may shake its strength. 

Full as a crystal cup with drink 
Is my cell with dreams, and quiet, and cool. . 
Stop, old man' You must leave a chink; 
How can I breathe? You cant, you fool! 



VELVET SHOES 

Let us walk in the white snow 
In a soundless space; 

With footsteps quiet and slow, 
At a tranquil pace, 
Under veils of white lace. 

I shall go shod in silk, 

And you in wool, 
White as a white cow's milk, 

More beautiful 

Than the breast of a gull. 

We shall walk through the still town 

In a windless peace; 
We shall step upon white down, 

Upon silver fleece, 

Upon softer than these. 

We shall walk in velvet shoes: 
Wherever we go 



Silence will fall like dews 
On white silence below. 
We shall walk in the snow. 



ESCAPE 

When foxes eat the last gold grape, 
And the last white antelope is killed, 
I shall stop fighting and escape 
Into a little house I'll build. 

But first I'll shrink to fairy size, 
With a whisper no one understands, 
Making blind moons of all your eyes, 
And muddy roads of all your hands. 

And you may grope for me in vain 
In hollows under the mangrove root, 
Or where, in apple-scented rain, 
The silver wasp-nests hang like fruit. 



GOLDEN BOUGH 

These lovely groves of fountain-trees that shake 
A burning spray against autumnal cool, 

Descend again in molten drops to make 
The rutted path a river and a pool. 

They rise in silence, fall in quietude, 
Lie still as looking-glass to every sense; 

Only their lion-color in the wood 

Roars to miraculous heat and turbulence. 



ELINOR WYLIE 33 1 

AUGUST 

Why should this Negro insolently stride 
Down the red noonday on such noiseless feet? 
Piled in his barrow, tawnier than wheat, 
Lie heaps of smoldering daisies, somber-eyed, 
Their copper petals shriveled up with pride, 
Hot with a superfluity of heat, 
Like a great brazier borne along the street 
By captive leopards, black and burning pied. 

Are there no water-lilies, smooth as cream, 
With long stems dripping crystal? Are there none 
Like those white lilies, luminous and cool, 
Plucked from some hemlock-darkened noithcrn stream 
By fair-haired swimmers, diving where the sun 
Scarce warms the surface of the deepest pool? 



x PURITANSONNET 

Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones 

There's something in this richness that I hate. 

I love the look, austere, immaculate, 

Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones. 

There's something in my very blood that owns 

Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate, 

A thread of water, churned to milky spate 

Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones. 

I love those skies, thin blue 01 snowy gray, 

Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meager sheaves; 

That spring, briefer than apple-blossom's breath, 

Summer, so much too beautiful to stay, 

Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves, 

And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death. 

NEBUCHADNEZZAR 

My body is weary to death of my mischievous brain; 
I am weary forever and ever of being brave; 
Therefore I crouch on my knees while the cool white rain 
Curves the clover over my head like a wave. 

The stem and the frosty seed of the grass are ripe; 

I have devoured their strength; I have drunk them deep; 

And the dandelion is gall in a thin green pipe, 

But the clover is honey and sun and the smell of sleep. 



3J2 ELINOR WYLIE 

LET NO CHARITABLE HOPE 

Now let no charitable hope 
Confuse my mind with images 
Of eagle and of antelope; 
I am in nature none of these. 

I was, being human, born alone; 
I am, being woman, hard beset; 
I live by squeezing from a stone 
The little nourishment I get. 

In masks outrageous and austere 

The years go by in single file; 

But none has merited my fear, 

And none has quite escaped my smile. 



CONFESSION OF FAITH 

I lack the braver mind 

That dares to find 

The lover friend, and kind. 

I fear him to the bone; 

I lie alone 

By the beloved one, 

And, breathless for suspense, 
Erect defense 
Against love's violence 

Whose silences portend 

A bloody end 

For lover never friend. 

But, in default of faith, 

In futile breath, 

I dream no ill of Death. 



IS A DELICATE 

Sorrow lay upon my breast more heavily than winter clay 

Lying ponderable upon the unmoving bosom of the dead; 

Yet it was dissolved like a thin snowfall; it was softly withered away; 

Presently like a single drop of dew it had trembled and fled. 

This sorrow, which seemed heavier than a shovelful of loam, 
Was gone like water, like a web of delicate frost; 
It was silent and vanishing like smoke; it was scattered like foam; 
Though my mind should desire to preserve it, nevertheless it is lost. 



ELINOR. WYLIE 

This sorrow was not like sorrow; it was shining and brief; 
Even as I waked and was aware of its going, it was past and gone; 
It was not earth; it was no more than a light leaf, 
Or a snowflake in spring, which perishes upon stone. 

This sorrow was small and vulnerable and short-lived; 
It was neither earth nor stone; it was silver snow 
Fallen from heaven, perhaps; it has not survived 
An hour of the sun; it is sad it should be so. 

This sorrow, which I believed a gravestone over my heart, 

Is gone like a cloud; it eluded me as I woke; 

Its crystal dust is suddenly broken and blown apart; 

It was not my heart; it was this poor sorrow alone which broke. 



PETER AND JOHN 

Twelve good friends 
Walked under the leaves 
Binding the ends 
Of the barley sheaves. 

Peter and John 
Lay down to sleep 
Pillowed upon 
A haymaker's heap. 

John and Peter 
Lay down to dream. 
The air was sweeter 
Than honey and cream. 

Peter was bred 
In the salty cold. 
His hair was red 
And his eyes were gold. 

John had a mouth 
Like a wing bent down. 
His brow was smooth 
And his eyes were brown. 

Peter to slumber 
Sank like a stone, 
Of all their number 
The bravest one. 

John more slowly 
Composed himself, 
Young and holy 
Among the Twelve. 



John as he slept 
Cried out in grief, 
Turned and wept 
On the golden leaf: 

"Peter, Peter, 
Stretch me your hand 
Across the glitter 
Of the harvest land! 

"Peter, Peter, 
Give me a sign! 
This was a bitter 
Dream of mine, 

"Bitter as aloes 
It parched my tongue. 
Upon the gallows 
My life was hung. 

"Sharp it seemed 
As a bloody sword. 
Peter, I dreamed 
I was Christ the Lord!" 

Peter turned 
To holy Saint John: 
His body burned 
In the falling sun. 

In the falling sun 
He burned like flame: 
"John, Saint John, 
I have dreamed the same! 



334 



"My bones were hung 
On an elder tree; 
Bells were rung 
Over Galilee. 

"A silver penny 
Sealed each of my eyes. 
Many and many 
A cock crew thrice." 

When Peter's word 
Was spoken and done, 
"Were you Christ the Lord 
In your dream ? " said John. 

"No," said the other, 
"That T was not. 
I was our brother 
Iscariot." 



FULL MOON 

My bands of silk and miniver 
Momently grew heavier; 
The black gauze was beggarly thin; 
The ermine mufHed mouth and chin; 
I could not suck the moonlight in. 

Harlequin in lozenges 
Of love and hate, I walked in these 
Striped and ragged rigmaroles; 
Along the pavement my footsoles 
Trod wanly on living coals. 



ELINOR WYL1E 

Shouldering the thoughts I loathed, 
In their corrupt disguises clothed, 
Mortality I could not tear 
From my ribs, to leave them bare 
Ivory in silver air. 

There I walked and there I raged; 
The spiritual savage caged 
Within my skeleton, raged afresh 
To feel, behind a carnal mesh, 
The clean bones crying in the flesh. 



EPITAPH 

For this she starred her eyes with salt 
And scooped her temples thin, 
Until her face shone pure of fault 
From the forehead to the chin. 

In coldest crucible of pain 
Her shrinking flesh was fired 
And smoothed into a finer gram 
To make it more desired. 

Pain left her lips more clear than glass; 
It colored and cooled her hand. 
She lay a field of scented grass 
Yielded as pasture land. 

For this her loveliness was curved 
And carved as silver is: 
For this she was brave: but she deserved 
A better grave than this. 



BIRTHDAY SONNET 

Take home Thy prodigal child, O Lord of Hosts! 

Protect the sacred from the secular danger; 

Advise her, that Thou never needst avenge her; 

Marry her mind neither to man's nor ghost's 

Nor holier domination's, if the costs 

Of such commingling should transport or change her; 

Defend her from familiar and stranger, 

And earth's and air's contagions and rusts. 

Instruct her strictly to preserve Thy gift 
And alter not its grain in atom sort; 
Angels may wed her to their ultimate hurt 
And men embrace a specter in a shift 
So that no drop of the pure spirit fall 
Into the dust: defend Thy prodigal. 



ELINOR WYL1E 



335 



O VIRTUOUS LIGHT 

A private madness has prevailed 
Over the pure and valiant mind; 
The instrument of reason failed 
And the star-gazing eyes "struck blind. 

Sudden excess of light has wrought 
Confusion in the secret place 
Where the slow miracles of thought 
Take shape through patience into grace. 

Mysterious as steel and flint 
The birth of this destructive spark 
Whose inward growth has power to print 
Strange suns upon the natural dark. 

O break the walls of sense in half 
And make the spirit fugitive! 
This light begotten of itself 
Is not a light by which to live! 

The fire of farthing tallow dips 
Dispels the menace of the skies 
So it illuminate the lips 
And enter the discerning eyes. 

O virtuous light, if thou be man's 
Or matter of the meteor stone, 
Prevail against this radiance 
Which is engendered of its own! 



THE PEBBLE 

If any have a stone to shy, 

Let him be David and not I; 

The lovely shepherd, brave and vain, 

Who has a maggot in the brain, 

Which, since the brain is bold and pliant, 

Takes the proportions of a giant. 

Alas, my legendary fate! 

Who sometimes rage, but never hate. 

Long, long before the pebble flieth 

I see a virtue in Goliath; 



Yea, in the Philistine his face, 

A touching majesty and grace; 

Then like the lights ol evening shine 

The features of the Philistine 

Until my spirit faints to see 

The beauty of my enemy. 

If any have a stone to fling 

Let him be a shepherd-king, 

Who is himself so beautiful 

He may detest the gross and dull 

With holy rage and heavenly pride 

To make a pebble sanctified 

And leather its course with wings of scorn. 

But, from the clay that 1 was born 

Until like corn I bow to the sickle, 

I am in hatred false and fickle. 

I am most cruel to anyone 

Who hates me with devotion; 

I will not freeze, I will not burn; 

I make his heart a poor return 

For all the passion that he spends 

In swearing we shall never be inends; 

For all the pains his passion spent 

In hatred I am impotent; 

The sad perversity of my mind 

Sees in him my km and kind. 

Alas, my shameful heritage, 

False in hale and fickle in rage' 

Alas, to lack the power to loathe' 

I like them each; I love them both; 

Philistine and shepherd -king 

They strike the pebble from my sling; 

My heart grows cold, my spirit grows faint; 

Behold, a hero and a saint 

Where appeared, a moment since, 

A giant and a heathen prince; 

And I am bound and given over 

To be no better than a lover, 

Alas, who strove as a holy rebel' 

They have broke my sling and stole my 

pebble: 

If any have a stone to throw 
It is not I, ever or now. 



SONNET FROM ONE PERSON 

I hereby swear that to uphold your house 
I would lay my bones in quick destroying lime 
Or turn my flesh to timber for all time; 
Cut down my womanhood; lop off the boughs 



33 6 ELINOR WYLIE 

Of that perpetual ecstasy that grows 
From the heart's core; condemn it as a crime 
If it be broader than a beam, or climb 
Above the stature that your roof allows. 

I am not the hearthstone nor the cornerstone 
Within this noble fabric you have builded; 
Not by my beauty was its cornice gilded; 
Not on my courage were its arches thrown: 
My lord, adjudge my strength, and set me where 
I bear a little more than I can bear. 



THIS CORRUPTIBLE 

The Body, long oppressed 

And pierced, then prayed for rest 

(Being but apprenticed to the other Powers); 

And kneeling in that place 

Implored the thrust of grace 

Which makes the dust lie level with the flowers. 

Then did that fellowship 

Of three, the Body strip; 

Beheld his wounds, and none among them mortal; 

The Mind severe and cool; 

The Heart still half a fool; 

The fine-spun Soul, a beam of sun can startle. 

These three, a thousand years 

Had made adventurers 

Amid all villainies the earth can offer, 

Applied them to resolve 

From the universal gulph 

What pangs the poor material flesh may suffer. 

"This is a pretty pass; 

To hear the growing grass 

Complain; the clay cry out to be translated; 

Will not this grosser stuff 

Receive reward enough 

If stabled after laboring, and baited?" 

Thus spoke the Mind in scorn. 

The Heart, which had outworn 

The Body, and was weary of its fashion, 

Preferring to be dressed 

In skin of bird or beast, 

Replied more softly, in a feigned compassion, 

"Anatomy most strange 
Crying to chop and change; 



ELINOR WYLIE 337 

Inferior copy of a higher image; 

While I, the noble guest, 

Sick of your second-best 

Sigh for embroidered archangelic plumage: 

"For shame, thou fustian cloak!" 

And then the Spirit spoke; 

Within the void it swung securely tethered 

By strings composed of cloud; 

It spoke both low and loud 

Above a storm no lesser star had weathered. 

"O lodging for the night! 

O hoyse of my delight! 

O lovely hovel builded for my pleasure! 

Dear tenement of clay 

Endure another day 

As cofEn sweetly fitted to my measure. 

"Take Heart and call to Mind 

Although we are unkind; 

Although we steal your shelter, strength, and clothing; 

'Tis you who shall escape 

In some enchanting shape 

Or be dissolved to elemental nothing. 

"You, the unlucky slave, 

Are the lily on the grave; 

The wave that runs above the bones a -whitening; 

You are the new-mown grass; 

And the wheaten bread of the Mass; 

And the fabric of the rain, and the lightning. 

"If one of us elect 

To leave the poor suspect 

Imperfect bosom of the earth our parent; 

And from the world avert 

The Spirit of the Heart 

Upon a further and essential errand; 

"His chain he cannot slough 

Nor cast his substance off; 

He bears himself upon his flying shoulder; 

The Heart, infirm and dull; 

The Mind, in any skull; 

Are captive still, and wearier and colder. 

" 'Tis you who are the ghost, 

Disintegrated, lost; 

The burden shed; the dead who need not bear it; 

O grain of God in power, 

Endure another hour! 

It is but for an hour," said the Spirit. 



33 8 ELINOR WYLIE 

HYMN TO EARTH 

Farewell, incomparable element, 

Whence man arose, where he shall not return; 

And hail, imperfect urn 

Of his last ashes, and his firstborn fruit; 

Farewell, the long pursuit, 

And all the adventures of his discontent; 

The voyages which sent 

His heart averse from home: 

Metal of clay, permit him that he come 

To thy slow-burning fire as to a hearth; 

Accept him as a particle of earth. 

Fire, being divided from the other three, 

It lives removed, or secret at the core; 

Most subtle of the four, 

When air flics not, nor water flows, 

It disembodied goes, 

Being light, elixir of the first decree, 

More volatile than he; 

With strength and power to pass 

Through space, where never his least atom was: 

He has no part in it, save as his eyes 

Have drawn its emanation from the skies. 

A wingless creature heavier than air, 

He is rejected of its quintessence; 

Coming and going hence, 

In the twin minutes of his birth and death, 

He may inhale as breath, 

As breath relinquish heaven's atmosphere, 

Yet in it have no share, 

Nor can survive therein 

Where its outer edge is filtered pure and thin: 

It doth but lend its crystal to his lungs 

For his early crying, and his final songs. 

The element of water has denied 

Its child; it is no more his element; 

It never will relent; 

Its silver harvests are more sparsely given 

Than the rewards of heaven, 

And he shall drink cold comfort at its sides 

The water is too wide: 

The scamew and the gull 

Feather a nest made soft and pitiful 

Upon its foam; he has not any part 

In the long swell of sorrow at its heart. 



ELINOR WYLIE 339 

Hail and farewell, beloved element, 

Whence he departed, and his parent once; 

See where thy spirit runs 

Which for so long hath had the moon to wife; 

Shall this support his life 

Until the arches of the waves be bent 

And grow shallow and spent? 

Wisely it cast him forth 

With his dead weight of burdens nothing worth, 

Leaving him, for the universal years, 

A little seawater to make his tears. 

Hail, element of earth, receive thy own, 

And cherish, at thy charitable breast, 

This man, this mongrel beast: 

He plows the sand, and, at his hardest need, 

He sows himself for seed; 

He plows the furrow, and in this lies down 

Before the corn is grown; 

Between the apple bloom 

And the ripe apple is sufficient room 

In time, and matter, to consume his love 

And make him parcel of a cypress grove. 

Receive him as thy lover for an hour 

Who will not weary, by a longer stay, 

The kind embrace of clay; 

Even within thine arms he is dispersed 

To nothing, as at first; 

The air flings downward from its four-quartered tower 

Him whom the flames devour; 

At the full tide, at the flood, 

The sea is mingled with his salty blood: 

The traveler dust, although the dust be vile, 

Sleeps as thy lover for a little while. 



Ezra Pound 

ONE of the most controversial figures of the period and \inquestionably the most 
belligerent expatriate of his generation, Ezra (Loomis) Pound was born at 
Hailey, Idaho, October 30, 1885. A precocious Deader, he entered the University of 
Pennsylvania at the age of fifteen. At sixteen, unbeknown to the faculty, he began 
studying comparative literature; before he was seventeen (in 1902) he enrolled as 
special student "to avoid irrelevant subjects." He continued the process at Hamilton 
College (1903-5) and from 1905 to 1907 was "Instructor with professorial functions" 
at the University of Pennsylvania. His next move brought him to Crawfordsville, 



340 EZRA POUND 

Indiana " 'the Athens of the West/ a town with literary traditions, Lew Wallace 
having died there." Pound was dismissed from Wabash College after four months 
"all accusations," he says, "having been ultimately refuted save that of being 'the 
Latin Quarter type/ " 

Though a born educator, actually burning to teach, Pound was compelled to seek 
less academic circles. In 1908 he landed in Gibraltar with eighty dollars and lived 
on the interest for some time. The same year found him for the first time in Italy, 
which was to become his future home. A Lume Spento (1908) was printed in Venice. 
A few months later he was established in London, where he lived until 1920. Con- 
vinced of the aridity of England, he crossed over to Paris, from which, after four 
years, he moved to Rapallo, on the Italian Riviera, where he has lived since 1924. 

Shortly after Pound's arrival in London he published Personae (1909), a work 
which, though small, contains some of his most arresting verse. 

Although the young American was a total stranger to the English literary world, 
his book made a definite impression on critics of all shades and tastes. Edward 
Thomas, one of the most cautious appraisers, wrote, "The beauty of it is the beauty 
of passion, sincerity and intensity, not of beautiful words and images and sugges- 
tions. . . . The thought dominates the words and is greater than they are." Another 
critic (Scott James) placed the chief emphasis on Pound's metrical innovations, 
saying, "At first the whole thing may seem to be mere madness and rhetoric, a 
vain exhibition of force and passion without beauty. But as we read on, these curious 
meters seem to have a law and order of their own." 

Exultations (1909) was printed in the autumn of the same year that saw the 
appearance of Peisonae. It was received with even greater cordiality; a new force and 
freedom were manifest in such poems as "Sestina: Altaforte," "Ballad of the Goodly 
Fere," and the stark "Ballad for Gloom." Both books were repubhshed in a single 
volume, with "other poems, as Personae, in 1926. 

In these books there is evident Pound's erudition a familiarity with medieval 
literature, Provencal singers, Troubadour ballads an erudition which, later, was to 
degenerate into pedantry. Too often Pound seemed to become theory-logged, to 
sink himself in an intellectual Sargasso Sea, to be more the archeologist than the 
artist. Canzom (1911) and Ripostes (1912) contain much that is sharp and living; 
they also contain the germs of desiccation and decay. Pound began to scatter his 
talents; to start movements which he quickly discarded for new ones; to spend him- 
self in poetic propaganda for the Vorticists and others; to give more and more time 
to translation (The Sonnets of Guido Cavalcanti appeared in 1912) and arrange- 
ments from the Chinese (Cathay, paraphrased from the notes of Ernest Fenollosa, 
was issued in 1915); to lay the chief stress on technique, shades of color, verbal 
nuances. The result was a lassitude of the creative faculties, an impoverishment of 
emotion. In the later books, Pound seemed to suffer from a decadence which ap- 
praises the values in life chiefly as esthetic values. 

Lustra appeared in 1916. In this collection, as in the preceding volumes, Pound 
struggled with his influences; accents of Swinburne, Browning, Lionel Johnson, and 
Yeats mingled with those of the Provencal poets. From his immediate predecessors 
Pound learned the value of "verse as speech" while, as Eliot has pointed out, from 
the more antiquarian studies Pound was learning the importance of "speech a? 



EZRA POUND w 

song." It was not until Hugh Seltvyn Mauberley (1920) and the Cantos that Pound 
integrated his own inflection, form, and philosophy. 

The Cantos, as yet unfinished, must be recognized as Pound's chief work. The 
poem (for the Cantos are parts of a loosely connected major opus) when and if com- 
pleted will comprise about one hundred "chapters." More than seventy cantos have 
been published: Cantos 1-XVl in 1925; XVU-XXVIl in 1928; A Dtaft of XXX Cantos 
in 1930; Eleven New Cantos: XXXI to XLl in 1934. Complex in tone, bewildering 
in their shiftings of time and space, of many languages and multiple accents, the 
Cantos are easier to grasp in theory than in practice. Only a scholar versed in many 
cultures can pretend to follow the digressions, the obscure references, the self- 
interrupted narratives, comments, myths, legends, imprecations, jokes, the whole 
curious ambivalence which worships and destroys the poetic tradition in the same 
movement. Yet the scheme of the Cantos is reasoned and even formal: Pound is 
attempting to write a Human Comedy in several dimensions and many voices, using 
the repetitions of history as recurring leitmotifs. The structure is intended to be 
fugual (with subject, response, and counter-subject) and Pound, who has written 
music as well as words, has conceived the work on a huge scale. It juxtaposes the 
jargon of the modern world with disrupted quotations and a vast, even violent, 
scholasticism. 

Critical opinion of the Cantos was sharply divided. To many the indicated pattern 
was a masterpiece of obfuscation, a jig-saw puzzle with the important pieces missing. 
"About the poems," wrote Edward Fitzgerald, "there hangs a dismal mist of un- 
resolved confusion. Through that mist we can see fact, but fact historically stated, 
enlivened in no way by either a creative or a critical process." Some found it a garble 
of literature and nothing else, composed of scraps from newspapers, oddments from 
documents difficult of access, and the minor classics, all piled upon each other with- 
out an original idea or an experience outside of print. To others it was a modern 
Gospel. "One of the three great works of poetry of our time," wrote Allen Tate. 
Ford Madox Ford's enthusiasm was even less guarded. "The first words you have 
to say about the Cantos," said Ford, "is: Their extraordinary beauty . . . They 
form an unparalleled history of a world seen from those shores which arc the home 
of our civilization." John Crowe Ransom's estimate was more temperate He con- 
cluded, "Mr. Pound, in his capacity of guide to literature, never wearies of telling 
us about the troubadour songs of Provence, which he reveres. He lays down the law 
that, the further the poem goes from its original character of song, the more dubious 
is its estate. But what if we apply that canon to the Cantos? The result is that we 
find ourselves sometimes admiring in Mr. Pound's poetry an effect of brilliance and 
nearly always missing the effect of poetry." 

Whatever differences arose concerning the finality of Pound's performance, none 
could dispute the power of his influence. The accent of the Cantos can be traced 
through Eliot's The Waste Land, Hart Crane's The Fridge, and MacLeish's longer 
poems, particularly his Conquistador. Moreover, any attempt to do justice to Pound 
must take account of the chronology of his work in relation to others. He in- 
vented the term "Imagism" and organized the Imagist school long before the en- 
suing period of exploitation. He published Cathay in 1915, and rendered Certain 
Noble Plays of Japan from the Fenollosa Manuscripts, anticipating the flood of 
Chinese and Japanese translations that, soon after, inundated the country. He 



W EZRA POUND 

"placed" Tagore as literary artist, not as messiah, and saw the Bengalese poet become 
a cult. He fought for the musician George Antheil; wrote a study of Gaudier 
Brzeska, when that sculptor was unknown; created a controversy by his Provencal 
paraphrases, expanded his Italian studies into The Poems of Guido Cavalcanti. 

Besides his poetry Pound wrote, translated, and edited more than fourteen volumes 
of prose, the most characteristic being A B C of Reading (1934), an exposition of a 
critical method; Ma^e it New (1935), which is a deceptive title since all but one of 
the essays appeared in Pavannes and Divisions (1918) and Instigations (1920); and 
the little known Imaginary Letters. 

Pound's voluminous and highly personal prose Culture (1939) was followed by 
Cantos LII-LXXI (1940). The two volumes complement each other in their incon- 
sistencies: in historical oddities and elliptical references, in erratic philosophy and 
objectionable politics. Pound's increasing bias against America developed into an 
attack on all democracies; he championed Fascism, even to the extent of becoming 
its protagonist via the official Italian short-wave radio. The Cantos grow pedantic 
and petulant. They represent an ever-growing flux of Greek myth, Chinese culture, 
medieval usury and local history. Hitherto it was conjectured that the architecture 
of the Cantos was that of a fugue; but the latest annotator (with Pound's sanction) 
refers to it as a Commedia. We are told that the Greek, Renaissance, and World 
War episodes are the Inferno; the history of money and banking form the Purga- 
torio; while the Cantos to come will construct the Paradiso. Finally we are gravely 
informed that, whereas most English verse is written in iambic meter, the Cantos 
have a great number of feet which are trochaic, dactylic, anapcstic, and spondaic, 
and that this results in "nothing less than a revolution in English versification, a 
new basis for the writing of poetry." 

In his argumentative introduction to The Oxford Eoo\ of Modern Verse Yeats 
maintained that, although Eza Pound had more style than any contemporary poet, 
his style was constantly broken and "twisted into nothing by its direct opposite: 
nervous obsession, nightmare, stammering confusion." Conceding Pound's influence, 
Yeats concluded that Pound was u a brilliant improvisator translating at sight from 
an unknown Greek masterpiece." It is an apt epigram if an incomplete disposal. 
In all of Pound's work, from the clipped products of his Imagist period to the 
gathering bulk of the Cantos there is the feeling of brilliant (if inaccurate) transla- 
tion, the air of antiquity lovingly disguised as advanced thinking. 

Too special to achieve permanence, too arrogant and erudite to become popular, 
Pound's contribution to the period should not be underestimated. He was a pioneer 
in the new forms; he fought dullness wherever he encountered it; he experimented 
in a poetic speech which was alive and essentially his own. This new tone and 
technique helped broaden a path recognized by a few and unacknowledged by 
many who followed the trail nonchalantly, unconscious of who had blazed it. Much 
of Pound's art is difficult, much of it is poetry in pantomime, but even the dumb- 
show and the difficulties are significant. 



y AN IMMORALITY 

Sing we for love and idleness, 
Naught else is worth the having. 



EZRA POUND 343 

Though I have been in many a land, 
There is naught else in living. 

And I would rather have my sweet, 
Though rose-leaves die of grieving, 

Than do high deeds in Hungary 
To pass all men's believing. 



A VIRGINAL 

No, no! Go from me. I have left her lately. 

I will not spoil my sheath with lesser brightness, 

For my surrounding air has a new lightness; 

Slight are her arms, yet they have bound me straitly 

And left me cloaked as with a gauze of ether; 

As with sweet leaves; as with a subtle clearness. 

Oh, I have picked up magic in her nearness 

To sheathe me half in half the things that sheathe her. 

No, no! Go from me. I have still the flavor, 

Soft as spring wind that's come from birchen bowers. 

Green come the shoots, aye April in the branches, 

As winter's wound with her sleight hand she staunches, 

Hath of the trees a likeness of the savor: 

As white their bark, so white this lady's hours. 



BALLAD FOR GLOOM 

For God, our God is a gallant foe 
That playeth behind the veil. 

I have loved my God as a child at heart 
That seeketh deep bosoms for rest, 
I have loved my God as a maid to man 
But lo, this thing is best: 

To love your God as a gallant foe that plays behind the veil; 
To meet your God as the night winds meet beyond Arcturus' pale. 

I have played with God for a woman, 
I have staked with my God for truth, 
I have lost to my God as a man, clear-eyed 
His dice be not of ruth. 

For I am made as a naked blade, 
But hear ye this thing in sooth: 

Who loseth to God as man to man 

Shall win at the turn of the game. 
I have drawn my blade where the lightnings meet 



314 



EZRA POUND 



But the ending is the same: 
Who loseth to God as the sword blades lose 
Shall win at the end of the game. 

For Cod, our God is a gallant foe that playeth behind the veil. 
Whom God deigns not to overthrow hath need of triple mail. 



GREEK EPIGRAM 

Day and night are never weary, 
Nor yet is God of creating 
For day and night their 4:orch-bearers 
The aube and the crepuscule. 

So, when I weary of praising the dawn and 
the sunset, 

Let me be no more counted among the im- 
mortals; 

But number me amid the wearying ones, 

Let me be a man as the herd, 

And as the slave that is given In barter. 



BALLAD OF THE GOODLY FERE 

(Simon Zdotes spea\eth it somewhde after 
the Crucifixion) 

Ha' we lost the goodliest fere o' all 
For the priests and the gallows tree? 
Aye, lover he was of brawny men, 
O' ships and the open sea. 

When they came wi' a host to take Our Man 
His smile was good to see, 
"First let these go!" quo' our Goodly Fere, 
"Or I'll see ye damned," says he. 

Aye, he sent us out through the crossed high 

spears, 

And the scorn of his laugh rang free, 
"Why took ye not me when I walked about 
Alone in the town?" says he. 

Oh we drank his "Hale" in the good red 

wine 

When we last made company, 
No capon priest was the Goodly Fere 
But a man o' men was he. 

I ha* seen him drive a hundred men 
Wi' a bundle o' cords swung free, 

1 Fere =: Mate, Companion. 



When they took the high and holy house 
For their pawn and treasury. 

They'll no get him a* in a book I think 

Though they write it cunningly; 

No mouse of the scrolls was the Goodly 

Fere 
But aye loved the open sea. 

If they think they ha* snared our Goodly Fere 
They are fools to the last degree. 
"I'll go to the feast," quo' our Goodly Fere, 
"Though I go to the gallows tree." 

"Ye ha* seen me heal the lame and the blind, 
And wake the dead," says he, 
"Ye shall see one thing to master all: 
'Tis how a brave man dies on the tree." 

A son of God was the Goodly Fere 
That bade us his brothers be. 
I ha' seen him cow a thousand men. 
I ha' seen him upon the tree. 

He cried no cry when they dravc the nails 
And the blood gushed hot and free, 
The hounds of the crimson sky gave tongue 
But never a cry cried he. 

I ha* seen him cow a thousand men 

On the hills o' Galilee, 

They whined as he walked out calm between, 

Wi' his eyes like the gray o' the sea. 

Like the sea that brooks no voyaging 
With the winds unleashed and free, 
Like the sea that he cowed at Gennesaret 
Wi' twey words spoke' suddenly. 

A master of men was the Goodly Fere, 
A mate of the wind and sea, 
If they think they ha' slain our Goodly Fere 
They are fools eternally. 



EZRA POUND 



345 



I ha* seen him eat o* the honey-comb Tree you are, 

Sin* they nailed him to the tree. Moss you are, 

You are violets with wind above them. 
A child so high you are; 
A G l R L And all this is folly to the world. 

The tree has entered my hands, 

The sap has ascended my arms, JN A STATION OF TnE METRO 

The tree has grown in my breast 

Downward, The apparition of these faces m the crowd; 

The branches grow out of me, like arms. Petals on a wet, black bough. 

DANCE FIGURE 

(For the Marriage tn Cana of Galilee) 
Dark eyed, 

woman of my dreams, 
Ivory sandaled, 

There is none like thec among the dancers, 
None with swift feet. 

1 have not found thee in the tents, 
In the broken darkness. 

I have not found thcc at the well-head 

Among the women with pitchers. 

Thmc arms are as a young sapling under the bark; 

Thy face as a river with lights. 

White as an almond are thy shoulders; 
As new almonds stripped from the husk. 
They guard thee not with eunuchs; 
Not with bars of copper. 

Gilt turquoise and silver are in the place of thy rest. 

A brown robe with threads of gold woven in patterns hast thou gathered about thee, 

O Nathat-Ikanaie, "Tree-at-the-nver." 

As a nllet among the sedge are thy hands upon me; 
Thy fingers a frosted stream. 

Thy maidens are white like pebbles; 
Their music about thee! 

There is none like thee among the dancers; 
None with swift feet. 

AfiPIA 

Be in me as the eternal moods 

of the bleak wind, and not 
As transient things are 

gayety of flowers. 



34 6 EZRA POUND 

Have me in the strong loneliness 

of sunless clifls 
And of gray waters. 

Let the gods speak softly of us 
In days hereafter, 

the shadowy flowers of Orcus 
Remember thee. 



SILET 

When I behold how black, immortal ink 
Drips from my deathless pen ah, well-away! 
Why should we stop at all for what I think? 
There is enough in what I chance to say. 

It is enough that we once came together; 
What is the use of setting it to rime? 
When it is autumn do we get spring weather, 
Or gather may of harsh northwmdish time? 

It is enough that we once came together; 
What if the wind have turned against the rain? 
It is enough that we once came together; 
Time has seen this, and will not turn again. 

And who are we, who know that last intent, 
To plague tomorrow with a testament! 



PORTRAIT D UNE 

Your mind and you arc our Sargasso Sea, 

London has swept about you this score years 

And bright ships left you this or that m fee: 

Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things, 

Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price. 

Great minds have sought you lacking someone else. 

You have been second always. Tragical? 

No. You preferred it to the usual thing: 

One dull man, dulling and uxorious, 

One average mind with one thought less, each year. 

Oh, you are patient. I have seen you sit 

Hours, where something might have floated up. 

And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay. 

You are a person of some interest, one comes to you 

And takes strange gam away: 

Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion; 

Fact that leads nowhere; and a talc for two, 

Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else 

That might prove useful and yet never proves, 

That never fits a corner or shows use, 

1 Compare the poem on the same theme on page 429. 



EZRA POUND 



347 



Or finds its hour upon the loom of days: 
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work; 
Idols, and ambergris and rare inlays. 
These are your riches, your great store; and yet 
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things, 
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff: 
In the slow float of differing light and deep, 
Not there is nothing' In the whole and all, 
Nothing that's quite your own. 

Yet this is you. 



THE RETURN 

See, they return; ah sec the tentative 
Movements, and the slow feet, 
The trouble in the pace and the 

uncertain 
Wavering' 

See, they return, one, and by one, 
With fear, as half-awakened; 
As if the snow should hesitate 
And murmur in the wind, 

and half turn back; 
These were the "Wmg'd-with-Awe," 

Inviolable. 

Gods of the winged shoe' 
With them the silver hounds, 

sniffing the trace of air! 

Haie' Haic' 

These were the swift to harry; 
These were the keen-scented; 
These were the souls of blood. 

Slow on the leash, 

pallid the leash-men! 

ENVOI 

Go, dumb-born book, 

Tell her that sang me once that song of 

Lawes: 

Hadst thou but song 
As thou hast subjects known, 
Then were there cause in thee that should 

condone 

Even my faults that heavy upon me lie, 
And build her glories their longevity. 



Tell her that sheds 

Such treasure in the air, 

Recking naught else but that her graces give 

Life to the moment, 

I would bid them live 

As roses might, in magic amber laid, 

Red overwrought with orange and all made 

One substance and one color 

Braving time. 

Tell her that goes 

With song upon her lips 

But sings not out the song, nor knows 

The maker of it, some other mouth, 

May be as fair as hers, 

Might, in new ages, gam her worshipers, 

When our two dusts with Waller's shall be 

laid, 

Sif lings on sif tings in oblivion, 
Till change hath broken down 
All things save Beauty alone. 

THE REST 

O helpless few in my country, 
O remnant enslaved' 

Artists broken against her, 
Astray, lost in the villages, 
Mistrusted, spoken-agamst, 

Lovers of beauty, starved, 
Thwarted with systems, 
Helpless against the control; 

You who cannot wear yourselves out 

By persisting to successes, 

You who can only speak, 

Who cannot steel yourselves into reiteration; 



34 8 

You of the finer sense, 
Broken against false knowledge, 
You who can know at first hand, 
Hated, shut in, mistrusted: 



EZRA POUND 



Take thought: 

I have weathered the storm, 

I have beaten out my exile. 



ITE 



Go, my songs, seek your praise from the young and from the intolerant, 
Move among the lovers of perfection alone. 
Seek ever to stand in the hard Sophoclcan light 
And take your wounds from it gladly. 



CANTO I 

And then went down to the ship, 

Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and 

We set up mast and sail on that swart ship, 

Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also 

Heavy with weeping, and winds from stcrnward 

Bore us out onward with bellying canvas, 

Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess. 

Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller, 

Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day's end. 

Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean, 

Came we then to the bounds of deepest water, 

To the Kimmenan lands, and peopled cities 

Covered with closc-wcbbcd mist, unpierced ever 

With glitter of sun-ray 

Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven 

Swartest night stretched over wretched men there. 

The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place 

Aforesaid by Circe. 

Here did they rites, Perimedcs and Eurylochus, 

And drawing sword from my hip 

I dug the ell-square pitkin; 

Poured we libations unto each the dead, 

First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with white flour. 

Then prayed I many a prayer to the sickly death's-heads; 

As set in Ithaca, sterile bulls of the best 

For sacrifice, heaping the pyre with goods, 

A sheep to Tircsias only, black and a bell-sheep. 

Dark blood flowed in the fosse, 

Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides 

Of youths and of the old who had borne much; 

Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender, 

Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads, 

Battle spoil, bearing yet dreary arms, 

These many crowded about me; with shouting, 

Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts; 

Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze; 



EZRA POUND 349 

Poured ointment, cried to the gods, 

To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine; 

Unsheathed the narrow sword, 

I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead, 

Till I should hear Tiresias. 

But first Elpcnor came, our friend Elpenor, 

Unbuned, cast on the wide earth, 

Limbs that we left in the house of Circe, 

Unwept, unwrapped in scpulcher, since toils urged other. 

Pitiful spirit. And I cried in hurried speech: 

"Elpenor, how art thou come to this dark coast" 5 

"Cam'st thou afoot, outstripping seamen?" 

And he in heavy speech: 

"111 fate and abundant wine. I slept in Circe's ingle. 
"Going down the long ladder unguarded, 
"I fell against the buttress, 

"Shattered the nape-nerve, the soul sought Avcrnus. 
"But thou, O King, I bid remember me, unwept, unburied, 
"Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-board, and inscribed: 
"'A man of no jonune and with a name to come' 
"And set my oar up, that I swung mid fellows." 

* 

And Anticlca came, whom I beat off, and then Tiresias Theban, 
Holding his golden wand, knew rne, and spoke first: 
"A second time? why? man of ill star, 
"Facing the sunless dead and this joyless region? 
"Stand from the fosse, leave me my bloody bever 
"For soothsay." 

And I stepped back, 

And he strong with the blood, said then: "Odysseus 
"Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas, 
"Lose all companions." And then Anticlea came. 
Lie quiet Divus. I mean that is Andreas Divus, 
In officma Wccheli, 1538, out of Homer. 
And he sailed, by Sirens and thence outward and away 
And unto Circe. 

Vencrandam, 

In the Cretan's phrase, with the golden crown, Aphrodite, 
Cypn mummenta sortita est, mirthful, oncalchi, with golden 
Girdles and breast bands, thou with dark eyelids 
Bearing the golden bough of Argicida. 



Louis Untermeyer 



L)uis UNTERMEYER was born October i, 1885, in New York City, where he lived, 
except for brief intervals, until 1923. His schooling was 'fitful and erratic; he 
liked to boast that he was the least educated writer in America. He attended the 
De Witt Clinton High School, but his failure to comprehend the essentials of geom- 



J50 LOUIS UNTERMEYER 

etry prevented him from graduating. In youth his one ambition was to be a com- 
poser. At sixteen he appeared as a semi-professional pianist; at seventeen he entered 
his father's jewelry manufacturing establishment. For nearly twenty years he com- 
muted to Newark, New Jersey, being advanced from designer to factory manager 
and vice-president. In 1923 he retired and, after two years of study abroad, returned 
to America to devote himself entirely to literature. In 1928 he achieved a lifelong 
desire, acquiring a farm, a trout-stream, and half a mountain of sugar-maples in 
the Adirondacks. There he indulges himself in his two pet vices: cats and puns, 
and his guests frequently complain of both. He became "poet in residence" at vari- 
ous universities. His lectures brought him into every state of the Union except South 
Dakota, The talks ranged through the arts and their social implications, many of 
his seminars presumed to teach teachers what not to teach. 

It is difficult for the present compiler to consider this writer as severely as he 
deserves, the editor not having attained toward the poet that Olympian detachment 
which is the goal of criticism. However, it is evident that his work is divided into 
four kinds- his poetry, his parodies, his translations, and his prose. His initial volume 
of verse, First Love (1911), was a sequence of some seventy lyrics in which the 
influences of Heine and Housman were not only obvious but crippling. It was with 
Challenge (1914) that the author first declared himself with any sort of integrity. 
Although the ghost of Henley haunts many of these pages, poems like "Prayer" 
and "Caliban in the Coal Mines" show "a fresh and lyrical sympathy with the 
modern world. . . . His vision" (thus The Boston Ttansctipt) "is a social vision, 
his spirit a passionately energized command of the forces ot justice." Challenge was 
succeeded by These Times (1917), which lacked the unity of its predecessor. The 
New Adam (1920) is somewhat better; "a frank expression of the modern poet's 
conception of love, this new Adam, caught in the eternal struggle of the flesh, is 
the child of a complex and analytical age." 

Roast Leviathan (1923) was the most luxuriant of his volumes. The American 
critics found it too exuberant, but the English reviewers praised "the lavish use of 
interior rhyme and assonance, brilliant as an Oriental tapestry." "On every subject 
he treats," wrote Edwin Muir, "he gives opulent measure, an opulence within the 
reach of nobody in contemporary verse but himself." In Burning Bush (1928) the 
key is quieter, the tone surer. Food and Diin\ (1932) is a further progress; many 
of the poems (notably "Food and Drink" and "Last Words Before Winter") experi- 
ment in the masking of serious, even solemn, emotion in a light tone of voice. 

Four volumes of his parodies were combined in Collected Parodies (1926), which 
the author, with great self-restraint, refrained from calling "Parodies Regained." His 
interests in German backgrounds and literature were manifested in Poems of H cm- 
rich Heine (1917); a translation of Ernst Toller's Masse Mensch, produced by the 
Theatre Guild in 1923; and Blue Rhine Blac\ Forest (1930), an informal guide 
and day-book. His translations from Heine were revised and amplified to form the 
second volume of an analytical biography, Heinrich Heine: Paradox and Poet 

(i937)- 

Beginning with an adaptation of Gottfried Keller's Swiss stories (published under 
the title The Fat of* the Cat) the author alternately wrote volumes of prose and 
poetry. The best of his fiction, he insists, is Moses (1928), miscalled a novel. Ac- 
tually the work is a combination of historical reconstruction and poetic fantasia. 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER #/ 

Other fictional work included The Donkey of God (1932), written for a young 
audience, which won the Italian Emt Award in 1934 for the best recent book on 
Italy written in any language by a non-Italian, and The Last Pit ate (1934), m 
which the author presumed to do for Gilbert and Sullivan what the Lambs had 
done for Shakespeare. 

A book of essays, The New Era in American Poetty (1919), was amplified and 
shaped into a more balanced set of twenty subdivided chapters as Amcncan Poetry 
Since 7900 (1923). The critical anthologies Modern Amencan Poctiy and Modern 
Bntish Poetty were revised and enlarged several times since their original publica- 
tion in 1919 and 1920, and used as textbooks in the universities. A companion vol- 
ume, Amencan Poetty fiom the Beginning to Whitman (i93i)> attempted a com- 
prehensive and drastic reappraisal of native poetry from 1620 to 1880. 

Besides these critical compilations the editor prepared several anthologies with a 
minimum of prefatory or interpretive matter: The Boot^ of Living Vctse (1952), 
the widest in scope, ranging from the thirteenth century to the twentieth; Yesterday 
and Today (1927), a comparative collection of the present and the immediate past; 
This Singing Wofld (1923), a selection of modern verse for a not too elderly audi- 
ence; This Singing Wot Id jot Younger Readers (1926); Rainbow in the S^y (1935); 
and Stars to Steet By (1941). These volumes were widely adopted in high schools 
and colleges, as was The Foims of Poetry (1926), a "pocket dictionary of verse." 

New Songs for New Voices (1928), a collaboration with David and Clara 
Mannes, wedded modern music to modern poetry and gave the editor the oppor- 
tunity to make his first (and List) public appearance as composer. Poetry Its 
Appieaation and Enjoyment (1934), written with Carter Davidson, is a cross be- 
tween a treatise and a textbook. Selected Poems and Parodies (1935), assembles the 
best of Untermcyer's serious poems. This volume, said William Rose Ik-net hand 
somely, "entitles him to occupy the place of a Heine in America." I Its standing as 
critic was enhanced by Play m Poetfy (1937), a set of commentaries delivered as 
lectures on the Henry Ward Beechcr Foundation at Amhcrst. From Anothn Wot Id 
(1939) is not so much an autobiography as a set of autobiographical reminiscences 
which give a direct picture of a period 

Before his fiftieth year Untermeyer had written and compiled thirty volumes of 
prose and verse; had served as associate editor of such magazines as The Liberator 
and The Seven Arts; had been Poetry Editor of The Amencan Meicuiy from 1934 
to 1937; and had written the articles on modern Amcncan poetry for the Encyclo- 
paedia Bntannica. A friend of young authors, he spends part ol his summers with 
Robert Frost conducting courses at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Vermont. 

PRAYER From sleek contentment keep me free, 

God, though this life is but a wraith, And fil1 mc w ' th A bu y ant doubt ' 

Although we know not what we use, ~ 

Although we grope with little faith, %? l ^ to v ! slon ? 8> rt , .. 

Give me the heart to fight-and lose. _ W . lth bca 7> and wlt j w ? n lrt ~ 

But let me always see the dirt, 

Ever insurgent let me be, An ^ all that spawn and die in it. 

Make me more daring than devout; 



352 LOUIS'UNTERMEYER 

Open my ears to music; let From compromise and things half-done, 

Me thrill with Spring's first flutes and Keep me, with stern and stubborn pride, 
drums And when, at last, the fight is won, 

But never let me dare forget God, keep me still unsatisfied. 

The bitter ballads of the slums. 



CALIBAN IN THE COAL MINES God, if You had but the moon 

God, we don't like to complain; r Stuc J^ ir ? 1 Your c f a P for a lam P> 

We know that the mine is no lark. Evcn You d '"* f J l soon > , 

But-there's the pools from the rain; Down m the dark and the dam P- 

But there's the cold and the dark. 1,11- 

Nothing but blackness above 

God, You don't know what it is And nothing that moves but the cars. 

You, in Your well-lighted sky God, if You wish for our love, 

Watching the meteors whizz; Fling us a handful of stars! 

Warm, with a sun always by. 



THE DARK CHAMBER 

The brain forgets, but the blood will remember. 

There, when the play of sense is over, 
The last, low spark in the darkest chamber 

Will hold all there is of love and lover. 

The war of words, the life-long quarrel 
Of self against self will resolve into nothing; 

Less than the chain of berry-red coral 

Crying against the dead black of her clothing. 

What has the brain that it hopes to last longer? 

The blood will take from forgotten violence, 
The groping, the break of her voice in anger. 

There will be left only color and silence. 

These will remain, these will go searching 
Your veins for life when the flame of life smolders: 

The night that you two saw the mountains marching 
Up against dawn with the stars on their shoulders 

The jetting poplars' arrested fountains 
As you drew her under them, easing her pain 

The notes, not the words, of a halt-finished sentence 
The music, the silence. . . . These will remain. 



SCARCELY SPRING 

Nothing is real. The world has lost its edges; 
The sky, uncovered, is the one thing clear. 
The earth is little more than atmosphere 
Where yesterday were rocks and naked ridges. 
Nothing is fixed. Tentative rain dislodges 



LOUIS VNTERMEYER 



353 



Green upon green or lifts a coral spear 
That breaks in blossom, and the hills appear 
Too frail to be the stony truit of ages. 

Nothing will keep. Even the heavens waver. 
Young larks, whose first thought is to cry aloud, 
Have spent their bubble notes. And here or there 
A few slow-hearted boys and girls discover 
A moon as unsubstantial as a cloud 
Painted by air on washed and watery air. 

LONG FEUD 

Where, without bloodshed, can there be Only to lie in wait, although 

A more relentless enmity lie builds above and digs below 

Than the long feud fought silently Where never a root would dare to go. 

Between man and the growing grass. His are the triumphs till the day 

Man's the aggressor, for he has There's no more grass to cut away 

Weapons to humble and harass And, weary of labor, weary of play, 

The impudent spears that charge upon I laving exhausted every whim, 

His sacred privacy ot lawn. He stretches out each conquering limb. 

He mows them down, and they are gone And then the small grass covers him. 

UNREASONING HEART 

Here in a world whose heaven is powder-white, 

Where, cased in glass, the branches Ixrar a weight 

Too light for leaves and far too cold for flowers, 

Nothing disturbs these alabaster floors. 

The black stream does not move; it is a vein 

Of onyx cropping out, a metal vine 

Twisted and thrown away. There is no sound. 

Blankets of snow, curtains of snow-ilake sand 

Bury the footsteps of the one man here. 

Here, where the world has died, away from her, 

Here for the fevered mind too long harassed 

Is wintry silence, cooling space and rest. 

Waves of a soundless music rise to lift 

The unbuncd thing that lived and even laughed. 

And, as a broken life can be made whole 

By looking at the slant of one long hill, 

In this eternity of peace, the heart 

Forgetting all forgets that it can hurt. 

And yet, does even the weariest heart want peace? 
Back to the fever, the intemperate pace, 
Back to the ruthless word, the headlong deed 
(Fearing that passion stilled is passion dead) 
The worn heart hungers. Forever unappeased, 



354 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 



Forever ^elf-persuaded, self-opposed, 
It turns away from each escape, to pine 
For the old wars and victories of pain; 
Embracing all that reason hopes to leave, 
With no less hurt and even greater love. 
As though to cry, "Here I belong I must! 
Here is the place where I have suffered most." 



FOOD AND DRINK 

Why has our poetry eschewed 
The rapture and response of food ? 
What hymns are sung, what prayers are said 
For home-made miracles of bread ? 
Since what we love has always found 
Expression in enduring sound, 
Music and verse should be competing 
To match the transient joy of eating. 
There should be present in our songs 
As many tastes as there are tongues; 
There should be humbly celebrated 
One passion that is never sated. 

Let us begin it with the first 

Distinction of a conscious thirst 

When the collusion ot the vine 

Uplifted water into wine. 

Let us give thanks before we turn 

To other things of less concern 

For all the poetry of the table: 

Clams that parade their silent fable; 

Lobsters that have a rock for stable; 

Red-faced tomatoes ample as 

A countryman's full-bosomed lass; 

Plain-spoken turnips; honest beets; 

The carnal gusto oi red meats; 

The wood-fire pungence of smoked ham; 

The insipidity of lamb; 

Young veal that's smooth as natural silk; 

The lavish mothcrlmess of milk; 

Sweet-sour carp, beloved by Jews; 

Pot luck simplicity of stews; 

Crabs, juiciest of Nature's jokes; 

The deep reserve of artichokes; 

Mushrooms, whose taste is texture, loath 

To tell of their mysterious growth; 

Quick, mealy comfort glowing in 

A baked potato's crackled skin; 

The morning promise, hailed by man, 

Of bacon crisping in the pan; 

The sage compound of Hasenpfeffer 

With dumplings born of flour and zephyr; 



Anchovies glorified in oil; 

Spinach whose spirit is the soil; 

Corn that is roasted in the ash; 

The eternal compromise of hash; 

The Slow-gold nectar maples yield; 

Pale honey tasting of the field 

Where every clover is Hymettus; 

The cooling sanity of lettuce, 

And every other herbal green 

Whose touch is calm, whose heart is clean; 

Succulent bean-sprouts; bamboo-shoots; 

The sapid catalogue of fruits: 

Plebeian apple; caustic grape; 

Quinces that have no gift for shape; 

Dull plums that mind their own affairs; 

Incurably bland and blunted pears; 

Fantastic passion-fruit; frank lemons 

With acid tongues as sharp as women's; 

Exotic loquats; sly persimmons; 

White currants; amber-fleshed sultanas 

(Miniature and sweetened mannas); 

Expansive peaches; suave bananas; 

Oranges ripening in crates; 

Tight-bodied figs; sun-wrinkled dates; 

Melons that have their own vagaries; 

The bright astnngency of berries; 

Pepper, whose satire stings and cuts; 

The pointless persiflage of nuts; 

Sauces of complex mysteries; 

Proverbial parsnips; muscular cheese; 

Innocent eggs that scorn disguises; 

Languid molasses; burning spices 

In kitchen-oracles to Isis; 

Thick sauerkraut's fat-bellied savor; 

Anything with a chocolate flavor; 

Deep generosity of pies; 

Rich puddings bursting to surprise; 

The smug monotony of rice; 

Raisins that doze in cinnamon buns; 

Kentucky biscuits, Scottish scones; 

Venison steaks that smack of cloisters; 

Goose-liver for the soul that roisters; 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 

Reticent prawn; Lucullan oysters; 
Sausages, fragrant link on link. . . . 

The vast ambrosias of drink: 
Tea, that domestic mandarin; 
Bucolic cider; loose-lipped gin; 
Coffee, extract of common sense, 
Purgative of the night's pretense; 
Cocoa's prim nursery; the male 
Companionship of crusty ale; 
Cognac as oily as a ferret; 
The faintly iron thrust of claret; 
Episcopal port, aged and austere; 
Rebellious must of grape; the clear, 
Bluff confraternity of beer 

All these are good, all are a part 
Of man's imperative needs that start 
Not in the palate but the heart. 
Thus fat and fiber, root and leaf, 
Become quick fuel and slow grief. 
These, through the chemistry of blood, 
Sustain his hungering manhood, 
Fulfilling passion, ripening pain; 
Steel in his bone, fire at his brain. 
So, until man abjures the meats 
Terrestrial, and impermanent sweets, 
Growing beyond the thing he eats, 
Let us be thankful for the good 
Beauty and benison of food; 
Let us join chiming vowel with vowel 
To rhapsodize fish, flesh and fowl; 
And let us thank God in our songs 
There are as many tastes as tongues! 



LAST WORDS BEFORE WINTER 

All my sheep 

Gather m a heap, 

For I spy the woolly, woolly wolf. 



355 

Farewell, my flocks, 
Farewell. But let me find you 
Safe in your stall and bam and box 
With your winter's tale behind you. 

Farewell, my cattle (both). 

I leave you just as loath 

As though you were a hundred head, 

Instead 

Of two-and-a-half. 

(Two cows and a calf.) 

Farewell, my apple-trees; 

You have learned what it is to freeze, 

With the drift on your knees. 

But, oh, beware 

Those first kind days, the snare 

Of the too promising air, 

The cost 

Of over-sudden trust 

And then the killing frost/ 

Farewell, beloved acres; 

I leave you in the hands 

Of one whose earliest enterprise was lands: 

Your Maker's. 

Yard, hutch, and house, farewell. 

It is for you to tell 

How you withstood the great white wolf, 

whose fell 

Is softer than a lambkin's, but whose breath 
Is death. 

Farewell, hoof, claw, and wing, 
Finned, furred, and feathered thing, 
Till Spring 

All my sheep 

Gather in a heap, 

For I spy the woolly, woolly wolf. 



AGAINST TIME 



The event stands clear of history. 

Originality 

Is not in ranks of trees, but in this tree; 

And every fruit is the first fruit 

Shapely and absolute. 



Events are individual as pain. 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 



This day, this trouble-fingering rain 

His never been. 

Beauty comes clean 

In the cock's rusty vowels or in 

Sky-searching towers that lift 

Themselves light as a swift. 

Time's a machine 

That clocks the outworn, the untrue. 

But we have seen 

What no clock has recorded; we have seen 

Time counted and completed; we have seen 

Newness begetting newness, and the old 

Refuse to die, take hold, 

Assume free shape, deny the habitual mould; 

While earth, love, substance grew 

As it was made to do. 

And the event stood new. 

MOTHER GOOSE UP-TO-DATE 
JOHN MASEFIELD 

Relates the Story of Tom, Tom, the Pipers Son 

Thomas, the vagrant piper's son, 
Was fourteen when he took to fun; 
He was the sixth ot a bewildenn' 
Family of eleven children. 
Mary, the first of all the lot? 
Was married to a drunken sot; 
And Clement, second on the list, 
Fell off the roof and was never missed. 
Susan and little Goldilocks 
Were carried off by the chicken-pox; 
And Franky went though I can't recall 
Whatever happened to him at all. 
Thomas was next and he's still alive, 
The only one of them all to thrive. 
The rest just petered out somehow 
At least, nobody hears of them now. 

Now Tom, as I said when I'd begun, 
Was fourteen when he took to fun. 
Wine was the stuff he loved to swim in; 
He lied, and fought, and went with women. 
He scattered oaths, as one flings bounties, 
The dirtiest dog in seven counties. 

One morning when the sun was high 
And larks were cleaving the blue sky, 
Singing as though their hearts would break 
With April's keen and happy ache, 
Thomas went walking, rather warm, 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 557 

Beside old Gaffer Hubbard's farm. 

He saw that wintry days were over 

And bees were out among the clover. 

Earth stretched its legs out in the sun; 

Now that the spring was well begun, 

Heaven itself grew bland and fat. 

So Thomas loafed a while and spat, 

And thought about his many follies 

Yonder the gang was tipping trollies. 

The sight made Tom's red blood run quicker 

Than whiskey, beer or any liquor. 

"By cnpes," he said, "that's what I need; 

'Twill make a man of me indeed. 

Why should I be a roaring slob 

When there's Salvation in a job'" 

He started up when lo, behind him, 

As though it sought to maim and blind him, 

A savage pig sprang straight against him. 

At first Tom kicked and fought and fenced him, 

And then he fell. But as they rolled 

Tom took a tight and desperate hold 

And thought the bloody fight was over. 

"Here is one pig that's not in clover 

Tonight I'll have you in my cupboard'" 

Who should come up but Gaffer Hubbard. 

"Leggo that pig." 

"What for?" says Tom. 
"It's mine, you lousy, thieving bum." 
"It ain't." 

"It is." 

"Clear out!" 

"We'll see." 
"I'll fix 'ee!" 

"Better let me be." 

With that the farmer turned again 

And called out half a dozen men. 

Up they came running. "Here," said he, 

"Here is a pig belongs to me 

But ye can have it all for eating 

If ye will give this tramp a beating." 

"Hurroo'" they shouted in high feather, 

And jumped on Thomas all together. 

So the pig was eat, and Tom was beat; 

And Tom went roaring down the street! 



WALTER DE LA MARE 

Tells the Listener About ]ac}^ and Jill 

Up to the top of the haunted turf 
They climbed on the moonlit hill. 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 



Not a leaf rustled in the underbrush; 
The listening air was still, 

And only the noise of the water pail 

As it struck on a jutting stone, 
Clattered and jarred against the silence 

As the two trod on alone. 

Up to the moonlit peak they went; 

And, though not a word would they say, 
Their thoughts outnumbered a poet's love-songs 

In the first green weeks of May. 

The stealthy shadows crept closer; 

They clutched at the hem of Jill's gown; 
And there at the very top she stumbled, 

And Jack came shuddering down. 

Their cries rang out against the stillness, 

Pitiful and high and thin. 
And the echoes edged back still further 

As the silence gathered them in. 



EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY 

Exhorts Little Boy Blue 

From that last acre on oblivion's heap 
Come, lad tricked out in bold and trumpery blue; 
Come, blow your idle horn, and send the few 
Notes with no name against the night. Here sheep 
Trample the fetid meadow; here cows creep, 
Raising their eyes wherever one or two 
Crushing the corn, pause to admire the view; 
Come, doubtful dreamer, spurn ignoble sleep. 

I tell you this, Boy Blue, lift up your horn 
Against the world's deliberate apathy, 
Or what we held so dear will be the scorn 
Of casual rats and roaches; life will be 
A town not worth the taking, a spent call. 
Grimly I tell you this. And this is all. 



ARCHIBALD MAC LEISH 

Suspends the Five Little Pigs 

. ' . So 

Went this little pig from the mainland to the market: 
Autumn it was: and a salt wind flowing: 

And the rotten gram left on the stalk for no harvest: 

And the going rough: the bread wormy the smoke turned sour: 

And the towns a jungle of dogs let loose in a rubble of garbage: 



LOUIS UNTERMEYER 559 

And this little pig stayed home: and this one devoured 
Roast upon roast of beef and drank the milk of the aloe: 
Rinsing his mouth with the melons: drowsing 

In a grove of clean sun interwoven with swallows: 

And the earth kind to the bone with rain's fragrance: 

And the moon stroking the breast and the hand grown callous: 

And this little pig had none not for love nor the paying 

Dust in his corded throat: and the knife above it: 

And the quick slit under the jaw: and he took it bravely: 

And this little pig the littlest and the loveliest 
Gallic m breed to the impudent turn of his tail 
Cried, "Oui! GUI! Oui!" all the way home . . . 

. . . and the hovering 
Gale from the . . . 

north . . . 

the sun-bright names . . . 
Gone from the page . . . 

and the blazing ... 

lives 
Hazy . . . 

the days passing . . . 

the faces 
Blurred or erased . . . 

and the five . . . 

the hunted five 
A word . . . 

a child's rhyme . . . 

in that country. . . . 

EDGAR A. GUEST 

Syndicates the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe 

It takes a heap o' children to make a home that's true, 

And home can be a palace grand, or just a plain, old shoe; 

But if it has a mother dear, and a good old dad or two, 

Why, that's the sort of good old home for good old me and you. 

Of all the institutions this side the Vale o' Rest 

Howe'er it be, it seems to me a good old mother's best; 

And fathers are a blessing, too, they give the place a tone; 

In fact each child should try and have some parents of its own. 

The food can be quite simple; just a sop of milk and bread 
Are plenty when the kiddies know it's time to go to bed. 
And every little sleepy-head will dream about the day 
When he can go to work because a Man's Work is his Play. 

And, oh, how sweet his life will seem, with nought to make him cross; 
And he will never watch the clock and always mind the boss. 
And when he thinks (as may occur), this thought will please him best: 
That ninety million think the same including Eddie Guest. 



360 fOHN GOULD FLETCHER 

John Gould Fletcher 

JOHN GOULD FLETCHER was born at Little Rock, Arkansas, January 3, 1886. He was 
educated at Harvard (1903-7) and, after spending several years in Massachusetts, 
moved to England, where he lived for fifteen years. In 1933 he returned to America, 
to the family home in Little Rock. 

In 1913 Fletcher published five books of poems which he has referred to as "his 
literary wild oats," five small collections of experimental and faintly interesting verse. 
In 1914, shortly after the publication of his Fire and Wine (one of the early quintet), 
Fletcher joined the Imagists. With H. D. and Amy Lowell he became one of the 
leaders of this interesting movement and his contributions were among the outstand- 
ing features of the three anthologies which furnish so illuminating a record of the 
esthetics of the period. Coincident with the first appearance of Some Imagist Poets, 
Fletcher discarded his previous style and emerged as a decidedly less conservative and 
far more arresting poet with Irradiations Sand and Spray (1915). This volume is 
full of an extraordinary fancy; imagination riots through it, though it is sometimes a 
bloodless and bodiless imagination. It is crowded even overcrowded with shifting 
subtleties; a brilliant, haphazard series of improvisations. 

In the following book, Goblins and Pagodas (1916), Fletcher carries his unrelated 
harmonies much further. Color dominates him; the ambitious set of eleven "color 
symphonies" is an elaborate design in which tone and thought are summoned by 
color-associations, sometimes closely related, sometimes far-fetched. "It contains," 
says Conrad Aiken in his appreciative chapter on Fletcher in Scepticisms, "little of 
the emotion which relates to the daily life of men and women. ... It is a sort of 
absolute poetry, a poetry of detached waver and brilliance, a beautiful flowering of 
language alone a parthenogenesis, as if language were fertilized by itself rather 
than by thought or feeling. Remove the magic of phrase and sound and there is 
nothing left: no thread of continuity, no thought, no story, no emotion. But the 
magic of phrase and sound is powerful, and it takes one into a fantastic world." 

In 1917 Fletcher again began to change in spirit as well as style. Emotion de- 
clared itself with surprising candor. After having appeared in the three Imagist 
anthologies, he sought for depths rather than surfaces; his "Lincoln" accomplished 
a closer relation to humanity. A moving mysticism speaks from The Tree of Life 
(1918); the more obviously native Granite and Breakers (1921) and Parables (1925) 
contain a prophetic note new to this poet. Though less arresting than the ones by 
which he is best known, the later poems reach depths which the preceding verses 
never attained. Although the unconscious often dictates Fletcher's fantasies, a calm 
music dominates them. A grave, subdued lyricism m6ves through The Blacl^ Roc\ 
(1928) and Branches of Adam (1926), in which the philosophy is akin to Nietzsche's 
while the motto might well be Blake's "How is it we have walked through fire, and 
yet are not consumed ? " Never a popular poet, Fletcher gains and suffers from 
his original and fluctuating power. He is the poet held in a state of flux. 

XXIV Elegies (1935) is a work which took Fletcher twenty years to write; the 
poems, one for each hour pf the twenty-four, having been composed between 1914 
and 1934. The dignified tone and depth of feeling are communicated throughout. 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 361 

There are, as there would be in a work of this character, many tedious passages, and 
an American poet in the twentieth century might have spared himself an elegy on 
"Tristan in Brittany" and an "Elegy on Tintern Abbey." But he atones for these 
lapses in the "Elegy on the Building of the Washington Bridge," "Elegy on the 
Jewish People," "Elegy in a Civil War Cemetery," and by the general accent, an 
inflection which uses the grand manner but restrains the rhetoric. South Star (1941) 
combines experience and legend; much of it is regional in theme. 

Besides his quality as poet Fletcher ranks high as a translator from the French, 
having made the English versions of The Dance over Fue and Water (by Elie 
Faure) in 1926 and The Reveries of a Solitary (by J. }. Rousseau) in 1927. The Two 
Frontiers (1930) is a speculative but highly serious consideration a sort of prophetic 
historical essay regarding the parallels and contrasts of America and Russia. 



FROM IRRADIATIONS 



Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds; 

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street. 

Whirlpools of purple and gold, 

Winds from the mountains of cinnabar, 

Lacquered mandarin moments, palanquins swaying and balancing 

Amid vermilion pavilions, against the jade balustrades, 

Glint of the glittering wings of dragon-flies in the light: 

Silver filaments, golden flakes settling downwards, 

Rippling, quivering flutters, repulse and surrender, 

The sun broidered upon the rain, 

The rain rustling with the sun. 

Over the roof-tops race the shadows of clouds; 

Like horses the shadows of clouds charge down the street. 

ii 

Flickering of incessant rain 

On flashing pavements: 

Sudden scurry of umbrellas: 

Bending, recurved blossoms of the storm. 

The winds come clanging and clattering 
From long white highroads whipping m ribbons up summits: 
They strew upon the city gusty wafts of apple-blossom, 
And the rustling of innumerable translucent leaves. 

Uneven tinkling, the lazy rain 
Dripping from the eaves. 

in 

The trees, like great jade elephants, 

Chained, stamp and shake 'neath the gadflies of the breeze; 
The trees lunge and plunge, unruly elephants: 
The clouds are their crimson howdah-canopies, 



562 JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 

The sunlight glints like the golden robe of a Shah. 
Would I were tossed on the wrinkled -backs of those trees. 

IV 

O seeded grass, you army of little men 

Crawling up the long slope with quivering, quick blades of steel: 

You who storm millions of graves, tiny green tentacles of Earth, 

Interlace yourselves tightly over my heart, 

And do not let me go: 

For I would lie here forever and watch with one eye 

The pilgrimaging ants in your dull, savage jungles, 

The while with the other I see the stiff lines of the slope 

Break in mid-air, a wave surprisingly arrested, 

And above them, wavering, dancing, bodiless, colorless, unreal, 

The long thin lazy fingers of the heat. 

v 

The morning is clean and blue and the wind blows up the clouds: 

Now my thoughts gathered from afar 

Once again in their patched armor, with rusty plumes and blunted swords, 

Move out to war. 

Smoking our morning pipes we shall ride two and two 

Through the woods, 

For our old cause keeps us together, 

And our hatred is so precious not death or defeat can break it. 

God willing, we shall this day meet that old enemy 
Who has given us so many a good beating. 
Thank God we have a cause worth fighting for, 
And a cause worth losing and a good song to sing 



GREEN SYMPHONY 



The glittering leaves of the rhododendrons 
Balance and vibrate in the cool air; 
While in the sky above them 
White clouds chase each other. 

Like scampering rabbits, 

Flashes of sunlight sweep the lawn; 

They fling in passing 

Patterns of shadow, 

Golden and green. 

With long cascades of laughter, 

The mating birds dart and swoop to the turf: 

'Mid their mad trillings 

Glints the gay sun behind the trees. 



}OHN GOULD FLETCHER 

Down there are deep blue lakes: 

Orange blossom droops in the water. 

In the tower of the winds 

All the bells are set adrift: 

Jingling 

For the dawn. 

Thin fluttering streamers 

Of breeze lash through the swaying boughs, 

Palely expectant 

The earth receives the slanting ram. 

The glittering leaves of the rhododendron 
Are shaken like blue-green blades of grass, 
Flickering, cracking, falling: 
Splintering in a million fragments. 

The wind runs laughing up the slope 

Stripping off. handfuls of wet green leaves, 

To fling in people's faces. 

Wallowing on the daisy-powdered turf, 

Clutching at the sunlight, 

Cavorting in the shadow. 

Like baroque pearls, 

Like cloudy emeralds, 

The clouds and the trees clash together; 

Whirling and swirling, 

In the tumult 

Of the spring, 

And the wind. 

n 

The trees splash the sky with their fingers 9 
A restless green rout of stars. 

With whirling movement 

They swing their boughs 

About their stems: < 

Planes on planes of light and shadow 

Pass among them, 

Opening fanlike to fall. 

The trees are like a sea; 

Tossing, 

Trembling, 

Roaring, 

Wallowing, 

Darting their long green flickering fronds up at the sky, 

Spotted with white blossom-spray. 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHEF 

The trees are roofs: 

Hollow caverns of cool blue shadow, 

Solemn arches 

In the afternoons. 

The whole vast horizon 

In terrace beyond terrace, 

Pinnacle above pinnacle, 

Lifts to the sky 

Serrated ranks of green on green. 

They caress the roofs with their fingers, 

They sprawl about the river to look into it; 

Up the hill they come 

Gesticulating challenge: 

They cower together 

In dark valleys; 

They yearn out over the fields. 

Enameled domes 
Tumble upon the grass> 
Crashing in rum, 
Quiet at last. 

The trees lash the sky with their leaves, 
Uneasily shaking their dark green manes. 

in 

Far let the voices of the mad wild birds be calling me, 
I will abide in this forest of pines. 

When the wind blows 
Battling through the forest, 
I hear it distantly, 
The crash of a perpetual sea. 

When the rain falls, 

I watch the silver spears slanting downwards 

From pale river-pools of sky, 

Enclosed in dark fronds. 

When the sun shines, 

I weave together distant branches till they enclose mighty circles, 

I sway to the movement of hooded summits, 

I swim leisurely in deep blue seas of air. 

I hug the smooth bark of stately red pillars 

And with cones carefully scattered 

I mark the progression of dark dial-shadows 

Flung diagonally downwards through the afternoon. 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 365 

This turf is not like turf: 

It is a smooth dry carpet of velvet, 

Embroidered with brown patterns of needles and cones. 

These trees are not like trees: 

They are innumerable feathery pagoda-umbrellas, 

Stiffly ungracious to the wind, 

Teetering on red-lacquered stems. 

In the evening I listen to the winds' lisping, 

While the conflagrations of the sunset flicker and clash behind me, 

Flamboyant crenellations of glory amid the charred ebony boles. 

In the night the fiery nightingales 
Shall clash and trill through the silence: 
Like the voices of mermaids crying 
From the sea. 

Long ago has the moon whelmed this uncompleted temple. 
Stars swim like gold fish far above the black arches. 

Far let the timid feet of dawn fly to catch me: 

I will abide in this forest of pines: 

For I have unveiled naked beauty, 

And the things that she whispered to me in the darkness, 

Are buried deep in my heart. 

Now let the black tops of the pine-trees break like a spent wave, 

Against the gray sky: 

These are tombs and temples and altars sun-kindled for me. 



LONDON NIGHTFALL 

I saw the shapes that stood upon the clouds: 
And they were tiger-breasted, shot with light, 
And all of them, lifting long trumpets together, 
Blew over the city, for the night to come. 
Down in the street, we floundered in the mud; 
Above, in endless files, gold angels came 
And stood upon the clouds, and blew their horns 
For night. 

Like a wet petal crumpled, 
Twilight fell soddenly on the weary city; 
The 'buses lurched and groaned, 
The shops put up their doors. 

But skywards, far aloft, 

The angels, vanishing, waved broad plumes of gold, 

Summoning spirits from a thousand hills 

To pour the thick night out upon the earth. 



3 66 JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 



THE S RATERS 



Black swallows swooping or gliding 

In a flurry of entangled loops and curves; 

The skaters skim over the frozen river. 

And the grinding click of their skates as they impinge upon the surface, 

Is like the brushing together of thin wing-tips of silver. 



LINCOLN 
I 

Like a gaunt, scraggly pine 

Which lifts its head above the mournful sandhills; 
And patiently, through dull years of bitter silence, 
Untended and uncarcd for, begins to grow. 

Ungainly, laboring, huge, 

The wind of the north has twisted and gnarled its branches; 

Yet in the heat of midsummer days, when thunder-clouds ring the horizon, 

A nation of men shall rest beneath its shade. 

And it shall protect them all, 

Hold everyone safe there, watching aloof in silence; 
Until at last one mad stray bolt from the zenith 
Shall strike it in an instant down to earth. 



There was a darkness in this man; an immense and hollow darkness, 

Of which we may not speak, nor share with him, nor enter; 

A darkness through which strong roots stretched downwards into the earth 

Towards old things; 

Towards the herdman-kings who walked the earth and spoke with God, 

Towards the wanderers who sought for they knew not what, and found their goal 

at last; 

Towards the men who waited, only waited patiently when all seemed lost, 
Many bitter winters of defeat; 
Down to the granite of patience 

These roots swept, knotted fibrous roots, prying, piercing, seeking, 
And drew from the living rock and the living waters about it 
The red sap to carry upwards to the sun. 

Not proud, but humble, 

Only to serve and pass on, to endure to the end through service; 

For the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and all that bring not forth good fruit 

Shall be cut down on the day to come and cast into the fire. 

in 

There is silence abroad in the land today, 
And in the hearts of men, a deep and anxious silence; 
And, because we are still at last, those bronze lips slowly open, 
Those hollow and weary eyes take on a gleam of light. 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 367 

Slowly a patient, firm-syllabled voice cuts through the endless silence 
Like laboring oxen that drag a plow through the chaos of rude clay-fields: 
"I went forward as the light goes forward in early spring, 
But there were also many things which I left behind. 

"Tombs that were quiet; 

One, of a mother, whose brief light went out in the darkness, 
One, of a loved one, the snow on whose grave is long falling, 
One, 'only of a child, but it was mine. 

"Have you forgot your graves? Go, question them in anguish, 
Listen long to their unstirred lips. From your hostages to silence, 
Learn there is no life without death, no dawn without sun-setting, 
No victory but to Him who has given all." 

IV 

The clamor of cannon dies down, the furnace-mouth of the battle is silent. 
The midwinter sun dips and descends, the earth takes on afresh its bright colors. 
But he whom we mocked and obeyed not, he whom we scorned and mistrusted, 
He has descended, like a god, to his rest. 

Over the uproar of cities, 

Over the million intricate threads of life wavering and crossing, 

In the midst of problems we know not, tangling, perplexing, ensnaring, 

Rises one white tomb alone. 

Beam over it, stars. 

Wrap it round, stripes stripes red for the pain that he bore for you 

Enfold it forever, O flag, rent, soiled, but repaired through your anguish; 

Long as you keep him there safe, the nations shall bow to your law. 

Strew over him flowers: 

Blue forget-me-nots from the north, and the bright pink arbutus 

From the east, and from the west rich orange blossoms, 

But from the heart of the land take the passion-flower; 

Rayed, violet, dim, 

With the nails that pierced, the cross that he bore and the circlet, 
And beside it there lay also one lonely snow-white magnolia, 
Bitter for remembrance of the healing which has passed. 



A REBEL 

Tie a bandage over his eyes, 
And at his feet 
Let rifles drearily patter 
Their death-prayers of defeat. 

Throw a blanket over his body, 
It need no longer stir; 
Truth will but stand the stronger 
For all who "died for her. 



568 JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 

Now he has broken through 

To his own secret place; 

Which, if we dared to do, 

We would have no power left to look on that dead face. 



BEFORE OLYMPUS 

Across the sky run streaks of white light, aching; 
Across the earth the chattering grass is sprawling; 
Across the sea roll troubled gleams awaking, 
Across the steeps dark broken shapes are crawling. 

We have been scourged with youth, a rod in pickle 
To cut the hide trom our own hearts. We know 
The tree of life is also cursed. We heed 
The silent laughter of gray gods of time. 

We do not seek the lithe and brittle music 
Ot swords and flame. We have no more desire 
For glory or contempt. The moment flies 
Past us, and shouting carries its echo on. 

The clank of wheels and pumps, the screech of levers 
No longer now aftlicts our inmost bearing; 
The old wise nightingales have longer ears, 
They sing the blooming of wild immortelles. 

And through the desolation of great cities 

As in a madhouse we go peering where 

Black butterflies flit about a carcass. Words 

Gallop about the sky. The earth broods like a stone. 

Heaven is a blank news-sheet fixed and trembling 
Between the knees of God. The grass runs crawling. 
The waves of the sea their laughter arc dissembling, 
But who will reap them when our scythes arc falling? 



ADVENT 

I have no more gold; 

I spent it all on foolish songs, 

Gold I cannot give to you. 

Incense, too, I burned 

To the great idols of this world; 

I must come with empty hands. 

Myrrh I lost 
In that darker sepulcher 
Where another Christ 
Died for man in vain. 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 369 

I can only give myself, 
I have nothing lett but this. 
Naked I wait, naked I fall 
Into Your Hands, Your Hands. 



THE BIRTH OF LUCIFER 

Helpless is God in struggling with that star 
Which in derision makes His light less dim; 

The evening bids the morning from afar 
To rise and conquer Him; 

After nine hours of night the sun, expiring, 
Breaks the dark vessel that it fills; and then 

Erect against the noon it stands, desiring 

This transience, making us both Gods and men: 

Life seeks again its dark and secret places, 

Where under the sunset's leveled sword, it keeps 

Its rest until rekindled in new faces, 

Old worlds awake from tluir too dreamless sleep. 



A NEW HEAVEN 

We have our hopes and fears that flout us, 

We have our illusions, changeless through the years; 

We have our dreams of rest after long struggle, 

After our toil is finished, folded hands. 

But for those who have fallen in battle, 

What Heaven can there be ? 

Heaven is full of those who can remember 

The cbbing-out of life that slowly lingered 

At the dark doors of pain; 

Heaven is full of those who dropped their burden 

At last through weariness; 

But these the War has taken 

Remember naught but their own exultant youth 

Filling their hearts with unaccomplished dreams: 

The trumpet-call then the swift searing darkness 

Stilling the proud sad song. 

How will these enter in 

Our old dull Heaven? 

Where we seek only to drowse at ease, unthinking, 

Since we are safe at last. 

Safe? For these souls who faced a thousand dangers, 

And found sly Death that robbed them of their chance 5 

Ere it befell? 

Safe can a Heavan which is safe and painless, 

Ever be Heaven to them? 



JOHN GOULD FLETCHER 

Somewhere amid the clouds there is the home of thunder; 

Thunder is naught to them, 

It is a ball, a heavy plaything 

They may kick hither and thither with their feet. 

Lightning is but a toy the flaming stars 

Are endless camp-fire lights; 

And for the silence of eternity, 

They too on out-post duty, often heard it speak. 

We have the dreams of our fat lives that lead us 

To waste our lives; 

We have the false hope we are serving others 

When it is but ourselves we serve; 

Yet these who have never lived, and whose sole service 

Was but to die too soon, 

Perhaps somewhere are making a new Heaven 

Filled with the divine despair and joy this dead earth never knew. 



AD MAJOR EM HO MINIS 
G L O R I A M 

In the summit of my head 

Pride and wrath their pain have shed; 

In my heart's fierce furnace-fire 
Knowledge struggles with desire: 

At the bottom of my heart, 
Love and pity sleep apart. 

V/herefore should my hells be high, 
And my heavens below my eye ? 

Why should I, who earthfixed dwell, 
Sink to heaven, rise to hclP 



THE LOFTY HOUSE 

Go not into the lofty house; 

Nor pass the pillared portico that, tall, 



Looks over ail; 

Unless you wish to rouse 

The dead. They will be ready when you call. 

Thin hands will touch worn chair-backs and 

sad eyes 

Look on you long without the least surprise 
Go not into the lofty house, at Spring or Fall. 
For ghosts are happiest left 
About their own affairs; 
Why should you trouble these, so long bereft 
Of all but loss, with loss that is not theirs? 
Go not into the house, I say; 
Let the pale pillars still untroubled rear 
Their light against the moons that shifting, 

play 

Against the pediment. Let windows peer 
Or remain blank, close-shuttered. Let the 

mouse 

Gnaw the old trunks in the dark attic stored 
For God's sake do not go into the house, 
Unless you share a past still undeplored. 



William Rose Benet 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET was born at Fort Hamilton, New York Harbor, February 2, 
1886. He was educated at Albany Academy and graduated from Yale in 1907. 
After various experiences as freelance writer, publisher's reader, magazine editor, 
and second lieutenant in the U. S. Air Service, Benet became Associate Editor of the 
New York Post's Literary Review in 1920. He resigned in 1924 to become one of 
the founders and editors of The Saturday Review of Literature. 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 371 

The outstanding feature of BeneYs verse is its extraordinary versatility; an Orien- 
tal imagination runs through his pages. Like the title-poem ot his first volume, 
Merchants from Cathay (1913), Benet's volumes vibrate with a vigorous music; 
they are full of the sonorous stuff that one rolls out crossing wintry fields or tramp- 
ing a road alone. But Benet's charm is not confined to the lift and swing of rollick- 
ing choruses. The Falconer of God (1914), The Great White Wall (1916) and The 
Burglar of the Zodiac (1918) contain decorations bold as they are brilliant; they 
ring with a strange and spicy music evoked from seemingly casual words. His scope 
is wide, although he is most at home in fancies' which glow with a halt-lurid, half- 
humorous reflection of the grotesque. There are times indeed when Benet seems to 
be forcing his ingenuity. The poet frequently lets his fantastic Pegasus run away 
with him, and what started out to be a gallop among the stars ends in a scraping 
of shins on the pavement. But he is saved by an acrobatic dexterity even when his 
energy betrays him. Perpetual Light (1919), a memorial to his first wife, is, natu- 
rally, a more subdued collection. 

Moons of Grandeur (1920) represents an appreciable development of Benet's 
whimsical gift; a combination of Eastern phantasy and Western vigor. Even more 
arresting are those poems which appeared subsequent to this volume. A firmer line, 
a cooler condensation may be found in Man Possessed (1927), a selection of the best 
of the previous volumes with many new poems. "Whale" is a particularly brilliant 
example; "The Horse Thief" is one of the most fanciful and one of the most popu- 
lar of American ballads; "Jesse James" rocks with high spirits and the true bal- 
ladist's gusto; "Inscription for a Mirror in a Deserted Dwelling," written during the 
life of his second wife, Elinor Wyhe, reflects the poet who wrote it and the poet to 
whom it was written, while "Sagacity" is a tribute to her memory. Golden Fleece 
(1935) is a more critical selection of Benet's poems with the addition of several new 
verses, many of them in an unexpectedly light vein. 

Besides his verse, the older Benet is the author of two novels and several tales for 
children, the editor (with Plenry Seidel Canby and John Drmkwater) of Twentieth 
Century Poetry (1929), and Fifty Poets (1932), an "auto-anthology" in which fifty 
American poets chose their own best, or favorite, poems. The Dust Which Is 
God (1941) is a portrait in which the autobiographical clement is lightly disguised. 



MERCHANTS FROM CATHAY 

How that Their heels slapped their bumping mules; their fat chaps glowed, 

They came. Glory unto Mary, each seemed to wear a crown' 

Like sunset their robes were on the wide, white road: 
So we saw those mad merchants come dusting into town! 

Of their Two paunchy beasts they rode on and two they drove before. 

Beasts, May the Saints all help us, the tiger-stripes they had* 

And the panniers upon them swelled full of stufls and ore! 
The square buzzed and jostled at a sight so mad. 

And their They bawled in their beards, and their turbans they wried. 

Boast, They stopped by the stalls with curvetting and clatter. 

As bronze as the bracken their necks and faces dyed 
And a stave they sat singing, to tell us of the matter. 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 



With its 
Burthen 



And 
Chorus. 



A fust 
Stave 
Fearsome, 



And a second 
Right hat d 
To stomach 



And a third, 
Which is a 
laughable 
Thing. 



We gape to 
Hear them end, 



And are in 
Terror, 



And dread 

it is 
Devil's Wor 



"For your sil^s, to Sugarmago! For your dyes, to Isjahanl 
Wend fruits from the Isle o Lamaree. 
But for magic merchandise, 
For treasure-trove and spice, 

Here's a catch and a carol to the great, grand Chan, 
The King of all the Kings across the seal 

"Here's a catch and a carol to the great, grand Chan; 
For we won through the deserts to his sunset barbican; 
And the mountains vf his palace no Titan s reach may span 
Where he wields his seignonel 

"Red-as-blood skins of panthers, so bright against the sun 
On the walls of the halls where his pillared state is set 

They daze with a blaze no man may look upon. 
And with conduits of beverage those floors run wet. 

"His wives stiff with riches, they sit before him there. 

Bird and beast at his feast make song and clapping cheer. 
And jugglers and enchanters, all walking on the air, 

Make fall eclipse and thunder make moons and suns appear' 

"Once the Chan, by his enemies sore-prest, and sorely spent, 

Lay, so they say, in a thicket 'neath a tree 
Where the howl of an owl vexed his foes from their intent: 

Then that fowl for a holy bird of reverence made he! 

"A catch and a carol to the great, grand Chan! 
Past masters of disasters, our desert caravan 
Won through all peril to his sunset barbican, 

Where he wields his seignonel 
And crowns he gave us^ We end where we began: 
A catch and a carol to the great, grand Chan! 

The King of all the Kings across the sea!" 

Those mad, antic Merchants' . . . Their striped beasts did beat 
The market-square suddenly with hooves ot beaten gold' 

The ground yawned gaping and flamed beneath our feet' 
They plunged to Pits Abysmal with their wealth untold ! 

And some say the Chan himself in anger dealt the stroke 

For sharing of his secrets with silly, common folk: 

But Holy, Blessed Mary, preserve us as you may 

Lest once more those mad Merchants come chanting from Cathay! 



NIGHT 

Let the night keep 
What the night takes, 
Sighs buried deep, 
Ancient heart-aches, 
Groans of the lover, 
Tears of the lost; 



Let day discover not 
All the night cost! 

Let the night keep 
Love's burning bliss, 
Drowned in deep sleep 
Whisper and kiss, 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 

Thoughts like white flowers 
In hedges of May; 
Let such deep hours not 
Fade with the day! 

Monarch is night 

Of all eldest things, 

Pain and affright, 

Rapturous wings; 

Night the crown, night the sword 

Lifted to smite. 

Kneel to your overlord, 

Children of night! 



THE FAWN IN THE SNOW 

The brown-dappled fawn 
Bereft of the doe 
Shivers in blue shadow 
Of the glaring snow, 

His whole world bright 
As a jewel, and hard, 
Diamond white, 
Turquoise barred. 

The trees are black, 
Their needles gold, 
Their boughs crack 
In the keen cold. 

The brown-dappled fawn 
Bereft of the doe 
Trembles and shudders 
At the bright snow. 

The air whets 
The warm throat, 
The frost frets 
At the smooth coat. 

Brown agate eyes 

Opened round 

Agonize 

At the cold ground, 

At the cold heaven 
Enamded pale, 
At the earth shriven 
By the snowy gale, 



373 



At magic glitter 
Burning to blind, 
At beauty bitter 
As an almond rind. 

Fawn, fawn, 
Seek for your south, 
For kind dawn 
With her cool mouth, 

For green sod 
With gold and blue 
Dappled, as God 
Has dappled you, . . . 

The shivering fawn 
Paws at the snow. 
South and dawn 
Lie below; 

Richness and mirth, 
Dearth forgiven, 
A happy earth, 
A warm heaven. 

The slcct streams; 
The snow flics; 
The lawn dreams 
With wide brown eyes. 



WHALE 

Rain, with a silver flail; 

Sun, ivith a golden ball; 
Ocean, who cm the whale 

Swtms minnow-small; 

I hcaid the whale rejoice 
And cynic shares attend; 

He cried with a purple voice, 
"The Lord is my Friend!" 

"With flanged and battering tail, 
With huge and dark baleen, 

He said, 'Let there be Whale 
In the Cold and Green!' 

"He gave me a water-spout, 
A side like a harbor wall; 

The Lord from cloud looked out 
And planned it all. 



374 

With glittering crown atilt 
He leaned on a glittering rail; 
He said, 'Where Sky is spilt, 
Let there be Whale/ 

"Tier upon tier of wings 

Blushed and blanched and bowed; 
Phalanxed fierj things 

Cried in the cloud; 

"Million-eyed was the mirk 
At the plan not understood; 

But the Lord looked on His work 
And saw it was good. 

"He gave me marvelous girth 
For the curve of back and breast, 

And a tiny eye of mirth 
To hide His jest. 

"He made me a floating hill, 
A plunging* deep-sea mine. 

This was the Lord's will; 
The Lord is Divine. 

"I magnify His name 
In earthquake and eclipse, 

In weltering molten flame 
And wrecks of ships, 

"In waves that lick the moon; 

I, the plow or the sea! 
I am the Lord's boon; 

The Lord made me!" 

The sharks barked from beneath, 
As the whale rollicked and roared, 

"Yes, and our grinning teeth, 
Was it not the Lord ? " 

Then questions pattered like hail 
From fishes large and small. 

"The Lord is mighty," said Whale, 
"The Lord made all! 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 

"His is a mammoth jest 

Life may never betray; 
He has laid it up in His breast 

Till Judgment Day; 

"But high when combers foam 

And tower their last of all, 
My power shall haul you home 

Through Heaven wall. 

"A trumpet then in the gates, 
To the ramps a thundering drum, 

I shall lead you where He waits 
For His Whale to come. 

"Where His cloudy seat is placed 

On high in an empty dome, 
I shall trail the Ocean abased 

In chains of foam, 

"Unwieldy, squattering dread. 

Where the blazing cohorts stand 
At last I shall lift my head 

As it feels His hand. 

"Then wings with a million eyes 
Before mine eyes shall quail: 

'Look you, all Paradise, 
I was His Whale!'" 

I heard the Whale rejoice, 

As he splayed the waves to a fan: 

"And the Lord shall say with His Voice 5 
'Leviathan!' 

"The Lord shall say with His Tongue, 
'Now let all Heaven give hail 

To my Jest when I was young, 
To my very Whale/ " 

Then the Whale careered in the Sea, 
He foundered with flailing tail; 

Flourished and rollicked he, 

"Aha! Mine Empery! 
For the Lord said, 'Let Whale Be!' 
And there Was Whale!" 



THE HORSE THIEF 



There he moved, cropping the grass at the purple canyon's lip. 

His mane was mixed with the moonlight that silvered his snow-white side, 
For the moon sailed out of a cloud with the wake of a spectral ship. 

I crouched and I crawled on my belly, my lariat coil looped wide. 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 375 

Dimly and dark the mesas broke on the starry sky. 

A pall covered every color of their gorgeous glory at noon. 
I smelt the yucca and mesquite, and stifled my heart's quick cry, 

And wormed and crawled on my belly to where he moved against the moon! 

Some Moorish barb was that mustang's sire. His lines were beyond all wonder. 

From the prick of his ears to the flow of his tail he ached in my throat and eyes. 
Steel and velvet grace! As the prophet says, God had "clothed his neck with thunder/' 

Oh, marvelous with the drifting cloud he drifted across the skies' 

And then I was near at hand crouched, and balanced, and cast the coil; 

And the moon was smothered in cloud, and the rope through my hands with a rip! 
But somehow I gripped and clung, with the blood in my brain a-boil, 

With a turn round the rugged tree-stump there on the purple canyon's lip. 

Right into the stars he reared aloft, his red eye rolling and raging. 

He whirled and sunfished and lashed, and rocked the earth to thunder and flame. 
He squealed like a regular devil horse. I was haggard and spent and aging 

Roped clean, but almost storming clear, his fury too fierce to tame. 

And I cursed myself for a tenderfoot moon-dazzled to play the part, 
But I was doubly desperate then, with the posse pulled out from tow^i, 

Or I'd never have tried it. I only knew I must get a mount and a start. 
The filly had snapped her foreleg short. I had had to shoot her down. 

So there he struggled and strangled, and I snubbed him around the tree. 

Nearer, a little nearer hoofs planted, and lolling tongue 
Till a sudden slack pitched me backward. He reared right on top of me. 

Mother of God that moment! He missed me . . . and up I swung. 

Somehow, gone daft completely and clawing a bunch of his mane, 
As he stumbled and tripped in the lariat, there I was up and astride 

And cursing for seven counties! And the mustang? Just insane! 

Crack-bang! went the rope; we cannoned off the tree then gods, that ride! 

A rocket that's all, a rocket' I dug with my teeth and nails. 

Why, we never hit even the high spots (though I hardly remember things), 
But I heard a monstrous booming like a thunder of flapping sails 

When he spread well, call me a liar! when he spread those wings, those wings' 

So white that my eyes were blinded, thick-feathered and wide unfurled, 
They beat the air into billows. We sailed, and the earth was gone. 

Canyon and desert and mesa withered below, with the world. 
And then I knew that mustang; for I was Bellerophon! 

Yes, glad as the Greek, and mounted on a horse of the elder gods, 

With never a magic bridle or a fountain-mirror nigh' 
My chaps and spurs and holster must have looked it? What's the odds? 

I'd a leg over lightning and thunder, careering across the skvl 



$6 WILLIAM ROSE BENET 

And forever streaming before me, fanning my forehead cool, 

Flowed a mane of molten silver; and just before my thighs 
(As I gripped his velvet-muscled ribs, while I cursed myself for a fool), 

The steady pulse of those pinions their wonderful fall and rise! 

The bandanna I bought in Bowie blew loose and whipped from my neck. 

My shirt was stuck to my shoulders and ribboning out behind. 
The stars were dancing, wheeling and glancing, dipping with smirk and beck. 

The clouds were flowing, dusking and glowing. We rode a roaring wind. 

We soared through the silver starlight to knock at the planets' gates. 

New shimmering constellations came whirling into our ken. 
Red stars and green and golden swung out of the void that waits 

For man's great last adventure. The Signs took shape and then 

I knew the lines of that Centaur the moment I saw him come! 

The musical box of the heavens all round us rolled to a tune 
That tinkled and chimed and trilled with silver sounds that struck you dumb, 

As if some archangel were grinding out the music of the moon. 

Melody-drunk on the Milky Way, as we swept and soared hilarious, 
Full in our pathway, sudden he stood the Centaur of the Stars, 

Flashing from head and hoofs and breast! I knew him for Sagittarius. 
He reared, and bent and drew his bow. He crouched as a boxer spars. 

Flung back on his haunches, weird he loomed then leapt and the dim void 

lightened. 

Old White Wings shied and swerved aside, and fled from the splendor-shod. 
Through a flashing welter of worlds we charged. I knew why rny horse was 

frightened. 
He had two faces a dog's and a man's that Babylonian god! 

Also, he followed us real as fear. Ping! went an arrow past. 

My broncho buck-jumped, humping high. We plunged ... I guess that's all! 
I lay on the purple canyon's lip, when I opened rny eyes at last 

Stiff and sore and my head like a drum, but I broke no bones in the fall. 

So you know and now you may string me up. Such was the way you caught me. 

Thank you for letting me tell it straight, though you never could greatly care. 
For I took a horse that wasn't mine' . . . But there's one the heavens brought me, 

And 111 hang right happy, because I know he is waiting for me up there. 

From creamy muzzle to cannon-bone, by God, he's a peerless wonder! 

He is steel and velvet and furnace-fire, and death's supremest prize, 
And never again shall be roped on earth that neck that is "clothed with thunder. 

String me up, Dave! Go dig my grave! / rode him across 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 



377 



BRAZEN TONGUE 

Quick in spite T said unkind 

Words that should have struck me blind. 

Flatly on rny eardrums rung 

The raucous echoes of my tongue. 

Burnished bees in an iron hive 
Seemed my wits, and scarce alive 
I sat with elbows on my knees 
Sick with silence like disease. 

Slowly through the solid floor 
I sank, till there was nothing more 
Than a grease-spot of me there 
Shadowed by the upright chair. 

O last night I lay awake 
Parrying darkness for your sake, 
Like an armory glittered bright 
The hhed hours of our delight! 

O this morning I intended 
All the virtues this has ended, 



Golden as a new-coined planet! 
Now I wither into granite. 

Tongue, you are a tongue of fire, 
Shriveling like a white-hot wire, 
Blackening like a dragon's breath 
Flower-fluttering fields with death. 

Tongue, you are a tongue of brass 
In the jawbone ot an ass, 
Slaying what was most divine, 
Not the recking Philistine. 

So, she dug me from my quarry; 
Came and said that she was sorry; 
Sprinkled me \vith words like myrrh; 
So J sat and stared at her; 

And so T climb the burning mountain 
And sit beside the lava fountain, 
And, white with ashes, wonder why 
In the devil I am I. 



JESSE JAMES 
(A Design in Red and yellow for a Nickel Library) 

Jesse James was a two-gun man, 

(Roll on, Missoun!) 
Strong-arm chief of an outlaw clan, 

(From Kansas to Illinois!) 
He twirled an old Colt forty-five; 

(Roll on, Missouri!) 
They never took Jesse James alive. 

(Roll, Missouri, roll!) 

Jesse James was King of the Wes'; 

(Cataracts in the Missouri) 
He'd a di'mon' heart in his lef breas'; 

(Brown Missouri tolls!) 
He'd a fire in his heart no hurt could stifle; 

(Thunder, Missouri!) 
Lion eyes an' a Winchester rifle. 

(Missouri, roll down!) 

Jesse James rode a pinto hawse; 
Come at night to a water-cawse; 
Tetched with the rowel that pinto's flank; 
She sprung the torrent from bank to bank. 

Jesse rode through a sleepin' town; 

Looked the moonlit street both up an' down; 



378 WILLIAM ROSE BENET 

Crack-crack-crack, the street ran flames 
An' a great voice cried, "I'm Jesse James!" 

Hawse an' afoot they're after Jess! 

(Roll on, Missouri!) 
Spurrm' an' spurrin' but he's gone Wes*. 

(Brown Missouri rolls!) 
He was ten foot tall when he stood in his boots; 

(Ltghtnin h\e the Missouri!) 
More'n a match fer sich galoots. 

(Roll, Missouri, roll!) 

Jesse James rode outa the sage; 

Roun 1 the rocks come the swayin* stage; 

Straddlm' the road a giant Stan's 

An' a great voice bellers, "Throw up yer han's!" 

Jesse raked in the di'mon' rings, 

The big gold watches an' the yuthcr things; 

Jesse divvied 'em then an* thar 

With a cry in' child had lost her mar. 

They're creepin'; they're crawlin'; they're stalkin' Jess; 

(Roll on, Missouri!) 
They's a rumor he's gone much further Wcs'; 

(Roll, Missouri, roll!) 
They's word of a cayuse hitched to the bars 

(Ruddy clouds on Missouri!) 
Of a golden sunset that busts into stars. 

(Missouri, roll down!) 

Jesse James rode hell fer leather; 

He was a hawse an' a man together; 

In a cave in a mountain high up in air 

He lived with a rattlesnake, a wolf, an' a bear. 

Jesse's heart was as sof as a woman; 

Fer guts an' stren'th he was sooper-human; 

He could put six shots through a woodpecker's eye 

And take in one s waller a gallon o' rye. 

They sought him here an* they sought him there, 

(Roll on, Missouri!) 
But he strides by night through the ways of the air; 

(Brown Missouri rollsl) 
They say he was took an' they say he is dead, 

(Thunder, Missouri) 
But he ain't he's a sunset overhead! 

(Missouri down to the sea!) 

Jesse James was a Hercules. 

When he went through the woods he tore up the trees. 
When he went on the plains he smoked the groun* 
An' the hull Ian* shuddered fer miles aroun'. 



WILLIAM ROSE BENET 379 

Jesse James wore a red bandanner 

That waved on the breeze like the Star Spangled Banner; 

In seven states he cut up dadoes. 

He's gone with the buffler an' the desperadoes. 

Yes, Jesse James was a two-gun man 

(Roll on, Missouri!) 
The same as when this song began; 

(From Kansas to Illinois^) 
An' when you see a sunset bust into flames 

(Lightnin life the Missouri!) 
Or a thunderstorm blaze that's Jesse James! 

(Hear that Missouri roll!) 



ETERNAL MASCULINE 

Neither will I put myself forward as others may do, 

Neither, if you wish me to flatter, will I flatter you; 

I will look at you grimly, and so you will know I am true. 

Neither when all do agree and lout low and salute, 

And you are beguiled by the tree and devout for the fruit, 

Will I seem to be aught but the following eyes of a brute. 

I will stand to one side and sip of my hellebore wmc, 
I will snarl and deride the antics and airs of the swine; 
You will glance in your pride, but I will deny you a sign. 

I will squint at the moon and be peaceful because I am dead, 
I will whistle a tune and be glad of the harshness I said. 
you will come soon, when the stars are a mist overhead! 

You will come, with eyes fierce; you will act a defiant surprise. 
Quick lightings will pierce to our hearts from the pain in our eyes, 
Standing strained and averse, with the trembling of love that defies. 

And then I will know, by the heartbreaking turn of your head, 
My madness brought low in a hell that is spared to the dead. 
The upas will grow from the poisonous words that I said; 

From under its shade out to where like a statue you stand, 

Without wish to evade, I will reach, I will cry with my hand, 

With my spirit dismayed, with my eyes and my mouth full of sand. . . . 

INSCRIPTION FOR A MIRROR IN The dark would tremble back to June. 
A DESERTED DWELLING So faintly now the moonbeams fall, 

Set silver cone to tulip flame! S soft thls silencc > that the vcr S e 

The mantel mirror floats with night Of s P eech 1S reached. Remote and pale 

Reflecting still green watery light. A $ through some faint vindian veil 

The sconces glimmer. If she came The lovely lineaments emerge, 

Like silence through the shadowy wall The clearly amber eyes, the tint 

Where walls are wading in the moon Of pearl and faintest rose, the hair 



jSo WILLIAM ROSE BEN&T 

To lacquered light, a silken snare At least no gesturing figures pass; 

Of devious bronze, the tiny dint Here is no tragic immanence 

With which her maker mocked the years Of all the scenes of small events 

Beneath her lip imprinting praise. That pantomimed before the glass. 

Dim flower of desecrating days, No bliss, no passion, no despair, 

The old reflection, strange with tears, No olhcr actor lm g ers now 5 

Is gazing out upon the gloom, Thc moonlight on a lifted brow 

Is widening eyes to find the light Is all the eyes so wide aware 

In reminiscence, in the night Of clouds that P ass Wlth stars > and suns 

Of this foregone, forgotten room. J 7 s ' er y that P al f s , thc chcek > f 

Of all the heart could never speak, 

Of joy and pain so vivid once, 

And you, the watcher, with your eyes That ccased Wlt h music an( ] t h e hghts, 

As wide as hers in dark distress, Dimming to darkness and repose. . . . 

Who never knew her loveliness L ean t h en and kiss that ghostly rose 
But guess through glass her shadowy guise, That was her face, this night of nights,- 

For you around thc glass I trace And know the vision fled indeed, 

This secret writing, that will burn The mirror's surface smooth and cold, 

Like witch-fire should her shade return The words unbreathed, the tale untold, 

To haunt you with that wistful face. The past un piteous to your needl 



SAGACITY 

We knew so much; when her beautiful eyes could lighten, 

Her beautiful laughter follow our phrase; 

Or the gaze go hard with pain, the lips tighten, 

On the bitterer days. 

Oh, ours was all knowing then, all generous displaying. 

Such wisdom we had to show' 

And now there is merely silence, silence, silence saying 

All we did not know. 



Hazel Hall 

HAZEL HALL was born February 7, 1886, in St. Paul, Minnesota, but as a small 
child was taken to Portland, Oregon, where she remained the rest of her life. 
Either from the effects of scarlet fever or as the result of a fall, she was unable to 
walk after she was twelve years old. She never complained. As Ruth Hall, her sister, 
wrote in a letter to thc editor, "The word 'invalid' was anathema in her ears. Al- 
though she was forced to spend her days in a wheel chair, she possessed a rare 
abundance of health, which enabled her to know life concretely, as a satisfaction for 
her senses, even though it might remain an abstract sorrow for her mind. She lived 
life thoroughly, admiring its complexities, with a fine relish for the irony which 
gave a bitter-sweet taste to the whole." 

Curtains, her first volume, which appeared in 1921, is, in the main, a book of 
charming rather than arresting lyrics; it is evident from the poems that her needle 



HAZEL HALL 3 8r 

was not only a means of support but a refuge for the poet. The fact that she her- 
self could never walk made her extraordinarily sensitive to the tramp or shuffle of 
feet; her mind seemed filled with the thought of men marching eternally about the 
earth. And so her second book, Wallets (1923), is rilled with the wonder of mere 
pedestrian life, of a boy whacking a stick against a wall, of couples passing at dusk, 
of feet half-sinking in snow, of children's heels flashing in the sun. 

Her third volume, Cty of Time (1929), upon which she was at work at the time 
of her death, contains her finest writing and the poems by which she probably will 
be remembered longest. These later poems have the appeal of the first two books 
with an emotional depth which the early volumes barely suggested. 

Although Hazel Hall was in sound health until a few weeks before her death, 
she seemed to have a premonition that the end was near before she became cntically 
ill. She died May n, 1924. The last two poems which she wrote were "Slow Death" 
and "Riddle," both of which appeared a fortnight after her death. 



FLIGHT 

A bird may curve across the sky 
A feather of dusk, a streak of song; 
And save a space and a bird to fly 
There may be nothing all day long. 

Flying through a cloud-made place 
A bird may tangle cast and west, 
Maddened with going, crushing space 
With the arrow of its breast. 

Though never wind nor motion bring 
It back again from indefinite lands, 
The thin blue shadow of its wing 
May cross and cross above your hands. 



ANY WOMAN 

When there is nothing left but darkness 
And the day is like a leaf 
Fallen onto sodden grasses, 
You have earned a subtle grief. 

Never let them take it from you, 
Never let them come and say: 
Night is made of black gauze; moonlight 
Blows the filmy dark away. 

You have a right to know the thickness 
Of the night upon your face, 
To feel the inky blue of nothing 
Drift like ashes out of space. 

You have a right to lift your fingers 
And stare in pity at your hands 



That arc the exquisite frail mirrors 
Of all the mind misunderstands. 

Your hand, potent in portrayal, 
Falls of its own weight to rest 
In a quiet curve oi sorrow 
On the beating of your breast. 



HERE COMES THE THIEF 

Here comes the thief 
Men nickname Time, 
Oh, hide you, leaf, 
And hide you, rhyme. 
Leal, he would take you 
And leave you rust 
Rhyme, he would flake you 
With spotted dust. 
Scurry to cover, 
Delicate maid 
And serious lover. 
Girl, bind the braid 
Of your burning hair; 
He has an eye 
For the lusciously fair 
Who passes by. 
O lover, hide 
Who conies to plunder 
lias the crafty stride 
Of unheard thunder. 
Quick lest he snatch, 
In his grave need, 
And sift and match, 
Then sow like seed 



HAZEL HALL 



Your love's sweet grief 
On the backward air, 
With the rhyme and the leaf 
And the maiden's hair. 



SLOW DEATH 

You need no other death than this 
Slow death that wears your heart away; 

It is enough, the death that is 
Your every night, your every day. 

It is enough, the sun that slants 
Across your breast, heavy as steel, 



Leaving the rust of radiance 
To shape a wound that will not heal. 

Enough, the crystal at your lips, 

Wasting you even as it lies 
Vibrant there before it slips 

Away, torn from your mouth like cries 

There will be now, as fumes from wood, 
A passing, yet no new death's care. 

You will know only the frustrate mood 
Of breath tarnished to color of air. 



Jean Starr Untermeyer 

JEAN STARR was born at Zanesville, Ohio, May 13, 1886, and educated at the Put- 
nam Seminary in the city of her birth. At sixteen she came to New York City, 
pursuing special studies at Columbia. She married Louis Untermeyer in 1907, di- 
vorced m 1933. 

Growing Pains (1918) is a thin book of thirty-four poems, the result of eight 
years' slow and critical creation. This highly selective process did much to bring 
the volume up to an unusual level; a seventy of standards maintains the poet on an 
austere plane. Perfection is a passion with her; the first poem in the book ("Clay 
Hills") declares it with almost intolerant dcfimteness. 

Acutely self-analytical, there is a stern, uncompromising releritlessness toward her 
introspections; these poems are, as she explains in her title-poem 

No songs tor an idle lute, 

No pretty tunes of coddled ills, 

But the bare chart of my growing pains. 

A sharp color sense, a surprising whimsicality, a translation of the ordinary in 
terms of the unexplored illumine such poems as "Sinfoma Domcstica," "Clothes," 
and the much-quoted "Autumn," a celebration of domesticity which might be de- 
scribed as a housekeeper's paean. In the last named Mrs. Untermeyer has reproduced 
her early environment with bright pungency; "Verhaeren's Flemish genre pictures 
are no better," writes Amy Lowell. Several of her purely pictorial poems establish a 
swift kinship between the most romantic and most prosaic objects. The tiny "Moon- 
rise" is an example; so is "High Tide," that, in one extended metaphor, turns the 
mere fact of a physical law into an arresting fancy. 

Di earns Out of Dai \ncss (1921) is a ripening of this author's power with a richer 
musical undercurrent. An increase of melody is manifest on every page, possibly 
most striking in "Lake Song," which, beneath its symbolism, is one of the few 
notable un rhymed lyrics of the period. The form of this poetry is, as Joseph Free- 



JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER 383 

man has written, "distinguished not only by the clear qualities of chiseled marble, 
not only by a music so melodious that some of her free verse pieces have to be read 
two or three times before their lack of rhyme becomes noticeable, but also by its 
intellectual fluidity." Amy Lowell, amplifying this theme, concludes, "After all, 
beautiful as Mrs. Untermeyer's forms often are, it is her thoughts that make the 
book. This is the very heart of a woman, naked and serious, beautiful and un- 
ashamed." 

Her training as a musician (she made her debut as a Licdersmger in Vienna and 
London in 1924) added to her equipment as translator of the "official" life of Franz 
Schubert by Oscar Bie in 1928. Steep Ascent* (1927) marks a spiritual as well as 
poetic climax. The dominant note, as might have been foreseen, is ethical, but 
there is no reliance on mere religiosity. "What is most remarkable about Jean 
Starr Untermeyer," wrote Edmund Wilson, "is the peculiar shading and force of 
her style. I believe that hers is classically Hebraic. She has always seemed to me 
one of the few writers who have successfully preserved in a modern language 
something of the authentic austerity of Jewish literature." 

The poems in Winged Child (1936) two of which are reprinted in these pages 
have a new serenity, even a sly humor; they do not proceed, as did many of the 
others, from struggle, but from assurance. The early vers libnste gives way to the 
later formalist, even the "dissonant" rhymes of "Dew on a Dusty Heart" being cast 
in a sonnet. 

Love and Need (1940) assembles the four preceding volumes with the addition 
of about twenty new poems, among which are several of the author's best in 
craftsmanship and power of communication. 

After the publication of her collected poems, Mrs. Untermeyer spent most of her 
time on a translation of Hermann Broch's The Death of Vngtl, a work which 
combines the novel and lyric poetry, history, philosophy, and strcam-of-conscious- 
ness. Stephan Zweig said that the book, beyond the life and death of a poet 
"reflects the problems of all ages." 

HIGH TIDE 

I edged back against the night. 

The sea growled assault on the wave-bitten shore. 

And the breakers, 

Like young and impatient hounds, 

Sprang with rough )oy on the shrinking sand. 

Sprang but were drawn back slowly 

With a long, relentless pull, 

Whimpering, into the dark. 

Then I saw who held them captive; 

And I saw how they were bound 

With a broad and quivering leash of light, 

Held by the moon, 

As, calm and unsmiling, 

She walked the deep fields of the sky. 



384 JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER 

AUTUMN 

(To My Mother) 

How memory cuts away the years, 
And how clean the picture comes 
Of autumn days, brisk and busy; 
Charged with keen sunshine. 
And you, stirred with activity, 
The spirit of those energetic days. 

There was our back-yard, 

So plain and stripped of green, 

With even the weeds carefully pulled away 

From the crooked red bricks that made the walk, 

And the earth on either side so black. 

Autumn and dead leaves burning in the sharp air. 

And winter comforts coming in like a pageant. 

I shall not forget them: 

Great jars pompous with the raw green of pickles, 

Standing in a solemn row across the back of the porch, 

Exhaling the pungent dill; 

And in the very center of the yard, 

You, tending the great catsup kettle of gleaming copper, 

Where fat, red tomatoes bobbed up and down 

Like jolly monks in a drunken dance. 

And there were bland banks of cabbages that came by the wagon-load, 

Soon to be cut into delicate ribbons 

Only to be crushed by the heavy, wooden stompcrs. 

Such feathery whiteness to come to kraut' 

And after, there were grapes that hid their brightness under a gray dust, 

Then gushed thrilling, purple blood over the fire; 

And enameled crab-apples that tricked with their fragrance 

But were bitter to taste. 

And there were spicy plums and ill-shaped quinces, 

And long string beans floating m pans of clear water 

Like slim, green fishes. 

And there was fish itself, 

Salted, silver herring from the city. . . . 

And you moved among these mysteries, 

Absorbed and smiling and sure; 

Stirring, tasting, measuring, 

With the precision of a ritual. 

I like to think of you in your years of power 

You, now so shaken and so powerless 

High priestess of your home. 



IEAN STARR UNTERMEYER 385 

CLAY HILLS 

It is easy to mold the yielding clay. 

And many shapes grow into beauty 

Under the facile hand. 

But forms of clay are lightly broken; 

They will he shattered and forgotten in a dingy corner. 

Yet underneath the slipping clay 

Is rock . . . 

I would rather work in stubborn rock 

All the years of my life, 

And make one strong thing 

And set it in a high, clean place, 

To recall the granite strength of my desire. 

SINFONIA DOMESTICA 

When the white wave of a glory that is hardly I 

Breaks through my mind and washes it clean, 
I know at last the meaning of my ecstasy, 

And know at last my wish and what it can mean. 

To have sped out of life that night to have vanished 
Not as a vision, but as something touched, yet grown 

Radiant as the moonlight, circling my naked shoulder; 

Wrapped in a dream of beauty, longed for, but never known., 

For how with our daily converse, even the sweet sharing 

Of thoughts, of food, of home, of common life, 
How shall I be that glory, that last desire 

For which men struggle? Is Romance in a wife? 

Must I bend a heart that is bowed to breaking 

With a frustration, inevitable and slow, 
And bank my flame to a low hearth fire, believing 

You will come for warmth and life to its tempered glow? 

Shall I mold my hope anew, to one of service, 

And tell my uneasy soul, "Behold, this is good"? 
And meet you (if we do meet), even at Heaven's threshold, 

With ewer and basin, with clothing and with food? 

LAKE SONG 

The lapping of lake water 
Is like the weeping of women, 
The weeping of ancient women 
Who grieved without rebellion. 



JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER 



The lake falls over the shore 
Like tears on their curvcn bosoms. 
Here is languid, luxurious wailing; 
The wailing of kings' daughters. 

So do we ever cry, 

A soft, unmutinous crying, 

When we know ourselves each a princess 

Locked fast within her tower. 

The lapping of lake water 
Is like the weeping of women, 
The fertile tears of women 
That water the dreams of men. 



BIRTHDAY 

Now the beautiful business of summer is over, 
Earth wraps herself m a bright, leaf-patterned shawl. 
The hives cement the prodigal juice of the clover 
And spendthrift gold is hoarded m bin and stall. 
Beyond the wind-crisped hedge the cornstalks hover; 
The pumpkin lies by the wall. 

October's the heir of the year, and you, my lover, 

October's darling, the first to come at her call, 

May claim and hold what your wandering eyes discover 

On jeweled hills that tempt a reluctant fall; 

Blest by the fired earth, while skies above her 

Spill golden peace over all. 



COUNTRY OF NO LACK 

A lilac ribbon is unbound, 
A band of gradual rose untied, 
And lo, the glowing book of day 
Is opened on the mountainside. 

What curves salute, what colors sound 
From this so-nch-illumined scroll, 
For whose perusal one need pay 
Only a just delight as toll. 

The brook's clean silver set in stones 
Is balanced by the silver sheen 
Of clean-stripped logs, which in a field 
Seem floating down a river of green. 

Furze are not flowers, but the tones 
Of sunlight that a bird has sung, 
And broken purples but the yield 
Of hoarded twilights, meadow-flung. 



Against a heaven's faithful blue, 
A fadeless forest lifts its pines, 
From shadows deepening into black 
A slim and shadowy road inclines. 

Upon the printed air, how hue 

Stand lizard, lake and leaf, page-still. 

Here in the country of no lack, 

What care can move, what grief can chill? 



ONE KIND OF HUMILITY 

Shall we say heaven is not heaven 

Since golden stairs are rugged and uneven? 

Or that no light illuminates a star 

That swings in other regions than we are? 

Deny with soured breath enduring God 
Because we cling so rankly to the sod? 



JEAN STARR UNTERMEYER 387 

No. Cleanse with weeping, fasting and with And let it shapen to a secret wish 

prayer. Untouched, untmctured, even by a dram 

Praise God. Look starward. Mount the stairl Of carthmess; nor let the 1 retted wash 

Of passion tray the fine-immaculate dream. 

DEW ON A DUSTY HEART Oh, let me come back as a melody 

New as the air it takes, no taint or ill 

If come into this world again I must To \ l3 \ t SU ch lovely flying as birds do 

And take unto myself another form, Going from infinite nought to infinite all. 

Oh, let it be unblemished by a mist Giving to dusty hearts that lag at even 

Of imperfections or the line infirm. The dewy rest they dream of and call heaven 



H. D. 

HILDA DOOLITTLE was born September 10, 1886, at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. When 
she was still a child, her father became Director of the Flower Observatoiy 
and the family moved to a suburb in the outskirts of Philadelphia. Hilda Doohtlle 
attended a private school in West Philadelphia; entered Bryn Mawr College in 
1904; and went abroad, for what was intended to be a short sojourn, in KJTI. After 
a visit to Italy and France she came to London, joined Ezra Pound, and helped to 
organize the Imagists. She married one of the original group, Richard Aldington, 
the English poet and novelist, whom she latei divorced. Her work (signed "II. 1).") 
began to appear in a few magazines and its unusual quality was rccogni/cd at once. 
Remaining for a while in London, she became one of the leaders of the movement, 
creating through a chiseled verse her flawless evocations of Greek poetry and sculp- 
ture. In 1920 she made a long-deferred visit to America, settling on the Calilorman 
coast, returning the following year to England. Since i92r II. D. has lived in Lon- 
don and in a small town in Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva. 

Her first collection, Sea Garden, appeared m 1916; an interval of five years 
elapsed befoic the publication of her second volume, Hymen, which was printed 
simultaneously in England and America in 1921. These volumes showed H. D. as 
the most important of her group. She was the only one who steadfastly held to the 
letter as well as the spirit of its aedo. She was, in fact, the only true Imagist. Her 
poems are like a set of Tanagra figurines. Here, at first glance, the cfTect is chilling 
beauty seems held in a frozen gesture. But it is in this very fixation of light, color 
and emotion that she achieves intensity. What at first seemed static becomes fluent; 
the arrested moment glows with a quivering tension. 

Observe the poem entitled "Heat." Here, in the fewest possible words, is some- 
thing beyond the description of heat here is the effect of it. In these lines one feels 
the weight and solidity of a midsummer afternoon. So in "The Islands'* a propulsion 
of feeling hurries forward the syllables balancing on light and dark vowels, and 
what might have been only a list of antique names becomes an outcry. Her efforts 
to draw the contemporary world are less happy. H. D. is best in her reflections of 
clear-cut loveliness in a quietly pagan world; in most of her moods, she seems less 
a modern writer than an inspired anachronism. 



3 88 H. D. 

Heliodota and Other Poems appeared in 1924. So much had already been written 
concerning the form of H. D.'s poetry that it was no longer necessary to expatiate 
on the unique features of her metric. Even those least impressed by the program 
of the Imagists readily conceded her exquisite if oversubtle flavor, the stripped purity 
of her line, the precision of her epithets. But the most apparent feature of Ilchodoia 
even more noticeable than its beauties of form is its intensity. A freely declared 
passion radiates from lines which are at once ecstatic and austere. Even the most 
casual reading must convince one that this poet is not, as she first seemed to us, 
a Greek statue faintly flushed with life, a delightful but detached relic of another 
world. This is a woman responsive to color and pain, aroused by loveliness, shocked 
by betrayal, aflcctcd by all those manifestations which are too old to be timely, too 
fresh to be "antique." 

Practically all of H. D.'s previous volumes were assembled in Collected Poems 
(1925) which contains not only her original work but the spirited translations from 
the Odyssey and her flexible expansions of fragmentary phrases of Sappho. A play, 
Hippolytus Tcmponzes, appeared in 1927. In the later works it is interesting to 
trace the tightening of form, the approximation of more regular structure, even the 
introduction of half-candid, half-concealed rhyme. 

Red Roses jor Btonze (1932) stresses the note of personal emotion, the emotion 
of love once requited but now unreturned. The poetry is more weighted than be- 
fore and less dependent on its decorations; sometimes its direct appeal is compelling, 
sometimes it relics on platitudes of passion and rings hollow. At their best the poems 
combine the skill of the eaily Imagist with the strength of the mature poet. 

H. D 's prose is somewhat more derivative, bearing overtones of Gertrude Stein, 
but it rises above its influences. Palimpsest (1926) and Hedylus (1928) embody a 
poet's prose, the former a triptych of interrelated tragedies, actual and intuitive. 



OREAD 

Whirl up, sea 

Whirl your pointed pines. 

Splash your great pines 

On our rocks. 

Hurl your green over us 

Cover us with your pools of fir. 

PEAR TREE 

Silver dust 

lifted from the earth, 

higher than my arms reach, 

you have mounted. 

O silver, 

higher than my arms reach 

you front us with great mass; 

no flower ever opened 

so staunch a white leaf, 

no flower ever parted silver 

from such rare silver; 



O white pear, 

your flower-tufts, 

thick on the branch, 

bring summer and ripe fruits 

in their purple hearts. 



HEAT 

O wind, rend open the heat, 
cut apart the heat, 
rend it to tatters. 

Fruit cannot drop 
through this thick air 
fruit cannot fall into heat 
that presses up and blunts 
the points of pears 
and rounds the grapes. 

Cut through the heat 
plow through it, 



H. D. 

turning it on cither side 
of your path. 

ORCHARD 

I saw the first pear 

as it fell 

the honey-seeking, golden-banded, 

the yellow swarm, 

was not more fleet than I, 

(spare us from loveliness') 

and I fell prostrate, 

crying: 

you have flayed us with your blossoms, 

spare us {he beauty 

of fruit-trees! 

The honey-seeking 
paused not; 

the air thundered their song, 
and I alone was prostrate. 

rough-hewn 
god of the orchard, 

1 bring you an offering 
do you, alone unbcautiiul, 
son of the god, 

spare us from loveliness: 

these fallen hazel-nuts, 

stripped late of their green sheaths, 

grapes, red-purple, 

their berries 

dripping with wine; 

pomegranates already broken, 

and shrunken figs, 

and quinces untouched, 

I bring you as offering. 



SONG 

You are as gold 
as the half-ripe grain 
that merges to gold again, 
as white as the white rain 
that beats through 
the half-opened flowers 
of the great flower tufts 
thick on the black limbs 
of an Illynan apple bough. 



5*9 

Can honey distill such fragrance 

as your bright hair 

for your face is as fair as rain; 

yet as rain that lies clear 

on white honey-comb 

lends radiance to the white wax, 

so your hair on your brow 

casts light lor a shadow. 



FROM LET ZEUS RECORD . 

Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare 

as Ilcsperm, nor yet so great a star 

as bright Aldebaran or Sinus, 

nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War: 

stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight; 
yours is not gracious as the Pleiads arc, 
nor as Orion's sapphires, luminous; 

yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face, 
when all the others, blighted, reel and fall, 
your star, steel-set, keeps lone and i rigid tryst 
to freighted ships baffled in wind and blast 



LAIS 

Let her who walks in Paphos 
take the glass, 
let Paphos take the mirror 
and the work of 1 rested truit, 
gold apples set 
with silver apple-leaf, 
white leaf of silver 
wrought with vein of gilt. 

Let Paphos lift the mirror; 

let her look 

into the polished center of the disk, 

Let Paphos take the mirror: 

did she press 

flowerlct of flame-flower 

to the lustrous white 

of the white forehead? 

Did the dark veins beat 

a deeper purple 

than the wine-deep tint 

of the dark flower? 

Did she deck black hair, 

one evening, with the winter-white 



390 



H. D. 



flower of the winter-berry ? 

Did she look (reft of her lover) 

at a face gone white 

under the chaplct 

of white virgin-breath? 

Lais, exultant, tyrannizing Greece, 

Lais who kept her lovers in the porch, 

lover on lover waiting 

(but to creep 

where the robe brushed the threshold 

where still sleeps Lais), 

so she creeps, Lais, 

to lay her mirror at the feet 

of her who reigns m Paphos. 

Lais has left her mirror, 

for she sees no longer in its depth 

the Lais' self 

that laughed exultant, 

tyrannizing Greece. 

Lais has left her mirror, 

for she weeps no longer, 

finding in its depth 

a face, but other 

than dark flame and white 

feature of perfect marble. 

Lais has left her mirror 

(so one wrote) 

to her who leigns in Paphos; 

Luis who laughed a tyiant over Greece, 

Lais who twned the lovers from the potch, 

that swarm for whom now 

Lais has no use; 

Lais is now no lover of the glass, 

seeing no mote the face as once it was, 

wishing to see that face and finding this. 



FROM HALCYON 

("Bud loved of sea-men") 

I'm not here, 

everything's vague, blurred everywhere, 

then you are blown 

into a room; 

the sea comes where a carpet 
laid red and purple, 



and where the edge showed marble 
there is sea-weed; 

sedge breaks the wall 
where the couch stands, 
the hands of strange people, 
twisting tassel and fringe 

of rich cloth, become clear; 
I understand the people, 
they aren't hateful but dear; 
over all 

a shrill wind, clear sky; 
O why, why, why 
am I fretful, insecure, 
why am I vague, unsure 

until you are blown, 

unexpected, small, quaint, unnoticeable, 

a gray gull 

into a room. 



SONGS FROM CYPRUS 

I 

Gather for festival 
bright weed and purple shell; 
make on the holy sand 
pattern as one might make 
who tread with rose-red heel 
a measure 
pleasureful; 

such as those songs we made 
in rose and myrtle shade 
where rose and myrtle fell 
(shell -petal or rose-shell) 
on just such holy sand; 
ah, the song 
musical; 

give me white rose and red; 
find me in citron glade 
citron of precious weight, 
spread gold before her feet, 
ah, weave the citron flower; 
hail, goddess 
beautiful. 



H. D. 



Where is the nightingale, 
in what myrrh-wood and dim? 
ah, let the night come black, 
for we would conjure back 
all that enchanted him, 

all that enchanted him. 



return our hymn, 
like echo fling 
a sweet song, 
answering note for note. 

THE ISLANDS 



Where is the bird of fire? 
in what packed hedge of rose? 
in what roofed ledge of flower? 
no other creature knows 
what magic lurks within, 

what magic lurJ^s within. 

Bird, bird, bird, bird, we cry, 
hear, pity us in pain; 
hearts break in the sunlight, 
hearts break in daylight rain, 
only night heals again, 

only night heals again. 

HOLY SATYR 

Most holy Satyr, 

like a goat, 

with horns and hooves 

to match thy coat 

of russet brown, 

I make leaf-circlets 

and a crown of honey-flowers 

for thy throat; 

where the amber petals 

drip to ivory, 

I cut and slip 

each stiffened petal 

in the rift 

of carven petal; 

honey horn 

has wed the bright 

virgin petal of the white 

flower cluster: lip to lip 

let them whisper, 

let them lilt, quivering. 

Most holy Satyr, 
like a goat, 
hear this our song, 
accept our leaves, 
love-offering, 



What are the islands to me, 
what is Greece, 
what is Rhodes, Samos, Chios, 
what is Paros facing west, 
what is Crete? 

What is Samothrace, 

rising like a ship, 

what is Imbros rending the storm-waves 

with its breast? 

What is Naxos, Paros, Milos, 
what the circle about Lycia, 
what the Cyclades* 
white necklace? 

What is Greece 
Sparta, rising like a rock, 
Thebes, Athens, 
what is Corinth? 



What is 

with its island violets, 

what is Euboia, spread with grass, 

set with swift shoals, 

what is Crete? 

What are the islands to me, 
what is Greece? 



What can love of land give to me 
that you have not 
what do the tall Spartans know, 
and gentler Attic folk? 

What has Sparta and her women 
more than this? 

What are the islands to me 

if you are lost 

what is Naxos, Tinos, Andros, 



39 2 



H. D. 



and Delos, the clasp 
of the white necklace? 

in 

What can love of land give to me 
that you have not, 
what can love of strife break in me 
that you have not? 

Though Sparta enter Athens, 
Thebes wrack Sparta, 
each changes as water, 
salt, rising to wreak terror 
and falling back. 

IV 

"What has love of land given to you 
that I have not?" 

I have questioned Tyrians 

where they sat 

on the black ships, 

weighted with rich stufls; 

I have asked the Greeks 

from the white ships, 

and Greeks from ships whose hulks 

lay on the wet sand, scarlet 

with great beaks. 

I have asked bright Tyrians 

and tall Greeks 

"what has love of land given you?" 

And they answered "peace." 



But Beauty is set apart, 
beauty is cast by the sea, 
a barren rock, 
beauty is set about 
with wrecks of ships, 
upon our coast, death keeps 
the shallows death waits 
clutching toward us 
from the deeps. 

Beauty is set apart; 
the winds that slash its beach, 
swirl the coarse sand 
upward toward the rocks. 

Beauty is set apart 
from the islands 
-and from Greece. 



VI 

In my garden 

the winds have beaten 

the ripe lilies; 

in my garden, the salt 

has wilted the first flakes 

of young narcissus, 

and the lesser hyacinth, 

and the salt has crept 

under the leaves of the white hyacinth. 

In my garden, 

even the wind-flowers he flat, 

broken by the wind at last. 



What are the islands to me 
if you are lost, 
what is Paros to me 
if your eyes draw back, 
what is Milos 

if you take fright of beauty, 
terrible, tortuous, isolated, 
a barren rock? 

What is Rhodes, Crete, 
what is Paros facing west, 
what, white Imbros? 

What are the islands to me 

if you hesitate, 

what is Greece if you draw back 

from the terror 

and cold splendor of song 

and its bleak sacrifice? 



HELEN 

All Greece hates 

the still eyes in the white face, 

the luster as of olives 

where she stands, 

and the white hands. 

All Greece reviles 

the wan face when she smileS) 

hating it deeper still 

when it grows wan and white, 

remembering past enchantments 

and past ills. 

Greece sees unmoved, 
God's daughter, born of love, 



H. D. 

the beauty of cool feet 

and slenderest knees, 

could love indeed the maid, 

only if she were laid, 

white ash amid funereal cypresses. 



LETHE 

Nor skin nor hide nor fleece 

Shall cover you, 
Nor curtain of crimson nor fine 
Shelter of cedar-wood be over you, 

Nor the fir-tree 

Nor the pine. 



393 

Nor sight of whin nor gorse 

Nor river-yew, 

Nor fragrance of flowering bush, 
Nor wailing of rccd-bird to waken you. 

Nor of linnet 

Nor of thrush. 

Nor word nor touch nor sight 

Of lover, you 

Shall long through the night but for this: 
The roll of the lull tide to cover you 

Without question, 

Without kiss. 



John Hall 



JOHN HALL WHEELOCK was born at Far Rockaway, Long Island, in 1886. He was 
graduated irom Harvard, receiving his B.A. in 1908, and finished his studies at 
the Universities of Gottingcn and Berlin, 1908-10. 

Wheelock's first book is, in many respects, his best. The Human Fantasy (1911) 
sings with the voice of youth youth vibrantly, even vociferously, in love with exist- 
ence. Rhapsodic and obviously influenced by Whitman and Henley, these lines beat 
bravely; headlong ecstasy rises from pages whose refrain is "Splendid it is to live 
and glorious to die." The Beloved Adventure (1912) is less powerful, but scarcely 
less passionate. Lyric after lyric moves by its athletic affirmation. 

Wheelock's subsequent volumes are less individualized. Love and Liberation 
(1913) and Dust and Light (1919) are long dilutions of the earlier strain. The 
music is still here, but most of the vigor has gone. Wheelock has allowed himself to 
be exploited by his own fluency and the result is lyrical monotony. Yet vast stretches 
of two hundred and thirty unvaried love-songs cannot bury a dozen vivid poems 
which he, halt-concealed, in a waste of verbiage. 

The Blacl( Panther (1922) furnishes additional proof that though Whcclock's star 
may have waned it did not die. In this volume the poet's gift assumes greater dig- 
nity; the flashing athleticism has matured into a steady fervor. With the exception 
of a few innocuous songs, there is revealed a graver music than Wheelock has ac- 
complished. In the longer poems, most eflectively in "Earth," he expresses the para- 
dox of conflict and consent: the philosophy of the single Consciousness which recon- 
ciles terror and tenderness, murder and laughter, dawn and destruction "Life, the 
dreadful, the magnificent." 

The Bright Doom (1927), the smallest of Wheelock's volumes, is full of his best 
and worst. No poem is bad; no poem is quite good enough. The total effect is of 
desperate sincerity lost in foggy generalities, genuine poetry floundering in a wash 
of rhetoric. The early verse, less notable in idea, is more persuasive in image, more 
binning as music. 



J&flN.HALL WHEELOCK 



SUNDAY EVENING IN THE COMMON 

Look on the topmost branches of the world 
The blossoms of the myriad stars are thick; 
Over the huddled rows of stone and brick, 

A few, sad wisps of empty smoke are curled 
Like ghosts, languid and sick. 

One breathless moment now the city's moaning 
Fades, and the endless streets seem vague and dim; 
There is no sound around the whole world's rim, 

Save in the distance a small band is droning 
Some desolate old hymn. 

Van Wyck, how often have we been together 
When this same moment made all mysteries clear; 
The infinite stars that brood above us here, 

And the gray city m the soft June weather, 
So tawdry and so dear! 



TRIUMPH OF LOVE 

I shake my hair in the wind of morning 
For the joy within me that knows no bounds, 

I echo backward the vibrant beauty 

Wherewith heaven's hollow lute resounds. 

I shed my song on the feet of all men, 
On the feet of all shed out like wine, 

On the whole and the hurt I shed my bounty, 
The beauty within me that is not mine. 

Turn not away from my song, nor scorn me, 
Who bear the secret that holds the sky 

And the stars together, but know within me 
There speaks another more wise than I. 

Nor spurn me here from your heart, to hate me! 

Yet hate me here if you will not so 
Myself you hate, but the Love within me 

That loves you, whether you would or no. 

Here love returns with love to the lover, 

And beauty unto the heart thereof, 
And hatred unto the heart of the hater, 

Whether he would or no, with love! 



JOHN HALL WHEELOCK 



395 



NIRVANA 

Sleep on, I lie at heaven's high oriels, 
Over the stars that murmur as they go 
Lighting your lattice-window far below; 

And every star some of the glory spells 
Whereof I know. 

I have forgotten you long, long ago, 
Like the sweet silver singing of thin bells 

Vanished, or music fading iaint and low. 
Sleep on, I he at heaven's high oriels, 

Who loved you so. 



LOVE AND LIBERATION 

Lift your arms to the stars 
And give an immortal shout; 
Not all the veils of darkness 
Can put your beauty out' 

You are armed with love, with love, 
Nor all the powers of Fate 
Can touch you with a spear, 
Nor all the hands of hate. 

What of good and evil, 
Hell and Heaven above 
Trample them with love! 
Ride over them with love! 



EARTH 

Grasshopper, your fairy song 

And my poem alike belong 

To the dark and silent earth 

From which all poetry has birth. 

All we say and all we sing 

Is but as the murmuring 

Of that drowsy heart of hers 

When from her deep dream she stirs: 

If we sorrow, or rejoice, 

You and I are but her voice. 

Deftly does the dust express 
In mind her hidden loveliness, 
And from her cool silence stream 
The cricket's cry and Dante's dream; 
For the earth that breeds the trees 
Breeds cities too, and symphonies. 
Equally her beauty flows 
Into a savior, or a rose 



Looks down in dream, and from above 
Smiles at herseli in Jesus' love. 
Chnst's love and Homer's art 
Are but the wot kings oi her heart; 
Through Leonardo's hand she seeks 
Herself, and through Beethoven speaks 
In holy tlumdermgs around 
The awful message of the ground. 

The serene and humble mold 
Dots in herself all sel\es enfold 
Kingdoms, destinies, and creeds, 
Great dreams, and dauntless deeds, 
Science that metes the firmament, 
The high, inflexible intent 
Of one lor many sacrificed 
Plato's brain, the heart of Christ; 
All love, all legend, and all lore 
Arc in the dust forevermorc. 

Even as the growing grass, 

Up from the soil religions pass, 

And the field that bears (he rye 

Bears parables and prophecy. 

Out oi the earth the poem grows 

Like the lily, or the rose; 

And all man is, or yet may be, 

Is but herseli in agony 

Toiling up the steep ascent 

Toward the complete accomplishment 

When all dust shall be, the whole 

Univeisc, one conscious soul. 

Yea, the quiet and cool sod 
Bears in her breast the dream of God. 
If you would know what earth is, scan 
The intricate, proud heart of man, 
Which is the earth articulate, 
And learn how holy and how great, 
How limitless and how profound 
Is the nature oi the ground 
How without terror or demur 
We may entrust ourselves to her 
When we are wearied out and lay 
Our faces in the common clay. 

For she is pity, she is love, 

All wisdom, she, all thoughts that move 

About her everlasting breast 

Till she gathers them to rest: 

All tenderness of all the ages, 

Seraphic secrets of the sages, 



39 6 

Vision and hope of all the seers, 
All prayer, all anguish, and all tears 
Are but the dust that from her dream 
Awakes, and knows herself supreme 
Are hut earth, when she reveals 
All that her secret heart coneeals 
Down in the dark and silent loam, 
Which is ourselves, asleep, at home. 
Yea, and this, my poem, too, 
Is part of her as dust and dew, 
Wherein herself she doth declare 
Thiough my lips, and say her prayer. 



THIS QUIFT DUST 

Here in my curving hands I cup 
This cjuitt dust, I lift it up. 



JOHN HALL WHEELOCK 

Here is the mother of all thought; 

Of this the shining heavens are wrought, 

The laughing lips, the feet that rove, 

The face, the body, that you love: 

Mere dust, no more, yet nothing less, 

And this has suffered consciousness, 

Passion, and terror, this again 

Shall suffer passion, death, and pain. 

For, as all flesh must die, so all, 
Now dust, shall live. Tis natural; 
Yet hardly do I understand 
Here in the hollow of my hand 
A bit of God Himself I keep, 
Between two vigils fallen asleep. 



Roy Helton 



K)Y (ADDISON) HFLTON was born at Washington, D. C,, in 1886 and graduated 
from the University of Pennsylvania in 1908. He studied art and found he 
was color-blind. lie spent two years at inventions and found he had no business 
sense. After a few more experiments he became a schoolmaster in West Philadelphia 
and at the Perm Charter School in Germantown. 

Helton's fust volume, Youth's Ptlgnmage (1915), is a strange, mystical affair, full 
of vague symbolism and purple patches. Outcasts in Betilah Land (1918) is entirely 
different in theme and treatment. This is a much starker verse, direct and sharp 
m its effect. Helton became intimately connected with primitive backgrounds, spend- 
ing a great part of his time in the mountains of South Carolina and Kentucky. His 
later verse in Lonesome Water (1930) shows the influence of this intimacy. Its spirit 
creeps into his fanciful prose, The Eatly Adventures of Peacham Grew (1925), a 
story which unites quamtncss and tragedy in a delicate chronicle of boyhood. 
Strangeness of another sort fills Nitchie Tdley (1934), a ^ ater novel. 

"Old Christmas Morning" is a Kentucky Mountain dialogue in which Helton 
has introduced an element rare in modern verse. Told with the directness of an 
old ballad, this drama of the night twelve days after the universally celebrated 
Christmas unfolds a ghost story in which the surprise is heightened by the skillful 
suspensions. "Lonesome Water" is a direct communication in the vernacular. Asked 
to furnish a glossary, Helton wrote: "I have tried to use only the common and most 
general mountain words, despising that preciosity of folk-talk dug out and patched 
together which is now a fashion. . . . Sung' a universal Southernmountam word 
for Gin Seng wherever the weed is grown or picked. Tiace: a trail or footpath, 
Putties: any sort of toy or decoration. Uses: lives," 



ROY HELTON 



397 



OLD CHRISTMAS MORNING 

(A Kentucky Mountain Kail ad} 

"Where are you coming from, Lomcy Carter, 

So airly over the snow? 
And what's them pretties you got in your hand. 

And where you aiming to go? 

"Step in, Honey: Old Christmas morning 

I ain't got nothing much; 
Maybe a bite of sweetness and corn bread, 

A little ham meat and such. 

"But come in, Honey 1 Sally Anne Barton's 

Hungering after your face. 
Wait till I light my candle up: 

Set down! There's your old place. 

"Now where you been so airly this morning! 5 " 

"Graveyard, Sally Anne. 
Up by the tiace in the salt Itc1{ meadows 
Whete Taulbc fait my man" 

"Taulbe ain't to home this morning . . . 

I can't scratch up a light 
Dampness gets on the heads of the matches; 

But I'll blow up the embers bright." 

"Needn't tiouble. I wont be stopping 
Going a long ways still." 

"You didn't see nothing, Lomcy Carter, 
Up on the graveyard hill?" 

"What should I see there, Sally Anne Baiton?" 
"Well, sperits do walk last night." 

"There were an elder bush a-bloonung 
While the moon still give some light" 

"Yes, elder bushes, they bloom, Old Christmas, 

And critters kneel down in their straw. 
Anything else up in the graveyard?" 

"One thing more 1 saw: 
I saw my man with his head all bleeding 
Where Taulbe s shot went through" 

"What did he say?" 

"He stooped and tyssed me" 

"What did he say to you?" 



39 8 



ROY HELTON 



"Said, Lord Jesus forguv your Taulbe; 

But he told me another wotd; 
He said it soft when he stooped and fyssed me. 

That tvete the last 1 heard." 

"Taulbe ain't to home this morning." 

"7 know that, Sally Anne, 

Foi 1 fylt him, coming down thwugh the meadow 
Whcte Taulbe \ilt my man. 

"I met him upon the meadow ttace 

When the moon were fainting fast, 
And I had my dead man's Jifle gun 

And tylt him as he come fast" 

"But I heard two shots." 

" 'Twas his was second: 
He shot me 'joie he died" 
You'll find us at daybrea^, Sally Anne Barton: 
I'm laying theie dead at his side." 



LONESOME WATER 

Drank lonesome water: 
Warn't but a tad then 
Up in a laurel thick 
Digging for sang; 
Came on a place where 
The stones were hollow, 
Something below them 
Tinkled and rang. 

Dug whar I heard it 
Dripplmg below me: 
Should a knowed better, 
Should a been wise; 
Leant down and drank it, 
Clutching and gripping 
The over hung chv 
With the icrns in my eyes. 

Tasted of heart leaf 

And that smells the sweetest, 

Pawpaw and spice bush 

And wild brier rose; 

Must a been counting 

The heels of the spruce pines, 

And neighboring round 

Whar angelica grows. 



I'd drunk lonesome water, 
I knowed in a minute: 
Never larnt nothing 
From then till today: 
Nothing worth laming 
Nothing worth knowing, 
I'm bound to the hills 
And I can't get away. 

Mean sort of dried up old 
Ground-hoggy fellow, 
Laying out cold here 
Watching the sky; 
Pore as a hipporwill, 
Bent like a grass blade; 
Counting up stars 
Till they count too high. 

I know whar the gray foxes 

Uses up yander: 

Know what will cure you 

Of tisic and chills, 

But I never been way from here, 

Never got going; 

I've drunk lonesome water. 

I'm bound to the hills. 



MARIANNE MOORE 



399 



Marianne Moore 

MARIANNE MOORE was born in St. Louis, Missouri, November 15, 1887. She re- 
ceived her B A. from Bryn Mavvr College in 1909; taught stenography at the 
United States Indian school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from 1911 to 19 is; was an 
assistant in the Hudson Park Branch of the New York Public Library, and editor 
of The Dial from 1925 to its demise in 1929. 

It was not until 1921 that a few of her friends "pirated" her work; without her 
cooperation, Poems was published m that year by The Egoist Pies*. Three >ears later 
she received the Dial Award of two thousand dollars ior "distinguished service to 
American letters." Observations (1924), including the early poems as well as some 
new ones, appeared at the same time. 

Miss Moore's work is frankly puzzling, not only to the disinterested reader, but 
to the student of modern poetry. Although her early versis present no difficulties, 
her more characteristic lines seem to erect a barrier of jagged clauses, barbed quota- 
tions and suspicious structures between herself and her audience It has been as- 
serted, and the editor shares this opinion, that Miss Moore's highly mtellcUuah/cd 
dissertations are actually part of the domain of criticism rather than of poetry, and 
that her creations are in the latter division chiefly because ot the physical pattern 
of her lines. Her studies arc scrupulously precise; they avoid stoek phrases and 
stereotype sentiments, but they tend to disguise statements which seem to be seeking 
their prose origins: a sort of wilty and ironic geometry. 

Selected Poems, published in 1935, with an introduction by T. S. Eliot, accentu- 
ates the problems presented by her work. There can be no doubt about Miss Moore's 
wit or the incision of her ideas. Her language has a cuiious bite, and the phrasing is 
both exact and unusual. The lizard is "a nervous naked sword on little ieet," the ele- 
phant "black earth preceded by a tendril," the snake has "hypodermic teeth." What 
Ate Yeais (1941) contains only fifteen poems, but these are among her most exact 
and exacting variations on surprisingly trivial themes. This poet is best in reilec- 
tions, in an allusiveness which is a kind of analyzed memory, a microscopic musing. 



A TALISMAN 

Under a splintered mast, 
torn from the ship and cast 
near her hull, 

a stumbling shepherd found, 
embedded in the ground, 
a sea-gull 

of lapis lazuli, 

a scarab of the sea, 

with wings spread- 
curling its coral feet, 
parting its beak to greet 

men long dead. 



THAT II A R P YOU PLAY SO W E 1 

O David, if I had 

Your power, I should be glad 

In harping, with the sling, 

In patient reasoning' 

Blake, Homer, Job, and you, 
Have made old winc-skms new. 
Your energies have wrought 
Stout continents of thought. 

But, David, if the heart 
Be brass, what boots the art 
Of exorcising wrong, 
Of harping to a song? 



400 MARIANNE MOORE 

The scepter and the ring 
And every royal thing 

Will fail. Griefs lustiness* 

Must cure the harp's distress. 



TO A STEAM ROLLER 

The illustration 

is nothing to you without the application. 

You lack half wit. You crush all the particles down 

into close conformity, and then walk back and forth on them. 

Sparkling chips of rock 

are crushed down to the level of the parent block. 
Were not "impersonal judgment in esthetic 
matters, a metaphysical impossibility," you 

might fairly achieve 

it. As for butterflies, I can hardly conceive 
of one's attending upon you; but to question 
the congruence of the complement is vain, if it exists. 



ENGLAND 

with its baby rivers and little towns, each with its abbey or its cathedral; 

with voices one voice perhaps, echoing through the transept the 
criterion of suitability and convenience, and Italy with its equal 

shoies contriving an epicureanism from which the grossness has been 

extracted and Greece with its goats and its gourds, the nest of modified illusions: 

and France, the "chrysalis of the nocturnal butterfly" in 
whose products, mysteiy of construction diverts one from what was originally one's 

object substance at the core: and the East with its snails, its emotional 

shorthand and jade cockroaches, its rock crystal and its imperturbability, 

all of museum quality: and America where there 
is the little old ramshackle victoria in the south, where cigars are smoked on the 

street in the north; where there are no proof readers, no silkworms, no digressions; 

the wild man's land; grass-less, links-less, language-less country m which letters 

are written 

not in Spanish, not in Greek, not in Latin, not in shorthand, 
but in plain American which cats and dogs can read' The letter "a" in psalm and 

calm when 
pronounced with the sound of "a" in candle, is very noticeable but 

why should continents of misapprehension have to be accounted for by the 
fact? Does it follow that because there arc poisonous toadstools 

which resemble mushrooms, both are dangerous ? In the case of mcttlesomeness 

which may be 
mistaken for appetite, of heat which may appear to be haste, no con- 



MARIANNE MOORE 401 

elusions may be drawn. To have misapprehended the matter, is to have confessed 
that one has not looked far enough. The sublimated wisdom 

of China, Egyptian discernment, the cataclysmic torrent of emotion compressed 
in the verbs of the Hebrew language, the books of the man \\ ho is able 

to say, "I envy nobody but him and him only, who catches more fish than 

I do," the flower and fruit of all that noted superu 
ority should one not have stumbled upon it in America, must one imagine 

that it is not there? It has never been confined to one locality. 



THE FISH 

Wade 

through black jade 

Of the crow-blue mussel shells, one 
keeps 

adjusting the ash heaps; 
opening and shutting itself like 

an 

injured fan. 

The barnacles which encrust the 
side 

of the wave, cannot hide 
there for the submerged shafts of the 

sun, 

split like spun 

glass, move themselves with spotlight swift- 
ness 

into the crevices 
in and out, illuminating 

the 

turquoise sea 

of bodies. The water drives a 

wedge 

of iron through the iron edge 
of the cliff, whereupon the stars, 

pink 

rice grams, ink 

bespattered jelly-fish, crabs like 
green 

lilies and submarine 
toadstools, slide each on the other. 

All 
external 

marks of abuse are present on 
this 

defiant edifice 
all the_ physical features of 



402 MARIANNE MOORE 

ac- 
cident lack 

of cornice, dynamite grooves, burns 
and 

hatchet strokes, these things stand 
out on it; the chasm side is 

dead. 
Repeated 

evidence has proved that it can 
live 

on what cannot revive 
its youth. The sea grows old in it. 



Robinson Jeffers 

KIBINSON JEFFERS* condensed autobiography runs as follows: "Born in Pittsburgh 
in 1887; my parents carried me about Europe a good deal. Of the first visit I 
remember three things a pocketful of snails loosed on the walls of a kindergarten 
in Zurich, paintings of Keats and Shelley hanging side by side somewhere in Lon- 
don, and Arthur's Seat, the hill about Edinburgh. When I was fifteen I was brought 
home. Next year my family moved to California and I graduated at eighteen from 
Occidental College, Los Angeles. After that, desultory years at the University of 
Southern California, University of Zurich, Medical School in Los Angeles, Univer- 
sity of Washington, but with faint interest. T wasn't deeply interested in anything 
but poetry. T married Una Call Kustcr in 1913. We were going to England in the 
autumn of 1914. But the August news turned us to this village of Carmcl instead; 
and when the stagecoach topped the hill from Monterey, and we looked down 
through pines and sea-fogs on Carmel Bay, it was evident that we had come without 
knowing it to our inevitable place." There, on the ocean's edge, JefTers has lived ever 
since, identifying himself with the Califorman rocks and headlands. 

Flagons and Apples (1912) was JefTers' undistinguished first volume; it was fol- 
lowed by Cahjotnians (1916), a scarcely more original book. In 1925 Tamar and 
Other Pot ms was brought out by a small printer and caused an overnight sensation. 
It was reprinted the following year, with the addition of new work, as Roan Stallion, 
Tamar and Other Poems (1926). This, it was evident at once, was masculine poetry, 
stark, even terrible in its intensities. Whatever defects this verse has and it must be 
confessed that JefTers piles on his catastrophes with little humor and less restraint 
there is no denying its elemental power. He combines two almost contrary types of 
strength: the impetuous American and the stoic Greek. 

The Women at Point Sur (1927) shows how easily JefTers can swing the long 
line, how suddenly his phrases soar from the tawdry into the terrible, how boldly 
he can lift a language which, in the hands of most poets, would be nothing more 
than wild rhetoric. 

Cawdor (1928) again reveals JefTers turning away from gentle themes to almost 
unbearable ones. The long poem is a continuation of the bewilderment announced 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 403 

in the preceding volumes. Jeffers himself says, "I think of Cawdor as making a 
third with Tamar and The Women at Point Sur; but as if in Tamat human affairs 
had been seen looking westward against the ocean; in Point Sut looking upward, 
minimized to ridicule against the stars; in Cawdor looking eastward, against the 
earth, reclaiming a little dignity from that association. . . . Whcic not only genera- 
tions but races drizzle away so fast, one wonders the more urgently what it is for, 
and whether this beautiful earth is amused or sorry at the pioccssion oi her pos- 
sessors." There are also a number of shorter poems, not actually subversive but, con- 
tinues Jeffers, "the mere common sense of our predicament as passionate bits of 
earth and water." . . . The setting of Cawdor is monstrous, the symbols excessive, 
the speech of his characters unreal; yet the backgrounds are not much more tragic 
than Jeffers' own weird Carmel coast and his people move in an atmosphere larger 
if more forbidding than reality. As in his other work, exaggerations of lust and vio- 
lence outdo each other; but these, which in a lesser man would be absurd, are com- 
pelling because of the sheer force behind them and the malefic universe they imply. 

This force is not only inherent in Jeffers' extraordinary language, but in his 
demonic search for ultimates. He disdains the illusions by which man makes life 
endurable: love, nature, the mind these are all self-destructive and useless. Quiet is 
empty denial and peace a forlorn hope. Death seems the one fieedom, "the huge 
gift," but annihilation itself, he realizes, is impossible. There is left only despair 
and this is the cry beneath Jeffers' strength. The longing for oblivion explains his 
wild dreams, bloodshot landscapes, inhuman crimes, incests, brutalities, nightmare- 
struggles where life "drinks her defeat and devours her famine for food." 

Thus he celebrates "the charm of the dark," enlarges on passions turned inward 
and men "all matted in one mesh"; he sings a frustrated Dies lute to unrespondmg 
Nothingness. Therefore the things he loves best are rocks, black cypresses, depths of 
ocean, granite mountains things that have their being without ambition, without 
hope, without consciousness. 

But negation alone cannot explain the poet's dark persuasiveness. To Jeffers con- 
sciousness is the great curse of mankind; unconsciousness is the desirable state of 
nature. That man can never know such unconsciousness is what compels Jeflers* 
anguish and dictates his most impassioned lines. Impassioned they arc, whatever one 
may think of the philosophy that prompts them, and an examination of Jeffers' utter- 
ance discloses a strange phenomenon: This poet preaches the gospel ol Nothingness 
with an exuberant liveliness. lie mourns, with inconsistent vigor, "the broken bal- 
ance, the hopeless prostration of the earth under men's hands." His Jesus (in Dear 
Judas) is only an extension of the fanatically possessive Barclay (in The Women at 
Point Sur); even mystical passion becomes a high-pitched turbulence and love a last 
despair. 

Thus Jeffers is in danger of emotional abandonment. His dramas are too often 
conditioned not by the exigencies of the situation nor by the demands of his char- 
acters, but by Jeffers' inverted violences. The chaos is seli-gencrated; the didacticism 
no less didactic for being nullifying and uncontrolled; the imagination is too often 
disturbed by intellectual hysteria. 

Dear Judas (1929) is composed of two long and a few short poems, the two 
longer ones bearing a relation to each other in the contrasted aspects of love, the 
shorter ones condensing Jeffers' philosophy into some of his finest moments. Like 



404 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

his other work, Dear Judas exhibits Jeffers projecting blind and bewildering Nature, 
misconceiving man as a "spectral episode." Here again is energy threshing in mean- 
inglessness; here is force in need of a faith. 

Thurso's Landing (1932) consists of one long poem and several highly character- 
istic shorter ones. The title-poem must rank among Jeffers' most important crea- 
tions a poem in which sheer power and eloquence triumph above black and un- 
relieved melodrama. Here again the diamatis personae are nakedly symbols of tor- 
tured humanity, "all compelled, all unhappy, all helpless." The idea dominating the 
book is the idee fixe which runs through all of Jeffers' volumes: Life is horrible. 
Love, as we practice it, is inverted and incestuous; not one self-adoring man in a 
million expresses outward-going passion. Death is the beautiful capricious savior, 
"the gay child with the gypsy eyes." Civilization is a transient sickness. Were the 
world free of this botch ot humanity, this walking disease of consciousness, it would 
be a cleaner place, one in which the noble, impersonal elements would be at home. 
In a few thousand years this may well happen, and life will no longer be a torture 
for the living. Meanwhile our nature, "ignoble in its quiet times, mean in its pleas- 
ures, slavish in the mass" can, in its stricken moments, occasionally "shine terribly 
against the dark magnificence of things." Meanwhile we can learn from hawks and 
headlands; we can learn to bear; we can endure. Sometimes the philosophy is im- 
plicit in the action of Jcffers' characters; sometimes it is explicit, and the poet steps 
out of the drama to say: 

... No life 
Ought to be thought important in the weave of the world, whatever it may show of 

courage or enduicd pain. 
It owns no other manner of shining but to bear pain; for pleasure is too little, our 

inhuman Cod is too great, thought is too lost. 

The shortei poems in Give Yow Heart to the Hawfys (1934) and Solstice (1935), 
like those in the preceding volumes, are Jeflers at his most characteristic; condensa- 
tion forces his pessimism into a rhythm that is both long and compact, like a 
tightly coiled spring. Several of the finest appeared in the 1927 issue of A Miscellany 
of American Poetiy and were added to the popular edition of Roan Stallion, Tamar 
and Other Poems, brought out by The Modern Library in 1935. This excellent re- 
print also contains an introduction by the author which is a valuable piece of self- 
appraisal, especially m its estimate of "originality." "It seemed to me," says Jeffers, 
"that Mallarme and his followers, renouncing intelligibility in order to concentrate 
the music of poetry, had turned off the road into a narrowing lane. Their successors 
could only make further renunciations; ideas had gone, now meter had gone, 
imagery would have to go; then recognizable emotions would have to go; perhaps 
at last even words might have to go or give up their meaning, nothing be left but 
musical syllables. Every advance required the elimination of some aspect of reality, 
and what could it profit me to know the direction of modern poetry if I did not 
like the direction ? It was too much like putting out your eyes to cultivate the sense 
of hearing, or cutting off the right hand to develop the left. These austerities were 
not for me; originality by amputation was too painful for me." 

Three years after distressing himself about "originality" Jeffers began to write 
Tamar, the work which was one of the most original of his generation. Superficially, 
because of his loose musical line, Jeffers seems to resemble Whitman, but his spirit 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 405 

is the very opposite of that rude yea-sayer's. Where Whitman lifts himself in all- 
embracing affirmations, JefTers loses himself in all-inclusive negations. The Cali- 
fornia poet turns against the sense of love which upheld Whitman; until man 
can "love outwardly," love of man, to fetters, is only "the trap that catches 
noblest spirits, that caught they say God, when he walked on earth." It was, 
however, not so much Jeffers* negations to which the critics objected as to his 
abnormal themes. This was the more curious since, beneath his preoccupations 
with abnormality, the poet implied a definite morality. JcfTcrs explained this cle- 
ment of his work in a letter which leaves no doubt of his intentions: "In Tamar 
a little and in The Women at Point Sut consciously and definitely, incest is sym- 
bolized racial introversion: man regarding man exclusively founding his \alucs, 
desires, a picture of the universe, all on his own humanity. . . . The tendency to 
romanticize unmoral freedom leads to destruction often of the individual but 
always of the social organism." 

Such Counsels You Gave to Me and Other Poems (1957) rcp cats all the notes 
of JefTers 1 previous work, but it contains a new attempt at clarification. Man is 
still "a spectral episode" and "humanity is needless"; but, even in an inhuman 
and valueless universe, man inconsistently, stupidly, seeks tor values. The Selected 
Poetty of Robinson Jcffeis (1938), a book ot 620 pages, reveals this self-contra- 
diction on a large scale; Be Angty at the Sun (1941) hall conceals it in a fiercely 
restrained bitterness. There is, first of all, the glorification of tragedy, of the 
struggle toward self-realization and the "ennobling" power of pain. And there 
is the insistence that all struggle is useless, that all values are inconsequential in 
a universe which flees "the contagion of consciousness that infects this corner of 
space." Joy leads to destruction, and terror is the reward of truth. 

Yet if JefTers feeds on destruction and terror, he is not sickened but sustained by 
it. His poetry communicates a stormy vigor. It never falters, but sweeps on, 
cumulative and irresistible. The epithets aie almost always exact, the occasional 
metaphors as inevitable as "the leopard-footed evening," "she moved sighing, like 
a loose fire"; a hawk's wing "trails like a banner in defeat." 

One must, somehow, separate the idea and its expression, remembering that 
the poem transcends the experience and the personality that prompted it. Between 
JelTcrs the philosopher and JcfTcrs the poet there is a significant dichotomy. The 
philosophy is negative, repetitious, dismal. The poetry, even when bitterest, is 
positive as any creative expression must be. It is varied in movement and color; 
it vibrates with a reckless fecundity, it is continually breaking through its own 
pattern to dangerous and unfathorned depths. This is not a work to be enjoyed 
without sacrificing that sense of case dear to the casual reader; it is doubtful if, 
in the common sense, it can be "enjoyed" at all. But here is a full-throated poetry, 
remarkable in sheer drive and harrowing drama, a poetry we may never love but 
which we cannot forget. 

COMPENSATION 

Solitude that unmakes me one of men 

In snow-white hands brings singular recompense, 

Evening me with kindlier natures when 

On the needled pinewood the cold dews condense 



4 o6 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

About the hour of Rigel fallen from heaven 

In wintertime, or when the long night tides 

Sigh blindly from the sand-dune backward driven, 

Or when on stormwmgs of the northwind rides 

The foamscud with the cormorants, or when passes 

A horse or dog with brown affectionate eyes, 

Or autumn frosts are pricked by earliest grasses, 

Or whirring from her covert a quail flies. 

Why, even in humanity, beauty and good 

Show from the mountainside of solitude. 



AGE IN PROSPECT 

Praise youth's hot blood if you will, I think that happiness 
Rather consists in having lived clear through 
Youth and hot blood, on to the wintrier hemisphere 
Where one has time to wait and to remember. 

Youth and hot blood are beautiful, so is peaceful ness. 
Youth had some islands in it, but age is indeed 
An island and a peak; age has infirmities, 
Not few, but youth is all one fever. 

To look around and to love in his appearances, 
Though a little calmly, the universal God's 
Beauty is better I think than to lip eagerly 
The mother's breast or another woman's. 

And there is no possession more sure than memory's; 
But if I reach that gray island, that peak, 
My hope is still to possess with eyes the homeliness 
Of ancient loves, ocean and mountains, 

And meditate the sea-mouth of mortality 
And the fountain six feet down with a quieter thirst 
Than now I feel for old age; a creature progressively 
Thirsty for life will be for death too. . 



ANTE MORTEM 

It is likely enough that lions and scorpions 

Guard the end; life never was bonded to be endurable nor the act of dying 

Unpamful; the brain burning too often 

Earns, though it held itself detached from the object, often a burnt age. 

No matter, I shall not shorten it by hand. 

Incapable of body or unmoved of brain is no evil, one always went envying 

The quietness of stones. But if the striped blossom 

Insanity spread lewd splendors and lightning terrors at the end of the forest; 

Or intolerable pain work its known miracle, 

Exile the monarch soul, set a sick monkey in the office . . . remember me 

Entire and balanced when I was younger, 

And could lift stones, and comprehend in the praises the cruelties of life. 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 407 

POST MORTEM 

Happy people die whole, they are all dissolved in a moment, they ha\e had what 

they wanted, 

No hard gifts; the unhappy 
Linger a space, but pain is a thing that is glad to be forgotten; but one who has 

given 

His heart to a cause or a country, 
His ghost may spaniel it a while, disconsolate to watch it. I was wondering how 

long the spirit 

That sheds this verse will remain 
When the nostrils are nipped, when the brain rots in its vault or bubbles in the 

violence of fire 

To be ash in metal. I was thinking 
Some stalks of the wood whose roots I married to the earth of this place will stand 

five centuries; 

I held the roots in my hand, 
The stems of the trees between two fingers; how many remote generations of 

women 

Will drink joy from men's loins, 
And dragged from between the thighs of what mothers will giggle at my ghost 

when it curses the axmen, 
Gray impotent voice on the sea-wind, 
When the last trunk falls? The women's abundance will have built roofs over all 

this foreland; 

Will have buried the rock foundations 
I laid here: the women's exuberance will canker and fail in its time and like clouds 

the houses 

Unframe, the granite of the prime 
Stand from the heaps: come storm and wash clean: the plaster is all run to the sea 

and the steel 

All rusted; the foreland resumes 
The foim we loved when we saw it. Though one at the end of the age and far oil 

from this place 

Should meet my presence in a poem, 
The ghost would not care but be here, long sunset shadow in the seams of the 

granite, and forgotten 
The flesh, a spirit for the stone. 

NOON 

The pure air trembles, O pitiless God, 

The air aches with flame on these gaunt rocks 

Over the flat sea's face, the forest 

Shakes in gales of piercing light. 

But the altars are behind and higher 
Where the great hills raise naked heads, 
Pale antagonists in the reverberance 
Of the pure air and the pitiless God. 



4 o8 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

On the domed skull of every hill 
Who stand blazing with spread vans, 
The arms uplifted, the eyes in ecstasy? 

What wine has the God drunk, to sing 
Violently in heaven, what wine his worshipers 
Whose silence blazes ? The light that is over 
Light, the terror of noon, the eyes 
That the eagles die at, have thrown down 
Me and my pride, here I lie naked 
In a hollow of the shadowless rocks, 
Full of the God, having drunk fire. 



CLOUDS OF EVENING 

Enormous cloud-mountains that form over Point Lobos and into the sunset, 

Figures of fire on the walls of tonight's stoim, 

Foam of gold in gorges of fire, and the great file of warrior angels: 

Dreams gathering in the curdled brain oi the earth 

The sky the brain-vault on the threshold of sleep- poor earth, you, like youi 

children 

By inordinate desires tortured, make dreams? 
Storms more enormous, wars nobler, more toppling mountains, more jeweled waters, 

more free 

Fires on impossible headlands ... as a poor gill 

Wishing her lover taller and more desirous, and herself mancd with gold, 
Dreams the world right, m the cold bed, about dawn. 

Dreams are beautiful; the slaves of form are beautiful also; I have grown to believe 
A stone is a better pillow than many visions. 

TO THE STONE-CUTTERS 

Stone-cutters fighting time with marble, you foredefeated 

Challengers of oblivion, 

Eat cynical earnings, knowing rock splits, records fall down, 

The square-limbed Roman letters 

Scale in the thaws, wear in the rain. The poet as well 

Builds his monument mockingly; 

For man will be blotted out, the blithe earth die, the brave sun 

Die blind, his heart blackening: 

Yet stones have stood for a thousand years, and pained thoughts found 

The honey peace in old poems. 

GALE IN APRIL 

Intense and terrible beauty, how has our race with the frail naked nerves, 
So little a craft swum down from its far launching? 

Why now, only because the northwest blows and the headed grass billows, 
Great seas jagging the west and on the granite 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 409 

Blanching, the vessel is brimmed, this dancing play of the world is too much 

passion. 

A gale in April so overfilling the spirit, 
Though his ribs were thick as the earth's, arches of mountain, how shall one dare 

to live, 

Though his blood were like the earth's rivers and his flesh iron, 
How shall one dare to live? One is born strong, how do the weak endure it? 
The strong lean upon death as on a lock, 
After eighty years there is shelter and the naked nerves shall be covered with deep 

quietness. 

O beauty of things, go on, go on, O torture 

Of intense joy, I have lasted out my time, I have thanked Clod and finished, 
Roots of millennial trees fold me in the darkness, 
Northwest winds shake their tops, not to the root, not to the root, 1 have 

passed 
From beauty to the other beauty, peace, the night splendor. 



APOLOGY FOR BAD DREAMS 

I 

In the purple light, heavy with redwood, the slopes drop seaward, 

Headlong convexities of forest, drawn in together to the steep ravine. Below, on the 
sea-clifT, 

A lonely clearing; a little field of corn by the streamsule; a roof under spared trees. 
Then the ocean 

Like a great stone someone has cut to a sharp edge and polished to shining Beyond 
it, the fountain 

And furnace of incredible light flowing up irom the sunk sun In the little clear- 
ing a woman 

Was punishing a horse; she had tied the halter to a sapling at the edge of the wood; 
but when the great whip 

Clung to the flanks the creature kicked so hard she feared he would snap the 
halter; she called from the house 

The young man her son; who fetched a chain tie-rope, they working together 

Noosed the small rusty links round the horse's tongue 

And tied him by the swollen tongue to the tree. 

Seen from this height they arc shrunk to insect size, 

Out of all human relation. You cannot distinguish 

The blood dripping from where the chain is fastened, 

The beast shuddering; but the thrust neck and the legs 

Far apart. You can see the whip fall on the flanks. . . . 

The gesture of the arm. You cannot see the face of the woman. 

The enormous light beats up out of the west across the cloud-bars of the trade-wind. 
The ocean 

Darkens, the high clouds brighten, the hills darken together. Unbridled and un- 
believable beauty 

Covers the evening world . . . not covers, grows apparent out of it, as Venus down 
there grows out 

From the lit sky. What said the prophet ? "I create good: and I create evil: I am 
the Lord." 



4/0 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

ii 
This coast crying out for tragedy like all beautiful places, 

(The quiet ones ask for quieter suffering; but here the granite cliff the gaunt 
cypresses' crown 

Demands what victim? The dykes of red lava and black what Titan ? The hills 
like pointed flames 

Beyond Sobcranes, the terrible peaks of the bare hills under the sun, what im- 
molation ? ) 

This coast crying out for tragedy like all beautiful places: and like the passionate 
spirit of humanity 

Pain for its bread- God's, many victims', the painful deaths, the horrible trans- 
figurements- I said in my heart, 

"Better invent than suffer: imagine victims 

Lest your own flesh be chosen the agonist, or you 

Martyr some creature to the beauty of the place " And I said, 

"Burn sacrifices once a year to magic 

Horror away from the house, this little house here 

You have built over the ocean with your own hands 

Beside the standing bowlders: for what are we, 

The beast that walks upright, with speaking lips 

And little hair, to think we should always be fed, 

Sheltered, intact, and self-controlled ? We sooner more liable 

Than the other animals. Pain and terror, the insanities of desire; not accidents, but 
essential, 

And crowd up from the core." I imagined victims for those wolves, I made the 
phantoms to follow. 

They have hunted the phantoms and missed the house. It is not good to forget over 
what gulls the spirit 

Of the beauty of humanity, the petal of a lost flower blown seaward by the night- 
wind, floats to its quietness. 

in 

Bowlders blunted like an old bear's teeth break up from the headland; below them 

All the soil is thick with shells, the tide-rock feasts of a dead people. 

Here the granite flanks are scarred with ancient fire, the ghosts of the tribe 

Crouch in the nights beside the ghost of a fire, they try to remember the sunlight, 

Light has died out of their skies. These have paid something for the future 

Luck of the country, while we living keep old griefs in memory: though God's 

Envy is not a likely fountain of ruin, to forget evil calls down 

Sudden reminders from the cloud: remembered deaths be our redeemers; 

Imagined victims our salvation: white as the half moon at midnight 

Someone flamehke passed me, saying, "I am Tamar Cauldwell, I have my desire,'* 

Then the voice of the sea returned, when she had gone by, the stars to their towers. 

. . . Beautiful country, burn again, Point Pmos down to the Sur Rivers 

Burn as before with bitter wonders, land and ocean and the Carmel water. 

IV 

He brays humanity in a mortar to bring the savor 

From the bruised root: a man having bad dreams, who invents victims, is only the 

ape of that God. 
He washes it out with tears and many waters, calcines it with fire in the red 

crucible, 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 411 

Deforms it, makes it horrible to itself: the spirit flies out and stands naked, he sees 

the spirit. 
He takes it in the naked ecstasy; it breaks in his hand, the atom is broken, the 

power that massed it 

Cries to the power that moves the stars, "I have come home to myself, behold me. 
I bruised myself in the flint mortar and burnt me 
In the red shell, I tortured myself, I flew forth, 
Stood naked of myself and broke me m fragments, 
And here am I moving the stars that are me." 
I have seen these ways of God: I know ot no reason 
For fire and change and torture and the old returnmgs. 
He being sufficient might be still. I think they admit no reason; they arc the ways 

of my love. 
Unmeasured power, incredible passion, enormous craft: no thought apparent but 

burns darkly 
Smothered with its own smoke in the human brain-vault* no thought outside: a 

certain measure in phenomena: 
The fountains of the boiling stars, the flowers on the foreland, the cvcr-ieturning 

roses of dawn. 

PROMISE OF PEACE 

The heads of strong old age arc beautiful 

Beyond all grace ot youth. They have strange quiet, 

Integrity, health, soundness, to the lull 

They've dealt with life and been attempered by it. 

A young man must not sleep, his years arc war 

Civil and foreign but the tonne r's worse; 

But the old can breathe in safety now that they arc 

Forgetting what youth meant, the being perverse, 

Running the fool's gauntlet and being cut 

By the whips of the five senses. As lor me, 

If I should wish to live long it were but 

To trade those fevers for traneiuilhty, 

Thinking though that's entire and sweet in the grave 

I low shall the dead taste the deep treasure they have? 



BIRTH-DUES 

Joy is a trick in the air; pleasure is merely contemptible, the dangled 

Carrot the ass follows to market or precipice; 

But limitary pain the rock under the tower and the hewn coping 

That takes thunder at the head of the turret 

Terrible and real. Therefore a mindless dervish carving himself 

With knives will seem to have conquered the world. 

The world's God is treacherous and full of unreason; a torturer, but also 

The only foundation and the only fountain. 

Who fights him cats his own flesh and perishes of hunger; who hides in the grave 

To escape him is dead; who enters the Indian 

Recession to escape him is dead; who falls in love with the God is washed clean 

Of death desired and of death dreaded. 



412 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

He has joy, but joy is a trick in the air; and pleasure, but pleasure is contemptible; 

And peace; and is based on sohder than pain. 

He has broken boundaries a little and that will estrange him; he is monstrous, but 

not 

To the measure of the God. . . . But I having told you 
However I suppose that few in the world have energy to hear effectively 
Have paid my birth-dues; am quits with the people. 



SUMMER HOLIDAY 

When the sun shouts and people abound 

One thinks there were the ages of stone and the age of bronze 

And the iron age; iron the unstable metal; 

Steel made of iron, unstable as his mother; the towered-up cities 

Will be stains of rust on mounds of plaster. 

Roots will not pierce the heaps for a time, kind rams will cure them, 

Then nothing will remain of the iron age 

And all these people but a thigh-bone or so, a poem 

Stuck in the world's thought, splinters of glass 

In the rubbish dumps, a concrete dam far oil in the mountain. . . . 



CREDO 

My friend from Asia has powers and magic, he plucks a blue leaf from the young 

blue-gum 

And gazing upon it, gathering and quieting 

The God in his mind, creates an ocean more rial than the ocean, the salt, the actual 
Appalling presence, the power of the waters. 
He believes that nothing is real except as we make it 

I humbler have found in my blood 
Bred west of Caucasus a harder mysticism. 

Multitude stands in my mind but I think that the ocean in the bone vault is only 
The bone vault's ocean: out there* is the ocean's; 
The water is the water, the cliff is the rock, come shocks and flashes of reality. The 

mind 

Passes, the eye 'closes, the spirit is a passage; 
The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heart-breaking 

beauty 
Will remain when there is no heart to break for it. 



PELICANS 

Four pelicans went over the house, 

Sculled their worn oars over the courtyard: I saw that ungainlincss 

Magnifies the idea of strength. 

A lifting gale of sea-gulls followed them; slim yachts of the element, 

Natural growths of the sky, no wonder 

Light wings to leave sea; but those grave weights toil, and are powerful, 

And the wings torn with old storms remember 

The cone that the oldest redwood dropped from, the tilting of continents, 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 413 

The dinosaur's day, the lift of new sea-lines. 

The omnisecular spirit keeps the old with the new also. 

Nothing at all has suffered erasure. 

There is life not of our time. He calls ungainly bodies 

As beautiful as the grace of horses. 

He is weary of nothing; he watches air-planes; he watches pelicans. 



LOVE THE WILD SWAN 

"I hate my verses, every line, every word, 

Oh pale and brittle pencils ever to try 

One grass-blade's curve, or the throat of one bird 

That clings to twig, ruffled against white sky. 

Oh cracked and twilight mirrors ever to catch 

One color, one glinting flash, of the splendor of things. 

Unlucky hunter, Oh bullets of wax, 

The lion beauty, the wild-swan wings, the storm of the wings." 

This wild swan of a world is no hunter's game. 

Better bullets than yours would miss the white breast, 

Better mirrors than yours would crack in the flame. 

Docs it matter whether you hate your . . . self? At least 

Love your eyes that can sec, your mind that can 

Hear the music, the thunder of the wings. Love the wild swan. 



NIGHT 

The ebb slips from the rock, the sunken 
Tide-rocks lift streaming shoulders 
Out of the slack, the slow west 
Sombering its torch; a ship's light 
Shows faintly, far out, 
Over the weight of the prone ocean 
On the low cloud. 

Over the dark mountain, over the dark pinewood, 
Down the long dark valley along the shrunken river, 
Returns the splendor without rays, the shining shadow, 
Peace-bringcr, the matrix of all shining and quieter of shining. 
Where the shore widens on the bay she opens dark wings 
And the ocean accepts her glory. O soul worshipful of her 
You, like the ocean, have grave depths where she dwells always, 
And the film of waves above that takes the sun takes also 
Her, with more love. The sun-lovers have a blond favorite, 
A father of lights and noises, wars, weeping and laughter, 
Hot labor, lust and delight and the other blemishes. 

Quietness 
Flows from her deeper fountain; and he will die; and she is immortal. 

Far off from here the slender 
Flocks of the mountain forest 



414 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

Move among stems like towers 

Of the old redwoods to the stream, 

No twig crackling; dip shy 

Wild muzzles into the mountain water 

Among the dark ferns. 

O passionately at peace you being secure will pardon 

The blasphemies of glowworms, the lamp in my tower, the fretfulness 

Of cities, the crescents of the planets, the pride of the stars. 

This August night m a rift of cloud Aniares reddens, 

The great one, the ancient torch, a lord among lost children, 

The earth's orbit doubled would not girdle his greatness, one fire 

Globed, out of grasp of the mind enormous; but to you 

O Night 

What ? Not a spark? What flicker of a spark in the faint far glimmer 
Of a lost fire dying in the desert, dim coals of a sand-pit the Bedouins 
Wandered from at dawn. . . . Ah singing prayer to what gulfs tempted 
Suddenly are you more lost? To us the near-hand mountain 
Be a measure of height, the tide-worn cliff at the sea-gate a measure of continuance. 

The tide, moving the night's 

Vastness with lonely voices, 

Turns, the deep dark-shining 

Pacific leans on the land, 

Feeling his cold strength 

To the outmost margins: you Night will resume 

The stars in your time. 

O passionately at peace when will that tide draw shoreward, 
Truly the spouting fountains of light, Ant ares, Arcturus, 
Tire of their flow, they sing one song but they think silence. 
The striding winter-giant Orion shines, and dreams darkness. 
And life, the flicker of men and moths and the wolf on the hill, 
Though furious for continuance, passionately feeding, passionately 
Remaking itself upon its mates, remembers deep inward 
The calm mother, the quietness of the womb and the egg, 
The primal and the latter silences: dear Night it is memory 
Prophesies, prophecy that remembers, the charm of the dark. 
And I and my people, we are willing to love the four-score years 
Heartily; but as a sailor loves the sea, when the helm is for harbor. 

Have men's minds changed, 

Or the rock hidden in the deep of the waters of the soul 

Broken the surface? A few centuries 

Gone by, was none dared not to people 

The darkness beyond the stars with harps and habitations. 

But now, dear is the truth. Life is grown sweeter and lonelier, 

And death is no evil. 



ROBINSON IEFFERS 4*5 

SHINE, PERISHING REPUBLIC 

While this America settles in the mold of its vulgarity, heavily thickening to empire, 
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass 
hardens, 

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make 

earth. 
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultanccs, ripeness and decadence; and 

home to the mother. 

You make haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or 

suddenly 
A mortal splendor: meteors arc not needed less than mountains: shine, perishing 

republic. 

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening 

center; corruption 
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there are left 

the mountains. 

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, insufferable 

master. 
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught they say God, when he 

walked on earth. 



DIVINELY SUPERFLUOUS BEAUTY 

The storm-dances of gulls, the barking game of seals, 

Over and under the ocean . . . 

Divinely superfluous beauty 

Rules the games, presides over destinies, makes trees grow 

And hills tower, waves fall. 

The incredible beauty of joy 

Stars with fire the joining of lips, O let our loves too 

Be joined, there is not a maiden 

Burns and thirsts for love 

More than my blood for you, by the shore of seals while the wings 

Weave like a web in the air 

Divinely superfluous beauty. 



HURT HAWKS 

The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder, 

The wing trails like a banner in defeat, 

No more to use the sky forever but live with famine 

And pain a few days: cat nor coyote 

Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons. 

He stands under the oak-bush and waits 

The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom 



416 ROBINSON JEFFERS 

And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it. 

He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse. 

The curs of the day come and torment him 

At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head, 

The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes. 

The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those 

That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant. 

You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him; 

Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him; 

Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying remember him. 



I'd sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk; but the great redtail 

Had nothing left but unable misery 

From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons 

when he moved. 

We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom, 

He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death, 
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old 
Implacable arrogance. I gave him the lead gift in the twilight. 

What fell was relaxed, 

Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what 

Soared- the fierce rush* the night -herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising 
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality. 

PRESCRIPTION 01' PAINT- UL ENDS 

Lucretius felt the change of the world in his time, the great republic coming to the 

height 

Whence no way leads but downward, Plato in his tune watched Athens 
Dance the down path. The future is ever a misted landscape, no man foreknows it, 

but at cyclical turns 

There is a change felt in the rhythm of events: as when an exhausted horse 
Falters and recovers, then the rhythm of the running hootbeats is altered, he will 

run miles yet, 

But he must fall: we have ielt it again in our own lifetime, slip, shift and speed-up 
In the gallop oi the world, and now suspect that, come peace or war, the progress 

of America and Europe 
Becomes a long process of deterioration starred with famous Byzantiums and 

Alexandnas, 

Surely, but downward. One desires at such times 
To gather the insights of the age summit against future loss, against the narrowing 

mind and the tyrants, 
The pedants, the mystagogues, the swarms of barbarians: time-conscious poems, 

poems for treasuries: Lucretius 
Sings his great theory of natural origins and of wise conduct; Plato smiling carves 

dreams, bright cells 
Of incorruptible wax to hive the Greek honey. 

Our own time, much greater 
and far less fortunate 



ROBINSON JEFFERS 417 

Has acids for honey and for fine dreams 

The immense vulgarities oi misapplied science and decaying Christianity: therefore 

one christens each poem, in dutitul 
Hope of burning ofl at least the top crust of the time's unclcanncss, from the acid 

bottles. 

MAY-JUNE, 1940 

Foreseen for so many years: these evils, this monstrous violence, these massive 
agonies: no easier to bear. 

We saw them with slow stone studes appioach, everyone saw them; we closed our 
eyes against them, we looked 

And they had come nearer. We ate and drank and slept, they came ju"ircr. Some- 
times we laughed, they were nearer. Now 

They are here. And now a blind man foresees what follows them: degradation, 
famine, recovery and so forth, and the 

Epidemic manias: but not enough death to serve us, not enough death. It would 
be better for men 

To be few and live far apart, where none could infect another; then slowly the 
sanity of field and mountain 

And the cold ocean and glittering stars might enter their minds. 

Another 

dream, another dream. 
We shall ha\e to accept certain limitations 
In future, and abandon some humane dreams; only hard-minded, sleepless and 

realist, can ride this rock-slide 
To new fields down the dark mountain, and we shall have to perceive that tluse 

insanities are normal; 
We shall have to ptrceive that battle is a burning flower or like a huge music, and 

the dive-bomber's screaming orgasm 
As beautiful as other passions, and that death and life are not serious alternatives 

One has known all these things 
For many years: there is greater and darker to know 
In the next hundred. 

And why do you cry, my dear, why do you cry? 
It is all in the whirling circles of time. 
If millions are born millions must die, 
If England goes down and Germany up 
The stronger dog will still be on top, 
All in the turning of time. 
H civilization goes clown, that 
Would be an event to contemplate. 
It will not l>e in our time, alas, my dear, 
It will not be in our time. 



418 FRANK ERNEST HILL 

Ernest Hill 



FRANK ERNEST HILL was born in San Jose, California, October 29, 1888. He gradu- 
ated from Stanford University, taught at the University of Illinois, Stanford Uni- 
versity and Columbia Extension. During the War, he went into the Air Service, and 
after a brief experience with the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation, engaged 
in journalism, publishing, and teaching. In collaboration with Joseph Auslandcr, he 
wrote The Winged Horse (1927), which is a story rather than a criticism of poetry, 
and edited The Winged Horse Anthology (1929). His translation of The Cantet- 
bwy Tales (1935), containing all the metrical tales unexpurgated, is the best mod- 
ern rendering, being highly readable and authoritative. 

Stone Dust (1928) is a volume which presents the clash between the mechanical 
and creative forces in modern civilization. Neither scorning nor sentimentalizing 
the machine, Hill appraises it in terms of inner as well as outer experience. "Upper 
Air," "Wing Harbor," and the three other aeroplane poems are verses possibly the 
first by one who has known flying intimately; they transcend physical sensation, 
registering effects on spirit. The two longer poems, of which "Earth and Air" is the 
better, pierce through the material with clear vision. It ii> interesting to compare 
"Earth and Air" particularly its point of view with Elinor Wyhe's "Hymn to 
Earth." 

EARTH AND AIR 



Earth is the tower of granite, the floor of loam, 
The grass that seeds, the sheep that fatten for men, 
Shapes that arc beaten in lire or built in wall, 
The plow preparing the soil to be born again; 
The crystal well, the gold of the honeycomb, 
The hands that pattern with wool or hide or clay; 
Earth is the wain, the sickle, the sledge, the stall 

Earth is our yesterday. 

ii 

Air is the thrust of steam and burning gas, 
The spark men take from the foam of a falling stream, 
The word of the first sea caught on the last of the seven, 
Ships with the speed of a dream made more than dream; 
The throb of steel in a cage of steel and glass, 
Iron fingers at smooth and gleaming play, 
Air is the wings of men on the sea of heaven 

Air is today. 

HI 

Earth is the suck of men, their loaf and their healing; 
With earth they are poor but sapful, driven but strong; 
Air is a high, thin world where their eyes grow weaker, 
Their round breasts flatten, their checks fall white and long 
Air is a shifting floor and a viewless ceiling, 
Genii building and wrecking and building again, 



FRANK ERNEST HILL 

It is a half-heard magic speech from a hidden speaker 
Sounding through light and rain. 

IV 

Men with the vision of air went planning and building; 
They dreamed of slaves of iron and wrought their slaves; 
They envied the wind and the eagle and spread their wings 
Above the shadow of sinking woods and waves. 
Men made little suns for the midnight's gilding, 
Bridged with their wires the briclgeless gap of seas; 
They dulled the teeth of winter, they turned the stings 
And withering of disease 

v 

Men with the dream of air have climbed to their vision, 
But now they are faint for the meat of a day gone by; 
The steeds of the sun race on in a golden mail ness, 
The hurtling drivers are pale in the height of the sky. 
Some say: "Hard Fate in a wrath and a great derision 
Has laid the tools of gods in the hands of men; 
Can dust breed stars ? Can tears be distilled to gladness? 
Let us go to earth again!" 

VI 

But the many hear not, the millions follow their dreaming 
Dnving their iron cattle on stone or steel, 
Flying their iron hawks on an airy ocean, 
Bearing children that play with the spark and the wheel. 
They will never turn from swiftness and silver gleaming 
Or the sense that he who has taken in wheel or rod 
The staff of gods and the magic of god-like motion 
Himself shall become a god. 

VII 

Perhaps they will come again to the sun and the bough, 
The wind and the clod that once were their strife and their faie; 
They will take not of olden beauty or olden toil; 
They will only come back to earth when earth is air: 
When they girdle peaks with their pavements and send their plow 
Like a whirl of wind, and store their snow and their sun, 
And sow where the strength they have sifted into the soil 
Yields five instead of one. 

VIII 

Look back, then, you who had love for earth and regret her, 
And mourn a change that harries your hill and sky; 
For men are turned from the peace of the scythe and candle; 
Their eyes are fierce for the bright and the swift and the high. 
They have wrecked a world for the leaping dream of a better, 
And gone from peace toward a peace beyond a war, 
They have mounted untrodden stairs to a key and a handle 
That open a door. 



4 20 FRANK ERNEST HILL 

UPPER AIR 

High, pale, imperial places of slow cloud 
And windless wells of sunlit silence. . . . Sense 
Of some aware, half-scornful Permanence 
Past which we flow like water that is loud 
A moment on the granite. Nothing here 
Beats with the pulse that heat in us below; 
That was a flame; this is the soul of snow 
Immortalized in moveless atmosphere. 

Yet we shall brood upon this haunt of wings 
When love, like perfume washed away in ram, 
Dies on the years. Still we shall come again, 
Seeking the clouds as we have sought the sea, 
Asking the peace of these immortal things 
That will not mix with our mortality. 



T. S. Eliot 

THOMAS STEARNS ELIOT was born in St. Louis, Missouri, September 26, 1888. He 
received his A B. at Harvard, 1909, and his A.M., 1910. Subsequently, he 
studied at the Sorbonne and at Merton College, Oxford. In 1914 he settled in 
London where he became a teacher, lecturer, editor, and publisher. In 1927 he 
became a naturalized British subject and declared that he was "Anglo-Catholic in 
religion, royalist in politics, and classicist in literature." 

Ptnj)oc\ appeared in England in 1917. An American edition, including a number 
of other verses, was published under the title Poems in 1920. It was bailed, reviled, 
applauded, misunderstood, and imitated. There were indeed many imitators, par- 
ticularly in England, where the younger men, rebounding from the affected sim- 
plicity of the Georgians, seized upon Eliot's disillusioned subtleties as a new gospel. 
Most of them patterned their lines upon the now famous "Sweeney" model, and 
by 1922 Eliot was one of the most discussed and disputed of living American 
poets. This early work reveals two sharply differentiated idioms. The more 
arresting inflection is in the impressionistic sets of quatrains that compose "Sweeney 
Among the Nightingales," "The Hippopotamus," "Burbank with a Baedeker." It 
is a witty if recondite inflection which is heard beneath the muffled allusions; the 
edged lines crackle with observations as shrewd as "the snarled and yelping seas," 
"this oval O cropped out with teeth," "laughter tinkling among the teacups," "the 
damp souls of housemaids." Occasionally Eliot's wit takes on a darker intensity; 
speaking of Donne's struggle to transcend the senses, he writes: 

He knew the anguish of the marrow, 
The ague of the skeleton; 
No contact possible of flesh 
Allayed the fever of the bone. 



T. S. ELIOT 421 

But there is another phase of Eliot, one that is disclosed in "The Love Song of 
J. Alfred Prufrock," the "Portrait of a Lady," and "La Figlia Che Piange," in 
which picture, philosophy, and music are surprisingly blended. "The Love Song 
of J. Alfred Prufrock," written while Eliot was still at Harvard, is a minor 
masterpiece; nothing in recent poetry (if we forget Laforgue and the other French 
poets to whom Eliot is manifestly indebted), nothing in English since the seven- 
teenth century metaphysicals, has communicated so great a sense of ambiguous 
hurt and general frustration. 

First and last Eliot represents a revolt from the "cheerfulness, optimism, and 
hopefulness" of the nineteenth century; his work is an implicit declaration that 
poetry must not only "be found thiough sutTcring, but can find its material only 
in suffering." Beauty itself is suspect in the modern world; Ehot insists that the 
poet should "be able to see beneath both beauty and ugliness; to see the boredom, 
and the horror, and the glory." In "The Love Song of J. Alfred Pruirock" Eliot 
shows the boredom and the horror, if not the glory, in contemporary society. The 
prematurely old Prufrock is a dilettante, culture-ridden and world-weary, aloof 
and disillusioned. He is inhibited by his own distorted memory and his confused 
desires; he recognizes passion, but he cannot rise to it. His isolation is empha- 
sized by the strange opening simile ("when the evening is spread out against the 
sky like a patient etherized upon the table") with its mood of sick helplessness, 
and by the introductory lines from Dante's Info no: "If I thought my answer were 
to one who ever could return to the world, this frame should shake no more; but 
since, if what I hear be true, none ever did return alive from this depth, without 
fear of infamy I answer thcc." 

Equally precise in its hypercsthetic delicacy is the "Portrait of a Lady," an 
analytical study of the feminine dilettante, the faded votary of dimly lit studios a 
baffled prccieuse diffusing small talk and boredom. In these poems Eliot becomes 
the laureate of nostalgia, of dwindling hope and universal purposelcssncss. 

More important than Eliot's philosophy is his technique. It is a fascinating mix- 
ture of statement and suggestion, of passion and wit, of fact and symbol: the first 
extended use in English of the Symbolist method. The method, as Edmund Wilson 
showed in his valuable study Axel's Castle, is the result of an anti-scientific, ro- 
mantic escapism; it consists chiefly in approximating the "indefiniteness of music," 
mingling "the grand and prosaic manners," and, generally, avoiding plain state- 
ments in favor of intimations. Instead of seeking the "jewel-like phrase" with its 
finality of definition, the Symbolists attempt to communicate "states of feeling." 
Eliot carries the method further by communicating or at least registering states 
of feeling that are complicated and highly personal. To achieve this he employs 
a complex verse, combining trivial and tawdry pictures with traditionally poetic 
subject-matter, linking the banalities of conversation to rich rhetoric, and inter- 
rupting the present with flash-backs of the past. This method, not unfamiliar to 
students of the films, makes for a nervous disintegration; the rapid and, seemingly, 
unrelated images, the discordant metaphors achieve an emotional response at the 
expense of a logical progression. But logic is not the objective. The reader is 
carried on by the rapidity of suggestions, by the swiftly accumulating ideas and 
echoes, chiefly by the play of cultural associations. 

The contrast of the beautiful past with the repulsive present, the degradation 



422 T. S. ELIOT 

of everything which enlarges the spirit, is given full scope in Eliot's The Waste 
Land. The Waste Land (1922) is Eliot's attempt to sound his favorite theme 
the disillusion-frustration motif on a major scale. The publication of this forty* 
page poem caused an outburst so violent and prolonged that the echoes of the con- 
troversy hung in the air for several years. On the one hand it was dismissed as 
"an impudent hoax," "filthy bedlam raving"; on the other it was exalted as "the 
greatest document of our day, showing the starvation of our entire civilization." 
The Waste Land is neither "erudite gibberish" nor is it "a great work, with one 
triumph after another." It is, in essence, a set of mangled, difficult, and (in spite 
of the arbitrary program of unification) separate failures and solitary successes. If 
its pages are splintered with broken phrases and distorted pictures, one must 
remember that Eliot is attempting to portray disintegration itself. Its dependence 
on associations in other literature makes it seem like an anthology of assimilations; 
its jumble of quotations (without inverted commas) from thirty -one sources gives 
the entire structure the look of a piece of literary carpentry; its allusiveness fran- 
tically attempts to connect the favorite myths of all time. It docs, however, present 
a double picture: the cross-section of a tortured mind and the image of an and 
world. Its sense of sterility, its refusal to face the growing complexity of the age 
was so significant and so appealing to the escapists that it became a term which 
characterized a period. 

Eliot's influence was felt on both sides of the Atlantic. The younger poets re- 
pudiated his inverted romanticism masked as classicism, and his pessimism which 
scarcely troubled to conceal the death-wish, but they were fascinated by his tech- 
nique. They scorned Eliot's withdrawal into Anglo-Catholicism, but they admired 
and imitated his power of suggestion. In England W. H. Auden, Stephen 
Spender, and C. Day Lewis acknowledged his influence; in America his poetry 
affected the work of Conrad Aiken, Archibald MacLcish, and Horace Gregory, 
among others. 

In his turn, Eliot was strongly influenced by his "ancestors" in France. Reviewing 
Peter Quennell's Baudelaire and the Symbolists in 1930 he referred to Arthur 
Symons' Symbolist Movement in Literature, saying, "I myself owe Mr. Symons a 
great debt. But for having read his book I should not, in the year igo8, have 
heard of Laforgue and Rimbaud; I should probably not have begun to read 
Verlame; and but for reading Vcrlame, I should not have heard of Corbiere. So 
the Symons book is one of those which have affected the course of my life." But, 
as Edmund Wilson points out, though Eliot's mam theme (the inferiority of the 
present to the past) is found in Laforgue and the other Romantics, though the 
idea of juxtaposing many literatures and a medley of idioms was suggested by 
Ezra Pound, "yet Eliot manages to be more effective precisely where he might 
be expected to be least original he succeeds in conveying his meanings, in com- 
municating his emotions, in spite of all his learning or mysterious allusions, and 
whether we understand them or not. . . . He has been able to lend even to the 
rhythms, to the words themselves, of his great predecessors a new music and a 
new meaning." His borrowings are a proof of Eliot's retreat to the safety of litera- 
ture; scholars have been surprised (and sometimes a little pained) to find many 
of Eliot's phrases not only in the minor Elizabethans, but (as Elizabeth Jackson 
discovered) in so curious a modern writer as Conan Doyle. The very "mottoes" 



T. S. ELIOT 423 

or epigraphs are intended not only to comment upon the poems which they 
introduce, but to amplify their suggestivencss. "The Love Song of J Alfred 
Prufrock" is prefaced by a quotation from Dante emphasizing the repressed 
Prufrock's ultra-fastidious and isolated spirit; "Burbank with a Baedeker'* is set 
off by the preceding jumble of phrases from Shakespeare, Browning, and Henry 
James referring to Venice; the quotation "Mistah Kurtz he dead" from Conrad's 
Heart of Darkness intensifies the sense of loss and emptiness rising from the 
lines which follow as F. O. Matthiessen remarks, it "epitomizes in a sentence 
the very tone of blasphemous hopelessness which issues from 'The Hollow Men.' " 

In "The Hollow Men," which emphasizes the barrenness of The Waste Land, 
Eliot reached a dead end of doubt. "The Hollow Men" pictures a world exhausted 
"shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without 
motion." Men gather on stony soil in a "valley of dying stars." They lean together, 
lacking initiative. They are without vision; they grope without thought. The 
confusion is intensified by the juxtaposition of a distorted nursery rhyme and a 
fragment from the Lord's Prayer. The finale completes the despair. Civilization, 
having lost its ideals and religion, has reached an impasse; man cannot even die 
heroically. The world ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. 

After "The Hollow Men" Eliot, finding he could proceed no further with doubt, 
turned to faith. Ash Wednesday (1930), The Roc\: a Pageant Play (1934), and 
Murdct in the Cathedral (1935) express a hopefulness which Eliot's earlier poems 
repudiated. The Family Reunion (1939) is a drama in verse, the theme of which 
is the persistent sense of sin; the setting is contemporary, although the Eumcmdcs 
appear in person. Eliot accepts the Christian religion and, beneath the austerity of 
the later work, sounds a compassion which is genuine and moving. Critics were 
particularly enthusiastic concerning Ash Wednesday, which begins in desperation, 
rises on hope, and rests in peaceful resignation. Here, said Edwin Muir, Eliot 
passes "from a historical conception of society to a religious one, or rather to 
that society within society in which he sees man's sole hope of salvation. A 
church is the only kind of institution in which the individual can hold com- 
munion not only with the living (the ideal of the Socialist and the Communist), 
but with the dead as well; and so membership of a church was perfectly consonant 
with Eliot's view of life and his development as a poet. A<>h Wednesday is one 
of the most moving poems he has written, and perhaps the most perfect." 

Murder m the Cathedial (1935), a dramatization of the murder of Thomas 
Becket in 1170, was written for production at the Canterbury Festival in 1935. 
The language is lucid, the action straightforward, and the poetry almost wholly 
free of the obliquity and harsh juxtaposition with which Eliot shocked an epoch 
out of its exhausted sentiments and offered new symbols for a new generation. 
Instead of a confusion of private references and literary allusions the verse has a 
simple unity, and the choruses are not only skillfully balanced but eloquent. The 
play was successfully produced in New York by the Federal Theater Project in 



Collected Poems: 1907-1935 appeared in 1936. It comprehensively reveals Eliot 
struggling through his nightmares of vulgarity, crying aloud in an endless cactus 
land, and finally reaching his spiritual haven. Again the critics were divided. 
"Reading Eliot's new poems," wrote Malcolm Cowley, "was like excavating 



424. T. S. ELIOT 

buried cities at the ends of the Syrian desert; they were full of imposing temples 
and perfectly proportioned statues of the gods, but there was nothing in the streets 
that breathed." But there were many besides Edwin Muir who considered his 
new poems and particularly "A Song for Simeon," "Animula," "} urne y of the 
Magi," and "Ash Wednesday" his best. 

Eliot's leadership in esthetic criticism was maintained in several volumes; it was 
established in Selected Essays. 79/7-7932. Followed by The Use of Poetty (1933), 
After Sttange Gods: A P timer of Modern Heresy (1934), a set of lectures de- 
livered at the University of Virginia during a visit to America, and Elizabethan 
Essays (1934), Eliot abandoned the arbitrary absolutism of his early work and 
assumed an attitude so conservatively "classical" as to seem reactionary. Many of 
Eliot's admirers were alarmed by the Virginia lectures and the attitude assumed in 
The Idea of a Christian Society (1940). Pointing out the destructive clement in 
Eliot's puritan conscience which strives desperately toward Catholicism, Stephen 
Spender wrote, "It is in fact an Old Testament doctrine suited to intense na- 
tionalism and racial self-sufficiency." And Horace Gregory, in a review written in 
1936, anticipated Spender: "It is toward this clanger that Eliot has been moving for 
the past five years, a danger which may at last obscure the values of his poetry and 
leave him, at the end of a career, an isolated symbol of post-war sensibility." 

No one questioned the sensibility. Although the manner of his criticism is pon- 
tifical, the matter is always provocative; there are few critics who surpass Eliot in 
scholarliness, few who equal him in subtlety, coolness, and clarity. Wholly unlike 
his poetry, sometimes oppressively academic, sometimes marred by fantastic theories, 
Eliot's criticism is persuasive and backed by authority. 

For an excellent study and a comprehensive, though uncritical, resume of the 
poet's work the reader should examine The Achievement of T. S. Eliot (1935) by 
F. O. Matthiessen. The chapters on Eliot in Poetry and the Modern Wotld (1940) 
by David Daiches, in The Destructive Element (1936) by Stephen Spender, and in 
The New Cnticism (1941) by John Crowe Ransom are recommended for con- 
trasting reports. 

LA FICLIA CHE PIANGE 

O qttam te mem or cm vttgo . . . 

Stand on the highest pavement of the stair 

Lean on a garden urn 

Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair 

Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise 

Fling them to the ground and turn 

With a fugitive resentment in your eyes: 

But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair. 

So I would have had him leave, 

So I would have had her stand and grieve, 

So he would have left 

As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised, 

As the mind deserts the body it has used. 



T. S. ELIOT 425 

I should find 

Some way incomparably light and deft, 

Some way we both should understand, 

Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand. 

She turned away, but with the autumn weather 

Compelled my imagination many days, 

Many days and many hours: 

Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers, 

And I wonder how they should have been together! 

I should have lost a gesture and a pose. 

Sometimes these cogitations still amaze 

The troubled midnight and the noon's repose. 



THE LOVE SONG OF J . ALFRED PRU FROCK 

S'to t>et/c^sc che tma iitposta fosse 
A persona che mat toina\<e <// mondo, 
Quest ct fitirnma sfuiiu <tnza put sco\*c. 
Mit pactocche giammat di qtittto fondo 
Non tot no t'U'o uhun, s'i'odo il veto, 
Senza tcma d' in j anna ft uspondo. 

Let us go then, you and T, 

When the evening is spread out against the sky 

Like a patient etherized upon a table; 

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets, 

The muttering retreats 

Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels 

And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells* 

Streets that follow like a tedious argument 

Of insidious intent 

To lead you to an overwhelming question. . . . 

Oh, do not ask, "What is it?" 

Let us go and make our visit. 

In the room the women come and go 
Talking of Michelangelo. 

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, 
The yellow smoke that rubs its mu/zle on the window-panes^ 
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, 
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drams, 
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, 
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 
And seeing that it was a soft October night, 
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep. 

And indeed there will be time 
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street, 
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes; 
There will be time, there will be time 



426 T. S. ELIOT 

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet; 
There will be time to murder and create, 
And time for all the works and days of hands 
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 
Time for you and time for me, 
And time yet for a hundred indecisions, 
And for a hundred visions and revisions, 
Before the taking of a toast and tea. 

In the room the women come and go 
Talking of Michelangelo. 

And indeed there will be time 

To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?" 

Time to turn back and descend the stair, 

With a bald spot in the middle of my hair 

(They will say: "How his hair is growing thin'") 

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin, 

My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin- 

(They will say: "But how his arms and legs arc thin'") 

Do I dare 

Disturb the universe? 

In a minute there is time 

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. 

For I have known them all already, known them all: 
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, 
I have measured out my life with coflee spoons; 
I know the voices dying with a dying fall 
Beneath the music from a farther room. 
So how should I presume? 

And I have known the eyes already, known them all 
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase, 
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin, 
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall, 
Then how should I begin 

To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways? 
And how should I presume ? 

And I have known the arms already, known them all 

Arms that are braceleted and white and bare 

(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!) 

Is it perfume from a dress 

That makes me so digress? 

Arms that he along a table, or wrap about a shawl, 

And should I then presume? 

And how should I begin? 



T. S. ELIOT 4 2 7 

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets 

And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes 

Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . e 

I should have been a pair of ragged claws 
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas. 



And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! 

Smoothed by long fingers, 

Asleep . . . tired ... or it malingers, 

Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. 

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, 

Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, 

Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, 

I am no prophet and here's no great matter; 

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, 

And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 

And in short, I was afraid. , 

And would it have been worth it, after all, 

After the cups, the marmalade, the tea, 

Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, 

Would it have been worth while, 

To have bitten off the matter with a smile, 

To have squeezed the universe into a ball 

To roll it toward some overwhelming question, 

To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead, 

Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all" 

If one, settling a pillow by her head, 

Should say: "That is not what I meant at all; 

That is not it, at all." 

And would it have been worth it, after all, 

Would it have been worth while, 

After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets, 

After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor- 

And this, and so much more? 

It is impossible to say just what I mean! 

But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen: 

Would it have been worth while 

If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl, 

And turning toward the window, should say: 

"That is not it at all, 

That is not what I meant, at all." 



No' I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; 
Am an attendant lord, one that will do 
To swell a progress, start a scene or two, 
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool, 



428 T. S. ELIOT 

Deferential, glad to be of use, 
Politic, cautious, and meticulous; 
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse; 
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous 
Almost, at times, the Fool. 

I grow old. ... I grow old. . . . 

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. 

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? 

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. 

I do not think that they will sing to me. 

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves 
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back 
When the wind blows the water white and black. 

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea 

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown 

Till human voices wake us, and we drown. 



MORNING AT THE WINDOW 

They arc rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens., 
And along the trampled edges of the street 
I am aware ot the damp souls of housemaids 
Sprouting despondently at area gates. 

The brown waves of fog toss up to me 
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street, 
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts 
An aimless smile that hovers in the air 
And vanishes along the level of the roofs. 



PRELUDE 

The winter evening settles down 

With smells of steaks in passageways. 

Six o'clock. 

The burnl-oiit ends of smoky days. 

And now a gusty shower wraps 

The grimy scraps 

Of withered leaves about his feet 

And newspapers from vacant lots; 

The showers beat 

On broken blinds and chimney pots, 

And at the corner of the street 

A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps. 

And then the lighting of the lamps. 



T. S. ELIOT 429 



Among the smoke and fog of a December afternoon 

You have the scene arrange itself as it will seem to do 

"With "I have saved this afternoon for you"; 

And four wax candles in the darkened room, 

Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead, 

And atmosphere of Juliet's tomb 

Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid. 

We have been, let us say, to hear the latest Pole 

Transmit the Preludes, through his hair and finger-tips. 

"So intimate, this Chopin, that I think his soul 

Should be resurrected only among friends 

Some two or three, who will not touch the bloom 

That is rubbed and questioned in the concert room." 

And so the conversation slips 

Among velleities and carefully caught regrets 

Through attenuated tones of violins 

Mingled with remote cornets 

And begins. 

"You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, 

And how, how rare and strange it is, to find 

In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends 

(For indeed I do not love it ... you kncw ? You are not blind! 

How keen you arc') 

To find a friend who has these qualities, 

Who has, and gives 

Those qualities upon which friendship lives. 

How much it means that I say this to you 

Without these friendships life, what cauchcmail" 

Among the windings of the violins 

And the ancttts 

Of cracked cornets 

Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins 

Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own, 

Capricious monotone 

That is at least one definite "false note." 

Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance, 

Admire the monuments, 

Discuss the late events, 

Correct our watches by the public clocks, 

Then sit for half an hour and drink our bocks. 

ii 

Now that lilacs arc in bloom 
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room 
And twists one in her fingers while she talks. 
"Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know 

1 Compare the poem by Ezra Pound on the same theme on page 346. 



430 T. S. ELIOT 

What life is, you should hold it in your hands"; 

(Slowly twisting the lilac stalks) 

"You let it flow from you, you let it flow, 

And youth is cruel, and has no remorse 

And smiles at situations which it cannot see." 

I smile, of course, 

And go on drinking tea. 

"Yet with these April sunsets, that somehow recall 

My buried life, and Pans m the Spring, 

I feel immeasurably at peace, and find the world 

To be wonderful and youthful, after all." 

The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune 
Of a broken violin on an August afternoon: 
"I am always sure that you understand 
My feelings, always sure that you feel, 
Sure that across the gulf you reach your hand. 
You arc invulnerable, you have no Achilles' heel. 
You will go on, and when you have prevailed 
You can say: at this point many a one has failed. 

"But what have I, but what have I, my friend, 
To give you, what can you receive from me? 
Only the friendship and the sympathy 
Of one about to reach her journey's end 
I shall sit here, serving tea to friends. . . ." 

I take my hat: how can I make a cowardly amends 
For what she has said to mc ? 

You will see me any morning in the park 

Reading the comics and the sporting page. 

Particularly I remark 

An English countess goes upon the stage. 

A Greek was murdered at a Polish dance. 

Another bank defaulter has confessed. 

I keep my countenance, 

I remain self-possessed 

Except when a street piano, mechanical and tired, 

Reiterates some worn-out common song 

With the smell of hyacinths across the garden, 

Recalling things that other people have desired. 

Are these ideas right or wrong? 

HI 

The October night comes down; returning as before 
Except for a slight sensation of being ill at ease 
I mount the stairs and turn the handle of the door 
And feel as if I had mounted on my hands and knees. 



T. S. ELIOT 43* 

"And so you are going abroad; and when do you return? 

But that's a useless question. 

You hardly know when you are coming back; 

You will find so much to learn." 

My smile falls heavily among the bric-a-brac. 

"Perhaps you can write to me." 

My self-possession flares up for a second; 

This is as I had reckoned. 

"I have been wondering frequently of late 

(But our beginnings never know our ends') 

Why we have not developed into friends " 

I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark 

Suddenly, his expression in a glass. 

My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark. 

"For everybody said so, all our friends, 

They all were sure our feelings would relate 

So closely' I myselt can hardly undeistand. 

We must leave it now to fate. 

You will write, at any rate. 

Perhaps it is not too late. 

I shall sit here, serving tea to friends." 

And I must borrow every changing shape 

To find expression . . . dance, dance 

Like a dancing bear, 

Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape. . . . 

Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance 

Well' and what if she should die some afternoon, 

Afternoon gray and smoky, evening yellow and rose' 

Should die and leave me sitting pen in hand 

With the smoke coming down above the housetops; 

Doubtful, for quite a while 

Not knowing what to feel or if I understand 

Or whether wise or foolish, tardy or too soon . . . 

Would she not have the advantage, after all? 

This music is successful with a "dying fail'* 

Now that we talk of dying 

And should I have the right to smile* 5 



CONVERSATION GALANTE 

I observe: "Our sentimental friend, the moon! 
Or possibly (fantastic, I confess) 
It may be Prester John's balloon 
Or an old battered lantern hung aloft 
To light poor travelers to their distress." 
She then: "How you digress'" 

And I then: "Someone frames upon the keys 
That exquisite nocturne, with which we explain 



432 T. S. ELIOT 

The night and moonshine; music which we seize 
To body forth our vacuity." 

She then: "Does this refer to me?" 

"Oh, no, it is 1 who am inane. 

"You, madam, are the eternal humorist, 
The eternal enemy of the absolute, 
Giving our vagrant moods the slightest twist! 
With your air indifferent and imperious 
At a stroke our mad poetics to confute " 
And "Are we then so serious?" 



CERONTION 

T/iott hast not youth not age 
But as it wcie an ufttt dinner sleep 
Di cawing of both 

Here I am, an old man in a dry month, 

Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. 

I was neither at the hot gates 

Nor fought in the warm rain 

Nor knee deep in the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass, 

Bitten by flies, fought. 

My house is a decayed house, 

And the Jew squats on the window sill, the owner, 

Spawned in some cstammet oi Antwerp, 

Blistered in Brussels, patched and peeled in London. 

The goat coughs at night in the field overhead; 

Rocks, moss, stonecrop, iron, merds. 

The woman keeps the kitchen, makes tea, 

Sneezes at evening, poking the peevish gutter. 

I an old man, 
A dull head among windy spaces. 

Signs are taken for wonders. "We would see a sign'*: 
The word within a word, unable to speak a word, 
Swaddled with darkness. In the juvesccncc of the year 
Came Christ the tiger 

In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas, 

To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk 

Among whispers; by Mr. Silvero 

With caressing hands, at Limoges - ', 

Who walked all night m the next room; 

By Hakagawa, bowing among the Titians; ( > 

By Madame de Tornquist, in the dark room 

Shifting the candles; Fraulem von Kulp ' 

Who turned in the hall, one hand on the door. Vacant shuttles 



T. 5. ELIOT 433 

Weave the wind. I have no ghosts, 

An old man in a draughty house 

Under a windy knob. -* 

After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now 

History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors 

And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions, 

Guides us by vanities. Think now 

She gives when our attention is distracted 

And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions 

That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late 

What's not believed in, or if still believed, 

In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon 

Into weak hands, what's thought can be dispensed with 

Till the refusal propagates a fear. Think 

Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices 

Arc fathered by our heroism. Virtues 

Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes. 

These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree. 

The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. Think at last 

We have not reached conclusion, when I 

Stiffen in a rented house. Think at last 

I have not made this show purposelessly 

And it is not by any concitation 

Of the backward devils. 

I would meet you upon this honestly. 

I that was near your heart was removed therefrom 

To lose beauty in terror, terror m inquisition. 

I have lost my passion* why should I need to keep it 

Since what is kept must be adulterated ? 

I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch: 

How should I use it for your closer contact? 

These with a thousand small deliberations 

Protract the profit of their chilled delirium, 

Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled, 

With pungent sauces, multiply variety 

In a wilderness of mirrors. What will the spider do, 

Suspend its operations, will the weevil 

Delay? De Bailhache, Frcsca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled 

Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear 

In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, in the windy straits 

Of Belle Isle, or running on the Ilorn,^ 

White feathers in the snow, the Gulf claims, 

And an old man driven by the Trades 

To a sleepy corner. 

Tenants of the house, <T 
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry sason./ 



434 



T. S. ELIOT 



RHAPSODY ON K WINDY NIGHT 

Twelve o'clock. 

Along the reaches of the street 

Held in a lunar synthesis, 

Whispering lunar incantations 

Dissolve the floors of memory 

And all its clear relations, 

Its divisions and precisions, 

Every street lamp that I pass 

Beats like a fatalistic drum, 

And through the spaces of the dark 

Midnight shakes the memory 

As a madman shakes a dead geranium. 

Half-past one, 

The street-lamp sputtered, 

The street-lamp muttered, 

The street-lamp said, "Regard that woman 

Who hesitates toward you in the light of the 

door 

Which opens on her like a grin. 
You see the border of her dress 
Is torn and stained with sand, 
And you see the corner of her eye 
Twists like a crooked pin " 

The memory throws up high and dry 

A crowd of twisted things; 

A twisted branch upon the beach 

Eaten smooth, and polished 

As if the world gave up 

The secret of its skeleton, 

Stiff and white. 

A broken spring in a factory yard, 

Rust that clings to the form that the strength 

has left 
Hard and curled and ready to snap. 

Half-past two, 

The street-lamp said, 

"Remark the cat which flattens itself in the 
gutter, 

Slips out its tongue 

And devours a morsel of rancid butter." 

So the hand of the child, automatic, 

Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was run- 
ning along the quay. 

I could see nothing behind that child's eye. 

I have seen eyes m the street 

Trying to peer through lighted shutters, 



And a crab one afternoon in a pool, 
An old crab with barnacles on his back, 
Gripped the end of a stick which I held 
him. 

Half-past three, 

The lamp sputtered, 

The lamp muttered in the dark. 

The lamp hummed: 

"Regard the moon, 

La lunc nc garde aucune rancune, 

She winks a feeble eye, 

She smiles into corners. 

She smooths the hair of the grass. 

The moon has lost her memory. 

A washed-out smallpox cracks her face, 

Pier hand twists a paper rose, 

That smells of dust and eau dc Cologne, 

She is alone 

With all the old nocturnal smells 

That cross and cross her brain." 

The reminiscence comes 

Of sunless dry geraniums 

And dust of crevices, 

Smdls ot chestnuts in the streets, 

And female smells in shuttered rooms, 

And cigarettes in corridors 

And cocktail smells in bars. 

The lamp said, 

"Four o'clock, 

Here is the number on the door. 

Memory ' 

You have the key, 

The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair, 

Mount. 

The bed is open; the tooth-brush hangs on 

the wall, 
Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for 

life." 

The last twist ot the knife. 



SWEENEY AMONG THE 
NIGHTINGALES 

Apeneck Sweeney spreads his knees 
Letting his arms hang down to laugh, 
The zebra stripes along his jaw 
Swelling to maculate girafle. 



T. 5. ELIOT 

The circles of the stormy moon 
Slide westward toward the River Plate, 
Death and the Raven drift above 
And Sweeney guards the horned gate. 

Gloomy Orion and The Dog 

Are veiled; and hushed the shrunken seas; 

The person m the Spanish cape 

Tries to sit on Sweeney's knees; 

Slips and pulls the table cloth, 
Overturns a collee-cup, 
Reorganized upon the floor 
She yawns and draws a stocking up; 

The silent man in mocha brown 
Sprawls at the window-sill and gapes; 
The waiter brings in oranges 
Bananas figs and hothouse grapes; 

The silent vertebrate in brown x 
Contracts and concentrates, withdraws; 
Rachel nee Rabmovitch 
Tears at the grapes with murderous paws; 

She and the lady in the cape 
Are suspect, thought to be in league; 
Therefore the man with heavy eyes 
Declines the gambit, shows fatigue, 

Leaves the room and reappears 
Outside the window, leaning in, 
Branches of wistaria 
Circumscribe a golden grin; 

The host with someone indistinct 
Converses at the door apart, 
The nightingales are singing near 
The Convent of the Sacred Heart, 

And sang within the bloody wood 
When Agamemnon cried aloud, 
And let their liquid siftings fall 
To stain the stiff dishonored shroud. 



435 

Burbank crossed a little bridge 

Descending at a small hotel; 
Princess Voluptne arriud, 

They wcic together, and he fell. 

Definitive IIIUMC under sea 
Passed sca\vard \\ilh the passing bell 

Skwl}- the God Hercules 
Had Itlt him, that had loud him well 

The horses, under the axletrcc 

Beat up the da\\n Irom Istna 
With even ieet 1 ler shuttered barge 

Buined on the \\atcr all the day. 

But this or such was Bleisttm's way: 

A saggy binding of the knees 
And dhows, with the palms turned out, 

Chicago Semite \Vnnesc. 

A lusterlcss protrusne eye 

Stares from the protozoic slime 
At a pcrspectiu* of Canaletto. 

The smoky candle end ot time 

Declines On the Rial to once. 

The iats are underneath the piles. 
The Jtw is underneath the lot. 

Money in furs. The boatman smiles, 

Princess Volupine extends 

A meager, blue-nailed, phthisic hand 
To climb the walcrstair. Lights, lights, 

She entertains Sir Ferdinand 

Klein Who clipped the lion's wings 
And flca'd his rump and pared his claws? 

Thought Burbank, meditating on 
Time's rums, and the seven laws. 



THE II O L LOW MEN 

Mistah Kuttz he dead. 

A fenny for the Old Guy 



BURBANK WITH A BAEDEKER! 
BLEISTEIN WITH A CIGAR 

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-lau c ml nisi divimim stabile cst, 
caeteta jtimus the gondola stopped, the old palace 
was l/ietc, how dimming its gray and ptnl{ goats 
and monkeys, with such hair too 1 so the counters 
passed on until she came though the little park, 
where Ntobe presented her with a cabinet, and so 
depot ted. 



We are the hollow men 

We are the stuffed men 

Leaning together 

Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! 

Our dried voices, when 

We whisper together 

Are quiet and meaningless 

As wind in dry grass 



T. S. ELIOT 



Or rats' feet over broken glass 
In our dry cellar 

Shape without form, shade without color, 
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion; 

Those who have crossed 

With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom 

Remember us if at all not as lost 

Violent souls, but only 

As the hollow men 

The stuffed men. 

ii 

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams 
In death's dream kingdom 
These do not appear: 
There, the eyes are 
Sunlight on a broktn column 
There, is a tree swinging 
And voices are 
In the wind's singing 
More distant and more solemn 
Than a fading star. 

Let me be no nearer 

In death's dream kingdom 

Let me also wear 

Such deliberate disguises 

Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves 

In a field 

Behaving as the wind behaves 

No nearer 

Not that final meeting 
In the twilight kingdom 

in 

This is the dead land 
This is cactus land 
Here the stony images 
Are raised, here they receive 
The supplication ot a dead man's hand 
Under the twinkle of a fading star. 

Is it like this 

In death's other kingdom 

Waking alone 

At the hour when we are 

Trembling with tenderness 

Lips that would kiss 

F*0m L prayers to broken stone. 

IV 

The eyes are not here 
There are no eyes here 



In this valley of dying stars 

In this hollow valley 

This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms 

In this last of meeting places 

We grope together 

And avoid speech 

Gathered on this beach of the tumid river 

Sightless, unless 

The eyes reappear 

As the perpetual star 

Multi foliate rose 

Of death's twilight kingdom 

The hope only 

Of empty men. 

v 

Hete we go round the pnctyy pear 
Pnctyly pear ptu\ly pear 
Heie we go tound the pnctyly pear 
At five o'doc^ in the motmng. 

Between the idea 
And the reality 
Between the motion 
And the act 
Falls the Shadow 

Pot Thine is the Kingdom 

Between the conception 
And the creation 
Between the emotion 
And the response 
Falls the Shadow 

Life is very long 

Between the desire 
And the spasm 
Between the potency 
And the existence 
Between the essence 
And the descent 
Falls the Shadow ' 

For Thine is the Kingdom 

For Thine is 

Life is 

For Thine is the 

This is the way the world ends 
Tins is the way the wot Id ends 
This is the way the world ends 
Not with a bang but a whimper. 



T. 5. ELIOT 437 

A N I M U L A 

"Issues from the hand of God, the simple soul" 

To a flat world of changing lights and noise, 

To light, dark, dry or damp, chilly or warm; 

Moving between the legs of tahles and of chairs, 

Rising or falling, grasping at kisses and toys, 

Advancing boldly, sudden to take alarm, 

Retreating to the corner of arm and knee, 

Eager to be reassured, taking pleasure 

In the fragrant brilliance of the Christmas tree, 

Pleasure in the wind, the sunlight and the sea; 

Studies the sunlit pattern on the floor 

And running stags around a silver tray; 

Confounds the actual and the fanciful, 

Content with playing-cards and kings and queens, 

What the fairies do and what the servants say. 

The heavy burden of the growing soul 

Perplexes and offends more, day by day; 

Week by week, offends and perplexes more 

With the imperatives of "is and seems" 

And may and may not, desire and control. 

The pain of living and the drug of dreams 

Curl up the small soul in the window seat 

Behind the Encyclopaedia Btitannica. 

Issues from the hand of time the simple soul 

Irresolute and selfish, misshapen, lame, 

Unable to fare forward or retreat, 

Fearing the warm reality, the offered good, 

Denying the importunity of the blood, 

Shadow of its own shadows, specter in its own gloom, 

Leaving disordered papers in a dusty room; 

Living first in the silence after the viaticum. 

Pray for Guiterriez, avid of speed and power, 

For Boudin, blown to pieces, 

For this one who made a great fortune, 

And that one who went his own way. 

Pray for Floret, by the boarhound slain between the yew trees, 

Pray for us now and at the hour of our birth. 



A SONG FOR SIMEON 

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and 

The winter sun creeps by^the snow hills; 

The stubborn season has made stand. 

My life is light, waiting for the death wind, 

Like a feather on the back of my hand. 

Dust in sunlight and memory in corners 

Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land. 



438 



T. S. ELIOT 

Grant us thy peace. 

I have walked many years in this city, 

Kept faith and fast, provided tor the poor, 

Have given and taken honor and ease. 

There went never any rejected from my door. 

Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children's children 

When the time of sorrow is come ? 

They will take to the goat's path, and the fox's home, 

Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords. 

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation 

Grant us thy peace. 

Before the stations of the mountain of desolation, 

Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow, 

Now at this birth season of decease, 

Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word, 

Grant Israel's consolation 

To one who has eighty years and no tomorrow. 

According to thy word. 

They shall praise Thee and sufTcr in every generation 

With glory and derision, 

Light upon light, mounting the saints' stair. 

Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer, 

Not for me the ultimate vision 

Grant me thy peace. 

(And a sword shall pierce thy heart, 

Thine also.) 

I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me, 

I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me. 

Let thy servant depart, 

Having seen thy salvation. 



JOURNEY OF THE MAGI 

"A cold coming we had of it, 

Just the worst time of the year 

For a journey, and such a long journey: 

The ways deep and the weather sharp, 

The very dead of winter." 

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, 

Lying down in the melting snow. 

There were times we regretted 

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, 

And the silken girls bringing sherbet. 

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling 

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women, 

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, 

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly 

And the villages dirty and charging high prices: 

A hard time we had of it. 



T. S. ELIOT 439 

At the end we preferred to travel all night, 
Sleeping in snatches, 

With the voices singing in our ears, saying 
That this was all folly. 

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, 

Wet, below the snow line, smelling ot vegetation; 

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, 

And three trees on the low sky, 

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. 

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, 

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces ot silvei, 

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins 

But there was no information, and so we continued 

And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon 

Finding the plact; it was (you may say) satisfactory. 

All this was a long time ago, I remember, 

And I would do it again, but set down 

This set down 

This: were we led all that way for 

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly, 

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birlh and death, 

But had thought they were different; this Birth was 

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. 

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, 

But no longer at case here, in the old dispensation, 

With an alien people clutching their gods. 

I should be glad ot another death. 



ASH -WEDNESDAY 
I 

Because I do not hope to turn again r ' n% , 

Because I do not hope 

Because I do not hope to turn 

Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope 

I no longer strive to strive towards such things 

(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings ? ) 

Why should I mourn 

The vanished power of the usual reign? 

Because I do not hope to know again 

The infirm glory of the positive hour 

Because I do not think 

Because I know I shall not know 

The one veritable transitory power 

Because I cannot drink 

There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again 

Because I know that time is always time 
And place is always and only place 



440 T. S. ELIOT 

And what is actual is actual only for one time 

And only for one place 

I rejoice that things are as they are and 

I renounce the blessed race 

And renounce the voice 

Because I cannot hope to turn again 

Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something 

Upon which to rejoice 

And pray to God to have mercy upon us 

And I pray that I may forget 

These matters that with myself I too much discuss 

Too much explain 

Because I do not hope to turn again 

Let these words answer 

For what is done, not to he clone again, 

May the judgement not be too heavy upon us 

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly 

But merely vans to beat the air 

The air which is now thoroughly small and dry 

Smaller and dryer than the will 

Teach us to care and not to care 

Teach us to sit still. 

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death 
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. 



Lady, three white leopards sat under a jumper-tree 
In the cool of the day, having fed to satiety 

On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been contained 
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said 
Shall these bones live? shall these 
Bones live' 5 And that which had been contained 
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping: 
Because of the goodness oi this Lady 
And because of her loveliness, and because 
_She honors the Virgin in meditation, 

We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled 
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love 
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd. 
It is this which recovers 

My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions 
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn 
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown. 
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgctfulness. 
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten 
And would be forgotten, so I would forget 
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said 
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only, for only 



T. S. ELIOT 

The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping 
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying 

Lady of silences 
Calm and distressed 
Torn and most whole 
Rose of memory 
Rose of forgetfulness 
Exhausted and life-giving 
Worried reposeful 
The single Rose 
Is now the Garden 
Where all loves end 
Terminate torment 
Of love unsatisfied 
The greater torment 
Of love satisfied 
End of the endless 
Journey to no end 
Conclusion of all that 
Is inconclusihle 
Speech without word and 
Word of no speech 
Grace to the Mother 
For the Garden 
Where all love ends. 

Under a jumper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining 

We arc glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other, 

Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing oi sand, 

Forgetting themselves and each other, united 

In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which yc 

Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity 

Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance. 



At the first turning of the second stair 

1* turned and saw below 

The same shape twisted on the banister 

Under the vapor in the fetid air 

Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears 

The deceitful race of hope and of despair. 

At the second turning of the second stair 

I left them twisting, turning below; 

There were no more faces and the stair was dark, 

Damp, jagged, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond repair, 

Or the toothed gullet of an aged shark. 

At the first turning of the third stair 

Was a slotted window bellied like the fig's fruit 

And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene 

The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green 



441 



442 T. S. ELIOT 

Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute. 

Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown, 

Lilac and brown hair; 

Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair, 

Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair 

Climbing the third stair. 

Lord, I am not worthy 
Lord, I am not worthy 

but speak the word only. 

IV 

Who walked between the violet and the violet 

Who walked between 

The various ranks of vaned gicen 

Going in white and blue, in Mary's color, 

Talking of trivial things 

In ignorance and in knowledge of eternal dolour 

Who moved among the others as they walked, 

Who then made strong the fountains and made fash the springs 

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand 
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's color, 
Sovcgna vos 

Here are the years that walk between, bearing 

Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring 

One who moves in the time between sleep and waking, wearing 

White light folded, sheathed about her, folded. 

The new years walk, restoring 

Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring 

With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem 

The time. Redeem 

The unread vision m the higher dream 

While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse. 

The silent sister veiled in white and blue 

Between the yews, behind the garden god, 

Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and sighed but spoke no word 

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down 
Redeem the time, redeem the dream 
The token of the word unheard, unspoken 

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew 

And after this our exile 

v 

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent 
If the unheard, unspoken 
Word is unspoken, unheard; 



T. S. ELIOT 443 

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard, 

The Word without a word, the Word within 

The world and for the world; 

And the light shone in darkness and 

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled 

About the center of the silent Word. 

O my people, what have I done unto thee. 

Where shall the word be found, where will the word 

Resound ? Not here, there is not enough silence, 

Not on the sea or on the islands, not 

On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land, 

For those who walk in darkness 

Both in the day time and in the night time 

The right time and the right place are not here 

No place of grace for those who avoid the face 

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the voice 

Will the veiled sister pray for 

Those who walk in darkness, who chose thcc and oppose thee, 

Those who are torn on the horn between season and season, time and time, between 

Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait 

In darkness" 5 Will the veiled sister pi ay 

For children at the gate 

Who will not go away and cannot pray: 

Pray for those who chose and oppose 

C) my people, what have I done unto thee. 

Will the veiled sister between the slender 

Yew tree:, pray for those who offend her 

And are terrified and cannot surrender 

And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks 

In the last desert between the last blue rocks 

The desert in the garden the garden in the desert 

Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed. 

O my people. 

VI 

Although I do not hope to turn again 
Although I do not hope 
Although I do not hope to turn 

Wavering between the profit and the loss 

In this brief transit where the dreams cross 

The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying 

(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things 

From the wide window towards the granite shore 

The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying 

Unbroken wings 



444 T. S. ELIOT 

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices 

In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices 

And the weak spirit quickens to rebel 

For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell 

Quickens to recover 

The cry of quail and the whirling plover 

And the blind eye creates 

The empty forms between the ivory gates 

And smell renews the salt savor of the sandy earth 

This is the time of tension between dying and birth 
The place of solitude where three dreams cross 
Between blue rocks 

But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away 
Let the other yew be shaken and reply. 

Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden, 

SufTer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood 

Teach us to care and not to care 

Teach us to sit still 

Even among these rocks, 

Our peace in His will 

And even among these rocks 

Sister, mother, 

And spirit of the liver, spirit of the sea, 

Suffer me not to be separated 

And let my cry come unto Thee. 



John Crowe Ransom 

JOHN CROWE RANSOM was born in Pulaski, Tennessee, April 30, 1888, of Scotch- 
Irish descent. Pulaski, so Ransom states, is otherwise distinguished as being the 
County Scat of Giles County, the dcathplacc of Sam Davis, the Confederate martyr, 
and of the Ku Klux Klan. (Ransom's own great-uncle took part in the foundation 
of the latter,) Ransom, the son of a local minister, was educated in his own state 
and abroad: he received his B A. at Vanderbilt University in 1909, his B.A. at 
Oxford in 1913. At the latter he was Rhodes Scholar from Tennessee, taking the 
"Greats" (classical) couisc. He taught at Vanderbilt from 1914 until 1937; he 
then transferred to Kenyon College, Ohio, where he founded The Kenyan Review. 
He was the chief instigator and one of the founders of The Fugitive, that experi- 
mental journal which did much to disprove Mencken's contention that the South 
was a vast "Sahara of the Beaux Arts." Although Ransom is realistically aware 
that the past is past, he cannot help yearning for a vanished richness, for an agrari- 
anism that cannot be and a culture that never was. 

Poems About God appeared in 1919, a raw first book with a tang of bitter humor. 
Here was no southern gentleman's proverbial courtliness, no unctuous and mincing 



JOHN CROWE RANSOM 445 

gallantry; here was a bristling acerbity blurted in a strong if uncertain utterance. 
The lines range from the roughly powerful (reminding one of a coarser Robert 
Frost) to the surprisingly banal. During the five-year interval between Poems About 
God and his next volume, Ransom's poetry underwent an almost complete change. 
Little of the cruclcness remains in Chills and Fever, by all odds the most distinguished 
volume of poetry published in 1924. Ransom, it was evident, reacted from the callow 
simplicities and the tradition of Wonder in words of one syllabic; his verse is defi- 
nitely for mature minds willing not only to allow a mature poet his mixed modes 
but willing to follow them. It is, at first glance, a curiously involved speech which 
Ransom uses to clothe his semi-whimsical, semi-ironic philosophy. But beneath his 
precise ciicumlocutions one is made aware of an extraordinarily sensitive lyricist. 
What adds zest to his verses is the mocking gravity of his speech a gravity which is 
sometimes exaggerated to the verge of parody, if a philosopher can achieve that 
dubious art. 

Ransom strikes his note with a surcness that is almost defiant. lie is witty, but 
his wit is strengthened by passion; he turns from dialectical fencing to sudden 
emotion. Surprise is his forte; he can weave patterns that are, at one time, fanciful 
and learned. His account of a small boy's walk in deep woods ("First Travels of 
Max") is as fine a macabie piece as anything achieved by Amy Lowell. He can 
draw portraits of dream-lost mediocrities as sympathetically as Robinson, "Tom, 
Tom, the Piper's Son" being a second cousin to "Miniver Chcevy" and "Bewick 
Finzer." He can sound the mordant brasses in "Captain Carpenter," the muted vio- 
lins in "Here Lies a Lady" and the prophetic trumpets in "Spiel of the Three 
Mountebanks" with equal precision. "Parting Without a Sequel" is memorable in 
its combination of emotion and mockery. "Piazza Piece" is, perhaps, the most char- 
acteristic of these poems; in a sonnet balanced as a lyric Ransom has revitalized 
and localized the old theme of Death and the Lady. 

Such music, half soothing, half stinging, is new in our poetry; the modulations 
are strange, the cadences charming in their slight irregularities. Ransom knows how 
to employ the unresolved suspension; he delights m pairing such slant rhymes as 
"drunkard-conquered," "little-scuttle," "ready-study." But it is not mctely the free 
use of dissonance and assonance which distinguishes his poems; it is what he does 
with these properties. "Antique Harvesters" breathes the very quixotic spirit of the 
old South and the Southron's devotion to that spirit; "Lady Lost" is a perfect har- 
monizing of teasing and tenderness; "Janet Waking" uncannily mingles sympathy 
and mock pathos. 

Two Gentlemen in Bonds (1927) has the fresh combination of cavalier grace and 
surprising savageiy uttered in a precise softness of speech. But the surprise is not only 
occasioned by his tempo which is both nervous and drawling. As Mark Van Doren 
wrote, *Hc has been at pains to salt his rhymes and pepper his diction with fresh, 
realistic words; he has wrenched his cadences to fit his wayward thought; he has 
written with an original and almost acid gayety." 

Yet, for all of Ransom's variety, in spite o his ability to play equally well in the 
spangles of harlequin and the graver habit of Kapellmeister, this Southerner will 
never be a popular poet. His is too elegant a speech to meet with general favor; 
his vocabulary is meticulous to the point of being ovcrelaborate, his utterance is 
often so finical as to seem pedantic. The fact that a great part of this particularity is 



44 6 JOHN CROWE RANSOM 

not affectation, but a scholar's gentle mockery, will not save him from the disap- 
proval or the neglect of the public which dreads polysyllabic poets. Nor can one 
blame the common reader. Several of Ransom's poems lose themselves m ellipses 
and remote allusions, a few are so rarefied as to be unintelligible without footnotes 
and a chart of cross-references. His later work is both a growth and a departure. 
Such poems as "Prelude to an Evening," with its overtones of domestic worry, and 
"Painting: a Head" are a far cry from the philosophic-fanciful tone of "Here Lies a 
Lady." In this more difficult poetry Ransom seems to be hesitating between a veiled 
romanticism and an almost abstract intellectuality. 

Nevertheless, even in a facile, ovcrproductive age, there can be no doubt that 
these crisp narratives and teasing lyrics will find their niche. It will be neither a 
mean nor a long neglected one. Ransom has developed a new tone without 
straining for novelty; he has become an influence without becoming oracular. If 
the chief characteristic of Ransom's \eise is irony, as Cleanth Brooks has pointed 
out, "it remains an instrument it never becomes a mere attitude adopted by the 
poet for Us own sake." 

The combination of elegance and honesty which distinguishes Ransom's verse 
is even more striking in his prose. It charactenzes God without Thundet (1930), 
which Ransom called an unorthodox defense ot orthodoxy; his contribution to the 
agrarian symposium in /'// Tal(c My Stand (1930); The World's Body (1938), a 
collection oi animated hteiary studits, and The Nt-iv Cntiasm (1941), an analytical 
examination of the critical theories of I A. Richards, T. S. Eliot, Yvor Winters, and 
William Empson. 



BELLS FOR JOHN WIIITESIDE S DAUGHTER 

There was such speed in hei; little body, 
And such lightness in her footfall, 
It is no wonder that her brown study 
Astonishes us all. 

Her wars were bruited in our high window. 
We looked among orchard trees and beyond, 
Where she took arms against her shadow, 
Or harried unto the pond 

The lazy geese, like a snow cloud 
Dripping their snow on the green grass, 
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud, 
Who cried in goose, Alas, 

For the tireless heart within the little 
Lady with rod that made them rise 
From their noon apple-dreams, and scuttle 
Goose-fashion under the skies' 

But now go the bells, and we are ready; 
In one house we are sternly stopped 
To say we are vexed at her brown study, 
Lying so primly propped. 



JOHN CROWE RANSOM 447 

LADY LOST 

This morning, there flew up the lane 
A timid lady-bird to our bird-bath 
And eyed her image dolefully as death; 
This afternoon, knocked on our windowpane 
To be let in trom the rain. 

And when I caught her eye 

She looked aside, but at the clapping thunder 

And sight of the whole earth bla/ing up like tinder 

Looked in on us again most miserably, 

Indeed as if she would cry. 

So I will go out into the park and say, 
"Who has lost a delicate brown-eyed lady 
In the West End Section ? Or has anybody 
Injured some fine woman in some dark way, 
Last night or yesterday ? 

"Let the owner come and claim possession, 
No questions will be asked. But stroke her gently 
With loving words, and she will evidently 
Resume her full soft-haired white-breasted fashion, 
And her right home and her right passion." 



BLUE GIRLS 

Twirling your blue skirts, traveling the sward 
Under the towers of your seminary, 
Go listen to your teachers old and contrary 
Without believing a word. 

Tic the white fillets then about your lustrous hair 
And think no more of what will come to pass 
Than bluebirds that go walking on the grass 
And chattering on the air. 

Practice your beauty, blue girls, before it fail; 
And I will cry with my loud lips and publish 
Beauty which all our power shall never establish, 
It is so frail. 

For I could tell you a story which is true: 

I know a lady with a terrible tongue, 

Blear eyes fallen from blue, 

All her perfections tarnished and yet it is not long 

Since she was lovelier than any of you. 



JOHN CROWE RANSOM 

HERE LIES A LADY 

Here lies a lady of beauty and high degree. 

Of chills and tevcr she died, ot fever and chills, 

The delight of her husband, her aunts, an infant of three, 

And ot medicos marveling sweetly on her ilU. 

For either she burned, and her confident eyes would blaze, 
And her fingers fly in a manner to puzzle their heads 
What was she making? Why, nothing; she sat in a maze 
Ot old scraps of laces, snipped into curious shreds 

Or this would pass, and the light of her fire decline 

Till she lay discouraged and cold as a thin stalk white and blown, 

And would not open her eyes, to kisses, to wine. 

The sixth of these states was her last; the cold settled down. 

Sweet ladies, long may ye bloom, and toughly I hope ye may thole. 
But was she not lucky? In flowers and lace and mourning, 
In love and great honor we bade God rest her soul 
After six little spaces ot chill, and six of burning. 



JANET WAKING 

Beautifully Janet slept 

Till it was deeply morning. She woke then 
And thought about her dainty-leathered hen, 
To sec how it had kept. 

One kiss she gave her mother, 

Only a small one gave she to her daddy 

Who would have kissed each curl of his shining baby; 

No kiss at all for her brother. 

"Old Chucky, Old Chucky t" she cried, 
Running on little pink feet upon the grass 
To Chucky's house, and listening. But alas, 
Her Chucky had died. 

It was a transmogrifying bee 
Came droning down on Chucky's old bald head 
And sat and put the poison. It scarcely bled, 
But how exceedingly 

And purply did the knot 

Swell with the venom and communicate 

Its rigor' Now the poor comb stood up straight 

But Chucky did not. 

So there was Janet . 

Kneeling on the wet grass, crying her brown hen 



JOHN CROWE RANSOM 



449 



(Translated far beyond the daughters of men) 
To rise and walk upon it. 

And weeping fast as she had hreath 
Janet implored us, "Wake her from her sleep!" 
And would not be instructed in how deep 
Was the forgetful kingdom of death. 



SPIEL OF THE THREE 
MOUNTEBANKS 

THE SWARTHY ONE 
Villagers who gather round, 
This is Fides, my lean hound. 
Bring your bristled village curs 
To try his fang and tooth, sweet sirs: 
He will rend them, he is savage, 
Thinking nothing but to ravage, 
Nor with cudgel, fire, rope, 
May ye control my misanthrope; 
He would tear the moon in the sky 
And fly at Heaven, could he ily. 
And for his ravening without cease 
I have had of him no peace. 
Only once I bared the knife 
To quit my devil of his life, 
But listen, how I heard him say, 
"Think you I shall die today? 
Since your mother cursed and died, 
I am keeping at your side, 
We are firmly knit together, 
Two ends tugging at one tether, 
And you shall see when I shall die 
That you are mortal even as T." 
Bring your stoutest-hearted curs 
If ye would risk him, gentle sirs. 

THE THICK ONE 
Countrymen, here's a noble frame, 
Humphrey is my elephant's name. 
When my father's back was bent 
Under steep impediment, 
Humphrey came to my possession, 
With patient strength for all his passion. 
Have ye a mountain to remove? 
It is Humphrey's dearest love. 
Pile his burden to the skies, 
Loose a pestilence of flies, 
Foot him in the quick morass 
Where no laden beast can pass: 



He will staunch his weariless back 

And march unswerving on the track. 

Have ye seen a back so wide, 

Such impenetrable hide? 

Nor think ye by this Humphrey hill 

Prince Hamlet bare his fardels ill? 

Myself I like it not for us 

To wear beneath an incubus; 

I take oflcnse, but in no rage 

May I dispose my heritage; 

Though in good time the vast and tough 

Shall sink and totter soon enough. 

So pile your population up- 

They are a drop in Humphrey's cup; 

Add all your curses to his pack 

To make one straw for Humphrey's back, 

THE PALE ONE 
If ye remark how poor I am, 
Come, citizens, behold my lamb' 
Have ye a lion, ounce, or scourge, 
Or any beast of dainty gorge? 
Agnus lays his tender youth 
Between the very enemy's mouth, 
And though he smil his delicate meat, 
He may not bruise that flesh nor eat, 
He may not rend him limb from limb, 
If Agnus do but bleat on him. 
Fierce was my youth, but like a dream 
I saw a temple, and a stream, 
And where I knelt and washed my sore, 
This infant lamb stood on the shore, 
He mounted with me from the river. 
And still he cries, as brave as ever, 
"Lay me down by the lion's side 
To match my frailty with his pride; 
Fain would I welter in my blood 
To teach these lions true lionhood." 
So daily Agnus would be slam 
But daily is denied again, 
And still the hungry lions range 
While Agnus waits upon a change; 



450 



Only the coursing lions die 
And in their deserts mortify. 
So bring us lion, leopard, bear, 



JOHN CROWE RANSOM 

To try of Agnus without fear, 
And ye less gentle than I am, 
Come, be instructed" of my Lamb. 



FIRST TRAVELS OF MAX 

As hath been, lo, these many generations, 

The best of the Van Vroomans was the youngest; 

And even he, in a chevroned sailor's blouse 

And tawny curls far from subdued to the cap, 

Had slapped old Katie and betaken himself 

From games for children. That was because they told 

Him never, never to set a wicked foot 

Into Fool's Forest, where the devil dwelt. 

"Become Saint Michael's sword'" said Max to the stick, 

And to the stone, "Be a brand-new revolver'" 

Then Max was glad that he had armed so wisely, 

As darker grew the wood, and shrill with silence. 

All good fairies were helpless here; at night 

Whipped in an inch of their lives; weeping, forbidden 

To play with strange scared truant little boys 

Who didn't belong there. Snakes were allowed there 

And lizards and adders people of age and evil 

That lay on their bellies and whispered no bird nor rabbit. 

There were more rotten trees than there were sound ones; 

In that wood, timber was degenerate 

And rotted almost faster than it grew. 

There were no flowers nor apples; too much age. 

The only innocent thing in there was Max, 

And even he had cursed his little sisters. 

The little black tarn rose up almost in his face 

It was as black and sudden as the pit 

The Adversary digs in the bowels of earth; 

Bubbles were on it, breath of the black beast 

(Formed like a spider, white bag for entrails) 

Who took that sort of blackness to inhabit 

And dangle after bad men in Fool's Forest. 

"Must they be bad ? " said casuistical Max. 

"Mightn't a good boy who stopped saying his prayers 

Be allowed to slip into the spider's fingers ' 3 " 

Max raised his sword but what can swords do 

Against the Prince of the Dark ? Max sheathed his