Full text of "Poems"
DONALD LINES JACOBUS
Class I QTl SLUZ
DONALD LINES JACOBUS, M. A
New Haven, Conn.
THE HARTY-MUSCH PRESS. Inc.
Court and Artizan Streets
THE HARTT-MUSCH PRESS, Isc.
OCT 28 1914
I. MILESTONES IN THE WILDERNESS
To Henry Augustin Beers
Little Rose .
May in the Country
June in the City .
A Medley of Spring
A Medley of Summer
II. RAGNAROK .
Odin's Farewell .
The Revolt of Vidar
III. ROXBURY LYRICS
The Vale of Rest .
Quatrain from Heine
Down Chapel Street
The Steam Engine
An Evening Walk
An Idyl of the Glen
IV. HAROLD .
V. IMPROVISATIONS .
To Oscar H. Cooper
To Horace .
The Flagellation of Saint Catherine
The Lord of Hosts
Unspoken Words .
To Lesley Mason .
MILESTONES IN THE WILDERNESS
The dismal sounds of war
And rumors of great battles oversea
Break on our troubled ears. This is no time,
I hear men say, for songs of peaceful strain;
Tell us how Teuton snarls at threatening Slav,
How Britain guards the British sea, and how,
While German arms assail the French frontier,
Muelhausen listens for the Belfort guns.
I cannot do your bidding; there will be
Many to set their signet to the times,
Rendering Caesar tribute. War will pass,
Like wars of old, its trail of bitter tears
Will fade beneath the busy feet of toil;
Merchants will bicker where the martyrs bleed.
But there are things eternal, without date
Or outward show, whose beauty is revealed
Unto the listening soul; and I have heard
A more than mortal music all my days,
Sore troubling me, until I strive to match
Its matchless cadences. Hence I must speak
Those things I know, and harbor in my heart
That which in any age or land or tongue
TO HENRY AUGUSTIN BEERS.
The bays are fading on your brow,
So long ago Fame placed them there;
You wear them as serenely now
As when they were more fresh and fair.
New wreaths your later years have won,
The scholar's and the teacher's due,
Meet honor for work nobly done;
But can they mean so much to you
As those first laurels won in youth,
When through the Beaver marsh you came
And what you saw with poet's truth,
Your pen could sketch in words of flame?
I well remember the first time
I turned your pages; I recall
The careful art, the perfect rime,
Your genial spirit kindling all.
They hold their power to move me still;
Most keenly when, with fingers certain,
I find my favorite, and thrill
To read "The Rising of the Curtain."
I wonder if, in some sad hour,
The pain of which you never tell,
You mourn your youth's departed flower
And sighing wait the prompter's bell.
I do you wrong: with undimmed ray
Still burns, like some clear amethyst,
The poet's fire; but yesterday
You wrote "The Dying Pantheist."
The bays are fadeless on your brow,
Green leaves replace the old and sere;
You wear them as serenely now
As those Fame placed there yesteryear.
Dark the room, no dim lamp burning; falls again the ancient spell;
Soberly I brush aside the motley cap and clinking bell;
Through the night the everlasting stars renew their miracle.
Here, beneath the mild persuasion of the moon's pale panoplies,
One unshuttered ray has fallen, like a brazen hoplite's kiss,
On the wistful mouth of Whistler's "Little Rose of Lyme Regis."
Now, above, the mute beseeching pictured eyes are potent still,
And my feet, transported, wander free across Parnassus hill,
And I taste the nectar bubbling up from the Pierian rill.
I have had my dream of beauty, though I dreamed it fitfully,
Caught the breath of ocean breezes, drifting fragrant off the lea,
Heard the distant foghorn blowing out across the misty sea.
I have knelt by beauty's altar, though there blew the winds of doubt;
Long the flame of art may flicker ere it goes entirely out;
Still remains to me the room, with Whistler's pictures walled about.
Years have rolled oblivious lavas o'er the beauteous dreams of old,
The ashen pall of desolation shrouds the realms of virgin gold;
All night long their phantoms haunt me, touch me — and their touch is
Cold the morning wind that rustles through the shutter, scarcely heard;
Harshly beats within my brain the incessant twitter of a bird;
I awaken to remembrance of a half-forgotten word.
Little Rose may droop her eyelids, broken now the ancient spell ;
Faint and far the dawn is breaking — wagons rattle — all is well;
In the corner lie in waiting motley cap and clinking bell.
MAY IN THE COUNTRY.
When lazily straggled home the cows,
Ambling slow, heavy with milk;
When the mailman galloped from house to house,
In the good May weather when grass is silk, —
When the gallant sun, from his daily fight
Sank from sight in splotches of blood,
And calmly the slow-stepping conqueror night
Cleansed the sky and drew down his hood:
Quietly I stood on Graveyard Hill,
Watching the sunken graves of the dead;
The sky came dark and the trees grew still,
There was no word said.
Strangely there beat in my heart forlorn
The eager pulse of a deathless hope.
The sun renewed shall rise in the morn,
Though slain he sank down the western slope;
The cows to the pasture again will stray,
The mailman rattle o'er hill and plain: —
When will the graves give up their prey?
When shall the dead rise up again?
Quietly I stood on Graveyard Hill,
Watching the sunken graves of the dead.
A screech-owl hooted sudden and shrill,
There was no word said.
JUNE IN THE CITY.
IN MEMORIAM, J. I. J.
June has overturned her shard
On earth's floor in revelry;
Flies go buzzing through the yard,
Sparrows darting in the sky;
Pounding through the good greensward
Fleetfoot beetles skurry by. —
Is it, is it very hard,
Is it very hard to die?
Where the asphalt echoes clear,
How the hoofs of horses beat;
Motorcars serenely steer
Through the lazy crowded street;
Girls demure and lads austere
Saunter by on lingering feet. —
Can he neither see nor hear.
He that found it all so sweet?
June has come, but comes no more
Talk in quiet hours; the dead
Are so very still; a door
Has been shut, a last word said;
One more boat has quit the shore,
Over the horizon sped. —
Gone his step that creaked the floor;
Stands the empty chair instead.
Shall I not feel your arms around me after death,
Shall I not lie and sun me in the grass,
While your soft words are mingled with the wind's soft breath,
And all our moods are lovely as they pass?
Shall I lie quiet and slumber, dreamless, after death,
Shall I not hear the rustling of the grass,
While loving words to me are but a soundless breath,
Heedless of springs and summers as they pass?
A MEDLEY OF SPRING.
TO M. L. S.
Where late the land was swathed in snow,
The crocus blooms, the grasses blow;
On every country road is heard
The music of the homing bird;
And there, with vernal odors blent,
The mild arbutus trails its scent.
Even the dingy city square
Dons its green finery with an air
As if to say, "My griefs are past,
The spring, the spring has come at last."
So year by year returning spring
Revives old moods and makes us yearn
For childhood's careless flounce and fling,
For boyhood's idle unconcern.
And year by year our hearts grow colder,
True to our mortal heritage;
And we are growing older, older,
And closer draws the specter, age.
The children who so lately slept
Soft cradled in their nursery,
Stroll past our window, tall, erect,
And musing on their destiny.
"That is young Agnes on the right."
"Well, it was Agnes' mother, then" —
"True, I remember; she was slight
And fair." — "We never met again."
"And Robert, there, a sturdy lad;
I knew his father well." "Yes, yes,
A gay old dog." "Let's see, he had
A sister; what's become of Bess?"
So one by one we watch them pass,
Recalling old associations:
The eager youth, the winsome lass,
A pageant of the generations.
Their day is not yet come; on such
A day as this we too are young;
We too may tremble at the touch
Of spring, like fiddles newly strung;
Or like a stall-fed stallion, when
Once more he feels the master's lash:
Earth scatters at his hoofbeats then,
Before his eyes the red lights flash.
And such are we, when fresh and free
The warm south wind sweeps o'er the hills:
Desires of old, grown passion-bold,
Well up, as freshets swell the rills.
The spring is in the air today,
The spring is tingling in the blood;
A hand is working in the clay,
A voice is calling from the wood.
And there, in the late afternoon,
The air is sweet with blossomy sod,
While in the sky a bit of moon
Gleams, like the finger-print of God.
And now, as the long daylight wanes,
At set of sun the stars are foaled;
And dry dust down the country lanes
Is blown in scattering drifts of gold.
The twilight fades; an hour goes by.
A wagon gaily jolts along,
Filled with a jovial company
Of youths and maids who troll a song.
And now the farmer boys with red
Faces and hands, and hearts atremble,
And girls with ribbons at waist and head,
In the great dancing hall assemble.
The couples pair for two-step, waltz,
The floor and benches throng with dancers;
The merry music jerks and halts:
"Take partners, partners for the lancers."
The fiddlers strike up faster, faster,
The swaying couples never tire,
But move as they were bound to master
The weary feet of pale desire.
Loud voices shout an old refrain;
A slipper rends, a dress is torn.
What does it matter? Hark, the strain,
"We won't go home until the morn."
The hours flit by, 'tis almost day,
Too soon the end must always come;
Again, again the minstrels play
The plaintive notes of "Home, sweet home."
Dark figures hurry from the hall;
Two lovers the same sweetheart claim.
A horse is stamping in the stall.
"Good night" — "Good morning" — "Coming, Mame?"
The revelers at last are gone,
Dispersed is all the merry rout;
And now the sky is white with dawn,
And one by one the stars go out.
So down the longer dance of life
We frolic the glad hours away.
A little love, a little strife;
We rise to meet the coming day.
O sweet it is to greet and kiss,
And brave it is to dance and sing;
And though what lies behind the skies
Is dark, we care not; this is spring.
So year by year the seasons swing
Relentless in their course; and soon
Shall break on earth another spring
And every robin trill in tune,
Nor we be there to hear, alas,
Nor ever breathe the fragrant breath
Of blossoms and of growing grass,
Seeing we sleep so far beneath. —
No! let us live, for ever live:
No matter whether skies be gray,
No matter what the days may give
Or what the nights may take away.
Whether the ways of fate may lead
Through hardship or through fields of ease,
To life's conditions give no heed,
For life, dear life, is more than these.
And when we turn the final page,
And all our glad griefs lie behind —
Sin and remorse, disease and age,
And pain of body, pain of mind;
If then, just as we grasp the plot
And glimpse the pattern of thy book,
If then, great God, thy will should blot
The pages and another look
Into thy mysteries deny;
If ever more beneath the ground
Sodden and senseless we must lie,
Heedless of touch and sight and sound:
Then, then we cry to thee on high,
Out of the depth of our despair;
God as thou art, we reach thy heart,
Our mortal grief thou, thou must share.
Our thoughts, too sad and far away,
Abuse the gladness of the day;
The sun, his warm rays on us bent,
Rebukes our craven discontent.
Dear God, beneath thine eyes the trees
Grow green and flourish in the breeze;
The buds burst open and display
Before thy face their bright array
Of vernal color, yellow and red;
Insects are winging overhead;
And to thine ear, the whole day long,
Comes clear and sweet the robin's song.
Thy world is radiant, like a bride;
Ah surely thou are satisfied.
So too are we; this spring at least
Is ours; and when, with years increased,
We lay our fears aside and rise
In countries hid behind the skies,
Thou to our thirsting souls wilt bring
The joys of thine eternal spring.
A MEDLEY OF SUMMER
How strange it is, when years have flown,
To wander back, though all alone,
To some fair Eden of our youth,
Where we made sport with Nan or Ruth,
And, seeking out the ancient tryst —
'Twas there perchance we met and kissed—
To lie beneath a blazing sun,
And when old memories have run
Their riotous course, to speculate
About the tragic ways of fate;
And ask who was the happy man
That captured Ruth, eloped with Nan.
Arrived at last! I know it by
The scrape of brakes, and by the screech
The engine gives, so like the cry
Of foghorns off a foggy beach;
And then a lurch. Arrived at last,
I stumble from the narrow aisle
Into a kingdom of my past
I have not seen in so long while.
But now, on yonder hillside, from
The station platform, I can trace
The winding paths that go and come
'Twixt here and that remembered place,
Which I so often in my dreams
Have seen, — which now lies near at hand.
The sun against the summit gleams;
Beyond it lies the promised land.
Up the old road I toil again,
The old road overgrown with grass
And weeds; which now I climb with pain,
But once with springing step, alas.
Here at the stile I turn my feet
Into the foothpath which ascends
Over the hay fields fresh and sweet,
And round the plashy pasture bends.
A brood of suckling pigs and sows
Welter oblivious in their lair;
The curious but unblinking cows
Lift up their fatuous eyes and stare.
Across the low wall springs a crop
Of feathery oats; along the edge
Hardhack and foxtail and redtop
Grow, thickly interspersed with sedge.
About my feet the insects swarm;
The beetle drags his leaden wing;
A spider scampers, dreading harm;
The hornet warns of hidden sting.
The warm sun rouses all to life,
A life too boisterous for repose
And yet too glad for toil or strife;
Its great tide round me ebbs and flows.
Drowsily I remember how
One summer morn I climbed this hill
To seek my friends. Where are they now,
And shall I find them friendly still?
Oh those impossible days of youth !
How dear we were to one another
In that gay household, I and Ruth
And Nan, and Jack their frolic brother.
I was their guest and they, kind-hearted,
Like a lost playmate took me in;
The girls both kissed me when we parted,
And wept as if we were of kin.
Well, I may see them soon; the breeze,
With sultry fingers and caressing,
Shakes down the fragrance from the trees
And passes, like a mother's blessing.
The scent of tansy blows this way,
The aromatic tansy which
The housewives of an elder day
Planted in dooryard coign or niche.
I gaze about me; lost in thought
I have climbed the hill and passed the crest.
Before me lies the road I sought; —
What tremors move the expectant breast.
I search the emerald sky-line; where,
Where is the gabled house I seek?
The sky-line stretches, green and bare
And tenantless, from peak to peak.
Gone is the house, the stones alone
Of what was once the cellar stand;
The pit, with ruins thickly strown,
Is by decaying timbers spanned.
The milkweed and the thistle blow
About the lawn; some grewsome fate
Consigns the place to utter woe; —
A blighted chestnut guards the gate.
But in the ancient dooryard, where
The asters shake their mild perfumes;
By loving hands once planted there,
The tansy blooms, the tansy blooms.
The thunder sweeps across the hills
In eddying lifts and falls of sound;
Three raucous crows athwart the sun
Speed homeward with aerial bound.
The sun shines sinister against
The swollen clouds that hover low
Across the northern sky; the birds
Grow dumb, the winds forget to blow.
And a foreboding silence falls
On earth, as though with mute alarm
She dreads, yet nerves herself to meet
The menace of the coming storm.
A rustle first, and then the roar,
Deep-voiced and sullen and submerged,
Of distant hail. Two miles away
The leaves are bent, the fields are scourged.
And not a drop has fallen of rain,
And sombrely still shines the morn;
Yet near at hand grim armies march
And devastate the drooping corn.
Grim armies too are those that tread,
Unseen, the vale of human tears;
And oh, what arms can check the march
Triumphant of the advancing years?
And yet it is not what the hand
Of time steals from us that so grieves
Our aging hearts. The pity is,
Not what time takes, but what it leaves.
It takes my youth, but leaves the dreams,
The wistful dreams that made youth fair;
It takes the house that once I loved,
But leaves the tansy blooming there.
And where are they, the young, the fair?
I wonder, now my heart grows still,
What destinies they make or share,
Or if they sleep on what far hill?
I try to picture Ruth in new
Guise, as a matron proud and cold;
But still she is the Ruth I knew,
Demure and docile as of old.
I think of Jack; dear reckless boy,
I see him now, as unafraid
He faced adventure and with joy
Claimed part in some wild escapade.
Does he, still scorning slothful ease,
On some great city stamp his name;
Or in some fracas of the seas
Did he go down, unknown to fame?
And what of Nan? My mind recalls
How, crossing o'er the dark Shepaug,
One picnic day, we passed the falls
And camped by sleepy Waramaug.
It was late August then. So hot
And dry it was, the noonday heat
Made our steps drag; or was it not
Rather, we found the way so sweet?
As home we came at twilight glow,
She stooped to pluck, with fluttering breath,
Forget-me-nots, and whispered low,
"I will be faithful unto death."
And now I seem to see her stand
Where Charon guides the Stygian prow,
Forget-me-nots still in her hand.
But purple pansies on her brow.
How strange it is, when years have gone,
To wander back, though all alone,
To some lost Eden of our youth,
Where we made sport with Nan or Ruth;
And stranger still, when we have come
In that fair vale upon their home,
To see it lie in ruins bare,
As though no soul had e'er dwelt there,
And in the dooryard of tnat tomb
The aromatic tansy bloom.
I will go forth, I said, and lay
My head upon the Mother's breast;
And she will soothe me into rest,
And she will wave my cares away.
I rose and roamed through field and wood,
And soon the blood began to bound,
And eyes grew clear, and flesh grew sound,
Endued with health and hardihood.
Yet am I not the child alone
Of nature; deeps within me cry
That ..take no comfort in the sky
And look unmoved on tree and stone.
Then a great longing on me fell
To wander through a crowded street;
To hear the sound of laughter sweet
And childish, ringing like a bell;
In others' gladness to rejoice,
To draw their griefs within my ken;
And sometimes, from the mouths of men,
Hear echoes of the Father's voice.
I came with a more robust mind
Back to the peopled city, where,
Though much be good and much be fair,
Women are fickle, men unkind.
His name was Destiny:
He came when all was still;
He worked his mighty will.
I trembled when I saw
His shadow on the stars,
The footprint of his law
Stamped on the sandy bars,
The dim worlds gliding by
Held in his iron band, —
The menace of his eye,
The pressure of his hand.
I sent an arrow far,
Athwart the utmost rim,
That in the last-born star
Its flint might seek out him.
He seized it in its path
And turned its course again:
An instrument of wrath,
My daily dole of pain.
Bravely I met his eye
And laughed him in the face;
And down the scattering sky
I heard his footsteps trace
A wrecked path of defeat,
A way of blackened suns: —
Here was his golden seat,
Here was he master once.
The victory was won.
I gazed within my soul;
Lo, there he reared his throne
And wrote an endless scroll.
To him I bow the knee.
"Lord, thou art master still ;
Unfold thy sure decree,
Teach me to do thy will."
Tis not the might of mailed hand
Nor strength of mind that shall prevail;
'Tis having heard beyond the veil
The certain ring of high command.
We may not falter; down the track
'Twixt star and star we keep our course,
Like them obedient to the force
That guides, impels, and holds not back.
When out of the night I came,
A bird on the sill
Sang, and the skies were aflame
Beyond the hill.
A spear was set in my hand,
A spur on my heel;
Here was the combat planned,
Eager my steel.
When darkness falls on my heart
And the lamps burn low,
And the word is spoken, Depart,
Then shall I go:
Whither, I know not, but there
A bird on the sill
Shall sing, and the day break fair
Beyond the hill.
I was old before my birth,
Visited with weariness
Fallen from long-exhausted mirth
And from many a dead caress.
Childhood gone, I came to feel
Spirit cooped in staves of clay;
And the clay, with strands of steel,
Linked with myriad yesterday.
Voices from the sightless past
In the clay for utterance strove.
Feebly sounding there the last
Dying notes of hate and love.
From the flesh my spirit caught
Ancient taint of dim sensations,
Which in memory had been wrought
Through a thousand generations.
All my youth I sang sad songs,
Lured by beauty of decay, —
Sang the spirit's mortal wrongs,
Shut in house of sinful clay.
God upon his clarion blew:
"Find you work that cannot cloy;
Lo, a greater work I do,
Yet, in doing it, find joy.
Thus I fling the stars through space,
Guide the planets lest they fall;
Thus I swing the moons in place,
And am never tired at all."
Then I knew I took my birth
Even from him the stars obey;
Though I dwell in lump of earth
Linked with myriad yesterday.
Now that I am growing old,
All my songs are growing young;
And so much remains untold.
All my best is yet unsung.
Dig a pit and throw me there,
Lay me deep beneath the sod ;
In some other When and Where.
I may grow as young as God.
In the dread country of devouring fire,
The home of all the miscreants, and till late
Their prison, who had troubled Odin's reign,
The sons of Muspel, from captivity
Set free by that ill cataclysm that shook
From Loki's limbs the fetters, launched the ship
Of doom; which, like a fire that sweeps the woods
In a dry season, leaving naught behind
But trees deflowered, a bare and ashen waste,
Moved through the boiling ocean, which recoiled
Hissing before her, in great waves that rolled
Up to the gates of Asgard, where they beat.
Then rose from out the sea's sepulchral throat
A dismal, guttural note, as of lament.
The sound, of woe portentous, struck the ear
Of Odin. From his golden chair he rose,
But with slow majesty, as if averse
To execute the heavy will of fate,
Silenced the gods with kingly hand, and said:
"The time has come. Children of Asgard. arm;
Burnish the rich accoutrements of war,
Make ready for the conflict." Thunder pealed
Percussive answer. Then the All-Father turned
And summoned to him Freya, his dear wife,
And took his leave of her with gentle words.
"In heaven long time the scepter we have swayed,
Imposing justice on the lesser powers
That prop our throne; and never in that time
To wills divided have we been the prey,
But ever have imparted strength and comfort
Each to the other; now the hour has come
When we must part — grant it be not for ever.
One last embrace, for it may be the last;
Speed me to battle as in days of yore."
Then Freya, lifting high her head, though tears
Pulsed against prisoning eyelids, bravely said:
"Odin, it ill becomes thee, lurking here,
Trapped in thy battlements, to wait the charge
Impending of thine adversaries bold;
But rather, as thy wont is, go to meet
The approaching danger; with thee go our prayers.
And if, as I do fear, this prove the last
Battle, then let it be the hardest fought;
That we, from our high turrets as we watch
The fray, may not repent us that we are
The wives of them that from Valhalla sway
Heaven and earth and all the tribes thereof.
And if thou go unto destruction down,
Then we, like Baldur's loving spouse, when he
By treacherous guile, but Hoder's hand, was slain,
Loving, shall perish. Odin, farewell, farewell."
She spoke, to whom the All-Father made reply:
"The thing that fate hath planned shall come to pass
And if, despite old oracles and vain
Prophecies, fate be with us, we shall win
A victory that will make our throne secure
Even to the utmost shoal of ebbing time;
But if fate be against us, it is best
To die battling, fronting o'erwhelming odds
Bravely, and struggling for the nobler cause."
He spoke, and led his army to the fray.
THE REYOLT OF YIDAR.
Open, wise Mimir, to great Odin's son;
A desperate errand brings me to thy gate.
What youthful god is he that breaks my rest
In Odin's name and accents of command.'
Vidar? Then all is finished. The dire cause
That sent thee speeding to my dark abode,
?hfugh not unguessed, I yet would hear thee speak.
My service, even the last, is to the gods.
Thhf^'the Fimbul- winter. Storm on storm
Has riled its drifted snows on the bare ground
And a the streams are ice-clogged. Notttogirttai
Save murderous winds that find no living growth
To slay, but savagely the dead trees shake,
As an assassin stabs the chilly corpse
Of his last shivering victim. All is still,
Save only, as my team plowed furious
The rainbow's frozen highway, the B *^*SfthrlH
Cluttered with snow, did whine and shriek and shrill
Like a lost child, perishing of the cold.
T™?ost has struck deep, even to men's hearts,
Which, rotted through with base imaginings,
Forget the days, or sneer when they recall.
When flourished on the earth the heroic strain
Men are grown small and mean; the ties of blood
Are rent in twain; murder is in the world
And evil lust; I have known brothers slay
B?oth£s for 'greed of gold; yea I have known
The father take to bed the daughter fair.
Loki has burst the mighty chain of law
Wherewith his limbs were fettered when against
The gods, but vainly then, he first devised
His strategems of evil ; once again
He menaces the All-Father's diadem.
What tidings, child of Asgard, of thy race?
What counsel wise prevails in Odin s hall .
Se^oas have seen and marveled; since the day,
The first dark winter day, when Baldur fel ,-
Baldur the blameless, whom blind Hoder slew
Unwitting— Odin's race have known that doom,
Like a great comet, ill of augury,
Hung at the zenith of the obliterate sky.
With us was night eternal, night and cold
And black suspense and longing for the lignt
That dted with Baldur; through the weary months
We marked how evil crept its slimy way
Into the core decaying of the world,
And heard how Loki struggled in his chains,
And felt that now we had not long to wait.
The moment came, and with the breaking storm
The oppressive silence like a bubble burst.
What word was Odin's in the fateful hour?
Great Odin beckoned me aside and said:
"That all may be fulfilled, which in old time
The Norns determined, take my regal team,
Harness thereto swift Sleipnir, my famed steed,
And haste thee down the rainbow's frozen path
Until thou come to Midgard; pause not there,
Nor make thee any pause till thou shalt come
To Mimir's seat beside the wisdom well.
Then boldly wake him from his long repose
And learn of him the outcome. Speed thee home
When Heimdall's horn shall sound." Thus Odin said,
And thus, obedient to his word, I come.
But lo! the well, deep dug beneath the base
Of the world-ash Yggdrasil, seethes and foams
As though affrighted by the force that shakes
The mighty tree, down to its deepest roots.
Though knowledge shall be bitter and offend
The taste of him who drinks, 'tis knowledge still.
How strange the waters look,, what sounds ascend
Of frothing waves and wails and mutterings,
Like drowning gods in conflict pent beneath.
To plan, to strive, to dare, thou art a god
Fit to rule worlds; and yet no seer thou art;
For unto some 'tis given to achieve
The event, but unto others to seek out
The cause, the sequence, the predestined end.
And as a sea-king on the crashing seas
Oft reads by night direction in the stars:
So I, in meditation gazing down,
Can thread the woven maze of fate and read
The tangled meaning of the skeins that twine
The hidden future. At the dawn of time,
Before the heavens were spread above the earth,
Before the green earth was or the wide sea
Engirdling it, or men to tread the ground
Or sail the waters; yea, before the gods
Established order and the boon of law;
In those dim days the Norns chanted the song
Of fate, clanking their wings above the well
Of wisdom, and the mystic waters caught
And mirrored in dark semblance what they sang.
And when the sons of Odin had o'ercome
The powers of darkness and the giant brood,
And chaos overwhelmed; when humankind
Had peopled Midgard, when the high gods ruled
On Asgard, and the race of Loki cast,
Firm bound, into the fires of Muspelheim;
Then Odin, not unware of my great gift
Of prophecy, gave unto me this seat
Beside the well of wisdom, here to read
The runes of fate while Odin's race holds sway.
Wise Mimir, not unmindful are the gods
Of thy good counsel through an age of years
From that day even to this; now falter not,
Though dark the future and thy counsel hard,
But the more boldly speak; Odin commands.
And I obey. Vidar, I hear great bells,
Like funeral bells, tolling the end of time.
Now Heimdall stands upon the rainbow's arch
And blows the Giallar horn, the blast of doom.
Now Odin's host, intrenched, awaits the assault
Of Loki and the progeny of sin.
Loud breaks the din of combat, clashing spears
Beat against riven helmets and slashed shields,
And many a crushing blow smites to the ground
The dauntless heroes; fierce and swift their end.
Three days the suicidal conflict rages
In darkness and in uttermost despair,
And the third sunless dawn looks down upon
A woof of woven corpses, weapons of war
Reeking with blood, and implements of death.
No soul survives, but unobserved the flames,
Released by Loki, eager to consume,
Burst through the frame of Midgard, which they turn
Into a living crater in whose jaws
The invigorating air and fertile earth,
The tender-leaved grass and all green things,
Are ground and molten to one element
And then belched forth, pellucid streams of fire,
Which, sending sparks to mingle with the stars,
Whose paly glow they quench, assail the high
Unyielding firmament; which hears aghast
Crackling of worlds and sundering of spheres
Rocked in the furnace of devouring wrath.
To what avail then all that we have been
And done, or in this battle yet may do,
If all be blown, like leaves from a plateau,
Naked away, and in the place of law
Beneficent and the pleasant fruits thereof,
Primeval chaos lift his formless mass
And all alone disturb the emptiness?
Vidar, thy youth and not thy wisdom speaks;
Too long we linger, bandying idle words.
I see the battlements of Asgard sway,
Totter and fall; the rainbow crashes down
And breaks in fragments on the heaving ground;
Which writhes in torment as the mighty tree,
Yggdrasil, the life-giving, bursts in flame.
Her roots that in the bowels of the earth,
Since time his reign began, have lain concealed,
Tear at their moorings, opening great gulfs
In the substantial rock; her scorching boughs
Cut through the sky in roaring swaths of fire;
Then down the world-ash plunges, tilting earth
Up from her deep foundations. — Ask no more;
The scene, devoid of life, grows blank and still.
The flame subsides and naught remains but bleak
Silence and desolation and the hush
Of barrenness and everlasting night.
My heart grows cold within me, like the world
Thy tongue hath pictured. Shall no trace remain
To whisper in the ears of aftertime
The glories of the time that passed away?
Naught shall abide save ruins, the charred bones
Of former greatness in a world entombed.
But something must come after; Mimir, speak,
In pity speak, and tell me that the sun
Again will shine on gods and godlike men;
That Miolnir, in the hands of some new Thor,
Shall hammer out once more a glorious world,
The inhabitants of which, while seasons whirl
Their ceaseless round, may see the flowers spring
And hear by night the baying of the wolves.
I am of the old order; to the end
Of time it is permitted me to read
The runes of fate; but all that lies beyond
To me is dark. Vidar, I counsel faith;
Faith that the powers that brought us to the light
Work not in darkness nor for nothingness.
Perchance the risen Baldur's golden face
May shine again, perchance the new-born earth
And Asgard's gleaming turrets may inspire
A race of men more noble than men are,
A race of gods greater than gods have been;
It may be —
Hold! I care not for thy dreams.
My world is doomed; and oh, what use for me,
When Heimdall blows his horn, to seek the field
Where this mock battle wages, take my place
With puppet gods and boldly face the attack
Of shadows, I myself a shadow too?
Nay, rather —
Is this Vidar, Odin's child,
Who whines because he goes to meet his death?
Yea, Odin's son, who stands here not in fear,
But in defiance of that specter, fate,
That works unseen, and of his triplet brats,
Who chant his runes, the ever hateful Norns.
If aught of good might come, or in the event
One solitary boon for Odin's cause
Be gained, then I would cast my life away
Ten times and count it nothing. It is not
Death or defeat or any woe I dread,
But simply that whatever I may do
Will not avail one jot for any cause.
Why should I bend my will to a decree
Unalterably fixed? If I must die,
Then let it be protesting; let me fall
Hurling my scorn against the scheme of things.
For all thy petty scorn, the purposes
Of fate shall yet prevail; and is it not
Better to die with brother and with sire,
Upholding Odin's throne, though without hope,
Against the assault of Loki and his crew,
Than stand an outcast and defy the powers
That made alike evil and good — and thee?
Poor fool! thou art less than those heroic men,
Who, having tasted once the meed of death,
Have daily vied in jousts and feats of arms
In high Valhalla, that they might be strong
To strike a blow for Odin. This they deem
The last and highest honor.
To what use?
That he and they together may go down
To everlasting silence? — Frown not so
Upon me, draw not back thy purple robes
As from pollution. Tell me how thou keepest
Calm in the face of this catastrophe,
So monstrous, so inane.
Then look on me
And I will tell. Odin, thy gracious sire,
In the beginning gave me this high seat
Beside the well of wisdom, and he gave
Charge that I should abide here and foretell
The future till the end. This is my post;
And this mine honor, that I falter not
In duty, though the world be swept away.
Having done this, I have done all I can.
Further than this I care not; what may hap
In other worlds is no concern of mine.
I die with the old order, but the well
Of wisdom shall remain; when I am gone
Other interpreters of truth shall rise
To take my place, but truth will be truth still.
Look not too far ahead, nor arrogate
Unto thyself prerogatives that are
His who from everlasting to everlasting,
Maker and breaker, through eternity rules.
Heimdall's horn sounds.
Must Odin, pierced by Loki's spear, receive
A deadlier thrust from his disloyal son?
Wise Mimir, through thy lips a voice hath spoken
Wiser than thine. A shameful thing I planned.
The greater gods may fall before the foe
And yet be greater gods; forth to the fray.
Swift Sleipnir champs the bit; tonight I ride
As ne'er before rode god or man. Now time
Draws to a close, and deeds remain to do.
Mimir, farewell. Am I not Odin's son?
Do you hear the pipe of the meadow?
The robins sing;
The sun has shattered the shadow,
And breaks the spring.
Do you feel the pulse of the forest?
Sap's in the wood,
The dry twigs, even the barest,
Flaunting a bud.
Do you hear the scream of the wind
As it will not whist,
But blusters of sin unsinned
And the kiss not kissed?
Do you feel the lift of your heart
As you pass one by,
Smiling, with lips apart
And a call in her eye?
Father, stand in the wagon
And load the light dry hay,
As up to you I toss it
In the heat of the summer day.
Your thought is all of the harvest
And the balance of gain and loss;
You know not what I am thinking
As the light dry hay I toss.
You feel not the waves that are swaying
My heart like an anchored buoy;
You never have known, my father,
A young man's love and its joy.
But I, as I toss up my forkful
Of hay, and it blows back light,
Think of the girl's hair blowing
On my cheek last night, last night.
THE VALE OF REST.
At midday the midsummer meads
Doze in a haze of drowsy bliss,
Drugged by the sun's narcotic kiss,
Who broods above his sleeping breeds.
The herbage droops; the sparrow, spent
With effort, croons his soft delight.
The dusk of noon, like dusk of night,
Rules a domain of vast content.
No zephyr stirs, no venturous breeze,
The far hills tremble with the sun;
And with his day's task but half done
The plowman seeks his couch of eas3
In slumbrous coverts or dim glens
Thick-shaded lie the peaceful kine,
And drunk with noon's dull anodyne
The squirrel creeps to leafy dens.
All creatures their siesta keep.
Beneath the maple she doth lie,
My golden girl, o'erdrowsied by
The lactucarean hand of sleep.
Lay your little head on my shoulder, dearie,
Earth is sleeping warm in the night's embrace;
Low the moon is hanging, the stars are weary,
Blinking drowsily, nestled high in space.
Heavily scented, the tender dew is falling,
Curling up in the petals of the rose;
Whippoorwills from the locust trees are calling,
Calling their loved ones to a sweet repose.
Vow the cricket calls to his mate in clover,
faintly the tree-toad chirrups in his tree;
Soon, ah soon, the summer days will be over,
Soon these nights will fade to a memory.
Ere late August glide into mild September,
Ere the luminous sky cloud into gray,
Let us love with a love we shall remember
When the world shall have vanished quite away.
Lay your little head on my shoulder, dearie,
This is courting time for the folks that wake;
See how this tress is wooed by the breezes eery,
I must woo it too, or my heart will break.
A million stars in the milk-white sky
And a moonlit path for our dancing feet;
And is it a sob of delight or a sigh
That you whisper to me, sweet?
Come where the sputtering fire burns low
And the lanterns flicker and half expire;
On the crunching log we can catch the glow
And warmth of the dying fire,
The warmth of the dying fire.
The world, my love, is a bleak ice-pond
And the thin ice creaks under dancing feet;
But you and I shall wander beyond
The sound of the laughter, sweet.
We shall draw up close to the blazing fire
And let the world go by as it will;
Till the bright, bright star of our twin desire
Shall set behind the hill,
Shall set behind the hill.
I rise in the night and am lonely,
I am scourged with the lash of unrest;
I pace through the halls of my dwelling
Like a stranger or subjugate guest,
Or a seeker for pleasures forbidden
Who knows not the name of his quest.
The room walls me in like a prison,
And when I look out on the night
The sky presses in on m^ vision,
The stars will not satisfy sight;
And my heart like a stallion is champing
The maddening curb of delight.
There is one — but of her I must dream not —
To whom I might sue for repose;
One only — ah, may her fair image
Grow dark in the mind where it glows;
For the lightning of passion smites harmless
Her breast of impervious snows.
At the first my heart, despairing,
Lay like dust beneath the plow.
I have borne what was past bearing
Only, do not ask me: how?
DOWN CHAPEL STKEET.
A warm, wet night; each driDping light
Wafts yellow streamers down the street;
In all the round no other sound
Save the dull drone of laggard feet.
Yet hark! afar the lumbering car
With muffled thunder plies his way;
And laughing toasts and drunken boasts
Reel from the door of yon cafe.
How drear, how blight, the misty night,
How pass the people to and fro!
What great design is theirs and mine,
And to what purpose do we go?
With dragging feet we tramp the street,
In vain we seek one glimmering star;
But in each face our fancies trace
A secret summons from afar.
THE STEAM ENGINE.
From childhood have I been susceptible
To common sounds; the rumbling of a cart
O'er cobblestones wraps me in joy apart;
The doleful clamor of a funeral bell
Lulls me and rocks me with its magic spell;
The sparrow's daybreak twitter, past all art
Of rhythmic beauty, soothes my troubled heart;
I weep to hear the sea break in a shell.
But when by night the speeding engine screams,
My heart, awakened by its muffled roar,
Pursues the train far down the track of space;
For in a distant country smiles the face
That still I love, but which on me no more
Shall smile again, save only in my dreams.
What threnody is borne abroad
Across the waves and silent shore?
Is it the wind's dry sobbing, or
The anguish of a banished god?
This no utterance of the breeze.
The air is heavy with mute speech,
And hark! along the draggled beach
Dead whispers from receded seas.
Where weary ripples swirl and swoon,
Far down the darkened water gleams
The perished path of myriad dreams,
The light of many a drowned moon.
AN EVENING WALK.
Between high walls of massy stone and steel.
The long street stretches; under calloused feet
The very flagstones ache; the dog-day heat
On summer's glory stamps his leaden seal.
I hear a woman's mirthless laugh; I feel
The pitiless glitter of the white lights beat
Steadily down, where pale waifs of the street
Lurk and with furtive glances beg a meal.
Beyond, the sky-line broadens; past St. Paul's
A dull moon glows and with its radiance thrills
The towering spire; a ray of moonlight falls
Broken across the trolley wires, and fills
My heart with longing. This same moon enthralls
You in your home among the Litchfield hills.
I will go back to the old New England farm
And wield the scythe and hoe;
There in my childhood home the old content may come.
And the peace I used to know.
I will go back to the house upon the hill:
'Twas hers whom I love best;
There is not any place where I may see her face,
But there I shall be at rest.
I will go back to the river and the glen
And let down memory's bars;
And in the dead of night recall our lost delight
As I lie beneath the stars.
I will go back to the old New England farm
Where first my life began;
And in the silence there of forest, earth and air,
I may learn to play the man.
AN IDYL OF THE GLEN.
High sails the moon and sleepily the stream,
Scarce audible, slips by, nor in its course
A pebble stirs; the cricket on a stone
Calls to his mate, and from the brake resounds
The insistent whippoorwill's discordant note.
Still stands the boulder, parting the full stream
In torrents twain, the mighty boulder placed
Not there by man, resting on narrow ledge
Incredible; beyond, the pool, begot
Of current lapped on current where they join
Their reunited forces, darklv glowers;
And like a wraith, yonder the white birch gleams.
Hither my feet, unwitting the dear pain
Roused in my heart, have brought me oft at dusk,
To lie upon the damp grass and to gaze
Into the silent pool by which we played
In childhood days. Here once we dammed the stream
To form a mightier sea for ships to sail,
Our puny ships of birch that soon went down
To rack and ruin. — So my hopes went down.
Why in the whole wide world was there but one,
One only who, as sun the water draws,
Drew me to her with longing, and that one
Lost to me, lost for ever? Would to God
That yon huge rock were resting on my heart:
So might the weight that rests there rest more light.
And yet, yet not tonight shall I lie here
So yielding and so coward-caught of grief:
I set a passless boundary to my woe.
Though now she lies beside a stranger lord.
And lulls her child to sleep, her child and his,
And thinks of me no more: even so, 'tis well.
For I have seen the young man woo the maiden,
Have seen their children play about the hearth,
Have seen love end in alien words or death.
For when our hopes bear blossom, then desire
Drowns in the tasting of unmixed delight,
Till, glutted with fulfilment, cloyed with sweetness,
We hate where ers_t we loved. Things that abide
Turn stale and things of beauty not abide.
The petals fall and other roses blow,
Not more enduring; other faces glow
When hers, the loveliest face, is tagged by time.
The whole world turns to ashes as we gaze,
In time the daisies lose their bloom and fade,
In time the bluebird's thrilling voice is still;
The friends of youth pass from us and our lives
Lie thrall to loneliness and mute despair.
The night is still, the whippoorwill has ceased
His raucous cry; the branches overhead
Sag in the breeze and let the stars shine through.
There, down the sparkling pavements of the sky,
They ride the heavens, unquestioning their doom;
Secure in orbits wide, which, though they swing,
Elliptical, out of the circle true,
May stray not, since eternal law has fixed
The measure of their eccentricity.
And hath the Lord who set the stars in heaven
And marshaled them in order, hath he failed
To spread a path for wavering feet of mine
To tread? Or stands the stern archangel there
With angry blade, guarding the tinsel gate
Of idleness, pointing the way to toil?
The resolution of a braver mood
Comes, and a calm content. My task lies here—
Here day by day to labor in the fields
Sturdily, counting not the dollars won,
Nor sweat expended on the stubborn soil
Not vainly; here through August days to watch
The tasseled cornstalks bursting with green ears;
To see the barn well stocked with grain against
The winter; from the pasture to bring home
The teeming cows; and with untiring scythe
To purge the thistle and the carrot hence.
If this be all, and life no more than this,
Yet so I choose to live it till the end.
For when the blows of circumstance befall,
Ignoble is it to lie down and take
The count, or limply stretch across the rope.
So fleeting are life's perils, we should scorn
To turn from them in fear; but rather meet
The good and ill, to both indifferent;
Fulfilling what our worldly lot demands
In open deed, as naked before God.
Nor should we chafe because our part is brief
And without meaning. All the more should we,
Like Rustem when, by traitor slain, he lay
Gasping, and but one arrow to his bow
To wing the traitor, shoot that arrow straight.
Yet sometimes when, the day's work done, I stroll
Across the hills and lie beside the stream,
Thinking of many things, — when all the weight
Of thought has passed away, and all the sorrow, —
Sometimes a breathless ecstasy descends,
Engulfs me, and my soul is rapt aloft.
For then the senses slumber, then the mind,
Released from pleasant thoughts and thoughts of pain,
Looks inward. Then the wheels of chance drive by,
Soundless, and wayfarers are choked with dust;
But I, withdrawn from effort and the whirl
Of motion, turn for refuge to my soul,
Which I have throughly purged of vain desire
And starts of passion, that I may attain
The promised peace that passeth understanding,
Yea, purchase for my soul eternal peace.
Among the hills, high on the northern slope
Of Mount Carinthus stood the house of Dan.
Hither the giddy sun not warmly bent
His rays, but lightly speeded to the vales
Peopled with busy nations; here the winds,
Children of heaven, thundered down the slopes
With the voice of many waterfalls and fell
Broken and chastened on the plain below.
Hither brave Harold came, ragged and worn
With travel; long he gazed into the depth
Where rivers, fields and towns beneath him lay,
Obscure in the dim distance; silent he gazed
And scornful, and his long black hair streamed out
Free as the wind. Freedom within him stirred
Resolute, and with eager step he turned
To face anew the ascent; but near at hand,
Wedged between rocks and sheltered in the grasp
Of mighty trees, he saw the house of Dan.
Within, the huntsman sat before the board,
His children gathered round, a hardy race,
Inured to peril, skillful with the bow,
Whom little Ida served with venison
Fresh slain and water melted from the snow.
Such their repast when to them Harold came
And paused upon the threshhold unconcerned.
Then spoke the huntsman, master of the house:
"I bid you welcome, stranger, and if you be
A man of noble mind, or if a god —
For so your mien bespeaks you — take what cheer
We have to offer; sit beside the board
And speak fair words, and you shall find us kind."
Thus Dan the huntsman said; the stranger then:
"My name is Harold and I come from far,
A wanderer over earth; a word I bring.
To all the people of the vales below
I told it, and they laughed my word to scorn.
It may be you can hear it, for you dwell
High on the mountain, where the coward sun
Neglects to climb and leaves the snow supreme.
Is it your will to hearken? Else I haste
Upon my journey to the realms afar."
"Break bread," said Dan the huntsman, "and then speak."
And Harold, having broken bread, spoke on:
"It is the height that calls, the height that calls;
Do you not hear it calling in your heart?
Forsake the world, forsake its phantom forms,
And rise to all that lies above, beyond.
What is the world? A thought that all men think,
A thought that all men shape too much alike
Because their souls are slavish; follow me,
And I will make you masters of new worlds.
I seek the height, to tread untrodden snows.
For some men bide, like kine, in slothful ease,
Browsing the grass of their accustomed fields,
As if earth held no sights to show but those
Witnessed in days gone by, no gold but what
Is coined in current issue, nothing good
Save the soiled custom of departed time.
Others, like vexing gnats, flit round the herd,
And stir them up incessantly with goad
Obnoxious, till they fret and stamp and rage.
Yet are there few who, from their fellows strayed,
Seek out new pastures where they long commune
With their own souls, yet not in waywardness,
But in obedience to a call divine;
Which, thus obeyed, may lead them past the screen
Of baser nature, till, with spirits purged,
They gaze upon the naked essence of
Eternal beauty and eternal truth.
Then from their isolation they are moved
Speedily to depart and tidings bring
To all mankind of those things they have seen.
How many are they who weakly turn aside
Because their task is hard and small their faith.
I too was of the valley when the call
Came to me and the vision; I have sought
To make my vision manifest to men.
They will not hear me, but I still must speak;
It may be I shall fail, but after me
Others will follow, and they shall not fail.
It is the height that calls, the height that calls,
Hear it and climb, and you shall surely win
Your souls to everlasting happiness."
After the passing of his voice, a hush
Menacing fell, a shudder ran around;
But Ida, looking on the stranger, sighed.
Then Dan, a frown matting his brow, arose.
"Why do you come to vex me? I am old
And live in peace upon the mountainside,
The master of my house; my strong-limbed sons
Revere me as their father, bring me meat
And take my blessing; Ida from the stream
Brings me clear water melted from the snow,
And my brown-bosomed daughters ply the thread.
Be not offended; you may be a god —
I know not — for your words are fair and high;
And yet they trouble me. I am content
Here to remain and track the nimble deer.
Yet stay; the darkness falls and night comes on
Like a great eagle pauseless in its flight.
Abide till dawn, partaking of our fare,
Then leave us to the quietness of our ways."
He spoke and all his sons nodded assent,
But little Ida hung her head and sighed.
The jocund sun had bounded from the deep,
The morning breeze had wooed the mountain oak
And swept her from the sleepful arms of night,
When Harold rose and took his leave of Dan.
The raucous eagle shrieked aloft; he looked
And felt the bird his brother who, like him,
Disdained to loiter in the vales below.
He climbed, straining his eyes above the clouds,
Heedless of aught beside; but suddenly
The wind shifted, a shuddering sob was borne *
Fitfully down the currents of the gust,
The voice of Ida weeping in the glen;
Not as a girl weeps, overwhelmed with tears,
Torn by the anguish of a wounded heart,
But rather as a man, facing the end,
Bewails in choking silence a world lost.
This was the sound that came to Harold's ears
Midway the ascent and turned him from his course
To seek the glen where little Ida lay,
Sent thither to fetch water from the stream,
Thoughtful of other things, her pail unfilled.
But when she saw brave Harold she arose,
Trembling, and cast the azure of her glance
Upon the ground, abashed and full of fear.
Then Harold took the white hand of the girl
And reassured her, mindful of her grief.
"Daughter of Dan, fair Ida, fear me not.
It may be, as men say, I am a god —
I know not — but 'tis true that I was born
Like other men, like other men shall die;
Divinity is not the prey of time.
Nay, fear me not, fair Ida, but disclose
The cause of this, your sorrow, that you weep
Comfortless here, forgetful of old Dan,
Who waits for water melted from the snow,
Impatient and unquiet by the hearth."
And Ida's sweet and halting voice replied:
"Brave Harold, who can say why woman weeps V
I live high on the mountain, where the wind,
Stirring the trees, whispers strange things to me.
Water and venison I have for fare;
Old Dan, my father, loves me more than all
His other daughters, and the sons of Dan
Tease me and pet me all the long, long day;
And my brown-bosomed sisters love me well.
Yet sometimes a vague longing troubles me
And thoughts of love beyond the ties of kin.
And once methought I had found it; a youth came.
Strong-limbed and tall, up from the vales below.
To track the nimble deer; and night descending,
He sought shelter within the house of Dan.
He loved me and my heart leaped like a roe.
But when he came to woo me, it was thus:
He loved me, for mine eyes were bright as day,.
Clear as the stream, blue as the morning sky;
My hands were whiter than the snows that lie
High on the topmost peak; my smiling mouth
Was like the blood-red crescent of the moon;
My bosom billowy as a rainless cloud.
Therefore he loved me, therefore I loved him not.
And yet somewhere, somewhere, that love must be
That my soul dreams upon all night, all day.
And when I heard you speaking your high thoughts
Of worlds that are not, worlds your dreams have made
For dreamers to delight in, then, ah then
I sighed, wondering if my love might find
Place in the sanctity of your dream-world.
Is there such love as this, love not of hands
Or lips or eyes, bound not by space or time,
Nor born of kinship, either of the mind
Or body; but eternal, without change?
Brave Harold, tell me, is there love like this?
And drawing Ida to him, Harold said:
"Fair Ida, fairest of the tribe of Dan,
I know the longings that oppress your heart,
The wild regret for things that never were,
Which yet, as signs excel the objects which
They represent, surpass the things that are.
The love you dream, Ida, you shall not find
Ever, save in the solitude of your soul
As upward it aspires to the utmost height,
Untrammeled, unconfined. Who knows what lies
Above, in the pure realms of virgin snow?
There waits for me the poetry of new worlds,
There waits for you the music of your love.
It may be that the hurtling avalanch
Will sweep us to the valley; it may be
That dizziness will assail us on the height
And hurl us headlong. Better so to die
Than rest ignobly in the vales of peace.
It is the height that calls, the height that calls."
And Ida said, "Brave Harold, let us go."
As in the night a candle is blown out,
Yet for a full tense moment one may watch
A lingering spark unwilling to expire,
Then darkness absolute; so, far beneath,
Old Dan the huntsman and his strong-limbed sons
Watched the two travelers fading from their view,
Till suddenly they vanished, lost in snow.
And sometimes through the shifting of the years,
Out of the deep dim menace of the night
Or from the bosom of the howling storm,
The people of the valley and of the house
Of Dan the huntsman fancy that they hear
The voice of Harold calling from the height,
The voice of Ida weeping in the glen.
Now wakes my heart within its ashen urn
To memory's pain :
When shall the old companionships return
To me again ?
When will they all come back, —
Lesley and Oscar, Dave and Lew and Mac?
Dear lads, our friendship lives, though nation-wide
We dwell apart;
The bounds of space are havocked, we abide
Neighbors in heart :
The birds that southward roam
Recall their empty nests and long for home.
My stranded soul remain -akin to you,
Beyond the reach
Of time to alter, like the sands that strew
Some sealess beach;
Which harbor memory
Of th? long since receded, far-off sea.
I like to think there is a place prepared
Where we shall meet
And share, as in old days we often shared,
Comrades, from star to star
We shall partake perpetual Avatar.
TO OSCAE H. COOPER.
YALE CAMPUS, SUMMER OF 1908.
The thrill of hand-in-hand
Returns to me as companionless I stand
Dreaming up at your windows vacant and bare,
Which, while the chapel clock, as of old, chimes ten,
But to the old-time four of us never again,
Glare and glower and stare
Upon me like dead eyes.
This elm, the glory of whose yellow and green
We watched unfolding from the earliest spring,
Towers in hazy and black luxuriance,
And in the uncertain lamplight the leaves dance
Their round of mysteries.
Tangible though unseen,
Ghosts loiter in the ghostly summer air,
Ghosts of the green and purple April days
When with what glad abandon and amaze
We lived in the spring of life and found it good;
Ghosts of the men who with us walked and talked,
Brave, quaint, extravagant and wise,
Companions who are gone;
Ghosts of the foolish hopes, the valiant hopes,
That smiled on us, but soon were marred or balked
And laid to rest with all our deeds undone.
I almost see your face in the window there
Of the corner room.
Your wistful smile
Welcomes me back as though 'twere I that strayed: —
Two stairs at a time I gain the upper floor,
And burst through the yielding door. —
Ah, wayward fancy! Soon these visions fade
Into the evening's gloom.
Companionless I stand
Dreaming up at your windows vacant and bare,
The windows of that room where we, the four,
Kept valiant friends throughout one splendid spring;
And still I feel, from the old elm wafted down,
Borne by the summer breeze o'er the pavements brown,
Whispered by ghosts from the bosom of the night,
The thrill of hand-in-hand.
Friend and poet, on thy quiet
Thou hast kept, far from the riot
Of worldly harm,
Soul serene and untormented
And the charm
Of a heart that's still contented,
And a heart still warm.
Jonson bluff and courteous Wotton
Conned thy lore;
Walton and the younger Cotton
Read thee o'er;
Herrick, doomed to lonely Devon,
Sought thy store,
Sitting in the quiet of even
By his barnyard door.
Ocean, hilltop or brown heather
Are not lone,
Sunny days or stormy weather
Are as one,
If like thee we stoutly face
Cloud or sun,
Armed in oak and triple brass
Break the golden bowl on the golden pavement,
Cast my bread and wine to the dogs and beggars,
Rend my silken skirt and my scarlet raiment,
Vanish, my splendor.
Could nor pride nor beauty imperial hold him?
Scorned he all my gifts and my sweet love-tokens?
Days like years he dwelt in my princely palace,
Sharing my splendor.
Boldly to my chamber he came and caught me,
Kissed my golden hair as it brushed my shoulder,
Kissed my lips and vowed that he wildly loved me,
Me in my splendor.
Love like blossoms under his feet I scattered,
Love like music soft in his ears I whispered,
Love like wine I poured in his golden goblet,
Loving with splendor.
Withered lie my amaranths where he trod them,
Silent now the kisses that passed in music,
Turned to gall the wine in the tarnished goblet,
Fading my splendor.
Come, ye idle and profligate men, possess me,
Taste my bitter kisses and sad embraces,
Prize my beauty well till my beauty perish,
That and my splendor.
THE FLAGELLATION OF SAINT CATHERINE.
(THE PAINTING OF PAOLO VERONESE.)
Soldiers, ye sink in my soft flesh the lash,
As oars are dipped in brine; the beauty sleek
Of my white bosom and my shoulders meek
Ye mar with many a welt and ruddy gash.
My naked body doth not me abash;
And, as for pain of body, though it speak,
'Tis but the flesh that groans, for flesh is weak:
My soul, rejoicing, sees heaven's glories flash.
The welcoming cherubs glide on outspread wing
To bear me to the Bridegroom; I shall wear
A jeweled crown upon my glittering hair,
A gem for every wound. I feel his ring
Pressed on my finger. Say, am I not fair?
And am I not the bride of heaven's King?
THE LORD OF HOSTS.
You who call me god of battles, you who name me lord of hosts,
You who fill your foolish pages full of vain and idle boasts,
You who misconceive my nature, you who misconstrue my will,
Likening me, the living spirit, to an Azrael armed to kill;
Who in rime delight to paint me as a pagan god of war,
As a Baal stained with crimson from the sacrificial gore:
Cease your vain and empty raving, still the noise you cast abroad,
Listen to the proud despising words of an offended god.
From this hateful world's beginning, I have smelt the stench of blood,
Blood of brothers, spilt by brothers, and I have not held it good.
From that murder legendary, in the land to Eden's east,
From the first primeval death-blow, ere the man was more than beast;
Till the armaments of nations battled in their wasteful pride,
In my sight through year unnumbered, thousands numberless have died.
No! — and by myself I swear it, I would have all warfare cease,
Friendly ties between the peoples, and an everlasting peace.
I am not the god of England, whom your valiant sires adored.
Not the god of England only, I am the eternal lord,
Who have set my law for ever, changeless not to bruise or bless:
Him I brand a puny babbler who conceives of me as less.
Silence then your empty vaunting, still your vain and idle boasts,
For there is no god of battles, nor am I the lord of hosts.
In the great stillness of all things.
The world asleep;
When amorous darkness wings
His way across the deep;
"When the sea rests from turmoil and reposes
Weary and whist;
When the wan starlight shimmers, nor discloses
Ah, then I whisper you, beloved,
My wayward dreams,
Dreams of that time removed
Far, so far, it seems,
When you shall leave your father's house and sever
And I shall read the final glad 'for ever'
In your eyes.
The warm air breathes of buried springs,
The snows have passed, the rains have gone;
The oriole in the orchard sings
Once more the lover's orison.
O to call back, the while his bright
Breast pants with heavenly melody,
The wonder of our first delight,
The terrors of that ecstasy.
Now when we pause beside the brook
Or loiter through the wooded ways,
'Tis like perusing some old book,
Some dead romance of other days.
And what was once a sweep of fire,
A lapse of breathless agony,
Is now a puff of vain desire,
The plaintive throb of memory.
Six o'clock of the evening
Chimes out brazen and slow;
The engines stop their humming,
We grab our caps and go.
After the heat of the furnace
And the burning heat of the day,
The clogged, hot air of August
Soothes like a gust of May.
Along the parched, hard pavement
Six weary blocks I drag,
While about me .the tireless children
Are playing their game of tag.
Then up the cluttered stairway
Three weary flights I crawl,
While the boisterous, naked children
Go romping through the hall.
As I pause by the open doorway,
I hear a baby cry,
And my young wife softly crooning
An old-time lullaby.
Tune and words a unit make,
The singer lends her art;
While I listen, I am drawn
Up to the singer's heart.
Here is then the miracle
That I have waited long:
Fragments of infinity-
Imprisoned in a song.
Through the long months when he lay slowly dying,
Waiting the word of death to set him free,
Ah, was he waiting too, his sick heart crying,
For words of healing sympathy from me?
Through the long months when he lay dumbly groping,
Fumbling with blind hands at life's farther gate;
Then, did his heart reach out, for ever hoping
That I would speak before it was too late?
I could not speak. It seemed that silence better
Narrowed the gulf long years had stretched between;
But oh, I too was longing to unfetter
The bonds of speech, and let my love be seen.
I think he understood; but if unforgiving
He died, and deemed me unforgiving too;
Ah God ! then I must speak with him, the living
Speak with the dead, though death be riven through.
A mass of impotent waters,
The smell of the salt, salt sea,
Teeming with births and slaughters
In the futile effort to be;
In the offing the sea-king's daughters,
Tall barks of mystery.
A myriad generations
Are born anew in me:
Still struggling to be free;
Restraint of ancient negations
Firm in old mastery.
Alas, though my heart speak plainly,
Imperious in its decree;
My poor feet wander inanely —
And waiting, waiting is she
Whom the gods made beautiful vainly,
Alone by the desolate sea.
TO LESLEY MASON.
The sun has passed below the further hill,
The birds are mute, the wanton breeze is still;
The clouds, red-lipped and passionate, enfold
A moon of pale green, verging into gold.
And ah, do you remember, do you too
Cherish the days when all the world was new
And life a marvel? Many a summer night,
Like this, we lay beneath the pale moon s light,
Unraveling the profounder mysteries,
Expounding truths from old philosophies.
Well, have you solved the riddles that so vexed
Our earlier youth, that left us still perplexed
When last we parted; or, unsolved, have they
Dimmed in the glow of manhood's busier day?
'Tis true the years have brought to you and me
A saner view; 'tis well that we are free
From idle speculation, numbing doubt,
And plaguing problems that will not work out.
And yet, there is a something lost, it seems;
I was the happier for those boyish dreams,
Those green and golden dreams, the false, the true.
Is it too late? I wish them back. And you?
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