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Full text of "The Poems Of Robert Frost"

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OSMAN1A UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 



OSMANIA UNIVERSITY LIBRARY 

Call No. -B.S^ F^cmsion No. G - V<f 
Author r. 



This book should be returned ,, or before the date 
last marked bclo\v. 



THE MODERN LIBRARY 
OF THE WORLD'S BEST BOOKS 



THE POEMS OF 
ROBERT FROST 



The publishers will be pleased to send, upon request, an 
illustrated folder setting forth the purpose and scope of 
THE MODERN LIBRARY, and listing each volume 
in the series. Every reader of books will find titles he 
has been looking for, handsomely printed, in definitive 
editions, and at an unusually low price. 



THE POEMS 
OF 

ROBERT 
FROST 

With an Introductory Essay 

"THE CONSTANT SYMBOL" 

by the Author 




THE MODERN LIBRARY- NEW YORK 



:OPYRIGHT, 1930, 1939, BY HENRY HOLT & CO., INC 
COP YRIG HT, 1936, 1942, BY ROBERT FROST 
COPYR IG HT, 1946, B Y RANDOM HOUSE, INC 




Random House is THE PUBLISHER OF 
THE MODERN LIBRARY 

BENNETT A. CERF DONALD S. KLOPFER ROBERT K. HAAS 

Manufactured m the United States of America 
By II. Wolff 



CONTENTS 

THE CONSTANT SYMBOL xv 

A BOY'S WILL 

The Pasture 3 

Into My Own 4 

Ghost House 5 

My November Guest 7 

Love and a Question 8 

Stars 1O 

Storm Fear 1 1 

To the Thawing Wind 12 

A Prayer in Spring 1 3 

Flower-Gathering 14 

Rose Pogonias 1 5 

Waiting ^6 

In Neglect 18 

The Vantage Point 19 

Mowing 2O 

Going for Water 2 1 

Revelation ?J 

The Tuft of Flower?, 24 

The Demiurge's Laugh 27 

A Line-Storm Song 28 

October 3O 

Reluctance 3* 



NORTH OF BOSTON 

iMendingWall 35 

[TheDcath of the Hired Man) ffi 

The Mountain 45 

A Hundred Collars 50 

Home Burial) /59 

The Black Cottage 64 

Blueberries 69 

A Servant to Servants 74 

After Apple-Picking 80 

The Code 82 

The Generations of Men 87 

The Housekeeper 97 

1rhe Fear 107 

The Wood-Pile 112 

Good Hours 114 

MOUNTAIN INTERVAL 

The Road Not Taken 1 1 7 

Christmas Trees 1 1 8 

An Old Man's Winter Night 1 2 1 

The Telephone 123 

Hyla Brook 124 

The Oven Bird 125 

Bond and Free 1 26 

Birches) (jg) 

Pea Brush 130 

vi 



Putting in the Seed 132 

A Time to Talk 133 

The Cow in Apple Time 1 34 

An Encounter 135 

Range-Finding 136 

The Hill Wife 137 

The Bonfire 141 

The Last Word of a Bluebird 1 46 

'Out, Out-' 147 

Brown's Descent 149 

The Gum-Gatherer 153 

The Line-Gang 155 

The Vanishing Red 1 56 

Snow 158 

The Sound of the Trees 175 

NEW HAMPSHIRE 

New Hampshire 179 

A Star in a Stone-Boat 194 

The Census-Taker 197 

The Star-Splitter 2OO 

The Axe-Helve 204 

The Grindstone 2O8 

Paul's Wife 211 

Wild Grapes ___ 217 
The WkchofCoo 



*Ah Empty Threat 228 

Fragmentary Blue 23 1 

vii 



Fire and Ice 232 

Dust of Snow 233 

To E.T. 234 

Nothing Gold Can Stay 235 

The Runaway 236 

The AinxWas Song 237 

^Stopping by Woods on a Snowy) 

^ Ev^emngJ ~" " ^3 

For Once, Then, Something 239 

Blue-Butterfly Day 240 

The Onset 241 

To Earthward 242 

Good-Bye and Keep Cold 244 

*Two Look at Two 246 

Not to Keep 248 

A Brook in the City 249 

The Kitchen Chimney 250 

Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter 25 1 

Gathering Leaves 252 

Misgiving 254 

Plowmen 255 

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road 256 

Our Singing Strength 257 
The Need of Being Versed in 

Country Things 259 



vin 



WEST-RUNNING BROOK 

Spring Pools 263 

The Freedom of the Moon 264 

Fireflies in the Garden 265 

Atmosphere 266 

Devotion 267 

On Going Unnoticed 268 

A Passing Glimpse 269 

A Peck of Gold 270 

Acceptance 271 

Once by the Pacific 272 

Lodged 273 

A Minor Bird 274 

Bereft 275 

Tree at My Window) /27 

^*-- , ... -*- - ^ 

The Peaceful Shepherd 277 

A Winter Eden 278 

The Flood 279 

Acquainted with the Night 280 

The Lovely Shall Be Choosers 28: 

West-Running Brook 284 

Sand Dunes 28 

Canis Major 289 

A Soldier 290 

Immigrants 291 

Hannibal 292 

The Flower Boat 293 



IX 



Fire and Ice 232 

Dust of Snow 233 

To E.T. 234 

Nothing Gold Can Stay 235 

The Runaway 236 

The Aim Was Song 237 
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy] 



For Once, Then, Something 239 

Blue-Butterfly Day 240 

The Onset 241 

To Earthward 242 

Good-Bye and Keep Cold 244 

Two Look at Two 246 

Not to Keep 248 

A Brook in the City 249 

The Kitchen Chimney 250 
Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter 25 1 

Gathering Leaves 252 

Misgiving 254 

Plowmen 255 

Dn a Tree Fallen Across the Road 256 

3ur Singing Strength 257 
The Need of Being Versed in 

Country Things 259 



V117 



WEST-RUNNING BROOK 

Spring Pools 263 

The Freedom of the Moon 264 

Fireflies in the Garden 265 

Atmosphere 266 

Devotion 267 

On Going Unnoticed 268 

A Passing Glimpse 269 

A Peck of Gold 270 

Acceptance 271 

Once by the Pacific 272 

Lodged 273 

A Minor Bird 274 

Bereft 275 

Tree at MyJWindowJ ^$76 

The Peaceful Shepherd 277 

A Winter Eden 278 

The Flood 279 

Acquainted with the Night 280 

The Lovely Shall Be Choosers 28: 

West- Running Brook 284 

Sand Dunes 288 

Canis Major 289 

A Soldier 290 

Immigrants 291 

Hannibal 292 

The Flower Boat 293 

ix 



The Times Table 294 

The Investment 295 

The Last Mowing 296 

The Birthplace 297 

Dust in the Eyes 298 
Sitting by a Bush in Broad Sunlight 299 

What Fifty Said 300 

Riders 301 
On Looking up by Chance at the 

Constellations 302 

The Bear 303 

The Egg and the Machine 305 

A FURTHER RANGE 

A Lone Striker 309 

Two Tramps in Mud Time 312 

The White-Tailed Hornet 3 1 5 

A Blue Ribbon at Amesbury 318 

A Drumlin Woodchuck 321 

The Gold Hesperidee 323 

In/Time of Cloudburst 326 

AR^^sidfi^Sland 328 

Departmental] (330 
On~the Heart's Beginning to Cloud 

the Mind 332 

The Figure in the Doorway 334 

At Woodward's Gardens 335 

A Record Stride 337 



Lost in Heaven 339 

Desert Places 340 

Leaves Compared with Flowers 341 

A Leaf Treader 342 
They Were Welcome to Their Belief 343 

The Strong Are Saying Nothing 344 

The Master Speed 345 

Moon Compasses 34^ 

Neither Out Far nor In Deep 347 

Voice Ways 348 

Design 349 

On a Bird Singing in Its Sleep 350 

Unharvested 351 

There Are Roughly Zones 352 

A Trial Run 353 

Not Quite Social 354 

Trovide Provide 355 

Ten Mills 356 

The Vindictives 359 

The Bearer of Evil Tidings 363 

Iris by Night 365 

Build SoilA Political Pastoral 367 

A Missive Missile 378 

A WITNESS TREE 

Beech 383 

Sycamore 383 

The Silken Tent 385 

xi 



All Revelation 386 

Happiness Makes up in Height for 

What It Lacks in Length 387 



TCould Give All to Time 389 

Carpe Diem 390 

The Wind and the Rain 391 

The Most of It 393 
Never Again Would Bird's Song Be 

the Same 394 

Wilful Homecoming 395 

A Cloud Shadow 396 

The Quest of the Purple-Fringed 397 

The Gift Outright 399 

Triple Bronze 400 

Our Hold on the Planet 401 

To a Young Wretch 402 

The Lesson for Today 403 

Time Out 409 

To a Moth Seen in Winter 410 

A Considerable Speck 411 

The Lost Follower 413 

November 415 

The Rabbit Hunter 416 

A Loose Mountain 417 
It Is Almost the Year Two Thousand 418 
On Our Sympathy with the Under 

Dog 419 

xii 



A Question 420 

Boeotian 42 1 

The Secret Sits 422 

A Semi-Revolution 423 

Assurance 424 

An Answer 425 

Trespass 426 

A Nature Note 42? 

Of the Stones of the Place 428 

A Serious Step Lightly Taken 429 
The Literate Farmer and the Planet 

Venus 431 



Xlll 



THE 

CONSTANT 
SYMBOL 



There seems to be some such folk saying as that 
easy to understand is contemptible, hard to under- 
stand irritating. The implication is that just easy 
enough, just hard enough, right in the middle, is 
what literary criticism ought to foster. A glance 
backward over the past convinces me otherwise. 
The Iliad, Odyssey, and Aeneid are easy. The Pur- 
gatorio is said to be hard. The Song of Songs is 
hard. There have been works lately to surpass all 
records for hardness. Some knotted riddles tell that 
may be worth our trouble. But hard or easy seems 
to me of slight use as a test either way. 

Texture is surely something. A good piece of 
weaving takes rank with a picture as decoration for 
the wall of a studio, though it must be admitted to 
verge on the arty. There is a time of apprenticeship 
to texture when it shouldn't matter if the stuff is 
never made up into anything. There may be scraps 
of repeated form all over it. But form as a whole! 
Don't be shocking! ,Thc title of his first book was. 



XV 



artist has to grow up and coarsen a 
nttle before he looks on texture as not an end in 
itself. 

There are many other things I have found my- 
self saying about poetry, but the chiefest of these 
isjliat it is metaphor, saying one thing and meaning, 
another, saying one thing in terms of another,_t]>e 
pleasure of ulteriority. Poetry is simply made of 
metaphor. So also is philosophy and science, too ; 
for that matter, if it will take the soft impeachment 
from a friend. Every poem is a new metaphor in- 
side or it is nothing. And there is a sense in which 
all poems are the same old metaphor always. 

Every single poem written regular is a symbol 
small or great of the way the will has to pitch into 
commitments deeper and deeper to a rounded con- 
clusion and then be judged for whether any original 
intention it had has been strongly spent or weakly 
lost; be it in art, politics, school, church, business, 
love, or marriage in a piece of work or in a career. 
Strongly spent is synonymous with kept. 

We may speak after sentence, resenting judg- 
ment. How can the world know anything so inti- 
mate as what we were intending to do? The answer 
is the world presumes to know. The ruling passion 
'n man is not as Viennese as is claimed. It is rather 
a gregarious instinct to keep together by minding 



xv 



each other's business. Grex rather than sex. We 
must be preserved from becoming egregious. The 
beauty of socialism is that it will end the individual- 
ity that is always crying out mind your own busi- 
ness. Terence's answer would be all human busi- 
ness is my business. No more invisible means of 
support, no more invisible motives, no more invis- 
ible anything. The ultimate commitment is giving 
in to it that an outsider may see what we were up 
to sooner and better than we ourselves. The bard 
has said in effect, Unto these forms did I commend 
the spirit. It may take him a year after the act t^ 
confess he only betrayed the spirit with a rhynv 
ster's cleverness and to forgive his enemies the crit- 
ics for not having listened to his oaths and protesta- 
tions to the contrary. Had he anything to be true 
to? Was he true to it? Did he use good words? You 
couldn't tell unless you made out what idea they 
were supposed to be good for. Every poem is an 
epitome of the great predicament; a figure of the 
will braving alien entanglements. 

Take the President in the White House. A study 
of the success of his intention might have to go clear 
back to when as a young politician, youthfully step- 
careless, he made the choice between the two par- 
ties of our system. He may have stood for a moment 
wishing he knew of a third party nearer the ideal; 

xvii 



but only for a moment, since he was practical. And 
in fact he may have been so little impressed with the 
importance of his choice that he left his first com- 
mitment to be made for him by his friends and rela- 
tives. It was only a small commitment anyway, like 
a kiss. He can scarcely remember how much credit 
be deserved personally for the decision it took. Cal- 
culation is usually no part in the first step in any 
walk. And behold him now a statesman so multi- 
fariously closed in on with obligations and answer- 
abilities that sometimes he loses his august temper. 
He might as well have got himself into a sestina 
royal. 

Or he may be a religious nature who lightly gets 
committed to a nameable church through an older 
friend in plays and games at the Y.M.C.A. The next 
he knows he is in a theological school and next in 
the pulpit of a Sunday wrestling with the angel for 
a blessing on his self-defensive interpretation of the 
Creed. What of his original intention now? At least 
he has had the advantage of having it more in his 
heart than in his head; so that he should have made 
shift to assert it without being chargeable with com- 
promise. He could go a long way before he had to 
declare anything he could be held to. He began 
with freedom to squander. He has to acknowledge 
himself in a tighter and tighter place. But his cour- 

xviii 



age asked for it. It would have been the same if he 
had gone to the North Pole or climbed Everest. All 
that concerns us is whether his story was one of 
conformance or performance. 

There's an indulgent smile I get for the reckless- 
ness of the unnecessary commitment I made when 
I came to the first line in the second stanza of a poem 
in this book called "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy 
Evening." I was riding too high to care what trouble 
I incurred. And it was all right so long as I didn't 
suffer deflection. 

The poet goes in like a rope skipper to make the 
most of his opportunities. If he trips himself he 
stops the rope. He is of our stock and has been 
brought up by ear to choice of two metres, strict 
iambic and loose iambic (not to count varieties of 
the latter). He may have any length of line up to six 
feet. He may use an assortment of line lengths for 
any shape of stanza like Herrick in "To Daffodils. " 
Not that he is running wild. His intention is of 
course a particular mood that won't be satisfied 
with anything less than its own fulfillment. But it 
is not yet a thought concerned with what becomes 
it. One thing to know it by: it shrinks shyly from 
anticipatory expression. Tell love beforehand and, 
as Blake says, it loses flow without filling the mould; 
the cast will be a reject. The freshness of a poem 

xix 



belongs absolutely to its not having been thought 
out and then set to verse as the verse in turn might 
be set to music. A poem is the emotion of having a 
thought while the reader waits a little anxiously for 
the success of dawn. The only discipline to begin 
with is the inner mood that at worst may give the 
poet a false start or two like the almost microscopic 
filament of cotton that goes before the blunt thread- 
end and must be picked up first by the eye of the 
needle. He must be entranced to the exact pre- 
monition. No mystery is meant. When familiar 
friends approach each other in the street both are 
apt to have this experience in feeling before know- 
ing the pleasantry they will inflict on each other in 
passing. 

Probably there is something between the mood 
and the vocal imagination (images of the voice 
speaking) that determines a man's first commitment 
to metre and length of line. 

Suppose him to have written down " When in dis- 
grace with Fortune and men's eyes/' He has uttered 
about as much as he has to live up to in the theme 
as in the form. Odd how the two advance into the 
open pari passu. He has given out that he will de- 
scend into Hades, but he has confided in no one 
how far before he will turn back, or whether he will 
turn back at all, and by what jutting points of rock 



xx 



he will pick his way. He may proceed as in blank 
verse. Two lines more, however, and he has let him- 
self in for rhyme, three more and he has set himself 
a stanza. Up to this point his discipline has been the 
self-discipline whereof it is written in so great 
praise. The harsher discipline from without is now 
well begun. He who knows not both knows neither. 
His worldly commitments are now three or four 
deep. Between us, he was no doubt bent on the son- 
net in the first place from habit, and what's the use 
in pretending he was a freer agent than he had any 
ambition to be? He had made most of his commit- 
ments all in one plunge. The only suspense he asks 
us to share with him is in the theme. He goes down, 
for instance, to a depth that must surprise him as 
much as it does us. But he doesn't even have the say 
of how long his piece will be. Any worry is as to 
whether he will outlast or last out the fourteen 
lines have to cramp or stretch to come out even 
have enough bread for the butter or butter for the 
bread. As a matter of fact, he gets through in twelve 
lines and doesn't know quite what to do with the 
last two. 

Things like that and worse are the reason the 
sonnet is so suspect a form and has driven so many 
to free verse and even to the novel. Many a quatrain 
is salvaged from a sonnet that went agley. Dobson 



xxi 



confesses frankly to having changed from one form 
to another after starting: "I intended an Ode and 
it turned to a Sonnet/' But he reverses the usual 
order of being driven from the harder down to the 
easier. And he has a better excuse for weakness of 
will than most, namely, Rose. 

Jeremiah, it seems, has had his sincerity ques- 
tioned because the anguish of his lamentations was 
tamable to the form of twenty-two stanzas for the 
twenty-two letters of the alphabet. The Hebrew 
alphabet has been kept to the twenty-two letters it 
came out of Egypt with, so the number twenty-two 
means as much form as ever. 

But there they go again with the old doubt about 
law and order. (The communist looks forward to a 
day of order without law, bless his merciful heart.) 
To the right person it must seem naive to distrust 
form as such. The very words of the dictionary are 
a restriction to make the best of or stay out of and 
be silent. Coining new words isn't encouraged. We 
play the words as we find them. We make them do. 
Form in language is such a disjected lot of old 
broken pieces it seems almost as non-existent as the 
spirit till the two embrace in the sky. They are not 
to be thought of as encountering in rivalry but in 
creation. No judgment on either alone counts. We 
see what Whitman's extravagance may have meant 
ivhen he said the body was the soul. 

xxii 



Here is where it all comes out. The mind is a 
baby giant who, more provident in the cradle than 
he knows, has hurled his paths in life all round 
ahead of him like playthings given data so-called. 
They are vocabulary, grammar, prosody, and diary, 
and it will go hard if he can't find stepping stones of 
them for his feet wherever he wants to go. The way 
will be zigzag, but it will be a straight crookedness 
like the walking stick he cuts himself in the bushes 
for an emblem. He will be judged as he does or 
doesn't let this zig or that zag project him off out 
of his general direction. 

Teacher or student or investigator whose chance 
on these defenseless lines may seize, your pardon if 
for once I point you out what ordinarily you would 
point me out. To some it will seem strange that I 
have written my verse regular all (his time without 
knowing till yesterday that it was from fascination 
with this constant symbol I celebrate. To the right 
person it will seem lucky; since in finding out too 
much too soon there is danger of arrest. Does any- 
one believe I would have committed myself to the 
treason-reason-season rhyme-set in my "Reluc- 
tance" if I had been blase enough to know that 
these three words about exhausted the possibilities? 
No rhyming dictionary for me to make me face the 
facts of rhyme. I may say the strain of rhyming is 
less since I came to see words as phrase-ends to 



xxm 



countless phrases just as the syllables ly, ing, and 
ation are word-ends to countless words. Leave 
something to learn later. We'd have lost most of 
our innocence by forty anyway even if we never 
went to school a day. 

TO THE RIGHT PERSON 
Fourteen Lines 

In the one state of ours that is a shire 
There is a District Schoolhouse I admire 
As much for anything for situation. 
There are few institutions standing higher 
This side the Rockies in my estimation 
Two thousand feet above the ocean level. 
It has two entries for co-education. 
But there's a tight-shut look to either door 
And to the windows of its fenestration 
As if to say mere knowledge was the devil, 
And this school wasn't keeping any more, 
Unless for penitents who took their seat 
Upon its doorsteps as at Mercy's feet 
To make up for a lack of meditation. 

ROBERT FROST 
July, 1946 



XXIV 



A Boy's 



INTO MY OWN 

One of my wishes is that those dark trees, 
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, 
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom, 
But stretched away unto the edge of doom. 

I should not be withheld but that some day 
Into their vastness I should steal away, 
Fearless of ever finding open land, 
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand. 

I do not see why I should e'er turn back, 
Or those should not set forth upon my track 
To overtake me, who should miss me hdre 
And long to know if still I held them dg&r. 

They would not find me changed from him they 

knew 
Only more sure of all I thought was true. 



GHOST HOUSE 

I dwell in a lonely house I know 

That vanished many a summer ago, 
And left no trace but the cellar walls, 
And a cellar in which the daylight falls, 

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow. 

O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield 
The woods come back to the mowing field; 
The orchard tree has grown one copse 
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops; 
The footpath down to the well is healed. 

I dwell with a strangely aching heart 

In that vanished abode there far apart 
On that disused and forgotten road 
That has no dust-bath now for the toad. 

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart; 

The whippoorwill is coming to shout 
And hush and cluck and flutter about: 

I hear him begin far enough away 

Full many a time to say his say 
Before he arrives to say it out. 



THE PASTURE 

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring; 
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away 
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may): 
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too. 

I'm going out to fetch the little calf 
That's standing by the mother. It's so young. 
It totters when she licks it with her tongue. 
I sha'n't be gone long. You come too. 



INTO MY OWN 

One of my wishes is that those dark trees, 
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, 
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom, 
But stretched away unto the edge of doom. 

I should not be withheld but that some day 
Into their vastness I should steal away, 
Fearless of ever finding open land, 
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand. 

I do not see why I should e'er turn back, 
Or those should not set forth upon my track 
To overtake me, who should miss me hdre 
And long to know if still I held them dg&r. 

They would not find me changed from him they 

knew 
Only more sure of all I thought was true. 



GHOST HOUSE 

I dwell in a lonely house I know 

That vanished many a summer ago, 
And left no trace but the cellar walls, 
And a cellar in which the daylight falls, 

And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow. 

O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield 
The woods come back to the mowing field; 
The orchard tree has grown one copse 
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops; 
The footpath down to the well is healed. 

I dwell with a strangely aching heart 

In that vanished abode there far apart 
On that disused and forgotten road 
That has no dust-bath now for the toad. 

Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart; 

The whippoorwill is coming to shout 
And hush and cluck and flutter about: 

I hear him begin far enough away 

Full many a time to say his say 
Before he arrives to say it out. 



It is under the small, dim, summer star. 

\ know not who these mute folk are 
Who share the unlit place with me 
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree 

Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar. 

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad, 
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad, 
With none among them that ever sings, 
And yet, in view of how many things, 
rVs sweet companions as might be had. 



MY NOVEMBER GUEST 

JVly Sorrow, when she's here with me, 
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain 

Are beautiful as days can be; 

She loves the bare, the withered tree; 
She walks the sodden pasture lane. 

Her pleasure will not let me stay. 

She talks and I am fain to list: 
She's glad the birds are gone away, 
She's glad her simple worsted grey 

Is silver now with clinging mist. 

The desolate, deserted trees, 

The faded earth, the heavy sky, 
The beauties she so truly sees, 
She thinks I have no eye for these, 
And vexes me for reason why. 

Not yesterday I learned to know 
The love of bare November days 

Before the coming of the snow, 

But it were vain to tell her so, 

And they are better for her praise. 



TO THE THAWING WIND 

C^ome with rain, O loud Southwester! 

Bring the singer, bring the nester; 

Give the buried flower a dream; 

Make the settled snow-bank stream; 

Find the brown beneath the white; 

But whate'er you do to-night, 

Bathe my window, make it flow > 

Melt it as the ice will go; 

Melt the glass and leave the sticks 

Like a hermit's crucifix; 

Burst into my narrow stall; 

Swing the picture on the wall; 

Run the rattling pages o'er; 

Scatter poems on the floor; 

Turn the poet out of door. 



12 



A PRAYER IN SPRING 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white, 
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard, 
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will, 
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 



13 



LOVE AND A QUESTION 

A Stranger came to the door at eve, 

And he spoke the bridegroom fair. 
He bore a green- white stick in his hand, 

And, for all burden, care. 
He asked with the eyes more than the lips 

For a shelter for the night, 
And he turned and looked at the road afar 

Without a window light. 

The bridegroom came forth into the porch 

With 'Let us look at the sky, 
And question what of the night to be, 

Stranger, you and I.' 
The woodbine leaves littered the yard, 

The woodbine berries were blue, 
Autumn, yes, winter 'was in the wind; 

* Stranger, I wish I knew.' 

Within, the bride in the dusk alone 

Bent over the open fire, 
Her face rose-red with the glowing coal 

And the thought of the heart's desire. 
The bridegroom, looked at the weary road, 

Yet saw but her within, 
And wished her heart in a case of gold 

And pinned with a silver pin. 



The bridegroom thought it little to give 

A dole of bread, a purse, 
A heartfelt prayer for the poor of God, 

Or for the rich a curse; 
But whether or not a man was asked 

To mar the love of two 
By harboring woe in the bridal house, 

The bridegroom wished he knew. 



STARS 

How countlessly they congregate 
O'er our tumultuous snow. 

Which flows in shapes as tall as trees 
"When wintry winds do blow! - 

As if with keenness for our fate, 
Our faltering few steps on 

To white rest, and a place of rest 
Invisible at dawn, 

And yet with neither love nor hate, 
Those stars like some snow-white 

Minerva's snow-white marble eyes 
Without the gift of sight. 



1C 



STORM FEAR 

\Vhen the wind works against us in the dark, 
And pelts with snow 
The lower chamber window on the east, 
And whispers with a sort of stifled bark, 
The beast, 

'Come out! Come outf- 
it costs no inward struggle not to go, 
Ah, no! 

I count our strength, 
Two and a child, 

Those of us not asleep subdued to mark 
How the cold creeps as the fire dies at length,- 
How drifts are piled, 
Dooryard and road ungraded, 
Till even the comforting barn grows far away, 
And my heart owns a doubt 
Whether 'tis in us to arise with day 
And save ourselves unaided. 



11 



TO THE THAWING WIND 



with rain, O loud South wester! 
Bring the singer, bring the nester; 
Give the buried flower a dream; 
Make the settled snow-bank stream; 
Find the brown beneath the white; 
But whatever you do to-night, 
Bathe my window, make it flow > 
Melt it as the ice will go; 
Melt the glass and leave the sticks 
Like a hermit's crucifix; 
Burst into my narrow stall; 
Swing the picture on the wall; 
Run the rattling pages o'er; 
Scatter poems on the floor; 
Turn the poet out of door. 



12 



A PRAYER IN SPRING 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white, 
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard, 
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will, 
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 



13 



FLOWER-GATHERING 

1 left you in the morning, 

And in the morning glow, 

You walked a way beside me 

To make me sad to go. 

Do you know me in the gloaming, 

Gaunt and dusty grey with roaming? 

Are you dumb because you know me not, 

Or dumb because you know? 

All for me? And not a question 

For the faded flowers gay 

That could take me from beside you 

For the ages of a day? 

They are yours, and be the measure 

Of their worth for you to treasure, 

The measure of the little while 

That I've been long away. 



ROSE POGONIAS 

A saturated meadow, 

Sun-shaped and jewel-small, 
A circle scarcely wider 

Than the trees around were tall; 
Where winds were quite excluded, 

And the air was stifling sweet 
With the breath of many flowers, 

A temple of the heat. 

There we bowed us in the burning, 

As the sun's right worship is, 
To pick where none could miss them 

A thousand orchises; 
For though the grass was scattered, 

Yet every second spear 
Seemed tipped with wings of color, 

That tinged the atmosphere. 

We raised a simple prayer 

Before we left the spot, 
That in the general mowing 

That place might be forgot; 
Or if not all so favoured, 

Obtain such grace of hours, 
That none should mow the grass there 

While so confused with flowers. 



15 



WAITING 
AFIELD AT DUSK 

What things for dream there are when spectre-like, 

Moving among tall haycocks lightly piled, 

I enter alone upon the stubble field, 

From which the laborers' voices late have died, 

And in the antiphony of afterglow 

And rising full moon, sit me down 

Upon the full moon's side of the first haycock 

And lose myself amid so many alike. 

I dream upon the opposing lights of the hour, 
Preventing shadow until the moon prevail; 
I dream upon the night-hawks peopling heaven, 
Each circling each with vague unearthly cry, 
Or plunging headlong with fierce twang afar; 
And on the bat's mute antics, who would seem 
Dimly to have made out my secret place, 
Only to lose it when he pirouettes, 
And seek it endlessly with purblind haste; 
On the last swallow's sweep; and on the rasp 
In the abyss of odor and rustle at my back, 
That, silenced by my advent, finds once more, 
After an interval, his instrument, 
And tries once twice and thrice if I be there; 
And on the worn book of old-golden song 
I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold 

16 



And freshen in this air of withering sweetness; 

But on the memory of one absent most, 

For whom these lines when they shall greet her eye. 



17 



IN NEGLECT 



1 hey leave us so to the -way we took, 

As two in whom they were proved mistaken. 
That we sit sometimes in the wayside nook, 
With mischievous > vagrant, seraphic look, 
And try if we cannot feel forsaken. 



18 



THE VANTAGE POINT 

If tired of trees I seek again mankind, 

Well I know where to hie me in the dawn, 
To a slope where the cattle keep the lawn. 

There amid lolling juniper reclined, 

Myself unseen, I see in white defined fc 

Far off the homes of men, and farther still, 
The graves of men on an opposing hill, 

Living or dead, whichever are to mind. 

And if by noon I have too much of these, 
I have but to turn on my arm, and lo, 
The sun-burned hillside sets my face aglow, 

My breathing shakes the bluet like a breeze, 
I smell the earth, I smell the bruised plant, 
I look into the crater of the ant. 



19 



MOWING 

1 here was never a sound beside the wood but one, 
And that was my long scythe whispering to the 

ground. 

What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself; 
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun, 
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound 
And that was why it whispered and did not speak. 
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours, 
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf: 
Anything more than the truth would have seemed 

too weak 

To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows, 
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers 
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake. 
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows. 
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make. 



20 



GOING FOR WATER 

1 he well was dry beside the door, 
And so we went with pail and can 

Across the fields behind the house 
To seek the brook if still it ran; 

Not loth to have excuse to go, 
Because the autumn eve was fair 

(Though chill), because the fields were ours, 
And by the brook our woods were there. 

We ran as if to meet the moon 

That slowly dawned behind the trees, 

The barren boughs without the leaves, 
Without the birds, without the breeze. 

But once within the wood, we paused 
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon, 

Ready to run to hiding new 

With laughter when she found us soon. 

Each laid on other a staying hand 

To listen ere we dared to look, 
And in the hush we joined to make 

We heard, we knew we heard the brook. 



21 



A note as from a single place, 
A slender tinkling fall that made 

Now drops that floated on the pool 
Like pearls, and now a silver blade. 



22 



REVELATION 

\Ve make ourselves a place apart 

Behind light words that tease and flout, 

But oh, the agitated heart 

Till someone find us really out. 

'Tis pity if the case require 
(Or so we say) that in the end 

We speak the literal to inspire 
The understanding of a friend. 

But so with all, from babes that play 
At hide-and-seek to God afar, 

So all who hide too well away 

Must speak and tell us where they are. 



THE TUFT OF FLOWERS 

1 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 levelled scene. 

f 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, 

'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 o'er night 
Some resting flower of yesterday's deKght. 

And once I marked his flight go round and round, 
As where some flower lay withering on the ground, 
i 

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 brook, 

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 I 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. 

v Men work together/ I told him from the heart, 
'Whether they work together or apart.' 



.26 



THE DEMIURGE'S LAUGH 

It was far in the sameness of the wood; 

I was running with joy on the Demon's trail, 
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god. 

It was just as the light was beginning to fail 
That I suddenly heard all I needed to hear: 
It has lasted me many and many a year. 

The sound was behind me instead of before, 
A sleepy sound, but mocking half, 

As of one who utterly couldn't care. 

The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh, 

Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went; 

And well I knew what the Demon meant. 

I shall not forget how his laugh rang out. 

I felt as a fool to have been so caught, 
And checked my steps to make pretence 

It was something among the leaves I sought 
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see). 
Thereafter I sat me against a tree. 



A LINE-STORM SONG 

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swiftj 

The road is forlorn all day, 
\Vhere a myriad snowy quartz stones lift, 

And the hoof-prints vanish away. 
The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee, 

Expend their bloom in vain. 
Come over the hills and far with me, 

And be my love in the rain. 

The birds have less to say for themselves 

In the wood- world's torn despair 
Than now these numberless years the elves A 

Although they are no less there: 
All song of the woods is crushed like some 

Wild, easily shattered rose. 
Come, be my love in the wet woods, come, 

Where the boughs rain when it blows. 

There is the gale to urge behind 

And bruit our singing down, 
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind 

From which to gather your gown. 
What matter if we go clear to the west, 

And come not through dry-shod? 
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast 

The rain-fresh goldenrod. 



28 



Oh, never this whelming east wind swells 

But it seems like the sea's return 
To the ancient lands where it left the shells 

Before the age of the fern; 
And it seems like the time when after doubt 

Our love came back amain. 
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout 

And be my love in the rain. 



OCTOBER 

O hushed October morning mild, 
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; 
To-morrow's wind, if it be wild, 
Should waste them all. 
The crows above the forest call; 
To-morrow they may form and go. 
O hushed October morning mild, 
Begin the hours of this day slow. 
Make the day seem to us less brief. 
Hearts not averse to being beguiled, 
Beguile us in the way you know. 
Release one leaf at break of day; 
At noon release another leaf; 
One from our trees, one far away. 
Retard the sun with gentle mist; 
Enchant the land with amethyst. 
Slow, slow! 

For the grapes' sake, if they were all, 
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, 
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost 
For the grapes' sake along the wall. 



RELUCTANCE 

vJut 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 are 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, 
\Vhen 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? 



North of Boston 



MENDING WALL 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 

And spills the upper boulders in the sun; 

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 

The work of 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 neighbour 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 boulders *hat 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 \ y 

We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 

Oh, just another kind of out-door 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 neighbours/ 

35 



Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder 

If I could put a notion in his head: 

'Why do they make good neighbours? 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 offence. 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 

That wants it down/ I could say ( EIves' 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 father's saying, 

And he likes having thought of it so well 

He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbours. 



THE MOUNTAIN 

1 he mountain held the town as in a shadow. 
I saw so much before I slept there once: 
I noticed that I missed stars in the west, 
Where its black body cut into the sky. 
Near me it seemed: I felt it like a wall 
Behind which I was sheltered from a wind. 
And yet between the town and it I found, 
When I walked forth at dawn to see new things, 
Were fields, a river, and beyond, more fields. 
The river at the time was fallen away, 
And made a widespread brawl 011 cobble-stones; 
But the signs showed what it had done in spring: 
Good grass-land gullied out, and in the grass 
Ridges of sand, and driftwood stripped of bark. 
I crossed the river and swung round the mountain. 
And there I met a man who moved so slow 
With white-faced oxen in a heavy cart, 
It seemed no harm to stop him altogether. 

'What town is this?' I asked. 

'This? Lunenburg.' 

Then I was wrong: the town of my sojourn, 
Beyond the bridge, was not that of the mountain, 
But only felt at night its shadowy presence. 
* Where is your village? Very far from here?* 

45 



There is no village only scattered farms. 
We were but sixty voters last election. 
We can't in nature grow to many more: 
That thing takes all the room!' He moved his goad. 
The mountain stood there to be pointed at. 
asture ran up the side a little way, 
\nd then there was a wall of trees with trunks; 
After that only tops of trees, and cliffs 
Imperfectly concealed among the leaves. 
A dry ravine emerged from under boughs 
Into the pasture. 

'That looks like a path. 
Is that the way to reach the top from here? 
Not for this morning, but some other time: 
I must be getting back to breakfast now/ 

'I don't advise your trying from this side. 
There is no proper path, but those that have 
Been up, I understand, have climbed from Ladd's. 
That's five miles back. You can't mistake the place: 
They logged it there last winter some way up. 
Td take you, but Fm bound the other way.' 

You've never climbed it?' 

I've been on the sides, 

Deer-hunting and trout-fishing. There's a brook 
That starts up on it somewhere I've heard say 
Right on the top, tip-top a curious thing. 

46 



But what would interest you about the brook, 

It's always cold in summer, warm in winter. 

One of the great sights going is to see 

It steam in winter like an ox's breath, 

Until the bushes all along its banks 

Are inch-deep with the frosty spines and bristles 

You know the kind. Then let the sun shine on it!' 

'There ought to be a view around the world 
From such a mountain if it isn't wooded 
Clear to the top.' I saw through leafy screens 
Great granite terraces in sun and shadow, 
Shelves one could rest a knee on getting up 
With depths behind him sheer a hundred feet. 
Or turn and sit on and look out and down, 
With little ferns in crevices at his elbow. 

* As to that I can't say. But there's the spring, 
Right on the summit, almost like a fountain. 
That ought to be worth seeing/ 

If it's there. 
You never saw it? 1 

'I guess there's no doubt 
About its being there. I never saw it. 
It may not be right on the very top: 
It wouldn't have to be a long way down 
To have some head of water from above, 
And a good distance down might not be noticed 

47 



By anyone who'd come a long way up. 
One time I asked a fellow climbing it 
To look and tell me later how it was.' 

' What did he say?' 

'He said there was a lake 
Somewhere in Ireland on a mountain top.' 

'But a lake's different. What about the spring?' 

'He never got up high enough to see. 
That's why I don't advise your trying this side. 
He tried this side. I've always meant to go 
And look myself, but you know how it is: 
It doesn't seem so much to climb a mountain 
You've worked around the foot of all your life. 
What would I do? Go in my overalls, 
With a big stick, the same as when the cows 
Haven't come down to the bars at milking lime? 
Or with a shotgun for a stray black bear? 
'Twouldn't seem real to climb for climbing it ' 

f l shouldn't climb it if I didn't want to 

Not for the sake of climbing. What's its name^' 

'We call it Hor: I don't know if that's right/ 
Can one walk around it? Would it be too far?' 



( You can drive round and keep in Lunenburg, 
But it's as much as ever you can do, 
The boundary lines keep in so close to it. 
Hor is the township, and the township's Hor 
And a few houses sprinkled round the foot, 
Like boulders broken off the upper cliff, 
Rolled out a little farther than the rest/ 

' Warm in December, cold in June, you say?' 

'I don't suppose the water's changed at all. 
You and I know enough to know it's warm 
Compared with cold, and cold compared with warm 
But all the fun's in how you say a thing.' 

1 You've lived here all your life?' 

'Ever since Hor 

Was no bigger than a' What, I did not hear. 
He drew the oxen toward him with light touches 
Of his slim goad on nose and offside flank, 
Gave them their marching orders and was moving, 



A HUNDRED COLLARS 

Lancaster bore him such a little town, 

Such a great man. It doesn't see him often 

Of late years, though he keeps the old homestead 

And sends the children down there with their mother 

To run wild in the summer a little wild. 

Sometimes he joins them for a day or two 

And sees old friends he somehow can't get near. 

They meet him in the general store at night, 

Pre-occupied with formidable mail, 

Rifling a printed letter as he talks. 

They seem afraid. He wouldn't have it so: 

Though a great scholar, he's a democrat, 

If not at heart, at least on principle. 

Lately when coming up to Lancaster, 

His train being late, he missed another train 

And had four hours to wait at Woodsville Junction 

After eleven o'clock at night. Too tired 

To think of sitting such an ordeal out, 

He turned to the hotel to find a bed. 

'No room/ the night clerk said. 'Unless' 

Woodsville's a place of shrieks and wandering lamps 
And cars that shock and rattle and one hotel. 

'You say "unless."' 
50 



'Unless you wouldn't mind 
Sharing a room with someone else.' 

'Who is it?' 



man. 



'So I should hope. What kind of man?' 

'I know him: he's all right. A man's a man. 
Separate beds, of course, you understand.' 
The night clerk blinked his eyes and dared him on. 

Who's that man sleeping in the office chair? 
Has he had the refusal of my chance?' 

'He was afraid of being robbed or murdered. 
What do you say?' 

Til have to have a bed.' 

The night clerk led him up three flights of stairs 
And down a narrow passage full of doors, 
At the last one of which he knocked and entered. 
'Lafe, here's a fellow wants to share your room.' 

'Show him this way. I'm not afraid of him. 
I'm not so drunk I can't take care of myself.' 



The night clerk clapped a bedstead on the foot. 
'This will be yours. Good-night,' he said, and went 

'Lafe was the name, I think?' 

'Yes, Layfayette. 
You got it the first time. And yours?' 

'Magoon,. 
Doctor Magoon.' 

'A Doctor?' 

'Well, a teacher/'' 

'Professor Square-the-circle-till-you're-tired? 
Hold on, there's something I don't think of now 
That I had on my mind to ask the first 
Man that knew anything I happened in with. 
I'll ask you later don't let me forget it.' 

The Doctor looked at Lafe and looked away. 

A man? A brute. Naked above the waist, 

He sat there creased and shining in the light, 

Fumbling the buttons in a well-starched shirt: 

'I'm moving into a size-larger shirt. 

I've felt mean lately; mean's no name for it. 

I just found what the matter was to-night: 

I've been a-choking like a nursery tree 

When it outgrows the wire band of its name tag. 

52 



I blamed it on the hot spell we've been having. 
'Twas nothing but my foolish hanging back, 
Not liking to own up I'd grown a size. 
Number eighteen this is. What size do you wear?' 

The Doctor caught his throat convulsively. 
v Oh ah fourteen fourteen. ' 

'Fourteen! You say so! 
I can remember when I wore fourteen. 
And come to think I must have back at home 
More than a hundred collars, size fourteen. 
Too bad to waste them all. You ought to have 

them. 
They're yours and welcome; let me send them to 

you. 

What makes you stand there on one leg like that? 
You're not much furtherer than where Kike left you. 
You act as if you wished you hadn't come. 
Sit down or lie down, friend; you make me nervous/ 

The Doctor made a subdued dash for it, 
And propped himself at bay against a pillow. 

'Not that way, with your shoes on Kike's white bed 
You can't rest that way. Let me pull your shoes off.' 

'Don't touch me, please I say, don't touch me, 

please. 
I'll not be put to bed by you, my man.' 

53 



'Just as you say. Have it your own way then. 
"My man" is it? You talk like a professor. 
Speaking of who's afraid of who, however, 
I'm thinking I have more to lose than you 
If anything should happen to be wrong. 
Who wants to cut your number fourteen throat I 
Let's have a show down as an evidence 
Of good faith. There is ninety dollars. 
Come, if you're not afraid/ 

f Tm not afraid. 
There's five: that's all I carry.' 

1 can search you? 

Where are you moving over to? Stay still. 
You'd better tuck your money under you 
And sleep on it the way I always do 
When I'm with people I don't trust at night.' 

'Will you believe me if I put it there 

Right on the counterpanethat I do trust you?' 

'You'd say so, Mister Man. I'm a collector. 
My ninety isn't mine you won't think that. 
I pick it up a dollar at a time 
All round the country for the Weekly News, 
Published in Bow. You know the Weekly News?' 

'Known it since I was young.' 
54 



'Then you know me. 
Now we are getting on together talking. 
I'm sort of Something for it at the front. 
My business is to find what people want: 
They pay for it, and so they ought to have it. 
Fairbanks, he says to mehe's editor 
"Feel out the public sentiment" he says. 
A good deal comes on me when all is said. 
The only trouble is we disagree 
In politics: I'm Vermont Democrat 
You know what that is, sort of double-dyed; 
The News has always been Republican. 
Fairbanks, he says to me, "Help us this year," 
Meaning by us their ticket. "No," I says, 
"I can't and won't. You've been in long enough: 
It's time you turned around and boosted us. 
You'll have to pay me more than ten a week 
If Fm expected to elect Bill Taft. 
I doubt if I could do it anyway." ' 

1 You seem to shape the paper's policy/ 

* You see I'm in with everybody, know 'em all. 
I almost know their farms as well as they do/ 

' You drive around? It must be pleasant work/ 

It's business, but I can't say it's not fun. 
What I like best's the lay of different farms, 

55 



Coming out on them from a stretch of woods, 

Or over a hill or round a sudden corner. 

I like to find folks getting out in spring, 

Raking the dooryard, working near the house. 

Later they get out further in the fields. 

Everything's shut sometimes except the barn; 

The family's all away in some back meadow. 

There's a hay load a-coming when it comes. 

And later still they all get driven in: 

The fields are stripped to lawn, the garden patches 

Stripped to bare ground, the maple trees 

To whips and poles. There's nobody about. 

The chimney, though, keeps up a good brisk smoking. 

And I lie back and ride. I take the reins 

Only when someone's coming, and the mare 

Stops when she likes: I tell her when to go. 

I've spoiled Jemima in more ways than one. 

She's got so she turns in at every house 

As if she had some sort of curvature, 

No matter if I have no errand there. 

She thinks I'm sociable. I maybe am. 

It's seldom I get down except for meals, though. 

Folks entertain me from the kitchen doorstep, 

All in a family row down to the youngest.' 

'One would suppose they might not be as glad 
To see you as you are to see them/ 

'Oh, 
Because I want their dollar? I don't want 

56 



Anything they've not got. I never dun. 
I'm there, and they can pay me if they like. 
I go nowhere on purpose: I happen by. 
Sorry there is no cup to give you a drink. 
I drink out of the bottle not your style. 
Mayn't I offer you?' 

'No, no, no, thank you/ 

'Just as you say. Here's looking at you then. 
And now I'm leaving you a little while. 
You'll rest easier when I'm gone, perhaps 
Lie down let yourself go and get some sleep. 
Bnt first let's see what was I going to ask you? 
Those collars who shall I address them to, 
Suppose you aren't awake when I come back?' 

* Really, friend, I can't let you. You may need them.* 
'Not till I shrink, when they'll be out of style.' 
'But really I I have so many collars.' 

'I don't know who I rather would have have them. 
They're only turning yellow where they are. 
But you're the doctor as the saying is. 
I'll put the light out. Don't you wait for me: 
I've just begun the night. You get some sleep. 
I'll knock so-fashion and peep round the door 
When I come back so you'll know who it is. 

57 



There's nothing I'm afraid of like scared people. 
I don't want you should shoot me in the head. 
What am I doing carrying off this bottle? 
There now, you get some sleep/ 

He shut the door. 
The Doctor slid a little down the pillow. 



Against the lounge beside it, though I doubt 

If such unlifelike lines kept power to stir 

Anything in her after all the years. 

He fell at Gettysburg or Fredericksburg, 

I ought to know it makes a difference which: 

Fredericksburg wasn't Gettysburg, of course. 

But what I'm getting to is how forsaken 

A little cottage this has always seemed; 

Since she went more than ever, but before 

I don't mean altogether by the lives 

That had gone out of it, the father first, 

Then the two sons, till she was left alone. 

(Nothing could draw her after those two sons. 

She valued the considerate neglect 

She had at some costtaught them after years.) 

I meanby the woilZ^'sJhiayjngpasscd it by"" 

As we^almost got by this afternoon^ 

It always seems to me a sort of mark 

To measure how far fifty years have brought us. 

Why not sit down if you are in no haste? 

These doorsteps seldom have a visitor. 

The warping boards pull out their own old nails 

With none to tread and put them in their place. 

She had her own idea of things, the old lady. 

And she liked talk. She had seen Garrison 

And Whittier, and had her story of them. 

One wasn't long in learning that she thought 

Whatever else the Civil War was for, 

It wasn't just to keep the States together, 

Nor just to free the slaves, though it did both. 

65 



She wouldn't have believed those ends enough 
To have given outright for them all she gave. 
Her giving somehow touched the principle 
That all men are created free and equal. 
And to hear her quaint phrasesso removed 
From the world's view to-day of all those things. 
That's a hard mystery of Jefferson's. 
What did he mean? Of course the easy way 
Is to decide it simply isn't true. 
It may not be. I heard a fellow say so. 
But never mind, the Welshman got it planted 
Where it will trouble us a thousand years. 
Each age will have to reconsider it. 
You couldn't tell her what the West was saying, 
And what the South to her serene belief. 
She had some art of hearing and yet not 
Hearing the latter wisdom of the world. 
White was the only race she ever knew. 
Black she had scarcely seen, and yellow never. 
But how could they be made so very unlike 
By the same hand working in the same stuff? 
She had supposed the war decided that. 
What are you going to do with such a person? 
Strange how such innocence gets its own way. 
I shouldn't be surprised if in this world 
It were the force that would at last prevail. 
Do you know but for her there was a time 
When to please younger members of the church, 
Or rather say non-members in the church, 
Whom we all have to think of nowadays, 

66 



I would have changed the Creed a very little? 

Not that she ever had to ask me not to; 

It never got so far as that; but the bare thought 

Of her old tremulous bonnet in the pew, 

And of her half asleep was too much for me. 

Why, I might wake her up and startle her. 

It was the words "descended into Hades' ' 

That seemed too pagan to our liberal youth. 

You know they suffered from a general onslaught. 

And well, if they weren't true why keep right on 

Saying them like the heathen? We could drop them. 

Only there was the bonnet in the pew. 

Such a phrase couldn't have meant much to her. 

But suppose she had missed it from the Creed 

As a child misses the unsaid Good-night, 

And falls asleep with heartache how should I feel? 

Fm just as glad she made me keep hands off, 

For, dear me, why abandon a belief 

Merely because it ceases to be true. 

Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt 

It will turn true again, for so it goes. 

Most of the change we think we see in life 

Is due to truths being in and out of favour. 

As I sit here, and oftentimes, I wish 

I could be monarch of a desert land 

I could devote and dedicate forever 

To the truths we keep coming back and back to. 

So desert it would have to be, so walled 

By mountain ranges half in summer snow, 

No one would covet it or think it worth 

67 



The pains of conquering to force change on. 
Scattered oases where men dwelt, but mostly 
Sand dunes held loosely in tamarisk 
Blown over and over themselves in idleness. 
Sand grains should sugar in the natal dew 
The babe born to the desert, the sand storm 
Retard mid-waste my cowering caravans- 
There are bees in this wall. 7 He struck the clapboards, 
Fierce heads looked out; small bodies pivoted. 
We rose to go. Sunset blazed on the windows. 



68 



BLUEBERRIES 1 

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 
To the village, through Patterson's pasture to-day: 
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come! 
And all ripe together, not some of them green 
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seenP 

'I don't know what part of the pasture you mean.' 

< You know where they cut off the woods let me see~ 

It was two years ago or no! can it be 

No longer than that? and the following fall 

The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall.' 

'Why, there hasn't been time for the bushes to grow % 
That's always the way with the blueberries, though: 
There may not have been the ghost of a sign 
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine, 
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn 
The pasture all over until not a fern 
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick, 
And presto, they're up all around you as thick 
And hard to explain as a conjuror's trick/ 

'It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit. 
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot. 



And after all really they're ebony skinned: 

The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind, 

A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand, 

And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned/ 

'Does Patterson know what he has, do you think?' 

'He may and not care and so leave the chewink 
To gather them for him you know what he is. 
He won't make the fact that they're rightfully his 
An excuse for keeping us other folk out/ 

'I wonder you didn't see Loren about.' 

'The best of it was that I did. Do you know, 

[ was just getting through what the field had to show 

And over the wall and into the road, 

When who should come by, with a democrat-load 

Of all the young chattering Lorens alive, 

But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive/ 

'He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?' 

'He just kept nodding his head up and down. 
You know how politely he always goes by. 
But he thought a big thought I could tell by his eye 
Which being expressed, might be this in effect: 
!< I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect, 
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame." ' 

70 



'He's a thriftier person than some I could name/ 

'He seems to be thrifty; and hasn't he need, 

With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed? 

He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say, 

Like birds. They store a great many away. 

They eat them the year round, and those they don't eat 

They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet/ 

'Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live, 
Just taking what Nature is willing to give, 
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow.' 

'I wish you had seen his perpetual bow 

And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned, 

And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned/ 

'I wish I knew half what the flock of them know 
Of where all the berries and other things grow, 
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top 
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they 

will crop. 

I met them one day and each had a flower 
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower; 
Some strange kindthey told me it hadn't a name/ 

Tve told you how once not long after we came, 
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth 
By going to him of all people on earth 

71 



To ask if he knew any fruit to be had 
For the picking. The rascal, he said he'd be glad 
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad. 
There had been some berries but those were all gone. 
He didn't say where they had been. He went on: 
"I'm sure I'm sure" as polite as could be. 
He spoke to his wife in the door, "Let me see, 
Mame, we don't know any good berrying place?" 
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.' 

'If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him, 
He'll find he's mistaken. See here, for a whim, 
We'll pick in the Pattersons' pasture this year. 
We'll go in the morning, that is, if it's clear, 
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet. 
It's so long since I picked I almost forget 
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round. 
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground, 
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard, 
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird 
Away from its nest, and I said it was you. 
"Well, one of us is." For complaining it flew 
Around and around us. And then for a while 
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile, 
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout 
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out, 
For when you made answer, your voice was as low 
fas talking you stood up beside me, you know/ 

( We ska'n't have the place to ourselves to enjoy 
72 



Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy. 
They'll be there lo-morrow, or even to-night. 
They won't be too friendly they may be polite 
To people they look on as having no right 
To pick where they're picking. But we won't com- 
plain. 

You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain, 
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves, 
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves.' 



73 



A SERVANT TO SERVANTS 

I didn't make you know how glad I was 

To have you come and camp here on our land. 

I promised myself to get down some day 

And see the way you lived, but I don't know! 

With a houseful of hungry men to feed 

I guess you'd find. ... It seems to me 

I can't express my feelings any more 

Than I can raise my voice or want to lift 

My hand (oh, I can lift it when I have to). 

Did ever you feel so? I hope you never. 

It's got so I don't even know for sure 

Whether I am glad, sorry, or anything. 

There's nothing but a voice-like left inside 

That seems to tell me how I ought to feel, 

And would feel if I wasn't all gone wrong. 

You take the lake. I look and look at it. 

I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water. 

I stand and make myself repeat out loud 

The advantages it has, so long and narrow, 

Like a deep piece of some old running river 

Cut short off at both ends. It lies five miles 

Straight away through the mountain notch 

From the sink window where I wash the plates, 

And all our storms come up toward the house, 

Drawing the slow waves whiter and whiter and 

whiter. 
It took my mind off doughnuts and soda biscuit 

74 



To step outdoors and take the water dazzle 
A sunny morning, or take the rising wind 
About my face and body and through my wrapper, 
When a storm threatened from the Dragon's Den, 
And a cold chill shivered across the lake. 
I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water, 
Our Willoughby! How did you hear of it? 
I expect, though, everyone's heard of it. 
In a book about ferns? Listen to that! 
You let things more like feathers regulate 
Your going and coming. And you like it here? 
I can see how you might. But I don't know! 
It would be different if more people came, 
For then there would be business. As it is, 
The cottages Len built, sometimes we rent them, 
Sometimes we don't. We've a good piece of shore 
That ought to be worth something, and may yet. 
But I don't count on it as much as Len. 
He looks on the bright side of everything, 
Including me. He thinks I'll be all right 
With doctoring. But it's not medicine- 
Lowe is the only doctor's dared to say so- 
ft's rest I want there, I have said it out 
From cooking meals for hungry hired men 
And washing dishes after them from doing 
Things over and over that just won't stay done. 
By good rights I ought not to have so much 
Put on me, but there seems no other way. 
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it. 
He says the best way out is always through. 

75 



And I agree to that, or in so far 
As that I can see no way out but through 
Leastways for me and then they'll be convinced. 
It's not that Len don't want the best for me. 
It was his plan our moving over in 
Beside the lake from where that day I showed you 
We used to live ten miles from anywhere. 
We didn't change without some sacrifice, 
But Len went at it to make up the loss. 
His work's a man's, of course, from sun to sun, 
But he works when he works as hard as I do- 
Though there's small profit in comparisons. 
(Women and men will make them all the same. ) 
But work ain't all. Len undertakes too much. 
He's into everything in town. This year 
It's highways, and he's got too many men 
Around him to look after that make waste. 
They take advantage of him shamefully, 
And proud, too, of themselves for doing so. 
We have four here to board, great good-for-nothings, 
Sprawling about the kitchen with their talk 
While I fry their bacon. Much they care! 
No more put out in what they do or say 
Than if I wasn't in the room at all. 
Coming and going all the time, they are: 
I don't learn what their names are, let alone 
Their characters, or whether they are safe 
To have inside the house with doors unlocked. 
Fm not afraid of them, though, if they're not 
Afraid of me. There's two can play at that. 



I have my fancies: it runs in the family. 
My father's brother wasn't right. They kept him 
Locked up for years back there at the old farm. 
I've been away once yes, IVe been away. 
The State Asylum. I was prejudiced; 
I wouldn't have sent anyone of mine there; 
You know the old ideathe only asylum 
Was the poorhouse, and those who could afford, 
Rather than send their folks to such a place, 
Kept them at home; and it does seem more human. 
But it's not so: the place is the asylum. 
There they have every means proper to do with, 
And you aren't darkening other people's lives- 
Worse than no good to them, and they no good 
To you in your condition; you can't know 
Affection or the want of it in that state. 
I've heard too much of the old-fashioned way. 
My father's brother, he went mad quite young. 
Some thought he had been bitten by a dog, 
Because his violence took on the form 
Of carrying his pillow in his teeth; 
But it's more likely he was crossed in love, 
Or so the story goes. It was some girl. 
Anyway all he talked about was love. 
They soon saw he would do someone a mischief 
If he wa'n't kept strict watch of, and it ended 
In father's building him a sort of cage, 
Or room within a room, of hickory poles, 
Like stanchions in the barn, from floor to ceiling. 
A narrow passage all the way around. 



Anything they put in for furniture 

He'd tear to pieces, even a bed to lie on. 

So they made the place comfortable with straw, 

Like a beast's stall, to ease their consciences. 

Of course they had to feed him without dishes. 

They tried to keep him clothed, but he paraded 

With his clothes on his arm all of his clothes. 

Cruelit sounds. I 'spose they did the best 

They knew. And just when he was at the height, 

Father and mother married, and mother came, 

A bride, to help take care of such a creature, 

And accommodate her young life to his. 

That was what marrying father meant to her. 

She had to lie and hear love things made dreadful 

By his shouts in the night. He'd shout and shout 

Until the strength was shouted out of him, 

And his voice died down slowly from exhaustion. 

He'd pull his bars apart like bow and bowstring, 

And let them go and make them twang until 

His hands had worn them smooth as any oxbow. 

And then he'd crow as if he thought that child's play 

The only fun he had. I've heard them say, though, 

They found a way to put a stop to it. 

He was before my time I never saw him; 

But the pen stayed exactly as it was 

There in the upper chamber in the ell, 

A sort of catch-all full of attic clutter. 

I often think of tJig^nioathJiickof.y, bars. 

It got so I would say you know, half fooling 

'It's time I took my turn upstairs in jail' 

Just as you will till it becomes a habit. 

78 



No wonder L was glad to get away. 
Mind you, I waited till Len said the word. 
I didn't want the blame if things went wrong. 
I was glad though ; no end, when we moved out, 
And I looked to be happy, and I was, 
As I said, for a while but I don't know! 
Somehow the change wore out like a prescription. 
And there's more to it than just window-views 
And living by a lake. I'm past such help 
Unless Len took the notion, which he won't, 
And I won't ask himit's not sure enough. 
I 'spose I've got to go the road Fm going: 
Other folks have to, and why shouldn't I? 
T almost think if I could do like you, 
Drop everything and live out on the ground- 
But it might be, come night, I shouldn't like it, 
Or a long rain. I should soon get enough, 
And be glad of a good roof overhead. 
Fve lain awake thinking of you, Fll warrant, 
More than you have yourself, some of these nights. 
The wonder was the tents weren't snatched away 
From over you as you lay in your beds. 
I haven't courage for a risk like that. 
Bless you, of course, you're keeping me from work, 
But the thing of it is, I need to be kept. 
There's work enough to do there's always that; 
But behind' s behind. The worst that you can do 
Is set me back a little more behind. 
I sha'n't catch up in this world, anyway. 
I'd rather you'd not go unless you must. 



AFTER APPLE-PICKING 

IVly 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 tell 

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. 

80 



For I have had too much 

Of apple-picking: I am overtired 

Of the great harvest I myself desired. 

There were ten thousand 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 see what will trouble 

This sleep of mine, whatever sleep itj. 

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. 



81 



THE CODE 

1 here were three in the meadow by the brook 
Gathering up windrows, piling cocks of hay, 
With an eye always lifted toward the west 
Where an irregular sun-bordered cloud 
Darkly advanced with a perpetual dagger 
Flickering across its bosom. Suddenly 
One helper, thrusting pitchfork in the ground, 
Marched himself off the field and home. One stayed. 
The town-bred farmer failed to understand. 

* What is there wrong?' 

'Something you just now said/ 
' What did I say?' 

* About our taking pains/ 

'To cock the hay? because it's going to shower? 
I said that more than half an hour ago. 
I said it to myself as much as you/ 

'You didn't know. But James is one big fool. 
He thought you meant to find fault with his work. 
That's what the average farmer would have meant. 
James would take time, of course, to chew it over 
Before he acted: he's just got round to act/ 

82 



'He is a fool if that's the way he takes me.' 

'Don't let it bother you. You've found out something 
The hand that knows his business won't be told 
To do work better 01 fasterthose two things. 
I'm as particular as anyone: 
Most likely I'd have served you just the same. 
But I know you don't understand our ways. 
You were just talking what was in your mind, 
What was in all our minds, and you weren't hinting. 
Tell you a story of what happened once: 
I was up here in Salem at a man's 
Named Sanders with a gang of four or five 
Doing the haying. No one liked the boss. 
He was one of the kind sports call a spider, 
All wiry arms and legs that spread out wavy 
From a humped body nigh as big's a biscuit 
But work! that man could work, especially 
If by so doing he could get more work 
Out of his hired help. I'm not denying 
He was hard on himself. I couldn't find 
That he kept any hours not for himself. 
Daylight and lantern-light were one to him: 
I've heard him pounding in the barn all night. 
But what he liked was someone to encourage. 
Them that he couldn't lead he'd get behind 
And drive, the way you can, you know, in mowing- 
Keep at their heels and threaten to mow their legs off 
I'd seen about enough of his bulling tricks 
(We call that bulling). I'd been watching him. 

83 



So when he paired off with me in the hayfield 

To load the load, thinks I, Look out for trouble. 

I built the load and topped it off; old Sanders 

Combed it down with a rake and says, "O. K." 

Everything went well till we reached the barn 

With a big jag to empty in a bay. 

You understand that meant the easy job 

For the man up on top of throwing down 

The hay and rolling it off wholesale, 

Where on a mow it would have been slow lifting. 

You wouldn't think a fellow'd need much urging 

Under those circumstances, would you now? 

But the old fool seizes his fork in both hands, 

And looking up bewhiskered out of the pit, 

Shouts like an army captain, "Let her come!" 

Thinks I, D'ye mean it? " What was that you said?" 

I asked out loud, so's there'd be no mistake, 

"Did you say, Let her come?" "Yes, let her come." 

He said it over, but he said it softer. 

Never you say a thing like that to a man, 

Not if he values what he is. God, I'd as soon 

Murdered him as left out his middle name. 

Fd built the load and knew right where to find it. 

Two or three forkfuls I picked lightly round for 

Like meditating, and then I just dug in 

And dumped the rackful on him in ten lots. 

I looked over the side once in the dust 

And caught sight of him treading- water-like, 

Keeping his head above. "Damn ye," I says, 

84 



"That gets ye!" He squeaked like a squeezed rat. 

That was the last I saw or heard of him. 

I cleaned the rack and drove out to cool off. 

As I sat mopping hayseed from my neck, 

And sort of waiting to be asked about it, 

One of the boys sings out, " Where's the old man?" 

"I left him in the barn under the hay. 

If ye want him, ye can go and dig him out." 

They realized from the way I swobbed my neck 

More than was needed something must be up. 

They headed for the barn; I stayed where I was. 

They told me afterward. First they forked hay, 

A lot of it, out into the barn floor. 

Nothing! They listened for him. Not a rustle. 

I guess they thought I'd spiked him in the temple 

Before I buried him, or I couldn't have managed. 

They excavated more. "Go keep his wife 

Out of the barn." Someone looked in a window, 

And curse me if he wasn't in the kitchen 

Slumped way down in a chair, with both his feet 

Against the stove, the hottest day that summer. 

He looked so clean disgusted from behind 

There was no one that dared to stir him up, 

Or let him know that he was being looked at. 

Apparently I hadn't buried him 

(I may have knocked him down); but my just trying 

To bury him had hurt his dignity. 

He had gone to the house so's not to meet me. 

He kept away from us all afternoon. 

85 



We tended to his hay. We saw him out 

After a while picking peas in his garden: 

He couldn't keep away from doing something.' 

* Weren't you relieved to find he wasn't dead?' 

No! and yet I d'jn't know it's hard to say, 
I went about to kill him fair enough.' 

' You took an awkward way. Did he discharge you? 1 
4 Discharge me? No! He knew I did just right/ 



86 



THE GENERATIONS OF MEN 

A. governor it was proclaimed this time, 
When all who would come seeking in 

Hampshire 
Ancestral memories might come together. 
And those of the name Stark gathered in Bow, 
A rock-strewn town where farming has fallefrofl, 
And sprout-lands flourish where the axe has gone. 
Someone had literally run to earth 
In an old cellar hole in a by-road 
The origin of all the family there. 
Thence they were sprung, so numerous a tribe 
That now not all the houses left in town 
Made shift to shelter them without the help 
Of here and there a tent in grove and orchard. 
They were at Bow, but that was not enough: 
Nothing would do butthey must fix a day 
To stand together on the crater's verge 
That turned them on the world, and try to fathom 
The past and get some strangeness out of it. 
But rain spoiled all. The day began uncertain, 
With clouds low trailing and moments of rain that 

misted. 

The young folk held some hope out to each other 
Till well toward noon when the storm settled down 
With a swish in the grass. 'What if the others 
Are there/ they said. 'It isn't going to rain/ 
Only one from a farm not far away 

87 



Strolled thither, not expecting he would find 

Anyone else, but out of idleness. 

One, and one other, yes, for there were two. 

The second round the curving hillside road 

Was a girl; and she halted some way off 

To reconnoitre, and then made up her mind 

At least to pass by and see who he was, 

And perhaps hear some word about the weather. 

This was some Stark she didn't know. He nodded. 

'No fete to-day/ he said. 

'It looks that way/ 

She swept the heavens, turning on her heel. 
'I only idled down/ 

'I idled down/ 

Provision there had been for just such meeting 
Of stranger cousins, in a family tree 
Drawn on a sort of passport with the branch 
Of the one bearing it done in detail- 
Some zealous one's laborious device. 
She made a sudden movement toward her bodice, 
As one who clasps her heart. They laughed together. 
'Stark?' he inquired. 'No matter for the proof/ 

'Yes, Stark. And you?' 

Tm Stark.' He drew his passport. 
68 



( You know we might not be and still be cousins: 

The town is full of Chases, Lowes, and Baileys, 

All claiming some priority in Starkness. 

My mother was a Lane, yet might have married 

Anyone upon earth and still her children 

Would have been Starks, and doubtless here to-day.' 

( You riddle with your genealogy 
Like a Viola. I don't follow you/ 

*I only mean my mother was a Stark 
Several times over, and by marrying father 
No more than brought us back into the name/ 

'One ought not to be thrown into confusion 

By a plain statement of relationship, 

But I own what you say makes my head spin. 

You take my card you seem so good at such things 

And see if you can reckon our cousinship. 

Why not take seats here on the cellar wall 

And dangle feet among the raspberry vines?* 

'Under the shelter of the family tree/ 
'Just so that ought to be enough protection/ 
'Not from the rain. I think it's going to rain/ 
'It's raining/ 

89 



'No, it's misting; let's be fair. 
Does the rain seem to you to cool the eyes?' 

The situation was like this: the road 

Bowed outward on the mountain half-way up, 

And disappeared and ended not far off. 

No one went home that way. The only house 

Beyond where they were was a shattered secdpod. 

And below roared a brook hidden in trees, 

The sound of which was silence for the place. 

This he sat listening to till she gave judgment. 

'On father's side, it seems, we're let me see' 
'Don't be too technical. You have three cards.' 

Tour cards, one yours, three mine, one for each 
branch 
Of the Stark family I'm a member of.' 

'D'you know a person so related to herself 
Is supposed to be mad.' 

*I may be mad/ 

< You look so, sitting out here in the rain 
Studying genealogy with me 
You never saw before. What will we come to 
With all this pride of ancestry, we Yankees? 
I think we're all mad. Tell me why we're here 

90 



Drawn into town about this cellar hole 
Like wild geese on a lake before a storm? 
What do we see in such a hole, I wonder/ 

'The Indians had a myth of Chicamoztoc, 

Which means The Seven Caves that We Came out ot. 

This is the pit from which we Starks were digged/ 

'You must be learned. That's what you see in it?' 
'And what do you see?' 

' Yes, what do I see? 
First let me look. I see raspberry vines' 

'Oh, if you're going to use your eyes, just hear 

What / see. It's a little, little boy, 

As pale and dim as a match flame in the sun; 

He's groping in the cellar after jam, 

He thinks it's dark and it's flooded with daylight/ 

'He's nothing. Listen. When I lean like this 
I can make out old Grandsir Stark distinctly, 
With his pipe in his mouth and his brown jug- 
Bless you, it isn't Grandsir Stark, it's Granny, 
But the pipe's there and smoking and the jug. 
She's after cider, the old girl, she's thirsty; 
Here's hoping she gets her drink and gets out safely/ 

'Tell me about her. Does she look like me? 1 

91 



'She should, shouldn't she, you're so many times 
Over descended from her. I believe 
She does look like you. Stay the way you are. 
The nose is just the same, and so's the chin- 
Making allowance, making due allowance.' 

'You poor, dear, great, great, great, great Granny!' 
'See that you get her greatness right. Don't stint her/ 

' Yes, it's important, though you think it isn't. 
I won't be teased. But see how wet I am.' 

1 Yes, you must go; we can't stay here for ever. 

But wait until I give you a hand up. 

A bead of silver water more or less 

Strung on your hair won't hurt your summer looks 

I wanted to try something with the noise 

That the brook raises in the empty valley. 

We have seen visions now consult the voices. 

Something I must have learned riding in trains 

When I was young. I used to use the roar 

To set the voices speaking out of it, 

Speaking or singing, and the band-music playing 

Perhaps you have the art of what I mean. 

I've never listened in among the sounds 

That a brook makes in such a wild descent. 

It ought to give a purer oracle.' 



'It's as you throw a picture on a screen: 

The meaning of it all is out of you; 

The voices give you what you wish to hear.' 

'Strangely, it's anything they wish to give/ 

'Then I don't know. It must be strange enough. 

I wonder if it's not your make-believe. 

What do you think you're like to hear to-day?' 

'From the sense of our having been together 
But why take time for what I'm like to hear? 
I'll tell you what the voices really say. 
You will do very well right where you are 
A little longer. I mustn't feel too hurried, 
Or I can't give myself to hear the voices.' 

'Is this some trance you are withdrawing into?' 
'You must be very still; you mustn't talk/ 
Til hardly breathe/ 

'The voices seem to say' 
Tin waiting/ 

'Don't! The voices seem to say: 
Call her Nausicaa, the unafraid 
Of an acquaintance made adventurously/ 

93 



'I let you say thaton consideration.' 

'I don't see very well how you can help it. 
You want the truth. I speak but by the voices. 
You sec they know I haven't had your name, 
Though what a name should matter between us 

'I shall suspect-' 

'Be good. The voices say: 
Call her Nausicaa, and take a timber 
That you shall find lies in the cellar charred 
Among the raspberries, and hew and shape it 
For a door-sill or other corner piece 
In a new cottage on the ancient spot. 
The life is not yet all gone out of it. 
And come and make your summer dwelling here, 
And perhaps she will come., still unafraid, 
And sit before you in the open door 
With flowers in her lap until they fade, 
But not come in across the sacred sill' 

'I wonder where your oracle is tending. 
You can see that there's something wrong with it, 
Or it would speak in dialect. Whose voice 
Does it purport to speak in? Not old Grandsir's 
Nor Granny's, surely. Call up one of them. 
They have best right to be heard in this place/ 



94 



'You seem so partial to our great-grandmother 
(Nine times removed. Correct me if I err.) 
You will be likely to regard as sacred 
Anything she may say. But let me warn you, 
Folks in her day were given to plain speaking. 
You think you'd best tempt her at such a time?' 

c lt rests with us always to cut her off/ 

1 Well then, it's Granny speaking: "I dunnow! 

Mebbe I'm wrong to take it as I do. 

There ain't no names quite like the old ones 

though, 

Nor never will be to my way of thinking. 
One mustn't bear too hard on the new comers, 
But there's a dite too many of them for comfort. 
I should feel easier if I could see 
More of the salt wherewith they're to be salted. 
Son, you do as you're told! You take the timber- 
It's as sound as the day when it was cut 
And begin over" There, she'd better stop. 
You can see what is troubling Granny, though. 
But don't you think we sometimes make too much 
Of the old stock? What counts is the ideals, 
And those will bear some keeping still about.' 

'I can see we are going to be good friends.' 



'I like your "going to be." You said just now 
It's going to rain/ 



95 



'I know, and it was raining. 
I let you say all that. But I must go now.' 

* You let me say it? on consideration? 
How shall we say good-bye in such a case?' 

'How shall we?' 

* Will you leave the way to me?' 

'No, I don't trust your eyes. You've said enough. 
Now give me your hand up. Pick me that flower.' 

' Where shall we meet again?' 

' No where but here 
Once more before we meet elsewhere.' 

'In rain?' 

'It ought to be in rain. Sometime in rain. 
In rain to-morrow, shall we, if it rains? 
But if we must, in sunshine.' So she went. 



THE HOUSEKEEPER 



1 let myself in at the kitchen door. 

It's you/ she said. 'I can't get up. Forgive mt 
Not answering your knock. I can no more 
Let people in than I can keep them out. 
I'm getting too old for my size, I tell them. 
My fingers are about all I've the use of 
So's to take any comfort. I can sew: 
I help out with this beadwork what I can/ 

'That's a smart pair of pumps you're beading there. 
Who are they for?' 

' You mean? oh, for some miss. 
I can't keep track of other people's daughters. 
Lord, if I were to dream of everyone 
Whose shoes I primped to dance in!' 

'And where's John? 1 

'Haven't you seen him? Strange what set you off 
To come to his house when he's gone to yours. 
You can't have passed each other. I know what: 
He must have changed his mind and gone to Gar* 

land's. 

He won't be long in that case. You can wait. 
Though what good you can be, or anyone-- 
It's gone so far. You've heard? Estelle's run off.' 

97 



'Yes, what's it all about? When did she go? 7 
'Two weeks since/ 

'She's in earnest, it appears/ 

Tm sure she won't come back. She's hiding some- 
where. 

I don't know where myself. John thinks I do. 
He thinks I only have to say the word, 
And she'll come back. But, bless you, I'm her mother 
I can't talk to her, and, Lord, if I could!' 

'It will go hard with John. What will he do? 
He can't find anyone to take her place.' 

'Oh, if you ask me that, what will he do? 

He gets some sort of bakeshop meals together, 

With me to sit and tell him everything, 

What's wanted and how much and where it is. 

But when I'm gone of course I can't stay here: 

EstenVs to take me when she's settled down. 

He and I only hinder one another. 

I tell them they can't get me through the door, 

though: 

I've been built in here like a big church organ. 
We've been here fifteen years.' 

'That's a long time 
To live together and then pull apart. 

98 



How do you see him living when you're gone? 
Two of you out will leave an empty house/ 

1 don't just see him living many years, 

Left here with nothing but the furniture. 

I hate to think of the old place when we're gonfc, 

With the brook going by below the yard, 

And no one here but hens blowing about. 

If he could sell the place, but then, he can't: 

No one will ever live on it again. 

It's too run down. This is the last of it. 

What I think he will do, is let things smash. 

He'll sort of swear the time away. He's awful! 

I never saw a man let family troubles 

Make so much difference in his man's affairs. 

He's just dropped everything. He's like a child. 

I blame his being brought up by his mother. 

He's got hay down that's been rained on three times. 

He hoed a little yesterday for me: 

I thought the growing things would do him good. 

Something went wrong. I saw him throw the hoe 

Sky-high with both hands. I can see it now 

Come here I'll show you in that apple tree. 

That's no way for a man to do at his age: 

He's fifty-five, you know, if he's a day.' 

'Aren't you afraid of him? What's that gun for?' 

'Oh, that's been there for hawks since chicken-time. 
John Hall touch me! Not if he knows his friends. 

99 



I'll say that for him ; John's no threatener 
Like some men folk. No one's afraid of him; 
All is, he's made up his mind not to stand 
What he has got to stand.' 

' Where is Estelle? 

Couldn't one talk to her? What does she say? 
You say you don't know where she is.' 

v Nor wanttol 

She thinks if it was bad to live with him, 
It must be right to leave him.' 

1 Which is wrong!' 
'Yes, but he should have married her.' 

'I know.' 

J The strain's been too much for her fjl these years: 

[ can't explain it any other way. 

It's different with a man, at least with John: 

He knows he's kinder than the run of men. 

Better than married ought to be as good 

As married that's what he has always said. 

t know the way he's felt but all the same!' 

1 wonder why he doesn't marry her 
And end it.' 



10O 



'Too late now: she wouldn't have him. 
He's given her time to think of something else. 
That's his mistake. The dear knows my interest 
Has been to keep the thing from breaking up. 
This is a good home: I don't ask for better. 
But whenl' ve said, ' ' Why shouldn't they be married/*' 
He'd say, " Why should they?" no more words that 
that.' 

'And after all why should they? John's been fair 
I take it. What was his was always hers. 
There was no quarrel about property.' 

'Reason enough, there was no property. 
A friend or two as good as own the farm, 
Such as it is. It isn't worth the mortgage/ 

'I mean Estelle has always held the purse/ 

'The rights of that are harder to get at. 
I guess Estelle and I have filled the purse. 
'Twas we let him have money, not he us. 
John's a bad farmer. I'm not blaming him. 
Take it year in, year out, he doesn't make much. 
We came here for a home for me, you know, 
Estelle to do the housework for the board 
Of both of us. But look how it turns out: 
She seems to have the housework, and besides 
Half of the outdoor work, though as for that, 
He'd say she does it more because she likes it. 

101 



You see our pretty things are all outdoors. 

Our hens and cows and pigs are always better 

Than folks like us have any business with. 

Farmers around twice as well off as we 

Haven't as good. They don't go with the farm. 

One thing you can't help liking about John, 

He's fond of nice things too fond, some would say. 

But Estelle don't complain: she's like him there. 

She wants our hens to be the best there are. 

You never saw this room before a show, 

Full of lank, shivery, half-drowned birds 

In separate coops, having their plumage done. 

The smell of the wet feathers in the heat! 

You spoke of John's not being safe to stay with. 

You don't know what a gentle lot we are: 

We wouldn't hurt a hen! You ought to see us 

Moving a flock of hens from place to place. 

We're not allowed to take them upside down, 

All we can hold together by the legs. 

Two at a time's the rule, one on each arm, 

No matter how far and how many times 

We have to go/ 

' You mean that's John's idea/ 

'And we live up to it; or I don't know 
What childishness he wouldn't give way to. 
He manages to keep the upper hand 
On his own farm. He's boss. But as to hens: 
We fence our flowers in and the hens range. 

102 



Nothing's too good for them. We say it pays. 
John likes to tell the offers he has had, 
Twenty for this cock, twenty-five for that. 
He never takes the money. If they're worth 
That much to sell, they ' re worth as much to keep. 
Bless you, it's all expense, though. Reach me down 
The little tin box on the cupboard shelf, 
The upper shelf, the tin box. That's the one. 
Til show you. Here you are/ 

'What's this?' 

'Abill- 

For fifty dollars for one Langshang cock 
Receipted. And the cock is in the yard/ 

'Not in a glass case, then?' 

'He'd need a tall one: 
He can eat off a barrel from the ground. 
He's been in a glass case, as you may say, 
The Crystal Palace, London. He's imported. 
John bought him, and we paid the bill with beads-* 
Wampum, I call it. Mind, we don't complain. 
But you see, don't you, we take care of him.' 

'And like it, too. It makes it all the worse/ 

'It seems as if. And that's not all: he's helpless 
In ways that I can hardly tell you of. 

103 



Sometimes he gets possessed to keep accounts 
To see where all the money goes so fast. 
You know how men will be ridiculous. 
But it's just fun the way he gets bedeviled 
If he's untidy now, what will he be?' 

J It makes it all the worse. You must be blind/ 
'Estelle's the one. You needn't talk to me/ 

J Can't you and I get to the root of it? 

What's the real trouble? What will satisfy her?' 

"It's as I say; she's turned from him, that's ali/ 

'But why, when she's well off? Is it the neighbours, 
Being cut off from friends?' 

< We have our friends. 
That isn't it. Folks aren't afraid of us/ 

'She's let it worry her. You stood the strain, 
And you're her mother/ 

'But I didn't always. 
I didn't relish it along at first. 
But I got wonted to it. And besides 
John said I was too old to have grandchildren. 
But what's the use of talking when it's done? 
She won't come back it's worse than that she can't. 1 

104 



< Why do you speak like that? What do you know? 
What do you mean? she's done harm to herself?' 

'I mean she's marriedmarried someone else/ 
'Oho, oho!' 

'You don't believe me/ 

'Yes, I do, 

Only too well. I knew there must be something! 
So that was what was back. She's bad, that's all!' 

'Bad to get married when she had the chance?' 
'Nonsense! See what she's done! But who, but who 

'Who'd marry her straight out of such a mess? 
Say it right out no matter for her mother. 
The man was found. I'd better name no names. 
John himself won't imagine who he is/ 

'Then it's all up. I think I'll get away. 
You'll be expecting John. I pity Estelle; 
I suppose she deserves some pity, too. 
You ought to have the kitchen to yourself 
To break it to him. You may have the job/ 

'You needn't think you're going to get away, 
John's almost here. I've had my eye on someone 

105 



Coming down Ryan's Hill. I thought 'twas him. 
Here he is now. This box! Put it away. 
And this bill/ 

What's the hurry? He'll unhitch/ 

'No, he won't, either. He'll just drop the reins 
And turn Doll out to pasture, rig and all. 
She won't get far before the wheels hang up 
On something there's no harm. See, there he is! 
My, but he looks as if he must have heard!' 

John threw the door wide but he didn't enter. 
'How are you, neighbour? Just the man I'm after. 
Isn't it Hell,' he said. 'I want to know. 
Come out here if you want to hear me talk. 
Til talk to you, old woman, afterward. 
I've got some news that maybe isn't news. 
What are they trying to do to me, these two? 7 

'Do go along with him and stop his shouting/ 
She raised her voice against the closing door: 
"Who wants to hear your news, youdreadful fool?' 



106 



THE FEAR 

A lantern light from deeper in the barn 
Shone on a man and woman in the door 
And threw their lurching shadows on a house 
Near by, all dark in every glossy window. 
A horse's hoof pawed once the hollow floor, 
And the back of the gig they stood beside 
Moved in a little. The man grasped a wheel, 
The woman spoke out sharply, 'Whoa, stand still! 
I saw it just as plain as a white plate/ 
She said, 'as the light on the dashboard ran 
Along the bushes at the roadside a man's face. 
You must have seen it too/ 

1 didn't see it. 
Are you sure' 

' Yes, I'm sure!' 

'it was a face?' 

*}oel, Til have to look. I can't go in, 
I can't, and leave a thing like that unsettled. 
Doors locked and curtains drawn will make no dif- 
ference. 

I always have felt strange when we came home 
To the dark house after so long an absence, 
And the key rattled loudly into place 

107 



Seemed to warn someone to be getting out 
At one door as we entered at another. 
What if Fm right, and someone all the time- 
Don' t hold my arm!' 

1 say it's someone passing/ 

'You speak as if this were a travelled road. 
You forget where we are. What is beyond 
That he'd be going to or coming from 
At such an hour of night, and on foot too? 
What was he standing still for in the bushes?' 

It's not so very late -it's only dark. 

There's more in it than you're inclined to say. 

Did he look like-?' 

'He looked like anyone. 
I'll never rest to-night unless I know. 
Give me the lantern.' 

'You don't want the lantern. 
She pushed past him and got it for herself. 

'You're not to come/ she said. 'This is my business 
If the time's come to face it, Fm the one 
To put it the right way. He'd never dare 
Listen! He kicked a stone. Hear that, hear that! 
He's coming towards us. Joel, go in please. 
Hark! 1 don't hear him now. But please go in/ 

108 



'In the first place you can't make me believe 

it's-' 

'It is or someone else he's sent to watch. 
And now's the time to have it out with him 
While we know definitely where he is. 
Let him get off and he'll be everywhere 
Around us, looking out of trees and bushes 
Till I sha'n't dare to set a foot outdoors. 
And I can't stand it. Joel, let me go!' 

'But it's nonsense to think he'd care enough.' 

( You mean you couldn't understand his caring. 
Oh, but you see he hadn't had enough- 
Joel; I won't I won' t I promise you. 
We mustn't say hard things. You mustn't either.' 

Til be the one, if anybody goes! 

But you give him the advantage with this light. 

What couldn't he do to us standing here! 

And if to see was what he wanted, why 

He has seen all there was to see and gone/ 

He appeared to forget to* keep his hold, 

But advanced with her as she crossed the grass. 

4 What do you want?' she cried to all the dark. 
She stretched up tall to overlook the light 
That hung in both hands hot against her skirt. 



'There's no one; so you're wrong/ he said. 

'There ib. 

What do you want?' she cried, and then herself 
Was startled when an answer really came. 

'Nothing/ It came from well along the road. 

She reached a hand to Joel for support: 

The smell of scorching woollen made her faint. 

"What are you doing round this house at night?' 
'Nothing.' A pause: there seemed no more to say. 

And then the voice again: You seem afraid. 
I saw by the way you whipped up the horse. 
I'll just come forward in the lantern light 
And let you see.' 

'Yes, do. Joel, go back!' 

She stood her ground against the noisy steps 
That came on, but her body rocked a little. 

'You see/ the voice said. 

'Oh.' She looked and looked. 



110 



1 You don't secI've a child here by the hand. 
A robber wouldn't have his family with him/ 

* What's a child doing at this time of night?' 

'Out walking. Every child should have the memory 
Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk. 
What, son?' 

'Then I should think you'd try to find 
Somewhere to walk' 

'The highway, as it happens- 
We're stopping for the fortnight down at Dean's.' 

'But if that's all Joelyou realize 

You won't think anything. You understand? 

You understand that we have to be careful. 

This is a very, very lonely place. 

Joel!' She spoke as if she couldn't turn. 

The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground, 

It touched, it struck, it clattered and went out. 



Ill 



THE WOOD-PILE 

Out walking in the frozen swamp one grey day, 

I paused and said, 'I will turn back from here. 

No, I will go on farther and we shall see/ 

The hard snow held me, save where now and then 

One foot went through. The view was all in lines 

Straight up and down of tall slim trees 

Too much alike to mark or name a place by 

So as to say for certain I was here 

Or somewhere else: I was just far from home. 

A small bird flew before me. He was careful 

To put a tree between us when tye lighted, 

And say no word to tell me who he was 

Who was so foolish as to think what he thought. 

He thought that I was after him for a feather 

The white one in his tail; like one who takes 

Everything said as personal to himself. 

One flight out sideways would have undeceived him. 

And then there was a pile of wood for which 

I forgot him and let his little fear 

Carry him off the way I might have gone, 

Without so much as wishing him good-night. 

He went behind it to make his last stand. 

It was a cord of maple, cut and split 

And piled and measured, four by four by eight. 

And not another like it could I see. 

No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it. 

And it was older sure than this year's cutting, 

112 



Or even last year's or the year's before. 

The wood was grey and the bark warping off it 

And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis 

Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle, 

What held it though on one side was a tree 

Still growing, and on one a stake and prop, 

These latter about to fall. I thought that only 

Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks 

Could so forget his handiwork on which 

He spent himself, the labour of his axe, 

And leave it there far from a useful fireplace 

To warm the frozen swamp as best it could 

With the slow smokeless burning of decay. 



GOOD HOURS 

I had for my winter evening walk 
No one at all with whom to talk, 
But I had the cottages in a row 
Up to their shining eyes in snow. 

And I thought I had the folk within: 
I had the sound of a violin; 
I had a glimpse through curtain laces 
Of youthful forms and youthful faces 

I had such company outward bound. 
I went till there were no cottages found. 
I turned and repented, but coming back 
I saw no window but that was black. 

Over the snow my creaking feet 
Disturbed the slumbering village street 
Like profanation, by your leave. 
At ten o'clock of a winter eve. 



114 



Mountain Interval 



THE ROAD NOT TAKEN 

1 wo 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 really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference. 



CHRISTMAS TREES 

A CHRISTMAS CIRCULAR LETTER 

The city had withdrawn into itself 

And left at last the country to the country; 

When between whirls of snow not come to lie 

And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove 

A stranger to our yard, who looked the city, 

Yet did in country fashion in that there 

He sat and waited till he drew us out 

A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was. 

He proved to be the city come again 

To look for something it had left behind 

And could not do without and keep its Christmas. 

He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees; 

My woods the young fir balsams like a place 

Where houses all are churches and have spires. 

I hadn't thought of them as Christmas trees. 

I doubt if I was tempted for a moment 

To sell them off their feet to go in cars 

And leave the slope behind the house all bare, 

Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon. 

I'd hate to have them know it if I was. 

Yet more I'd hate to hold my trees except 

As others hold theirs or refuse for them, 

Beyond the time of profitable growth, 

The trial by market everything must come to. 

I dallied so much with the thought of selling. 

Then whether from mistaken courtesy 

118 



And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether 
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, 
I said, 'There aren't enough to be worth while/ 

'I could soon tell how many they would cut, 
You let me look them over/ 

'You could look. 

But don't expect I'm going to let you have them/ 
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close 
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few 
Quite solitary and having equal boughs 
All round and round. The latter he nodded 'Yes' to, 
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one, 
With a buyer's moderation, 'That would do/ 
I thought so too, but wasn't there to say so. 
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over, 
And came down on the north. 

He said, 'A thousand/ 
'A thousand Christmas trees! at what apiece? J 

He felt some need of softening that to me: 

' A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars/ 

Then I was certain I had never meant 

To let him have them. Never show surprise! 

But thirty dollars seemed so small beside 

The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents 

119 



(For that was all they figured out apiece), 
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends 
I should be writing to within the hour 
Would pay in cities for good trees like those, 
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools 
Could hang enough on to pick off enough. 
A thousand Christmas trees I didn't know I had! 
Worth three cents more to give away than sell 
As may be shown by a simple calculation. 
Too bad I couldn't lay one in a letter. 
I can't help wishing I could send you one, 
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas. 



120 



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 
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand. 
What kept him from remembering the need 
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, like 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 

aiHaO ' 

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 eased his heavy breathing, but still slept. 

One aged manone mancan't keep a house, 

12! 



A farm, a countryside, or if he can, 
It's thus he does it of a winter night. 



122 



THE TELEPHONE 

\Vhen I was just as far as I could walk 
From here to-day, 
There was an hour 
All still 

When leaning with my head against a flower 
I heard you talk. 

Don't say I didn't, for I heard you say 
You spoke from that flower on the window sill- 
Do you remember what it was you said?' 

'First tell me what it was you thought you heard.' 

' Having found the flower and driven a bee away, 

I leaned my head, 

And holding by the stalk, 

I listened and I thought I caught the word 

What was it? Did you call me by my name? 

Or did you say 

Someone said "Com^" I heard it as I bowed/ 

'I may have thought as much, but not aloudo ' 
' Well, so I came" 



123 



HYLA BROOK 

JDy June our brook's run out of song and speed. 

Sought for much after that, it will be found 

Either to have gone groping underground 

(And taken with it all the Hyla breed 

That shouted in the mist a month ago, 

Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow) - 

Or flourished and come up in jewel-weed, 

Weak foliage that is blown upon and bent 

Even against the way its waters went. 

Its bed is left a faded paper sheet 

Of dead leaves stuck together by the heat 

A brook to none but who remember long. 

This as it will be seen is other far 

Than with brooks taken otherwhere in song. 

We love the things we love for what they are. 



124 



THE OVEN BIRD 

1 here is a singer everyone has heard, 
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid- wood bird, 
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again. 
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers 
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten. 
Ke says the early petal-fall is past 
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers 
On sunny days a moment overcast; 
And comes that other fall we name the fall. 
He says the highway dust is over all. 
The bird would cease and be as other birds 
But that he knows in singing not to sing. 
The question that he frames in all but words 
Is what to make of a diminished thing. 



BOND AND FREE 

.Love has earth to which she clings 
With hills and cii cling arms about- 
Wall within wall to shut fear out. 
But Thought has need of no such things, 
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings. 

On snow and sand and turf, I see 
Where Love has left a printed trace 
With straining in the world's embrace. 
And such is Love and glad to be. 
But Thought has shaken his ankles free. 

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom 
And sits in Sirius' disc all night, 
Till day makes him retrace his flight, 
With smell of burning on every plume, 
Back past the sun to an earthly room. 

His gains in heaven are what they are. 
Yet some say Love by being thrall 
And simply staying possesses all 
In several beauty that Thought fares far 
To find fused in another star. 



126 



Small good to anything growing wild, 
They were crooking many a trillium 

That had budded before the boughs v/ere piled 
And since it was coming up had to come. 



131 



PUTTING IN THE SEED 

You come to fetch me from my work to-night 

When supper's on the table, and we'll see 

If I can leave off burying the white 

Soft petals fallen from the apple tree 

(Soft petals, yes, but not so barren quite, 

Mingled with these, smooth bean and wrinkled pea;) 

And go along with you ere you lose sight 

Of what you came for and become like me, 

Slave to a springtime passion for the earth. 

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed 

On through the watching for that early birth 

When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed, 

The sturdy seedling with arched body comes 
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs. 



A TIME TO TALK 

\Vhen a friend calls to me from the road 

And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 

I don't stand still and look around 

On all the hills I haven't hoed, 

And shout from where I am, 'What is it?' 

No, not as there is a time to talk. 

1 thrust my hoe in the mellow ground., 

Blade-end up and five feet tall, 

And plod. I go up to the stone wall 

For a friendly visit. 



133 



THE COW IN APPLE TIME 

oomething 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. 

Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools 

A cider syrup. 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. 



134 



AN ENCOUNTER 

Once on the kind of day called < weather breeder/ 

When the heat slowly hazes and the sun 

By its own power seems to be undone, 

I was half boring through, half climbing through 

A swamp of cedar. Choked with oil of cedar 

And scurf of plants, and weary and over-heated, 

And sorry I ever left the road I knew, 

I paused and rested on a sort of hook 

That had me by the coat as good as seated, 

And since there was no other way to look, 

Looked up toward heaven, and there against the blue, 

Stood over me a resurrected tree, 

A tree that had been down and raised again 

A barkless spectre. He had halted too, 

As if for fear of treading upon me. 

I saw the strange position of his hands 

Up at his shoulders, dragging yellow strands 

Of wire with something in it from men to men. 

4 You here?' I said. 'Where aren't you nowadays? 

And what's the news you carry if you know? 

And tell me where you're off tor Montreal? 

Me? I'm not off for anywhere at all. 

Sometimes I wander out of beaten ways 

Half looking for the orchid Calypso/ 



135 



RANGE-FINDING 

The battle rent a cobweb diamond-strung 

And cut a flower beside a ground bird's nest 

Before it stained a single human breast. 

The stricken flower bent double and so hung. 

And still the bird revisited her young. 

A butterfly its fall had dispossessed 

A moment sought in air his flower of rest, 

Then lightly stooped to it and fluttering clung. 

On the bare upland pasture there had spread 
Overnight 'twixt mullein stalks a wheel of thread 
And straining cables wet with silver dew. 
A sudden passing bullet shook it dry. 
The indwelling spider ran to greet the fly, 
But finding nothing, sullenly withdrew. 



136 



THE HILL WIFE 

LONELINESS 
Her Word 

One ought not to have to care 

So much as you and I 
Care when the birds come round the house 

To seem to say good-bye; 

Or care so much when they come back 
With whatever it is they sing; 

The truth being we are as much 
Too glad for the one thing 

As we are too sad for the other here 
With birds that fill their breasts 

But with each other and themselves 
And their built or driven nests. 

HOUSE FEAR 

Always I tell you this they learned 
Always at night when they returned 
To the lonely house from far away 
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray, 
They learned to rattle the lock and key 
To give whatever might chance to be 
Warning and time to be off in flight: 



And preferring the out- to the in-door night, 
They learned to leave the house-door wide 
Until they had lit the lamp inside. 

THE SMILE 
Her Word 

I didn't like the way he went away. 

That smile! It never came of being gay. 

Still he smileddid you see him? I was sure! 

Perhaps because we gave htm only bread 

And the wretch knew from that that we were poor 

Perhaps because he let us give instead 

Of seizing from us as he might have seized. 

Perhaps he mocked at us for being wed, 

Or being very young (and he was pleased 

To have a vision of us old and dead). 

I wonder how far down the road he's got. 

He's watching from the woods as like as not. 

THE OFT-REPEATED DREAM 

She had no saying dark enough 

For the dark pine that kept 
Forever trying the window-latch 

Of the room where they slept. 

The tireless but ineffectual hands 
That with every futile pass 



Made the great tree seem as a little bird 
Before the mystery of glass! 

It never had been inside the room, 

And only one of the two 
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream 

Of what the tree might do. 



THE IMPULSE 

It was too lonely for her there, 

And too wild, 
And since there were but two of them, 

And no child, 

And work was little in the house. 

She was free, 
And followed where he furrowed field, 

Or felled tree. 

She rested on a log and tossed 

The fresh chips, 
With a song only to herself 

On her lips. 

And once she went to break a bough 

Of black alder. 
She strayed so far she scarcely heard 

When he called her 



139 



And didn't answer didn't speak 

Or return. 
She stood, and then she ran and hid 

In the fern. 

He never found her, though he looked 

Everywhere, 
And he asked at her mother's house 

V/as she there. 

Sudden and swift and light as that 

The ties gave, 
And he learned of finalities 

Besides the grave. 



140 



THE BONFIRE 



, let's go up the hill and scare ourselves, 
As reckless as the best of them to-night, 
By setting fire to all the brush we piled 
With pitchy hands to wait for rain or snow. 
Oh, let's not wait for rain to make it safe. 
The pile is ours: we dragged it bough on bough 
Down dark converging paths between the pines. 
Let's not care what we do with it to-night. 
Divide it? No! But burn it as one pile 
The way we piled it. And let's be the talk 
Of people brought to windows by a light 
Thrown from somewhere against their wall-paper. 
Rouse them all, both the free and not so free 
With saying what they'd like to do to us 
For what they'd better wait till we have done. 
Let's all but bring to life this old volcano, 
If that is what the mountain ever was 
And scare ourselves. Let wild fire loose we will . . 

'And scare you too?' the children said together. 

* Why wouldn't it scare me to have a fire 

Begin in smudge with ropy smoke and know 

That still, if I repent, I may recall it, 

But in a moment not: a little spurt 

Of burning fatness, and then nothing but 

The fire itself can put it out, and that 

141 



By burning out, and before it burns out 
It will have roared first and mixed sparks with stars > 
And sweeping round it with a flaming sword, 
Made the dim trees stand back in wider circle- 
Done so much and I know not how much more 
I mean it shall not do if I can bind it. 
Well if it doesn't with its draft bring on 
A wind to blow in earnest from some quarter, 
As once it did with me upon an April. 
The breezes were so spent with winter blowing 
They seemed to fail the bluebirds under them 
Short of the perch their languid flight was toward, 
And my flame made a pinnacle to heaven 
As I walked once around it in possession. 
But the wind out of doorsyou know the saying. 
There came a gust. You used to think the trees 
Made wind by fanning since you never knew 
It blow but that you saw the trees in motion. 
Something or someone watching made that gust. 
It put the flame tip-down and dabbed the grass 
Of over- winter with the least tip-touch 
Your tongue gives salt or sugar in your hand. 
The place it reached to blackened instantly. 
The black was almost all there was by day-light, 
That and the merest curl of cigarette smoke 
And a flame slender as the hepaticas, 
Blood-root, and violets so soon to be now. 
But the black spread like black death on the ground, 
And I think the sky darkened with a cloud 
Like winter and evening coming on together. 

142 



They were enough things to be thought of then. 
Where the field stretches toward the north 
And setting sun to Hyla brook, I gave it 
To flames without twice thinking, where it verges 
Upon the road, to flames too, though in fear 
They might find fuel there, in withered brake, 
Grass its full length, old silver golden-rod, 
And alder and grape vine entanglement, 
To leap the dusty deadline. For my own 
I took what front there was beside. I knelt 
And thrust hands in and held my face away. 
Fight such a fire by rubbing not by beating. 
A board is the best weapon if you have it. 
I had my coat. And oh, I knew, I knew, 
And said out loud, I couldn't bide the smother 
And heat so close in; but the thought of all 
The woods and town on fire by me, and all 
The town turned out to fight for me that held me. 
I trusted the brook barrier, but feared 
The road would fail; and on that side the fire 
Died not without a noise of crackling wood 
Of something more than tinder-grass and weed- 
That brought me to my feet to hold it back 
By leaning back myself, as if the reins 
Were round my neck and I was at the plough, 
I won! But I'm sure no one ever spread 
Another color over a tenth the space 
That I spread coal-black over in the time 
It took me. Neighbors coming home from town 
Couldn't believe that so much black had come there 

143 



While they had backs turned, that it hadn't been there 
When they had passed an hour or so before 
Going the other way and they not seen it. 
They looked about for someone to have done it. 
But there was no one. I was somewhere wondering 
Where all my weariness had gone and why 
I walked so light on air in heavy shoes 
In spite of a scorched Fourth-of-July feeling. 
Why wouldn't I be scared remembering that?' 

'If it scares you, what will it do to us?' 

'Scare you. But if you shrink from being scared, 
What would you say to war if it should come? 
That's what for reasons I should like to know 
If you can comfort me by any answer.' 

'Oh, but war's not for childrenit's for men.' 

'Now we are digging almost down to China. 

My dears, my dears, you thought that we all thought 

it. 

So your mistake was ours. Haven't you heard, though, 
About the ships where war has found them out 
At sea, about the towns where war has come 
Through opening clouds at night with droning speed 
Further o'erhead than all but stars and angels, 
And children in the ships and in the towns? 
Haven't you heard what we have lived to learn? 
Nothing so new something we had forgotten: 

144 



War is for everyone, for children too. 
I wasn't going to tell you and I mustn't. 
The best way is to come up hill with me 
And have our fire and laugh and be afraid/ 



145 



THE LAST WORD OF A BLUEBIRD 
AS TOLD TO A CHILD 

As I went out a Crow 

In a low voice said 'Oh ; 

I was looking for you. 

How do you do? 

I just came to tell you 

To tell Lesley (will you?) 

That her little Bluebird 

Wanted me to bring word 

That the north wind last night 

That made the stars bright 

And made ice on the trough 

Almost made him cough 

His tail feathers off. 

He just had to fly! 

But he sent her Good-bye, 

And said to be good, 

And wear her red hood, 

And look for skunk tracks 

In the snow with an axe 

And do everything! 

And perhaps in the spring 

He would come back and sing.' 



146 



'OUT, 



1 he buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard 
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of 

wood, 

Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it. 
And from there those that lifted eyes could count 
Five mountain ranges one behind the other 
Under the sunset far into Vermont. 
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled, 
As it ran light, or had to bear a load. 
And nothing happened: day was all but done. 
Call it a day, I wish they might have said 
To please the boy by giving him the half hour 
That a boy counts so much when saved from work. 
His sister stood beside them in her apron 
To tell them 'Supper.' At the word, the saw, 
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, 
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap- 
He must have given the hand. However it was, 
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand! 
^ ne boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh, 
As he swung toward them holding up the hand 
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep 
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw ail- 
Since he was old enough to know, big boy 
Doing a man's work, though a child at heart- 
He saw all spoiled. 'Don't let him cut my hand off 
The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister P 

147 



So. But the hand was gone already. 

The doctor put him in the dark of ether. 

He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath. 

And then the watcher at his pulse took fright. 

No one believed. They listened at his heart. 

Littleless nothing! and that ended it. 

No more to build on there. And they, since they 

Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs. 



148 



BROWN'S DESCENT 

OR 

THE WILLY-NILLY SLIDE 

Drown lived at such a lofty farm 
That everyone for miles could see 

His lantern when he did his chores 
In winter after half-past three. 

And many must have seen him make 
His wild descent from there one night, 

'Cross lots, 'cross walls, 'cross everything, 
Describing rings of lantern light. 

Between the house and barn the gale 
Got him by something he had on 

And blew him out on the icy crust 

That cased the world, and he was gone! 

Walls were all buried, trees were few: 

He saw no stay unless he stove 
A hole in somewhere with his heel. 

But though repeatedly he strove 

And stamped and said things to himself, 
And sometimes something seemed to yield, 

He gained no foothold, but pursued 
His journey down from field to field. 



149 



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 figures 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. 

150 



' 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, Fm 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. 

He 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; 



151 



No more so than became a man 
And politician at odd seasons. 

I've kept Brown standing in the cold 
While I invested him with reasons; 

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. 



152 



THE GUM-GATHERER 

There overtook me and drew me in 

To his down-hill, early-morning stride, 

And set me five miles on my road 

Better than if he had had me ride, 

A man with a swinging bag for load 

And half the bag wound round his hand. 

We talked like barking above the din 

Of water we walked along beside. 

And for my telling him where I'd been 

And where I lived in mountain land 

To be coming home the way I was, 

He told me a little about himself. 

He came from higher up in the pass 

Where the grist of the new-beginning brooks 

Is blocks split off the mountain mass 

And hopeless grist enough it looks 

Ever to grind to soil for grass. 

(The way it is will do for moss.) 

There he had built his stolen shack. 

It had to be a stolen shack 

Because of the fears of fire and loss 

That trouble the sleep of lumber folk: 

Visions of half the world burned black 

And the sun shrunken yellow in smoke. 

We know who when they come to town 

Bring berries under the wagon seat, 

Or a basket of eggs between their feet; 



153 



What this man brought in a cotton sack 
Was gum, the gum of the mountain spruce. 
He showed me lumps of the scented stuff 
Like uncut jewels, dull and rough. 
It conies to market golden brown; 
But turns to pink between the teeth. 

I told him this is a pleasant life 
To set your breast to the bark of trees 
That all your days are dim beneath, 
And reaching up with a little knife, 
To loose the resin and take it down 
And bring it to market when you please. 



154 



THE LINE-GANG 

Jriere come the line-gang pioneering by. 
They throw a forest down less cut than broken. 
They plant dead trees for living, and the dead 
They string together with a living thread. 
They string an instrument against the sky 
Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken 
Will run as hushed as when they were a thought. 
But in no hush they string it: they go past 
With shouts afar to pull the cable taut, 
To hold it hard until they make it fast, 
To ease away they have it. With a laugh, 
An oath of towns that set the wild at naught 
They bring the telephone and telegraph. 



155 



THE VANISHING RED 

lie is said to have been the last Red Man 

In Acton. And the Miller is said to have laughed 

If you like to call such a sound a laugh. 

But he gave no one else a laughter's license. 

For he turned suddenly grave as if to say, 

' Whose business,if I take it on myself, 

Whose businessbut why talk round the barn? 

When it's just that I hold with getting a thing done 

with. 

You can't get back and see it as he saw it. 
It's too long a story to go into now. 
You'd have to have been there and lived it. 
Then you wouldn't have looked on it as just a matter 
Of who began it between the two races. 

Some guttural exclamation of surprise 
The Red Man gave in poking about the mill 
Over the great big thumping shuffling mill-stone 
Disgusted the Miller physically as coming 
From one who had no right to be heard from. 
'Come, John/ he said, 'you want to see the wheel pit? > 

He took him down below a cramping rafter, 
And showed him, through a manhole in the floor, 
The water in desperate straits like frantic fish, 
Salmon and sturgeon, lashing with their tails. 
Then he shut down the trap door with a ring in it 

156 



That jangled even above the general noise, 
And came up stairs alone and gave that laugh, 
And said something to a man with a meal-sack 
That the man with the meal-sack didn't catch then. 
Oh, yes, he showed John the wheel pit all right. 



157 



SNOW 

1 he three stood listening to a fresh access 
Of wind that caught against the house a moment, 
Gulped snow, and then blew free again the Coles 
Dressed, but dishevelled from some hours of sleep, 
Meserve belittled in the great skin coat he wore. 

Meserve was first to speak. He pointed backward 
Over his shoulder with his pipe-stem, saying, 
* You can just see it glancing off the roof 
Making a great scroll upward toward the sky, 
Long enough for recording all our names on. 
I think Til just call up my wife and tell her 
I'm here so far and starting on again. 
I'll call her softly so that if she's wise 
And gone to sleep, she needn't wake to answer/ 
Three times he barely stirred the bell, then listened. 
'Why, Lett, still up? Lett, I'm at Cole's. I'm late. 
I called you up to say Good-night from here 
Before I went to say Good-morning there. 
I thought I would. I know, but, Lett I know 
I could, but what's the sense? The rest won't be 
So bad. Give me an hour for it. Ho, ho, 
Three hours to here! But that was all up hill; 
The rest is down. Why no, no, not a wallow: 
They kept their heads and took their time to it 
Like darlings, both of them. They're in the barn. 



158 



My dear, I'm coming just the same. I didn't 
Call you to ask you to invite me home. ' 
He lingered for some word she wouldn't say, 
Said it at last himself, * Good-night/ and then 
Getting no answer, closed the telephone. 
The three stood in the lamplight round the table 
With lowered eyes a moment till he said, 
Til just see how the horses are/ 

1 Yes, do/ 

Both the Coles said together. Mrs. Cole 
Added: ' You can judge better after seeing. 
I want you here with me, Fred. Leave him here, 
Brother Meserve. You know to find your way 
Out through the shed/ 

'I guess I know my way, 
I guess I know where I can find my name 
Carved in the shed to tell me who I am 
If it don't tell me where I am. I used 
To play' 

* You tend your horses and come back. 
Fred Cole, you're going to let him!' 

'Well, aren't you: 
How can you help yourself?' 

'I called him Brother. 
Why did I call him that?' 



159 



'It's right enough. 

That's all you ever heard him called round here. 
He seems to have lost off his Christian name/ 

'Christian enough I should call that myself. 

He took no notice, did he? Well, at least 

I didn't use it out of love of him, 

The dear knows. I detest the thought of him 

With his ten children under ten years old. 

I hate his wretched little Racker Sect, 

All's ever I heard of it, which isn't much. 

But that's not saying Look, Fred Cole, it's twelve, 

Isn't it, now? He's been here half an hour. 

He says he left the village store at nine. 

Three hours to do four miles a mile an hour 

Or not much better. Why, it doesn't seem 

As if a man could move that slow and move. 

Try to think what he did with all that time. 

And three miles more to go!' 

'Don't let him go. 

Stick to him, Helen. Make him answer you. 
That sort of man talks straight on all his life 
From the last thing he said himself, stone deaf 
To anything anyone else may say. 
I should have thought, though, you could make him 
hear you/ 

'What is he doing out a night like this? 
Why can't he stay at home?' 

16O 



'He had to preach/ 
'It's no night to be out.' 

'He may be small, 
He may be good, but one thing's sure, he's tough. 1 

'And strong of stale tobacco/ 

'He'll pull through.' 

'You only say so. Not another house 
Or shelter to put into from this place 
To theirs. I'm going to call his wife again.' 

' Wait and he may. Let's see what he will do. 
Let's see if he will think of her again. 
But then I doubt he's thinking of himself. 
He doesn't look on it as anything.' 

'He shan't go there!' 

'It is a night, my dear.' 
'One thing: he didn't drag God into it.' 
'He don't consider it a case for God.' 

'You think so, do you? You don't know the kind. 
He's getting up a miracle this minute. 

161 



Privatelyto himself, right now, he's thinking 
He*!! make a case of it if he succeeds, 
But keep still if he fails/ 

'Keep still all over. 
He'll be dead dead and buried/ 

'Such a trouble! 

Not but I've every reason not to care 
What happens to him if it only takes 
Some of the sanctimonious conceit 
Out of one of those pious scalawags/ 

'Nonsense to that! You want to see him safe/ 
"You like the runt/ 

'Don't you a little?' 

'Well, 

I don't like what he's doing, which is what 
You like, and like him for/ 

'Oh, yes you do. 

You like your fun as well as anyone; 
Only you women have to put these airs on 
To impress men. You've got us so ashamed 
Of being men we can't look at a good fight 
Between two boys and not feel bound to stop it. 
Let the man freeze an ear or two, I say. 

162 



He's here. I leave him all to you. Go in 

And save his life. All right, come in, Meserve. 

Sit down, sit down. How did you find the horses? 1 

Tine, fine/ 

t And ready for some more? My wife her 
Says it wont do. You've got to give it up/ 

'Won't you to please me? Please! If I say please? 
Mr. Meserve, I'll leave it to your wife. 
What did your wife say on the telephone?' 

Meserve seemed to heed nothing but the lamp 
Or something not far from it on the table. 
By straightening out and lifting a forefinger, 
He pointed with his hand from where it lay 
Like a white crumpled spider on his knee: 
'That leaf there in your open book! It moved 
Just then, I thought. It's stood erect like that, 
There on the table, ever since I came, 
Trying to turn itself backward or forward, 
I've had my eye on it to make out which; 
If forward, then it's with a friend's impatience 
You see I know to get you on to things 
It wants to see how you will take, if backward 
It's from regret for something you have passed 
And failed to see the good of. Never mind, 
Things must expect to come in front of us 
A many times I don't say just how many 

163 



That varies with the things before we see them. 

One of the lies would makfe it out that nothing 

Ever presents itself before us twice. 

Where would we be at last if that were so? 

Our very life depends on everything's 

Recurring till we answer from within. 

The thousandth time may prove the charm. That 

leaf! 

It can't turn either way. It needs the wind's help. 
But the wind didn't move it if it moved. 
It moved itself. The wind's at naught in here. 
It couldn't stir so sensitively poised 
A thing as that. It couldn't reach the lamp 
To get a puff of black smoke from the flame, 
Or blow a rumple in the collie's coat. 
You make a little foursquare block of air, 
Quiet and light and warm, in spite of all 
The illimitable dark and cold and storm, 
And by so doing give these three, lamp, dog, 
And book-leaf, that keep near you, their repose; 
Though for all anyone can tell, repose 
May be the thing you haven't, yet you give it. 
So false it is that what we haven't we can't give; 
So false, that what we always say is true. 
I'll have to turn the leaf if no one else will. 
It won't lie down. Then let it stand. Who cares?' 

1 shouldn't want to hurry you, Meserve, 
But if you're going Say you'll stay, you know* 
But let me raise this curtain on a scene, 

164 



And show you how it's piling up against you. 
You see the snow-white through the white of frost? 
Ask Helen how far up the sash it's climbed 
Since last we read the gage/ 

'It looks as if 

Some pallid thing had squashed its features flat 
And its eyes shut with overeagerness 
To see what people found so interesting 
In one another, and had gone to sleep 
Of its own stupid lack of understanding, 
Or broken its white neck of mushroom stuff 
Short off, and died against the window-pane/ 

'Brother Meserve, take care, you'll scare yourself 
More than you will us with such nightmare talk. 
It's you it matters to, because it's you 
Who have to go out into it alone.' 

'Let him talk, Helen, and perhaps he'll stay/ 

'Before you drop the curtain I'm reminded: 

You recollect the boy who came out here 

To breathe the air one winter had a room 

Down at the Averys'? Well, one sunny morning 

After a downy storm, he passed our place 

And found me banking up the house with snow. 

And I was burrowing in deep for warmth, 

Piling it well above the window-sills. 

The snow against the window caught his eye. 

165 



"Hey, that's a pretty thought " those were his 

words. 

"So you can think it's six feet deep outside, 
While you sit warm and read up balanced rations. 
You can't get too much winter in the winter." 
Those were his words. And he went home and all 
But banked the daylight out of Avery's windows. 
Now you and I would go to no such length. 
At the same time you can't deny it makes 
It not a mite worse, sitting here, we three, 
Playing our fancy, to have the snowliiie run 
So high across the pane outside. There where 
There is a sort of tunnel in the frost 
More like a tunnel than a hole way down 
At the far end of it you see a stir 
And quiver like the frayed edge of the drift 
Blown in the wind. I like that I like that. 
Well, now I leave you, people.' 

'Come, Meserve, 

We thought you were deciding not to go 
The ways you found to say the praise of comfort 
And being where you are. You want to stay/ 

Til own it's cold for such a fall of snow. 
This house is frozen brittle, all except 
This room you sit in. If you think the wind 
Sounds further off, it's not because it's dying; 
You're further under in the snow that's all 
\nd feel it less. Hear the soft bombs of dust 

166 



It bursts against us at the chimney mouth, 
And at the eaves. I like it from inside 
More than I shall out in it. But the horses 
Are rested and it's time to say good-night, 
And let you get to bed again. Good-night, 
Sorry I had to break in on your sleep/ 

* Lucky for you you did. Lucky for you 
You had us for a half-way station 
To stop at. If you were the kind of man 
Paid heed to women, you'd take my advice 
And for your family's sake stay where you are. 
But what good is my saying it over and over? 
You've done more than you had a right to think 
You could donoiu. You know the risk you take 
In going on.' 

'Our snow-storms as a rule 
Aren't looked on as man-killers, and although 
I'd rather be the beast that sleeps the sleep 
Under it all, his door sealed up and lost, 
Than the man fighting it to keep above it, 
Yet think of the small birds at roost and not 
In nests. Shall I be counted less than they are? 
Their bulk in water would be frozen rock 
In no time out to-night. And yet to-morrow 
They will come budding boughs from tree to tree 
Flirting their wings and saying Chickadee, 
As if not knowing what you meant by the word 
storm.' 

167 



'But why when no one wants you to go on? 
Your wifeshe doesn't want you to. We don't, 
And you yourself don't want to. Who else is there?' 

'Save us from being cornered by a woman. 

Well, there's' She told Fred afterward that in 

The pause right there, she thought the dreaded word 

Was coming, 'God/ But no, he only said 

' Well, there's the storm. That says I must go on. 

That wants me as a war might if it came. 

Ask any man/ 

He threw her that as something 
To last her till he got outside the door. 
He had Cole with him to the barn to see him off. 
When Cole returned he found his wife still standing 
Beside the table near the open book, 
Not reading it. 

'Well, what kind of a man 
Do you call that?' she said. 

'He had the gift 
Of words, or is it tongues, I ought to say? ; 

* Was ever such a man for seeing likeness?' 

'Ov disregarding people's civil questions 

What? We've found out in one hour more about him 

Than we had seeing him pass by in the road 

168 



A thousand times. If that's the way he preaches! 
You didn't think you'd keep him after all. 
Oh, I'm not blaming you. He didn't leave you 
Much say in the matter, and I'm just as glad 
We're not in for a night of him. No sleep 
If he had stayed. The least thing set him going. 
It's quiet as an empty church without him.' 

'But how much better off are we as it is? 
We'll have to sit here till we know he's safe.' 

'Yes, I suppose you'll want to, but I shouldn't. 
He knows what he can do, or he wouldn't try. 
Get into bed I say, and get some rest. 
He won't come back, and if he telephones, 
It won't be for an hour or two.' 

' Well then. 

We can't be any help by sitting here 
And living his fight through with him, I suppose.' 



Cole had been telephoning in the dark. 
Mrs. Cole's voice came from an inner room: 
'Did she call you or you call her?' 

'She me. 

You'd better dress: you won't go back to bed. 
We must have been asleep: it's three and after/ 

169 



'Had she been ringing long? FI1 get my wrapper. 
I want to speak to her/ 

'All she said was, 
He hadn't come and had he really started/ 

'She knew he had, poor thing, two hours ago/ 
'He had the shovel. He'll have made a fight/ 
'Why did I ever let him leave this house 1 / 

'Don't begin that. You did the best you could 
To keep him though perhaps you didn't quite 
Conceal a wish to see him show the spunk 
To disobey you. Much his wife'll thank you/ 

'Fred, after all I said! You shan't make out 
That it was any way but what it was. 
Did she let on by any word she said 
She didn't thank me?' 

'When I told her "Gone," 

ll Wdlthcn/ > shcsaid,and"Wcllthcn"-likcathrcat. 
And then her voice came scraping slow: "Oh, you, 
Why did you let him go?" ' 

'Asked why we let him? 
You let me there. Fll ask her why she let him. 

170 



She didn't dare to speak when he was here 

Their number's twenty-one? The thing won't work 

Someone's receiver's down. The handle stumbles. 

The stubborn thing, the way it jars your arm! 

It's theirs. She's dropped it from her hand and gone, 

Try speaking. Say "Hello!" ' 

'Hello. Hello/ 
'What do you hear?' 

'I hear an empty room 

You know it sounds that way. And yes, I hear 
I think I hear a clock and windows rattling. 
No step though. If she's there she's sitting down/ 

'Shout; she may hear you/ 

'Shouting is no good/ 
'Keep speaking then/ 

'Hello. Hello. Hello. 
You don't suppose? She wouldn't go out doors?' 

Tm half afraid that's just what she might do/ 

'And leave the children?' 

171 



' Wait and call again. 

You can't hear whether she has left the door 
Wide open and the wind's blown out the lamp 
And the fire's died and the room's dark and cold?' 

'One of two things, either she's gone to bed 
Or gone out doors.' 

'In which case both are lost. 

Do you know what she's like? Have you ever met her? 
It's strange she doesn't want to speak to us/ 

'Fred, see if you can hear what I hear. Come/ 
'A clock maybe/ 

'Don't you hear something else?' 
'Not talking/ 

'No/ 

' Why, yes, I hear what is it?' 
' What do you say it is?' 

'A baby's crying! 

Frantic it sounds, though muffled and far off. 
Its mother wouldn't let it cry like that, 
Not if she's there/ 

172 



* What do you make of it?' 

there's only one thing possible to make, 

That is, assuming that she has gone out. 

Of course she hasn't though.' They both sat down 

Helpless. 'There's nothing we can do till morning.' 

'Fred, I shan't let you think of going out/ 

'Hold on/ The double bell began to chirp. 

They started up. Fred took the telephone. 

'Hello, Meserve. You're there, then! And your wife? 

Good! Why I asked she didn't seem to answer. 

He says she went to let him in the barn. 

We're glad. Oh, say no more about it, man. 

Drop in and see us when you're passing.' 

'Well, 

She has him then, though what she wants him for 
I don't see.' 

'Possibly not for herself. 
Maybe she only wants him for the children/ 

'The whole to-do seems to have been for nothing. 
What spoiled our night was to him just his fun. 
What did he come in for? To talk and visit? 
Thought he'd just call to tell us it was snowing. 
If he thinks he is going to make our house 
A half-way coffee house 'twixt town and nowhere' 

173 



'I thought you'd feel you'd been too much concerned 
'You think you haven't been concerned yourself.' 

'If you mean he was inconsiderate 
To rout us out to think for him at midnight 
And then take our advice no more than nothing, 
Why, I agree with you. But let's forgive him. 
We've had a share in one night of his life. 
What'll you bet he ever calls again?' 



174 



THE SOUND OF THE TREES 

I wonder about the trees. 

Why do we wish to bear 

Forever the noise of these 

More than another noise 

So close to our dwelling place? 

We suffer them by the day 

Till we lose all measure of pace, 

And fixity in our joys, 

And acquire a listening air. 

They are that that talks of going 

But never gets away; 

And that talks no less for knowing, 

As it grows wiser and older, 

That now it means to stay. 

My feet tug at the floor 

And my head sways to my shoulder 

Sometimes when I watch trees sway, 

From the window or the door. 

I shall set forth for somewhere, 

I shall make the reckless choice 

Some day when they are in voice 

And tossing so as to scare 

The white clouds over them on. 

I shall have less to say, 

But I shall be gone. 



175 



New Hampshire 



NEW HAMPSHIRE 

1 met a lady from the South who said 
(You won't believe she said it, but she said it): 
'None of my family ever worked, or had 
A thing to sell/ I don't suppose the work 
Much matters. You may work for all of me. 
I've seen the time I've had to work myself. 
The having anything to sell is what 
Is the disgrace in man or state or nation. 

I met a traveller from Arkansas 

Who boasted of his state as beautiful 

For diamonds and apples. 'Diamonds 

And apples in commercial quantities?' 

I asked him, on my guard. ( Oh yes/ he answered, 

Off his. The time was evening in the Pullman. 

'I see the porter's made your bed/ I told him. 

I met a Californian who would 

Talk California a state so blessed, 

He said, in climate, none had ever died there 

A natural death, and Vigilance Committees 

Had had to organize to stock the graveyards 

And vindicate the state's humanity. 

'Just the way Steffanson runs on/ I murmured, 

'About the British Arctic. That's what comes 

Of being in the market with a climate.' 

179 



I met a poet from another state, 
A zealot full of fluid inspiration, 
Who in the name of fluid inspiration, 
But in the best style of bad salesmanship, 
Angrily tried to make me write a protest 
(In verse I think) against the Volstead Act. 
He didn't even offer me a drink 
Until I asked for one to steady him. 
This is called having an idea to sell. 

It never could have happened in New Hampshire. 

The only person really soiled with trade 

I ever stumbled on in old New Hampshire 

Was someone who had just come back ashamed 

From selling things in California. 

He'd built a noble mansard roof with balls 

On turrets like Constantinople, deep 

In woods some ten miles from a railroad station, 

As if to put forever out of mind 

The hope of being, as we say, received. 

I found him standing at the close of day 

Inside the threshold of his open barn, 

Like a lone actor on a gloomy stage 

&nd recognized him through the iron grey 

In which his face was muffled to the eyes 

As an old boyhood friend, and once indeed 

A drover with me on the road to Brighton. 

His farm was 'grounds,' and not a farm at all; 

His house among the local sheds and shanties 

180 



Rose like a factor's at a trading station. 

And he was rich, and I was still a rascal. 

I couldn't keep from asking impolitely, 

Where had he been and what had he been doing? 

How did he get so? (Rich was understood.) 

In dealing in 'old rags' in San Francisco. 

Oh it was terrible as well could be. 

We both of us turned over in our graves. 

Just specimens is all New Hampshire has, 

One each of everything as in a show-case 

Which naturally she doesn't care to sell 

She had one President (pronounce him Purse, 
And make the most of it for better or worse. 
He's your one chance to score against the state), 
She had one Daniel Webster. He was all 
The Daniel Webster ever was or shall be. 
She had the Dartmouth needed to produce him. 

I call her old. She has one family 
Whose claim is good to being settled here 
Before the era of colonization, 
And before that of exploration even. 
John Smith remarked them as he coasted by 
Dangling their legs and fishing off a wharf 
At the Isles of Shoals, and satisfied himself 
They weren't Red Indians, but veritable 
Pre-primitives of the white race, dawn people, 
Like those who furnished Adam's sons with 
wives; 



However uninnocent they may have been 

In being there so early in our history. 

They'd been there then a hundred years or more. 

Pity he didn't ask what they were up to 

At that date with a wharf already built, 

And take their name. They've since told me their 

name- 
Today an honored one in Nottingham. 
As for what they were up to more than fishing- 
Suppose they weren't behaving Puritanly, 
The hour had not yet struck for being good, 
Mankind had not yet gone on the Sabbatical. 
It became an explorer of the deep 
Not to explore too deep in others' business. 
Did you but know of him, New Hampshire has. 
One real reformer who would change the world 
So it would be accepted by two classes, 
Artists the minute they set up as artists, 
Before, that is, they are themselves accepted, 
And boys the minute they get out of college. 
I can't help thinking those are tests to go by. 

And she has one I don't know what to call him, 
Who comes from Philadelphia every year 
With a great flock of chickens of rare breeds 
He wants to give the educational 
Advantages of growing almost wild 
Under the watchful eye of hawk and eagle- 
Dorkings because they're spoken of by Chaucer 
Sussex because they're spoken of by Herrick. 

182 



She has a touch of gold. New Hampshire gold 

You may have heard of it. I had a farm 

Offered me not long since up Berlin way 

With a mine on it that was worked for gold; 

But not gold in commercial quantities. 

Just enough gold to make the engagement rings 

And marriage rings of those who owned the farm. 

What gold more innocent could one have asked for? 

One of my children ranging after rocks 

Lately brought home from Andover or Canaan 

A specimen of beryl with a trace 

Of radium. I know with radium 

The trace would have to be the merest trace 

To be below the threshold of commercial; 

But trust New Hampshire not to have enough 

Of radium or anything to sell. 

A specimen of everything, I said. 

She has one witch old style. She lives in Colebrook. 

(The only other witch I ever met 

Was lately at a cut-glass dinner in Boston. 

There were four candles and four people present. 

The witch was young, and beautiful (new style), 

And open-minded. She was free to question 

Her gift for reading letters locked in boxes. 

Why was it so much greater when the boxes 

Were metal than it was when they were wooden? 

It made the world seem so mysterious. 

The S'ciety for Psychical Research 

Was cognizant. Her husband was worth millions. 

I think he owned some shares in Harvard College.) 

183 



New Hampshire used to have at Salem 

A company we called the White Corpuscles, 

Whose duty was at any hour of night 

To rush in sheets and fools* caps where they smelled 

A thing the least bit doubtfully perscented 

And give someone the Skipper Ireson's Ride. 

One each of everything as in a show-case. 

More than enough land for a specimen 

You'll say she has, but there there enters in 

Something else to protect her from herself. 

There quality makes up for quantity. 

Not even New Hampshire farms are much for sale. 

The farm I made my home on in the mountains 

I had to take by force rather than buy. 

I caught the owner outdoors by himself 

Raking up after winter, and I said, 

I'm going to put you off this farm: I want it/ 

* Where are you going to put me? In the road?* 

Tm going to put you on the farm next to it.' 

Why won't the farm next to it do for you?' 

1 like this better/ It was really better. 

Apples? New Hampshire has them, but unsprayed, 

With no suspicion in stem-end or blossom-end 

Of vitriol or arsenate of lead, 

And so not good for anything but cider. 

Her unpruned grapes are flung like lariats 

Far up the birches out of reach of man. 

184 



A state producing precious metals, stones, 
And writing; none of these except perhaps 
The precious literature in quantity 
Or quality to worry the producer 
About disposing of it. Do you know, 
Considering the market, there are more 
Poems produced than any other thing? 
No wonder poets sometimes have to seem 
So much more business-like than business men. 
Their wares are so much harder to get rid of. 

She's one of the two best states in the Union. 

Vermont's the other. And the two have been 

Yoke-fellows in the sap-yoke from of old 

In many Marches. And they lie like wedges, 

Thick end to thin end and thin end to thick end, 

And are a figure of the way the strong 

Of mind and strong of arm should fit together, 

One thick where one is thin and vice versa. 

New Hampshire raises the Connecticut 

In a trout hatchery near Canada, 

But soon divides the river with Vermont. 

Both are delightful states for their absurdly 

Small townsLost Nation, Bungey, Muddy Boo, 

Poplin, Still Corners (so called not becaiise 

The place is silent all day long, nor yet 

Because it boasts a whisky still because 

It set out once to be a city and still 

Is only corners, cross- roads in a wood). 

185 



And I remember one whose name appeared 
Between the pictures on a movie screen 
Election night once in Franconia, 
When everything had gone Republican 
And Democrats were sore in need of comfort: 
Easton goes Democratic, Wilson 4 
Hughes 2. And everybody to the saddest 
Laughed the loud laugh, the big laugh at the little. 
New York (five million) laughs at Manchester, 
Manchester (sixty or seventy thousand) laughs 
At Littleton (four thousand), Littleton 
Laughs at Franconia (seven hundred), and 
Franconia laughs, I fear, -did laugh that night 
At Easton. What has Easton left to laugh at, 
And like the actress exclaim, 'Oh my God' at? 
There's Bungey; and for Bungey there are towns, 
Whole townships named but without population. 

Anything I can say about New Hampshire 
Will serve almost as well about Vermont, 
Excepting that they differ in their mountains. 
The Vermont mountains stretch extended straight; 
New Hampshire mountains curl up in a coil. 

I had been coming to New Hampshire mountains. 

And here I am and what am I to say? 

Here first my theme becomes embarrassing. 

Emerson said, 'The God who made New Hampshire 

Taunted the lofty land with little men.' 

Another Massachusetts poet said, 

186 



'I go no more to summer in New Hampshire. 

IVe given up my summer place in Dublin/ 

But when I asked to know what ailed New Hampshire. 

She said she couldn't stand the people in it, 

The little men (it's Massachusetts speaking). 

And when I asked to know what ailed the people, 

She said, 'Go read your own books and find out.' 

I may as well confess myself the author 

Of several books against the world in general. 

To take them as against a special state 

Or even nation's to restrict my meaning. 

I'm what is called a sensibilitist, 

Or otherwise an environmentalist. 

I refuse to adapt myself a mite 

To any change from hot to cold, from wet 

To dry, from poor to rich, or back again. 

I make a virtue of my suffering 

From nearly everything that goes on round me. 

In other words, I know wherever I am, 

Being the creature of literature I am, 

I shall not lack for pain to keep me awake. 

Kit Marlowe taught me how to say my prayers: 

'Why, this is Hell, nor am I out of it/ 

Samoa, Russia, Ireland I complain of, 

No less than England, France and Italy. 

Because I wrote my novels in New Hampshire 

Is no proof that I aimed them at New Hampshire. 



When I left Massachusetts years ago 
Between two days, the reason why I sought 



187 



New Hampshire, not Connecticut, 

Rhode Island, New York, or Vermont was this: 

Where I was living then, New Hampshire offered 

The nearest boundary to escape across. 

I hadn't an illusion in my hand-bag 

About the people being better there 

Than those I left behind. I thought they weren't. 

I thought they couldn't be. And yet they were. 

I'd sure had no such friends in Massachusetts 

As Hall of Windham, Gay of Atkinson, 

Bartlett of Raymond (now of Colorado), 

Harris of Derry, and Lynch of Bethlehem 

The glorious bards of Massachusetts seem 

To want to make New Hampshire people over. 

They taunt the lofty land with little men. 

I don't know what to say about the people. 

For art's sake one could almost wish them worse 

Rather than better. How are we to write 

The Russian novel in America 

As long as life goes so unterribly? 

There is the pinch from which our only outcry 

In literature to date is heard to come. 

We get what little misery we can 

Out of not having cause for misery. 

It makes the guild of novel writers sick 

To be expected to be Dostoievskis 

On nothing worse than too much luck and comfort. 

This is not sorrow, though; it's just the vapors, 

And recognized as such in Russia itself 

188 



Under the new regime, and so forbidden. 
If well it is with Russia, then feel free 
To say so or be stood against the wall 
And shot. It's Pollyanna now or death. 
This, then, is the new freedom we hear tell of; 
And very sensible. No state can build 
A literature that shall at once be sound 
And sad on a foundation of well-being, 

To show the level of intelligence 

Among us: it was just a Warren farmer 

Whose horse had pulled him short up in the road 

By me, a stranger. This is what he said, 

From nothing but embarrassment and want 

Of anything more sociable to say: 

' You hear those hound-dogs sing on Moosilauke? 

Well they remind me of the hue and cry 

We've heard against the Mid- Victorians 

And never rightly understood till Bryan 

Retired from politics and joined the chorus. 

The matter with the Mid- Victorians 

Seems to have been a man named John L. Darwin/ 

'Go 'long/ I said to him, he to his horse. 

I knew a man who failing as a farmer 

Burned down his farmhouse for the fire insurance. 

And spent the proceeds on a telescope 

To satisfy a life-long curiosity 

About our place among the infinities. 

And how was that for other-worldliness? 

189 



If I must choose which I would elevate 
The people or the already lofty mountains, 
Td elevate the already lofty mountains. 
The only fault I find with old New Hampshire 
Is that her mountains aren't quite high enough. 
I was not always so; I've come to be so. 
How, to my sorrow, how have I attained 
A height from which to look down critical 
On mountains? What has given me assurance 
To say what height becomes New Hampshire moun- 
tains, 

Or any mountains? Can it be some strength 
I feel as of an earthquake in my back 
To heave them higher to the morning star? 
Can it be foreign travel in the Alps? 
Or having seen and credited a moment 
The solid moulding of vast peaks of cloud 
Behind the pitiful reality 
Of Lincoln, Lafayette and Liberty? 
Or some such sense as says how high shall jet 
The fountain in proportion to the basin? 
No, none of these has raised me to my throne 
Of intellectual dissatisfaction, 
But the sad accident of having seen 
Our actual mountains given in a map 
Of early times as twice the height they are- 
Ten thousand feet instead of only five 
Which shows how sad an accident may be. 
Five thousand is no longer high enough. 
Whereas I never had a good idea 

190 



About improving people in the world, 

Here I am over-fertile in suggestion, 

And cannot rest from planning day or night 

How high Fd thrust the peaks in summer snow 

To tap the upper sky and draw a flow 

Of frosty night air on the vale below 

Down from the stars to freeze the dew as starry. 

The more the sensibilitist I am 
The more I seem to want my mountains wild; 
The way the wiry gang-boss liked the log-jam. 
After he'd picked the lock and got it started, 
He dodged a log that lifted like an arm 
Against the sky to break his back for him, 
Then came in dancing, skipping, with his life 
Across the roar and chaos, and the words 
We saw him say along the zigzag journey 
Were doubtless as the words we heard him say 
On coming nearer: 'Wasn't she an i-deal 
Son-of-a-bitch? You bet she was an t-deal.' 

For all her mountains fall a little short, 
Her people not quite short enough for Art, 
She's still New Hampshire, a most restful state. 

Lately in converse with a New York alec 
About the new school of the pseudo-phallic, 
I found myself in a close corner where 
I had to make an almost funny choice. 
'Choose you which you will bea prude, or puke, 

191 



Mewling and puking in the public arms/ 
'Me for the hills where I don't have to choose/ 
'But if you had to choose, which would you be?' 
I wouldn't be a prude afraid of nature. 
I know a man who took a double axe 
And went alone against a grove of trees; 
But his heart failing him, he dropped the axe 
And ran for shelter quoting Matthew Arnold: 
'Nature is cruel, man is sick of blood; 
There's been enough shed without shedding mine. 
Remember Birnam Wood! The wood's in flux!' 
He had a special terror of the flux 
That showed itself in dendrophobia. 
The only decent tree had been to mill 
And educated into boards, he said. 
He knew too well for any earthly use 
The line where man leaves off and nature starts, 
And never over-stepped it save in dreams. 
He stood on the safe side of the line talking; 
Which is sheer Matthew Arnoldism, 
The cult of one who owned himself 'a foiled, 
Circuitous wanderer,' and 'took dejectedly 
His seat upon the intellectual throne/ 
Agreed in frowning on these improvised 
Altars the woods are full of nowadays, 
Again as in the days when Ahaz sinned 
By worship under green trees in the open. 
Scarcely a mile but that I come on one, 
A black-cheeked stone and stick of rain-washed 
charcoal 

192 



Even to say the groves were God's first temples 

Comes too near to Ahaz' sin for safety. 

Nothing not built with hands of course is sacred. 

But here is not a question of what's sacred; 

Rather of what to face or run away from. 

I'd hate to be a runaway from nature. 

And neither would I choose to be a puke 

Who cares not what he does in company, 

And, when he can't do anything, falls back 

On words, and tries his worst to make words speak 

Louder than actions, and sometimes achieves it. 

It seems a narrow choice the age insists on. 

How about being a good Greek, for instance? 

That course, they tell me, isn't offered this year. 

'Come, but this isn't choosing puke or prude?' 

Well, if I have to choose one or the other, 

I choose to be a plain New Hampshire farmer 

With an income in cash of say a thousand 

(From say a publisher in New York City). 

It's restful to arrive at a decision, 

And restful just to think about New Hampshire. 

At present I am living in Vermont. 



193 



A STAR IN A STONE-BOAT 
(For Lincoln MacVeagh) 

L Sever tell me that not one star of all 

That slip from heaven at night and softly fall 

Has been picked up with stones to build a wall. 

Some laborer found one faded and stone cold, 
And saving that its weight suggested gold, 
And tugged it from his first too certain hold, 

He noticed nothing in it to remark. 

He was not used to handling stars thrown dark 

And lifeless from an interrupted arc. 

He did not recognize in that smooth coal 
The one thing palpable besides the soul 
To penetrate the air in which we roll. 

He did not see how like a flying thing 

It brooded ant-eggs, and had one large wing, 

One not so large for flying in a ring, 

And a long Bird of Paradise's tail, 

(Though these when not in use to fly and trail 

It drew back in its body like a snail); 

Nor know that he might move it from the spot, 
The harm was done; from having been star-shot 
The very nature of the soil was hot 

194 



And burning to yield flowers instead of grain, 
Flowers fanned and not put out by all the rain 
Poured on them by his prayers prayed in vain. 

He moved it roughly with an iron bar, 
He loaded an old stone-boat with the star 
And not, as you might think, a flying car, 

Such as even poets would admit perforce 
More practical than Pegasus the horse 
If it could put a star back in its course. 

He dragged it through the ploughed ground at a pace 
But faintly reminiscent of the race 
Of jostling rock in interstellar space. 

It went for building stone, and I, as though 

Commanded in a dream, forever go 

To right the wrong that this should have been so. 

Yet ask where else it could have gone as well, 
I do not know I cannot stop to tell: 
He might have left it lying where it fell. 

From following walls I never lift my eye 
Except at night to places in the sky 
Where showers of charted meteors let fly. 



195 



Some may know what they seek in school and church, 
And why they seek it there; for what I search 
I must go measuring stone walls, perch on perch; 

Sure that though not a star of death and birth, 
So not to be compared, perhaps, in worth 
To such resorts of life as Mars and Earth, 

Though not, I say, a star of death and sin, 
It yet has poles, and only needs a spin 
To show its worldly nature and begin 

To chafe and shuffle in my calloused palm 
And run off in strange tangents with my arm 
As fish do with the line in first alarm. 

Such as it is, it promises the prize 
Of the one world complete in any size 
That I am like to compass, fool or wise. 



THE CENSUS-TAKER 

1 came an errand one cloud-blowing evening 

To a slab-built, black-paper-covered house 

Of one room and one window and one door, 

The only dwelling in a waste cut over 

A hundred square miles round it in the mountains: 

And that not dwelt in now by men or women. 

(Ir never had been dwelt in, though, by women, 

So what is this I make a sorrow of?) 

I came as census-taker to the waste 

To count the people in it and found none, 

None in the hundred miles, none in the house, 

Where I came last with some hope, but not much 

After hours' overlooking from the cliffs 

An emptiness flayed to the very stone. 

I found no people that dared show themselves, 

None not in hiding from the outward eye. 

The time was autumn, but how anyone 

Could tell the time of year when every tree 

That could have dropped a leaf was down itself 

And nothing but the stump of it was left 

Now bringing out its rings in sugar of pitch; 

And every tree up stood a rotting trunk 

Without a single leaf to spend on autumn, 

Or branch to whistle after what was spent. 

Perhaps the wind the more without the help 

Of breathing trees said something of the time 

Of year or day the way it swung a door 

197 



Forever off the latch, as if rude men 

Passed in and slammed it shut each one behind him 

For the next one to open for himself. 

I counted nine I had no right to count 

(But this was dreamy unofficial counting) 

Before I made the tenth across the threshold. 

Where was my supper? Where was anyone's? 

No lamp was lit. Nothing was on the table. 

The stove was cold the stove was off the chimney 

And down by one side where it lacked a leg. 

The people that had loudly passed the door 

Were people to the ear but not the eye. 

They were not on the table with their elbows. 

They were not sleeping in the shelves of bunks. 

I saw no men there and no bones of men there. 

I armed myself against such bones as might be 

With the pitch-blackened stub of an axe-handle 

I picked up off the straw-dust covered floor. 

Not bones, but the ill-fitted window rattled. 

The door was still because I held it shut 

While I thought what to do that could be done 

About the house about the people not there. 

This house in one year fallen to decay 

Filled me with no less sorrow than the houses 

Fallen to ruin in ten thousand years 

Where Asia wedges Africa from Europe. 

Nothing was left to do that I could see 

Unless to find that there was no one there 

And declare to the cliffs too far for echo, 

f The place is desert and let whoso lurks 

198 



In silence, if in this he is aggrieved, 

Break silence now or be forever silent. 

Let him say why it should not be declared so/ 

The melancholy of having to count souls 

Where they grow fewer and fewer every year 

Is extreme where they shrink to none at all. 

It must be I want life to go on living. 



199 



THE STAR-SPLITTER 

< You know Orion always comes up sideways. 
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains. 
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me 
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something 
I should have done by daylight, and indeed, 
After the ground is frozen, I should have done 
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful 
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney 
To make fun of my way of doing things, 
Or else fun of Orion's having caught me. 
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights 
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?' 
So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk 
Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming, 
Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming, 
He burned his house down for the fire insurance 
And spent the proceeds on a telescope 
To satisfy a life-long curiosity 
About our place among the infinities. 

What do you want with one of those blame things?' 

I asked him well beforehand. 'Don't you get one!' 

'Don't call it blamed; there isn't anything 

More blameless in the sense of being less 

A weapon in our human fight/ he said. 

Til have one if I sell my farm to buy it.' 

There where he moved the rocks to plow the ground 

200 



And plowed between the rocks he couldn't move, 

Few farms changed hands; so rather than spend years 

Trying to sell his farm and then not selling, 

He burned his house down for the fire insurance 

And bought the telescope with what it came to. 

He had been heard to say by several: 

'The best thing that we're put here for's to see; 

The strongest thing that's given us to see with's 

A telescope. Someone in every town 

Seems to me owes it to the town to keep one. 

In Littleton it may as well be me/ 

After such loose talk it was no surprise 

When he did what he did and burned his house down, 

Mean laughter went about the town that day 

To let him know we weren't the least imposed on, 

And he could wait we'd see to him to-morrow. 

But the first thing next morning we reflected 

If one by one we counted people out 

For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long 

To get so we had no one left to live with. 

For to be social is to be forgiving. 

Our thief, the one who does our stealing from us,s, 

We don't cut off from coming to church supper 

But what we miss we go to him and ask for. 

He promptly gives it back, that is if still 

Uneaten, unworn out, or undisposed of. 

It wouldn't do to be too hard on Brad 

About his telescope. Beyond the age 

Of being given one's gift for Christmas, 

2O1 



He had to take the best way he knew how 
To find himself in one. \Vell, all we said was 
He took a strange thing to be roguish over. 
Some sympathy was wasted on the house, 
A good old-timer dating back along; 
But a house isn't sentient; the house 
Didn't feel anything. And if it did, 
Why not regard it as a sacrifice, 
And an old-fashioned sacrifice by fire, 
Instead of a new-fashioned one at auction? 

Out of a house and so out of a farm 

At one stroke (of a match), Brad had to turn 

To earn a living on the Concord railroad, 

As under-ticket-agent at a station 

Where his job, when he wasn't selling tickets, 

\Vas setting out up track and down, not plants 

As on a farm, but planets, evening stars 

That varied in their hue from red to green. 

He got a good glass for six hundred dollars. 

His new job gave him leisure for star-gazing 

Often he bid me come and have a look 

Up the brass barrel, velvet black inside, 

At a star quaking in the other end. 

I recollect a night of broken clouds 

And underfoot snow melted down to ice, 

And melting further in the wind to mud. 

Bradford and I had out the telescope. 

^Ve spread our two legs as we spread its three, 

202 



Pointed our thoughts the way we pointed it, 

And standing at our leisure till the day broke, 

Said some of the best things we ever said. 

That telescope was christened the Star-splitter, 

Because it didn't do a thing but split 

A star in two or three the way you split 

A globule of quicksilver in your hand 

With one stroke of your finger in the middle. 

It's a star-splitter if there ever was one 

And ought to do some good if splitting stars 

'Sa thing to be compared with splitting wood. 

We've looked and looked, but after all where are we? 

Do we know any better where we are, 

And how it stands between the night to-night 

And a man with a smoky lantern chimney? 

How different from the way it ever stood? 



203 



THE AXE-HELVE 

I've known ere now an interfering branch 

Of alder catch my lifted axe behind me. 

But that was in the woods, to hold my hand 

From striking at another alder's roots, 

And that was, as I say, an alder branch. 

This was a man, Baptiste, who stole one day 

Behind me on the snow in my own yard 

Where I was working at the chopping-block, 

And cutting nothing not cut down already. 

He caught my axe expertly on the rise, 

When all my strength put forth was in his favor, 

Held it a moment where it was, to calm me, 

Then took it from me and I let him take it. 

I didn't know him well enough to know 

What it was all about. There might be something 

He had in mind to say to a bad neighbor 

He might prefer to say to him disarmed. 

But all he had to tell me in French-English 

Was what he thought of not me, but my axe; 

Me only as I took my axe to heart. 

It was the bad axe-helve some one had sold me 

'Made on machine/ he said, ploughing the grain 

With a thick thumbnail to show how it ran 

Across the handle's long drawn serpentine, 

Like the two strokes across a dollar sign. 

'You give her one good crack, she's snap raght off. 

Den where's your hax-ead flying through de hair?' 

Admitted; and yet, what was that to him? 

204 



'Come on my house and I put you one in 

What's las' awhile good hick'ry what's grow 

crooked, 

De second growt' I cut myself tough, tough!' 
Something to sell? That wasn't how it sounded. 

'Den when you say you come? It's cost you nothing 
To-naght?' 

As well to-night as any night. 

Beyond an over-warmth of kitchen stove 

My welcome differed from no other welcome. 

Baptiste knew best why I was where I was. 

So long as he would leave enough unsaid, 

I shouldn't mind his being overjoyed 

(If overjoyed he was) at having got me 

Where I must judge if what he knew about an axe 

That not everybody else knew was to count 

For nothing in the measure of a neighbor. 

Hard if, though cast away for life with Yankees, 

A Frenchman couldn't get his human rating! 

Mrs. Baptiste came in and rocked a chair 
That had as many motions as the world: 
One back and forward, in and out of shadow, 
That got her nowhere; one more gradual, 
Sideways, that would have run her on the stove 
In time, had she not realized her danger 
And caught herself up bodily, chair and all, 

20 s 



And set herself back where she started from. 
'She ain't spick too much Henglishdat's too bad/ 

I was afraid, in brightening first on me, 
Then on Baptiste, as if she understood 
What passed between us, she was only feigning. 
Baptiste was anxious for her; but no more 
Than for himself, so placed he couldn't hope 
To keep his bargain of the morning with me 
In time to keep me from suspecting him 
Of really never having meant to keep it. 

Needlessly soon he had his axe-helves out, 
A quiverful to choose from, since he wished me 
To have the best he had, or had to spare- 
Not for me to ask which, when what he took 
Had beauties he had to point me out at length 
To insure their not being wasted on me. 
He liked to have it slender as a whipstock, 
Free from the least knot, equal to the strain 
Of bending like a sword across the knee. 
He showed me that the lines of a good helve 
Were native to the grain before the knife 
Expressed them, and its curves were no false curves 
Put on it from without. And there its strength lay 
For the hard work. He chafed its long white body 
From end to end with his rough hand shut round it. 
He tried it at the eye-hole in the axe -head. 
'Hahn, hahn/ he mused, 'don't need much taking 
down/ 

206 



Baptiste knew how to make a short job long 
For love of it, and yet not waste time either. 

Do you know, what we talked about was knowledge? 

Baptiste on his defence about the children 

He kept from school, or did his best to keep 

Whatever school and children and our doubts 

Of laid-on education had to do 

With the curves of his axe-helves and his having 

Used these unscrupulously to bring me 

To see for once the inside of his house. 

Was I desired in friendship, partly as some one 

To leave it to, whether the right to hold 

Such doubts of education should depend 

Upon the education of those who held them? 

But now he brushed the shavings from his knee 
And stood the axe there on its horse's hoof, 
Erect, but not without its waves, as when 
The snake stood up for evil in the Garden, 
Top-heavy with a heaviness his short, 
Thick hand made light of, steel-blue chin drawn down 
And in a little a French touch in that. 
Baptiste drew back and squinted at it, pleased; 
'See how she's cock her head!' 



20? 



THE GRINDSTONE 

rlaving a wheel and four legs of its own 
Has never availed the cumbersome grindstone 
To get it anywhere that I can see. 
These hands have helped it go, and even race; 
Not all the motion, though, they ever lent, 
Not all the miles it may have thought it went, 
Have got it one step from the starting place. 
It stands beside the same old apple tree. 
The shadow of the apple tree is thin 
Upon it now, its feet are fast in snow. 
All other farm machinery's gone in, 
And some of it on no more legs and wheel 
Than the grindstone can boast to stand or go, 
(I'm thinking chiefly of the wheelbarrow.) 
For months it hasn't known the taste of steel, 
Washed down with rusty water in a tin. 
But standing outdoors hungry, in the cold, 
Except in towns at night, is not a sin. 
And, anyway, its standing in the yard 
Under a ruinous live apple tree 
Has nothing any more to do with me, 
Except that I remember how of old 
One summer day. all day I drove it hard, 
And someone mounted on it rode it hard, 
And he and I between us ground a blade. 

1 gave it the preliminary spin, 

And poured on water (tears it might have been); 

2O? 



And when it almost gayly jumped and flowed, 

A Father-Time-like man got on and rode, 

Armed with a scythe and spectacles that glowed. 

He turned on will-power to increase the load 

And slow me down and I abruptly slowed, 

Like coming to a sudden railroad station. 

I changed from hand to hand in desperation. 

I wondered what machine of ages gone 

This represented an improvement on. 

For all I knew it may have sharpened spears 

And arrowheads itself. Much use for years 

Had gradually worn it an oblate 

Spheroid that kicked and struggled in its gait, 

Appearing to return me hate for hate; 

(But I forgive it now as easily 

As any other boyhood enemy 

Whose pride has failed to get him anywhere). 

I wondered who it was the man thought ground 

The one who held the wheel back or the one 

Who gave his life to keep it going round? 

I wondered if he really thought it fair 

For him to have the say when we were done. 

Such were the bitter thoughts to which I turned. 

Not for myself was I so much concerned. 

Oh no! -although, of course, I could have found 

A better way to pass the afternoon 

Than grinding discord out of a grindstone, 

And beating insects at their gritty tune. 

Nor was I for the man so much concerned. 

209 



Once when the grindstone almost jumped its bearing 

It looked as if he might be badly thrown 

And wounded on his blade. So far from caring, 

I laughed inside, and only cranked the faster, 

(It ran as if it wasn't greased but glued); 

I'd welcome any moderate disaster 

That might be calculated to postpone 

What evidently nothing could conclude. 

The thing that made me more and more afraid 

Was that we'd ground it sharp and hadn't known. 

And now were only wasting precious blade. 

And when he raised it dripping once and tried 

The creepy edge of it with wary touch, 

And viewed it over his glasses funny-eyed, 

Only disinterestedly to decide 

It needed a turn more, I could have cried 

Wasn't there danger of a turn too much? 

Mightn't we make it worse instead of better? 

I was for leaving something to the whetter. 

What if it wasn't all it should be? I'd 

Be satisfied if he'd be satisfied. 



210 



CAUL'S WIFE 

1 o drive Paul out of any lumber camp 
All that was needed was to say to him, 
'How is the wife, Paul?' and he'd disappear. 
Some said it was because he had no wife, 
And hated to be twitted on the subject. 
Others because he'd come within a day 
Or so of having one, and then been jilted. 
Others because he'd had one once, a good one, 
Who'd run away with some one else and left him. 
And others still because he had one now 
He only had to be reminded of, 
He was all duty to her in a minute: 
He had to run right off to look her up, 
As if to say, 'That's so, how is my wife? 
I hope she isn't getting into mischief.' 
No one was anxious to get rid of Paul. 
He'd been the hero of the mountain camps 
Ever since, just to show them, he had slipped 
The bark of a whole tamarack off whole, 
As clean as boys do off a willow twig 
To make a willow whistle on a Sunday 
In April by subsiding meadow brooks. 
They seemed to ask him just to see him go, 
'How is the wife, Paul?' and he always went. 
He never stopped to murder anyone 
Who asked the question. He just disappeared- 
Nobody knew in what direction, 
Although it wasn't usually long 

211 



Before they heard of him in some new camp, 
The same Paul at the same old feats of logging. 
The question everywhere was why should Paul 
Object to being asked a civil question 
A man you could say almost anything to 
Short of a fighting word. You have the answers. 
And there was one more not so fair to Paul: 
That Paul had married a wife not his equal. 
Paul was ashamed of her. To match a hero, 
She would have had to be a heroine; 
Instead of which she was some half-breed squaw. 
But if the story Murphy told was true, 
She wasn't anything to be ashamed of. 

You know Paul could do wonders. Everyone's 
Heard how he thrashed the horses on a load 
That wouldn't budge until they simply stretched 
Their rawhide harness from the load to camp. 
Paul told the boss the load would be all right, 
'The sun will bring your load in'and it did 
By shrinking the rawhide to natural length. 
That's what is called a stretcher. But I guess 
The one about his jumping so's to land 
With both his feet at once against the Ceiling, 
And then land safely right side up again, 
Back on the floor, is fact or pretty near fact. 
Well this is such a yarn. Paul sawed his wife 
Out of a white-pine log. Murphy was there, 
And, as you might say, saw the lady born. 
Paul worked at anything in lumbering. 

212 



He'd been hard at it taking boards away 

For I forgetthe last ambitious sawyer 

To want to find out if he couldn't pile 

The lumber on Paul till Paul begged for mercy 

They'd sliced the first slab off a big butt log, 

And the sawyer had slammed the carriage back 

To slam end on again against the saw teeth. 

To judge them by the way they caught themselves 

When they saw what had happened to the log, 

They must have had a guilty expectation 

Something was going to go with their slambanging. 

Something had left a broad black streak of grease 

On the new wood the whole length of the log 

Except, perhaps, a foot at either end. 

But when Paul put his finger in the grease, 

It wasn't grease at all, but a long slot. 

The log was hollow. They were sawing pine. 

( First time I ever saw a hollow pine. 

That comes of having Paul around the place. 

Take it to hell for me,' the sawyer said. 

Everyone had to have a look at it, 

And tell Paul what he ought to do about it. 

(They treated it as his.) 'You take a jack-knife, 

And spread the opening, and you've got a dug-out 

All dug to go a-fishing in.' To Paul 

The hollow looked too sound and clean and empty 

Ever to have housed birds or beasts or bees. 

There was no entrance for them to get in by. 

It looked to him like some new kind of hollow 

He thought he'd better take his jack-knife to. 

213 



So after work that evening he came back 

And let enough light into it by cutting 

To see if it was empty. He made out in there 

A slender length of pith, or was it pith? 

It might have been the skin a snake had cast 

And left stood up on end inside the tree 

The hundred years the tree must have been growing 

More cutting and he had this in both hands, 

And, looking from it to the pond near by, 

Paul wondered how it would respond to water. 

Not a breeze stirred, but just the breath of air 

He made in walking slowly to the beach 

Blew it once off his hands and almost broke it. 

He laid it at the edge where it could drink. 

At the first drink it rustled and grew limp. 

At the next drink it grew invisible. 

Paul dragged the shallows for it with his fingers, 

And thought it must have melted. It was gone. 

And then beyond the open water, dim with midges, 

Where the log drive lay pressed against the boom, 

It slowly rose a person, rose a girl, 

Her wet hair heavy on her like a helmet, 

Who, leaning on a log looked back at Paul. 

And that made Paul in turn look back 

To see if it was anyone behind him 

That she was looking at instead of him. 

Murphy had been there watching all the time, 

But from a shed where neither of them could sec him 

There was a moment of suspense in birth 

When the girl seemed too water-logged to live, 

Before she caught her first breath with a gasp 

214 



And laughed. Then she climbed slowly to her feet, 
And walked off talking to herself or Paul 
Across the logs like backs of alligators, 
Paul taking after her around the pond. 

Next evening Murphy and some other fellows 

Got drunk, and tracked the pair up Catamount, 

From the bare top of which there is a view 

To other hills across a kettle valley. 

And there, well after dark, let Murphy tell it, 

They saw Paul and his creature keeping house. 

It was the only glimpse that anyone 

Has had of Paul and her since Murphy saw them 

Falling in love across the twilight mill-pond. 

More than a mile across the wilderness 

They sat together half-way up a cliff 

In a small niche let into it, the girl 

Brightly, as if a star played on the place, 

Paul darkly, like her shadow. All the light 

Was from the girl herself, though, not from a star, 

As was apparent from what happened next. 

All those great ruffians put their throats together, 

And let out a loud yell, and threw a bottle, 

As a brute tribute of respect to beauty. 

Of course the bottle fell short by a mile, 

But the shout reached the girl and put her light out, 

She went out like a firefly, and that was all. 

So there were witnesses that Paul was married, 
And not to anyone to be ashamed of. 
Everyone had been wrong in judging Paul. 

215 



Murphy told me Paul put on all those airs 
About his wife to keep her to himself. 
Paul was what's called a terrible possessor. 
Owning a wife with him meant owning her. 
She wasn't anybody else's business, 
Either to praise her, or so much as name her, 
And he'd thank people not to think of her. 
Murphy's idea was that a man like Paul 
Wouldn't be spoken to about a wife 
[n any way the world knew how to speak. 



216 



WILD GRAPES 

What tree may not the fig be gathered from? 
The grape may not be gathered from the birch? 
It's all you know the grape, or know the birch. 
As a girl gathered from the birch myself 
Equally with my weight in grapes, one autumn, 
I ought to know what tree the grape is fruit of. 
I \vas born, I suppose, like anyone, 
And grew to be a little boyish girl 
My brother could not always leave at home. 
But that beginning was wiped out in fear 
The day I swung suspended with the grapes, 
And was come after like Eurydice 
And brought down safely from the upper regions; 
And the life I live now's an extra life 
I can waste as I please on whom I please. 
So if you see me celebrate two birthdays, 
And give myself out as two different ages, 
One of them five years younger than I look- 
One day my brother led me to a glade 
Where a white birch he knew of stood alone, 
Wearing a thin head-dress of pointed leaves, 
And heavy on her heavy hair behind, 
Against her neck, an ornament of grapes. 
Grapes, I knew grapes from having seen them last 

year. 
One bunch of them, and there began to be 



Bunches all round me growing in white birches, 

The way they grew round Lief the Lucky's German; 

Mostly as much beyond my lifted hands, though, 

As the moon used to seem when I was younger, 

And only freely to be had for climbing. 

My brother did the climbing; and at first 

Threw me down grapes to miss and scatter 

And have to hunt for in sweet fern and hardhack; 

Which gave him some time to himself to eat, 

But not so much, perhaps, as a boy needed. 

So then, to make me wholly self-supporting, 

He climbed still higher and bent the tree to earth, 

And put it in my hands to pick my own grapes. 

'Here, take a tree-top, I'll get down another. 

Hold on with all your might when I let go.' 

I said I had the tree. It wasn't true. 

The opposite was true. The tree had me. 

The minute it was left with me alone 

It caught me up as if I were the fish 

And it the fishpole. So I was translated 

To loud cries from my brother of 'Let go! 

Don't you know anything, you girl? Let go!' 

But I, with something of the baby grip 

Acquired ancestrally in just such trees 

When wilder mothers than our wildest now 

Hung babies out on branches by the hands 

To dry or wash or tan, I don't know which 

(You'll have to ask an evolutionist) 

I held on uncomplainingly for life. 

My brother tried to make me laugh to help me. 

218 



< What are you doing up there in those grapes? 
Don't be afraid. A few of them won't hurt you. 
I mean, they won't pick you if you don't them/ 
Much danger of my picking anything! 
By that time I was pretty well reduced 
To a philosophy of hang-and-let-hang. 
'Now you know how it feels/ my brother said, 
* To be a bunch of fox-grapes, as they call them, 
That when it thinks it has escaped the fox 
By growing where it shouldn't on a birch, 
Where a fox wouldn't think to look for it 
And if he looked and found it, couldn't reach it- 
Just then come you and I to gather it. 
Only you have the advantage of the grapes 
In one way: you have one more stem to cling by, 
And promise more resistance to the picker/ 

One by one I lost off my hat and shoes, 

And still I clung. I let my head fall back, 

And shut my eyes against the sun, my ears 

Against my brother's nonsense; 'Drop/ he said, 

Til catch you in my arms. It isn't far/ 

(Stated in lengths of him it might not be. ) 

'Drop or I'll shake the tree and shake you down/ 

Grim silence on my part as I sank lower, 

My small wrists stretching till they showed the ban* 

jo strings. 

'Why, if she isn't serious about it! 
Hold tight awhile till I think what to do. 
I'll bend the tree down and let you down by it/ 

219 



[ don't know much about the letting down; 
But once I felt ground with my stocking feet 
And the world came revolving back to me, 
I know I looked long at my curled-up fingers. 
Before I straightened them and brushed the bark off. 
My brother said: 'Don't you weigh anything? 
Try to weigh something next time., so you won't 
Be run oft with by birch trees into space/ 

It wasn't my not weighing anything 
So much as my not knowing anything 
My brother had been nearer right before. 
I had not taken the first step in knowledge; 
I had not learned to let go with the hands, 
As still I have not learned to with the heart, 
And have no wish to with the heartnor need, 
That I can see. The mind is not the heart. 
I may yet live, as I know others live, 
To wish in vain to let go with the mind 
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me 
That I need learn to let go with the heart. 



220 



THE WITCH OF COOS 

I staid the night for shelter at a farm 
Behind the mountain, with a mother and son, 
Two old-believers. They did all the talking. 

MOTHER. Folks think a witch who has familiar 

spirits 

She could call up to pass a winter evening, 
But won't, should be burned at the stake or some^ 

thing. 

Summoning spirits isn't 'Button, button, 
Who's got the button/ 1 would have them know. 

SON. Mother can make a common table rear 
And kick with two legs like an army mule. 

MOTHER. And when I've done it, what good have 

I done? 

Rather than tip a table for you, let me 
Tell you what Ralle the Sioux Control once told me, 
He said the dead had souls, but when I asked him 
How could that be I thought the dead were souls, 
He broke my trance. Don't that make you suspicious 
That there's something the dead are keeping back? 
Yes, there's something the dead are keeping back. 

SON. You wouldn't want to tell him what we have 
Up attic, mother? 

221 



MOTHER. Bones a skeleton. 

SON. But the headboard of mother's bed is pushed 

Against the attic door: the door is nailed. 

It's harmless, Mother hears it in the night 

Halting perplexed behind the barrier 

Of door and headboard. Where it wants to get 

Is back into the cellar where it came from. 

MOTHER. We'll never let them, will we, son! We'll 
never! 

SON. It left the cellar forty years ago 

And carried itself like a pile of dishes 

Up one flight from the cellar to the kitchen, 

Another from the kitchen to the bedroom, 

Another from the bedroom to the attic, 

Right past both father and mother, and neither 

stopped it. 

Father had gone upstairs; mother was downstairs. 
I was a baby: I don't know where I was. 

MOTHER. The only fault my husband found withme 

I went to sleep before I went to bed, 

Especially in winter when the bed 

Might just as well be ice and the clothes snow. 

The night the bones came up the cellar-stairs 

Toffile had gone to bed alone and left me, 

But left an open door to cool the room off 

So as to sort of turn me out of it. 

222 



I was just coming to myself enough 

To wonder where the cold was coming from, 

When I heard Toffile upstairs in the bedroom 

And thought I heard him downstairs in the cellar. 

The board we had laid down to walk dry-shod on 

When there was water in the cellar in spring 

Struck the hard cellar bottom. And then someone 

Began the stairs, two footsteps for each step, 

The way a man with one leg and a crutch, 

Or a little child, comes up. It wasn't Toffile: 

It wasn't anyone who could be there. 

The bulkhead double-doors were double-locked 

And swollen tight and buried under snow. 

The cellar windows were banked up with sawdust 

And swollen tight and buried under snow. 

It was the bones. I knew them and good reason. 

My first impulse was to get to the knob 

And hold the door. But the bones didn't try 

The door; they halted helpless on the landing, 

Waiting for things to happen in their favor. 

The faintest restless rustling ran all through them. 

I never could have done the thing I did 

If the wish hadn't been too strong in me 

To see how they were mounted for this walk. 

I had a vision of them put together 

Not like a man, but like a chandelier. 

So suddenly I flung the door wide on him. 

A moment he stood balancing with emotion, 

And all but lost himself. (A tongue of fire 

223 



Flashed out and licked along his upper teeth. 

Smoke rolled inside the sockets of his eyes.) 

Then he came at me with one hand outstretched, 

The way he did in life once; but this time 

I struck the hand off brittle on the floor, 

And fell back from him on the floor myself. 

The finger-pieces slid in all directions. 

(Where did I see one of those pieces lately^ 

Hand me my button-boxit must be thei c. ) 

I sat up on the floor and shouted, 'Toffil* 1 , 

It's coming up to you.' It had its choice 

Of the door to the cellar or the hall. 

It took the hall door for the novelty, 

And set off briskly for so slow a thing, 

Still going every which way in the joints, though, 

So that it looked like lightning or a scribble, 

From the slap I had just now given its hand. 

I listened till it almost climbed the stairs 

From the hall to the only finished bedroom, 

Before I got up to do anything; 

Then ran and shouted, 'Shut the bedroom door, 

Toffile, for my sake!' ( Company?' he said, 

* Don't make me get up; Pm too warm in bed/ 

So lying forward weakly on the handrail 

I pushed myself upstairs, and in the light 

(The kitchen had been dark) I had to own 

I could see nothing. 'Toffile, I don't see it. 

It's with us in the room though. It's the bones/ 

*What bones?' 'The cellar bones out of the grave/ 

224 



That made him throw his bare legs out of bed 

And sit up by me and take hold of me. 

I wanted to put out the light and see 

If I could see it, or else mow the room, 

With our arms at the level of our knees, 

And bring the chalk-pile down. Til tell you what 

It's looking for another door to try. 

The uncommonly deep snow has made him think 

Of his old song, The Wild Colonial Boy, 

He always used to sing along the tote-road. 

He's after an open door to get out-doors. 

Let's trap him with an open door up attic/ 

Toffile agreed to that, and sure enough, 

Almost the moment he was given an opening, 

The steps began to climb the attic stairs. 

I heard them. Toffile didn't seem to hear them. 

'Quick!' I slammed to the door and held the knob, 

'Toffile, get nails/ I made him nail the door shut 

And push the headboard of the bed against it. 

Then we asked was there anything 

Up attic that we'd ever want again. 

The attic was less to us than the cellar. 

If the bones liked the attic, let them have it. 

Let them stay in the attic. When they sometimes 

Come down the stairs at night and stand perplexed 

Behind the door and headboard of the bed, 

Brushing their chalky skull with chalky fingers, 

With sounds like the dry rattling of a shutter, 

That's what I sit up in the dark to say 

225 



To no one any more since Toffile died. 

Let them stay in the attic since they went there. 

I promised Toffile to be cruel to them 

For helping them be cruel once to him. 

SON. We think they had a grave down in the cellar. 

MOTHER. We know they had a grave down in the 
cellar. 

SON. We never could find out whose bones they 
were. 

MOTHER. Yes, we could too, son. Tell the truth for 

once 

They were a man's his father killed for me. 
I mean a man he killed instead of me. 
The least I could do was to help dig their grave. 
We were about it one night in the cellar. 
Son knows the story: but 'twas not for him 
To tell the truth, suppose the time had come. 
Son looks surprised to see me end a lie 
We'd kept all these years between ourselves 
So as to have it ready for outsiders. 
But tonight I don't care enough to lie 
I don't remember why I ever cared. 
Toffile, if he were here, I don't believe 
Could tell you why he ever cared himself. . . 



226 



She hadn't found the finger-bone she wanted 
Among the buttons poured out in her lap. 
I verified the name next morning: Toffile. 
The rural letter-box said Toffile Lajway. 



227 



AN EMPTY THREAT 

I stay; 

But it isn't as if 

There wasn't always Hudson's Bay 

And the fur trade, 

A small skiff 

And a paddle blade. 

I can just see my tent pegged, 

And me on the floor, 

Crosslegged, 

And a trapper looking in at the door 

With furs to sell. 

His name's Joe, 

Alias John, 

And between what he doesn't know 

And won't tell 

About where Henry Hudson's gone, 

I can't say he's much help; 

But we get on. 

The seal yelp 

On an ice cake. 

It's not men by some mistake? 

No, 

There's not a soul 

128 



l<or a wind- break 

Between me and the North Pole 

Except always John- Joe, 
My French Indian Esquimaux. 
And he's off setting traps, 
In one himself perhaps. 

Give a head shake 

Over so much bay 

Thrown away 

In snow and mist 

That doesn't exist, 

I was going to say, 

For God, man or beast's sake. 

Yet does perhaps for all three. 

Don't ask Joe 

What it is to him. 

It's sometimes dim 

\Vhat it is to me, 

Unless it be 

It's the old captain's dark fate 

Who failed to find or force a strait 

In its two-thousand-mile coast; 

And his crew left him where he failed, 

And nothing came of all he sailed. 

It's to say, 'You and F 
To such a ghost, 



229 



''You and I 

Off here 

With the dead race of the Greak Auk!' 

And, 'Better defeat almost, 

If seen clear, 

Than life's victories of doubt 

That need endless talk talk 

To make them out.' 



230 



FRAGMENTARY BLUE 

Why make so much of fragmentary blue 
In here and there a bird, or butterfly, 
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye, 
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue? 

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet) 
Though some savants make earth include the sky; 
And blue so far above us comes so high, 
It only gives our wish for blue a whet. 



231 



FIRE AND ICE 



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 
fs also great 
And would suffice. 



232 



DUST OF SNOW 

Ihe way a crow 
Shook down on me 
The dust of snow 
From a hemlock tree 

Has given my heart 
A change of mood 
And saved some part 
Of a day I had rued. 



233 



TO E. T. 

1 slumbered with your poems on my breast 
Spread open as I dropped them half-read through 
Like dove wings on a figure on a tomb 
To see, if in a dream they brought of you, 

I might not have the chance I missed in life 
Through some delay, and call you to your face 
First soldier, and then poet, and then both, 
Who died a soldier-poet of your race. 

1 meant, you meant, that nothing should remain 
Unsaid between us, brother, and this remained 
And one thing more that was not then to say: 
The Victory for what it lost and gained. 

You went to meet the shell's embrace of fire 
On Vimy Ridge; and when you fell that day 
The war seemed over more for you than me, 
But now for me than youthe other way. 

How over, though, for even me who knew 

The foe thrust back unsafe beyond the Rhine, 

If I was not to speak of it to you 

And see you pleased once more with words of mine? 



234 



NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY 

INature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay. 



235 



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 at 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 



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 know! 
Where is his mother? He can't be out alone.' 
And now he comes again with clatter of stone, 
And mounts the wall again with whited eyes 
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.' 



236 



THE AIM WAS SONG 

13efore man came to blow it right 

The wind once blew itself untaught, 

And did its loudest day and night 
In any rough place where it caught. 

Man came to tell it what was wrong: 
It hadn't fouijd the place to blow; 

It blew too hardthe aim was song. 
And listen how it ought to go! 

He took a little in his mouth, 

And held it long enough for north 

To be converted into south, 

And then by measure blew it forth. 

By measure. It was word and note, 
The wind the wind had meant to be 
A little through the lips and throat. 
The aim was song the wind could see. 



237 



STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY 

EVENING 

Whose woods these are 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. 



238 



FOR ONCE, THEN, SOMETHING 

vJthers taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs 
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing 
Deeper down in the well than where the water 
Gives me back in a shining surface picture 
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike 
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs. 
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb, 
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture, 
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain, 
Something more of the depths and then I lost it. 
Water came to rebuke the too clear water. 
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple 
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom, 
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness? 
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, some- 
thing. 



239 



6LUE-BUTTERFLY DAY 

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring. 

And with these sky-flakes down in flurry on flurry 

There is more unmixed color on the wing 

Than flowers will show for days unless they hurry. 

But these are flowers that fly and all but sing: 
And now from having ridden out desire 
They lie closed over in the wind and cling 
Where wheels have freshly sliced the April mire. 



240 



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 undrifted four feet deep 

As measured against maple, birch and oak, 

It cannot check the peeper's silver croak; 

And I shall see the snow all go down hill 

In water of a slender April rill 

That flashes tail through last year's withered brake 

And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake. 

Nothing will be left white but here a birch, 

And there a clump of houses with a church. 



241 



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, 

242 



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. 



GOOD-BYE AND KEEP COLD 

JThis saying good-bye on the edge of the dark 
And the cold to an orchard so young in the bark 
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm 
An orchard away at the end of the farm 
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house. 
[ don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse, 
[ don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse 
By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse. 
(If certain it wouldn't be idle to call 
I'd summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall 
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.) 
I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun, 
(We made it secure against being, I hope^ 
By setting it out on a northerly slope.) 
No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm; 
But one thing about it ; it mustn't get warm. 
'How often already you've had to be told, 
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold, 
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.' 
I have to be gone for a season or so. 
My business a while is with different trees, 
Less carefully nurtured, less fruitful than these, 
And such as is done to their wood with an axe-- 
Maples and birches and tamaracks. 
I wish I could promise to lie in the night 
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight 

244 



When slowly (and nobody comes with a light) 
Its heart sinks lower under the sod. 
But something has to be left to God. 



245 



TWO LOOK AT TWO 

JLove 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. 

She saw them in their field, they her in hers. 

The difficulty of seeing what stood still, 

Like some up-ended boulder 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 

246 



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. 



247 



NOT TO KEEP 

Ihey sent him back to her. The letter came 
Saying . . . And she could have him. And before 
She could be sure there was no hidden ill 
Under the formal writing^ he was in her sight, 
Living. They gave him back to her alive- 
How else? They are not known to send the dead- 
And not disfigured visibly. His face? 
His hands? She had to look, to ask, 
' What is it, dear?' And she had given all 
And still she had all they had they the lucky! 
Wasn't she glad now? Everything seemed won, 
And all the rest for them permissible ease. 
She had to ask, ' What was it, dear?' 

* Enough, 

Yet not enough. A bullet through and through, 
High in the breast. Nothing but what good care 
And medicine and rest, and you a week, 
Can cure me of to go again. 7 The same 
Grim giving to do over for them both. 
She dared no more than ask him with her eyes 
How was it with him for a second trial. 
And with his eyes he asked her not to ask. 
They had given him back to her, but not to keep. 



A BROOK IN THE CITY 

Ihe farm house lingers, though averse to square 
With the new city street it has to wear 
A number in. But what about the brook 
That held the house as in an elbow-crook? 
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength 
And impulse, having dipped a finger length 
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed 
A flower to try its currents where they crossed. 
The meadow grass could be cemented down 
From growing under pavements of a town; 
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame. 
Is water wood to serve a brook the same? 
How else dispose of an immortal force 
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source 
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was 

thrown 

Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone 
In fetid darkness still to live and run 
And all fo^ nothing it had ever done 
Except forget to go in fear perhaps. 
No one would know except for ancient maps 
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder 
If from its being kept forever under 
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep 
This new-built city from both work and sleep. 



249 



THE KITCHEN CHIMNEY 

Builder, in building the little house, 
In every way you may please yourself; 
But please please me in the kitchen chimney: 
Don't build me a chimney upon a shelf. 

However far you must go for bricks, 
Whatever they cost a-piece or a pound, 
Buy me enough for a full-length chimney, 

build the chimney clear from the ground. 



It's not that Fm greatly afraid of fire, 
But I never heard of a house that throve 
(And I know of one that didn't thrive) 
Where the chimney started above the stove. 

And I dread the ominous stain of tar 

That there always is on the papered walls, 

And the smell of fire drowned in rain 

That there always is when the chimney's false. 

A shelf's for a clock or vase or picture, 
But I don't see why it should have to bear 
A chimney that only would serve to remind me 
Of castles I used to build in air. 



250 



LOOKING FOR A SUNSET BIRD IN 
WINTER 

Ihe west was getting out of gold, 
The breath of air had died of cold, 
When shoeing home across the white, 
I thought I saw a bird alight. 

In summer when I passed the place 
I had to stop and lift my face; 
A bird with an angelic gift 
Was singing in it sweet and swift. 

No bird was singing in it now. 
A single leaf was on a bough, 
And that was all there was to see 
In going twice around the tree. 

From my advantage on a hill 
I judged that such a crystal chill 
Was only adding frost to snow 
As gilt to gold that wouldn't show. 

A brush had left a crooked stroke 
Of what was either cloud or smoke 
From north to south across the blue; 
A piercing little star was through. 



251 



GATHERING LEAVES 

opades take up leaves 
No better than spoons, 
And bags full of leaves 
Are light as balloons. 

I make a great noise 
Of rustling all day 
Like rabbit and deer 
Running away. 

But the mountains I raise 
Elude my embrace. 
Flowing over my arms 
And into my face. 

I may load and unload 
Again and again 
Till I fill the whole shed, 
And what have I then? 

Next to nothing for weight; 
And since they grew duller 
From contact with earth, 
Next to nothing for color. 



252 



Next to nothing for use. 
But a crop is a crop, 
And who's to say where 
The harvest shall stop? 



253 



MISGIVING 

All crying 'We will go with you, O Wind!' 
The foliage follow him, leaf and stem; 
But a sleep oppresses them as they go, 
And they end by bidding him stay with them. 

Since ever they flung abroad in spring 
The leaves had promised themselves this flight, 
Who now would fain seek sheltering wall, 
Or thicket, or hollow place for the night. 

And now they answer his summoning blast 

With an ever vaguer and vaguer stir, 

Or at utmost a little reluctant whirl 

That drops them no further than where they were 

I only hope that when I am free 

As they are free to go in quest 

Of the knowledge beyond the bounds of life 

It may not seem better to me to rest. 



254 



PLOWMEN 

A plow, they say., to plow the snow. 
They cannot mean to plant it, though- 
Unless in bitterness to mock 
At having cultivated rock. 



255 



ON A TREE FALLEN ACROSS THE 
ROAD 

(TO HEAR US TALK) 

I he tree the tempest with a crash of wood 
Throws down in front of us is not to bar 
Our passage to our journey's end for good, 
But just to ask us who we think we are 

Insisting always on our own way so. 
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks, 
And make us get down in a foot of snow 
Debating what to do without an axe. 

And yet she knows obstruction is in vain: 

We will not be put off the final goal 

We have it hidden in us to attain, 

Not though we have to seize earth by the pole 

And, tired of aimless circling in one place, 
Steer straight off after something into space. 



256 



OUR SINGING STRENGTH 

It snowed in spring on earth so dry and warm 
The flakes could find no landing place to form. 
Hordes spent themselves to make it wet and cold, 
And still they failed of any lasting hold. 
They made no white impression on the black. 
They disappeared as if earth sent them back. 
Not till from separate flakes they changed at night 
To almost strips and tapes of ragged white 
Did grass and garden ground confess it snowed. 
And all go back to winter but the road. 
Next day the scene was piled and puffed and dead. 
The grass lay flattened under one great tread. 
Borne down until the end almost took root, 
The rangey bough anticipated fruit 
With snowballs cupped in every opening bud. 
The road alone maintained itself in mud, 
Whatever its secret was of greater heat 
From inward fires or brush of passing feet. 

In spring more mortal singers than belong 

To any one place cover us with song. 

Thrush, bluebird, blackbird, sparrow, and robin 

throng; 

Some to go further north to Hudson's Bay, 
Some that have come too far north back away, 
Really a very few to build and stay. 
Now was seen how these liked belated snow. 



The fields had nowhere left for them to go; 

They'd soon exhausted all there was in flying; 

The trees they'd had enough of with once trying 

And setting off their heavy powder load. 

They could find nothing open but the road. 

So there they let their lives be narrowed in 

By thousands the bad weather made akin. 

The road became a channel running flocks 

Of glossy birds like ripples over rocks. 

[ drove them under foot in bits of flight 

That kept the ground, almost disputing right 

Of way with me from apathy of wing, 

A talking twitter all they had to sing. 

A few I must have driven to despair 

Made quick asides, but having done in air 

A whir among white branches great and small 

As in some too much carven marble hall 

Where one false wing beat would have brought 

down all, 

Came tamely back in front of me, the Drover, 
To suffer the same driven nightmare over. 
One such storm in a lifetime couldn't teach them 
That back behind pursuit it couldn't reach them; 
None flew behind me to be left alone. 

Well, something for a snowstorm to have shown 
The country' s singing strength thus brought together, 
That though repressed and moody with the weather 
Was none the less there ready to be freed 
And sing the wildflowers up from root and seed. 

253 



THE NEED OF BEING VERSED IN 
COUNTRY THINGS 

Ihe house had gone to bring again 
To the midnight sky a sunset glow. 
Now the chimney was all of the house that stood, 
Like a pistil after the petals go. 

The barn opposed across the way, 
That would have joined the house in flame 
Had it been the will of the wind, was left 
To bear forsaken the place's name. 

No more it opened with all one end 
For teams that came by the stony road 
To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs 
And brush the mow with the summer load. 

The birds that came to it through the air 
At broken windows flew out and in, 
Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh 
From too much dwelling on what has been. 

Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf, 
And the aged elm, though touched with fire; 
And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm; 
And the fence post carried a strand of wire. 



259 



For them there was really nothing sad. 
But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept, 
One had to be versed in country things 
Not to believe the phoebes wept 



26O 



West-Running Brook 



SPRING POOLS 

Ihese pools that, though in forests, still reflect 
The total sky almost without defect, 
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver, 
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone, 
And yet not out by any brook or river, 
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on. 

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds 
To darken nature and be summer woods- 
Let them think twice before they use their powers 
To blot out and drink up and sweep away 
These flowery waters and these watery flowers 
From snow that melted only yesterday. 



263 



THE FREEDOM OF THE MOON 

I ve tried the new moon tilted in the air 
Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster 
As you might try a jewel in your hair, 
I've tried it fine with little breadth of lustre, 
Alone, or in one ornament combining 
With one first-water star almost as shining. 

I put it shining anywhere I please. 
By walking slowly on some evening later, 
I've pulled it from a crate of crooked trees, 
And brought it over glossy water, greater, 
And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow, 
The color run, all sorts of wonder follow. 



264 



FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN 

ilere come real stars to fill the upper skies, 
And here on earth come emulating flies, 
That though they never equal stars in size, 
(And they were never really stars at heart) 
Achieve at times a very star-like start. 
Only, of course, they can't sustain the part. 



365 



ATMOSPHERE 

INSCRIPTION FOR A GARDEN WALL 

XVinds blow the open grassy places bleak; 
But where this old wall burns a sunny cheek, 
They eddy over it too toppling weak 
To blow the earth or anything self-clear; 
Moisture and color and odor thicken here. 
The hours of daylight gather atmosphere. 



266 



DEVOTION 

Ihe heart can think of no devotion 
Greater than being shore to the ocean- 
Holding the curve of one position, 
Counting an endless repetition. 



267 



ON GOING UNNOTICED 

As vain to raise a voice as a sigh 
In the tumult of free leaves on high. 
What are you in the shadow of trees 
Engaged up there with the light and breeze? 

Less than the coral-root you know 
That is content with the daylight low, 
And has no leaves at all of its own; 
Whose spotted flowers hang meanly down 

You grasp the bark by a rugged pleat. 
And look up small from the forest's feet. 
The only leaf it drops goes wide. 
Your name not written on either side. 

You linger your little hour and are gone, 
And still the woods sweep leafily on, 
Not even missing the coral-root flower 
You took as a trophy of the hour. 



268 



A PASSING GLIMPSE 

To Ridgely Torrence 

On Last Looking Into His 'Hesperides* 



1 often see flowers from a passing car 

That are gone before I can tell what they are. 

I want to get out of the train and go back 
To see what they were beside the track. 

I name all the flowers I am sure they weren't: 
Not fireweed loving where woods have burnt- 

Not blue bells gracing a tunnel mouth- 
Not lupine living on sand and drouth. 

Was something brushed across my mind 
That no one on earth will ever find? 

Heaven gives its glimpses only to those 
Not in position to look too close. 



369 



A PECK OF GOLD 

Dust always blowing about the town, 
Except when sea-fog laid it down, 
And I was one of the children told 
Some of the blowing dust was gold. 

All the dust the wind blew high 
Appeared like gold in the sunset sky, 
But I was one of the children told 
Some of the dust was really gold. 

Such was life in the Golden Gate: 
Gold dusted all we drank and ate, 
And I was one of the children told, 
'We all must eat our peck of gold/ 



270 



ACCEPTANCE 

When the spent sun throws up its rays on cloud 
And goes down burning into the gulf below, 
No voice in nature is heard to cry aloud 
At what has happened. Birds, at least, must know 
It is the change to darkness in the sky. 
Murmuring something quiet in her breast, 
One bird begins to close a faded eye; 
Or overtaken too far from his nest, 
Hurrying low above the grove, some waif 
Swoops just in time to his remembered tree. 
At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe! 
Now let the night be dark for all of me. 
Let the night be too dark for me to see 
Into the future. Let what will be, be/ 



271 



ONCE BY THE PACIFIC 

Ihe 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 shore was lucky in 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. 



272 



LODGED 

Ihe rain to the wind said 
1 You push and I'll pelt/ 
They so smote the garden bed 
That the flowers actually knelt, 
And lay lodged though not dead. 
I know how the flowers felt. 



273 



A MINOR BIRD 

I have wished a bird would fly away, 
And not sing by my house all day; 

Have clapped my hands at him from the door 
When it seemed as if I could bear no more. 

The fault must partly have been in me. 
The bird was not to blame for his key. 

And of course there must be something wrong 
In wanting to silence any song. 



274 



BEREFT 

Where had I heard this wind before 
Change like this to a deeper roar? 
WTiat would it take my standing there for, 
Holding open a restive door, 
Looking down hill to a frothy shore? 
Summer was past and day was past. 
Sombre clouds in the west were massed. 
Out in the porch's sagging floor, 
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed, 
Blindly struck at my knee and missed. 
Something^sinister in the tone 
Told me my secret must be known: 
\Vord I was in the house alone 
Somehow must have gotten abroad, 
"Word I was in my life alone, 
Word I had no one left but God, 



275 



TREE AT MY WINDOW 

Iree at my window, window tree, 
My sash is lowered when night comes on; 
3ut let there never be curtain drawn 
Between you and me. 

Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground, 
And thing next most diffuse to cloud, 
Not all your light tongues talking aloud 
Could be profound. 

But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed, 
And if you have seen me when I slept, 
You have seen me when I was taken and swept 
And all but lost. 

That day she put our heads together, 
Fate had her imagination about her, 
Your head so much concerned with outer, 
Mine with inner, weather. 



276 



THE PEACEFUL SHEPHERD 

If heaven were to do again, 
And on the pasture bars, 
I leaned to line the figures in 
Between the dotted stars, 

I should be tempted to forget, 

I fear, the Crown of Rule, 

The Scales of Trade, the Cross of Faith, 

As hardly worth renewal. 

For these have governed in our lives, 
And see how men have warred. 
The Cross, the Crown, the Scales may all 
As well have been the Sword. 



277 



A WINTER EDEN 

A winter garden in an alder swamp, 

Where conies now come out to sun and romp, 

As near a paradise as it can be 

And not melt snow or start a dormant tree. 

It lifts existence on a plane of snow 
One level higher than the earth below, 
One level nearer heaven overhead, 
And last year's berries shining scarlet red. 

It lifts a gaunt luxuriating beast 
Where he can stretch and hold his highest feast 
On some wild apple tree's young tender bark, 
What well may prove the year's high girdle mark. 

So near to paradise all pairing ends: 
Here loveless birds now flock as winter friends, 
Content with bud-inspecting. They presume 
To say which buds are leaf and which are bloom. 

A feather-hammer gives a double knock. 
This Eden day is done at two o'clock. 
An hour of winter day might seem too short 
To make it worth life's while to wake and sport. 



278 



THE FLOOD 

Blood has been harder to dam back than water. 

Just when we think we have it impounded safe 

Behind new barrier walls (and let it chafe!), 

It breaks away in some new kind of slaughter. 

We choose to say it is let loose by the devil; 

But power of blood itself releases blood. 

It goes by might of being such a flood 

Held high at so unnatural a level. 

It will have outlet, brave and not so brave. 

Weapons of war and implements of peace 

Are but the points at which it finds release. 

And now it is once more the tidal wave 

That when it has swept by leaves summits stained. 

Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained. 



ACQUAINTED WITH THE NIGHT 

1 have been one acquainted with the night. 
I have "walked out in rain and back in rain. 
I have outwalked the furthest city light. 

I have looked down the saddest city lane. 
I have passed by the watchman on his beat 
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 
When far away an interrupted cry 
Came over houses from another sireet, 

But not to call me back or say good-bye; 
And further still at an unearthly height, 
One luminary clock against the sky 

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right 
I have been one acquainted with the night. 



280 



THE LOVELY SHALL BE CHOOSERS 

The Voice said, <Hther<JoM*i!' 
The Voices, c 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. 

But she stood straight still, 

In broad round ear-rings, gold and jet with pearls 

And broad round suchlike brooch, 

Her cheeks high colored, 

Proud and the pride of friends. 

The Voice asked, 'You can let her choose?* 

281 



'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 friends 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 it in the winter firelight. 
But give her friends for then she dare 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 for what she is, 
Give her the comfort for her sixth of knowing 
She fails from strangeness to a way of life 
She came to from too high too late to learn. 
Then send some one with eyes to see 

282 



CANIS MAJOR 

Ihe great Overdog, 
That heavenly beast 
With a star in one eye, 
Gives a leap in the east. 

He dances upright 
All the way to the west 
And never once drops 
On his forefeet to rest. 

I'm a poor underdog, 
But tonight I will bark 
With the great Overdog 
That romps through the dark. 



289 



A SOLDIER 

Jrle is that fallen lance that lies as hurled, 
That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust, 
But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust. 
If we who sight along it round the world, 
See nothing worthy to have been its mark, 
It is because like men we look too near, 
Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere, 
Our missiles always make too short an arc. 
They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect 
The curve of earth, and striking, break their own; 
They make us cringe for metal-point on stone. 
But this we know, the obstacle that checked 
And tripped the body, shot the spirit on 
Further than target ever showed or shone. 



IMMIGRANTS 



IN o ship of all that under sailor or steam 
Have gathered people to us more and more 
But Pilgrim-manned the Mayflower in a dream 
Has been her anxious convey in to shore. 



291 



HANNIBAL 



Was there ever a cause too lost, 

Ever a cause that was lost too long, 

Or that showed with the lapse of time too vain 

For the generous tears of youth and song? 



-92 



THE FLOWER BOAT 

The fisherman's swapping a yarn for a yarn 
Under the hand of the village barber, 
And here in the angle of house and barn 
His deep-sea dory has found a harbor. 

At anchor she rides the sunny sod 

As full to the gunnel of flowers growing 

As ever she turned her home with cod 

From George's bank when winds were blowing. 

And I judge from that Elysian freight 
That all they ask is rougher weather, 
And dory and master will sail by fate 
To seek for the Happy Isles together. 



THE TIMES TABLE 

JVlore than half way up the pass 

Was a spring with a broken drinking glass, 

And whether the farmer drank or not 

His mare was sure to observe the spot 

By cramping the wheel on a water-bar, 

Turning her forehead with a star, 

And straining her ribs for a monster sigh; 

To which the farmer would make reply, 

1 A sigh for every so many breath, 

And for every so many sigh a death. 

That's what I always tell my wife 

Is the multiplication table of life.' 

The saying may be ever so true; 

But it's just the kind of a thing that you, 

Nor I, nor nobody else may say, 

Unless our purpose is doing harm, 

And then I know of no better way 

To close a road, abandon a farm, 

Reduce the births of the human race, 

And bring back nature in people's place. 



294 



THE INVESTMENT ^ 

Over back where they speak of life as staying 
('You couldn't call it living, for it ain't'), 
There was an old, old house renewed with paint, 
And in it a piano loudly playing. 

Out in the ploughed ground in the cold a digger, 
Among unearthed potatoes standing still, 
Was counting winter dinners, one a hill, 
With half an ear to the piano's vigor. 

All that piano and new paint back there, 
Was it some money suddenly come into? 
Or some extravagance young love had been to? 
Or old love on an impulse not to care- 
Not to sink under being man and wife, 
But get some color and music out of life? 



295 



THE LAST MOWING 

There's a place called Far-away Meadow 

We never shall mow in again, 

Or such is the talk at the farmhouse: 

The meadow is finished with men. 

Then now is the chance for the flowers 

That can't stand mowers and plowers. 

It must be now, though, in season 

Before the not mowing brings trees on, 

Before trees, seeing the opening, 

March into a shadowy claim. 

The trees are all I'm afraid of, 

That flowers can't bloom in the shade of; 

It's no more men I'm afraid of; 

The meadow is done with the tame. 

The place for the moment is ours 

For you, oh tumultuous flowers, 

To go to waste and go wild in, 

All shapes and colors of flowers, 

I needn't call you by name. 



296 



THE BIRTHPLACE 

ilere further up the mountain slope 
Than there was ever any hope, 
My father built, enclosed a spring, 
Strung chains of Avail round everything, 
Subdued the growth of earth to grass, 
And brought our various lives to pass. 
A dozen girls and boys we were. 
The mountain seemed to like the stir, 
And made of us a little while 
With always something in her smile. 
Today she wouldn't know our name. 
(No girl's, of course, has stayed the same.) 
The mountain pushed us off her knees. 
And now her lap is full of trees. 



297 



DUST IN THE EYES 

If, as they say, some dust thrown in my eyes 
Will keep my talk from getting overwise, 
I'm not the one for putting off the proof. 
Let it be overwhelming, off a roof 
And round a corner, blizzard snow for dust 
And blind me to a standstill if it must. 



298 



SITTING BY A BUSH IN BROAD 
SUNLIGHT 

\A/hen I spread out my hand here today, 
I catch no more than a ray 
To feel of between thumb and fingers; 
No lasting effect of it lingers. 

There was one time and only the one 
When dust really took in the sun; 
And from that one intake of fire 
All creatures still warmly suspire. 

And if men have watched a long time 
And never seen sun-smitten slime 
Again come to life and crawl off, 
We must not be too ready to scoff. 

God once declared he was true 
And then took the veil and withdrew, 
And remember how final a hush 
Then descended of old on the bush. 

God once spoke to people by name. 
The sun once imparted its flame 
One impulse persists as our breath; 
The other persists as our faith. 



299 



WHAT FIFTY SAID 

\Vhen I was young my teachers were the old. 

I gave up fire for form till I was cold. 

I suffered like a metal being cast. 

I went to school to age to learn the past. 

Now I am old my teachers are the young. 

What can't be moulded must be cracked and sprung, 

I strain at lessons fit to start a suture. 

I go to school to youth to learn the future. 



300 



RIDERS 

The surest thing there is is we are riders, 
And though none too successful at it, guiders, 
Through everything presented, land and tide 
And now the very air, of what we ride. 

WTiat is this talked-of mystery of birth 
But being mounted bareback on the earth? 
We can just see the infant up astride, 
His small fist buried in the bushy hide. 

There is our wildest mount a headless horse. 
But though it runs unbridled off its course, 
And all our blandishments would seem defied, 
We have ideas yet that we haven't tried. 



301 



ON LOOKING UP BY CHANCE AT 
THE CONSTELLATIONS 

You'll wait a long, long time for anything much 
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud 
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling 

nerves. 
The sun and moon get crossed, but they never 

touch, 
Nor strike out fire from each other, nor crash oul 

loud. 

The planets seem to interfere in their curves, 
But nothing ever happens, no harm is done. 
We may as well go patiently on with our life, 
And look elsewhere than to stars and moon and sun 
For the shocks and changes we need to keep us sane. 
It is true the longest drouth will end in rain, 
The longest peace in China will end in strife. 
Still it wouldn't reward the watcher to stay awake 
In hopes of seeing the calm of heaven break 
On his particular time and personal sight. 
That calm seems certainly safe to last tonight. 



102 



THE BEAR 

1 he bear puts both arms around the tree above her 
And draws it down as if it were a lover 
And its choke cherries lips to kiss good-bye, 
Then lets it snap back upright in the sky. 
Her next step rocks a boulder 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 off 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 the 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. 
He sits back on his fundamental butt 
With lifted snout and eyes (if any) shut, 

303 



(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. 



304 



THE EGG AND THE MACHINE 

JTle 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. 

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, he had himself to thank. 

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 all there was was size 

Confusion and a roar that drowned the cries 

He raised against the gods in the machine. 

Then once again the sandbank 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's egg; 

And probing with one finger not too rough, 

He found suspicious sand, and sure enough, 

The pocket of a little turtle mine. 

If there was one egg in it there were nine, 

Torpedo-like, with shell of gritty leather 

All packed in sand to wait the trump together. 

'You'd better not disturb me any more,' 

305 



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.' 



A Further Range 



A LONE STRIKER 

1 he swinging mill bell changed its rate 
To tolling like the count of fate, 
And though at that the tardy ran, 
One failed to make the closing gate. 
There was a law of God or man 
That on the one who came too late 
The gate for half an hour be locked. 
His time be lost, his pittance docked. 
He stood rebuked and unemployed. 
The straining mill began to shake. 
The mill, though many, many eyed, 
Had eyes inscrutably opaque; 
So that he couldn't look inside 
To see if some forlorn machine 
Was standing idle for his sake. 
(He couldn't hope its heart would break.) 

And yet he thought he saw the scene: 
The air was full of dust of wool. 
A thousand yarns were under pull, 
But pull so slow, with such a twist, 
All day from spool to lesser spool, 
It seldom overtaxed their strength; 
They safely grew in slender length. 
And if one broke by any chance, 
The spinner saw it at a glance. 
The spinner still was there to spin. 



300 



That's where the human still came in. 
Her deft hand showed with finger rings 
Among the harp-like spread of strings. 
She caught the pieces end to end 
And, with a touch that never missed, 
Not so much tied as made them blend. 
Man's ingenuity was good. 
He saw it plainly where he stood, 
Yet found it easy to resist. 

He knew another place, a wood, 

And in it, tall as trees, were cliffs; 

And if he stood on one of these, 

'Twould be among the tops of trees, 

Their upper branches round him wreathing 

Their breathing mingled with his breathing, 

Ifif he stood! Enough of ifs! 

He knew a path that wanted walking; 

He knew a spring that wanted drinking; 

A thought that wanted further thinking; 

A love that wanted re-renewing. 

Nor was this just a way of talking 

To save him the expense of doing. 

With him it boded action, deed. 

The factory was very fine; 
He wished it all the modern speed. 
Yet, after all, 'twas not divine, 
That is to say, 'twas not a church. 
He never would assume that he'd 

310 



r5e any institution's need. 

But he said then arid still would say 

If there should ever come a day 

\Vhen industry seemed like to die 

Because he left it in the lurch, 

Or even merely seemed to pine 

For want of his appro val, why 

Come get him they knew where to search. 



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 off 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 splinterless 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 off a frozen peak, 
And you're two months back in the middle of 
March. 

312 



A DRUMLIN WOODCHUCK 

(Jne thing has a shelving bank, 

Another a rotting plank, 

To give it cozier skies 

And make up for its lack of size. 

My own strategic retreat 
Is where two rocks almost meet, 
And still more secure and snug, 
A two-door burrow I dug. 

With those in mind at my back 
I can sit forth exposed to attack 
As one who shrewdly pretends 
That he and the world are friends. 

All we who prefer to live 
Have a little whistle we give, 
And flash, at the least alarm 
We dive down under the farm. 

We allow some time for guile 
And don't come out for a while 
Either to eat or drink. 
We take occasion to think. 

And if after the hunt goes past 
And the double-barrelled blast 



321 



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 living 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 sakes. 



THE WHITE-TAILED HORNET 

The white-tailed hornet lives in a balloon 

That floats against the ceiling of the woodshed. 

The exit he comes out at like a bullet 

Is like the pupil of a pointed gun. 

And having power to change his aim in flight, 

He comes out more unerring than a bullet. 

Verse could be written on the certainty 

With which he penetrates my best defense 

Of whirling hands and arms about the head 

To stab me in the sneeze-nerve of a nostril. 

Such is the instinct of it I allow. 

Yet how about the insect certainty 

That in the neighborhood of home and children 

!s such an execrable judge of motives 

As not to recognize in me the exception 

I like to think I am in everything 

One who would never hang above a bookcase 

His Japanese crepe-paper globe for trophy? 

He stung me first and stung me afterward. 

He rolled me off the field head over heels, 

And would not listen to my explanations. 

That's when I went as visitor to his house. 
As visitor at my house he is better. 
Hawking for flies about the kitchen door, 
In at one door perhaps and out another, 
Trust him then not to put you in the wrong. 

315 



He won't misunderstand your freest movements. 

Let him light on your skin unless you mind 

So many prickly grappling feet at once. 

He's after the domesticated fly 

To feed his thumping grubs as big as he is. 

Here he is at his best, but even here- 

I watched him where he swooped, he pounced, he 

struck; 

But what he found he had was just a nailhead. 
He struck a second time. Another nailhead. 
'Those are just nailheads. Those are fastened down/ 
Then disconcerted and not unannoyed, 
He stooped and struck a little huckleberry 
The way a player curls around a football. 
'Wrong shape, wrong color, and wrong scent/ 1 said. 
The huckleberry rolled him on his head. 
At last it was a fly. He shot and missed; 
And the fly circled round him in derision. 
But for the fly he might have made me think 
He had been at his poetry, comparing 
Nailhead with fly and fly with huckleberry: 
How like a fly, how very like a fly. 
But the real fly he missed would never do; 
The missed fly made me dangerously skeptic. 

Won't this whole instinct matter bear revision? 

Won't almost any theory bear revision? 

To err is human, not to, animal. 

Or so we pay the compliment to instinct, 

Only too liberal of our compliment 

316 



That really takes away instead of gives. 

Our worship, humor, conscientiousness 

Went long since to the dogs under the table. 

And served us right for having instituted 

Downward comparisons. As long on earth 

As our comparisons were stoutly upward 

With gods and angels, we were men at least, 

But little lower than the gods and angels. 

But once comparisons were yielded downward, 

Once we began to see our images 

Reflected in the mud and even dust, 

'Twas disillusion upon disillusion. 

We were lost piecemeal to the animals, 

Like people thrown out to delay the wolves. 

Nothing but fallibility was left us, 

And this day ' s work made even that seem doubtful. 



31? 



k BLUE RIBBON AT AMESBURY 

Ouch a fine pullet ought to go 
All coiffured to a winter show, 
And be exhibited, and win. 
The answer is this one has been 

And come with all her honors home. 
Her golden leg, her coral comb, 
Her fluff of plumage, white as chalk, 
Her style, were all the fancy's talk. 

It seems as if you must have heard. 
She scored an almost perfect bird. 
In her we make ourselves acquainted. 
With one a Sewell might have painted. 

Here common with the flock again, 
At home in her abiding pen, 
She lingers feeding at the trough, 
The last to let night drive her off. 

The one who gave her ankle-band, 
Her keeper, empty pail in hand, 
He lingers too, averse to slight 
His chores for all the wintry night. 

He leans against the dusty wall, 
Immured almost beyond recall, 

318 



A depth past many swinging doors 
And many litter-muffled floors. 

He meditates the breeder's art. 
He has a half a mind to start, 
With her for Mother Eve, a race 
That shall all living things displace. 

'Tis ritual with her to lay 
The full six days, then rest a day; 
At which rate barring broodiness 
She well may score an egg-success. 

The gatherer can always tell 

Her well-turned egg's brown sturdy shell, 

As safe a vehicle of seed 

As is vouchsafed to feathered breed, 

No human spectre at the feast 
Can scant or hurry her the least. 
She takes her time to take her fill. 
She whets a sleepy sated bill. 

She gropes across the pen alone 
To peck herself a precious stone. 
She waters at the patient fount. 
And so to roost, the last to mount. 

The roost is her extent of flight. 
Yet once she rises to the height, 



319 



She shoulders with a wing so strong 
She makes the whole flock move along. 

The night is setting in to blow. 
It scours the windowpane with snow, 
But barely gets from them or her 
For comment a complacent chirr. 

The lowly pen is yet a hold 
Against the dark and wind and cold 
To give a prospect to a plan 
And warrant prudence in a man. 



320 



A DRUMLIN WOODCHUCK 

vjne thing has a shelving bank, 

Another a rotting plank, 

To give it cozier skies 

And make up for its lack of size. 

My own strategic retreat 
Is where two rocks almost meet, 
And still more secure and snug, 
A two-cloor burrow I dug. 

With those in mind at my back 
I can sit forth exposed to attack 
As one who shrewdly pretends 
That he and the world are friends. 

All we who prefer to live 
Have a little whistle we give, 
And flash, at the least alarm 
We dive down under the farm. 

We allow some time for guile 
And don't come out for a while 
Either to eat or drink. 
We take occasion to think. 

And if after the hunt goes past 
And the double-barrelled blast 



321 



(Like war and pestilence 

And the loss of common sense), 

If I can with confidence say 
That still for another day, 
Or even another year, 
I will be there for you, my dear, 

It will be because, though small 
As measured again the All, 
I have been so instinctively thorough 
About my crevice and burrow. 



322 



THE GOLD HESPERIDEE 

Oquare Matthew Male's young grafted appletree 

Began to blossom at the age of five; 

And after having entertained the bee, 

And cast its flowers and all the stems but three, 

It set itself to keep those three alive; 

And downy wax the three began to thrive. 

They had just given themselves a little twist 
And turned from looking up and being kissed 
To looking down and yet not being sad, 
When came Square Hale with Let's see what we had; 
And two was all he counted (one he missed); 
But two for a beginning wasn't bad. 

His little Matthew, also five years old, 
Was led into the presence of the tree 
And raised among the leaves and duly told, 
We mustn't touch them yet, but see and see! 
And what was green would by and by be gold. 
Their name was called the Gold Hesperidee. 

As regularly as he went to feed the pig 
Or milk the cow, he visited the fruit, 
The dew of night and morning on his boot. 
Dearer to him than any barnyard brute, 
Each swung in danger on its slender twig, 
A bubble on a pipe-stem growing big. 

323 



Long since they swung as three instead of two 
One more, he thought, to take him safely through. 
Three made it certain nothing Fate could do 
With codlin moth or rusty parasite 
Would keep him now from proving with a bite 
That the name Gold Hesperidee was right. 

And so he brought them to the verge of frost. 
But one day when the foliage all went swish 
With autumn and the fruit was rudely tossed, 
He thought no special goodness could be lost 
If he fulfilled at last his summer wish, 
And saw them picked unbruised and in a dish, 

Where they could ripen safely to the eating. 

But when he came to look, no apples there 

Under, or on the tree, or anywhere, 

And the light-natured tree seemed not to care! 

'Twas Sunday and Square Hale was dressed for 

meeting, 
The final summons into church was beating. 

Just as he was without an uttered sound 
At those who'd done him such a wrong as that, 
Square Matthew Hale took off his Sunday hat 
And ceremoniously laid it on the ground, 
And leaping on it with a solemn bound, 
Danced slowly on it till he trod it flat. 



324 



Then suddenly he saw the thing he did. 
And looked around to see if he was seen. 
This was the sin that Ahaz was forbid 
(The meaning of the passage had been hid): 
To look upon the tree -when it was green 
And worship apples.What else could it mean? 

God saw him dancing in the orchard path, 
But mercifully kept the passing crowd 
From witnessing the fault of one so proud. 
And so the story wasn't told in Gath; 
In gratitude for which Square Matthew vowed 
To walk a graver man restrained <n wrath. 



325 



IN TIME OF CLOUDBURST 

Let the downpour roil and toil! 
The worst it can do to me 
Is carry some garden soil 
A little nearer the sea. 

J Tis the world-old way of the rain 
When it comes to a mountain farm 
To exact for a present gain 
A little of future harm. 

And the harm is none too sure, 
For when all that was rotted rich 
Shall be in the end scoured poor, 
When my garden has gene down ditch, 

Some force has but to apply, 
And summits shall be immersed, 
The bottom of seas raised dry 
The slope of the earth reversed. 

Then all I need do is run 
To the other end of the slope, 
And on tracts laid new to the sun, 
Begin all over to hope. 

Some worn old tool of my own 
Will be turned up by the plow, 

326 



The wood of it changed to stone, 
But as ready to wield as now. 

May my application so close 
To so endless a repetition 
Not make me tired and morose 
And resentful of man's condition. 



327 



A ROADSIDE STAND 

1 he little old house was out with a little new shed 
In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped, 
A roadside stand that too pathetically plead, 
It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread, 
But for some of the money, the cash, whose flow 

supports 

The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint. 
The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead, 
Or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts 
At having the landscape marred with the artless paint 
Of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned 

wrong 

Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts, 
Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts, 
Or beauty rest in a beautiful mountain scene. 
You have the money, but if you want to be mean, 
Why keep your money (this crossly), and go along. 
The hurt to the scenery wouldn't be my complaint 
So much as the trusting sorrow of what is unsaid: 
Here far from the city we make our roadside stand 
And ask for some city money to feel in hand 
To try if it will not make our being expand, 
And give us the life of the moving pictures' promise 
That the party in power is said to be keeping from us. 

It is in the news that all these pitiful kin 

Are to be bought out and mercifully gathered in 

To live in villages next to the theatre and store 

328 



At the shiny desert with spots of gloom 

That might be people and are but cedar, 

Have no purpose, have no leader, 

Have never made the first move to assemble, 

And so are nothing to make her tremble. 

She can think of places that are not thus 

Without indulging a 'Not for us! 7 

Life is not so sinister-grave. 

Matter of fact has made them brave. 

He is husband, she is wife. 

She fears not him, they fear not life. 

They know where another light has been 

And more than one to theirs akin, 

But earlier out for bed tonight, 

So lost on me in my surface flight. 

This I saw when waking late, 

Going by at a railroad rate, 

Looking through wreaths of engine smoke 

Far into the lives of other folk. 



333 



THE FIGURE IN THE DOORWAY 

1 he grade surmounted, we were riding high 
Through level mountains nothing to the eye 
But scrub oak, scrub oak and the lack of earth 
That kept the oaks from getting any girth. 
But as through the monotony we ran, 
We came to where there was a living man. 
His great gaunt figure filled his cabin door, 
And had he fallen inward on the floor, 
He must have measured to the further wall. 
But we who passed were not to see him fall. 
The miles and miles he lived from anywhere 
Were evidently something he could bear. 
He stood unshaken, and if grim and gaunt, 
It was not necessarily from want. 
He had the oaks for heating and for light. 
He had a hen, he had a pig in sight. 
He had a well, he had the rain to catch. 
He had a ten by twenty garden patch. 
Nor did he lack for common entertainment. 
That I assume was what our passing train meant. 
He could look at us in our diner eating, 
And if so moved uncurl a hand in greeting. 



334 



AT WOODWARD'S GARDENS 

A boy, presuming on his intellect, 

Once showed two little monkeys in a cage 

A burning-glass they could not understand 

And never could be made to understand. 

Words are no good: to say it was a lens 

For gathering solar rays would not have helped. 

But let him show them how the weapon worked. 

He made the sun a pin-point on the nose 

Of first one then the other till it brought 

A look of puzzled dimness to their eyes 

That blinking could not seem to blink away. 

They stood arms laced together at the bars, 

And exchanged troubled glances over life. 

One put a thoughtful hand up to his nose 

As if remindedor as if perhaps 

Within a million years of an idea. 

He got his purple little knuckles stung. 

The already known had once more been confirmed 

By psychological experiment, 

And that were all the finding to announce 

Had the boy not presumed too close and long. 

There was a sudden flash of arm, a snatch 

And the glass was the monkeys' not the boy's. 

Precipitately they retired back cage 

And instituted an investigation 

On their part, though without the needed insight. 

They bit the glass and listened for the flavor. 

335 



J 'hsy broke the handle and the binding off it. 
T ben none the wiser, frankly gave it up, 
And having hid it in their bedding straw 
Against the day of prisoners' ennui, 
Came dryly forward to the bars again 
To answer for themselves: Who said it mattered 
W rut monkeys did or didn't understand? 
They might not understand a burning-glass. 
They might not understand the sun itself. 
\t's knowing what to do with things that counts. 



336 



A RECORD STRIDE 

In a Vermont bedroom closet 

With a door of two broad boards 

And for back wall a crumbling old chimney 

(And that's what their toes are to wards ), 

I have a pair of shoes standing, 
Old rivals of sagging leather, 
Who once kept surpassing each other, 
But now live even together. 

They listen for me in the bedroom 
To ask me a thing or two 
About who is too old to go walking, 
With too much stress on the who. 

I wet one last year at Moiitauk 
For a hat I had to save. 
The other I wet at the Cliff House 
In an cxtra-vagant wave. 

Two entirely different grandchildren 
Got me into my double adventure. 
But when they grow up and can read this 
I hope they won't take it for censure. 

I touch my tongue to the shoes now 
And unless my sense is at fault, 



337 



On one I can taste Atlantic, 
On the other Pacific, salt. 

One foot in each great ocean 

Is a record stride or stretch. 

The authentic shoes it was made in 

I should sell for what they would fetch. 

But instead I proudly devote them 

To my museum and muse; 

So the thick-skins needn't act thin-skinned 

About being past-active shoes. 

And I ask all to try to forgive me 
For being as over-elated 
As if I had measured the country 
And got the United States stated. 



338 



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 skymarks 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, 
1 Where, where in Heaven am I? But don't tell me!* 
I warned the clouds, 'by opening on me wide. 
Let's let my heavenly lostness overwhelm me/ 



339 



DESERT PLACES 

Onow 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. 

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 where no human race is. 
I have it in me so much nearer home 
To scare myself with my own desert places. 



340 



LEAVES COMPARED WITH FLOWERS 

A tree's leaves may be ever so good, 

So may its bark, so may its wood; 

But unless you put the right tiling to its root 

It never will show much flower or fruit. 

But I may be one who does not care 
Ever to have tree bloom or bear. 
Leaves for smooth and bark for rough, 
Leaves and bark may be tree enough. 

Some giant trees have bloom so small 
They might as well have none at all. 
Late in life I have come on fern. 
Now lichens are due to have their turn. 

I bade men tell me which in brief, 
Which is fairer, flower or leaf. 
They did not have the wit to say, 
Leaves by night and flowers by day. 

Leaves and bark, leaves and bark, 
To lean against and hear in the dark. 
Petals I may have once pursued. 
Leaves are all my darker mood. 



341 



A LEAF TREADER 

1 have been treading ^n 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 underfoot the leaves of another 

year. 

All summer long they were over head, 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 

leaf 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. 



342 



THEY WERE WELCOME TO THEIR 
BELIEF 

\JTrief may have thought it was grief. 
Care may have thought it was care. 
They were welcome to their belief, 
The over important pair. 

No, it took all the snows that clung 
To the low roof over his bed, 
Beginning when he was young, 
To induce the one snow on his head. 

But whenever the roof came white 
The head in the dark below 
Was a shade less the color of night 
A shade more the color of snow. 

Grief may have thought it was grief. 
Care may have thought it was care. 
But neither one was the thief 
Of his raven color of hair. 



343 



THE STRONG ARE SAYING 
NOTHING 

ihe soil now gets a rumpling soft and damp, 
And small regard to the future of any weed. 
The final flat of the hoe's approval stamp 
Is reserved for the bed of a few selected seed. 

There is seldom more than a man to a harrowed 

piece. 

Men work olone, their lots plowed far apart, 
One stringing a chain of seed in an open crease, 
And another stumbling after a halting cart. 

To the fresh and black of the squares of early mould 
The leafless bloom of a plum is fresh and white; 
Though there's more than a doubt if the weather is 

not too cold 
For the bees to come and serve its beauty aright. 

Wind goes from farm to farm in wave on wave, 
But carries no cry of what is hoped to be. 
There may be little or much beyond the grave, 
Hut the strong are saying nothing until they see. 



344 



THE MASTER SPEED 

IN o speed of wind or water rushing by 

But you have speed far greater. You can climb 

Back up a stream of radiance to the sky, 

And back through history up the stream of time. 

And you were given this swiftness, not for haste, 

Nor chiefly that you may go where you will, 

But in the rush of everything to waste, 

That you may have the power of standing still 

Off any still or moving thing you say. 

Two such as you with such a master speed 

Cannot be parted nor be swept away 

From one another once you are agreed 

That life is only life forevermore 

Together wing to wing and oar to oar. 



345 



MOON COMPASSES 

I stole forth dimly in the dripping pause 

Between two downpours to see what there was. 

And a masked moon had spread down compass rays 

To a cone mountain in the midnight haze, 

As if the final estimate were hers, 

And as it measured in her calipers, 

The mountain stood exalted in its place. 

So love will take between the hands a face . . . 



346 



NEITHER OUT FAR NOR IN DEEP 

The people along the sand 
All turn and look one way. 
They turn their back on the land. 
They look at the sea all day. 

As long as it takes to pass 
A ship keeps raising its hull; 
The wetter ground like glass 
Reflects a standing gull. 

The land may vary more; 
But wherever the truth may be 
The water conies ashore, 
And the people look at the sea. 

They cannot look out far. 
They cannot look in deep. 
But when was that ever a bar 
To any watch they keep? 



347 



VOICE WAYS 

borne things are never clear. 
But the weather is clear tonight, 
Thanks to a clearing rain. 
The mountains are brought up near, 
The stars are brought out bright. 
Your old sweet-cynical strain 
Would come in like you here: 
'So we won't say nothing is clear.* 



348 



DESIGN 

1 found a dimpled spider, fat and white, 
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth 
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth- 
Assorted characters of death and blight 
Mixed ready to begin the morning right, 
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth 
A snow-drop spider, a flower like froth, 
And dead wings carried like a paper kite. 

What had that flower to do with being white, 
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all? 
What brought the kindred spider to that height, 
Then steered the white moth thither in the night? 
What but design of darkness to appall? 
If design govern in a thing so small. 



349 



ON A BIRD SINGING IN ITS SLEEP 

A bird half wakened in the lunar noon 
Sang half way through its little inborn tune. 
Partly because it sang but once all night 
And that from no especial bush's height; 
Partly because it sang ventriloquist 
And had the inspiration to desist 
Almost before the prick of hostile ears, 
It ventured less in peril than appears. 
It could not have come down 1 o us so far 
Through the interstices of things ajar 
On the long bead chain of repeated birth 
To be a bird while we are men on earth 
If singing out of sleep and dream that way 
Had made it much more easily a prey. 



350 



UNHARVESTED 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall. 
And come to leave the routine road 
And look for what had made me stall, 
There sure enough was an appletrec 
That had eased itself of its summer load. 
And of all but its trivial foliage free, 
Now breathed as light as a lady's fan. 
For there there had been an apple fall 
As complete as the apple had given man. 
The ground was one circle of solid red. 

May something go always unharvested! 
May much stay out of our stated plan, 
Apples or something forgotten and left, 
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft. 



351 



THERE ARE ROUGHLY ZONES 

We sit indoors and talk of the cold outside. 

And every gust that gathers strength and heaves 

Is a threat to the house. But the house has long been 

tried. 

We think of the tree. If it never again has leaves, 
We'll know, we say, that this was the night it died. 
It is very far north, we admit, to have brought the 

peach. 

What comes over a man, is it soul or mind 
That to no limits and bounds he can stay confined? 
You would say his ambition was to extend the reach 
Clear to the Arctic of every living kind. 
Why is his nature forever so hard to teach 
That though there is no fixed line between wrong 

and right, 

There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed. 
There is nothing much we can do for the tree tonight. 
But we can't help feeling more than a little betrayed 
That the northwest wind should rise to such a height 

o 

fust when the cold went down so many below. 
The tree has no leaves and may never have them again. 
We must wait till some months hence in the spring 

to know. 

But if it is destined never again to grow, 
It can blame this limitless trait in the hearts of men. 



352 



A TRIAL RUN 

I said to myself almost in prayer, 

It will start hair raising currents of air 

\Vhen you give it the livid metal-sap. 

It will make a homicidal roar. 

It will shake its cast stone reef of floor. 

It will gather speed till your nerves prepare 

To hear it wreck in a thunder-clap. 

But stand your ground 

As they say in war. 

It is cotter-pinned, it is bedded true. 

Everything its parts can do 

Has been thought out and accounted for. 

Your least touch sets it going round, 

And when to stop it rests with you. 



353 



NOT QUITE SOCIAL 

Oome of you will be glad I did what I did, 
And the rest won't want to punish me too severely 
For finding a thing to do that though not forbid 
Yet wasn't enjoined and wasn't expected clearly. 

To punish me over cruelly wouldn't be right 
For merely giving you once more gentle proof 
That the city's hold on a man is no more tight 
Than when its walls rose higher than any roof. 

You may taunt me with not being able to flee the 

earth. 

You have me there, but loosely as I would be held. 
The way of understanding is partly mirth. 
I would not be taken as ever having rebelled. 

And anyone is free to condemn me to death 
If he leaves it to nature to carry out the sentence. 
I shall will to the common stock of air my breath 
And pay a death-tax of fairly polite repentance. 



354 



PROVIDE PROVIDE 

The witch that came (the withered hag) 
To wash the steps with pail and rag, 
Was once the beauty Abishag, 

The picture pride of Hollywood. 
Too many fall from great and good 
For you to doubt the likelihood. 

Die early and avoid the fate. 
Or if predestined to die late, 
Make up your mirid to die in state- 
Make the whole stock exchange your own! 
If need be occupy a throne, 
Where nobody can call you crone. 

Some have relied on what they knew; 

Others on being simply true. 

What worked for them might work for you. 

No memory of having starred 

Atones for later disregard, 

Or keeps the end from being hard. 

Better to go down dignified 

With boughten friendship at your side 

Than none at all. Provide, provide! 



355 



TEN MILLS 

PRECAUTION 

I never dared be radical when young 

For fear it would make me conservative when old. 

THE SPAN OF LIFE 

The old dog barks backward without getting up. 
I can remember when he was a pup. 

THE WRIGHTS' BIPLANE 

This biplane is the shape of hi] man flight. 
Its name might better be First Motor Kite. 
Its makers' name Time cannot get that wrong. 
For it was writ in heaven doubly Wright. 

ASSERTIVE 

Let me be the one 
To do what is done. 

EVIL TENDENCIES CANCEL 

Will the blight end the chestnut? 
The farmers rather guess not. 
It keeps smouldering at the roots 
And sending up new shoots 
Till another parasite 
Shall come to end the blight. 

356 



PERTINAX 

Let chaos storm! 

Let cloud shapes swarm! 

I wait for form. 

WASPISH 

On glossy wires artistically bent, 
He draws himself up to his full extent. 
His natty wings with self-assurance perk. 
His stinging quarters menacingly work. 
Poor egotist, he has no way of knowing 
But he's as good as anybody going. 

ONE GUESS 

He has dust in his eyes and a fan for a wing, 

A leg akimbo with which he can sing, 

And a mouthful of dye stuff instead of a sting. 

THE HARDSHIP OF ACCOUNTING 

Never ask of money spent 
Wliere the spender thinks it went. 
Nobody was ever meant 
To remember or invent 
What he did with every cent. 

NOT ALL THERE 

I turned to speak to God 
About the world's despair; 
But to make bad matters worse 



357 



I found God wasn't there. 
God turned to speak to me 
(Don't anybody laugh) 
God found I wasn't there 
At least not over half. 

IN DIVES > DIVE 

It is late at night and still I am losing, 
But still I am steady and unaccusing. 

As long as the Declaration guards 

My right to be equal in number of cards, 

It is nothing to me who runs the Dive. 
Let's have a look at another five. 



358 



THE VINDICTIVES 

You like to hear about gold. 

A king filled his prison room 

As full as the room could hold 

To the top of his reach on the wall 

With every known shape of the stuff. 

'Twas to buy himself off his doom. 

But it wasn't ransom enough. 

His captors accepted it all, 

But didn't let go of the king. 

They made him send out a call 

To his subjects to gather them more. 

And his subjects wrung all they could wring 

Out of temple and palace and store. 

But when there seemed no more to bring, 

His captors convicted the king 

Of once having started a war, 

And strangled the wretch with a string. 

But really that gold was not half 
That a king might have hoped to compel- 
Not a half, not a third, not a tithe. 
The king had scarce ceased to writhe, 
When hate gave a terrible laugh, 
Like a manhole opened to Hell. 
If gold pleased the conqueror, well, 
That gold should be the one thing 
The conqueror henceforth should lack. 

359 



They gave no more thought to the king. 
All joined in the game of hide-gold. 
They swore all the gold should go back 
Deep into the earth whence it came. 

Their minds ran on cranny and crack. 
All joined in the maddening game. 
The tale is still boastingly told 
Of many a treasure by name " 
That vanished into the black 
And put out its light for the foe. 

That self-sack and self-overthrow 
That was the splendidest sack 
Since the forest Germans sacked Rome 
And took the gold candlesticks home. 

One Inca prince on the rack, 

\nd late in his last hour alive, 

Told them in what lake to dive 

To seek what they seemed so to want. 

They dived and nothing was found. 

He told them to dive till they drowned. 

The whole fierce conquering pack 

Hunted and tortured and raged. 

There were suns of story and vaunt 

They searched for into Brazil 

Their tongues hanging out unassuaged. 



360 



But the conquered grew meek and still. 
They slowly and silently aged. 
They kept their secrets and died, 
Maliciously satisfied. 
One knew of a burial hole 
In the floor of a tribal cave, 
Where under deep ash and charcoal 
And cracked bones, human and beast, 
The midden of feast upon feast, 

Was coiled in its last resting grave 
The great treasure wanted the most, 
The great thousand-linked gold chain, 
Each link of a hundred weight, 
That once between post and post 
(In-leaning under the strain), 
And looped ten times back and forth, 
Had served as a palace gate. 
Some said it had gone to the coast, 
Some over the mountains east, 
Some into the country north, 
On the backs of a single-file host, 
Commanded by one sun-priest, 
And raising a dust with a train 
Of flashing links in the sun. 
No matter what some may say. 
(The saying is never done.) 
There bright in the filth it lay 
Untarnished by rust and decay. 
And be all plunderers curst. 

361 



'The best way to hate is the worst. 
'Tis to find what the hated need, 
Never mind of what actual worth, 
And wipe that out of the earth. 
Let them die of unsatisfied greed, 
Of unsatisfied love of display, 
Of unsatisfied love of the high, 
Unvulgar, unsoiled, and ideal. 
Let their trappings be taken away. 
Let them suffer starvation and die 
Of being brought down to the real/ 



362 



THE BEARER OF EVIL TIDINGS 

1 he bearer of evil tidings,, 
Wlien he was halfway there, 
Remembered that evil tidings 
Were a dangerous thing to bear. 

3o when he came to the parting 
Where one road led to the throne 
And one went off to the mountains 
And into the wild unknown, 

He took the one to the mountains. 
He ran through the Vale of Cashmere, 
He ran through the rhododendrons 
Till he came to the land of Pamir. 

And there in a precipice valley 
A girl of his age he met 
Took him home to her bower, 
Or he might be running yet. 

She taught him her tribe's religion: 
How ages and ages since 
A princess en route from China 
To marry a Persian prince 



Had been found with child; and her army 
Had come to a troubled halt. 



363 



And though a god was the father 
And nobody else at fault, 

It had seemed discreet to remain there 
And neither go on nor back. 
So they stayed and declared a village 
There in the land of the Yak. 

And the child that came of the princess 
Established a royal line, 
And his mandates were given heed to 
Because he was born divine. 

And that was why there were people 
On one Himalayan shelf; 
And the bearer of evil tidings 
Decided to stay there himself. 

At least he had this in common 
With the race he chose to adopt: 
They had both of them had their reasons 
For stopping where they had stopped. 

As for his evil tidings, 
Belshazzar's overthrow, 
Why hurry to tell Belshazzar 
What soon enough he would know? 



364 



IRIS BY NIGHT 

One misty evening, one another's guide, 

We two were groping down a Malvern side 

The last wet fields and dripping hedges home. 

There came a moment of confusing lights, 

Such as according to belief in Rome 

Were seen of old at Memphis on the heights 

Before the fragments of a former sun 

Could concentrate anew and rise as one. 

Light was a paste of pigment in our eyes. 

And then there was a moon and then a scene 

So watery as to seem submarine; 

In which we two stood saturated, drowned. 

The clover-mingled rowan on the ground 

Had taken all the water it could as dew, 

And still the air was saturated too, 

Its airy pressure turned to water weight. 

Then a small rainbow like a trellis gate, 

A very small moon-made prismatic bow, 

Stood closely over us through which to go. 

And then we were vouchsafed the miracle 

That never yet to other two befell 

And I alone of us have lived to tell. 

A wonder! Bow and rainbow as it bent, 

Instead of moving with us as we went, 

(To keep the pots of gold from being found) 

It lifted from its dewy pediment 

Its two mote-swimming many-colored ends, 

365 



And gathered them together in a ring. 
And we stood in it softly circled round 
From all division time or foe can bring 
In a relation of elected friends. 



366 



BUILD SOIL-A POLITICAL 
PASTORAL 

\Vhy Tityrus! But you've forgotten me. 

Fm Meliboeus the potato man, 

The one you had the talk with, you remember, 

Here on this very campus years ago. 

Hard times have struck me and I'm on the move. 

Fve had to give my interval farm up 

For interest, and I've bought a mountain farm 

For nothing down, all-out-doors of a place, 

All woods and pasture only fit for sheep. 

But sheep is what Fm going into next. 

Fm done forever with potato crops 

At thirty cents a bushel. Give me sheep. 

I know wool's down to seven cents a pound. 

But I don't calculate to sell my wool. 

I didn't my potatoes. I consumed them. 

F1I dress up in sheep's clothing and eat sheep. 

The Muse takes care of you. You live by writing 

Your poems on a farm and call that farming. 

Oh I don't blame you. I say take life easy. 

I should myself, only I don't know how. 

But have some pity on us who have to work. 

Why don't you use your talents as a writer 

To advertise our farms to city buyers, 

Or else write something to improve food prices. 

Get in a poem toward the next election. 

36? 



Oh Meliboeus, I have half a mind 

To take a writing hand in politics. 

Before now poetry has taken notice 

Of wars, and what are wars but politics 

Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody? 

I may be wrong, but Tityrus to me 

The times seem revolutionary bad. 

The question is whether they've reached a depth 

Of desperation that would warrant poetry's 

Leaving love's alternations, joy and grief, 

The weather's alternations, summer and winter, 

Our age-long theme, for the uncertainty 

Of judging who is a contemporary liar 

Who in particular, when all alike 

Get called as much in clashes of ambition. 

Life may be tragically bad, and I 

Make bold to sing it so, but do I dare 

Name names and tell you who by name is wicked? 

Whittier's luck with Skipper Ireson awes me. 

Many men's luck with Greatest Washington 

(Who sat for Stuart's portrait, but who sat 

Equally for the nation's Constitution). 

I prefer to sing safely in the realm 

Of types, composite and imagined people: 

To affirm there is such a thing as evil 

Personified, but ask to be excused 

From saying on a jury here's the guilty. 



368 



I doubt it you're convinced the times are bad. 
I keep my eye on Congress, Meliboeus. 
They're in the best position of us all 
To know if anything is very wrong. 
1 mean they could be trusted to give the alarm 
If earth were thought about to change its axis, 
Or a star coming to dilate the sun. 
As long as lightly all their live-long sessions, 
Like a yard full of school boys out at recess 
Before their plays and games were organized, 
They yelling mix tag, hide-and-seek, hop-scotch, 
And leap frog in each other's way, all's well. 
Let newspapers profess to fear the worst! 
Nothing's portentous, I am reassured. 

Is socialism needed, do you think? 

We have it now. For socialism is 
An clement in any government. 
There's no such thing as socialism pure 
Except as an abstraction of the mind. 
There's only democratic socialism 
Monarchic socialism oligarchic, 
The last being what they seem to have in Russia. 
You often get it most in monarchy, 
Least in democracy. In practice, pure, 
I don't know what it would be. No one knows. 
I have no doubt like all the loves when 
Philosophized together into one- 
One sickness of the body and the soul. 

369 



Thank God our practice holds the loves apart 

Beyond embarrassing self-consciousness 

Where natural friends are met, where dogs are 

kept, 

Where women pray with priests. There is no love. 
There's only love of men and women, love 
Of children, love of friends, of men, of God, 
Divine love, human love, parental love, 
Roughly discriminated for the rough. 

Poetry, itself once more, is back in love. 

Pardon the analogy, my Meliboeus, 
For sweeping me away. Let's see, where was I? 
But don't you think more should be socialized 
Than is? 

What should you mean by socialized? 

Made good for everyone things like inventions- 
Made so we all should get the good of them 
All, not just great exploiting businesses. 

We sometimes only get the bad of them. 

In your sense of the word ambition has 

Been socialized the first propensity 

To be attempted. Greed may well come next. 

But the worst one of all to leave uncurbed, 

Unsocialized, is ingenuity: 

Which for no sordid self-aggrandizement, 

For nothing but its own blind satisfaction 

370 



(In this it is as much like hate as love) 

Works in the dark as much against as for us. 

Even while we talk some chemist at Columbia 

Is stealthily contriving wool from jute 

That when let loose upon the grazing world 

Will put ten thousand farmers out of sheep. 

Everyone asks for freedom for himself, 

The man free love, the business man free trade, 

The writer and talker free speech and free press. 

Political ambition has been taught, 

By being punished back, it is not free: 

It must at some point gracefully refrain. 

Greed has been taught a little abnegation 

And shalUbe more before we're done with it. 

It is just fool enough to think itself 

Self-taught. But our brute snarling and lashinj 

taught it. 

None shall be as ambitious as he can. 
None should be as ingenious as he could, 
Not if I had my say. Bounds should be set 
To ingenuity for being so cruel 
In bringing change unheralded on the unready, 

I elect you to put the curb on it. 

Were I dictator, I'll tell you what Fd do. 

What should you do? 

Fd let things take their course 
And then Fd claim the credit for the outcome. 

371 



You'd make a sort of safety-first dictator. 

Don't let the things I say against myself 

Betray you into taking sides against me, 

Or it might get you into trouble with me. 

Pm not afraid to prophesy the future, 

And be judged by the outcome, Meliboeus. 

Listen and I will take my dearest risk. 

We're always too much out or too much in. 

At present from a cosmical dilation 

We're so much out that the odds are against 

Our ever getting inside in again. 

But inside in is where we've got to get. 

My friends all know Pm interpersonal. 

But long before Pm interpersonal 

Away 'way down inside Pm personal. 

Just so before we're international 

We're national and act as nationals. 

The colors are kept unmixed on the palette, 

Or better on dish plates all around the room, 

So the effect when they are mixed on canvas 

May seem almost exclusively designed. 

Some minds are so confounded intermental 

They remind me of pictures on a palette: 

'Look at what happened. Surely some God pinxit. 

Come look at my significant mud pie.' 

It's hard to tell which is the worse abhorrence 

Whether it's persons pied or nations pied. 

Don't let me seem to say the exchange, the encounter, 

372 



May not be the important thing at last. 
It well may be. We meet I don't say when 
But must bring to the meeting the maturest, 
The longest-saved-up, raciest, localest 
We have strength of reserve in us to bring. 

Tityrus, sometimes I'm perplexed myself 
To find the good of commerce. Why should 1 
Have to sell you my apples and buy yours? 
It can't be just to give the robber a chance 
To catch them and take toll of them in transit. 
Too mean a thought to get much comfort out of. 
I figure that like any bandying 
Of words or toys, it ministers to health. 
It vory likely quickens and refines us. 

To market 'tis our destiny to go. 
But much as in the end we bring for sale there 
There is still more we never bring or should bring; 
More that should be kept backthe soil for 

instance 

In my opinion, though we both know poets 
Who fall all over each other to bring soil 
And even subsoil and hardpan to market. 
To sell the hay off, let alone the soil, 
Is an unpardonable sin in farming. 
The moral is, make a late start to market. 
Let me preach to you, will you Meliboeus? 
Preach on. I thought you were already preaching. 
But preach and see if I can tell the difference. 

373 



Needless to say to you, my argument 

Is not to lure the city to the country. 

Let those possess the land and only those, 

Who love it with a love so strong and stupid 

That they may be abused and taken advantage of 

And made fun of by business, law and art; 

They still hang on. That so much of the earth's 

Unoccupied need not make us uneasy. 

We don't pretend to complete occupancy. 

The world's one globe, human society 

Another softer globe that slightly flattened 

Rests on the world, and clinging slowly rolls. 

We have our own round shape to keep unbroken. 

The world's size has no more to do with us 

Than has the universe's. We arc balls, 

We are round from the same source of roundness. 

We are both round because the mind is round, 

Because all reasoning is in a circle. 

At least that's why the universe is round. 

If what you're preaching is a line of conduct, 
[ust what am I supposed to do about it? 
Reason in circles? 

No, refuse to be 

Seduced back to the land by any claim 
The land may seem to have on man to use it. 
Let none assume to till the land but farmers. 
I only speak to you as one of them. 
You shall go to your run-out mountain farm, 

374 



Poor cast-away of commerce, and so live 
That none shall ever see you come to market- 
Not for a long long time. Plant, breed, produce, 
But what you raise or grow, why feed it out, 
Eat it or plow it under where it stands 
To build the soil. For what is more accursed 
Than an impoverished soil pale and metallic? 
What cries more to our kind for sympathy? 
I'll make a compact with you, Meliboeus, 
To match you deed for deed and plan for plan. 
Friends crowd around me with their five year plans 
That Soviet Russia has made fashionable. 
You come to me and I'll unfold to you 
A five year plan I call so, not because 
It takes ten years or so to carry out, 
Rather because it took five years at least 
To think it out. Come close, let us conspire- 
In self-restraint, if in restraint of trade. 
You will go to your run-out mountain farm 
And do what I command you, I take care 
To command only what you meant to do 
Anyway. That is my style of dictator. 
Build soil. Turn the farm in upon itself 
Until it can contain itself no more, 
But sweating-full, drips wine and oil a little. 
I will go to my run-out social mind 
And be as unsocial with it as I can. 
The thought I have, and my first impulse is 
To take to market I will turn it under. 
The thought from that thought 1 will turn it under 

375 



so on to the limit of my nature. 
We are too much out, and if we won't draw in 
We shall be driven in. I was brought up 
A state-rights free-trade Democrat. What's that ? 
An inconsistency. The state shall be 
Laws to itself, it seems, and yet have no 
Control of what it sells or what it buys. 
Suppose someone comes near me who in rate 
Of speech and thinking is so much my better 
I am imposed on, silenced and discouraged. 
Do I submit to being supplied by him 
As the more economical producer, 
More wonderful, more beautiful producer? 
No. I unostentatiously move off 
Far enough for my thought-flow to resume. 
Thought product and food product are to me 
Nothing compared to the producing of them 
I sent you once a song with the refrain: 

Let me be the one 
To do what is done 

My share at least lest I be empty-idle. 
Keep off each other and keep each other off. 
You see the beauty of my proposal is 
It needn't wait on general revolution. 
I bid you to a one-man revolution 
The only revolution that is coming. 
We're too unseparate out among each other 
With goods to sell and notions to impart. 

376 



A youngster comes to me with half a quatrain 
To ask me if I think it worth the pains 
Of working out the rest, the other half. 
I am brought guaranteed young prattle poems 
Made publicly in school, above suspicion 
Of plagiarism and help of cheating parents. 
We congregate embracing from distrust 
As much as love, and too close in to strike 
And be so very striking. Steal away 
The song says. Steal away and stay away. 
Don't join too many gangs. Join few if any. 
Join the United States and join the family 
But not much in between unless a college. 
Is it a bargain, Shepherd Meliboeus? 

Probably but you're far too fast and strong 
For my mind to keep working in your presence. 
I can tell better after I get home, 
Better a month from now when cutting posts 
Or mending fence it all comes back to me 
What I was thinking when you interrupted 
My life-train logic. I agree with you 
We're too unseparate. And going home 
From company means coming to our senses. 



377 



A MISSIVE MISSILE 

Oome one in ancient Mas cT Azil 
Once took a little pebble wheel 
And dotted it with red for me, 
And sent it to me years and years 
A million years to be precise 
Across the barrier of ice: 
Two round dots and a ripple streak, 
So vivid as to seem to speak. 
But what imperfectly appears 
Is whether the two dots were tears, 
Two tear drops, one for either eye, 
And the wave line a shaken sigh. 
But no, the color used is red. 
Not tears but drops of blood instead. 
The line must be a jagged blade. 
The sender must have had to die, 
And wanted some one now to know 
His death was sacrificial- votive. 
So almost clear and yet obscure. 
If only anyone were sure 
A motive then was still a motive. 
O you who bring this to my hand, 
You are no common messenger 
(Your badge of office is a spade). 
It grieves me to have had you stand 
So long for nothing. No reply 
There is no answer, I'm afraid, 

378 



Across the icy barrier 

For my obscure petitioner. 

Suppose his ghost is standing by 

Importunate to give the hint 

And be successfully conveyed. 

How anyone can fail to see 

Where perfectly in form and tint 

The metaphor, the symbol lies! 

Why will I not analogize? 

(I do too much in some men's eyes.) 

Oh slow uncomprehending me, 

Enough to make a spirit moan 

Or rustle in a bush or tree. 

I have the ochre- written flint, 

The two dots and the ripple line. 

The meaning of it is unknown, 

Or else I fear entirely mine, 

All modern, nothing ancient in't, 

Unsatisfying to us each. 

Far as we aim our signs to reach, 

Far as we often make them reach, 

Across the soul-from-soul abyss, 

There is an aeon-limit set 

Beyond which they are doomed to miss. 

Two souls may be too widely met. 

That sad-with-distance river beach 

"With mortal longing may beseech; 

It cannot speak as far as this. 



379 



A Witness Tree 



BEECH 

rVhere my imaginary line 
Bends square in woods., an iron spine 
And pile of real rocks have beenfounded. 
And off this corner in the wild, 
Where these are driven in and piled, 
One tree, by being deeply wounded, 
Has been impressed as Witness Tree 
And made commit to memory 
My proof of being not unbounded. 
Thus truth's established and borne out, 
Though circumstanced with dark and doubt- 
Though by a world of doubt surrounded. 

THE MOODIE FORESTER 



SYCAMORE 

Zaccheus he 
Did climb the tree 
Our Lord to see. 

THE I EW F. NGLAND PRIMER 



383 



THE SILKEN TENT 



is as in a field a silken tent 
At midday when a sunny summer breeze 
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent, 
So that in guys it gently sways at ease, 
And its supporting central cedar pole, 
That is its pinnacle to heavenward 
And signifies the sureness of the soul, 
Seems to owe naught to any single cord, 
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound 
By countless silken ties of love and thought 
To everything on earth the compass round, 
And only by one's going slightly taut 
In the capriciousness of summer air 
Is of the slightest bondage made aware. 



385 



ALL REVELATION 

A head thrusts in as for the view, 
But where it is it thrusts in from 
Or what it is it thrusts into 
By that Cyb'laean avenue, 
And what can of its coming come, 

And whither it will be withdrawn, 
And what take hence or leave behind, 
These things the mind has pondered on 
A moment and still asking gone. 
Strange apparition of the mind! 

But the impervious geode 
Was entered, and its inner crust 
Of crystals with a ray cathode 
At every point and facet glowed 
In answer to the mental thrust. 

Eyes seeking the response of eyes 
Bring out the stars, bring out the flowers, 
Thus concentrating earth and skies 
So none need be afraid of size. 
All revelation has been ours. 



386 



HAPPINESS 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 ball 
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 
Ot 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 swept clearly on 
To finish clear at eve. 
I verily believe 
My fair impression may 
Be all from that one day 
No shadow crossed but ours 
As through its blazing flowers 
We went from house to wood 
For change of solitude. 



38? 



COME IN 

rVs I came to the edge of the woodsJ 
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, I was out for stars: 
I would not come in. 
\ meant not even if asked, 
\nd I hadn't been. 



I COULD GIVE ALL TO TIME 

To Time it never seems that he is brave 
To set himself against the peaks of snow 
To lay them level with the running wave, 
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low, 
But only grave, contemplative and grave. 

What now is inland shall be ocean isle, 
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef 
Like the curl at the corner of a smile; 
And I could share Time's lack of joy or grief 
At such a planetary change of style. 

I could give all to Time except except 

What I myself have held. But why declare 

The things forbidden that while the Customs slept 

I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There, 

And what I would not part with I have kept. 



389 



CAKPE DIEM 

Age saw two quiet children 

Go loving by at twilight, 

He knew not whether homeward. 

Or outward from the village, 

Or (chimes were ringing) churchward. 

He waited (they were strangers) 

Till they were oat of hearing 

To bid them both be happy. 

u Be happy, happy, happy, 

And seize the day of pleasure." 

The age-long theme is Age's. 

'Twas Age imposed on poems 

Their gather-roses burden 

To warn against the danger 

That overtaken lovers 

From being overflooded 

With happiness should have it 

And yet not know they have it. 

But bid life seize the present? 

It lives less in the present 

Than in the future always, 

And less in both together 

Than in the past. The present 

Is too much for the senses, 

Too crowding, too confusing 

;Too present to imagine. 

390 



THE WIND AND THE RAIN 



1 hat far-off day the leaves in flight 
Were letting in the colder light. 
A season-ending wind there blew 
That as it did the forest strew 
I leaned on with a singing trust 
And let it drive me deathward too. 
V/ith breaking step I stabbed the dust, 
Yet did not much to shorten stride. 
I sang of deathbut had I known 
The many deaths one must have died 
Before he came to meet his own! 
Oh, should a child be left unwarned 
That any song in which he mourned 
Would be as if he prophesied? 
It were unworthy of the tongue 
To let the half of life alone 
And play the good without the ill. 
And yet 'twould seem that what is sung 
In happy sadness by the young 
F"ate has no choice but to fulfill. 

II * 

Flowers in the desert heat 

Contrive to bloom 

On melted mountain water led by flume 

To wet their feet. 



391 



But something in it still is incomplete. 

Before I thought the wilted to exalt 

With water I would see them water-bowed. 

I would pick up all ocean less its salt, 

And though it were as much as cloud could bear 

"Would load it on to cloud, 

And rolling it inland on roller air, 

Would empty it unsparing on the flower 

That past its prime lost petals in the flood, 

(Who cares but for the future of the bud?) 

And all the more the mightier the shower 

Would run in under it to get my share. 

*Tis not enough on roots and in the mouth, 
But give me water heavy on the head 
In all the passion of a broken drouth. 

And there is always more than should be said. 

As strong is rain without as wine within, 
As magical as sunlight on the skin. 

I have been one no dwelling could contain 
When there was rain; 

But I must forth at dusk, my time of day, 
To see to the unburdening of skies. 
Rain was the tears adopted by my eyes 
That have none left to stay. 

392 



THE MOST OF IT 

Jrle thought he kept the universe alone; 

For all the voice in answer he could wake 

Was but the mocking echo of his own 

From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake. 

Some morning from the boulder-broken beach 

He would cry out on life, that what it wants 

Is not its own love back in copy speech, 

But counter-love, original response. 

And nothing ever came of what he cried 

Unless it was the embodiment that crashed 

In the cliff's talus on the other side, 

And then in the far distant water splashed, 

But after a time allowed for it to swim, 

Instead of proving human when it neared 

And someone else additional to him, 

As a great buck it powerfully appeared, 

Pushing the crumpled water up ahead, 

And landed pouring like a waterfall, 

And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread, 

And forced the underbrush and that was all. 



393 



NEVER AGAIN WOULD 

BIRDS' SONG BE THE SAME 

lie would declare and could himself believe 
That the birds there in all the garden round 
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve 
Had added to their own an oversound, 
Her tone of meaning but without the words. 
Admittedly an eloquence so soft 
Could only have had an influence on birds 
When call or laughter carried it aloft. 
Be that as may be, she was in their song 
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed 
Had now persisted in the woods so long 
That probably it never would be lost. 
Never again would birds' song be the same. 
And to do that to birds was why she came. 



394 



WILFUL HOMING 

It is getting dark and time he drew to a house, 
But the blizzard blinds him to any house ahead. 
The storm gets down his neck in an icy souse 
That sucks his breath like a wicked cat in bed. 

The snow blows on him and off him, exerting force 
Downward to make him sit astride a drift, 
Imprint a saddle and calmly consider a course. 
He peers out shrewdly into the thick and swift. 

Since he means to come to a door he will come to a 

door, 

Although so compromised of aim and rate 
He may fumble wide of the knob a yard or more, 
And to those concerned he may seem a little late, 



395 



A CLOUD SHADOW 

A breeze discovered my open book 
And began to flutter the leaves to look 
For a poem there used to be on Spring. 
I tried to tell her "There's no such thing!" 

For whom would a poem on Spring be by? 
The breeze disdained to make reply; 
And a cloud-shadow crossed her face 
For fear I would make her miss the place. 



396 



THE QUEST OF THE 
PURPLE-FRINGED 



I felt the chill of the meadow underfoot, 

But the sun overhead; 

And snatches of verse and song of scenes like this 

I sung or said. 

I skirted the margin alders for miles and miles 
In a sweeping line. 

The day was the day by every flower that blooms, 
But I saw no sign. 

Yet further I went to be before the scythe, 

For the grass was high; 

Till I saw the path where the slender fox had come 

And gone panting by. 

Then at last and following him I found- 
In the very hour 
When the color flushed to the petals it must have 

been 
The far-sought flower. 

There stood the purple spires with no breath of air 
Nor headlong bee 

To disturb their perfect poise the livelong day 
'Neath the alder tree. 

397 



i only knelt and putting the boughs aside 
Looked., or at most 

Counted them all to the buds in the copse's depth 
That were pale as a ghost. 

Then I arose and silently wandered home, 
And I for one 

Said that the fall might come and whirl of leaves. 
For summer was done. 



398 



THE GIFT OUTRIGHT 

1 he land was ours before we were the land's. 
She was our land more than a hundred years 
Before we were her people. She was ours 
In Massachusetts, in Virginia, 
But we were England's, still colonials, 
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by, 
Possessed by what we now no more possessed. 
Something we were withholding made us weak 
Until we found it was ourselves 
We were withholding from our land of living, 
And forthwith found salvation in surrender. 
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright 
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war) 
To the land vaguely realizing westward, 
But still unstoried, artless, uiienhanced, 
Such as she was, such as she would become. 



399 



TRIPLE BRONZE 

ihe Infinite's being so wide 
Is the reason the Powers provide 
For inner defense my hide. 
For next defense outside 

I make myself this time 
Of wood or granite or lime 
A wall too hard for crime 
Either to breach or climb. 

Then a number of us agree 
On a national boundary. 
And that defense makes three 
Between too much and me. 



400 



OUR HOLD ON THE PLANET 

\Ve asked for rain. It didn't flash and roar. 

It didn't lose its temper at our demand 

And blow a gale. It didn't misunderstand 

And give us more than our spokesman bargained 

for; 

And just because we owned to a wish for rain, 
Send us a flood and bid us be damned and drown. 
It gently threw us a glittering shower down. 
And when we had taken that into the roots of grain, 
It threw us another and then another still 
Till the spongy soil again was natal wet. 
We may doubt the just proportion of good to ill. 
There is much in nature against us. But we forget: 
Take nature altogether since time began, 
Including human nature, in peace and war, 
And it must be a little more in favor of man, 
Say a fraction of one per cent at the very least, 
Or our number living wouldn't be steadily more, 
Our hold on the planet wouldn't have so increased. 



401 



TO A YOUNG WRETCH 

(BOETHIAN) 

As gay for you to take your father's axe 

As take his gun rod to go hunting fishing. 

You nick my spruce until its fiber cracks. 

It gives up standing straight and goes down swishing. 

You link an arm in its arm and you lean 

Across the light snow homeward smelling green. 

[ could have bought you just as good a tree 

To frizzle resin in a candle flame, 

And what a saving 'twould have meant to me. 

But tree by charity is not the same 

As tree by enterprise and expedition. 

I must not spoil your Christmas with contrition. 

It is your Christmases against my woods. 
But even where thus opposing interests kill, 
They are to be thought of as opposing goods 
Oftener than as conflicting good and ill; 
Which makes the war god seem no special dunce 
For always fighting on both sides at once. 

And though in tinsel chain and popcorn rope, 
My tree a captive in your window bay 
Has lost its footing on my mountain slope 
And lost the stars of heaven, may, oh, may 
The symbol star it lifts against your ceiling 
Help me accept its fate with Christmas feeling. 

AO2 



THE LESSON FOR TODAY 

If this uncertain age in which we dwell 
Were really as dark as I hear sages tell, 
And I convinced that they were really sages, 
I should not curse myself with it to hell, 
But leaving not the chair I long have sat in, 
I should betake me back ten thousand pages 
To the world's undebatably dark ages, 
And getting up my mediaeval Latin, 
Seek converse common cause and brotherhood 
(By all that's liberalI should, I should) 
With poets who could calmly take the fate 
Of being born at once too early and late, 
And for these reasons kept from being great. 
Yet singing but Dione in the wood 
And uer aspergit terramfloribus 
They slowly led old Latin verse to rhyme 
And to forget the ancient lengths of time, 
And so began the modern world for us. 

Td say, O Master of the Palace School, 

You were not Charles' nor anybody's fool: 

Tell me as pedagogue to pedagogue* 

You did not know that since King Charles did rule 

You had no chance but to be minor, did you? 

Your light was spent perhaps as in a fog 

That at once kept you burning low and hid you. 

The age may very well have been to blame 

For your not having won to Virgil's fame. 

403 



But no one ever heard you make the claim. 

You would not think you knew enough to judge 

The age when full upon you. That's my point. 

We have to-day and I could call their name 

Who know exactly what is out of joint 

To make their verse and their excuses lame. 

They've tried to grasp with too much social fact 

Too large a situation. You and I 

Would be afraid if we should comprehend 

And get outside of too much bad statistics 

Our muscles never could again contract: 

We never could recover human shape, 

But must live lives out mentally agape, 

Or die of philosophical distension. 

That's how we feel and we're no special mystics. 

We can't appraise the time in which we act. 
But for the folly of it, let's pretend 
We know enough to know it for adverse. 
One more millennium's about to end. 
Let's celebrate the event, my distant friend, 
In publicly disputing which is worse, 
The present age or your age. You and I 
As schoolmen of repute should qualify 
To wage a fine scholastical contention 
As to whose age deserves the lower mark, 
Or should I say the higher one, for dark. 
I can just hear the way you make it go: 
There's always something to be sorry for, 
A sordid peace or an outrageous war. 

404 



Yes, yes, of course. We have the same convention. 

The groundwork of all faith is human woe. 

It was well worth preliminary mention. 

There's nothing but injustice to be had, 

No choice is left a poet, you might add, 

But how to take the curse, tragic or comic. 

It was well worth preliminary mention. 

But let's get on to where our cases part, 

If part they do. Let me propose a start. 

(We're rivals in the badness of our case, 

Remember, and must keep a solemn face.) 

Space ails us moderns: we are sick with space, 

Its contemplation makes us out as small 

As a brief epidemic of microbes 

That in a good glass may be seen to crawl 

The patina of this the least of globes. 

But have we there the advantage after all? 

You were belittled into vilest worms 

God hardly tolerated with his feet; 

Which comes to the same thing in different terms. 

We both are the belittled human race, 

One as compared with God and one with space, 

I had thought ours the more profound disgrace; 

But doubtless this was only my conceit. 

The cloister and the observatory safnt 

Take comfort in about the same complaint. 

So science and religion really meet. 



I can just hear you call your Palace class: 
Come learn the Latin Eheu for alas. 



403 



You may not want to use it and you may. 
O paladins, the lesson for to-day 
Is how to be unhappy yet polite. 
And at the summons Roland, Olivier, 
And every sheepish paladin and peer, 
Being already more than proved in fight, 
Sits down in school to try if he can write 
Like Horace in the true Horatian vein, 
Yet like a Christian disciplined to bend 
His mind to thinking always of the end. 
Memento mori and obey the Lord. 
Art and religion love the somber chord. 
Earth's a hard place in which to save the soul, 
And could it be brought under state control, 
So automatically we all were saved, 
Its separateness from Heaven could be waive 
It might as well at once be kingdom-come. 
(Perhaps it will be next millennium.) 

But these are universals, not confined 
To any one time, place, or human kind. 
We're either nothing or a God's regret. 
As ever when philosophers are met, 
No matter where they stoutly mean to get, 
Nor what particulars they reason from, 
They are philosophers, and from old habit 
They end up in the universal Whole 
As unoriginal as any rabbit. 



406 



One age is like another for the soul. 
I'm telling you. You haven't said a thing, 
Unless I put it in your mouth to say. 
Fm having the whole argument my way 
But in your favorplease to tell your King- 
In having granted you all ages shine 
With equal darkness, yours as dark as mine. 
I'm liberal. You, you aristocrat 
Won't know exactly what I mean by that. 
I mean so altruistically moral 
I never take my own side in a quarrel. 
Fd lay my hand on his hand on his staff, 
Lean back and have my confidential laugh, 
And tell him I had read his Epitaph. 

It sent me to the graves the other day. 

The only other there was far away 

Across the landscape with a watering pot 

At his devotions in a special plot. 

And he was there resuscitating flowers 

(Make no mistake about its being bones); 

But I was only there to read the stones 

To see what on the whole they had to say 

About how long a man may think to live, 

Which is becoming my concern of fete. 

And very wide the choice they seemed to give; 

The ages ranging all the way from hours 

To months and years and many many years. 

One man had lived one hundred years and eight. 

But though we all may be inclined to wait 

407 



And follow some development of state, 

Or see what comes of science and invention, 

There is a limit to our time extension. 

We all are doomed to broken-off careers, 

And so's the nation, so's the total race. 

The earth itself is liable to the fate 

Of meaninglessly being broken off. 

(And hence so many literary tears 

At which my inclination is to scoff. ) 

I may have wept that any should have died 

Or missed their chance, or not have been their best, 

Or been their riches, fame, or love denied; 

On me as much as any is the jest. 

I take my incompleteness with the rest. 

God bless himself can no one else be blessed. 

I hold your doctrine of Memento Mori. 
And were an epitaph to be my story 
I'd have a short one ready for my own. 
I would have written of me on my stone: 
I had a lovers quarrel with the world. 



408 



TIME OUT 

It took that pause to make him realize 

The mountain he was climbing had the slant 

As of a book held up before his eyes 

(And was a text albeit done in plant). 

Dwarf cornel, gold-thread, and maianthemum, 

He following fingered as he read, 

The flowers fading on the seed to come; 

But the thing was the slope it gave his head: 

The same for reading as it was for thought, 

So different from the hard and level stare 

Of enemies defied and battles fought. 

It was the obstinately gentle air 

That may be clamored at by cause and sec*. 

But it will have its moment to reflect. 



409 



TO A MOTH SEEN IN WINTER 

Here's first a gloveless hand warm from my pocket, 
A perch and resting place 'twixt wood and wood, 
Bright-black-eyed silvery creature, brushed with 

brown, 

The wings not folded in repose, but spread. 
(Who would you be, I wonder, by those marks 
If I had moths to friend as I have flowers?) 
And now pray tell what lured you with false hope 
To make the venture of eternity 
And seek the love of kind in winter time? 
But stay and hear me out. I surely think 
You make a labor of flight for one so airy, 
Spending yourself too much in self-support. 
Nor will you find love either nor love you. 
And what I pity in you is something human, 
The old incurable untimeliness, 
Only begetter of all ills that are. 
But go. You are right. My pity cannot help. 
Go till you wet your pinions and are quenched. 
You must be made more simply wise than I 
To know the hand I stretch impulsively 
Across the gulf of well nigh everything 
May reach to you, but cannot touch your fate. 
I cannot touch your life, much less can save, 
Who am tasked to save my own a little while. 

CIRCA 1900 
410 



A CONSIDERABLE SPECK 
(MICROSCOPIC) 

A speck that would have been beneath my sight 

On any but a paper sheet so white 

Set off across what I had written there. 

And I had idly poised my pen in 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 either drank or smelt 

"With loathing, 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 

Collectivistic regimenting love 

With which the modern world is being swept. 

411 



But this poor microscopic item now! 
Since it was nothing I knew evil of 
I let it lie there till I hope it slept. 

I have a mind myself and recognize 
Mind when I meet with it in any guise. 
No one can know how glad I am to find 
On any sheet the least display of mind. 



412 



THE LOST FOLLOWER 

As I have known them passionate and fine 
The gold for which they leave the golden line 
Of lyric is a golden light divine, 
Never the gold of darkness from a mine. 

The spirit plays us strange religious pranks 
To whatsoever god we owe the thanks. 
No one has ever failed the poet ranks 
To link a chain of money-metal banks. 

The loss to song, the danger of defection 
Is always in the opposite direction. 
Some turn in sheer, in Shelleyan dejection 
To try if one more popular election 

Will give us by short cut the final stage 

That poetry with all its golden rage 

For beauty on the illuminated page 

Has failed to bring I mean the Golden Age. 

And if this may not be (and nothing's sure), 
At least to live ungolden with the poor, 
Enduring what the ungolden must endure. 
This has been poetry's great anti-lure. 

The muse mourns one who went to his retreat 
Long since in some abysmal city street, 

413 



The bride who shared the crust he broke to eat 
As grave as he about the world's defeat. 

With such it has proved dangerous as friend 
Even in a playful moment to contend 
That the millennium to which you bend 
In longing is not at a progress-end 

By grace of state-manipulated pelf, 
Or politics of Ghibelline or Guelph, 
But right beside you book-like on a shelf, 
Or even better god-like in yourself. 

He trusts my love too well to deign reply. 
But there is in the sadness of his eye, 
Something about a kingdom in the sky 
(As yet unbrought to earth) he means to try. 



414 



NOVEMBER 

\Ve saw leaves go to glory, 
Then almost migratory 
Go part way down the lane, 
And then to end the story 
Get beaten down and pasted 
In one wild day of rain. 
We heard " 'Tis over" roaring. 
A year of leaves was wasted. 
Oh, we make a boast of storing, 
Of saving and of keeping, 
But only by ignoring 
The waste of moments sleeping, 
The waste of pleasure weeping, 
By denying and ignoring 
The waste of nations warring. 

1938 



415 



THE RABBIT HUNTER 

(Careless and still 
The hunter lurks 
With gun depressed, 
Facing alone 
The alder swamp? 
Ghastly snow-white. 
And his hound works 
In the ofiing there 
Like one possessed, 
And yelps delight 
And sings and romps, 
Bringing him on 
The shadowy hare 
For him to rend 
And deal a death 
That he nor it 
(Nor I) have wit 
To comprehend. 



4*6 



A LOOSE MOUNTAIN 
(TELESCOPIC) 

JDid you stay up last night (the Magi did) 

To see the star shower known as Leonid 

That once a year by hand or apparatus 

Is so mysteriously pelted at us? 

It is but fiery puffs of dust and pebbles, 

No doubt directed at our heads as rebels 

In having taken artificial light 

Against the ancient sovereignty of night. 

A fusillade of blanks and empty flashes, 

It never reaches earth except as ashes 

Of which you feel no least touch on your face 

Nor find in dew the slightest cloudy trace. 

Nevertheless it constitutes a hint 

That the loose mountain lately seen to glint 

In sunlight near us in momentous swing 

Is something in a Balearic sling 

The heartless and enormous Outer Black 

Is still withholding in the Zodiac 

But from irresolution in his back 

About when best to have us in our orbit, 

So we won't simply take it and absorb it. 



417 



IT IS ALMOST THE YEAR 
TWO THOUSAND 

To start the world of old 
We had one age of gold 
Not labored out of mines, 
And some say there are signs 
The second such has come, 
The true Millennium, 
The final golden glow 
To end it. And if so 
(And science ought to know) 
We well may raise our heads 
From weeding garden beds 
And annotating books 
To watch this end de luxe. 



418 



ON OUR SYMPATHY WITH 
THE UNDER DOG 

Jrirst under up and then again down under, 

We watch a circus of revolving dogs 

No senator dares in to kick asunder 

Lest both should bite him in the toga-togs. 



419 



A QUESTION 

A voice said. Look me in the stars 
And tell me truly, men of earth, 
If all the soul-and-body scars 
Were not too much to pay for birth. 



42O 



BOEOTIAN 

I love to toy with the Platonic notion 
That wisdom need not be of Athens Attic, 
But well may be Laconic., even Boeotian. 
At least I will not have it systematic. 



421 



THE SECRET SITS 

\Ve dance round in a ring and suppose, 
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows. 



422 



A SEMI-REVOLUTION 

1 advocate a semi-revolution. 

The trouble with a total revolution 

(Ask any reputable Rosicrucian) 

Is that it brings the same class up on top. 

Executives of skillful execution 

Will therefore plan to go half-way and stop. 

Yes, revolutions are the only salves, 

But they're one thing that should be done by halves 



423 



ASSURANCE 

The danger not an inch outside 
Behind the porthole's slab of glass 
And double ring of fitted brass 
L trust feels properly defied. 



4/24 



AN ANSWER 



But Islands of the Blessed, bless you son, 
I never came upon a blessed one. 



425 



TRESPASS 

INO, I had set no prohibiting sign, 
And yes, my land was hardly fenced. 
Nevertheless the land was mine: 
I was being trespassed on and against. 

Whoever the surly freedom took 
Of such an unaccountable stay 
Busying by my woods and brook 
Gave me strangely restless day. 

He might be opening leaves of stone., 
The picture-book of the trilobite, 
For which the region round was known,, 
And in which there was little property right. 

'Twas not the value I stood to lose 
In specimen crab in specimen rock, 
But his ignoring what was whose 
That made me look again at the clock. 

Then came his little acknowledgment: 
He asked for a drink at the kitchen door, 
An errand he may have had to invent, 
But it made my property mine once more. 



426 



A NATURE NOTE 

Jr our or five whippoorwills 

Have come down from their native ledge 

To the open country edge 

To give us a piece of their bills. 

Two in June were a pair 
You'd say sufficiently loud, 
But this was a family crowd, 
A full-fledged family affair. 

All out of time pell-mell! 
I wasn't in on the joke 
Unless it was coming to folk 
To bid us a mock farewell. 

I took note of when it occurred, 
The twenty-third of September, 
Their latest that I remember, 
September the twenty-third. 



427 



OF THE STONES OF THE PLACE 

1 farm a pasture where the boulders lie 
As touching as a basket full of eggs. 
And though they're nothing anybody begs, 
I wonder if it wouldn't signify 

For me to send you one out where you live 
In wind-soil to a depth of thirty feet, 
And every acre good enough to eat, 
As fine as flour put through a baker's sieve. 

I'd ship a smooth one you could slap and chafe, 

And set up like a statue in your yard, 

An eolith palladium to guard 

The West and keep the old tradition safe. 

Carve nothing on it. You can simply say 
In self-defense to quizzical inquiry: 
"The portrait of the soul of my gransir Ira. 
It came from where he came from anyway." 



A SERIOUS STEP LIGHTLY TAKEN 

Between two burrs on the map 

Was a hollow-headed snake. 

The burrs were hills, the snake was a stream, 

And the hollow head was a lake. 

And the dot in front of a name 

Was what should be a town. 

And there might be a house we could buy 

For only a dollar down. 

With two wheels low in the ditch 

We left our boiling car, 

And knocked at the door of a house we found, 

And there to-day we are. 

It is turning three hundred years 
On our cisatlantic shore 
For family after family name. 
We'll make it three hundred more 

For our name farming here, 
Aloof yet not aloof, 
Enriching soil and increasing stock, 
Repairing fence and roof; 



429 



A hundred thousand days 
Of front-page paper events, 
A half a dozen major wars, 
And forty-five presidents. 



430 



THE LITERATE FARMER AND THE 
PLANET VENUS 

A Dated Popular-Science Medley 
on a Mysterious Light Recently Observed in the 
Sky at Evening 



JVly unexpected knocking at the door 

Started chairs thundering on the kitchen floor, 

Knives and forks ringing on the supper plates, 

Voices conflicting like the candidates. 

A mighty farmer flung the house door wide, 

He and a lot of children came outside, 

And there on an equality we stood. 

That's the time knocking at a door did good. 

"I stopped to compliment you on this star 
You get the beauty of from where you are. 
To see it so, the bright and only one 
In sunset light, you'd think it was the sun 
That hadn't sunk the way it should have sunk, 
But right in heaven was slowly being shrunk 
So small as to be virtually gone, 
Yet there to watch the darkness coming on 
Like someone dead permitted to exist 
Enough to see if he was greatly missed. 
I didn't see the sun set. Did it set? 
Will anybody swear that isn't it? 
And will you give me shelter for the night? 
If not, a glass of rnilk will be all right. " 

431 



4 'Traveler, I'm glad you asked about that light. 
Your mind mistrusted there was something wrong, 
And naturally you couldn't go along 
Without inquiring if 'twas serious. 
'Twas providential you applied to us, 
Who were just on the subject when you came. 
There is a star that's Serious by name 
And nature too, but this is not the same. 
This light's been going on for several years, 
Although at times we think it disappears. 
You'll hear all sorts of things. You'll meet with them 
Will tell you it's the star of Bethlehem 
Above some more religion in a manger. 
But put that down to superstition, Stranger. 
What's a star doing big as a baseball? 
Between us two it's not a star at all. 
It's a new patented electric light, 
Put up on trial by that Jerseyite 
So much is being now expected of, 
To give developments the final shove 
And turn us into the next specie folks 
Are going to be, unless these monkey jokes 
Of the last fifty years are all a libel, 
And Darwin's proved mistaken, not the Bible. 
I s'pose you have your notions on the vexed 
Question of what we're turning into next." 

"As liberals we're willing to give place 
To any demonstrably better race, 
No matter what the color of its skin. 

432 



(But what a human race the white has been!) 

I heard a fellow in a public lecture 

On Pueblo Indians and their architecture 

Declare that if such Indians inherited 

The condemned world the legacy was merited. 

So far as he, the speaker, was concerned 

He had his ticket bought, his passage earned, 

To take the Mayflower back where he belonged 

Before the Indian race was further wronged. 

But come, enlightened as in talk you seem, 

You don't believe that that first-water gleam 

Is not a star?" 

''Believe it? Why, I know it. 
Its actions any cloudless night will show it. 
You'll see it be allowed up just so high, 
Say about halfway up the western sky, 
And then get slowly, slowly pulled back down. 

You might not notice if you've lived in town, 

As I suspect you have. A town debars 

Much notice of what's going on in stars. 

The idea is no doubt to make one job 

Of lighting the whole night with one big blob 

Of electricity in bulk the way 

The sun sets the example in the day." 

"Here come more stars to character the skies, 
And they in the estimation of the wise 
Are more divine than any bulb or arc, 

433 



Because their purpose is to flash and spark. 
But not to take away the precious dark. 
We need the interruption of the night 
To ease attention off when overtight, 
To break our logic in too long a flight, 
And ask us if our premises are right." 

"Sick talk, sick talk, sick sentimental talk! 
It doesn't do you any good to walk. 
I see what you are: can't get you excited 
With hopes of getting mankind unbenighted. 
Some ignorance takes rank as innocence. 
Have it for all of me and have it dense. 
The slave will never thank his manumitter; 
Which often makes the manumitter bitter.'' 

u ln short, you think that star a patent medicine 
Put up to cure the world by Mr. Edison." 

"You said it that's exactly what it is. 
My son in Jersey says a friend of his 
Knows the old man and nobody's so deep 
In incandescent lamps and ending sleep. 
The old man argues science cheapened speed. 
A good cheap anti-dark is now the need. 
Give us a good cheap twenty-four-hour day, 
No part of which we'd have to waste, I say, 
And who knows where we can't get! Wasting time 
In sleep or slowness is the deadly crime. 
He gave up sleep himself some time ago, 

434 



It puffs the face and brutalizes so. 
You take the ugliness all so much dread, 
Called getting out of the wrong side of bed. 
That is the source perhaps of human hate, 
And well may be where wars originate. 
Get rid of that and there' d be left no great 
Of either murder or war in any land. 
You know how cunningly mankind is planned: 
We have one loving and one hating hand. 
The loving's made to hold each other like, 
While with the hating other hand we strike. 
The blow can be no stronger than the clutch, 
Or soon we'd bat each other out of touch, 
And the fray wouldn't last a single round. 
And still it's bad enough co badly wound, 
And if our getting up to start the day 
On the right side of bed would end the fray, 
We'd hail the remedy. But it's been tried 
And found, he says, a bed has no right side. 
The trouble is, with that receipt for love, 
A bed's got no right side to get out of. 
We can't be trusted to the sleep we take, 
And simply must evolve to stay awake. 
He thinks that chairs and tables will endure, 
But beds in less than fifty years he's sure 
There will be no such piece of furniture. 
He's surely got it in for cots and beds. 
No need for us to rack our common heads 
About it, though. We haven't got the mind. 
It best be left to great men of his kind 

435 



Who have no other object than our good. 

There's a lot yet that isn't understood. 

Ain't it a caution to us not to fix 

No limits to what rose in rubbing sticks 

On fire to scare away the pterodix 

When man first lived in caves along the creeks? " 

"Marvelous world in nineteen- twenty-six. " 



INDEX OF 
FIRST LINES 



A bird half wakened in the lunar noon 350 

A boy, presuming on his intellect 335 

A breeze discovered my open book 396 

A governor it was proclaimed this time 87 

A head thrusts in as for the view 386 

A lantern light from deeper in the barn 107 

A plow, they say, to plow the snow 255 

A saturated meadow 15 

A scent of ripeness from ever a wall 351 
A speck that would have been beneath my sight 411 

A Stranger came to the door at eve 8 

A tree's leaves may be ever so good 341 

A voice said, Look me in the stars 420 

A winter garden in an alder swamp 278 

Age saw two quiet children 390 

All crying 'We will go with you, O Wind' 254 

All out of doors looked darkly in at him 121 

Always -I tell you this they learn^l 137 

Always the same, when on a fated night 241 

An ant on the table cloth 330 

As gay for you to take your father's axe 402 

As I came to the edge of the woods 388 

437 



As I have known them passionate and fine 413 

As I went out a Crow 146 

As vain to raise a voice as a sigh 268 

Before man came to blow it right 237 

Between two burrs on the map 429 
Blood has been harder to dam back than water 279 

Brown lived at such a lofty farm 149 

Builder, in building the little house 250 

But Islands of the Blessed, bless you son 425 
By June our brook's run out of song and speed 124 

Careless and still 416 

Come with rain O loud Southwester 12 

Did you stay up last night (the Magi did) 417 

Dust always blowing about the town 270 

First under up and then again down under 419 

Four or five whippoorwills 427 

Tred, where is north 1 284 

Grief may have thought it was grief 343 

Having a wheel and four legs of its own 208 

He gave the solid rail a hateful kick 305 

He has dust in his eyes and a fan for a wing 357 

He is said to have been the last Red Man 156 

He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled 290 

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs 59 

He thought he kept the universe alone 393 

He would declare and could himself believe 394 

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies 265 

Here come the line-gang pioneering by 1 55 

438 



Here further up the mountain slope 297 
Here's first a gloveless hand warm from my 

pocket 410 

How countlessly they congregate 10 

I advocate a semi-revolution 423 

I came an errand one cloud-blowing evening 197 

I didn't like the way he went away 1 38 

I didn't make you know how glad I was 74 

I dwell in a lonely house I know 5 

I farm a pasture where the boulders lie 428 

I felt the chill of the meadow underfoot 397 

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white 349 

I had for my winter evening walk 114 

I have been one acquainted with the night 280 
I have been treading on leaves all day until I 

am autumn-tired 342 

I have wished a bird would fly away 274 

I left you in the morning 14 

I let myself in at the kitchen door 97 

I love to toy with the Platonic notion 42 1 

I met a lady from the South who said 179 

I never dared be radical when young 356 

I often see flowers from a passing car 269 

I said to myself, almost in prayer * 353 

I slumbered with your poems on my breast 234 

I staid the night for shelter at a farm 221 

I stay 228 

I stole forth dimly in the dripping pause 346 

439 



i turned to speak to God 357 

I walked down alone Sunday after church 130 

I went to turn the grass once after one 24 

I wonder about the trees 1 75 

If, as they say, some dust thrown in my eyes 298 

If neaven were to do again 277 

If this uncertain age in which we dwell 403 

If tired of trees I seek again mankind 19 

Fm going out to clean the pasture spring 3 

In a Vermont bedroom closet 337 

It is blue-butterfly day here in spring 240 

It is getting dark and time he drew to a house 395 

It is late at night and still I am losing 358 

It snowed in spring on earth so dry and warm 257 

It took that pause to make him realize . 409 
It was far in the sameness of the wood , 27 

It was too lonely for her there 139 

I've known ere now an interfering branch 204 

I've tried the new moon tilted in the air 264 

Lancaster bore him such a little town 50 

Let chaos storm 357 

Let me be the one 356 

Let the downpour roil and toil 326 

Love and forgetting might have carried them 246 

Love at the lips was touch 242 

Love has earth to which she clings 126 

Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table 37 

More than half way up the pass 294 

440 



My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through 

a tree 80 

My Sorrow, when she's here with me 7 

My unexpected knocking at the door 43 1 

Nature's first green is gold 235 

Never tell me that not one star of all 194 

Never ask of money spent 357 

No, I had set no prohibiting sign 426 

No ship of all that under sailor or steam 291 

No speed of wind or water rushing by 345 

O hushed October morning mild 30 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today 1 3 

Oh, let's go up the hill and scare ourselves 141 

Oh, stormy stormy world 387 

On glossy wires artistically bent 357 
Once on the kind of day called 'weather 

breeder' 133 
Once when the snow of the year was begin- 
ning to fall 236 
One misty evening, one another's guide 365 
One of my wishes is that those dark trees 4 
One ought not to have to care 1 37 
One thing has a shelving bank 321 
Others taunt me with having kjielt at well- 
curbs 239 
Out of the mud two strangers came 312 
Out through the fields and the woods 3 1 
Out walking in the frozen swamp one grey day 112 

441 



Over back where they speak of life as staying 295 
Sea waves are green and wet 288 
She had no saying dark enough 1 38 
She is as in a field a silken tent 385 
Snow falling and night falling fast oh fast 340 
Some of you will be glad I did what I did 354 
Some one in ancient Mas d' Azii 378 
Some say the world will end in fire 232 
Some things are never clear 34^ 
Something I saw or thought I saw 33 2 
Something inspires the only cow of late 1 34 
Something there is that doesn't love a wall 35 
Spades take up leaves 252 
Square Matthew Hale's young grafted apple- 
tree 323 
Such a fine pullet ought to go 318 
That far-off day the leaves in flight 391 
The battle rent a cobweb diamond-strung 1 36 
The bear puts both arms around the tree 

above her 303 

The bearer of evil tidings 363 

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard 147 

The city had withdrawn into itself 1 18 
The clouds, the source of rain, one stormy 

night 339 

The danger not an inch outside 424 
The farm house lingers, though averse to 

square 249 

442 



The fisherman's swapping a yarn for a yarn 293 

The grade surmounted, we were riding high 334 

The great Overdog 289 

The heart can think of no devotion 267 

The house had gone to bring again 259 

The Infinite's being so wide 400 

The land was ours before we were the land's 399 

The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift 28 
The little old house was out with a little new 

shed 328 

The mountain held the town as in a shadow 45 
The old dog barks backward without getting 

up 356 

The people along the sand 347 

The rain to the wind said 273 

The shattered water made a misty din 272 

The soil now gets a rumpling soft and damp 344 

The surest thing there is is we are riders 301 

The swinging mill bell changed its rate 300 

The three stood listening to a fresh access 1 58 

The tree the tempest with a crash of wood 256 

The Voice said, 'Hurl her down' 28 1 

The way a crow 233 

The well was dry beside the door 2 1 

The west was getting out of gofd 25 1 

The white- tailed hornet lives in a balloon 315 

The witch that came (the withered hag) 355 

There is a singer everyone has heard 125 

443 



There overtook me and drew me in 153 
There was never a sound beside the wood but 

one 2O 
There were three in the meadow by the brook 82 
There's a place called Far-away Mgadow 296 
These pools that, though in forests, still reflect 263 
They leave us so to the way we took 18 
They sent him back to her. The letter came 248 
This biplane is the shape of human flight 356 
This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark 244 
To drive Paul out of any lumber camp 211 
To start the world of old 418 
To Time it never seems that he is brave 389 
Tree at my window, window tree 276 
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood 1 17 
Was there ever a cause too lost 292 
We asked for rain. It didn't flash and roar 401 
We chanced in passing by that afternoon 64 
We dance round in a ring and suppose 422 
We make ourselves a place apart 23 
We saw leaves go to glory 415 
We sit indoors and talk of the cold outside 352 
What things for dream there are when spectre- 
like 16 
What tree may not the fig be gathered from 217 
When a friend calls to me from the road 133 
When I see birches bend to left and right 127 
When I spread out my hand here today 299 

444 



When I was just; as far as I could walk 1 23 

When I was young my teachers were the old 300 
When the spent sun throws up its rays on 

cloud 271 

When the wind works against us in the dark 1 1 

Where had I heard this wind before 275 

Where my imaginary line 383 

Whose woods these are I think I know 238 

Why make so much of fragmentary blue 23 J 

Why Tityrus! But you've forgotten me 367 

Will the blight end the chestnut 356 

Winds blow the open grassy places bleak 266 

You come to fetch me from my work to-night 132 

You know Orion always comes up sideways 200 

You like to hear about gold 359 

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 69 
You'll wait a long, long time for anything 

much j02 

Zaccheus he 384 



445 



The Best of the World's Best Books 
COMPLETE LIST OF TITLES IN 

THE MODERN LIBRARY 

For convenience in ordering use number at right of title 



ADAMS, HENRY 

AIKEN, CONRAD (Editor) 

AIKEN, CONRAD (Fditor) 
ALEICHEM, SHOLOM 
ANDERSON, SHERWOOD 
AQUINAS, ST. THOMAS 
AR1STOTEE 
ARISTOTLE 
ARISTOTEE 
AUDEN, W. H 
AUGUSTINE, ST. 
AUSTEN, JANE 

BACON, FRANCIS 
BALZAC 
BALZAC 
BALZAC 

BEERBOHM, MAX 
BELLAMY, EDWARD 
BENNETT, ARNOLD 
BERGSON, HENRI 
BLAKE, WILLIAM 
BOCCACCIO 
BOS WELL, JAMES 
BRGNTE, CHARLOTTE 
BRONTE, EMILY 
BROWNING, ROBERT 
BUCK, PEARL 
BURCKIIARDT, JACOB 

BURK, JOHN N. 
BURKE, EDMUND 
BUTLER, SAMUEL 
BUTLER, SAMUEL 
BYRON, LORD 
BYRON, LORD 
CAESAR, JULIUS 

CALDWELL, ERSKINE 
CALDWELL, ERSKINE 
CARROLL, LEWIS 
CASANOVA, JACQUES 
CELLINI, BENVENUTO 
CERVANTES 
CHAUCER 
CHEKHOV, ANTON 
CHEKHOV, ANTON 
CICERO 



The Education of Henry Adams 76 
A Comprehensive Anthology of 

American Poetry mi 
20th-Omurv American Poetry 127 
Selected Stories of 145 
Wmesburg, Ohio 104 
Introduction to St Thomas Aquinas 259 
Introduction to Aristotle 248 
Politics 228 

Rhetoric .md Poetics 246 
Selected Poetry of 160 
TJIC Confessions ot 263 
Pride and Prejudice and Sense and 

Scnsibihts 264 
Selected Writings of 256 
Cousm Bette 290 
Droll Stouts 193 

Pi re Gonot and Lujjt'mc Grandet 245 
Zulcika Dobson 116 
Looking R u kvv.ird 22 
The Old Wives' Tale 184 
Creative Evolution 2^1 
Selected Poetry Js. Prose of 285 
The Decameron 71 
The Life ot Samuel Johnson 282 
Jane E\re 64 
Wuthcnntj Heights 106 
Selected Poctr\ ot ig8 
The Good Faith 15 
The Civilization of the Renaissance 

in It.ih ii 

The Lite nnei Works of Beethoven 241 
Selectee! Writings of 289 
1'rcwhon and Lrewhon Revisited 136 
The Way of All Flesh I ? 
The Selected Poetry of 195 
Don Juan 24 
The Gallic War and Other Writings of 

29^ 

God's Little Acre 51 
Tobacco Road 249 
Alice in Wonderland, etc. 79 
Memoirs of Casanova 165 
Autobiography of Cellini 150 
Don Quixe>te 174 
The Canterbury Tales 161 
Best Plays by 171 
The Short Stories of 50 
The Basic Works of 272 



COLERIDGE 

COLETTE 

COMMAGER, HENRY STEELE 

& NEVINS, ALLAN 
CONFUCIUS 
CONRAD, JOSEPH 
CONRAD, JOSEPH 
CONRAD, JOSEPH 
COOPER, JAMES FENIMORE 
CORNEILLE & RACINE 
CRANE, STEPHEN 
CUMMINGS, E. E. 
DANA, RICHARD HENRY 
DANTE 

DA VINCI, LEONARDO 
DEFOE, DANIEL 
DEFOE, DANIEL 

DESCARTES, RENE 
DEWEY, JOHN 
DICKENS, CHARLES 
DICKENS, CHARLES 
DICKENS, CHARLES 
DICKENS, CHARLES 
DICKINSON, EMILY 
DINESEN, ISAK 
DINESEN, ISAK 
DONNE, JOHN 

DOS PASSOS, JOHN 
DOSTOYEVSKY, FYODOR 
DOSTOYEVSKY, FYODOR 
DOSTOYEVSKY, FYODOR 
DOSTOYEVSKY, FYODOR 
DOUGLAS, NORMAN 
DOYLE, SIR ARTHUR CONAN 

DREISER, THEODORE 
DUMAS, ALEXANDRE 
DUMAS, ALEXANDRE 
DU MAURIER, DAPHNE 
EMERSON, RALPH WALDO 
EMERSON, RALPH WALDO 
FAULKNER, WILLIAM 
FAULKNER, WILLIAM 
FAULKNER, WILLIAM 
FAULKNER, WILLIAM 
FAULKNER, WILLIAM 

FIELDING, HENRY 
FIELDING, HENRY 
FLAUBhRT, GUSTAVE 
FORESTER, C. S. 
FRANCE, ANATOLE 
FRANK, ANNE 
FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN 
FREUD, SIGMUND 
FROST, ROBERT 



Selected Poetry and Prose of 279 * 
Six Novels by 251 

A Short History of the United States 235 

The Wisdom of Confucius 306 

Lord Jim 186 

Nobtromo 275 

Victory 34 

The Pathfinder 105 

Six Plays of Corneille and Racine 194 

The Red Badge of Courage 130 

The Enormous Room 214 

Two Years Before the Mast 236 

The Divine Comedy 208 

The Notebooks of 156 

Moll Flanders 122 

Robinson Crusoe and A Journal of the 
Plague Year 92 

Philosophical Writings 43 

Human Nature and Conduct 173 

David Copperfield no 

Pickwick Papers 204 

Our Mutual Friend 308 

A Talc of Two Cities 189 

Selected Poems of 25 

Out of Africa 23 

Seven Gothic Tales 54 

Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of 
12 

Three Soldiers 205 

The Best Short Stories of 293 

The Brothers Karamazov 151 

Crime and Punishment 199 

The Possessed 55 

South Wind 5 

The Adventures and Memoirs of Sher- 
lock Holmes 206 

Sister Carrie 8 

Carmllc 69 

The Three Musketeers 143 

Rebecca 227 

The Journals of 192 

Essays and Other Writings 91 

Absalom, Absalom! 271 

Go Down, Moses 175 

Light in August 88 

Sanctuary 61 

The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay 
Dying 187 

Joseph Andrews 117 

Tom Jones 185 

Madame Bovary 28 

The African Queen 102 

Penguin Island 210 

Diary of a Young Girl 298 

Autobiography, etc. 39 

The Interpretation of Dreams 96 

The Poems of 242 



GALSWORTHY, JOHN 

GEORGE, HENRY 
GOETHE 

GOGOL, NIKOLAI 
GOLDSMITH, OLIVER 

GRAVES, ROBERT 
GUNTHER, JOHN 
HACKETT, FRANCIS 

HAGGARD, H. RIDER 

HARDY, THOMAS 

HARDY, THOMAS 

HARDY, THOMAS 

HARDY, THOMAS 

HART & KAUFMAN 

HARTE, BRET 

HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL 

HEGEL 

HELLMAN, LILLIAN 

HENRY, O. 

HERODOTUS 

HOMER 

HOMER 

HORACE 

HOWARD, JOHN TASKER 

HOWELLS, WILLIAM DEAN 

HUDSON, W. H. 

HUGO, VICTOR 

HUXLEY, ALDOUS 

HUXLEY, ALDOUS 

HUXLEY, ALDOUS 

IBSEN, HENRIK 

IBSEN, HENRIK 

IRVING, WASHINGTON 

JAMES, HENRY 

JAMES, HENRY 

JAMES, HENRY 

JAMES, HENRY 

JAMES, HENRY 

JAMES, WILLIAM 

JAMES, WILLIAM 

JEFFERSON, THOMAS 

JOYCE, JAMES 

JUNG, C. G. 

KAFKA, FRANZ 

KANT 

KANT 

KAUFMAN Sc HART 

KEATS 

KIPLING, RUDYARD 
KOESTLER, ARTHUR 
LAOTSE 

LAWRENCE, D. H. 
LAWRENCE, D. H. 
LAWRENCE, D. H. 



The Apple Tree 

(in Great Modern Short Stories 168) 

Progress and Poverty 36 

Faust 177 

Dead Souls 40 

The Vicar of Wakefield and other Writ- 
ings 291 

I, Claudius 20 

Death Be Not Proud 286 

The Personal History of Henry the 
Eighth 265 

She and King Solomon's Mines 163 

Jude the Obscure 135 

The Mayor of Casterbndge 17 

The Return of the Native 121 

Tcss of the D'Urbervilles 72 

Six Plays by 233 

The Best Stories of 250 

The Scarlet Letter 93 

The Philosophy of 239 

Six Plays by 223 

Best Short Stories of 26 

The Persian Wars 255 

The Iliad 166 

The Odyssey 167 

The Complete Works of 141 

World's Great Operas 302 

The Rise of Silas Lapham 277 

Green Mansions 89 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 35 

Antic Hay 209 

Brave New World 48 

Point Counter Point 180 

Six Plays by 305 

The Wild Duck and Odier Plays 307 

Selected Writings of 240 

The Bostonians 16 

The Portrait of a Lady 107 

The Turn of the Screw 169 

Washington Square 269 

The Wings of the Dove 244 

The Philosophy of William James 114 

The Varieties of Religious Experience 70 

The Life and Selected Writings of 234 

Dubhncrs 124 

Basic Writings of 300 

Selected Stories of 283 

Critique of Pure Reason 297 

The Philosophy of 266 

Six Plays by 233 

The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose 
of 273 

Kim 99 

Darkness at Noon 74 

The Wisdom of 262 

Lady Chatterlcy's Lover 148 

The Rainbow 128 

Sons and Lovers log 



LAWRENCE, D. H. Women in Love 68 

LEWIS, SINCLAIR Dodsworth 252 

LEWIS, SINCLAIR Cass Timberlane 221 

LONGFELLOW, HENRY W. Poems 56 

LOUYS, PIERRE Aphrodite 77 

LUDWIG, EMIL Napoleon 95 

MACHIAVELLI The Prince and The Discourses 65 

MALRAUX, ANDRE Man's Fate 33 

MALTHUS, THOMAS ROBERT On Population 309 

MANN, THOMAS Death m Venice (m Great German 

Short Novels and Stories 108) 

MARQUAND, JOHN P. The Late George Aplcy 182 

MARX, KARL Capital and Other Writings 202 

MAUGHAM, W. SOMERSET The Best Short Stones of 14 

MAUGHAM, W. SOMERSET Cakes and Ale 270 

MAUGHAM, W. SOMERSET The Moon and Sixpence 27 

MAUGHAM, W. SOMERSET Of Human Bondage 176 

MAUPASSANT, GUY DE Best Short Stories 98 

MAUROIS, ANDRE Disraeli 46 

McCORD, DAVID (Editor) What Cheer: An Anthology of Humor- 
ous and Witty Verse 190 

MELVILLE, HERMAN Moby Dick 119 

MEREDITH, GhORGE The Egoist 253 

MEREDITH, GhORGE The Ordeal of Richard Feverel 134 

MLREJKOWSKI, DMITRI The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci 138 

MICHLNER, JAMES A. Selected Writings of 296 

MILTON, JOHN The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose 

of John Milton 132 

MOLIERE Eight Plays by 78 

MONTAIGNE Selected Essays of 218 

NASH, OGDEN The Selected Verse of Ogdcn Nash 191 

NEVINS, ALLAN & A Short History of the United States 

COMMAGKR, HENRY STEELE 235 

NEWMAN, CARDINAL JOHN H. Apologia Pro Vita Sua 1 13 

NIETZSCHE, FRIEDRICH Thus Spake Zarathustra 9 

NOSTRADAMUS Oracles of 8r 

ODETS, CLIFFORD Six Plays of 67 

O'HARA, JOHN Appointment in Samarra 42 

O'HARA, JOHN Selected Short Stones of 211 

O'NEILL, EUGENE The Emptror Jones, Anna Christie and 

The ILnry Ape 146 

O'NEILL, EUGENE g The Long Voyage Home: Seven Plays 

of the Sea i I i 

PALGRAVE, FRANCIS (Editor) The Golden Treasury 232 

PARKER, DOROTHY The Collected Short Stories of 123 

PARKER, DOROTHY The Collected Poetry of 237 

PARKMAN, FRANCIS The Oregon Trail 267 

PASCAL, BLAISE Pensccs and The Provincial Letters 164 

PATER, WALTER The Renaissance 86 

PEPYS, SAMUEL Passages from the Diary of 103 

PERELMAN, S. J. The Best of 247 

PLATO The Republic 153 

PLATO The Works of Plato 181 

POE, EDGAR ALLAN Selected Poetry and Prose 82 

POLO, MARCO The Travels of Marco Polo 196 

POPE, ALEXANDER Selected Works of 257 

PORTER, KATHERINE ANNE Flowering Judas 284 

PORTER, KATIILTuNE AXXL Tale Ilor^c, ?Jc Rider 45 



PROUST, MARCEL 
PROUST, MARCFL 
PROUST, MARCFL 
PROUST, MARCEL 
PROUST, MARCEL 
PROUST, MARCLL 
PROUST, MARCEL 
RACINE & CORNEILLE 
READE, CHARLES 
REED, JOHN 
RENAN, ERNEST 
RICHARDSON, SAMUEL 
RODGERS AND 

HAMMERSTEIN 
ROSTAND, EDMOND 
ROUSSEAU, JEAN JACQUES 
RUNYON, DAMON 
RUSSELL, BERTRAND 
SAKI 

SALINGER, J. D. 
SALINGER, J. D. 
SANTAYANA, GEORGE 
SCHOPENHAUER 
SCHULBERG, BUDD 
SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM 
SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM 

SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM 

SHAW, BERNARD 
SHAW, BERNARD 

SHAW, IRWIN 

SHELLEY 

SMOLLETT, TOBIAS 

SPINOZA 

STEINBECK, JOHN 

STEINBECK, JOHN 

STEINBECK, JOHN 

STENDHAL 

STERNE, LAURENCE 

STEWART, GEORGE R. 

STOKER, BRAM 

STONE, IRVING 

STOWE, HARRIET BEECHER 

STRACHEY, LYTTON 

SUETONIUS 

SWIFT, JONATHAN 

SYMONDS, JOHN A. 

TACITUS 
TENNYSON 

THACKERAY, WILLIAM 
THACKERAY, WILLIAM 
THOMPSON, FRANCIS 
THOREAU, HENRY DAVID 
THUCYDIDES 
THURBER, JAMES 

TOLSTOY, LEO 



The Captive 120 

Cities of the Plain 220 

The Gtirrrnantts W.iv 213 

The Past Recaptured 278 

Swarm's Way 59 

The Sweet Cheat Gone 260 

Within a Budding Grove 172 

Six PLiys by 194 

The Cloister and the Hearth 62 

Ten Days that Shook the World 215 

The Lite of Jesus 140 

Clarissa 10 

Six Plays by 200 

CYRANO de Berijerac 154 

The Confessions of 243 

Famous Stories 53 

Selected Papers of Bcnrand Russell 137 

The Short Stories of 280 

Nine Stories 301 

The Catcher in the RNC 90 

The Sense of Beauty 2<>2 

The PhiWophv of Schopenhauer 52 

What Makes Sammv Run 3 281 

Tragedies, 2, 3 complete, 2 vols 

Comedies, 4, 5 complete, 2 vols 

Histories, 6 I , , 

T , r , ( comp kte, 2 vo s 

Histories, Poems, 7 ) * 

Four Plays by 19 

Saint Joan, Major Barbara, and 

Androcles and the Lion 294 
The Young Lions i T 2 
The Selected Poetry & Prose of 274 
Humphry Clinker 159 
The Philosophy of Spinoza 60 
In Dubious Battle 1 1 5 
Of Mice and Men 29 
Tortilla Flat 216 
The Red and the Black 157 
Tristram Shandy 147 
Storm 254 
Dracula 31 
Lust for Life 1 1 
Uncle Tom's Cabin 261 
Eminent Victorians 212 
Lives of the TwTlve Caesar 188 
Gulliver's Travels and Other Writings 

100 

The Life of Michelangelo 49 
The Complete Works of 222 
Selected Poetry of 230 
Henr> Esmond 80 
Vanity Fair MI 
Complete Poems 38 
Waldcn and Oth< r Writings 155 
The Complete Writings of 58 
The Thurber Carnival 8-5 
Anna Karcmna 37 



G3. MURASAKA, LADY, The Tale of Genji. 

039. THE BASIC WRITINGS OF SIGMUND FREUD. 

G40. THE COMPLETE TALES AND POEMS OF EDGAR 
ALLAN POE. 

G4i. FARRELL, JAMES T. Studs Lonigan. 

G4-Z. THE POEMS AND PLAYS OF TENNYSON. 

G43. DEWEY, JOHN. Intelligence m the Modern World: John 
Dcwey's Philosophy. 

G44. DOS PASSOS, JOHN U. S. A. 

G 4 5. STOIC AND EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHERS. 

G 4 6. A NEW ANTHOLOGY OF MODERN POETRY. 

G 4 7. THE ENGLISH PHILOSOPHERS FROM BACON TO 
MILL. 

648. THE METROPOLITAN OPERA GUIDE. 

G4Q. TWAIN, MARK. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. 

G50. WHITMAN, WALT. Leaves of Grass. 

GSI. THE BEST-KNOWN NOVELS OF GEORGE ELIOT. 

G52. JOYCE, JAMES. Ulysses. 

G53. SUE, EUGENE. The Wandering Jew. 

G54. AN ANTHOLOGY OF FAMOUS BRITISH STORIES. 

G55 O'NEILL, EUGENE Nine Plays by 

Gs6. THE WISDOM OF CATHOLICISM. 

G57. MELVILLE. Selected Writings ot Herman Melville. 

058. THE COMPLETE NOVELS OF JANE AUSTEN. 

G59. THE WISDOM OF CHINA AND INDIA. 

G6o. DOSTOYEVSKY, FYODOR. The Idiot. 

G6i. SPAETH, SIGMUND. A Guide to Great Orchestral Music. 

G62. THE POEMS, PROSE AND PLAYS OF PUSHKIN. 

G63. SIXTEEN FAMOUS BRITISH PLAYS. 

G6 4 . MELVILLE, HERMAN Moby Dick. 

G6 5 . THE COMPLETE WORKS OF RABELAIS. 

G66. THREE FAMOUS MURDER NOVELS 
Before the Fact, Francis lies. 
Trent's Last Case, E. C. Bentley. 
The House of the Arrow, A. E. W. Mason. 

067. ANTHOLOGY OF FAMOUS ENGLISH AND AMERI- 
CAN POETRY. 

G68. THE SELECTED WORK OF TOM PAINE. 

G69. ONE HUNDRED AND ONE YEARS' ENTERTAIN- 
MENT. 

G7o. THE COMPLETE POETRY OF JOHN DONNE AND 
WILLIAM BLAKE. 

G7i. SIXTEEN FAMOUS EUROPEAN PLAYS. 

G72. GREAT TALES OF TERROR AND THE SUPERNATURAL. 

Gyj. A SUB-TREASURY OF AMERICAN HUMOR. 

G74. ST. AUGUSTINE. The City of God. 

675. SELECTED WRITINGS OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON. 

676. GRIMM AND ANDERSEN, TALES OF 

677. AN ANTHOLOGY OF FAMOUS AMERICAN STORIES. 
G78. HOLMES, OLIVER WENDELL. The Mind and Faith o 

Justice Holmes. 

079. THE WISDOM OF ISRAEL. 

G8o. DREISER, THEODORE. An American Tragedy. 
G8i. AN ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MODERN AMERICAN HUMOR. 
G82. FAULKNER, WILLIAM, The Faulkner Reader