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Eight Harvard Poets







[i]

EIGHT HARVARD POETS

E. ESTLIN CUMMINGS
S. FOSTER DAMON
J. R. DOS PASSOS
ROBERT HILLYER
R. S. MITCHELL
WILLIAM A. NORRIS
DUDLEY POORE
CUTHBERT WRIGHT





NEW YORK
LAURENCE J. GOMME
1917

[ii]

Copyright, 1917, by
LAURENCE J. GOMME



VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY
BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK

[iii]

CONTENTS

PAGE
E. ESTLIN CUMMINGS
Thou in Whose Sword-Great Story Shine the Deeds 3
A Chorus Girl 4
This is the Garden 5
It May not Always be so 6
Crepuscule 7
Finis 8
The Lover Speaks 9
Epitaph 10
S. FOSTER DAMON
Incessu Patuit Deus 13
You Thought I had Forgotten 15
Venice 16
The New Macaber 18
To War 20
Calm Day, with Rollers 21
Phonograph--Tango 22
Decoration 24
Threnody 25
J. R. DOS PASSOS
The Bridge 29
Salvation Army 30
[iv] Incarnation 32
Memory 34
Saturnalia 37
"Whan that Aprille" 39
Night Piece 40
ROBERT HILLYER
Four Sonnets from a Sonnet-Sequence 45
A Sea Gull 49
Domesday 50
To a Passepied by Scarlatti 52
Elegy for Antinous 53
Song 54
"My Peace I Leave with You" 55
The Recompense 56
R. S. MITCHELL
Poppy Song 59
Love Dream 62
The Island of Death 64
From the Arabian Nights 66
Threnody 68
Helen 70
Largo 72
Lazarus 73
A Crucifix 74
Neith 75
A Farewell 77
[v] WILLIAM A. NORRIS
Of Too Much Song 81
Wherever My Dreams Go 82
Out of the Littleness 83
Nahant 84
Qui Sub Luna Errant 85
Across the Taut Strings 86
Escape 87
On a Street Corner 88
Sea-burial 89
DUDLEY POORE
A Renaissance Picture 93
The Philosopher's Garden 95
The Tree of Stars 96
After Rain 97
Cor Cordium 99
The Withered Leaf, the Faded Flower be Mine 105
CUTHBERT WRIGHT
The End of It 109
The New Platonist 110
The Room Over the River 112
The Fiddler 114
Falstaff's Page 116
A Dull Sunday 117

[vi]




[1]

E. ESTLIN CUMMINGS

[2]




[3]

[THOU IN WHOSE SWORD-GREAT STORY SHINE THE DEEDS]

Thou in whose sword-great story shine the deeds

Of history her heroes, sounds the tread

Of those vast armies of the marching dead,

With standards and the neighing of great steeds

Moving to war across the smiling meads;

Thou by whose page we break the precious bread

Of dear communion with the past, and wed

To valor, battle with heroic breeds;

Thou, Froissart, for that thou didst love the pen

While others wrote in steel, accept all praise

Of after ages, and of hungering days

For whom the old glories move, the old trumpets cry;

Who gav'st as one of those immortal men

His life that his fair city might not die.

[4]

A CHORUS GIRL

When thou hast taken thy last applause, and when

The final curtain strikes the world away,

Leaving to shadowy silence and dismay

That stage which shall not know thy smile again,

Lingering a little while I see thee then

Ponder the tinsel part they let thee play;

I see the red mouth tarnished, the face grey,

And smileless silent eyes of Magdalen.

The lights have laughed their last; without, the street

Darkling, awaiteth her whose feet have trod

The silly souls of men to golden dust.

She pauses, on the lintel of defeat,

Her heart breaks in a smile—and she is Lust ...

Mine also, little painted poem of God.

[5]

This is the garden: colors come and go,

Frail azures fluttering from night's outer wing,

Strong silent greens serenely lingering,

Absolute lights like baths of golden snow.

This is the garden: pursed lips do blow

Upon cool flutes within wide glooms, and sing,

Of harps celestial to the quivering string,

Invisible faces hauntingly and slow.

This is the garden. Time shall surely reap,

And on Death's blade lie many a flower curled,

In other lands where other songs be sung;

Yet stand They here enraptured, as among

The slow deep trees perpetual of sleep

Some silver-fingered fountain steals the world.

[6]

It may not always be so; and I say

That if your lips, which I have loved, should touch

Another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch

His heart, as mine in time not far away;

If on another's face your sweet hair lay

In such a silence as I know, or such

Great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,

Stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

If this should be, I say if this should be—

You of my heart, send me a little word;

That I may go unto him, and take his hands,

Saying, Accept all happiness from me.

Then shall I turn my face, and hear one bird

Sing terribly afar in the lost lands.

[7]

CREPUSCULE

I will wade out

till my thighs are steeped in burn-

ing flowers

I will take the sun in my mouth

and leap into the ripe air

Alive

with closed eyes

to dash against darkness

in the sleeping curves of my

body

Shall enter fingers of smooth mastery

with chasteness of sea-girls

Will I complete the mystery

of my flesh

I will rise

After a thousand years

lipping

flowers

And set my teeth in the silver of the moon

[8]

FINIS

Over silent waters

day descending

night ascending

floods the gentle glory of the sunset

In a golden greeting

splendidly to westward

as pale twilight

trem-

bles

into

Darkness

comes the last light's gracious exhortation

Lifting up to peace

so when life shall falter

standing on the shores of the

eternal

god

May I behold my sunset

Flooding

over silent waters

[9]

THE LOVER SPEAKS

Your little voice

Over the wires came leaping

and I felt suddenly

dizzy

With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers

wee skipping high-heeled flames

courtesied before my eyes

or twinkling over to my side

Looked up

with impertinently exquisite faces

floating hands were laid upon me

I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing

up

Up

with the pale important

stars and the Humorous

moon

dear girl

How I was crazy how I cried when I heard

over time

and tide and death

leaping

Sweetly

your voice

[10]

EPITAPH

Tumbling-hair

picker of buttercups

violets

dandelions

And the big bullying daisies

through the field wonderful

with eyes a little sorry

Another comes

also picking flowers

[11]

S. FOSTER DAMON

[12]




[13]

INCESSU PATUIT DEUS

The little clattering stones along the street

Dance with each other round my swimming feet;

The street itself, as in some crazy dream,

Streaks past, a half-perceived material stream.

Brighter than early dawn's most brilliant dye

Are blown clear bands of color through the sky,

That swirl and sweep and meet, to break and foam

Like rainbow veils upon a bubble's dome.

Yours are the songs that burst about my ears,

Or blow away as many-colored spheres.

You are the star that made the skies all bright,

Yet tore itself away in flaming flight;

You are the tree that suddenly awoke;

You are the rose that came to life and spoke....

Guided by you, how we might stroll towards death,

Our only music one another's breath,

Through gardens intimate with hollyhocks,

Where silent poppies burn between the rocks,

By pools where birches bend to confidants

Above green waters scummed with lily-plants.

[14]

There we might wander, you and I alone,

Through gardens filled with marble seats moss-grown,

And fountains—water-threads that winds disperse—

While in the spray the birds sit and converse.

And when the fireflies mix their circling glow

Through the dark plants, then gently might I know

Your lips, light as the wings of the dragon-flies....

—Merely dreams, fluttering in my eyes....

[15]

[YOU THOUGHT I HAD FORGOTTEN]

You thought I had forgotten. Well, I had!

(Although I never guessed I could forget

Those few great moments when we both went mad.)

The other day at someone's tea we met,

Smiling gayly, bowed, and went our several ways,

Complacent with successful coldness.—Yet

Suddenly I was back in the old days

Before you felt we ought to drift apart.

It was some trick—the way your eyebrows raise,

Your hands—some vivid trifle. With a start

Then I remembered how I lived alone,

Writing bad poems and eating out my heart

All for your beauty.—How the time has flown!

[16]

VENICE

In a sunset glowing of crimson and gold,

She lies, the glory of the world,

A beached king's galley, whose sails are furled,

Who is hung with tapestries rich and old.

Beautiful as a woman is she,

A woman whose autumn of life is here,

Proud and calm at the end of the year

With the grace that now is majesty.

The sleeping waters bathe her sides,

The warm, blue streams of the Adrian Sea;

She dreams and drowses languorously,

Swayed in the swaying of the tides.

She is a goddess left for us,

Veiled with the softening veils of time;

Her blue-veined breasts are now sublime,

Her moulded torso glorious.

The pity that we must come and go—!

While the old gold and the marble stays,

Forever gleaming its soft strong blaze,

Calm in the early evening glow.

[17]

And still the sensitive silhouettes

Of the gondolas pass and leave no track,

Light on the tides as lilies, and black

In the rippling waters of long sunsets.

[18]

THE NEW MACABER

The pleasant graveyard of my soul

With sentimental cypress trees

And flowers is filled, that I may stroll

In meditation, at my ease.

The little marble stones are lost

In flowers surging from the dead;

Nor is there any mournful ghost

To wail until the night is sped.

And while night rustles through the trees,

Dragging the stars along, I know

The moon is rising on the breeze,

Quivering as in a river's flow.

And ah! that moon of silver sheen!

It is my heart hung in the sky;

And no clouds ever float between

The grave-flowers and my heart on high.

I do not read upon each stone

The name that once was carven there;

I merely note new blossoms blown

And breathe the perfume of the air.

[19]

Thus walk I through my wonderland

While all the evening is atune,

Beneath the cypress trees that stand

Like candles to the barren moon.

[20]

TO WAR

The music beats, up the chasmed street,

Then flares from around the curve;

The cheers break out from the waving crowd:

—Our soldiers march, superb!

Over the track-lined city street

The young men, the grinning men, pass.

Last night they danced to that very tune;

Today they march away;

Tomorrow, perhaps no band at all,

Or the band beside the grave.

Above, in the long blue strip of sky,

The whirling pigeons, the thoughtless pigeons, pass.

Another band beats down the street;

Contending rhythms clash;

New melodies win place, then fade,

And the flashing legs move past.

Down the cheering, grey-paved street

The fringed flags, the erect flags, pass.

[21]

CALM DAY, WITH ROLLERS

Always the ships that move in mystery, on the dim horizon,

Shadow-filled sails of dreams, sliding over the blue-grey ocean,

Far from the rock-edged shore where willow-green waves are rushing,

And white foam-people leap, to stand erect for the moment.

Ho! ye sails that seem to wander in dream-filled meadows,

Say, is the shore where I stand the only field of struggle,

Or are ye hit and battered out there by waves and wind-gusts

As ye tack over a clashing sea of watery echoes?

[22]

PHONOGRAPH—TANGO

Old dances are simplified of their yearning, bleached by Time.

Yet from one black disc

we tasted again the bite of crude Spanish passion.

... He had got into her courtyard.

She was alone that night.

Through the black night-rain, he sang to her window bars:

Love me, love—ah, love me!

If you will not, I can follow

Into the highest of mountains;

And there, in the wooden cabin,

I will strangle you for your lover.

—That was but rustling of dripping plants in the dark.

More tightly under his cloak, he clasped his guitar.

Love, ah-h! love me, love me!

If you will do this, I can buy

A fringed silk scarf of yellow,

A high comb carved of tortoise;

Then we will dance in the Plaza.

[23]

She was alone that night.

He had broken into her courtyard.

Above the gurgling gutters

he heard—

surely—

a door unchained?

The passage was black; but he risked it—

death in the darkness—

or her hot arms—(love—love me ah-h-h!)

"A good old tune," she murmured

—and I found we were dancing.

[24]

DECORATION

A little pagan child-god plays

Beyond the far horizon haze,

And underneath the twilight trees

He blows a bubble to the breeze,

Which is borne upward in the night

And makes the heavens shine with light.

But soon it sinks to earth again,

And, hitting hills, it bursts! And then

With foam the skies are splashed and sprayed;

And that's how all the stars are made.

[25]

THRENODY

She is lain with high things and with low.

She lies

With shut eyes,

Rocked in the eternal flow

Of silence evermore.

Desperately immortal, she;

She stands

With wide hands

Dim through the veil of eternity,

Behind the supreme door.

[26]




[27]

J. R. DOS PASSOS

[28]




[29]

THE BRIDGE

The lonely bridge cuts dark across the marsh

Whose long pools glow with the light

Of a flaring summer sunset.

At this end limp bushes overhang,

Palely reflected in the amber-colored water;

Among them a constant banjo-twanging of frogs,

And shrilling of toads and of insects

Rises and falls in chorus rhythmic and stirring.

Dark, with crumbling railing and planks,

The bridge leads into the sunset.

Across it many lonely figures,

Their eyes a-flare with the sunset,

Their faces glowing with its colors,

Tramp past me through the evening.

I am tired of sitting quiet

Among the bushes of the shore,

While the dark bridge stretches onward,

And the long pools gleam with light;

I am tired of the shrilling of insects

And the croaking of frogs in the rushes,

For the wild rice in the marsh-pools

Waves its beckoning streamers in the wind,

And the red sky-glory fades.

[30]

SALVATION ARMY

A drum pounds out the hymn,

Loud with gaudy angels, tinsel cherubim,

To drown the fanfare of the street,

And with exultant lilting beat,

To mingle the endless rumble of carts,

The scrape of feet, the noise of marts

And dinning market stalls, where women shout

Their wares, and meat hangs out—

Grotesque, distorted by the gas flare's light—

Into one sacred rhythm for the Devil's spite.

A woman's thin, raucous voice

Carries the tune, bids men rejoice,

Bathe in God's mercy,

Draw near and learn salvation, see

With their own eyes the mystery.

Cymbals, at the hands of a tired girl,

Slim wisp amid the swirl

Of crowded streets, take up the tune,

Monotonously importune.

Faces are wan in the arc-light's livid glare;

A wind gust carries the band's flare

Of song, in noisy eddies echoing,

Round lonely black street-corners,

[31]

Till, with distance dimming,

It fades away,

Among the silent, dark array

Of city houses where no soul stirs.

The crowd thins, the players are alone;

In their faith's raucous monotone,

Loud with gaudy angels, tinsel cherubim,

A drum pounds out the hymn.

[32]

INCARNATION

Incessantly the long rain falls,

Slanting on black walls,

Which glisten gold where a street lamp shines.

In a shop-window, spangled in long lines,

By rain-drops all a-glow,

An Italian woman's face

Flames into my soul as I go

Hastily by in the turbulent darkness;—

An oval olive face,

With the sweetly sullen grace

Of the Virgin when first she sees,

Amid her garden's silver lilies,

The white-robed angel gleam,

And softly, as by a sultry dream,

Feels all her soul subdued unto the fire

And radiance of her ecstasy.

So in some picture, on which as on a lyre,

An old Italian painter laboriously has played

His soul away, his love, all his desire

For fragrant things afar from earth,

Shines the Madonna, as with a veil overlaid

By incense-smoke and dust age-old,

At whose feet, in time of dearth

[33]

Or need, a myriad men have laid

Their sorrows and arisen bold.

Incessantly the long rain falls,

Slanting on black walls.

But through the dark interminable streets,

Along pavements where rain beats

Its sharp tattoo, and gas-lamps shine,

Greenish gold in the solitude,

The vision flames through my mood

Of that Italian woman's face,

Through the dripping window-pane.

[34]

MEMORY

Between rounded hills,

White with patches of buckwheat, whose fragrance fills

The little breeze that makes the birch-leaves quiver,

Beside a rollicking swift river,

Light green in the deeps,—

Like your eyes in sunshine,—

Winds the canal,

Lazy and brown as a water-snake,

Full of dazzle and sheen where the breeze sweeps

The water with gossamer garments, that shake

The reeds standing sentinel,

And the marginal line

Of birches and willows.

Our little steamer pulls its way

With jingle of bells and panting throb

Of old engines.

In stiff array

The water-reeds wave,

And solemnly sway

To the wash and swell of our passing.

Among the reeds the ripples sob,

And die away,

[35]

'Till the canal is still again, save

For a kingfisher's flashing

Across the noon shimmer.

I stood beside you in the bow,

Watched the sunlight lose itself among your hair,

That the breeze tugged at.

Bright as the shattered sun-rays, where the prow

Cut the still water,

The warm light caught and tangled there,

Red gold amid your hair.

You were very slim in your blue serge dress....

We talked of meaningless things, education,

Agreed that unless,

Something were changed disaster would come to the nation.

You smiled when I pointed where

A group of birches shivered in the green wood-shadow,

Up to their knees in water, white and fair

As dryads bathing.

A row

Of flat white houses and a wharf

Glided in sight.

The hoarse whistle shrieked for a landing;

Bells jangled.... You were standing

A slim blue figure amid the wharf's crowd;

The little steamer creaked against the side, loud

Screamed the whistle again....

[36]

Monotonously the solemn reeds

Waved to our passing;

Ahead the canal shimmered, blotched green by the water-weeds.

With a grinding swing

And see-saw of sound,

The steamer slunk down the canal.

I never even knew your name....

That night from a dingy hotel room,

I saw the moon, like a golden gong,

Redly loom

Across the lake; like a golden gong

In a temple, which a priest ere long

Will strike into throbbing song,

To wake some silent twinkling city to prayer.

The lake waves were flakes of red gold,

Burnished to copper,

Gold, red as the tangled gleam

Of sunlight in your hair.

[37]

SATURNALIA

In earth's womb the old gods stir,

Fierce chthonian dieties of old time.

With cymbals and rattle of castanets,

And shriek of slug-horns, the North Wind

Bows the oak and the moaning fir,

On russet hills and by roadsides stiff with rime.

In nature, dead, the life gods stir,

From Rhadamanthus and the Isles,

Where Saturn rules the Age of Gold,

Come old, old ghosts of bygone gods;

While dim mists earth's outlines blur,

And drip all night from lichen-greened roof-tiles.

In men's hearts the mad gods rise

And fill the streets with revelling,

With torchlight that glances on frozen pools,

With tapers starring the thick-fogged night,

A-dance, like strayed fireflies,

'Mid dim mad throngs who Saturn's orisons sing.

In driven clouds the old gods come,

When fogs the face of Apollo have veiled;

A fear of things, unhallowed, strange,

[38]

And a fierce free joy flares in the land.

Men mutter runes in language dead,

By night, with rumbling drum,

In quaking groves where the woodland spirits are hailed.

To earth's brood of souls of old,

With covered heads and aspen wands,

Mist-shrouded priests do ancient rites;

The black ram's fleece is stained with blood,

That steams, dull red on the frozen ground;

And pale votaries shiver with the cold,

That numbs the earth, and etches patterned mirrors on the ponds.

[39]

"WHAN THAT APRILLE ..."

Is it the song of a meadow lark

Off the brown, sere salt marshes,

Or the eager patches in dooryards

Of yellow and pale lilac crocuses;

Or else the suburban street golden with sunlight,

And the bare branches of elm trees

Twined in the delicate sky?

Or is it the merry piping

Of a distant hurdy-gurdy?—

That makes me so weary and faint with desire

For strange lands and new scents;

For the rough-rhythmed clank

Of train couplings at night,

And the stormy, gay-tinted sunrises

That shade with purple the contours

Of far-off, unfamiliar hills.

[40]

NIGHT PIECE

A silver web has the moon spun,

A silver web upon all the sky,

Where the frail stars quiver, every one

Like tangled gnats that hum and die.

The moon has tangled the dull night

In her silver skein and set alight

Each dew-damp branch with milky flame.

And huge the moon broods on the night.

My soul is caught in the web of the moon,

Like a shrilling gnat in a spider's web.

Importunate memories shrill in my ears

Like the gnats that die in the spider web.

Lovely as death, in the moon's shroud,

Were town streets, grey houses, dim,

Full of strange peace in the silent night.

As we walked our footsteps clattered loud.

We felt the night as a troubled song ...

Oh, the triumphing sense of life a-throb.

Behind those walls, in those dark streets,

Like the sound of a river, swift, unseen,

Flowing in darkness. Oh, the hoarse

[41]

Half-heard murmur swirling beneath

The snowy beauty of moonlight....

And that other night,

When the river rippled with faint spears

Of street lights vaguely reflected. Grey

The evening, like an opal; low,

A grey moon shrouded in sea fog:

Air pregnant with spring; rasp of my steps

Beside the lapping water; within

The dark. Down the worn out years a sob

Of broken loves; old pain

Of dead farewells; and one face

Fading into grey....

A silver web has the moon spun,

A silver web over all the sky.

In her flooding glory, one by one,

Like gnats in a web the stars die.

[42]




[43]

ROBERT HILLYER

[44]




[45]

FOUR SONNETS FROM A SONNET-SEQUENCE

I

Quickly and pleasantly the seasons blow

Over the meadows of eternity,

As wave on wave the pulsings of the sea

Merge and are lost, each in the other's flow.

Time is no lover; it is only he

That is the one unconquerable foe,

He is the sudden tempest none can know,

Winged with swift winds the none may hope to flee.

Fair child of loveliness, these endless fears

Are nought to us; let us be gods of stone,

And set our images beyond the years

On some high mount where we can be alone.

And thou shalt ever be as now thou art,

And I shall watch thee with untroubled heart.

[46]

II

Then judge me as thou wilt, I cannot flee,

I cannot turn away from thee forever,

For there are bonds that wisdom cannot sever

And slaves with souls far freer than the free.

Such strong desires the universal Giver

With unknown plan has buried deep in me

That the exquisite joy of watching thee

Has dominated all my life's endeavor.

Thou weariest of having me so near,

I feel the scorn thou hast within thy heart,

And yet thy face has never seemed so dear

As now, when I am minded to depart.

Though thou shouldst drive me hence, I love thee so

That I would watch thee when thou dost not know.

[47]

III

Fly, joyous wind, through all the wakened earth

Now when the portals of the dawn outpour

A myriad wonders from the radiant store

Of spring's deep passion and loud-ringing mirth.

Cry to the world that I despair no more,

Heart greets my heart and hope has proved its worth;

Fly where the legions of the sun have birth,

Chant everywhere and everywhere adore.

Circle the basking hills in fragrant flight,

Shout Rapture! Rapture! if sweet sorrow passes,

And whisper low in intimate delight

My love-song to the undulating grasses.

Grief is no more, love rises with the spring,

O fly, free wind, and Rapture! Rapture! sing.

[48]

IV

Long after both of us are scattered dust

And some strange souls perchance shall read of thee,

Finding the yearnings that have crushed from me

These poor confessions of my love and trust,

I know how misinterpreted will be

These lines, for men will laugh, or more unjust,

Thinking not once of love, but only lust,

Will stain the vesture of our memory.

And yet a few there may be who will feel

My deep devotion and my true desires,

And know that these unhappy words reveal

Only new images in changeless fires;

And they perchance will linger with a sigh

To think that beauty such as thine must die.

[49]

A SEA GULL

Grey wings, O grey wings against a cloud,

Over the rough waves flashing,

Whose was the scream, startling and loud,

Keen through the skies,—was it thine,

Over the moaning wind and the whine

Of the wide seas dashing?

Whose was the scream that I heard

In the midst of the hurrying air?

Was it thine, lost bird,

Or the voice of an old despair

Chanting from years long dead,

Inexorable spirit flying

On tempest wings that passed and fled

Through the storm crying?

[50]

DOMESDAY

The garlands and the songs of May

Shall welcome in the Judgment Day;

About the basking country-side

Blossom the souls of them that died.

O Dead awake! Arise in bloom

Upon the joyous dawn of doom.

They rise up from the bleeding earth

In gracious legions of re-birth,

Each as a flower or a tree

Of verdant immortality.

And hosts of glad-voiced angels sing

In the rippling groves of spring.

From the grave of youth there grows

A passionately-petaled rose,

Where the virgin whitely lies

A lily fair as Paradise.

And in that old oak's leafy glee

Some gouty sire makes sport of me.

O Dead of yore and yesterday

All hail the resurrecting May!

[51]

Beside you in the flowering grass

The feet of youth and love shall pass,

And we that greet you with a smile

Shall join you in a little while.

[52]

TO A PASSEPIED BY SCARLATTI

Strange little tune so thin and rare

Like scents of roses of long ago,

Quavering lightly upon the strings

Of a violin, and dying there

With a dancing flutter of delicate wings;

Thy courtly joy and thy gentle woe,

Thy gracious gladness and plaintive fears

Are lost in the clamorous age we know,

And pale like a moon in the lurid day;

A phantom of music, strangely fled

From the princely halls of the quiet dead,

Down the long lanes of the vanished years

Echoing frailly and far away.

[53]

ELEGY FOR ANTINOUS

Come, let us hasten hence and weep no more,

The sinking sea flows on its tranquil ways,

Night looms serenely at the eastern door

And trails the last cloud into lifeless haze.

Antinous is dead, we kneel before

The portals of our past in vain, nor raise

The laughing phantoms of our yesterdays

Upon this desolate and empty shore.

Now deepening pools of shadow overflow

Into the sea of dark; a far-off bell

Sobs with a sweet vibration long and slow

A last farewell, forevermore, farewell;

And will He wake and hear? We cannot tell;

And will He answer? Ah, we do not know.

[54]

SONG

O crimson rose, O crimson rose,

Crushed lightly in two little hands;

A child's soft kiss was in your heart,

A child's warm breath was in your soul.

The child is gone, O crimson rose,

And stained and hardened are the hands,

And who shall find your golden heart

And who shall kiss your withered soul?

Happy are you, O crimson rose,

But I have stains upon my hands;

You died with kisses in your heart,

I live with sorrow in my soul.

[55]

"MY PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU"

He pondered long, and watched the darkening space

Close the red portals whence the hours had run,

As like young wistful angels, one by one,

The stars cast timid flowers about His face.

"Yea, now another scarlet day is done!"

He cried in anguish, and with sudden grace

Stretched forth His arms, as though He would erase

The few, dim embers of the scattered sun.

"The scarlet day is done, and soon the light

Will wake again my desecrated skies.

Oh, that another dawn might never rise!—

My foolish children!" Through the vast of night

The young stars shivered in a silver horde

Before the Infinite Sorrow of their Lord.

[56]

THE RECOMPENSE

When the last song is sung, and the last spark

Of light dies out forever, and the dark,

The voiceless dark eternal shrouds the earth;

When the last cries of pain and shouts of mirth

Sink in the desolate silences of space;

Where then shall flower the beauty of your face,

O Love the laughing, Youth the rose-in-hand,

In what unknown and undiscovered land

Shall flower then the beauty of your face?

I know not but I know that all returns

At last unchanged, and to the heart that yearns

Shall be repaid all loneliness and loss.

Sometime with shadowy sails shall fly across

The shoreless ocean of infinity

A ship from out the past, and the great sea

Of life shall bear you from the strange worlds over

The waves, and back again to the old lover.

Yes, in some future far beyond surmise

You will dream here with half-remembering eyes,

And I shall write these words, content awhile

In the slow round of time to see you smile.

[57]

R. S. MITCHELL

[58]




[59]

POPPY SONG

I

Footsteps soft as fall the rose's

Petals on a dewy lawn,

Shaken when the wind uncloses

Golden gateways for the dawn;

Laughter light as is the swallows'

Chatter in the evening sky,

Wafted upward from the hollows

Where the limpid waters lie;

Weeping faint as is the willow's

By the margin of the lake,

Trembling into tiny billows

That the silent teardrops make;

Phantoms fitful and uncertain

As the pearly autumn rain,

Sweeping on in cloudy curtain

Down the wide way of the plain.

[60]

II

Oh, unhappy now to waken

When the dream had scarce begun!

Out of gentle twilight taken

Into realms of burning sun:

Oh, unhappy now to find me

Lost 'neath heavens hot with noon;

All that fairy land behind me;

Poppy fields and rising moon!

Drawbridge and portcullis screeching,

Bugles braying soon and late;

Who are they that come beseeching,

Calling at my castle gate?

Drive them hence, for they encumber

Days and nights with waking pain;

Tell them that I lie and slumber

Under poppies, wet with rain.

Who art thou that bendest praying

Over me with clasped palms;

Dim through surging darkness, saying

Words of prayer and murmured psalms?

[61]

Who art thou that kneelest weeping

By the border of my bed?

Cease thou, for I was but sleeping—

Dreaming, only, and not dead!

III

Phantoms flitting and uncertain

Sweeping round the endless plain;

Autumn twilight's dusky curtain,

Drowsy poppies, drenched with rain.

[62]

LOVE DREAM

Strange that on warp and woof of dreams

Fancy should weave the web of truth,

And yet this fairy figment seems

Part of a half-forgotten youth

Stolen from days I thought were sped

Out of the world beyond the dead.

Smiled she not when at the edge

Of evening we walked alone

Plucking spring's blossoms from the hedge

That she might wear them as her own,

Or do I hold a hopeless tryst

Here with a shadow, made of mist?

Now as will crumpled rose leaves, pent

By fingers we can never know,

Rouse with the richness of their scent,

Thoughts of a summer long ago,

All the expanse of land and sea

Speaks with a thousand tongues to me.

'Twas from coast we watched slow form,

Out of the frosty ocean's breath,

[63]

The blue-gray ramparts of the storm

Flashing with signal fires of death,

Whilst with a murmur, far and wide,

Swept in the low wind with the tide.

Then, at last, when lips were dumb

With fear of parting, did we wend

Along the meadow lanes that come

From nowhere, and in nothing end,

And, smiling, kiss, though ill at ease,

Under the rustling orchard trees.

But will the promise given keep?

Can the heart love still when 'tis dead?

What if the spirit, waked from sleep,

Never recall the words it said?

Dwell in a dreamland, or else be

Lost in life's eternity?

[64]

THE ISLAND OF DEATH

There is an island in a silent sea

That rises—four, rough, rugged walls—on high

Above the ocean in calm majesty.

A mountain of despair against the sky!

About its summit soaring seagulls fly,

Or rest them in its lofty cypress trees,

And greet the black barge bearing those who die

Upon our earth to everlasting ease

And pleasant lives that know not man's eternities.

White halls and palaces their dwellings stand;

These shadowy souls are all unknown to graves

And live, faint phantoms in a fairy land

Of dreams and idleness. They hear the waves

Sing, and the winds come calling from the caves

Of night beyond the ocean, and the cry

Of screaming gulls; stare at each ship that braves

This wilderness of waters, and glides by

In awe-struck silence, ever fearing to draw nigh.

The sun, descending, sows the sea with gold,

And showers splendour through the fading skies,

[65]

Whilst from the murky waters they behold

The moon, a shape of silver, slow arise.

And every evening, as the daylight dies,

There comes that bark of death, whose white sail seems

An angel in the dark. A while it lies

Below them in the harbour, then there gleams

A new shape on the stairs up to that land of dreams.

[66]

FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

Then, as the whispering evening crossed the sea,

Sweeping the waters with her veil of grey,

Wave-worn and weary of the ocean, we

Beheld the enchanted island far away—

Half hidden in the twilight low it lay

On the horizon like a lazy cloud,

Its coasts encompassed with long lines of spray.

We spread the sails and swiftly the ship plowed

The purple path ahead until the surf sang loud.

Between the cliffs, by the faint stars, we found

A gloomy gate, and boldly sailing in,

Watched the dark mountains slowly closing round,

And heard faint echoes of the ocean's din

Melting like spirits' voices, fleet and thin;

When of a sudden, as we faltered nigh,

Out of the hills where only night had been

A mist of minarets and towers high,

Rose like the yellow light of morning in the sky.

Gazing we drifted toward that golden bloom

Of palaces whose light glowed on our sail;

There we floated wrapped in wild perfume;

Then music burst upon us in a gale;

[67]

Grave, deep-toned trumpets and the lyre's long wail,

And farther, the faint sound of singing men.

We grasped our oars—but slowly, as will pale

The morning star, the vision faded, then

The empty dark swept in and all was night again!

[68]

THRENODY

Have you forgotten me,

O my beloved?

Have you deserted me

Now in the autumn?

See where the swallows fly

South o'er the ocean:

Soon will the winter wind

Sweep the Ægean.

Up from the vineyard comes

Music of laughter;

Far through the valleys they

Gather the harvest.

Westward the evening star

Sinks in the mountains;

Pale 'neath the rising moon

Lies Mytilene.

Here where the headland looks

Wide o'er the water,

I have brought laurel leaves,

Decking your barrow.

[69]

Why do I linger now

Vainly lamenting?

O it is lonely, love,—

Lonely in Lesbos!

[70]

HELEN

Again the voices of the hunting horns

And the new moon, low lying on the hills,

Tell that the summer night is on its way.—

O languid heart, shalt thou much longer watch

This pale procession of the silent hours

Melt into shadows of unending years?

Much longer feed on yearning and despair

And all the anguish of departed time?

Tomorrow is as yesterday; today

No nearer than the morning when there stood

In Leda's palace, asking for my hand,

Tall Menelaus with his yellow hair;

No nearer now than the first time these hands

Dared linger in caress upon the curls

Of him whose dark eyes laughed their love to mine.

'Tis only as if one short, restless sleep

Lay over the wide chasm of the years

Beyond which loom lost faith and ruined Troy.

The night wind brings, as twenty summers since,

The silver-breasted swallows from the Nile

To quiet Sparta, nestled in her hills,

Locked inland from the voices of the sea;

And far across the porticos I hear

The ivory shuttle singing in the loom

[71]

'Midst maidens' chatter, as in olden days;

And men still murmur as they pass me by:

"Lo, look on her, the wonder of the world,

Beauteous Helen, Lacedæmon's Queen!"

I watch them gaze intently on my face

As they would keep it in their memory

Forever, and the very while they gaze

I see the flame of Troy gleam in their eyes.

I think sometimes I have already passed

Into the kingdom of untroubled death,

And wandering lonely amongst them I knew

In Hellas or that land beyond the seas,

Behold each shadow as it passes by

Shrink half involuntarily, and turn,

And veil its face and vanish in the gloom.

Whilst out of that dim distance whence my steps

Are moving and to which they shall return

After an interval of endless years,

There comes a voice that calls me from afar:

"Art thou not Helen, dowered of the gods

With all that man can covet? Wert thou not

Created the most beautiful of earth,

And is not beauty wisdom, wisdom power?

What hast thou done with their almighty gift?"

And then, ere I would answer, silence falls

Around me, and the dark divides, and I

See the blue twilight on the Spartan hills.

[72]

LARGO

Thou only from this sorrow wert relief,

Inviolate death, grave deity of rest,

Wherein all things past somehow seem the best

That ever could have come to be. Proud grief

Her lustrous torch hath lighted in this brief

Dim time before the dark, when the wide west

Fades where illimitable skies suggest

Days vanished in the beauty of belief.

As one unto a battle come, that stands

Aloof awhile, beholding friend and foe

Clashing in conflict, till his soul commands

He, too, prest on whither the bugles blow,

Lifting his eyes sees over wasted lands

Life's dust and shadow drifting to and fro.

[73]

LAZARUS

At morn we passed a hall where song

And dance had been and wine flowed free,

And where, 'mid wrecks of revelry,

Had lain the feasters all night long.

They saw us through the mist of dawn,

And, turning, called us to their feast—

The sound of lutes and cymbals ceased—

But one He fixed His gaze upon.

In whose wide eyes there seemed to be—

Behind the laughing, wine-flushed face

And tilted ivy-crown's gay grace—

Faint glimpses of Eternity.

Then sad, the Master bowed His head,

And, through the rosy twilight, dim,

Walked up and softly spake to him:

"Art thou not he that late was dead?"

The drinker raised his cup on high,

And murmured: "Priest of Nazareth,

I am he thou didst raise from death—

Lo, thus I wait again to die!"

[74]

A CRUCIFIX

This was the cross of God on which men's eyes

Dwelt with the love of dead divinity,

As they who by the desolate orient sea

In battle made their sainted sacrifice,

Dreaming their boundless striving should devise

A symbol whereby men might know that he

Who wins his way on earth to victory,

Thus in his consummated sorrow dies.

All things are sacred to that tender sight:

Time's ancient altars whence strange incense curled

Innocent to the unknown gods; the light

Of love is thine; faith's banner is unfurled,

Even where the farthest watchmen, through the night,

Call on the cloud-wrapped ramparts of the world.

[75]

NEITH

Somehow the spirit of that day—

Rain-clouded streets and brooding air—

Determined me to live and dare,

Living, to laugh the world away.

As in a crystal dreamers see

Out of unwinding mists arise

The splendors of some paradise

Woven of gold and ivory;

Deep in the globe of thought I saw

Dawn from tempestuous dust that form

Toward which the endless ages storm

Uproarious—to break with awe.

Of all things ignorant, yet wise,

Sitting enthroned at life's last goal,

Dividing body from the soul,

Looking at each with flameless eyes.

Immutable, unknown, unsung,

Through triumph and delight unearned,

Through sorrow undeserved, I learned

Salvation from thy wordless tongue.

[76]

Then flying the embracing gloom

Of burnt-out days and parched desire,

I built my soul an altar fire

Of laughter in the face of doom.

[77]

A FAREWELL

Nay: by this desolate sea our troubled ways

Shall separate forever; swift hath sped

The hour of youth, and yet to hang the head,

Lamenting lost things of departed days,

Were only from that shadowland to raise

A wraith, that whispering of the quiet dead,

Would mimic the strange life of love; instead,

Let us relent and hail the past with praise.

Go, then; and should inevitable fate

Lead us at last beyond the world of men

Where laurel and applause content no more,

Whither the soul takes silence for its mate,

There might we meet, and, smiling, once again

Clasp hands and part upon some windy shore.

[78]




[79]

WILLIAM A. NORRIS

[80]




[81]

OF TOO MUCH SONG

Sedges, have you sung too much,

Sedges gray along the shore?

Can this autumn tempest touch

Answering chords in you no more?

Is the summer all forgot?—

Now the ice is dark and strong

That has bound you to the spot—

Did you die of too much song?

Something in me is a harp

Played by every wanton breeze.

Moaning soft and piping sharp

Are its wondrous melodies.

Is the playing over-fast

Though the answer now is strong?

Like the sedges at the last

Will it die of too much song?

[82]

[WHEREVER MY DREAMS GO]

Wherever my dreams go, you are always there,

And you and I have gone to many a land,

Seeing high hills at dawn and desert sand,

Temples and mosques and people bowed in prayer.

We too have prayed in many places where

Beauty has come as I have clasped your hand,

And through long silence learned to understand

The dumb sweet language of your eyes and hair.

We have been lovers in all fair romances

Beyond the rising or the sunken sun.

There have been foes to meet, and I have done

Great deeds beneath the splendor of your glances....

And yet I dreamed alone; you could not guess

What joy you brought into my loneliness.

[83]

[OUT OF THE LITTLENESS]

Out of the littleness that wraps my days,

The oppressive mist of gray and common things,

Sometimes my dream on its audacious wings,

Dripping with golden fire, above the haze,

Flashes and veers against the sudden blaze

Of sunlight. There no other wings may gleam

But only yours, companioning my dream

In its strange flight up new and radiant ways.

And once, I thought, in a far solitude,

The black waves moaned and broke unutterably

On a stern cliff where hand in hand we stood.

There were none near us when the dark had gone,—

Only the clean wind of a sailless sea,

And you and I alone in the great dawn.

[84]

NAHANT

Last night the sea was an enchanted moan

And a pale pathway that the moonlight made.

All night it sorrowed in the dark alone,

Groping with ghostly fingers, half afraid,

Up the great rocks and sobbing back again,

Weary of search, yet still unsatisfied.

It seemed to have the voice of all dead men

And all fair women who had ever died.

But now the sun has risen, and the spray

Leaps into sudden light along the shore.

Each little wave has caught a golden ray—

As if the dawn had never come before.

Beyond the cliffs brown fishing boats go by

Under the reach of the wide laughing sky.

[85]

QUI SUB LUNA ERRANT

In a strange land they dwell, too far away

From sunlight and the common mirth of men

Ever to come within our casual ken.

We see them not, but if by chance we stray

Down cypress aisles when the wan summer day

Draws to a thin and sickly close, we hear

Murmur of mad speech by some watery weir

Or languid laughter and faint sound of play.

They never see the dawn; like the pale moths

That haunt lugubrious shadows of dim trees

They celebrate their lunar mysteries

At woodland shrines, where with green thyrsus rods

And weak limbs wrapped in silken sensuous cloths

They chant the names of their dead pagan gods.

[86]

[ACROSS THE TAUT STRINGS]

Across the taut strings of my yearning soul

Pass fingers of all fleet and beautiful things:

Comings of dawn and moonlight glimmerings,

Mid-summer hush and Sabbath bells that toll

Over broad fields, a sound of thrushes' wings

Near sunset hour, a girl with lips apart,

Wonder and laughter,—these have touched my heart

And left their music lingering on its strings.

At twilight of some gray, eventual year,

A few late friends will turn, with trembling breath,

From the raw mound of earth that hides my face....

Yet I shall still find beauty, even in death,

And some lone traveller of the night will hear

An echo of music in that quiet place.

[87]

ESCAPE

They danced beneath the stars, a crazy rout

With antic steps that had some little grace;

And one leapt high with song and frenzied shout,

And one ran silent with a gleaming face.

They danced until the shy moon looking down

Deemed herself lost above some Grecian glade;

A mile away the trim New England town

Echoed the Bacchanalian din they made.

And still they danced, until the moon sank low,

Blushing a little, and night's diadem

Of stars grew pale before the eastern glow....

And with the dawn their keepers came for them.

[88]

ON A STREET CORNER

But all the time you spoke I did not hear

The words you said. I only heard a far

Faint sound of summer waters and a clear

Calling of music from some lonely star.

I thought I heard the lisp of falling dew

In a dark meadow where no breezes stirred....

Then all at once the noisy street, and you

Smiling at me because I had not heard!

[89]

SEA-BURIAL

Over the sands the swollen tide came creeping,

Over the sands beneath the gleaming moon;

At first it seemed a child's uncertain croon,

And then a sound of many mourners weeping.

Then all at once a crested wave was sweeping

Around the still form in the moonlight there,

Twining its silver fingers in her hair....

And yet it could not rouse her from her sleeping.

With dawn the tide went seaward, bearing her

In its strong arms that clung so tenderly,

And laid her in a strange place far away

Where the tall seaweeds rise and never stir....

And there she sleeps, while pass alternately

The brooding night and the green luminous day.

[90]




[91]

DUDLEY POORE

[92]




[93]

A RENAISSANCE PICTURE

Calm little figure, ivy-crowned,

How long beneath the barren tree

Where this pale, martyred god has found

Surcease from his long agony,

You watch with an untroubled gaze

Life move on its accustomed ways!

Within your childish heart there dwells

No sorrow that uprising dims

Your eye, whence not a teardrop wells

For pity of those writhen limbs,

Or for the travail of a race

Consummate in one lifeless face.

Though tinkling caravans go by

Forever over twilight sands,

With myrrh and cassia laden high

For other shrines in other lands,

No weight of grief thereat you know,

But softly on your pan-pipes blow.

From what dim mountain have you strayed,

Where, ringed by the Hellenic seas,

You dwelt in an untrodden glade

[94]

Sacred to woodland deities,

Along whose faint paths went at dawn

Endymion or a dancing faun?

From groves where sacrificing throngs

Called you by some fair Grecian name,

With ritual meet and choric songs,

Strange, that to this dark hill you came

To seek, unmindful of their loss,

A refuge underneath the cross.

There is some deeper secret lies

Hidden out of human sight

In keeping of those tranquil eyes

That shine with such immortal light,

And in their shadows gleam and glow

While still upon your pipes you blow.

All but inscrutable, your gaze

Declares your place is even here,

Sharing this martyr's cup of praise,

And year by sadly westering year,

Till the last altar lights grow dim,

Dividing sovereignty with him.

[95]

THE PHILOSOPHER'S GARDEN

Some strange and exquisite desire

Has thrilled this flowering almond tree

Whose branches shake so wistfully,

Else wherefore does it bloom in fire?

Why scatter pollen on the air,

Marry its pale buds each to each,

The year's unkindly tempests bear,

Or to the calm clear sunlight reach?

Yet I can give that hope no name,

Nor that divine emotion share,

For, though I see it flowering there,

Because our speech is not the same

The passionate secret must lie hid

Burdened with unexpressed delight,

Where none of all man's race can bid

It forth, or voice its beauty right.

There's nought in earth or heaven knows

That hope for which our being longs,

The stars are busied with their songs,

The universal springtime flows

From sun to sun in scorn of man,

Careless if he be quick or dead,

Or if this earth, as it began,

Be voiceless and untenanted.

[96]

THE TREE OF STARS

There stands a tree where no man knows,

And like an earthly tree it grows,

Save that upon its branches wide

The earth and all the stars beside,

The chilly moon and the great sun,

The little planets, one by one,

Are hung like fruit to redden there

And ripen in the heavenly air.

And when the seeds are round and full

The watchful gods will come and pull

The ripened fruit from off the tree;

And then that heavenly company

Will bear the shining planets in

And garner them in a deep bin

And sort them out, and save the seed

To plant new trees in time of need.

[97]

AFTER RAIN

All day the heavy skies have lowered,

Long beaten by autumnal rain;

The lilac's withered leaves lie showered

Where little rain-pools star the plain;

All things that for a season flowered

Sink back to earth again.

Strange, then, that with the year's decrease

And out of gathering dusk you rise

Seeking love's ultimate surcease,

Phantom, whose memory-haunted eyes

Know that there never can be peace

Hoped-for, till memory dies.

In vain where these dead leaves lie strown

Where all things, bending earthward, fail,

Like a young spirit newly flown,

Flower-fragile, blossom-like and pale,

You search; and must fly back, a blown

Rose leaf on the cold gale.

You might have rested but for this:

That love's intense flame burning through

The shuddering body with a kiss

[98]

Woke in the prisoned spirit, too,

So keen an ecstasy of bliss

As could, for all they made amiss,

Nor life nor death undo.

[99]

COR CORDIUM

Deep in a heart, beneath o'er-hanging boughs,

Love built himself a house,

And whoso entered in, Love bade him stay,

Nor ever from that feast to come away

Dissatisfied or weary of the fare

Love set him there.

Forever through the groves and glades

Kind thoughts went softly to and fro,

And memories like white-footed maids

With gentle tread would come and go

Among the ever-garrulous trees.

And through the branches overhead

I know not what sweet spirits strayed,

Or what commandant spirit led

Their mazy dances, but one played

So deftly on a psaltery

That they for joy must needs keep singing;

All the chambers of Love's house

With that sweet minstrelsy were ringing.

Faces to the windows came,

Tears to happy eyelids started,

Feeling, as by sudden flame,

Their cares and their sad hearts disparted,

Each old clinging sorrow dead.

[100]

All who ever guested there

To each other, murmuring, said:

"In this heart breathes purer air,

The thoughts that move across this sky

Have had a more mysterious birth,

Are lovelier, float more statelily

Than clouds across the sky of earth."

All guests within that heart's deep wood,

All friends together in that house,

High converse held with an ærial brood,

With spirit-folk kept delicate carouse;

None ever turned ungreeted from that door.

(Sorrow himself was guest a weary while,)

But yesterday when I passed by once more,

Met me no welcoming smile,

Nor any breath the unwavering branch to stir,

Silent each glad ærial chorister;

Three drowsy poppies brooded by the wall,

Lonely and tall.

Then, as I leaned above their crimson bloom,

The flower of day grew old and witheréd,

Night with a sigh sat down beside her loom

Winding her shuttle with a silver thread.

Suddenly from the starlit plains of air

Ethereal tumult, airy tempest blew,

Immortal music showering everywhere,

Flashed to the earth in an harmonious dew,

Leaped jubilant from cloud to craggy cloud,

[101]

Binding the moon in a melodious chain,

Storming the troubled stars, a luminous crowd,

Dropping in fiery streaks to earth again.

From out the windows of God's house

Faint as a far-echoing wave,

The angels, bending their calm brows,

Song for song in answer gave;

And faster than a falcon flies,

Thronging spirits in a cluster

Passed before my dazzled eyes,

Shedding an ærial lustre,

Burning with translucent fire,

Shaking from their dewy wings

Wild, ineffable desire

Of starry and immortal things,

Torturing with delicious pain

Past telling sweet, the bewildered heart,

Piercing the poor mortal brain

With beauty, a keen fiery dart.

Ah! Even as an oracle

Whose soul a god has breathed upon,

The beauteousness unbearable

Possessed me so all strength was gone.

Smitten by a barbéd joy,

My sense with rapturous pain grew dim,

Joy pierced me as it would destroy.

Still higher rose the celestial hymn.

And then of all that starry throng

That streamed toward the upper sky,

[102]

One spirit darted down again,

And stood upon a bough near by.

"Even I unsealed thy sight," he said.

Alas, that shape I did not know,

For he was so transfigured,

So circled by the unearthly glow

Of his pulsating aureole;

I who so well the flesh had known

I did not know the soul.

With troubled eyes he bended down,

And all about me where I stood

Every blossom, every tree,

All the branches of that wood

Were trembling in their ecstasy.

They knew ere I had half divined.

But at his voice old dreams awoke

In dusty chambers of the mind,

And when again he softly spoke

With sudden tears mine eyes were wet.

And lowlier still he bent his head:

"Dost thou, dear friend, not know me yet?"

"Yes, for I know thy voice," I said.

"Dear Phantom, this immortal guise,

This disembodied self of thine,

Hath dazed mine unacquainted eyes.

Thou dweller on the steps divine,

Thou image of a god's desire,

Thou spark of the celestial flame

Art fashioned out of wind and fire

[103]

And elements without a name;

What sacred fingers mingled them

And trembled with a god's delight?

Thy body is a burning gem,

Thy limbs are chrysolite.

A glory hangs about thy head

For thou in thine immortal lot

In heaven's own light art garmented.

I know thee, yet I know thee not."

Then he, with shining eyes half shut,

Radiantly standing there:

"I did but change my leafy hut

For a mansion in the air,

The eerie wood, the enchanted ground,

The dim, bird-haunted glades we trod,

Grew all untuneful when I found

A dwelling in the heart of God.

I latched the gate at dawn of day,

I planted poppies by the door,

To His retreats I came away

And I shall wander thence no more.

The windy heights are all my love,

The spheral lights, the spheral chimes,

The trailing fires, the hosts that move

In concourse through sidereal climes;

I troop with the celestial choirs;

We have not any wish to be

Sad pilgrims, torn by sad desires,

Wayfarers of mortality.

[104]

The husk of flesh we have put by;

The dark seeds planted in the earth

Have blossomed in the upper sky,

In airy gardens have new birth."

There did he make an end, for O

Those spirits, singing, darted by again,

And at the showering sound he trembled so

I saw his earthly dalliance gave him pain,

And cried in sorrow, "O my friend, farewell!

Now from the luminous, paradisal bands,

Gabriel, Israfel, Ithuriel,

Beckon to you with their exulting hands."

[105]

THE WITHERED LEAF, THE FADED FLOWER BE MINE

The withered leaf, the faded flower be mine,

The broken shrine,

All things that knowing beauty for a day

Have passed away

To dwell in the illimitable wood

Of quietude,

Undying, radiant, young,

Passed years among.

No blighting wind upon their beauty blows,

The altar glows

With flames unquenchable and bright

By day, by night;

Secure from envious time's deflowering breath

They know no death,

But silently, imperishably fair,

Grow lovelier there.

He who adores too much the impending hour,

The budding flower,

Who knows not with what dyes an hour that's dead

Is garmented,

[106]

Who walks with glimmering shapes companionless,

He cannot guess

With how great love and thankfulness I praise

The yesterdays.

[107]

CUTHBERT WRIGHT

[108]




[109]

THE END OF IT

We met, and on the decorous drive touched hands,

"Good-bye; a pleasant trip to you," I said.

The sunlight slept upon the still uplands,

Your figure fading in the dusty red

I watched awhile, then turned with casual face

To where a torrent glimmered down a glade,

No human voice troubled the lovely place,

Only the fall a cruel music made.

A time I lay and marked with curious stare

The keen sun-lances quiver on the lawn,

And thought on shrines all voiceless now and bare,

The holy genius of their boughs withdrawn,

Till with hoarse cry the train that you were on

Stabbed the indifference of the empty air ...

Then I awoke and knew that you were gone.

[110]

THE NEW PLATONIST

Circa 1640

Our loves as flowers fall to dust;

The noblest singing hath an end;

No man to his own soul may trust,

Nor to the kind arms of his friend;

Yet have I glimpsed by lonely tree,

Bright baths of immortality.

My faultless teachers bid me fare

The cypress path of blood and tears,

Treading the thorny wold to where

The painful Cross of Christ appears;

'Twas on another, sunnier hill

I met you first, my miracle.

The painted windows burn and flame

Up through the music-haunted air;

These were my gods—and then you came

With flowers crowned and sun-kissed hair,

Making this northern river seem

Some laughter-girdled Grecian stream.

[111]

When the fierce foeman of our race

Marshals his lords of lust and pride,

You spring within a moment's space,

Full-armed and smiling to my side;

O golden heart! The love you gave me

Alone has saved and yet will save me.

Perchance we have no perfect city

Beyond the wrack of these our wars,

Till Death alone in sacred pity

Wash with long sleep our wounds and scars;

So much the more I praise in measure

The generous gods for you, my treasure.

[112]

THE ROOM OVER THE RIVER

Good-night, my love, good-night;

The wan moon holds her lantern high,

And softly threads with nodding light

The violet posterns of the sky,

Below, the tides run swift and bright

Into the sea.

Odours and sounds come in to us,

Faint with the passion of this night,

One little dream hangs luminous

Above you in the scented light;

Roses and mist, stars and bright dew

Draw down to you.

How often in the dewy brake,

I've heard above the sighing weirs,

The night-bird singing for your sake

His lonely song of love and tears;

He too, sad heart, hath turned to rest,

And sleep is best.

Flower of my soul! Let us be true

To youth and love and all delight,

Clean and refreshed and one with you

[113]

I would be ever as to-night,

And heed not what the day will bring,

Nor anything.

And now the moon is safe away,

Far off her carriage lampions flare,

Lost in the sunken roads of day,

They vanish in the icy air.

Good-night, my love, good-night,

Good-night.

[114]

THE FIDDLER

Once more I thought I heard him plain,

That unseen fiddler in the lane,

Under the timid twilight moon,

Playing his visionary strain.

No other soul was in the place

As up the hill I came apace;

Though once I heard him every day,

I never once have seen his face.

It was my immemorial year,

When rhymes came fast and blood beat clear;

He too, perchance, was then alive,

Now separate ghosts, we wander here.

Sometimes his ghostly rondelay

Broke on my dream at dawn of day,

And through my open window stole

The perfumed marvel of the May.

Sometimes in midnight lanes I heard

The twitter of a darkling bird,

As hidden from the ashen moon,

The pathos of his music stirred.

[115]

O happy time! How goodly seemed

The dauntless timeless dream I dreamed,

Those dear imaginary sins,

The joys that in one torrent streamed.

When moon and stars go out for aye,

And I am dead and castaway,

This autumn city I have loved

Will know me not, but he will stay.

In faded suburbs he will play.

Some other boy's brief morn away,

Till sapphire windows palely burn

Amid the undefeated gray.

And yet—sometimes I seem to know

I shall not 'scape his phantom bow;

More paramount than death or pain,

This ghost will follow where I go.

In some well-kept untroubled hell

Where frustrate souls like mine may dwell,

I shall look up and hear his note

Coming across the asphodel.

No shades will gather at his tune

To dance their ghostly rigadoon,

Only that lonely voice will cleave

The everlasting afternoon.

[116]

FALSTAFF'S PAGE

To Reginald Sheffield

In blaze of curls and cowslip-colored coat

He pranks a way before the wheezing Knight.

Tall Windsor shows no blossom like this wight

By park or sedgy pool or bearded moat;

A skylark burbles in that milk-white throat,

And I have heard him down a singing stream,

Ere the brute morn shattered my happy dream

Upon the sill, and weeping I awoke.

We had a music once; a poesie

Sweet as a maiden, lissome as this lad,

Full of rich merriment and gentle joy;

That other England lives and laughs in thee,

A peal of morris-music, blithe and glad,

Thou spray of bloom! Thou flower of a boy!

[117]

A DULL SUNDAY

(After Debussy)

It has been a long day,

A long, long day;

And now in floods of twilight,

In long green waves of sunset softly flowing,

Evening.

It is evening over the great towns,

It is evening in our hearts.

And though the last frail tendrils

And flowers of incense

Have long ago uncurled themselves around

The cynical Cathedral,

I hear the thin white voices of children,

Little girls and little boys,

Calling the name of Jesus

And His most Sacred Heart,

Singing about a kind of parish heaven,

A little walled city, all golden and lilac,

Like the one seen by François Villon's mother

In an old, bituminous, smoke-bitten painting

Of the Middle Ages.

And in this faith she wished to live and die.








[Transcriber's Note: Untitled poems whose titles are omitted in the body of the text as originally published have had their conventional "first line" titles (as seen in the table of contents) added to the body of this transcription. They are enclosed in square brackets and are in gray text as an indication to the reader.]









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