GIVE ALL TO LOVE
Give all to love; Obey thy heart; Friends, kindred, days, Estate, good-fame, Plans, credit and the Muse,— Nothing refuse.
'T is a brave master; Let it have scope: Follow it utterly, Hope beyond hope: High and more high It dives into noon, With wing unspent, Untold intent; But it is a god, Knows its own path And the outlets of the sky.
It was never for the mean; It requireth courage stout. Souls above doubt, Valor unbending, It will reward,— They shall return More than they were, And ever ascending.
Leave all for love; Yet, hear me, yet, One word more thy heart behoved, One pulse more of firm endeavor,— Keep thee to-day, To-morrow, forever, Free as an Arab Of thy beloved.
Cling with life to the maid; But when the surprise, First vague shadow of surmise Flits across her bosom young, Of a joy apart from thee, Free be she, fancy-free; Nor thou detain her vesture's hem, Nor the palest rose she flung From her summer diadem.
Though thou loved her as thyself, As a self of purer clay, Though her parting dims the day, Stealing grace from all alive; Heartily know, When half-gods go. The gods arrive.
TO ELLEN AT THE SOUTH
The green grass is bowing, The morning wind is in it; 'T is a tune worth thy knowing, Though it change every minute.
'T is a tune of the Spring; Every year plays it over To the robin on the wing, And to the pausing lover.
O'er ten thousand, thousand acres, Goes light the nimble zephyr; The Flowers—tiny sect of Shakers— Worship him ever.
Hark to the winning sound! They summon thee, dearest,— Saying, 'We have dressed for thee the ground, Nor yet thou appearest.
'O hasten;' 't is our time, Ere yet the red Summer Scorch our delicate prime, Loved of bee,—the tawny hummer.
'O pride of thy race! Sad, in sooth, it were to ours, If our brief tribe miss thy face, We poor New England flowers.
'Fairest, choose the fairest members Of our lithe society; June's glories and September's Show our love and piety.
'Thou shalt command us all,— April's cowslip, summer's clover, To the gentian in the fall, Blue-eyed pet of blue-eyed lover.
'O come, then, quickly come! We are budding, we are blowing; And the wind that we perfume Sings a tune that's worth the knowing.'
And Ellen, when the graybeard years Have brought us to life's evening hour, And all the crowded Past appears A tiny scene of sun and shower,
Then, if I read the page aright Where Hope, the soothsayer, reads our lot, Thyself shalt own the page was bright, Well that we loved, woe had we not,
When Mirth is dumb and Flattery's fled, And mute thy music's dearest tone, When all but Love itself is dead And all but deathless Reason gone.
O fair and stately maid, whose eyes Were kindled in the upper skies At the same torch that lighted mine; For so I must interpret still Thy sweet dominion o'er my will, A sympathy divine.
Ah! let me blameless gaze upon Features that seem at heart my own; Nor fear those watchful sentinels, Who charm the more their glance forbids, Chaste-glowing, underneath their lids, With fire that draws while it repels.
WRITTEN BY ELLEN LOUISA TUCKER SHORTLY BEFORE HER MARRIAGE TO MR. EMERSON
Love scatters oil On Life's dark sea, Sweetens its toil— Our helmsman he.
Around him hover Odorous clouds; Under this cover His arrows he shrouds.
The cloud was around me, I knew not why Such sweetness crowned me. While Time shot by.
No pain was within, But calm delight, Like a world without sin, Or a day without night.
The shafts of the god Were tipped with down, For they drew no blood, And they knit no frown.
I knew of them not Until Cupid laughed loud, And saying "You're caught!" Flew off in the cloud.
O then I awoke, And I lived but to sigh, Till a clear voice spoke,— And my tears are dry.
BY ELLEN LOUISA TUCKER
Why lingerest thou, pale violet, to see the dying year; Are Autumn's blasts fit music for thee, fragile one, to hear; Will thy clear blue eye, upward bent, still keep its chastened glow, Still tearless lift its slender form above the wintry snow?
Why wilt thou live when none around reflects thy pensive ray? Thou bloomest here a lonely thing in the clear autumn day. The tall green trees, that shelter thee, their last gay dress put on; There will be nought to shelter thee when their sweet leaves are gone.
O Violet, like thee, how blest could I lie down and die, When summer light is fading, and autumn breezes sigh; When Winter reigned I'd close my eye, but wake with bursting Spring, And live with living nature, a pure rejoicing thing.
I had a sister once who seemed just like a violet; Her morning sun shone bright and calmly purely set; When the violets were in their shrouds, and Summer in its pride, She laid her hopes at rest, and in the year's rich beauty died.
Your picture smiles as first it smiled; The ring you gave is still the same; Your letter tells, O changing child! No tidings since it came.
Give me an amulet That keeps intelligence with you,— Red when you love, and rosier red, And when you love not, pale and blue.
Alas! that neither bonds nor vows Can certify possession; Torments me still the fear that love Died in its last expression.
THINE EYES STILL SHINED
Thine eyes still shined for me, though far I lonely roved the land or sea: As I behold yon evening star, Which yet beholds not me.
This morn I climbed the misty hill And roamed the pastures through; How danced thy form before my path Amidst the deep-eyed dew!
When the redbird spread his sable wing, And showed his side of flame; When the rosebud ripened to the rose, In both I read thy name.
The sense of the world is short,— Long and various the report,— To love and be beloved; Men and gods have not outlearned it; And, how oft soe'er they've turned it, Not to be improved.
On a mound an Arab lay, And sung his sweet regrets And told his amulets: The summer bird His sorrow heard, And, when he heaved a sigh profound, The sympathetic swallow swept the ground.
'If it be, as they said, she was not fair, Beauty's not beautiful to me, But sceptred genius, aye inorbed, Culminating in her sphere. This Hermione absorbed The lustre of the land and ocean, Hills and islands, cloud and tree, In her form and motion.
'I ask no bauble miniature, Nor ringlets dead Shorn from her comely head, Now that morning not disdains Mountains and the misty plains Her colossal portraiture; They her heralds be, Steeped in her quality, And singers of her fame Who is their Muse and dame.
'Higher, dear swallows! mind not what I say. Ah! heedless how the weak are strong, Say, was it just, In thee to frame, in me to trust, Thou to the Syrian couldst belong?
'I am of a lineage That each for each doth fast engage; In old Bassora's schools, I seemed Hermit vowed to books and gloom,— Ill-bestead for gay bridegroom. I was by thy touch redeemed; When thy meteor glances came, We talked at large of worldly fate, And drew truly every trait.
'Once I dwelt apart, Now I live with all; As shepherd's lamp on far hill-side Seems, by the traveller espied, A door into the mountain heart, So didst thou quarry and unlock Highways for me through the rock.
'Now, deceived, thou wanderest In strange lands unblest; And my kindred come to soothe me. Southwind is my next of blood; He is come through fragrant wood, Drugged with spice from climates warm, And in every twinkling glade, And twilight nook, Unveils thy form. Out of the forest way Forth paced it yesterday; And when I sat by the watercourse, Watching the daylight fade, It throbbed up from the brook.
'River and rose and crag and bird, Frost and sun and eldest night, To me their aid preferred, To me their comfort plight;— "Courage! we are thine allies, And with this hint be wise,— The chains of kind The distant bind; Deed thou doest she must do, Above her will, be true; And, in her strict resort To winds and waterfalls And autumn's sunlit festivals, To music, and to music's thought, Inextricably bound, She shall find thee, and be found. Follow not her flying feet; Come to us herself to meet."'
INITIAL, DAEMONIC AND CELESTIAL LOVE
I. THE INITIAL LOVE
Venus, when her son was lost, Cried him up and down the coast, In hamlets, palaces and parks, And told the truant by his marks,— Golden curls, and quiver and bow. This befell how long ago! Time and tide are strangely changed, Men and manners much deranged: None will now find Cupid latent By this foolish antique patent. He came late along the waste, Shod like a traveller for haste; With malice dared me to proclaim him, That the maids and boys might name him.
Boy no more, he wears all coats, Frocks and blouses, capes, capotes; He bears no bow, or quiver, or wand, Nor chaplet on his head or hand. Leave his weeds and heed his eyes,— All the rest he can disguise. In the pit of his eye's a spark Would bring back day if it were dark; And, if I tell you all my thought, Though I comprehend it not, In those unfathomable orbs Every function he absorbs; Doth eat, and drink, and fish, and shoot, And write, and reason, and compute, And ride, and run, and have, and hold, And whine, and flatter, and regret, And kiss, and couple, and beget, By those roving eyeballs bold.
Undaunted are their courages, Right Cossacks in their forages; Fleeter they than any creature,— They are his steeds, and not his feature; Inquisitive, and fierce, and fasting, Restless, predatory, hasting; And they pounce on other eyes As lions on their prey; And round their circles is writ, Plainer than the day, Underneath, within, above,— Love—love—love—love. He lives in his eyes; There doth digest, and work, and spin, And buy, and sell, and lose, and win; He rolls them with delighted motion, Joy-tides swell their mimic ocean. Yet holds he them with tautest rein, That they may seize and entertain The glance that to their glance opposes, Like fiery honey sucked from roses. He palmistry can understand, Imbibing virtue by his hand As if it were a living root; The pulse of hands will make him mute; With all his force he gathers balms Into those wise, thrilling palms.
Cupid is a casuist, A mystic and a cabalist,— Can your lurking thought surprise, And interpret your device. He is versed in occult science, In magic and in clairvoyance, Oft he keeps his fine ear strained, And Reason on her tiptoe pained For aery intelligence, And for strange coincidence. But it touches his quick heart When Fate by omens takes his part, And chance-dropped hints from Nature's sphere Deeply soothe his anxious ear.
Heralds high before him run; He has ushers many a one; He spreads his welcome where he goes, And touches all things with his rose. All things wait for and divine him,— How shall I dare to malign him, Or accuse the god of sport? I must end my true report, Painting him from head to foot, In as far as I took note, Trusting well the matchless power Of this young-eyed emperor Will clear his fame from every cloud With the bards and with the crowd.
He is wilful, mutable, Shy, untamed, inscrutable, Swifter-fashioned than the fairies. Substance mixed of pure contraries; His vice some elder virtue's token, And his good is evil-spoken. Failing sometimes of his own, He is headstrong and alone; He affects the wood and wild, Like a flower-hunting child; Buries himself in summer waves, In trees, with beasts, in mines and caves, Loves nature like a horned cow, Bird, or deer, or caribou.
Shun him, nymphs, on the fleet horses! He has a total world of wit; O how wise are his discourses! But he is the arch-hypocrite, And, through all science and all art, Seeks alone his counterpart. He is a Pundit of the East, He is an augur and a priest, And his soul will melt in prayer, But word and wisdom is a snare; Corrupted by the present toy He follows joy, and only joy. There is no mask but he will wear; He invented oaths to swear; He paints, he carves, he chants, he prays, And holds all stars in his embrace. He takes a sovran privilege Not allowed to any liege; For Cupid goes behind all law, And right into himself does draw; For he is sovereignly allied,— Heaven's oldest blood flows in his side,— And interchangeably at one With every king on every throne, That no god dare say him nay, Or see the fault, or seen betray; He has the Muses by the heart, And the stern Parcae on his part.
His many signs cannot be told; He has not one mode, but manifold, Many fashions and addresses, Piques, reproaches, hurts, caresses. He will preach like a friar, And jump like Harlequin; He will read like a crier, And fight like a Paladin. Boundless is his memory; Plans immense his term prolong; He is not of counted age, Meaning always to be young. And his wish is intimacy, Intimater intimacy, And a stricter privacy; The impossible shall yet be done, And, being two, shall still be one. As the wave breaks to foam on shelves, Then runs into a wave again, So lovers melt their sundered selves, Yet melted would be twain.
II. THE DAEMONIC LOVE
Man was made of social earth, Child and brother from his birth, Tethered by a liquid cord Of blood through veins of kindred poured. Next his heart the fireside band Of mother, father, sister, stand; Names from awful childhood heard Throbs of a wild religion stirred;— Virtue, to love, to hate them, vice; Till dangerous Beauty came, at last, Till Beauty came to snap all ties; The maid, abolishing the past, With lotus wine obliterates Dear memory's stone-incarved traits, And, by herself, supplants alone Friends year by year more inly known. When her calm eyes opened bright, All else grew foreign in their light. It was ever the self-same tale, The first experience will not fail; Only two in the garden walked, And with snake and seraph talked.
Close, close to men, Like undulating layer of air, Right above their heads, The potent plain of Daemons spreads. Stands to each human soul its own, For watch and ward and furtherance, In the snares of Nature's dance; And the lustre and the grace To fascinate each youthful heart, Beaming from its counterpart, Translucent through the mortal covers, Is the Daemon's form and face. To and fro the Genius hies,— A gleam which plays and hovers Over the maiden's head, And dips sometimes as low as to her eyes. Unknown, albeit lying near, To men, the path to the Daemon sphere; And they that swiftly come and go Leave no track on the heavenly snow. Sometimes the airy synod bends, And the mighty choir descends, And the brains of men thenceforth, In crowded and in still resorts, Teem with unwonted thoughts: As, when a shower of meteors Cross the orbit of the earth, And, lit by fringent air, Blaze near and far, Mortals deem the planets bright Have slipped their sacred bars, And the lone seaman all the night Sails, astonished, amid stars.
Beauty of a richer vein, Graces of a subtler strain, Unto men these moonmen lend, And our shrinking sky extend. So is man's narrow path By strength and terror skirted; Also (from the song the wrath Of the Genii be averted! The Muse the truth uncolored speaking) The Daemons are self-seeking: Their fierce and limitary will Draws men to their likeness still. The erring painter made Love blind,— Highest Love who shines on all; Him, radiant, sharpest-sighted god, None can bewilder; Whose eyes pierce The universe, Path-finder, road-builder, Mediator, royal giver; Rightly seeing, rightly seen, Of joyful and transparent mien. 'T is a sparkle passing From each to each, from thee to me, To and fro perpetually; Sharing all, daring all, Levelling, displacing Each obstruction, it unites Equals remote, and seeming opposites. And ever and forever Love Delights to build a road: Unheeded Danger near him strides, Love laughs, and on a lion rides. But Cupid wears another face, Born into Daemons less divine: His roses bleach apace, His nectar smacks of wine. The Daemon ever builds a wall, Himself encloses and includes, Solitude in solitudes: In like sort his love doth fall. He doth elect The beautiful and fortunate, And the sons of intellect, And the souls of ample fate, Who the Future's gates unbar,— Minions of the Morning Star. In his prowess he exults, And the multitude insults. His impatient looks devour Oft the humble and the poor; And, seeing his eye glare, They drop their few pale flowers, Gathered with hope to please, Along the mountain towers,— Lose courage, and despair. He will never be gainsaid,— Pitiless, will not be stayed; His hot tyranny Burns up every other tie. Therefore comes an hour from Jove Which his ruthless will defies, And the dogs of Fate unties. Shiver the palaces of glass; Shrivel the rainbow-colored walls, Where in bright Art each god and sibyl dwelt Secure as in the zodiac's belt; And the galleries and halls, Wherein every siren sung, Like a meteor pass. For this fortune wanted root In the core of God's abysm,— Was a weed of self and schism; And ever the Daemonic Love Is the ancestor of wars And the parent of remorse.
III. THE CELESTIAL LOVE
But God said, 'I will have a purer gift; There is smoke in the flame; New flowerets bring, new prayers uplift, And love without a name. Fond children, ye desire To please each other well; Another round, a higher, Ye shall climb on the heavenly stair, And selfish preference forbear; And in right deserving, And without a swerving Each from your proper state, Weave roses for your mate.
'Deep, deep are loving eyes, Flowed with naphtha fiery sweet; And the point is paradise, Where their glances meet: Their reach shall yet be more profound, And a vision without bound: The axis of those eyes sun-clear Be the axis of the sphere: So shall the lights ye pour amain Go, without check or intervals, Through from the empyrean walls Unto the same again.'
Higher far into the pure realm, Over sun and star, Over the flickering Daemon film, Thou must mount for love; Into vision where all form In one only form dissolves; In a region where the wheel On which all beings ride Visibly revolves; Where the starred, eternal worm Girds the world with bound and term; Where unlike things are like; Where good and ill, And joy and moan, Melt into one.
There Past, Present, Future, shoot Triple blossoms from one root; Substances at base divided, In their summits are united; There the holy essence rolls, One through separated souls; And the sunny Aeon sleeps Folding Nature in its deeps, And every fair and every good, Known in part, or known impure, To men below, In their archetypes endure. The race of gods, Or those we erring own, Are shadows flitting up and down In the still abodes. The circles of that sea are laws Which publish and which hide the cause.
Pray for a beam Out of that sphere, Thee to guide and to redeem. O, what a load Of care and toil, By lying use bestowed, From his shoulders falls who sees The true astronomy, The period of peace. Counsel which the ages kept Shall the well-born soul accept. As the overhanging trees Fill the lake with images,— As garment draws the garment's hem, Men their fortunes bring with them. By right or wrong, Lands and goods go to the strong. Property will brutely draw Still to the proprietor; Silver to silver creep and wind, And kind to kind.
Nor less the eternal poles Of tendency distribute souls. There need no vows to bind Whom not each other seek, but find. They give and take no pledge or oath,— Nature is the bond of both: No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,— Their noble meanings are their pawns. Plain and cold is their address, Power have they for tenderness; And, so thoroughly is known Each other's counsel by his own, They can parley without meeting; Need is none of forms of greeting; They can well communicate In their innermost estate; When each the other shall avoid, Shall each by each be most enjoyed.
Not with scarfs or perfumed gloves Do these celebrate their loves: Not by jewels, feasts and savors, Not by ribbons or by favors, But by the sun-spark on the sea, And the cloud-shadow on the lea, The soothing lapse of morn to mirk, And the cheerful round of work. Their cords of love so public are, They intertwine the farthest star: The throbbing sea, the quaking earth, Yield sympathy and signs of mirth; Is none so high, so mean is none, But feels and seals this union; Even the fell Furies are appeased, The good applaud, the lost are eased.
Love's hearts are faithful, but not fond, Bound for the just, but not beyond; Not glad, as the low-loving herd, Of self in other still preferred, But they have heartily designed The benefit of broad mankind. And they serve men austerely, After their own genius, clearly, Without a false humility; For this is Love's nobility,— Not to scatter bread and gold, Goods and raiment bought and sold; But to hold fast his simple sense, And speak the speech of innocence, And with hand and body and blood, To make his bosom-counsel good. He that feeds men serveth few; He serves all who dares be true.
Think me not unkind and rude That I walk alone in grove and glen; I go to the god of the wood To fetch his word to men.
Tax not my sloth that I Fold my arms beside the brook; Each cloud that floated in the sky Writes a letter in my book.
Chide me not, laborious band, For the idle flowers I brought; Every aster in my hand Goes home loaded with a thought.
There was never mystery But 'tis figured in the flowers; Was never secret history But birds tell it in the bowers.
One harvest from thy field Homeward brought the oxen strong; A second crop thine acres yield, Which I gather in a song.
Thy trivial harp will never please Or fill my craving ear; Its chords should ring as blows the breeze, Free, peremptory, clear. No jingling serenader's art, Nor tinkle of piano strings, Can make the wild blood start In its mystic springs. The kingly bard Must smite the chords rudely and hard, As with hammer or with mace; That they may render back Artful thunder, which conveys Secrets of the solar track, Sparks of the supersolar blaze. Merlin's blows are strokes of fate, Chiming with the forest tone, When boughs buffet boughs in the wood; Chiming with the gasp and moan Of the ice-imprisoned flood; With the pulse of manly hearts; With the voice of orators; With the din of city arts; With the cannonade of wars; With the marches of the brave; And prayers of might from martyrs' cave.
Great is the art, Great be the manners, of the bard. He shall not his brain encumber With the coil of rhythm and number; But, leaving rule and pale forethought, He shall aye climb For his rhyme. 'Pass in, pass in,' the angels say, 'In to the upper doors, Nor count compartments of the floors, But mount to paradise By the stairway of surprise.'
Blameless master of the games, King of sport that never shames, He shall daily joy dispense Hid in song's sweet influence. Forms more cheerly live and go, What time the subtle mind Sings aloud the tune whereto Their pulses beat, And march their feet, And their members are combined.
By Sybarites beguiled, He shall no task decline; Merlin's mighty line Extremes of nature reconciled,— Bereaved a tyrant of his will, And made the lion mild. Songs can the tempest still, Scattered on the stormy air, Mould the year to fair increase, And bring in poetic peace.
He shall not seek to weave, In weak, unhappy times, Efficacious rhymes; Wait his returning strength. Bird that from the nadir's floor To the zenith's top can soar,— The soaring orbit of the muse exceeds that journey's length. Nor profane affect to hit Or compass that, by meddling wit, Which only the propitious mind Publishes when 't is inclined. There are open hours When the God's will sallies free, And the dull idiot might see The flowing fortunes of a thousand years;— Sudden, at unawares, Self-moved, fly-to the doors. Nor sword of angels could reveal What they conceal.
The rhyme of the poet Modulates the king's affairs; Balance-loving Nature Made all things in pairs. To every foot its antipode; Each color with its counter glowed; To every tone beat answering tones, Higher or graver; Flavor gladly blends with flavor; Leaf answers leaf upon the bough; And match the paired cotyledons. Hands to hands, and feet to feet, In one body grooms and brides; Eldest rite, two married sides In every mortal meet. Light's far furnace shines, Smelting balls and bars, Forging double stars, Glittering twins and trines. The animals are sick with love, Lovesick with rhyme; Each with all propitious Time Into chorus wove.
Like the dancers' ordered band, Thoughts come also hand in hand; In equal couples mated, Or else alternated; Adding by their mutual gage, One to other, health and age. Solitary fancies go Short-lived wandering to and fro, Most like to bachelors, Or an ungiven maid, Not ancestors, With no posterity to make the lie afraid, Or keep truth undecayed. Perfect-paired as eagle's wings, Justice is the rhyme of things; Trade and counting use The self-same tuneful muse; And Nemesis, Who with even matches odd, Who athwart space redresses The partial wrong, Fills the just period, And finishes the song.
Subtle rhymes, with ruin rife, Murmur in the house of life, Sung by the Sisters as they spin; In perfect time and measure they Build and unbuild our echoing clay. As the two twilights of the day Fold us music-drunken in.
Bring me wine, but wine which never grew In the belly of the grape, Or grew on vine whose tap-roots, reaching through, Under the Andes to the Cape, Suffer no savor of the earth to scape.
Let its grapes the morn salute From a nocturnal root, Which feels the acrid juice Of Styx and Erebus; And turns the woe of Night, By its own craft, to a more rich delight.
We buy ashes for bread; We buy diluted wine; Give me of the true,— Whose ample leaves and tendrils curled Among the silver hills of heaven Draw everlasting dew; Wine of wine, Blood of the world, Form of forms, and mould of statures, That I intoxicated, And by the draught assimilated, May float at pleasure through all natures; The bird-language rightly spell, And that which roses say so well.
Wine that is shed Like the torrents of the sun Up the horizon walls, Or like the Atlantic streams, which run When the South Sea calls.
Water and bread, Food which needs no transmuting, Rainbow-flowering, wisdom-fruiting, Wine which is already man, Food which teach and reason can.
Wine which Music is,— Music and wine are one,— That I, drinking this, Shall hear far Chaos talk with me; Kings unborn shall walk with me; And the poor grass shall plot and plan What it will do when it is man. Quickened so, will I unlock Every crypt of every rock.
I thank the joyful juice For all I know;— Winds of remembering Of the ancient being blow, And seeming-solid walls of use Open and flow.
Pour, Bacchus! the remembering wine; Retrieve the loss of me and mine! Vine for vine be antidote, And the grape requite the lote! Haste to cure the old despair,— Reason in Nature's lotus drenched, The memory of ages quenched; Give them again to shine; Let wine repair what this undid; And where the infection slid, A dazzling memory revive; Refresh the faded tints, Recut the aged prints, And write my old adventures with the pen Which on the first day drew, Upon the tablets blue, The dancing Pleiads and eternal men.
What care I, so they stand the same,— Things of the heavenly mind,— How long the power to give them name Tarries yet behind?
Thus far to-day your favors reach, O fair, appeasing presences! Ye taught my lips a single speech, And a thousand silences.
Space grants beyond his fated road No inch to the god of day; And copious language still bestowed One word, no more, to say.
There is no architect Can build as the Muse can; She is skilful to select Materials for her plan;
Slow and warily to choose Rafters of immortal pine, Or cedar incorruptible, Worthy her design,
She threads dark Alpine forests Or valleys by the sea, In many lands, with painful steps, Ere she can find a tree.
She ransacks mines and ledges And quarries every rock, To hew the famous adamant For each eternal block—
She lays her beams in music, In music every one, To the cadence of the whirling world Which dances round the sun—
That so they shall not be displaced By lapses or by wars, But for the love of happy souls Outlive the newest stars.
Trees in groves, Kine in droves, In ocean sport the scaly herds, Wedge-like cleave the air the birds, To northern lakes fly wind-borne ducks, Browse the mountain sheep in flocks, Men consort in camp and town, But the poet dwells alone.
God, who gave to him the lyre, Of all mortals the desire, For all breathing men's behoof, Straitly charged him, 'Sit aloof;' Annexed a warning, poets say, To the bright premium,— Ever, when twain together play, Shall the harp be dumb.
Many may come, But one shall sing; Two touch the string, The harp is dumb. Though there come a million, Wise Saadi dwells alone.
Yet Saadi loved the race of men,— No churl, immured in cave or den; In bower and hall He wants them all, Nor can dispense With Persia for his audience; They must give ear, Grow red with joy and white with fear; But he has no companion; Come ten, or come a million, Good Saadi dwells alone.
Be thou ware where Saadi dwells; Wisdom of the gods is he,— Entertain it reverently. Gladly round that golden lamp Sylvan deities encamp, And simple maids and noble youth Are welcome to the man of truth. Most welcome they who need him most, They feed the spring which they exhaust; For greater need Draws better deed: But, critic, spare thy vanity, Nor show thy pompous parts, To vex with odious subtlety The cheerer of men's hearts.
Sad-eyed Fakirs swiftly say Endless dirges to decay, Never in the blaze of light Lose the shudder of midnight; Pale at overflowing noon Hear wolves barking at the moon; In the bower of dalliance sweet Hear the far Avenger's feet: And shake before those awful Powers, Who in their pride forgive not ours. Thus the sad-eyed Fakirs preach: 'Bard, when thee would Allah teach, And lift thee to his holy mount, He sends thee from his bitter fount Wormwood,—saying, "Go thy ways; Drink not the Malaga of praise, But do the deed thy fellows hate, And compromise thy peaceful state; Smite the white breasts which thee fed. Stuff sharp thorns beneath the head Of them thou shouldst have comforted; For out of woe and out of crime Draws the heart a lore sublime."' And yet it seemeth not to me That the high gods love tragedy; For Saadi sat in the sun, And thanks was his contrition; For haircloth and for bloody whips, Had active hands and smiling lips; And yet his runes he rightly read, And to his folk his message sped. Sunshine in his heart transferred Lighted each transparent word, And well could honoring Persia learn What Saadi wished to say; For Saadi's nightly stars did burn Brighter than Jami's day.
Whispered the Muse in Saadi's cot: 'O gentle Saadi, listen not, Tempted by thy praise of wit, Or by thirst and appetite For the talents not thine own, To sons of contradiction. Never, son of eastern morning, Follow falsehood, follow scorning. Denounce who will, who will deny, And pile the hills to scale the sky; Let theist, atheist, pantheist, Define and wrangle how they list, Fierce conserver, fierce destroyer,— But thou, joy-giver and enjoyer, Unknowing war, unknowing crime, Gentle Saadi, mind thy rhyme; Heed not what the brawlers say, Heed thou only Saadi's lay.
'Let the great world bustle on With war and trade, with camp and town; A thousand men shall dig and eat; At forge and furnace thousands sweat; And thousands sail the purple sea, And give or take the stroke of war, Or crowd the market and bazaar; Oft shall war end, and peace return, And cities rise where cities burn, Ere one man my hill shall climb, Who can turn the golden rhyme. Let them manage how they may, Heed thou only Saadi's lay. Seek the living among the dead,— Man in man is imprisoned; Barefooted Dervish is not poor, If fate unlock his bosom's door, So that what his eye hath seen His tongue can paint as bright, as keen; And what his tender heart hath felt With equal fire thy heart shalt melt. For, whom the Muses smile upon, And touch with soft persuasion, His words like a storm-wind can bring Terror and beauty on their wing; In his every syllable Lurketh Nature veritable; And though he speak in midnight dark,— In heaven no star, on earth no spark,— Yet before the listener's eye Swims the world in ecstasy, The forest waves, the morning breaks, The pastures sleep, ripple the lakes, Leaves twinkle, flowers like persons be, And life pulsates in rock or tree. Saadi, so far thy words shall reach: Suns rise and set in Saadi's speech!'
And thus to Saadi said the Muse: 'Eat thou the bread which men refuse; Flee from the goods which from thee flee; Seek nothing,—Fortune seeketh thee. Nor mount, nor dive; all good things keep The midway of the eternal deep. Wish not to fill the isles with eyes To fetch thee birds of paradise: On thine orchard's edge belong All the brags of plume and song; Wise Ali's sunbright sayings pass For proverbs in the market-place: Through mountains bored by regal art, Toil whistles as he drives his cart. Nor scour the seas, nor sift mankind, A poet or a friend to find: Behold, he watches at the door! Behold his shadow on the floor! Open innumerable doors The heaven where unveiled Allah pours The flood of truth, the flood of good, The Seraph's and the Cherub's food. Those doors are men: the Pariah hind Admits thee to the perfect Mind. Seek not beyond thy cottage wall Redeemers that can yield thee all: While thou sittest at thy door On the desert's yellow floor, Listening to the gray-haired crones, Foolish gossips, ancient drones, Saadi, see! they rise in stature To the height of mighty Nature, And the secret stands revealed Fraudulent Time in vain concealed,— That blessed gods in servile masks Plied for thee thy household tasks.'
From fall to spring, the russet acorn, Fruit beloved of maid and boy, Lent itself beneath the forest, To be the children's toy.
Pluck it now! In vain,—thou canst not; Its root has pierced yon shady mound; Toy no longer—it has duties; It is anchored in the ground.
Year by year the rose-lipped maiden, Playfellow of young and old, Was frolic sunshine, dear to all men, More dear to one than mines of gold.
Whither went the lovely hoyden? Disappeared in blessed wife; Servant to a wooden cradle, Living in a baby's life.
Still thou playest;—short vacation Fate grants each to stand aside; Now must thou be man and artist,— 'T is the turning of the tide.
By fate, not option, frugal Nature gave One scent to hyson and to wall-flower, One sound to pine-groves and to waterfalls, One aspect to the desert and the lake. It was her stern necessity: all things Are of one pattern made; bird, beast and flower, Song, picture, form, space, thought and character Deceive us, seeming to be many things, And are but one. Beheld far off, they part As God and devil; bring them to the mind, They dull its edge with their monotony. To know one element, explore another, And in the second reappears the first. The specious panorama of a year But multiplies the image of a day,— A belt of mirrors round a taper's flame; And universal Nature, through her vast And crowded whole, an infinite paroquet, Repeats one note.
THE DAY'S RATION
When I was born, From all the seas of strength Fate filled a chalice, Saying, 'This be thy portion, child; this chalice, Less than a lily's, thou shalt daily draw From my great arteries,—nor less, nor more.' All substances the cunning chemist Time Melts down into that liquor of my life,— Friends, foes, joys, fortunes, beauty and disgust. And whether I am angry or content, Indebted or insulted, loved or hurt, All he distils into sidereal wine And brims my little cup; heedless, alas! Of all he sheds how little it will hold, How much runs over on the desert sands. If a new Muse draw me with splendid ray, And I uplift myself into its heaven, The needs of the first sight absorb my blood, And all the following hours of the day Drag a ridiculous age. To-day, when friends approach, and every hour Brings book, or starbright scroll of genius, The little cup will hold not a bead more, And all the costly liquor runs to waste; Nor gives the jealous lord one diamond drop So to be husbanded for poorer days. Why need I volumes, if one word suffice? Why need I galleries, when a pupil's draught After the master's sketch fills and o'erfills My apprehension? Why seek Italy, Who cannot circumnavigate the sea Of thoughts and things at home, but still adjourn The nearest matters for a thousand days?
Give me truths; For I am weary of the surfaces, And die of inanition. If I knew Only the herbs and simples of the wood, Rue, cinquefoil, gill, vervain and agrimony, Blue-vetch and trillium, hawkweed, sassafras, Milkweeds and murky brakes, quaint pipes and sundew, And rare and virtuous roots, which in these woods Draw untold juices from the common earth, Untold, unknown, and I could surely spell Their fragrance, and their chemistry apply By sweet affinities to human flesh, Driving the foe and stablishing the friend,— O, that were much, and I could be a part Of the round day, related to the sun And planted world, and full executor Of their imperfect functions. But these young scholars, who invade our hills, Bold as the engineer who fells the wood, And travelling often in the cut he makes, Love not the flower they pluck, and know it not, And all their botany is Latin names. The old men studied magic in the flowers, And human fortunes in astronomy, And an omnipotence in chemistry, Preferring things to names, for these were men, Were unitarians of the united world, And, wheresoever their clear eye-beams fell, They caught the footsteps of the SAME. Our eyes Are armed, but we are strangers to the stars, And strangers to the mystic beast and bird, And strangers to the plant and to the mine. The injured elements say, 'Not in us;' And night and day, ocean and continent, Fire, plant and mineral say, 'Not in us;' And haughtily return us stare for stare. For we invade them impiously for gain; We devastate them unreligiously, And coldly ask their pottage, not their love. Therefore they shove us from them, yield to us Only what to our griping toil is due; But the sweet affluence of love and song, The rich results of the divine consents Of man and earth, of world beloved and lover, The nectar and ambrosia, are withheld; And in the midst of spoils and slaves, we thieves And pirates of the universe, shut out Daily to a more thin and outward rind, Turn pale and starve. Therefore, to our sick eyes, The stunted trees look sick, the summer short, Clouds shade the sun, which will not tan our hay, And nothing thrives to reach its natural term; And life, shorn of its venerable length, Even at its greatest space is a defeat, And dies in anger that it was a dupe; And, in its highest noon and wantonness, Is early frugal, like a beggar's child; Even in the hot pursuit of the best aims And prizes of ambition, checks its hand, Like Alpine cataracts frozen as they leaped, Chilled with a miserly comparison Of the toy's purchase with the length of life.
Because I was content with these poor fields, Low, open meads, slender and sluggish streams, And found a home in haunts which others scorned, The partial wood-gods overpaid my love, And granted me the freedom of their state, And in their secret senate have prevailed With the dear, dangerous lords that rule our life, Made moon and planets parties to their bond, And through my rock-like, solitary wont Shot million rays of thought and tenderness. For me, in showers, in sweeping showers, the Spring Visits the valley;—break away the clouds,— I bathe in the morn's soft and silvered air, And loiter willing by yon loitering stream. Sparrows far off, and nearer, April's bird, Blue-coated,—flying before from tree to tree, Courageous sing a delicate overture To lead the tardy concert of the year. Onward and nearer rides the sun of May; And wide around, the marriage of the plants Is sweetly solemnized. Then flows amain The surge of summer's beauty; dell and crag, Hollow and lake, hillside and pine arcade, Are touched with genius. Yonder ragged cliff Has thousand faces in a thousand hours.
Beneath low hills, in the broad interval Through which at will our Indian rivulet Winds mindful still of sannup and of squaw, Whose pipe and arrow oft the plough unburies, Here in pine houses built of new-fallen trees, Supplanters of the tribe, the farmers dwell. Traveller, to thee, perchance, a tedious road, Or, it may be, a picture; to these men, The landscape is an armory of powers, Which, one by one, they know to draw and use. They harness beast, bird, insect, to their work; They prove the virtues of each bed of rock, And, like the chemist 'mid his loaded jars, Draw from each stratum its adapted use To drug their crops or weapon their arts withal. They turn the frost upon their chemic heap, They set the wind to winnow pulse and grain, They thank the spring-flood for its fertile slime, And, on cheap summit-levels of the snow, Slide with the sledge to inaccessible woods O'er meadows bottomless. So, year by year, They fight the elements with elements (That one would say, meadow and forest walked, Transmuted in these men to rule their like), And by the order in the field disclose The order regnant in the yeoman's brain.
What these strong masters wrote at large in miles, I followed in small copy in my acre; For there's no rood has not a star above it; The cordial quality of pear or plum Ascends as gladly in a single tree As in broad orchards resonant with bees; And every atom poises for itself, And for the whole. The gentle deities Showed me the lore of colors and of sounds, The innumerable tenements of beauty. The miracle of generative force, Far-reaching concords of astronomy Felt in the plants and in the punctual birds; Better, the linked purpose of the whole, And, chiefest prize, found I true liberty In the glad home plain-dealing Nature gave. The polite found me impolite; the great Would mortify me, but in vain; for still I am a willow of the wilderness, Loving the wind that bent me. All my hurts My garden spade can heal. A woodland walk, A quest of river-grapes, a mocking thrush, A wild-rose, or rock-loving columbine, Salve my worst wounds. For thus the wood-gods murmured in my ear: 'Dost love our manners? Canst thou silent lie? Canst thou, thy pride forgot, like Nature pass Into the winter night's extinguished mood? Canst thou shine now, then darkle, And being latent, feel thyself no less? As, when the all-worshipped moon attracts the eye, The river, hill, stems, foliage are obscure, Yet envies none, none are unenviable.'
I reached the middle of the mount Up which the incarnate soul must climb, And paused for them, and looked around, With me who walked through space and time.
Five rosy boys with morning light Had leaped from one fair mother's arms, Fronted the sun with hope as bright, And greeted God with childhood's psalms.
Knows he who tills this lonely field To reap its scanty corn, What mystic fruit his acres yield At midnight and at morn?
In the long sunny afternoon The plain was full of ghosts; I wandered up, I wandered down, Beset by pensive hosts.
The winding Concord gleamed below, Pouring as wide a flood As when my brothers, long ago, Came with me to the wood.
But they are gone,—the holy ones Who trod with me this lovely vale; The strong, star-bright companions Are silent, low and pale.
My good, my noble, in their prime, Who made this world the feast it was Who learned with me the lore of time, Who loved this dwelling-place!
They took this valley for their toy, They played with it in every mood; A cell for prayer, a hall for joy,— They treated Nature as they would.
They colored the horizon round; Stars flamed and faded as they bade, All echoes hearkened for their sound,— They made the woodlands glad or mad.
I touch this flower of silken leaf, Which once our childhood knew; Its soft leaves wound me with a grief Whose balsam never grew.
Hearken to yon pine-warbler Singing aloft in the tree! Hearest thou, O traveller, What he singeth to me?
Not unless God made sharp thine ear With sorrow such as mine, Out of that delicate lay could'st thou Its heavy tale divine.
'Go, lonely man,' it saith; 'They loved thee from their birth; Their hands were pure, and pure their faith,— There are no such hearts on earth.
'Ye drew one mother's milk, One chamber held ye all; A very tender history Did in your childhood fall.
'You cannot unlock your heart, The key is gone with them; The silent organ loudest chants The master's requiem.'
The South-wind brings Life, sunshine and desire, And on every mount and meadow Breathes aromatic fire; But over the dead he has no power, The lost, the lost, he cannot restore; And, looking over the hills, I mourn The darling who shall not return.
I see my empty house, I see my trees repair their boughs; And he, the wondrous child, Whose silver warble wild Outvalued every pulsing sound Within the air's cerulean round,— The hyacinthine boy, for whom Morn well might break and April bloom, The gracious boy, who did adorn The world whereinto he was born, And by his countenance repay The favor of the loving Day,— Has disappeared from the Day's eye; Far and wide she cannot find him; My hopes pursue, they cannot bind him. Returned this day, the South-wind searches, And finds young pines and budding birches; But finds not the budding man; Nature, who lost, cannot remake him; Fate let him fall, Fate can't retake him; Nature, Fate, men, him seek in vain.
And whither now, my truant wise and sweet, O, whither tend thy feet? I had the right, few days ago, Thy steps to watch, thy place to know: How have I forfeited the right? Hast thou forgot me in a new delight? I hearken for thy household cheer, O eloquent child! Whose voice, an equal messenger, Conveyed thy meaning mild. What though the pains and joys Whereof it spoke were toys Fitting his age and ken, Yet fairest dames and bearded men, Who heard the sweet request, So gentle, wise and grave, Bended with joy to his behest And let the world's affairs go by, A while to share his cordial game, Or mend his wicker wagon-frame, Still plotting how their hungry fear That winsome voice again might hear; For his lips could well pronounce Words that were persuasions.
Gentlest guardians marked serene His early hope, his liberal mien; Took counsel from his guiding eyes To make this wisdom earthly wise. Ah, vainly do these eyes recall The school-march, each day's festival, When every morn my bosom glowed To watch the convoy on the road; The babe in willow wagon closed, With rolling eyes and face composed; With children forward and behind, Like Cupids studiously inclined; And he the chieftain paced beside, The centre of the troop allied, With sunny face of sweet repose, To guard the babe from fancied foes. The little captain innocent Took the eye with him as he went; Each village senior paused to scan And speak the lovely caravan. From the window I look out To mark thy beautiful parade, Stately marching in cap and coat To some tune by fairies played;— A music heard by thee alone To works as noble led thee on.
Now Love and Pride, alas! in vain, Up and down their glances strain. The painted sled stands where it stood; The kennel by the corded wood; His gathered sticks to stanch the wall Of the snow-tower, when snow should fall; The ominous hole he dug in the sand, And childhood's castles built or planned; His daily haunts I well discern,— The poultry-yard, the shed, the barn,— And every inch of garden ground Paced by the blessed feet around, From the roadside to the brook Whereinto he loved to look. Step the meek fowls where erst they ranged; The wintry garden lies unchanged; The brook into the stream runs on; But the deep-eyed boy is gone.
On that shaded day, Dark with more clouds than tempests are, When thou didst yield thy innocent breath In birdlike heavings unto death, Night came, and Nature had not thee; I said, 'We are mates in misery.' The morrow dawned with needless glow; Each snowbird chirped, each fowl must crow; Each tramper started; but the feet Of the most beautiful and sweet Of human youth had left the hill And garden,—they were bound and still. There's not a sparrow or a wren, There's not a blade of autumn grain, Which the four seasons do not tend And tides of life and increase lend; And every chick of every bird, And weed and rock-moss is preferred. O ostrich-like forgetfulness! O loss of larger in the less! Was there no star that could be sent, No watcher in the firmament, No angel from the countless host That loiters round the crystal coast, Could stoop to heal that only child, Nature's sweet marvel undefiled, And keep the blossom of the earth, Which all her harvests were not worth? Not mine,—I never called thee mine, But Nature's heir,—if I repine, And seeing rashly torn and moved Not what I made, but what I loved, Grow early old with grief that thou Must to the wastes of Nature go,— 'T is because a general hope Was quenched, and all must doubt and grope. For flattering planets seemed to say This child should ills of ages stay, By wondrous tongue, and guided pen, Bring the flown Muses back to men. Perchance not he but Nature ailed, The world and not the infant failed. It was not ripe yet to sustain A genius of so fine a strain, Who gazed upon the sun and moon As if he came unto his own, And, pregnant with his grander thought, Brought the old order into doubt. His beauty once their beauty tried; They could not feed him, and he died, And wandered backward as in scorn, To wait an aeon to be born. Ill day which made this beauty waste, Plight broken, this high face defaced! Some went and came about the dead; And some in books of solace read; Some to their friends the tidings say; Some went to write, some went to pray; One tarried here, there hurried one; But their heart abode with none. Covetous death bereaved us all, To aggrandize one funeral. The eager fate which carried thee Took the largest part of me: For this losing is true dying; This is lordly man's down-lying, This his slow but sure reclining, Star by star his world resigning.
O child of paradise, Boy who made dear his father's home, In whose deep eyes Men read the welfare of the times to come, I am too much bereft. The world dishonored thou hast left. O truth's and nature's costly lie! O trusted broken prophecy! O richest fortune sourly crossed! Born for the future, to the future lost!
The deep Heart answered, 'Weepest thou? Worthier cause for passion wild If I had not taken the child. And deemest thou as those who pore, With aged eyes, short way before,— Think'st Beauty vanished from the coast Of matter, and thy darling lost? Taught he not thee—the man of eld, Whose eyes within his eyes beheld Heaven's numerous hierarchy span The mystic gulf from God to man? To be alone wilt thou begin When worlds of lovers hem thee in? To-morrow, when the masks shall fall That dizen Nature's carnival, The pure shall see by their own will, Which overflowing Love shall fill, 'T is not within the force of fate The fate-conjoined to separate. But thou, my votary, weepest thou? I gave thee sight—where is it now? I taught thy heart beyond the reach Of ritual, bible, or of speech; Wrote in thy mind's transparent table, As far as the incommunicable; Taught thee each private sign to raise Lit by the supersolar blaze. Past utterance, and past belief, And past the blasphemy of grief, The mysteries of Nature's heart; And though no Muse can these impart, Throb thine with Nature's throbbing breast, And all is clear from east to west.
'I came to thee as to a friend; Dearest, to thee I did not send Tutors, but a joyful eye, Innocence that matched the sky, Lovely locks, a form of wonder, Laughter rich as woodland thunder, That thou might'st entertain apart The richest flowering of all art: And, as the great all-loving Day Through smallest chambers takes its way, That thou might'st break thy daily bread With prophet, savior and head; That thou might'st cherish for thine own The riches of sweet Mary's Son, Boy-Rabbi, Israel's paragon. And thoughtest thou such guest Would in thy hall take up his rest? Would rushing life forget her laws, Fate's glowing revolution pause? High omens ask diviner guess; Not to be conned to tediousness And know my higher gifts unbind The zone that girds the incarnate mind. When the scanty shores are full With Thought's perilous, whirling pool; When frail Nature can no more, Then the Spirit strikes the hour: My servant Death, with solving rite, Pours finite into infinite. Wilt thou freeze love's tidal flow, Whose streams through Nature circling go? Nail the wild star to its track On the half-climbed zodiac? Light is light which radiates, Blood is blood which circulates, Life is life which generates, And many-seeming life is one,— Wilt thou transfix and make it none? Its onward force too starkly pent In figure, bone and lineament? Wilt thou, uncalled, interrogate, Talker! the unreplying Fate? Nor see the genius of the whole Ascendant in the private soul, Beckon it when to go and come, Self-announced its hour of doom? Fair the soul's recess and shrine, Magic-built to last a season; Masterpiece of love benign, Fairer that expansive reason Whose omen 'tis, and sign. Wilt thou not ope thy heart to know What rainbows teach, and sunsets show? Verdict which accumulates From lengthening scroll of human fates, Voice of earth to earth returned, Prayers of saints that inly burned,— Saying, What is excellent, As God lives, is permanent; Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain; Heart's love will meet thee again. Revere the Maker; fetch thine eye Up to his style, and manners of the sky. Not of adamant and gold Built he heaven stark and cold; No, but a nest of bending reeds, Flowering grass and scented weeds; Or like a traveller's fleeing tent, Or bow above the tempest bent; Built of tears and sacred flames, And virtue reaching to its aims; Built of furtherance and pursuing, Not of spent deeds, but of doing. Silent rushes the swift Lord Through ruined systems still restored, Broadsowing, bleak and void to bless, Plants with worlds the wilderness; Waters with tears of ancient sorrow Apples of Eden ripe to-morrow. House and tenant go to ground, Lost in God, in Godhead found.'
SUNG AT THE COMPLETION OF THE BATTLE MONUMENT, JULY 4, 1837
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
* * * * *
MAY-DAY AND OTHER PIECES
* * * * *
Daughter of Heaven and Earth, coy Spring, With sudden passion languishing, Teaching Barren moors to smile, Painting pictures mile on mile, Holds a cup with cowslip-wreaths, Whence a smokeless incense breathes. The air is full of whistlings bland; What was that I heard Out of the hazy land? Harp of the wind, or song of bird, Or vagrant booming of the air, Voice of a meteor lost in day? Such tidings of the starry sphere Can this elastic air convey. Or haply 'twas the cannonade Of the pent and darkened lake, Cooled by the pendent mountain's shade, Whose deeps, till beams of noonday break, Afflicted moan, and latest hold Even into May the iceberg cold. Was it a squirrel's pettish bark, Or clarionet of jay? or hark Where yon wedged line the Nestor leads, Steering north with raucous cry Through tracts and provinces of sky, Every night alighting down In new landscapes of romance, Where darkling feed the clamorous clans By lonely lakes to men unknown. Come the tumult whence it will, Voice of sport, or rush of wings, It is a sound, it is a token That the marble sleep is broken, And a change has passed on things.
When late I walked, in earlier days, All was stiff and stark; Knee-deep snows choked all the ways, In the sky no spark; Firm-braced I sought my ancient woods, Struggling through the drifted roads; The whited desert knew me not, Snow-ridges masked each darling spot; The summer dells, by genius haunted, One arctic moon had disenchanted. All the sweet secrets therein hid By Fancy, ghastly spells undid. Eldest mason, Frost, had piled Swift cathedrals in the wild; The piny hosts were sheeted ghosts In the star-lit minster aisled. I found no joy: the icy wind Might rule the forest to his mind. Who would freeze on frozen lakes? Back to books and sheltered home, And wood-fire flickering on the walls, To hear, when, 'mid our talk and games, Without the baffled North-wind calls. But soft! a sultry morning breaks; The ground-pines wash their rusty green, The maple-tops their crimson tint, On the soft path each track is seen, The girl's foot leaves its neater print. The pebble loosened from the frost Asks of the urchin to be tost. In flint and marble beats a heart, The kind Earth takes her children's part, The green lane is the school-boy's friend, Low leaves his quarrel apprehend, The fresh ground loves his top and ball, The air rings jocund to his call, The brimming brook invites a leap, He dives the hollow, climbs the steep. The youth sees omens where he goes, And speaks all languages the rose, The wood-fly mocks with tiny voice The far halloo of human voice; The perfumed berry on the spray Smacks of faint memories far away. A subtle chain of countless rings The next into the farthest brings, And, striving to be man, the worm Mounts through all the spires of form.
The caged linnet in the Spring Hearkens for the choral glee, When his fellows on the wing Migrate from the Southern Sea; When trellised grapes their flowers unmask, And the new-born tendrils twine, The old wine darkling in the cask Feels the bloom on the living vine, And bursts the hoops at hint of Spring: And so, perchance, in Adam's race, Of Eden's bower some dream-like trace Survived the Flight and swam the Flood, And wakes the wish in youngest blood To tread the forfeit Paradise, And feed once more the exile's eyes; And ever when the happy child In May beholds the blooming wild, And hears in heaven the bluebird sing, 'Onward,' he cries, 'your baskets bring,— In the next field is air more mild, And o'er yon hazy crest is Eden's balmier spring.'
Not for a regiment's parade, Nor evil laws or rulers made, Blue Walden rolls its cannonade, But for a lofty sign Which the Zodiac threw, That the bondage-days are told. And waters free as winds shall flow. Lo! how all the tribes combine To rout the flying foe. See, every patriot oak-leaf throws His elfin length upon the snows, Not idle, since the leaf all day Draws to the spot the solar ray, Ere sunset quarrying inches down, And halfway to the mosses brown; While the grass beneath the rime Has hints of the propitious time, And upward pries and perforates Through the cold slab a thousand gates, Till green lances peering through Bend happy in the welkin blue.
As we thaw frozen flesh with snow, So Spring will not her time forerun, Mix polar night with tropic glow, Nor cloy us with unshaded sun, Nor wanton skip with bacchic dance, But she has the temperance Of the gods, whereof she is one,— Masks her treasury of heat Under east winds crossed with sleet. Plants and birds and humble creatures Well accept her rule austere; Titan-born, to hardy natures Cold is genial and dear. As Southern wrath to Northern right Is but straw to anthracite; As in the day of sacrifice, When heroes piled the pyre, The dismal Massachusetts ice Burned more than others' fire, So Spring guards with surface cold The garnered heat of ages old. Hers to sow the seed of bread, That man and all the kinds be fed; And, when the sunlight fills the hours, Dissolves the crust, displays the flowers.
Beneath the calm, within the light, A hid unruly appetite Of swifter life, a surer hope, Strains every sense to larger scope, Impatient to anticipate The halting steps of aged Fate. Slow grows the palm, too slow the pearl: When Nature falters, fain would zeal Grasp the felloes of her wheel, And grasping give the orbs another whirl. Turn swiftlier round, O tardy ball! And sun this frozen side. Bring hither back the robin's call, Bring back the tulip's pride.
Why chidest thou the tardy Spring? The hardy bunting does not chide; The blackbirds make the maples ring With social cheer and jubilee; The redwing flutes his o-ka-lee, The robins know the melting snow; The sparrow meek, prophetic-eyed, Her nest beside the snow-drift weaves, Secure the osier yet will hide Her callow brood in mantling leaves,— And thou, by science all undone, Why only must thy reason fail To see the southing of the sun?
The world rolls round,—mistrust it not,— Befalls again what once befell; All things return, both sphere and mote, And I shall hear my bluebird's note, And dream the dream of Auburn dell.
April cold with dropping rain Willows and lilacs brings again, The whistle of returning birds, And trumpet-lowing of the herds. The scarlet maple-keys betray What potent blood hath modest May, What fiery force the earth renews, The wealth of forms, the flush of hues; What joy in rosy waves outpoured Flows from the heart of Love, the Lord.
Hither rolls the storm of heat; I feel its finer billows beat Like a sea which me infolds; Heat with viewless fingers moulds, Swells, and mellows, and matures, Paints, and flavors, and allures, Bird and brier inly warms, Still enriches and transforms, Gives the reed and lily length, Adds to oak and oxen strength, Transforming what it doth infold, Life out of death, new out of old, Painting fawns' and leopards' fells, Seethes the gulf-encrimsoning shells, Fires gardens with a joyful blaze Of tulips, in the morning's rays. The dead log touched bursts into leaf, The wheat-blade whispers of the sheaf. What god is this imperial Heat, Earth's prime secret, sculpture's seat? Doth it bear hidden in its heart Water-line patterns of all art? Is it Daedalus? is it Love? Or walks in mask almighty Jove, And drops from Power's redundant horn All seeds of beauty to be born?
Where shall we keep the holiday, And duly greet the entering May? Too strait and low our cottage doors, And all unmeet our carpet floors; Nor spacious court, nor monarch's hall, Suffice to hold the festival. Up and away! where haughty woods Front the liberated floods: We will climb the broad-backed hills, Hear the uproar of their joy; We will mark the leaps and gleams Of the new-delivered streams, And the murmuring rivers of sap Mount in the pipes of the trees, Giddy with day, to the topmost spire, Which for a spike of tender green Bartered its powdery cap; And the colors of joy in the bird, And the love in its carol heard, Frog and lizard in holiday coats, And turtle brave in his golden spots; While cheerful cries of crag and plain Reply to the thunder of river and main.
As poured the flood of the ancient sea Spilling over mountain chains, Bending forests as bends the sedge, Faster flowing o'er the plains,— A world-wide wave with a foaming edge That rims the running silver sheet,— So pours the deluge of the heat Broad northward o'er the land, Painting artless paradises, Drugging herbs with Syrian spices, Fanning secret fires which glow In columbine and clover-blow, Climbing the northern zones, Where a thousand pallid towns Lie like cockles by the main, Or tented armies on a plain. The million-handed sculptor moulds Quaintest bud and blossom folds, The million-handed painter pours Opal hues and purple dye; Azaleas flush the island floors, And the tints of heaven reply.
Wreaths for the May! for happy Spring To-day shall all her dowry bring, The love of kind, the joy, the grace, Hymen of element and race, Knowing well to celebrate With song and hue and star and state, With tender light and youthful cheer, The spousals of the new-born year.
Spring is strong and virtuous, Broad-sowing, cheerful, plenteous, Quickening underneath the mould Grains beyond the price of gold. So deep and large her bounties are, That one broad, long midsummer day Shall to the planet overpay The ravage of a year of war.
Drug the cup, thou butler sweet, And send the nectar round; The feet that slid so long on sleet Are glad to feel the ground. Fill and saturate each kind With good according to its mind, Fill each kind and saturate With good agreeing with its fate, And soft perfection of its plan— Willow and violet, maiden and man.
The bitter-sweet, the haunting air Creepeth, bloweth everywhere; It preys on all, all prey on it. Blooms in beauty, thinks in wit, Stings the strong with enterprise, Makes travellers long for Indian skies, And where it comes this courier fleet Fans in all hearts expectance sweet, As if to-morrow should redeem The vanished rose of evening's dream. By houses lies a fresher green, On men and maids a ruddier mien, As if Time brought a new relay Of shining virgins every May, And Summer came to ripen maids To a beauty that not fades.
I saw the bud-crowned Spring go forth, Stepping daily onward north To greet staid ancient cavaliers Filing single in stately train. And who, and who are the travellers? They were Night and Day, and Day and Night, Pilgrims wight with step forthright. I saw the Days deformed and low, Short and bent by cold and snow; The merry Spring threw wreaths on them, Flower-wreaths gay with bud and bell; Many a flower and many a gem, They were refreshed by the smell, They shook the snow from hats and shoon, They put their April raiment on; And those eternal forms, Unhurt by a thousand storms, Shot up to the height of the sky again, And danced as merrily as young men. I saw them mask their awful glance Sidewise meek in gossamer lids; And to speak my thought if none forbids It was as if the eternal gods, Tired of their starry periods, Hid their majesty in cloth Woven of tulips and painted moth. On carpets green the maskers march Below May's well-appointed arch, Each star, each god; each grace amain, Every joy and virtue speed, Marching duly in her train, And fainting Nature at her need Is made whole again.
'Twas the vintage-day of field and wood, When magic wine for bards is brewed; Every tree and stem and chink Gushed with syrup to the brink. The air stole into the streets of towns, Refreshed the wise, reformed the clowns, And betrayed the fund of joy To the high-school and medalled boy: On from hall to chamber ran, From youth to maid, from boy to man, To babes, and to old eyes as well. 'Once more,' the old man cried, 'ye clouds, Airy turrets purple-piled, Which once my infancy beguiled, Beguile me with the wonted spell. I know ye skilful to convoy The total freight of hope and joy Into rude and homely nooks, Shed mocking lustres on shelf of books, On farmer's byre, on pasture rude, And stony pathway to the wood. I care not if the pomps you show Be what they soothfast appear, Or if yon realms in sunset glow Be bubbles of the atmosphere. And if it be to you allowed To fool me with a shining cloud, So only new griefs are consoled By new delights, as old by old, Frankly I will be your guest, Count your change and cheer the best. The world hath overmuch of pain,— If Nature give me joy again, Of such deceit I'll not complain.'
Ah! well I mind the calendar, Faithful through a thousand years, Of the painted race of flowers, Exact to days, exact to hours, Counted on the spacious dial Yon broidered zodiac girds. I know the trusty almanac Of the punctual coming-back, On their due days, of the birds. I marked them yestermorn, A flock of finches darting Beneath the crystal arch, Piping, as they flew, a march,— Belike the one they used in parting Last year from yon oak or larch; Dusky sparrows in a crowd, Diving, darting northward free, Suddenly betook them all, Every one to his hole in the wall, Or to his niche in the apple-tree. I greet with joy the choral trains Fresh from palms and Cuba's canes. Best gems of Nature's cabinet, With dews of tropic morning wet, Beloved of children, bards and Spring, O birds, your perfect virtues bring, Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight, Your manners for the heart's delight, Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof, Here weave your chamber weather-proof, Forgive our harms, and condescend To man, as to a lubber friend, And, generous, teach his awkward race Courage and probity and grace!
Poets praise that hidden wine Hid in milk we drew At the barrier of Time, When our life was new. We had eaten fairy fruit, We were quick from head to foot, All the forms we looked on shone As with diamond dews thereon. What cared we for costly joys, The Museum's far-fetched toys? Gleam of sunshine on the wall Poured a deeper cheer than all The revels of the Carnival. We a pine-grove did prefer To a marble theatre, Could with gods on mallows dine, Nor cared for spices or for wine. Wreaths of mist and rainbow spanned. Arch on arch, the grimmest land; Whittle of a woodland bird Made the pulses dance, Note of horn in valleys heard Filled the region with romance.
None can tell how sweet, How virtuous, the morning air; Every accent vibrates well; Not alone the wood-bird's call, Or shouting boys that chase their ball, Pass the height of minstrel skill, But the ploughman's thoughtless cry, Lowing oxen, sheep that bleat, And the joiner's hammer-beat, Softened are above their will, Take tones from groves they wandered through Or flutes which passing angels blew. All grating discords melt, No dissonant note is dealt, And though thy voice be shrill Like rasping file on steel, Such is the temper of the air, Echo waits with art and care, And will the faults of song repair.
So by remote Superior Lake, And by resounding Mackinac, When northern storms the forest shake, And billows on the long beach break, The artful Air will separate Note by note all sounds that grate, Smothering in her ample breast All but godlike words, Reporting to the happy ear Only purified accords. Strangely wrought from barking waves, Soft music daunts the Indian braves,— Convent-chanting which the child Hears pealing from the panther's cave And the impenetrable wild.
Soft on the South-wind sleeps the haze: So on thy broad mystic van Lie the opal-colored days, And waft the miracle to man. Soothsayer of the eldest gods, Repairer of what harms betide, Revealer of the inmost powers Prometheus proffered, Jove denied; Disclosing treasures more than true, Or in what far to-morrow due; Speaking by the tongues of flowers, By the ten-tongued laurel speaking, Singing by the oriole songs, Heart of bird the man's heart seeking; Whispering hints of treasure hid Under Morn's unlifted lid, Islands looming just beyond The dim horizon's utmost bound;— Who can, like thee, our rags upbraid, Or taunt us with our hope decayed? Or who like thee persuade, Making the splendor of the air, The morn and sparkling dew, a snare? Or who resent Thy genius, wiles and blandishment?
There is no orator prevails To beckon or persuade Like thee the youth or maid: Thy birds, thy songs, thy brooks, thy gales, Thy blooms, thy kinds, Thy echoes in the wilderness, Soothe pain, and age, and love's distress, Fire fainting will, and build heroic minds.
For thou, O Spring! canst renovate All that high God did first create. Be still his arm and architect, Rebuild the ruin, mend defect; Chemist to vamp old worlds with new, Coat sea and sky with heavenlier blue, New tint the plumage of the birds, And slough decay from grazing herds, Sweep ruins from the scarped mountain, Cleanse the torrent at the fountain, Purge alpine air by towns defiled, Bring to fair mother fairer child, Not less renew the heart and brain, Scatter the sloth, wash out the stain, Make the aged eye sun-clear, To parting soul bring grandeur near. Under gentle types, my Spring Masks the might of Nature's king, An energy that searches thorough From Chaos to the dawning morrow; Into all our human plight, The soul's pilgrimage and flight; In city or in solitude, Step by step, lifts bad to good, Without halting, without rest, Lifting Better up to Best; Planting seeds of knowledge pure, Through earth to ripen, through heaven endure.
DEDICATED TO MY FELLOW TRAVELLERS IN AUGUST, 1858
Wise and polite,—and if I drew Their several portraits, you would own Chaucer had no such worthy crew, Nor Boccace in Decameron.
We crossed Champlain to Keeseville with our friends, Thence, in strong country carts, rode up the forks Of the Ausable stream, intent to reach The Adirondac lakes. At Martin's Beach We chose our boats; each man a boat and guide,— Ten men, ten guides, our company all told.
Next morn, we swept with oars the Saranac, With skies of benediction, to Round Lake, Where all the sacred mountains drew around us, Tahawus, Seaward, MacIntyre, Baldhead, And other Titans without muse or name. Pleased with these grand companions, we glide on, Instead of flowers, crowned with a wreath of hills. We made our distance wider, boat from boat, As each would hear the oracle alone. By the bright morn the gay flotilla slid Through files of flags that gleamed like bayonets, Through gold-moth-haunted beds of pickerel-flower, Through scented banks of lilies white and gold, Where the deer feeds at night, the teal by day, On through the Upper Saranac, and up Pere Raquette stream, to a small tortuous pass Winding through grassy shallows in and out, Two creeping miles of rushes, pads and sponge, To Follansbee Water and the Lake of Loons.
Northward the length of Follansbee we rowed, Under low mountains, whose unbroken ridge Ponderous with beechen forest sloped the shore. A pause and council: then, where near the head Due east a bay makes inward to the land Between two rocky arms, we climb the bank, And in the twilight of the forest noon Wield the first axe these echoes ever heard. We cut young trees to make our poles and thwarts, Barked the white spruce to weatherfend the roof, Then struck a light and kindled the camp-fire.
The wood was sovran with centennial trees,— Oak, cedar, maple, poplar, beech and fir, Linden and spruce. In strict society Three conifers, white, pitch and Norway pine, Five-leaved, three-leaved and two-leaved, grew thereby, Our patron pine was fifteen feet in girth, The maple eight, beneath its shapely tower.
'Welcome!' the wood-god murmured through the leaves,— 'Welcome, though late, unknowing, yet known to me.' Evening drew on; stars peeped through maple-boughs, Which o'erhung, like a cloud, our camping fire. Decayed millennial trunks, like moonlight flecks, Lit with phosphoric crumbs the forest floor.
Ten scholars, wonted to lie warm and soft In well-hung chambers daintily bestowed, Lie here on hemlock-boughs, like Sacs and Sioux, And greet unanimous the joyful change. So fast will Nature acclimate her sons, Though late returning to her pristine ways. Off soundings, seamen do not suffer cold; And, in the forest, delicate clerks, unbrowned, Sleep on the fragrant brush, as on down-beds. Up with the dawn, they fancied the light air That circled freshly in their forest dress Made them to boys again. Happier that they Slipped off their pack of duties, leagues behind, At the first mounting of the giant stairs. No placard on these rocks warned to the polls, No door-bell heralded a visitor, No courier waits, no letter came or went, Nothing was ploughed, or reaped, or bought, or sold; The frost might glitter, it would blight no crop, The falling rain will spoil no holiday. We were made freemen of the forest laws, All dressed, like Nature, fit for her own ends, Essaying nothing she cannot perform.
In Adirondac lakes At morn or noon, the guide rows bareheaded: Shoes, flannel shirt, and kersey trousers make His brief toilette: at night, or in the rain, He dons a surcoat which he doffs at morn: A paddle in the right hand, or an oar, And in the left, a gun, his needful arms. By turns we praised the stature of our guides, Their rival strength and suppleness, their skill To row, to swim, to shoot, to build a camp, To climb a lofty stem, clean without boughs Full fifty feet, and bring the eaglet down: Temper to face wolf, bear, or catamount, And wit to trap or take him in his lair. Sound, ruddy men, frolic and innocent, In winter, lumberers; in summer, guides; Their sinewy arms pull at the oar untired Three times ten thousand strokes, from morn to eve.
Look to yourselves, ye polished gentlemen! No city airs or arts pass current here. Your rank is all reversed; let men or cloth Bow to the stalwart churls in overalls: They are the doctors of the wilderness, And we the low-prized laymen. In sooth, red flannel is a saucy test Which few can put on with impunity. What make you, master, fumbling at the oar? Will you catch crabs? Truth tries pretension here. The sallow knows the basket-maker's thumb; The oar, the guide's. Dare you accept the tasks He shall impose, to find a spring, trap foxes, Tell the sun's time, determine the true north, Or stumbling on through vast self-similar woods To thread by night the nearest way to camp?
Ask you, how went the hours? All day we swept the lake, searched every cove, North from Camp Maple, south to Osprey Bay, Watching when the loud dogs should drive in deer, Or whipping its rough surface for a trout; Or, bathers, diving from the rock at noon; Challenging Echo by our guns and cries; Or listening to the laughter of the loon; Or, in the evening twilight's latest red, Beholding the procession of the pines; Or, later yet, beneath a lighted jack, In the boat's bows, a silent night-hunter Stealing with paddle to the feeding-grounds Of the red deer, to aim at a square mist. Hark to that muffled roar! a tree in the woods Is fallen: but hush! it has not scared the buck Who stands astonished at the meteor light, Then turns to bound away,—is it too late?
Our heroes tried their rifles at a mark, Six rods, sixteen, twenty, or forty-five; Sometimes their wits at sally and retort, With laughter sudden as the crack of rifle; Or parties scaled the near acclivities Competing seekers of a rumored lake, Whose unauthenticated waves we named Lake Probability,—our carbuncle, Long sought, not found.
Two Doctors in the camp Dissected the slain deer, weighed the trout's brain, Captured the lizard, salamander, shrew, Crab, mice, snail, dragon-fly, minnow and moth; Insatiate skill in water or in air Waved the scoop-net, and nothing came amiss; The while, one leaden got of alcohol Gave an impartial tomb to all the kinds. Not less the ambitious botanist sought plants, Orchis and gentian, fern and long whip-scirpus, Rosy polygonum, lake-margin's pride, Hypnum and hydnum, mushroom, sponge and moss, Or harebell nodding in the gorge of falls. Above, the eagle flew, the osprey screamed, The raven croaked, owls hooted, the woodpecker Loud hammered, and the heron rose in the swamp. As water poured through hollows of the hills To feed this wealth of lakes and rivulets, So Nature shed all beauty lavishly From her redundant horn.
Lords of this realm, Bounded by dawn and sunset, and the day Rounded by hours where each outdid the last In miracles of pomp, we must be proud, As if associates of the sylvan gods. We seemed the dwellers of the zodiac, So pure the Alpine element we breathed, So light, so lofty pictures came and went. We trode on air, contemned the distant town, Its timorous ways, big trifles, and we planned That we should build, hard-by, a spacious lodge And how we should come hither with our sons, Hereafter,—willing they, and more adroit.
Hard fare, hard bed and comic misery,— The midge, the blue-fly and the mosquito Painted our necks, hands, ankles, with red bands: But, on the second day, we heed them not, Nay, we saluted them Auxiliaries, Whom earlier we had chid with spiteful names. For who defends our leafy tabernacle From bold intrusion of the travelling crowd,— Who but the midge, mosquito and the fly, Which past endurance sting the tender cit, But which we learn to scatter with a smudge, Or baffle by a veil, or slight by scorn?
Our foaming ale we drank from hunters' pans, Ale, and a sup of wine. Our steward gave Venison and trout, potatoes, beans, wheat-bread; All ate like abbots, and, if any missed Their wonted convenance, cheerly hid the loss With hunters' appetite and peals of mirth. And Stillman, our guides' guide, and Commodore, Crusoe, Crusader, Pius Aeneas, said aloud, "Chronic dyspepsia never came from eating Food indigestible":—then murmured some, Others applauded him who spoke the truth.
Nor doubt but visitings of graver thought Checked in these souls the turbulent heyday 'Mid all the hints and glories of the home. For who can tell what sudden privacies Were sought and found, amid the hue and cry Of scholars furloughed from their tasks and let Into this Oreads' fended Paradise, As chapels in the city's thoroughfares, Whither gaunt Labor slips to wipe his brow And meditate a moment on Heaven's rest. Judge with what sweet surprises Nature spoke To each apart, lifting her lovely shows To spiritual lessons pointed home, And as through dreams in watches of the night, So through all creatures in their form and ways Some mystic hint accosts the vigilant, Not clearly voiced, but waking a new sense Inviting to new knowledge, one with old. Hark to that petulant chirp! what ails the warbler? Mark his capricious ways to draw the eye. Now soar again. What wilt thou, restless bird, Seeking in that chaste blue a bluer light, Thirsting in that pure for a purer sky?
And presently the sky is changed; O world! What pictures and what harmonies are thine! The clouds are rich and dark, the air serene, So like the soul of me, what if 't were me? A melancholy better than all mirth. Comes the sweet sadness at the retrospect, Or at the foresight of obscurer years? Like yon slow-sailing cloudy promontory Whereon the purple iris dwells in beauty Superior to all its gaudy skirts. And, that no day of life may lack romance, The spiritual stars rise nightly, shedding down A private beam into each several heart. Daily the bending skies solicit man, The seasons chariot him from this exile, The rainbow hours bedeck his glowing chair, The storm-winds urge the heavy weeks along, Suns haste to set, that so remoter lights Beckon the wanderer to his vaster home.
With a vermilion pencil mark the day When of our little fleet three cruising skiffs Entering Big Tupper, bound for the foaming Falls Of loud Bog River, suddenly confront Two of our mates returning with swift oars. One held a printed journal waving high Caught from a late-arriving traveller, Big with great news, and shouted the report For which the world had waited, now firm fact, Of the wire-cable laid beneath the sea, And landed on our coast, and pulsating With ductile fire. Loud, exulting cries From boat to boat, and to the echoes round, Greet the glad miracle. Thought's new-found path Shall supplement henceforth all trodden ways, Match God's equator with a zone of art, And lift man's public action to a height Worthy the enormous cloud of witnesses, When linked hemispheres attest his deed. We have few moments in the longest life Of such delight and wonder as there grew,— Nor yet unsuited to that solitude: A burst of joy, as if we told the fact To ears intelligent; as if gray rock And cedar grove and cliff and lake should know This feat of wit, this triumph of mankind; As if we men were talking in a vein Of sympathy so large, that ours was theirs, And a prime end of the most subtle element Were fairly reached at last. Wake, echoing caves! Bend nearer, faint day-moon! Yon thundertops, Let them hear well! 'tis theirs as much as ours.