A spasm throbbing through the pedestals Of Alp and Andes, isle and continent, Urging astonished Chaos with a thrill To be a brain, or serve the brain of man. The lightning has run masterless too long; He must to school and learn his verb and noun And teach his nimbleness to earn his wage, Spelling with guided tongue man's messages Shot through the weltering pit of the salt sea. And yet I marked, even in the manly joy Of our great-hearted Doctor in his boat (Perchance I erred), a shade of discontent; Or was it for mankind a generous shame, As of a luck not quite legitimate, Since fortune snatched from wit the lion's part? Was it a college pique of town and gown, As one within whose memory it burned That not academicians, but some lout, Found ten years since the Californian gold? And now, again, a hungry company Of traders, led by corporate sons of trade, Perversely borrowing from the shop the tools Of science, not from the philosophers, Had won the brightest laurel of all time. 'Twas always thus, and will be; hand and head Are ever rivals: but, though this be swift, The other slow,—this the Prometheus, And that the Jove,—yet, howsoever hid, It was from Jove the other stole his fire, And, without Jove, the good had never been. It is not Iroquois or cannibals, But ever the free race with front sublime, And these instructed by their wisest too, Who do the feat, and lift humanity. Let not him mourn who best entitled was, Nay, mourn not one: let him exult, Yea, plant the tree that bears best apples, plant, And water it with wine, nor watch askance Whether thy sons or strangers eat the fruit: Enough that mankind eat and are refreshed.
We flee away from cities, but we bring The best of cities with us, these learned classifiers, Men knowing what they seek, armed eyes of experts. We praise the guide, we praise the forest life: But will we sacrifice our dear-bought lore Of books and arts and trained experiment, Or count the Sioux a match for Agassiz? O no, not we! Witness the shout that shook Wild Tupper Lake; witness the mute all-hail The joyful traveller gives, when on the verge Of craggy Indian wilderness he hears From a log cabin stream Beethoven's notes On the piano, played with master's hand. 'Well done!' he cries; 'the bear is kept at bay, The lynx, the rattlesnake, the flood, the fire; All the fierce enemies, ague, hunger, cold, This thin spruce roof, this clayed log-wall, This wild plantation will suffice to chase. Now speed the gay celerities of art, What in the desert was impossible Within four walls is possible again,— Culture and libraries, mysteries of skill, Traditioned fame of masters, eager strife Of keen competing youths, joined or alone To outdo each other and extort applause. Mind wakes a new-born giant from her sleep. Twirl the old wheels! Time takes fresh start again, On for a thousand years of genius more.'
The holidays were fruitful, but must end; One August evening had a cooler breath; Into each mind intruding duties crept; Under the cinders burned the fires of home; Nay, letters found us in our paradise: So in the gladness of the new event We struck our camp and left the happy hills. The fortunate star that rose on us sank not; The prodigal sunshine rested on the land, The rivers gambolled onward to the sea, And Nature, the inscrutable and mute, Permitted on her infinite repose Almost a smile to steal to cheer her sons, As if one riddle of the Sphinx were guessed.
If the red slayer think he slays, Or if the slain think he is slain, They know not well the subtle ways I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near; Shadow and sunlight are the same; The vanished gods to me appear; And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out; When me they fly, I am the wings; I am the doubter and the doubt, And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode, And pine in vain the sacred Seven; But thou, meek lover of the good! Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
Already blushes on thy cheek The bosom thought which thou must speak; The bird, how far it haply roam By cloud or isle, is flying home; The maiden fears, and fearing runs Into the charmed snare she shuns; And every man, in love or pride, Of his fate is never wide.
Will a woman's fan the ocean smooth? Or prayers the stony Parcae soothe, Or coax the thunder from its mark? Or tapers light the chaos dark? In spite of Virtue and the Muse, Nemesis will have her dues, And all our struggles and our toils Tighter wind the giant coils.
Deep in the man sits fast his fate To mould his fortunes, mean or great: Unknown to Cromwell as to me Was Cromwell's measure or degree; Unknown to him as to his horse, If he than his groom be better or worse. He works, plots, fights, in rude affairs, With squires, lords, kings, his craft compares, Till late he learned, through doubt and fear, Broad England harbored not his peer: Obeying time, the last to own The Genius from its cloudy throne. For the prevision is allied Unto the thing so signified; Or say, the foresight that awaits Is the same Genius that creates.
Once I wished I might rehearse Freedom's paean in my verse, That the slave who caught the strain Should throb until he snapped his chain, But the Spirit said, 'Not so; Speak it not, or speak it low; Name not lightly to be said, Gift too precious to be prayed, Passion not to be expressed But by heaving of the breast: Yet,—wouldst thou the mountain find Where this deity is shrined, Who gives to seas and sunset skies Their unspent beauty of surprise, And, when it lists him, waken can Brute or savage into man; Or, if in thy heart he shine, Blends the starry fates with thine, Draws angels nigh to dwell with thee, And makes thy thoughts archangels be; Freedom's secret wilt thou know?— Counsel not with flesh and blood; Loiter not for cloak or food; Right thou feelest, rush to do.'
SUNG IN THE TOWN HALL, CONCORD, JULY 4, 1857
O tenderly the haughty day Fills his blue urn with fire; One morn is in the mighty heaven, And one in our desire.
The cannon booms from town to town, Our pulses beat not less, The joy-bells chime their tidings down, Which children's voices bless.
For He that flung the broad blue fold O'er-mantling land and sea, One third part of the sky unrolled For the banner of the free.
The men are ripe of Saxon kind To build an equal state,— To take the statute from the mind And make of duty fate.
United States! the ages plead,— Present and Past in under-song,— Go put your creed into your deed, Nor speak with double tongue.
For sea and land don't understand, Nor skies without a frown See rights for which the one hand fights By the other cloven down.
Be just at home; then write your scroll Of honor o'er the sea, And bid the broad Atlantic roll, A ferry of the free.
And henceforth there shall be no chain, Save underneath the sea The wires shall murmur through the main Sweet songs of liberty.
The conscious stars accord above, The waters wild below, And under, through the cable wove, Her fiery errands go.
For He that worketh high and wise. Nor pauses in his plan, Will take the sun out of the skies Ere freedom out of man.
READ IN MUSIC HALL, JANUARY 1, 1863
The word of the Lord by night To the watching Pilgrims came, As they sat by the seaside, And filled their hearts with flame.
God said, I am tired of kings, I suffer them no more; Up to my ear the morning brings The outrage of the poor.
Think ye I made this ball A field of havoc and war, Where tyrants great and tyrants small Might harry the weak and poor?
My angel,—his name is Freedom,— Choose him to be your king; He shall cut pathways east and west And fend you with his wing.
Lo! I uncover the land Which I hid of old time in the West, As the sculptor uncovers the statue When he has wrought his best;
I show Columbia, of the rocks Which dip their foot in the seas And soar to the air-borne flocks Of clouds and the boreal fleece.
I will divide my goods; Call in the wretch and slave: None shall rule but the humble. And none but Toil shall have.
I will have never a noble, No lineage counted great; Fishers and choppers and ploughmen Shall constitute a state.
Go, cut down trees in the forest And trim the straightest boughs; Cut down trees in the forest And build me a wooden house.
Call the people together, The young men and the sires, The digger in the harvest-field, Hireling and him that hires;
And here in a pine state-house They shall choose men to rule In every needful faculty, In church and state and school.
Lo, now! if these poor men Can govern the land and sea And make just laws below the sun, As planets faithful be.
And ye shall succor men; 'Tis nobleness to serve; Help them who cannot help again: Beware from right to swerve.
I break your bonds and masterships, And I unchain the slave: Free be his heart and hand henceforth As wind and wandering wave.
I cause from every creature His proper good to flow: As much as he is and doeth, So much he shall bestow.
But, laying hands on another To coin his labor and sweat, He goes in pawn to his victim For eternal years in debt.
To-day unbind the captive, So only are ye unbound; Lift up a people from the dust, Trump of their rescue, sound!
Pay ransom to the owner And fill the bag to the brim. Who is the owner? The slave is owner, And ever was. Pay him.
O North! give him beauty for rags, And honor, O South! for his shame; Nevada! coin thy golden crags With Freedom's image and name.
Up! and the dusky race That sat in darkness long,— Be swift their feet as antelopes. And as behemoth strong.
Come, East and West and North, By races, as snow-flakes, And carry my purpose forth, Which neither halts nor shakes.
My will fulfilled shall be, For, in daylight or in dark, My thunderbolt has eyes to see His way home to the mark.
Low and mournful be the strain, Haughty thought be far from me; Tones of penitence and pain, Meanings of the tropic sea; Low and tender in the cell Where a captive sits in chains. Crooning ditties treasured well From his Afric's torrid plains. Sole estate his sire bequeathed,— Hapless sire to hapless son,— Was the wailing song he breathed, And his chain when life was done.
What his fault, or what his crime? Or what ill planet crossed his prime? Heart too soft and will too weak To front the fate that crouches near,— Dove beneath the vulture's beak;— Will song dissuade the thirsty spear? Dragged from his mother's arms and breast, Displaced, disfurnished here, His wistful toil to do his best Chilled by a ribald jeer. Great men in the Senate sate, Sage and hero, side by side, Building for their sons the State, Which they shall rule with pride. They forbore to break the chain Which bound the dusky tribe, Checked by the owners' fierce disdain, Lured by 'Union' as the bribe. Destiny sat by, and said, 'Pang for pang your seed shall pay, Hide in false peace your coward head, I bring round the harvest day.'
Freedom all winged expands, Nor perches in a narrow place; Her broad van seeks unplanted lands; She loves a poor and virtuous race. Clinging to a colder zone Whose dark sky sheds the snowflake down, The snowflake is her banner's star, Her stripes the boreal streamers are. Long she loved the Northman well; Now the iron age is done, She will not refuse to dwell With the offspring of the Sun; Foundling of the desert far, Where palms plume, siroccos blaze, He roves unhurt the burning ways In climates of the summer star. He has avenues to God Hid from men of Northern brain, Far beholding, without cloud, What these with slowest steps attain. If once the generous chief arrive To lead him willing to be led, For freedom he will strike and strive, And drain his heart till he be dead.
In an age of fops and toys, Wanting wisdom, void of right, Who shall nerve heroic boys To hazard all in Freedom's fight,— Break sharply off their jolly games, Forsake their comrades gay And quit proud homes and youthful dames For famine, toil and fray? Yet on the nimble air benign Speed nimbler messages, That waft the breath of grace divine To hearts in sloth and ease. So nigh is grandeur to our dust, So near is God to man, When Duty whispers low, Thou must, The youth replies, I can.
O, well for the fortunate soul Which Music's wings infold, Stealing away the memory Of sorrows new and old! Yet happier he whose inward sight, Stayed on his subtile thought, Shuts his sense on toys of time, To vacant bosoms brought. But best befriended of the God He who, in evil times, Warned by an inward voice, Heeds not the darkness and the dread, Biding by his rule and choice, Feeling only the fiery thread Leading over heroic ground, Walled with mortal terror round, To the aim which him allures, And the sweet heaven his deed secures. Peril around, all else appalling, Cannon in front and leaden rain Him duty through the clarion calling To the van called not in vain.
Stainless soldier on the walls, Knowing this,—and knows no more,— Whoever fights, whoever falls, Justice conquers evermore, Justice after as before,— And he who battles on her side, God, though he were ten times slain, Crowns him victor glorified, Victor over death and pain.
Blooms the laurel which belongs To the valiant chief who fights; I see the wreath, I hear the songs Lauding the Eternal Rights, Victors over daily wrongs: Awful victors, they misguide Whom they will destroy, And their coming triumph hide In our downfall, or our joy: They reach no term, they never sleep, In equal strength through space abide; Though, feigning dwarfs, they crouch and creep, The strong they slay, the swift outstride: Fate's grass grows rank in valley clods, And rankly on the castled steep,— Speak it firmly, these are gods, All are ghosts beside.
LOVE AND THOUGHT
Two well-assorted travellers use The highway, Eros and the Muse. From the twins is nothing hidden, To the pair is nought forbidden; Hand in hand the comrades go Every nook of Nature through: Each for other they were born, Each can other best adorn; They know one only mortal grief Past all balsam or relief; When, by false companions crossed, The pilgrims have each other lost.
Roving, roving, as it seems, Una lights my clouded dreams; Still for journeys she is dressed; We wander far by east and west.
In the homestead, homely thought, At my work I ramble not; If from home chance draw me wide, Half-seen Una sits beside.
In my house and garden-plot, Though beloved, I miss her not; But one I seek in foreign places, One face explore in foreign faces.
At home a deeper thought may light The inward sky with chrysolite, And I greet from far the ray, Aurora of a dearer day.
But if upon the seas I sail, Or trundle on the glowing rail, I am but a thought of hers, Loveliest of travellers.
So the gentle poet's name To foreign parts is blown by fame, Seek him in his native town, He is hidden and unknown.
SICUT PATRIBUS, SIT DEUS NOBIS
The rocky nook with hilltops three Looked eastward from the farms, And twice each day the flowing sea Took Boston in its arms; The men of yore were stout and poor, And sailed for bread to every shore.
And where they went on trade intent They did what freemen can, Their dauntless ways did all men praise, The merchant was a man. The world was made for honest trade,— To plant and eat be none afraid.
The waves that rocked them on the deep To them their secret told; Said the winds that sung the lads to sleep, 'Like us be free and bold!' The honest waves refused to slaves The empire of the ocean caves.
Old Europe groans with palaces, Has lords enough and more;— We plant and build by foaming seas A city of the poor;— For day by day could Boston Bay Their honest labor overpay.
We grant no dukedoms to the few, We hold like rights, and shall;— Equal on Sunday in the pew, On Monday in the mall, For what avail the plough or sail, Or land or life, if freedom fail?
The noble craftsman we promote, Disown the knave and fool; Each honest man shall have his vote, Each child shall have his school. A union then of honest men, Or union never more again.
The wild rose and the barberry thorn Hung out their summer pride, Where now on heated pavements worn The feet of millions stride.
Fair rose the planted hills behind The good town on the bay, And where the western hills declined The prairie stretched away.
What care though rival cities soar Along the stormy coast, Penn's town, New York and Baltimore, If Boston knew the most!
They laughed to know the world so wide; The mountains said, 'Good-day! We greet you well, you Saxon men, Up with your towns and stay!' The world was made for honest trade,— To plant and eat be none afraid.
'For you,' they said, 'no barriers be, For you no sluggard rest; Each street leads downward to the sea, Or landward to the west.'
O happy town beside the sea, Whose roads lead everywhere to all; Than thine no deeper moat can be, No stouter fence, no steeper wall!
Bad news from George on the English throne; 'You are thriving well,' said he; 'Now by these presents be it known You shall pay us a tax on tea; 'Tis very small,—no load at all,— Honor enough that we send the call.
'Not so,' said Boston, 'good my lord, We pay your governors here Abundant for their bed and board, Six thousand pounds a year. (Your Highness knows our homely word) Millions for self-government, But for tribute never a cent.'
The cargo came! and who could blame If Indians seized the tea, And, chest by chest, let down the same, Into the laughing sea? For what avail the plough or sail, Or land or life, if freedom fail?
The townsmen braved the English king, Found friendship in the French, And honor joined the patriot ring Low on their wooden bench.
O bounteous seas that never fail! O day remembered yet! O happy port that spied the sail Which wafted Lafayette! Pole-star of light in Europe's night, That never faltered from the right.
Kings shook with fear, old empires crave The secret force to find Which fired the little State to save The rights of all mankind.
But right is might through all the world; Province to province faithful clung, Through good and ill the war-bolt hurled, Till Freedom cheered and joy-bells rung.
The sea returning day by day Restores the world-wide mart; So let each dweller on the Bay Fold Boston in his heart, Till these echoes be choked with snows, Or over the town blue ocean flows.
Let the blood of her hundred thousands Throb in each manly vein; And the wits of all her wisest, Make sunshine in her brain. For you can teach the lightning speech, And round the globe your voices reach.
And each shall care for other, And each to each shall bend, To the poor a noble brother, To the good an equal friend.
A blessing through the ages thus Shield all thy roofs and towers! GOD WITH THE FATHERS, SO WITH US, Thou darling town of ours!
Every day brings a ship, Every ship brings a word; Well for those who have no fear. Looking seaward, well assured That the word the vessel brings Is the word they wish to hear.
They brought me rubies from the mine, And held them to the sun; I said, they are drops of frozen wine From Eden's vats that run.
I looked again,—I thought them hearts Of friends to friends unknown; Tides that should warm each neighboring life Are locked in sparkling stone.
But fire to thaw that ruddy snow, To break enchanted ice, And give love's scarlet tides to flow,— When shall that sun arise?
Of Merlin wise I learned a song,— Sing it low or sing it loud, It is mightier than the strong, And punishes the proud. I sing it to the surging crowd,— Good men it will calm and cheer, Bad men it will chain and cage— In the heart of the music peals a strain Which only angels hear; Whether it waken joy or rage Hushed myriads hark in vain, Yet they who hear it shed their age, And take their youth again.
Hear what British Merlin sung, Of keenest eye and truest tongue. Say not, the chiefs who first arrive Usurp the seats for which all strive; The forefathers this land who found Failed to plant the vantage-ground; Ever from one who comes to-morrow Men wait their good and truth to borrow. But wilt thou measure all thy road, See thou lift the lightest load. Who has little, to him who has less, can spare, And thou, Cyndyllan's son! beware Ponderous gold and stuffs to bear, To falter ere thou thy task fulfil,— Only the light-armed climb the hill. The richest of all lords is Use, And ruddy Health the loftiest Muse. Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, Drink the wild air's salubrity: When the star Canope shines in May, Shepherds are thankful and nations gay. The music that can deepest reach, And cure all ill, is cordial speech: Mask thy wisdom with delight, Toy with the bow, yet hit the white. Of all wit's uses, the main one Is to live well with who has none.
I hung my verses in the wind, Time and tide their faults may find. All were winnowed through and through, Five lines lasted sound and true; Five were smelted in a pot Than the South more fierce and hot; These the siroc could not melt, Fire their fiercer flaming felt, And the meaning was more white Than July's meridian light. Sunshine cannot bleach the snow, Nor time unmake what poets know. Have you eyes to find the five Which five hundred did survive?
I am the Muse who sung alway By Jove, at dawn of the first day. Star-crowned, sole-sitting, long I wrought To fire the stagnant earth with thought: On spawning slime my song prevails, Wolves shed their fangs, and dragons scales; Flushed in the sky the sweet May-morn, Earth smiled with flowers, and man was born. Then Asia yeaned her shepherd race, And Nile substructs her granite base,— Tented Tartary, columned Nile,— And, under vines, on rocky isle, Or on wind-blown sea-marge bleak, Forward stepped the perfect Greek: That wit and joy might find a tongue, And earth grow civil, HOMER sung.
Flown to Italy from Greece, I brooded long and held my peace, For I am wont to sing uncalled, And in days of evil plight Unlock doors of new delight; And sometimes mankind I appalled With a bitter horoscope, With spasms of terror for balm of hope. Then by better thought I lead Bards to speak what nations need; So I folded me in fears, And DANTE searched the triple spheres, Moulding Nature at his will, So shaped, so colored, swift or still, And, sculptor-like, his large design Etched on Alp and Apennine.
Seethed in mists of Penmanmaur, Taught by Plinlimmon's Druid power, England's genius filled all measure Of heart and soul, of strength and pleasure, Gave to the mind its emperor, And life was larger than before: Nor sequent centuries could hit Orbit and sum of SHAKSPEARE'S wit. The men who lived with him became Poets, for the air was fame.
Far in the North, where polar night Holds in check the frolic light, In trance upborne past mortal goal The Swede EMANUEL leads the soul. Through snows above, mines underground, The inks of Erebus he found; Rehearsed to men the damned wails On which the seraph music sails. In spirit-worlds he trod alone, But walked the earth unmarked, unknown, The near bystander caught no sound,— Yet they who listened far aloof Heard rendings of the skyey roof, And felt, beneath, the quaking ground; And his air-sown, unheeded words, In the next age, are flaming swords.
In newer days of war and trade, Romance forgot, and faith decayed, When Science armed and guided war, And clerks the Janus-gates unbar, When France, where poet never grew, Halved and dealt the globe anew, GOETHE, raised o'er joy and strife, Drew the firm lines of Fate and Life And brought Olympian wisdom down To court and mart, to gown and town. Stooping, his finger wrote in clay The open secret of to-day.
So bloom the unfading petals five, And verses that all verse outlive.
SUNG AT THE SECOND CHURCH, AT THE ORDINATION OF REV. CHANDLER ROBBINS
We love the venerable house Our fathers built to God;— In heaven are kept their grateful vows, Their dust endears the sod.
Here holy thoughts a light have shed From many a radiant face, And prayers of humble virtue made The perfume of the place.
And anxious hearts have pondered here The mystery of life, And prayed the eternal Light to clear Their doubts, and aid their strife.
From humble tenements around Came up the pensive train, And in the church a blessing found That filled their homes again;
For faith and peace and mighty love That from the Godhead flow, Showed them the life of Heaven above Springs from the life below.
They live with God; their homes are dust; Yet here their children pray, And in this fleeting lifetime trust To find the narrow way.
On him who by the altar stands, On him thy blessing fall, Speak through his lips thy pure commands, Thou heart that lovest all.
Winters know Easily to shed the snow, And the untaught Spring is wise In cowslips and anemonies. Nature, hating art and pains, Baulks and baffles plotting brains; Casualty and Surprise Are the apples of her eyes; But she dearly loves the poor, And, by marvel of her own, Strikes the loud pretender down. For Nature listens in the rose And hearkens in the berry's bell To help her friends, to plague her foes, And like wise God she judges well. Yet doth much her love excel To the souls that never fell, To swains that live in happiness And do well because they please, Who walk in ways that are unfamed, And feats achieve before they're named.
She is gamesome and good, But of mutable mood,— No dreary repeater now and again, She will be all things to all men. She who is old, but nowise feeble, Pours her power into the people, Merry and manifold without bar, Makes and moulds them what they are, And what they call their city way Is not their way, but hers, And what they say they made to-day, They learned of the oaks and firs. She spawneth men as mallows fresh, Hero and maiden, flesh of her flesh; She drugs her water and her wheat With the flavors she finds meet, And gives them what to drink and eat; And having thus their bread and growth, They do her bidding, nothing loath. What's most theirs is not their own, But borrowed in atoms from iron and stone, And in their vaunted works of Art The master-stroke is still her part.
THE ROMANY GIRL
The sun goes down, and with him takes The coarseness of my poor attire; The fair moon mounts, and aye the flame Of Gypsy beauty blazes higher.
Pale Northern girls! you scorn our race; You captives of your air-tight halls, Wear out indoors your sickly days, But leave us the horizon walls.
And if I take you, dames, to task, And say it frankly without guile, Then you are Gypsies in a mask, And I the lady all the while.
If on the heath, below the moon, I court and play with paler blood, Me false to mine dare whisper none,— One sallow horseman knows me good.
Go, keep your cheek's rose from the rain, For teeth and hair with shopmen deal; My swarthy tint is in the grain, The rocks and forest know it real.
The wild air bloweth in our lungs, The keen stars twinkle in our eyes, The birds gave us our wily tongues, The panther in our dances flies.
You doubt we read the stars on high, Nathless we read your fortunes true; The stars may hide in the upper sky, But without glass we fathom you.
Daughters of Time, the hypocritic Days, Muffled and dumb like barefoot dervishes, And marching single in an endless file, Bring diadems and fagots in their hands. To each they offer gifts after his will, Bread, kingdoms, stars, and sky that holds them all. I, in my pleached garden, watched the pomp, Forgot my morning wishes, hastily Took a few herbs and apples, and the Day Turned and departed silent. I, too late, Under her solemn fillet saw the scorn.
If I could put my woods in song And tell what's there enjoyed, All men would to my gardens throng, And leave the cities void.
In my plot no tulips blow,— Snow-loving pines and oaks instead; And rank the savage maples grow From Spring's faint flush to Autumn red.
My garden is a forest ledge Which older forests bound; The banks slope down to the blue lake-edge, Then plunge to depths profound.
Here once the Deluge ploughed, Laid the terraces, one by one; Ebbing later whence it flowed, They bleach and dry in the sun.
The sowers made haste to depart,— The wind and the birds which sowed it; Not for fame, nor by rules of art, Planted these, and tempests flowed it.
Waters that wash my garden-side Play not in Nature's lawful web, They heed not moon or solar tide,— Five years elapse from flood to ebb.
Hither hasted, in old time, Jove, And every god,—none did refuse; And be sure at last came Love, And after Love, the Muse.
Keen ears can catch a syllable, As if one spake to another, In the hemlocks tall, untamable, And what the whispering grasses smother.
Aeolian harps in the pine Ring with the song of the Fates; Infant Bacchus in the vine,— Far distant yet his chorus waits.
Canst thou copy in verse one chime Of the wood-bell's peal and cry, Write in a book the morning's prime, Or match with words that tender sky?
Wonderful verse of the gods, Of one import, of varied tone; They chant the bliss of their abodes To man imprisoned in his own.
Ever the words of the gods resound; But the porches of man's ear Seldom in this low life's round Are unsealed that he may hear.
Wandering voices in the air And murmurs in the wold Speak what I cannot declare, Yet cannot all withhold.
When the shadow fell on the lake, The whirlwind in ripples wrote Air-bells of fortune that shine and break, And omens above thought.
But the meanings cleave to the lake, Cannot be carried in book or urn; Go thy ways now, come later back, On waves and hedges still they burn.
These the fates of men forecast, Of better men than live to-day; If who can read them comes at last He will spell in the sculpture, 'Stay.'
THE CHARTIST'S COMPLAINT
Day! hast thou two faces, Making one place two places? One, by humble farmer seen, Chill and wet, unlighted, mean, Useful only, triste and damp, Serving for a laborer's lamp? Have the same mists another side, To be the appanage of pride, Gracing the rich man's wood and lake, His park where amber mornings break, And treacherously bright to show His planted isle where roses glow? O Day! and is your mightiness A sycophant to smug success? Will the sweet sky and ocean broad Be fine accomplices to fraud? O Sun! I curse thy cruel ray: Back, back to chaos, harlot Day!
You shall not be overbold When you deal with arctic cold, As late I found my lukewarm blood Chilled wading in the snow-choked wood. How should I fight? my foeman fine Has million arms to one of mine: East, west, for aid I looked in vain, East, west, north, south, are his domain. Miles off, three dangerous miles, is home; Must borrow his winds who there would come. Up and away for life! be fleet!— The frost-king ties my fumbling feet, Sings in my ears, my hands are stones, Curdles the blood to the marble bones, Tugs at the heart-strings, numbs the sense, And hems in life with narrowing fence. Well, in this broad bed lie and sleep,— The punctual stars will vigil keep,— Embalmed by purifying cold; The winds shall sing their dead-march old, The snow is no ignoble shroud, The moon thy mourner, and the cloud.
Softly,—but this way fate was pointing, 'T was coming fast to such anointing, When piped a tiny voice hard by, Gay and polite, a cheerful cry, Chic-chic-a-dee-de! saucy note Out of sound heart and merry throat, As if it said, 'Good day, good sir! Fine afternoon, old passenger! Happy to meet you in these places, Where January brings few faces.'
This poet, though he live apart, Moved by his hospitable heart, Sped, when I passed his sylvan fort, To do the honors of his court, As fits a feathered lord of land; Flew near, with soft wing grazed my hand, Hopped on the bough, then, darting low, Prints his small impress on the snow, Shows feats of his gymnastic play, Head downward, clinging to the spray.
Here was this atom in full breath, Hurling defiance at vast death; This scrap of valor just for play Fronts the north-wind in waistcoat gray, As if to shame my weak behavior; I greeted loud my little savior, 'You pet! what dost here? and what for? In these woods, thy small Labrador, At this pinch, wee San Salvador! What fire burns in that little chest So frolic, stout and self-possest? Henceforth I wear no stripe but thine; Ashes and jet all hues outshine. Why are not diamonds black and gray, To ape thy dare-devil array? And I affirm, the spacious North Exists to draw thy virtue forth. I think no virtue goes with size; The reason of all cowardice Is, that men are overgrown, And, to be valiant, must come down To the titmouse dimension.'
'T is good will makes intelligence, And I began to catch the sense Of my bird's song: 'Live out of doors In the great woods, on prairie floors. I dine in the sun; when he sinks in the sea, I too have a hole in a hollow tree; And I like less when Summer beats With stifling beams on these retreats, Than noontide twilights which snow makes With tempest of the blinding flakes. For well the soul, if stout within, Can arm impregnably the skin; And polar frost my frame defied, Made of the air that blows outside.'
With glad remembrance of my debt, I homeward turn; farewell, my pet! When here again thy pilgrim comes, He shall bring store of seeds and crumbs. Doubt not, so long as earth has bread, Thou first and foremost shalt be fed; The Providence that is most large Takes hearts like thine in special charge, Helps who for their own need are strong, And the sky doats on cheerful song. Henceforth I prize thy wiry chant O'er all that mass and minster vaunt; For men mis-hear thy call in Spring, As 't would accost some frivolous wing, Crying out of the hazel copse, Phe-be! And, in winter, Chic-a-dee-dee! I think old Caesar must have heard In northern Gaul my dauntless bird, And, echoed in some frosty wold, Borrowed thy battle-numbers bold. And I will write our annals new, And thank thee for a better clew, I, who dreamed not when I came here To find the antidote of fear, Now hear thee say in Roman key, Paean! Veni, vidi, vici.
One musician is sure, His wisdom will not fail, He has not tasted wine impure, Nor bent to passion frail. Age cannot cloud his memory, Nor grief untune his voice, Ranging down the ruled scale From tone of joy to inward wail, Tempering the pitch of all In his windy cave. He all the fables knows, And in their causes tells,— Knows Nature's rarest moods, Ever on her secret broods. The Muse of men is coy, Oft courted will not come; In palaces and market squares Entreated, she is dumb; But my minstrel knows and tells The counsel of the gods, Knows of Holy Book the spells, Knows the law of Night and Day, And the heart of girl and boy, The tragic and the gay, And what is writ on Table Round Of Arthur and his peers; What sea and land discoursing say In sidereal years. He renders all his lore In numbers wild as dreams, Modulating all extremes,— What the spangled meadow saith To the children who have faith; Only to children children sing, Only to youth will spring be spring.
Who is the Bard thus magnified? When did he sing? and where abide?
Chief of song where poets feast Is the wind-harp which thou seest In the casement at my side.
Aeolian harp, How strangely wise thy strain! Gay for youth, gay for youth, (Sweet is art, but sweeter truth,) In the hall at summer eve Fate and Beauty skilled to weave. From the eager opening strings Rung loud and bold the song. Who but loved the wind-harp's note? How should not the poet doat On its mystic tongue, With its primeval memory, Reporting what old minstrels told Of Merlin locked the harp within,— Merlin paying the pain of sin, Pent in a dungeon made of air,— And some attain his voice to hear, Words of pain and cries of fear, But pillowed all on melody, As fits the griefs of bards to be. And what if that all-echoing shell, Which thus the buried Past can tell, Should rive the Future, and reveal What his dread folds would fain conceal? It shares the secret of the earth, And of the kinds that owe her birth. Speaks not of self that mystic tone, But of the Overgods alone: It trembles to the cosmic breath,— As it heareth, so it saith; Obeying meek the primal Cause, It is the tongue of mundane laws. And this, at least, I dare affirm, Since genius too has bound and term, There is no bard in all the choir, Not Homer's self, the poet sire, Wise Milton's odes of pensive pleasure, Or Shakspeare, whom no mind can measure, Nor Collins' verse of tender pain, Nor Byron's clarion of disdain, Scott, the delight of generous boys, Or Wordsworth, Pan's recording voice,— Not one of all can put in verse, Or to this presence could rehearse The sights and voices ravishing The boy knew on the hills in spring, When pacing through the oaks he heard Sharp queries of the sentry-bird, The heavy grouse's sudden whir, The rattle of the kingfisher; Saw bonfires of the harlot flies In the lowland, when day dies; Or marked, benighted and forlorn, The first far signal-fire of morn. These syllables that Nature spoke, And the thoughts that in him woke, Can adequately utter none Save to his ear the wind-harp lone. Therein I hear the Parcae reel The threads of man at their humming wheel, The threads of life and power and pain, So sweet and mournful falls the strain. And best can teach its Delphian chord How Nature to the soul is moored, If once again that silent string, As erst it wont, would thrill and ring.
Not long ago at eventide, It seemed, so listening, at my side A window rose, and, to say sooth, I looked forth on the fields of youth: I saw fair boys bestriding steeds, I knew their forms in fancy weeds, Long, long concealed by sundering fates, Mates of my youth,—yet not my mates, Stronger and bolder far than I, With grace, with genius, well attired, And then as now from far admired, Followed with love They knew not of, With passion cold and shy. O joy, for what recoveries rare! Renewed, I breathe Elysian air, See youth's glad mates in earliest bloom,— Break not my dream, obtrusive tomb! Or teach thou, Spring! the grand recoil Of life resurgent from the soil Wherein was dropped the mortal spoil.
I heard or seemed to hear the chiding Sea Say, Pilgrim, why so late and slow to come? Am I not always here, thy summer home? Is not my voice thy music, morn and eve? My breath thy healthful climate in the heats, My touch thy antidote, my bay thy bath? Was ever building like my terraces? Was ever couch magnificent as mine? Lie on the warm rock-ledges, and there learn A little hut suffices like a town. I make your sculptured architecture vain, Vain beside mine. I drive my wedges home, And carve the coastwise mountain into caves. Lo! here is Rome and Nineveh and Thebes, Karnak and Pyramid and Giant's Stairs Half piled or prostrate; and my newest slab Older than all thy race.
Behold the Sea, The opaline, the plentiful and strong, Yet beautiful as is the rose in June, Fresh as the trickling rainbow of July; Sea full of food, the nourisher of kinds, Purger of earth, and medicine of men; Creating a sweet climate by my breath, Washing out harms and griefs from memory, And, in my mathematic ebb and flow, Giving a hint of that which changes not. Rich are the sea-gods:—who gives gifts but they? They grope the sea for pearls, but more than pearls: They pluck Force thence, and give it to the wise. For every wave is wealth to Daedalus, Wealth to the cunning artist who can work This matchless strength. Where shall he find, O waves! A load your Atlas shoulders cannot lift?
I with my hammer pounding evermore The rocky coast, smite Andes into dust, Strewing my bed, and, in another age, Rebuild a continent of better men. Then I unbar the doors: my paths lead out The exodus of nations: I disperse Men to all shores that front the hoary main.
I too have arts and sorceries; Illusion dwells forever with the wave. I know what spells are laid. Leave me to deal With credulous and imaginative man; For, though he scoop my water in his palm, A few rods off he deems it gems and clouds. Planting strange fruits and sunshine on the shore, I make some coast alluring, some lone isle, To distant men, who must go there, or die.
SONG OF NATURE
Mine are the night and morning, The pits of air, the gulf of space, The sportive sun, the gibbous moon, The innumerable days.
I hide in the solar glory, I am dumb in the pealing song, I rest on the pitch of the torrent, In slumber I am strong.
No numbers have counted my tallies, No tribes my house can fill, I sit by the shining Fount of Life And pour the deluge still;
And ever by delicate powers Gathering along the centuries From race on race the rarest flowers, My wreath shall nothing miss.
And many a thousand summers My gardens ripened well, And light from meliorating stars With firmer glory fell.
I wrote the past in characters Of rock and fire the scroll, The building in the coral sea, The planting of the coal.
And thefts from satellites and rings And broken stars I drew, And out of spent and aged things I formed the world anew;
What time the gods kept carnival, Tricked out in star and flower, And in cramp elf and saurian forms They swathed their too much power.
Time and Thought were my surveyors, They laid their courses well, They boiled the sea, and piled the layers Of granite, marl and shell.
But he, the man-child glorious,— Where tarries he the while? The rainbow shines his harbinger, The sunset gleams his smile.
My boreal lights leap upward, Forthright my planets roll, And still the man-child is not born, The summit of the whole.
Must time and tide forever run? Will never my winds go sleep in the west? Will never my wheels which whirl the sun And satellites have rest?
Too much of donning and doffing, Too slow the rainbow fades, I weary of my robe of snow, My leaves and my cascades;
I tire of globes and races, Too long the game is played; What without him is summer's pomp, Or winter's frozen shade?
I travail in pain for him, My creatures travail and wait; His couriers come by squadrons, He comes not to the gate.
Twice I have moulded an image, And thrice outstretched my hand, Made one of day and one of night And one of the salt sea-sand.
One in a Judaean manger, And one by Avon stream, One over against the mouths of Nile, And one in the Academe.
I moulded kings and saviors, And bards o'er kings to rule;— But fell the starry influence short, The cup was never full.
Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more, And mix the bowl again; Seethe, Fate! the ancient elements, Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace, and pain.
Let war and trade and creeds and song Blend, ripen race on race, The sunburnt world a man shall breed Of all the zones and countless days.
No ray is dimmed, no atom worn, My oldest force is good as new, And the fresh rose on yonder thorn Gives back the bending heavens in dew.
Thy summer voice, Musketaquit, Repeats the music of the rain; But sweeter rivers pulsing flit Through thee, as thou through Concord Plain.
Thou in thy narrow banks art pent: The stream I love unbounded goes Through flood and sea and firmament; Through light, through life, it forward flows.
I see the inundation sweet, I hear the spending of the stream Through years, through men, through Nature fleet, Through love and thought, through power and dream.
Musketaquit, a goblin strong, Of shard and flint makes jewels gay; They lose their grief who hear his song, And where he winds is the day of day.
So forth and brighter fares my stream,— Who drink it shall not thirst again; No darkness stains its equal gleam. And ages drop in it like rain.
I do not count the hours I spend In wandering by the sea; The forest is my loyal friend, Like God it useth me.
In plains that room for shadows make Of skirting hills to lie, Bound in by streams which give and take Their colors from the sky;
Or on the mountain-crest sublime, Or down the oaken glade, O what have I to do with time? For this the day was made.
Cities of mortals woe-begone Fantastic care derides, But in the serious landscape lone Stern benefit abides.
Sheen will tarnish, honey cloy, And merry is only a mask of sad, But, sober on a fund of joy, The woods at heart are glad.
There the great Planter plants Of fruitful worlds the grain, And with a million spells enchants The souls that walk in pain.
Still on the seeds of all he made The rose of beauty burns; Through times that wear and forms that fade, Immortal youth returns.
The black ducks mounting from the lake, The pigeon in the pines, The bittern's boom, a desert make Which no false art refines.
Down in yon watery nook, Where bearded mists divide, The gray old gods whom Chaos knew, The sires of Nature, hide.
Aloft, in secret veins of air, Blows the sweet breath of song, O, few to scale those uplands dare, Though they to all belong!
See thou bring not to field or stone The fancies found in books; Leave authors' eyes, and fetch your own, To brave the landscape's looks.
Oblivion here thy wisdom is, Thy thrift, the sleep of cares; For a proud idleness like this Crowns all thy mean affairs.
It is time to be old, To take in sail:— The god of bounds, Who sets to seas a shore, Came to me in his fatal rounds, And said: 'No more! No farther shoot Thy broad ambitious branches, and thy root. Fancy departs: no more invent; Contract thy firmament To compass of a tent. There's not enough for this and that, Make thy option which of two; Economize the failing river, Not the less revere the Giver, Leave the many and hold the few. Timely wise accept the terms, Soften the fall with wary foot; A little while Still plan and smile, And,—fault of novel germs,— Mature the unfallen fruit. Curse, if thou wilt, thy sires, Bad husbands of their fires, Who, when they gave thee breath, Failed to bequeath The needful sinew stark as once, The Baresark marrow to thy bones, But left a legacy of ebbing veins, Inconstant heat and nerveless reins,— Amid the Muses, left thee deaf and dumb, Amid the gladiators, halt and numb.'
As the bird trims her to the gale, I trim myself to the storm of time, I man the rudder, reef the sail, Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime: 'Lowly faithful, banish fear, Right onward drive unharmed; The port, well worth the cruise, is near, And every wave is charmed.'
THE NUN'S ASPIRATION
The yesterday doth never smile, The day goes drudging through the while, Yet, in the name of Godhead, I The morrow front, and can defy; Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed, Cannot withhold his conquering aid. Ah me! it was my childhood's thought, If He should make my web a blot On life's fair picture of delight, My heart's content would find it right. But O, these waves and leaves,— When happy stoic Nature grieves, No human speech so beautiful As their murmurs mine to lull. On this altar God hath built I lay my vanity and guilt; Nor me can Hope or Passion urge Hearing as now the lofty dirge Which blasts of Northern mountains hymn, Nature's funeral high and dim,— Sable pageantry of clouds, Mourning summer laid in shrouds. Many a day shall dawn and die, Many an angel wander by, And passing, light my sunken turf Moist perhaps by ocean surf, Forgotten amid splendid tombs, Yet wreathed and hid by summer blooms. On earth I dream;—I die to be: Time, shake not thy bald head at me. I challenge thee to hurry past Or for my turn to fly too fast. Think me not numbed or halt with age, Or cares that earth to earth engage, Caught with love's cord of twisted beams, Or mired by climate's gross extremes. I tire of shams, I rush to be: I pass with yonder comet free,— Pass with the comet into space Which mocks thy aeons to embrace; Aeons which tardily unfold Realm beyond realm,—extent untold; No early morn, no evening late,— Realms self-upheld, disdaining Fate, Whose shining sons, too great for fame, Never heard thy weary name; Nor lives the tragic bard to say How drear the part I held in one, How lame the other limped away.
The April winds are magical And thrill our tuneful frames; The garden walks are passional To bachelors and dames. The hedge is gemmed with diamonds, The air with Cupids full, The cobweb clues of Rosamond Guide lovers to the pool. Each dimple in the water, Each leaf that shades the rock Can cozen, pique and flatter, Can parley and provoke. Goodfellow, Puck and goblins, Know more than any book. Down with your doleful problems, And court the sunny brook. The south-winds are quick-witted, The schools are sad and slow, The masters quite omitted The lore we care to know.
MAIDEN SPEECH OF THE AEOLIAN HARP
Soft and softlier hold me, friends! Thanks if your genial care Unbind and give me to the air. Keep your lips or finger-tips For flute or spinet's dancing chips; I await a tenderer touch, I ask more or not so much: Give me to the atmosphere,— Where is the wind, my brother,—where? Lift the sash, lay me within, Lend me your ears, and I begin. For gentle harp to gentle hearts The secret of the world imparts; And not to-day and not to-morrow Can drain its wealth of hope and sorrow; But day by day, to loving ear Unlocks new sense and loftier cheer. I've come to live with you, sweet friends, This home my minstrel-journeyings ends. Many and subtle are my lays, The latest better than the first, For I can mend the happiest days And charm the anguish of the worst.
The solid, solid universe Is pervious to Love; With bandaged eyes he never errs, Around, below, above. His blinding light He flingeth white On God's and Satan's brood, And reconciles By mystic wiles The evil and the good.
The debt is paid, The verdict said, The Furies laid, The plague is stayed. All fortunes made; Turn the key and bolt the door, Sweet is death forevermore. Nor haughty hope, nor swart chagrin, Nor murdering hate, can enter in. All is now secure and fast; Not the gods can shake the Past; Flies-to the adamantine door Bolted down forevermore. None can reenter there,— No thief so politic, No Satan with a royal trick Steal in by window, chink, or hole, To bind or unbind, add what lacked, Insert a leaf, or forge a name, New-face or finish what is packed, Alter or mend eternal Fact.
THE LAST FAREWELL
LINES WRITTEN BY THE AUTHOR'S BROTHER, EDWARD BLISS EMERSON, WHILST SAILING OUT OF BOSTON HARBOR, BOUND FOR THE ISLAND OF PORTO RICO, IN 1832
Farewell, ye lofty spires That cheered the holy light! Farewell, domestic fires That broke the gloom of night! Too soon those spires are lost, Too fast we leave the bay, Too soon by ocean tost From hearth and home away, Far away, far away.
Farewell the busy town, The wealthy and the wise, Kind smile and honest frown From bright, familiar eyes. All these are fading now; Our brig hastes on her way, Her unremembering prow Is leaping o'er the sea, Far away, far away.
Farewell, my mother fond, Too kind, too good to me; Nor pearl nor diamond Would pay my debt to thee. But even thy kiss denies Upon my cheek to stay; The winged vessel flies, And billows round her play, Far away, far away.
Farewell, my brothers true, My betters, yet my peers; How desert without you My few and evil years! But though aye one in heart, Together sad or gay, Rude ocean doth us part; We separate to-day, Far away, far away.
Farewell, thou fairest one, Unplighted yet to me, Uncertain of thine own I gave my heart to thee. That untold early love I leave untold to-day, My lips in whisper move Farewell to ...! Far away, far away.
Farewell I breathe again To dim New England's shore, My heart shall beat not when I pant for thee no more. In yon green palmy isle, Beneath the tropic ray, I murmur never while For thee and thine I pray; Far away, far away.
IN MEMORIAM E.B.E.
I mourn upon this battle-field, But not for those who perished here. Behold the river-bank Whither the angry farmers came, In sloven dress and broken rank, Nor thought of fame. Their deed of blood All mankind praise; Even the serene Reason says, It was well done. The wise and simple have one glance To greet yon stern head-stone, Which more of pride than pity gave To mark the Briton's friendless grave. Yet it is a stately tomb; The grand return Of eve and morn, The year's fresh bloom, The silver cloud, Might grace the dust that is most proud.
Yet not of these I muse In this ancestral place, But of a kindred face That never joy or hope shall here diffuse.
Ah, brother of the brief but blazing star! What hast thou to do with these Haunting this bank's historic trees? Thou born for noblest life, For action's field, for victor's car, Thou living champion of the right? To these their penalty belonged: I grudge not these their bed of death, But thine to thee, who never wronged The poorest that drew breath.
All inborn power that could Consist with homage to the good Flamed from his martial eye; He who seemed a soldier born, He should have the helmet worn, All friends to fend, all foes defy, Fronting foes of God and man, Frowning down the evil-doer, Battling for the weak and poor. His from youth the leader's look Gave the law which others took, And never poor beseeching glance Shamed that sculptured countenance.
There is no record left on earth, Save in tablets of the heart, Of the rich inherent worth, Of the grace that on him shone, Of eloquent lips, of joyful wit: He could not frame a word unfit, An act unworthy to be done; Honor prompted every glance, Honor came and sat beside him, In lowly cot or painful road, And evermore the cruel god Cried "Onward!" and the palm-crown showed, Born for success he seemed, With grace to win, with heart to hold, With shining gifts that took all eyes, With budding power in college-halls, As pledged in coming days to forge Weapons to guard the State, or scourge Tyrants despite their guards or walls. On his young promise Beauty smiled, Drew his free homage unbeguiled, And prosperous Age held out his hand, And richly his large future planned, And troops of friends enjoyed the tide,— All, all was given, and only health denied.
I see him with superior smile Hunted by Sorrow's grisly train In lands remote, in toil and pain, With angel patience labor on, With the high port he wore erewhile, When, foremost of the youthful band, The prizes in all lists he won; Nor bate one jot of heart or hope, And, least of all, the loyal tie Which holds to home 'neath every sky, The joy and pride the pilgrim feels In hearts which round the hearth at home Keep pulse for pulse with those who roam.
What generous beliefs console The brave whom Fate denies the goal! If others reach it, is content; To Heaven's high will his will is bent. Firm on his heart relied, What lot soe'er betide, Work of his hand He nor repents nor grieves, Pleads for itself the fact, As unrepenting Nature leaves Her every act.
Fell the bolt on the branching oak; The rainbow of his hope was broke; No craven cry, no secret tear,— He told no pang, he knew no fear; Its peace sublime his aspect kept, His purpose woke, his features slept; And yet between the spasms of pain His genius beamed with joy again.
O'er thy rich dust the endless smile Of Nature in thy Spanish isle Hints never loss or cruel break And sacrifice for love's dear sake, Nor mourn the unalterable Days That Genius goes and Folly stays. What matters how, or from what ground, The freed soul its Creator found? Alike thy memory embalms That orange-grove, that isle of palms, And these loved banks, whose oak-bough bold Root in the blood of heroes old.
* * * * *
ELEMENTS AND MOTTOES
* * * * *
The lords of life, the lords of life,— I saw them pass In their own guise, Like and unlike, Portly and grim,— Use and Surprise, Surface and Dream, Succession swift and spectral Wrong, Temperament without a tongue, And the inventor of the game Omnipresent without name;— Some to see, some to be guessed, They marched from east to west: Little man, least of all, Among the legs of his guardians tall, Walked about with puzzled look. Him by the hand dear Nature took, Dearest Nature, strong and kind, Whispered, 'Darling, never mind! To-morrow they will wear another face, The founder thou; these are thy race!'
The wings of Time are black and white, Pied with morning and with night. Mountain tall and ocean deep Trembling balance duly keep. In changing moon and tidal wave Glows the feud of Want and Have. Gauge of more and less through space, Electric star or pencil plays, The lonely Earth amid the balls That hurry through the eternal halls, A makeweight flying to the void, Supplemental asteroid, Or compensatory spark, Shoots across the neutral Dark.
Man's the elm, and Wealth the vine; Stanch and strong the tendrils twine: Though the frail ringlets thee deceive, None from its stock that vine can reave. Fear not, then, thou child infirm, There's no god dare wrong a worm; Laurel crowns cleave to deserts, And power to him who power exerts. Hast not thy share? On winged feet, Lo it rushes thee to meet; And all that Nature made thy own, Floating in air or pent in stone, Will rive the hills and swim the sea, And, like thy shadow, follow thee.
Gold and iron are good To buy iron and gold; All earth's fleece and food For their like are sold. Boded Merlin wise, Proved Napoleon great, Nor kind nor coinage buys Aught above its rate. Fear, Craft and Avarice Cannot rear a State. Out of dust to build What is more than dust, Walls Amphion piled Phoebus stablish must. When the Muses nine With the Virtues meet, Find to their design An Atlantic seat, By green orchard boughs Fended from the heat, here the statesman ploughs Furrow for the wheat,— When the Church is social worth, When the state-house is the hearth, Then the perfect State is come, The republican at home.
Ruby wine is drunk by knaves, Sugar spends to fatten slaves, Rose and vine-leaf deck buffoons; Thunder-clouds are Jove's festoons, Drooping oft in wreaths of dread, Lightning-knotted round his head; The hero is not fed on sweets, Daily his own heart he eats; Chambers of the great are jails, And head-winds right for royal sails.
The sun set, but set not his hope: Stars rose; his faith was earlier up: Fixed on the enormous galaxy, Deeper and older seemed his eye; And matched his sufferance sublime The taciturnity of time. He spoke, and words more soft than rain Brought the Age of Gold again: His action won such reverence sweet As hid all measure of the feat.
Can rules or tutors educate The semigod whom we await? He must be musical, Tremulous, impressional, Alive to gentle influence Of landscape and of sky, And tender to the spirit-touch Of man's or maiden's eye: But, to his native centre fast, Shall into Future fuse the Past, And the world's flowing fates in his own mould recast.
A ruddy drop of manly blood The surging sea outweighs, The world uncertain comes and goes; The lover rooted stays. I fancied he was fled,— And, after many a year, Glowed unexhausted kindliness, Like daily sunrise there. My careful heart was free again, O friend, my bosom said, Through thee alone the sky is arched, Through thee the rose is red; All things through thee take nobler form, And look beyond the earth, The mill-round of our fate appears A sun-path in thy worth. Me too thy nobleness has taught To master my despair; The fountains of my hidden life Are through thy friendship fair.
The living Heaven thy prayers respect, House at once and architect, Quarrying man's rejected hours, Builds therewith eternal towers; Sole and self-commanded works, Fears not undermining days, Grows by decays, And, by the famous might that lurks In reaction and recoil, Makes flame to freeze and ice to boil; Forging, through swart arms of Offence, The silver seat of Innocence.
Was never form and never face So sweet to SEYD as only grace Which did not slumber like a stone, But hovered gleaming and was gone. Beauty chased he everywhere, In flame, in storm, in clouds of air. He smote the lake to feed his eye With the beryl beam of the broken wave; He flung in pebbles well to hear The moment's music which they gave. Oft pealed for him a lofty tone From nodding pole and belting zone. He heard a voice none else could hear From centred and from errant sphere. The quaking earth did quake in rhyme, Seas ebbed and flowed in epic chime. In dens of passion, and pits of woe, He saw strong Eros struggling through, To sun the dark and solve the curse, And beam to the bounds of the universe. While thus to love he gave his days In loyal worship, scorning praise, How spread their lures for him in vain Thieving Ambition and paltering Gain! He thought it happier to be dead, To die for Beauty, than live for bread.
Grace, Beauty and Caprice Build this golden portal; Graceful women, chosen men, Dazzle every mortal. Their sweet and lofty countenance His enchanted food; He need not go to them, their forms Beset his solitude. He looketh seldom in their face, His eyes explore the ground,— The green grass is a looking-glass Whereon their traits are found. Little and less he says to them, So dances his heart in his breast; Their tranquil mien bereaveth him Of wit, of words, of rest. Too weak to win, too fond to shun The tyrants of his doom, The much deceived Endymion Slips behind a tomb.
Give to barrows, trays and pans Grace and glimmer of romance; Bring the moonlight into noon Hid in gleaming piles of stone; On the city's paved street Plant gardens lined with lilacs sweet; Let spouting fountains cool the air, Singing in the sun-baked square; Let statue, picture, park and hall, Ballad, flag and festival, The past restore, the day adorn, And make to-morrow a new morn. So shall the drudge in dusty frock Spy behind the city clock Retinues of airy kings, Skirts of angels, starry wings, His fathers shining in bright fables, His children fed at heavenly tables. 'T is the privilege of Art Thus to play its cheerful part, Man on earth to acclimate And bend the exile to his fate, And, moulded of one element With the days and firmament, Teach him on these as stairs to climb, And live on even terms with Time; Whilst upper life the slender rill Of human sense doth overfill.
Space is ample, east and west, But two cannot go abreast, Cannot travel in it two: Yonder masterful cuckoo Crowds every egg out of the nest, Quick or dead, except its own; A spell is laid on sod and stone, Night and Day were tampered with, Every quality and pith Surcharged and sultry with a power That works its will on age and hour.
This is he, who, felled by foes, Sprung harmless up, refreshed by blows: He to captivity was sold, But him no prison-bars would hold: Though they sealed him in a rock, Mountain chains he can unlock: Thrown to lions for their meat, The crouching lion kissed his feet; Bound to the stake, no flames appalled, But arched o'er him an honoring vault. This is he men miscall Fate, Threading dark ways, arriving late, But ever coming in time to crown The truth, and hurl wrong-doers down. He is the oldest, and best known, More near than aught thou call'st thy own, Yet, greeted in another's eyes, Disconcerts with glad surprise. This is Jove, who, deaf to prayers, Floods with blessings unawares. Draw, if thou canst, the mystic line Severing rightly his from thine, Which is human, which divine.
Theme no poet gladly sung, Fair to old and foul to young; Scorn not thou the love of parts, And the articles of arts. Grandeur of the perfect sphere Thanks the atoms that cohere.
A subtle chain of countless rings The next unto the farthest brings; The eye reads omens where it goes, And speaks all languages the rose; And, striving to be man, the worm Mounts through all the spires of form.
The rounded world is fair to see, Nine times folded in mystery: Though baffled seers cannot impart The secret of its laboring heart, Throb thine with Nature's throbbing breast, And all is clear from east to west. Spirit that lurks each form within Beckons to spirit of its kin; Self-kindled every atom glows And hints the future which it owes.
THE INFORMING SPIRIT
There is no great and no small To the Soul that maketh all: And where it cometh, all things are; And it cometh everywhere.
I am owner of the sphere, Of the seven stars and the solar year, Of Caesar's hand, and Plato's brain, Of Lord Christ's heart, and Shakspeare's strain.
Nature centres into balls, And her proud ephemerals, Fast to surface and outside, Scan the profile of the sphere; Knew they what that signified, A new genesis were here.
Go, speed the stars of Thought On to their shining goals;— The sower scatters broad his seed; The wheat thou strew'st be souls.
Gifts of one who loved me,— 'T was high time they came; When he ceased to love me, Time they stopped for shame.
In countless upward-striving waves The moon-drawn tide-wave strives; In thousand far-transplanted grafts The parent fruit survives; So, in the new-born millions, The perfect Adam lives. Not less are summer mornings dear To every child they wake, And each with novel life his sphere Fills for his proper sake.
In the suburb, in the town, On the railway, in the square, Came a beam of goodness down Doubling daylight everywhere: Peace now each for malice takes, Beauty for his sinful weeds, For the angel Hope aye makes Him an angel whom she leads.
His tongue was framed to music, And his hand was armed with skill; His face was the mould of beauty, And his heart the throne of will.
Who shall tell what did befall, Far away in time, when once, Over the lifeless ball, Hung idle stars and suns? What god the element obeyed? Wings of what wind the lichen bore, Wafting the puny seeds of power, Which, lodged in rock, the rock abrade? And well the primal pioneer Knew the strong task to it assigned, Patient through Heaven's enormous year To build in matter home for mind. From air the creeping centuries drew The matted thicket low and wide, This must the leaves of ages strew The granite slab to clothe and hide, Ere wheat can wave its golden pride. What smiths, and in what furnace, rolled (In dizzy aeons dim and mute The reeling brain can ill compute) Copper and iron, lead and gold? What oldest star the fame can save Of races perishing to pave The planet with a floor of lime? Dust is their pyramid and mole: Who saw what ferns and palms were pressed Under the tumbling mountain's breast, In the safe herbal of the coal? But when the quarried means were piled, All is waste and worthless, till Arrives the wise selecting will, And, out of slime and chaos, Wit Draws the threads of fair and fit. Then temples rose, and towns, and marts, The shop of toil, the hall of arts; Then flew the sail across the seas To feed the North from tropic trees; The storm-wind wove, the torrent span, Where they were bid, the rivers ran; New slaves fulfilled the poet's dream, Galvanic wire, strong-shouldered steam. Then docks were built, and crops were stored, And ingots added to the hoard. But though light-headed man forget, Remembering Matter pays her debt: Still, through her motes and masses, draw Electric thrills and ties of law, Which bind the strengths of Nature wild To the conscience of a child.
Flow, flow the waves hated, Accursed, adored, The waves of mutation; No anchorage is. Sleep is not, death is not; Who seem to die live. House you were born in, Friends of your spring-time, Old man and young maid, Day's toil and its guerdon, They are all vanishing, Fleeing to fables, Cannot be moored. See the stars through them, Through treacherous marbles. Know the stars yonder, The stars everlasting, Are fugitive also, And emulate, vaulted, The lambent heat lightning And fire-fly's flight.
When thou dost return On the wave's circulation, Behold the shimmer, The wild dissipation, And, out of endeavor To change and to flow, The gas become solid, And phantoms and nothings Return to be things, And endless imbroglio Is law and the world,— Then first shalt thou know, That in the wild turmoil, Horsed on the Proteus, Thou ridest to power, And to endurance.
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QUATRAINS AND TRANSLATIONS
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High was her heart, and yet was well inclined, Her manners made of bounty well refined; Far capitals and marble courts, her eye still seemed to see, Minstrels and kings and high-born dames, and of the best that be.
Every thought is public, Every nook is wide; Thy gossips spread each whisper, And the gods from side to side.
He who has no hands Perforce must use his tongue; Foxes are so cunning Because they are not strong.
Quit the hut, frequent the palace, Reck not what the people say; For still, where'er the trees grow biggest, Huntsmen find the easiest way.
Ever the Poet from the land Steers his bark and trims his sail; Right out to sea his courses stand, New worlds to find in pinnace frail.
To clothe the fiery thought In simple words succeeds, For still the craft of genius is To mask a king in weeds.
Go thou to thy learned task, I stay with the flowers of Spring: Do thou of the Ages ask What me the Hours will bring.
True Brahmin, in the morning meadows wet, Expound the Vedas of the violet, Or, hid in vines, peeping through many a loop, See the plum redden, and the beurre stoop.
He took the color of his vest From rabbit's coat or grouse's breast; For, as the wood-kinds lurk and hide, So walks the woodman, unespied.
The gale that wrecked you on the sand, It helped my rowers to row; The storm is my best galley hand And drives me where I go.
The sea is the road of the bold, Frontier of the wheat-sown plains, The pit wherein the streams are rolled And fountain of the rains.
Over his head were the maple buds, And over the tree was the moon, And over the moon were the starry studs That drop from the angels' shoon.
With beams December planets dart His cold eye truth and conduct scanned, July was in his sunny heart, October in his liberal hand.
FROM THE FRENCH
Some of your hurts you have cured, And the sharpest you still have survived, But what torments of grief you endured From evils which never arrived!
Boon Nature yields each day a brag which we now first behold, And trains us on to slight the new, as if it were the old: But blest is he, who, playing deep, yet haply asks not why, Too busied with the crowded hour to fear to live or die.
Her planted eye to-day controls, Is in the morrow most at home, And sternly calls to being souls That curse her when they come.
Ere he was born, the stars of fate Plotted to make him rich and great: When from the womb the babe was loosed, The gate of gifts behind him closed.
Cast the bantling on the rocks, Suckle him with the she-wolf's teat, Wintered with the hawk and fox, Power and speed be hands and feet.
I am not wiser for my age, Nor skilful by my grief; Life loiters at the book's first page,— Ah! could we turn the leaf.
HERI, CRAS, HODIE
Shines the last age, the next with hope is seen, To-day slinks poorly off unmarked between: Future or Past no richer secret folds, O friendless Present! than thy bosom holds.
Night-dreams trace on Memory's wall Shadows of the thoughts of day, And thy fortunes, as they fall, The bias of the will betray.
Love on his errand bound to go Can swim the flood and wade through snow, Where way is none, 't will creep and wind And eat through Alps its home to find.
Though love repine, and reason chafe, There came a voice without reply,— ''T is man's perdition to be safe, When for the truth he ought to die.'
Well and wisely said the Greek, Be thou faithful, but not fond; To the altar's foot thy fellow seek,— The Furies wait beyond.
Test of the poet is knowledge of love, For Eros is older than Saturn or Jove; Never was poet, of late or of yore, Who was not tremulous with love-lore.
I see all human wits Are measured but a few; Unmeasured still my Shakspeare sits, Lone as the blessed Jew.
Her passions the shy violet From Hafiz never hides; Love-longings of the raptured bird The bird to him confides.
NATURE IN LEASTS
As sings the pine-tree in the wind, So sings in the wind a sprig of the pine; Her strength and soul has laughing France Shed in each drop of wine.
[Greek: ADAKRYN NEMONTAI AIONA]
'A New commandment,' said the smiling Muse, 'I give my darling son, Thou shalt not preach';— Luther, Fox, Behmen, Swedenborg, grew pale, And, on the instant, rosier clouds upbore Hafiz and Shakspeare with their shining choirs.
SONNET OF MICHEL ANGELO BUONAROTTI
Never did sculptor's dream unfold A form which marble doth not hold In its white block; yet it therein shall find Only the hand secure and bold Which still obeys the mind. So hide in thee, thou heavenly dame, The ill I shun, the good I claim; I alas! not well alive, Miss the aim whereto I strive. Not love, nor beauty's pride, Nor Fortune, nor thy coldness, can I chide, If, whilst within thy heart abide Both death and pity, my unequal skill Fails of the life, but draws the death and ill.
FROM THE PERSIAN OF KERMANI
In Farsistan the violet spreads Its leaves to the rival sky; I ask how far is the Tigris flood, And the vine that grows thereby?
Except the amber morning wind, Not one salutes me here; There is no lover in all Bagdat To offer the exile cheer.
I know that thou, O morning wind! O'er Kernan's meadow blowest, And thou, heart-warming nightingale! My father's orchard knowest.
The merchant hath stuffs of price, And gems from the sea-washed strand, And princes offer me grace To stay in the Syrian land;
But what is gold for, but for gifts? And dark, without love, is the day; And all that I see in Bagdat Is the Tigris to float me away.
I said to heaven that glowed above, O hide yon sun-filled zone, Hide all the stars you boast; For, in the world of love And estimation true, The heaped-up harvest of the moon Is worth one barley-corn at most, The Pleiads' sheaf but two.
If my darling should depart, And search the skies for prouder friends, God forbid my angry heart In other love should seek amends.
When the blue horizon's hoop Me a little pinches here, Instant to my grave I stoop, And go find thee in the sphere.
Bethink, poor heart, what bitter kind of jest Mad Destiny this tender stripling played; For a warm breast of maiden to his breast, She laid a slab of marble on his head.
They say, through patience, chalk Becomes a ruby stone; Ah, yes! but by the true heart's blood The chalk is crimson grown.
Thou foolish Hafiz! Say, do churls Know the worth of Oman's pearls? Give the gem which dims the moon To the noblest, or to none.
Dearest, where thy shadow falls, Beauty sits and Music calls; Where thy form and favor come, All good creatures have their home.
On prince or bride no diamond stone Half so gracious ever shone, As the light of enterprise Beaming from a young man's eyes.
FROM OMAR KHAYYAM
Each spot where tulips prank their state Has drunk the life-blood of the great; The violets yon field which stain Are moles of beauties Time hath slain.
Unbar the door, since thou the Opener art, Show me the forward way, since thou art guide, I put no faith in pilot or in chart, Since they are transient, and thou dost abide.
FROM ALI BEN ABU TALEB
He who has a thousand friends has not a friend to spare, And he who has one enemy will meet him everywhere.
On two days it steads not to run from thy grave, The appointed, and the unappointed day; On the first, neither balm nor physician can save, Nor thee, on the second, the Universe slay.
FROM IBN JEMIN
Two things thou shalt not long for, if thou love a mind serene;— A woman to thy wife, though she were a crowned queen; And the second, borrowed money,—though the smiling lender say That he will not demand the debt until the Judgment Day.
Hark, what, now loud, now low, the pining flute complains, Without tongue, yellow-cheeked, full of winds that wail and sigh; Saying, Sweetheart! the old mystery remains,— If I am I; thou, thou; or thou art I?
TO THE SHAH
Thy foes to hunt, thy enviers to strike down, Poises Arcturus aloft morning and evening his spear.
TO THE SHAH
Not in their houses stand the stars, But o'er the pinnacles of thine!
TO THE SHAH
From thy worth and weight the stars gravitate, And the equipoise of heaven is thy house's equipoise.
SONG OF SEYD NIMETOLLAH OF KUHISTAN
[Among the religious customs of the dervishes is an astronomical dance, in which the dervish imitates the movements of the heavenly bodies, by spinning on his own axis, whilst at the same time he revolves round the Sheikh in the centre, representing the sun; and, as he spins, he sings the Song of Seyd Nimetollah of Kuhistan.]
Spin the ball! I reel, I burn, Nor head from foot can I discern, Nor my heart from love of mine, Nor the wine-cup from the wine. All my doing, all my leaving, Reaches not to my perceiving; Lost in whirling spheres I rove, And know only that I love.
I am seeker of the stone, Living gem of Solomon; From the shore of souls arrived, In the sea of sense I dived; But what is land, or what is wave, To me who only jewels crave? Love is the air-fed fire intense, And my heart the frankincense; As the rich aloes flames, I glow, Yet the censer cannot know. I'm all-knowing, yet unknowing; Stand not, pause not, in my going.
Ask not me, as Muftis can, To recite the Alcoran; Well I love the meaning sweet,— I tread the book beneath my feet.
Lo! the God's love blazes higher, Till all difference expire. What are Moslems? what are Giaours? All are Love's, and all are ours. I embrace the true believers, But I reck not of deceivers. Firm to Heaven my bosom clings, Heedless of inferior things; Down on earth there, underfoot, What men chatter know I not.
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Right upward on the road of fame With sounding steps the poet came; Born and nourished in miracles, His feet were shod with golden bells, Or where he stepped the soil did peal As if the dust were glass and steel. The gallant child where'er he came Threw to each fact a tuneful name. The things whereon he cast his eyes Could not the nations rebaptize, Nor Time's snows hide the names he set, Nor last posterity forget. Yet every scroll whereon he wrote In latent fire his secret thought, Fell unregarded to the ground, Unseen by such as stood around. The pious wind took it away, The reverent darkness hid the lay. Methought like water-haunting birds Divers or dippers were his words, And idle clowns beside the mere At the new vision gape and jeer. But when the noisy scorn was past, Emerge the winged words in haste. New-bathed, new-trimmed, on healthy wing, Right to the heaven they steer and sing.
A Brother of the world, his song Sounded like a tempest strong Which tore from oaks their branches broad, And stars from the ecliptic road. Times wore he as his clothing-weeds, He sowed the sun and moon for seeds. As melts the iceberg in the seas, As clouds give rain to the eastern breeze, As snow-banks thaw in April's beam, The solid kingdoms like a dream Resist in vain his motive strain, They totter now and float amain. For the Muse gave special charge His learning should be deep and large, And his training should not scant The deepest lore of wealth or want: His flesh should feel, his eyes should read Every maxim of dreadful Need; In its fulness he should taste Life's honeycomb, but not too fast; Full fed, but not intoxicated; He should be loved; he should be hated; A blooming child to children dear, His heart should palpitate with fear.
And well he loved to quit his home And, Calmuck, in his wagon roam To read new landscapes and old skies;— But oh, to see his solar eyes Like meteors which chose their way And rived the dark like a new day! Not lazy grazing on all they saw, Each chimney-pot and cottage door, Farm-gear and village picket-fence, But, feeding on magnificence, They bounded to the horizon's edge And searched with the sun's privilege. Landward they reached the mountains old Where pastoral tribes their flocks infold, Saw rivers run seaward by cities high And the seas wash the low-hung sky; Saw the endless rack of the firmament And the sailing moon where the cloud was rent, And through man and woman and sea and star Saw the dance of Nature forward and far, Through worlds and races and terms and times Saw musical order and pairing rhymes.
The gods talk in the breath of the woods, They talk in the shaken pine, And fill the long reach of the old seashore With dialogue divine; And the poet who overhears Some random word they say Is the fated man of men Whom the ages must obey: One who having nectar drank Into blissful orgies sank; He takes no mark of night or day, He cannot go, he cannot stay, He would, yet would not, counsel keep, But, like a walker in his sleep With staring eye that seeth none, Ridiculously up and down Seeks how he may fitly tell The heart-o'erlading miracle.
Not yet, not yet, Impatient friend,— A little while attend; Not yet I sing: but I must wait, My hand upon the silent string, Fully until the end. I see the coming light, I see the scattered gleams, Aloft, beneath, on left and right The stars' own ether beams; These are but seeds of days, Not yet a steadfast morn, An intermittent blaze, An embryo god unborn.
How all things sparkle, The dust is alive, To the birth they arrive: I snuff the breath of my morning afar, I see the pale lustres condense to a star: The fading colors fix, The vanishing are seen, And the world that shall be Twins the world that has been. I know the appointed hour, I greet my office well, Never faster, never slower Revolves the fatal wheel! The Fairest enchants me, The Mighty commands me, Saying, 'Stand in thy place; Up and eastward turn thy face; As mountains for the morning wait, Coming early, coming late, So thou attend the enriching Fate Which none can stay, and none accelerate. I am neither faint nor weary, Fill thy will, O faultless heart! Here from youth to age I tarry,— Count it flight of bird or dart. My heart at the heart of things Heeds no longer lapse of time, Rushing ages moult their wings, Bathing in thy day sublime.
The sun set, but set not his hope:— Stars rose, his faith was earlier up: Fixed on the enormous galaxy, Deeper and older seemed his eye, And matched his sufferance sublime The taciturnity of Time.
Beside his hut and shading oak, Thus to himself the poet spoke, 'I have supped to-night with gods, I will not go under a wooden roof: As I walked among the hills In the love which Nature fills, The great stars did not shine aloof, They hurried down from their deep abodes And hemmed me in their glittering troop.
'Divine Inviters! I accept The courtesy ye have shown and kept From ancient ages for the bard, To modulate With finer fate A fortune harsh and hard. With aim like yours I watch your course, Who never break your lawful dance By error or intemperance. O birds of ether without wings! O heavenly ships without a sail! O fire of fire! O best of things! O mariners who never fail! Sail swiftly through your amber vault, An animated law, a presence to exalt.'
Ah, happy if a sun or star Could chain the wheel of Fortune's car, And give to hold an even state, Neither dejected nor elate, That haply man upraised might keep The height of Fancy's far-eyed steep. In vain: the stars are glowing wheels, Giddy with motion Nature reels, Sun, moon, man, undulate and stream, The mountains flow, the solids seem, Change acts, reacts; back, forward hurled, And pause were palsy to the world.— The morn is come: the starry crowds Are hid behind the thrice-piled clouds; The new day lowers, and equal odds Have changed not less the guest of gods; Discrowned and timid, thoughtless, worn, The child of genius sits forlorn: Between two sleeps a short day's stealth, 'Mid many ails a brittle health, A cripple of God, half true, half formed, And by great sparks Promethean warmed, Constrained by impotence to adjourn To infinite time his eager turn, His lot of action at the urn. He by false usage pinned about No breath therein, no passage out, Cast wishful glances at the stars And wishful saw the Ocean stream:— 'Merge me in the brute universe, Or lift to a diviner dream!'
Beside him sat enduring love, Upon him noble eyes did rest, Which, for the Genius that there strove. The follies bore that it invest. They spoke not, for their earnest sense Outran the craft of eloquence.
He whom God had thus preferred,— To whom sweet angels ministered, Saluted him each morn as brother, And bragged his virtues to each other,— Alas! how were they so beguiled, And they so pure? He, foolish child, A facile, reckless, wandering will, Eager for good, not hating ill, Thanked Nature for each stroke she dealt; On his tense chords all strokes were felt, The good, the bad with equal zeal, He asked, he only asked, to feel. Timid, self-pleasing, sensitive, With Gods, with fools, content to live; Bended to fops who bent to him; Surface with surfaces did swim.
'Sorrow, sorrow!' the angels cried, 'Is this dear Nature's manly pride? Call hither thy mortal enemy, Make him glad thy fall to see! Yon waterflag, yon sighing osier, A drop can shake, a breath can fan; Maidens laugh and weep; Composure Is the pudency of man,'
Again by night the poet went From the lighted halls Beneath the darkling firmament To the seashore, to the old seawalls, Out shone a star beneath the cloud, The constellation glittered soon,— You have no lapse; so have ye glowed But once in your dominion. And yet, dear stars, I know ye shine Only by needs and loves of mine; Light-loving, light-asking life in me Feeds those eternal lamps I see. And I to whom your light has spoken, I, pining to be one of you, I fall, my faith is broken, Ye scorn me from your deeps of blue. Or if perchance, ye orbs of Fate, Your ne'er averted glance Beams with a will compassionate On sons of time and chance, Then clothe these hands with power In just proportion, Nor plant immense designs Where equal means are none.'
CHORUS OF SPIRITS
Means, dear brother, ask them not; Soul's desire is means enow, Pure content is angel's lot, Thine own theatre art thou.
Gentler far than falls the snow In the woodwalks still and low Fell the lesson on his heart And woke the fear lest angels part.
I see your forms with deep content, I know that ye are excellent, But will ye stay? I hear the rustle of wings, Ye meditate what to say Ere ye go to quit me for ever and aye.
Brother, we are no phantom band; Brother, accept this fatal hand. Aches thine unbelieving heart With the fear that we must part? See, all we are rooted here By one thought to one same sphere; From thyself thou canst not flee,— From thyself no more can we.
Suns and stars their courses keep, But not angels of the deep: Day and night their turn observe, But the day of day may swerve. Is there warrant that the waves Of thought in their mysterious caves Will heap in me their highest tide, In me therewith beatified? Unsure the ebb and flood of thought, The moon comes back,—the Spirit not.
Brother, sweeter is the Law Than all the grace Love ever saw; We are its suppliants. By it, we Draw the breath of Eternity; Serve thou it not for daily bread,— Serve it for pain and fear and need. Love it, though it hide its light; By love behold the sun at night. If the Law should thee forget, More enamoured serve it yet; Though it hate thee, suffer long; Put the Spirit in the wrong; Brother, no decrepitude Chills the limbs of Time; As fleet his feet, his hands as good, His vision as sublime: On Nature's wheels there is no rust; Nor less on man's enchanted dust Beauty and Force alight.
FRAGMENTS ON THE POET AND THE POETIC GIFT
There are beggars in Iran and Araby, SAID was hungrier than all; Hafiz said he was a fly That came to every festival. He came a pilgrim to the Mosque On trail of camel and caravan, Knew every temple and kiosk Out from Mecca to Ispahan; Northward he went to the snowy hills, At court he sat in the grave Divan. His music was the south-wind's sigh, His lamp, the maiden's downcast eye, And ever the spell of beauty came And turned the drowsy world to flame. By lake and stream and gleaming hall And modest copse and the forest tall, Where'er he went, the magic guide Kept its place by the poet's side. Said melted the days like cups of pearl, Served high and low, the lord and the churl, Loved harebells nodding on a rock, A cabin hung with curling smoke, Ring of axe or hum of wheel Or gleam which use can paint on steel, And huts and tents; nor loved he less Stately lords in palaces, Princely women hard to please, Fenced by form and ceremony, Decked by courtly rites and dress And etiquette of gentilesse. But when the mate of the snow and wind, He left each civil scale behind: Him wood-gods fed with honey wild And of his memory beguiled. He loved to watch and wake When the wing of the south-wind whipt the lake And the glassy surface in ripples brake And fled in pretty frowns away Like the flitting boreal lights, Rippling roses in northern nights, Or like the thrill of Aeolian strings In which the sudden wind-god rings. In caves and hollow trees he crept And near the wolf and panther slept. He came to the green ocean's brim And saw the wheeling sea-birds skim, Summer and winter, o'er the wave, Like creatures of a skiey mould, Impassible to heat or cold. He stood before the tumbling main With joy too tense for sober brain; He shared the life of the element, The tie of blood and home was rent: As if in him the welkin walked, The winds took flesh, the mountains talked, And he the bard, a crystal soul Sphered and concentric with the whole.
The Dervish whined to Said, "Thou didst not tarry while I prayed. Beware the fire that Eblis burned," But Saadi coldly thus returned, "Once with manlike love and fear I gave thee for an hour my ear, I kept the sun and stars at bay, And love, for words thy tongue could say. I cannot sell my heaven again For all that rattles in thy brain."
Said Saadi, "When I stood before Hassan the camel-driver's door, I scorned the fame of Timour brave; Timour, to Hassan, was a slave. In every glance of Hassan's eye I read great years of victory, And I, who cower mean and small In the frequent interval When wisdom not with me resides, Worship Toil's wisdom that abides. I shunned his eyes, that faithful man's, I shunned the toiling Hassan's glance."
The civil world will much forgive To bards who from its maxims live, But if, grown bold, the poet dare Bend his practice to his prayer And following his mighty heart Shame the times and live apart,— Vae solis! I found this, That of goods I could not miss If I fell within the line, Once a member, all was mine, Houses, banquets, gardens, fountains, Fortune's delectable mountains; But if I would walk alone, Was neither cloak nor crumb my own. And thus the high Muse treated me, Directly never greeted me, But when she spread her dearest spells, Feigned to speak to some one else. I was free to overhear, Or I might at will forbear; Yet mark me well, that idle word Thus at random overheard Was the symphony of spheres, And proverb of a thousand years, The light wherewith all planets shone, The livery all events put on, It fell in rain, it grew in grain, It put on flesh in friendly form, Frowned in my foe and growled in storm, It spoke in Tullius Cicero, In Milton and in Angelo: I travelled and found it at Rome; Eastward it filled all Heathendom And it lay on my hearth when I came home.
Mask thy wisdom with delight, Toy with the bow, yet hit the white, As Jelaleddin old and gray; He seemed to bask, to dream and play Without remoter hope or fear Than still to entertain his ear And pass the burning summer-time In the palm-grove with a rhyme; Heedless that each cunning word Tribes and ages overheard: Those idle catches told the laws Holding Nature to her cause.
God only knew how Saadi dined; Roses he ate, and drank the wind; He freelier breathed beside the pine, In cities he was low and mean; The mountain waters washed him clean And by the sea-waves he was strong; He heard their medicinal song, Asked no physician but the wave, No palace but his sea-beat cave.
Saadi held the Muse in awe, She was his mistress and his law; A twelvemonth he could silence hold, Nor ran to speak till she him told; He felt the flame, the fanning wings, Nor offered words till they were things, Glad when the solid mountain swims In music and uplifting hymns.
Charmed from fagot and from steel, Harvests grew upon his tongue, Past and future must reveal All their heart when Saadi sung; Sun and moon must fall amain Like sower's seeds into his brain, There quickened to be born again.
The free winds told him what they knew, Discoursed of fortune as they blew; Omens and signs that filled the air To him authentic witness bare; The birds brought auguries on their wings, And carolled undeceiving things Him to beckon, him to warn; Well might then the poet scorn To learn of scribe or courier Things writ in vaster character; And on his mind at dawn of day Soft shadows of the evening lay.
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Pale genius roves alone, No scout can track his way, None credits him till he have shown His diamonds to the day.
Not his the feaster's wine, Nor land, nor gold, nor power, By want and pain God screeneth him Till his elected hour.