Open Windows. [Sara Teasdale]
Out of the window a sea of green trees Lift their soft boughs like the arms of a dancer; They beckon and call me, "Come out in the sun!" But I cannot answer.
I am alone with Weakness and Pain, Sick abed and June is going, I cannot keep her, she hurries by With the silver-green of her garments blowing.
Men and women pass in the street Glad of the shining sapphire weather, But we know more of it than they, Pain and I together.
They are the runners in the sun, Breathless and blinded by the race, But we are watchers in the shade Who speak with Wonder face to face.
Old Amaze. [Mahlon Leonard Fisher]
Mine eyes are filled today with old amaze At mountains, and at meadows deftly strewn With bits of the gay jewelry of June And of her splendid vesture; and, agaze, I stand where Spring her bright brocade of days Embroidered o'er, and listen to the flow Of sudden runlets — the faint blasts they blow, Low, on their stony bugles, in still ways. For wonders are at one, confederate yet: Yea, where the wearied year came to a close, An odor reminiscent of the rose; And everywhere her seal has Summer set; And, as of old, in the horizon-sky, The sun can find a lovely place to die.
Voyage a l'Infini. [Walter Conrad Arensberg]
The swan existing Is like a song with an accompaniment Imaginary.
Across the grassy lake, Across the lake to the shadow of the willows, It is accompanied by an image, — as by Debussy's "Reflets dans l'eau".
The swan that is Reflects Upon the solitary water — breast to breast With the duplicity: "The other one!"
And breast to breast it is confused. O visionary wedding! O stateliness of the procession! It is accompanied by the image of itself Alone.
At night The lake is a wide silence, Without imagination.
After Sunset. [Grace Hazard Conkling]
I have an understanding with the hills At evening when the slanted radiance fills Their hollows, and the great winds let them be, And they are quiet and look down at me. Oh, then I see the patience in their eyes Out of the centuries that made them wise. They lend me hoarded memory and I learn Their thoughts of granite and their whims of fern, And why a dream of forests must endure Though every tree be slain: and how the pure, Invisible beauty has a word so brief A flower can say it or a shaken leaf, But few may ever snare it in a song, Though for the quest a life is not too long. When the blue hills grow tender, when they pull The twilight close with gesture beautiful, And shadows are their garments, and the air Deepens, and the wild veery is at prayer, — Their arms are strong around me; and I know That somehow I shall follow when you go To the still land beyond the evening star, Where everlasting hills and valleys are: And silence may not hurt us any more, And terror shall be past, and grief, and war.
Morning Song of Senlin. [Conrad Aiken]
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning When the light drips through the shutters like the dew, I arise, I face the sunrise, And do the things my fathers learned to do. Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die, And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet Stand before a glass and tie my tie.
Vine leaves tap my window, Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree Repeating three clear tones.
It is morning. I stand by the mirror And tie my tie once more. While waves far off in a pale rose twilight Crash on a white sand shore. I stand by a mirror and comb my hair: How small and white my face! — The green earth tilts through a sphere of air And bathes in a flame of space. There are houses hanging above the stars And stars hung under a sea . . . And a sun far off in a shell of silence Dapples my walls for me . . .
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning Should I not pause in the light to remember God? Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable, He is immense and lonely as a cloud. I will dedicate this moment before my mirror To him alone, for him I will comb my hair. Accept these humble offerings, cloud of silence! I will think of you as I descend the stair.
Vine leaves tap my window, The snail-track shines on the stones, Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree Repeating two clear tones.
It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence, Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep. The walls are about me still as in the evening, I am the same, and the same name still I keep. The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion, The stars pale silently in a coral sky. In a whistling void I stand before my mirror, Unconcerned, and tie my tie.
There are horses neighing on far-off hills Tossing their long white manes, And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk, Their shoulders black with rains . . . It is morning. I stand by the mirror And surprise my soul once more; The blue air rushes above my ceiling, There are suns beneath my floor . . .
. . . It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness And depart on the winds of space for I know not where, My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket, And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair. There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven, And a god among the stars; and I will go Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak And humming a tune I know . . .
Vine-leaves tap at the window, Dew-drops sing to the garden stones, The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree Repeating three clear tones.
Good Company. [Karle Wilson Baker]
To-day I have grown taller from walking with the trees, The seven sister-poplars who go softly in a line; And I think my heart is whiter for its parley with a star That trembled out at nightfall and hung above the pine.
The call-note of a redbird from the cedars in the dusk Woke his happy mate within me to an answer free and fine; And a sudden angel beckoned from a column of blue smoke — Lord, who am I that they should stoop — these holy folk of thine?
"Feuerzauber". [Louis Untermeyer]
I never knew the earth had so much gold — The fields run over with it, and this hill, Hoary and old, Is young with buoyant blooms that flame and thrill.
Such golden fires, such yellow — lo, how good This spendthrift world, and what a lavish God — This fringe of wood, Blazing with buttercup and goldenrod.
You too, beloved, are changed. Again I see Your face grow mystical, as on that night You turned to me, And all the trembling world — and you — were white.
Aye, you are touched; your singing lips grow dumb; The fields absorb you, color you entire . . . And you become A goddess standing in a world of fire!
Birches. [Robert Frost]
When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay. Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells, Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust — Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm (Now am I free to be poetical?) I should prefer to have some boy bend them As he went out and in to fetch the cows — Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, Whose only play was what he found himself, Summer or winter, and could play alone. One by one he subdued his father's trees By riding them down over and over again Until he took the stiffness out of them, And not one but hung limp, not one was left For him to conquer. He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon And so not carrying the tree away Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise To the top branches, climbing carefully With the same pains you use to fill a cup Up to the brim, and even above the brim. Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, Kicking his way down through the air to the ground. So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be. It's when I'm weary of considerations, And life is too much like a pathless wood Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs Broken across it, and one eye is weeping From a twig's having lashed across it open. I'd like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth's the right place for love: I don't know where it's likely to go better. I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk TOWARD heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Fifty Years Spent. [Maxwell Struthers Burt]
Fifty years spent before I found me, Wind on my mouth and the taste of the rain, Where the great hills circled and swept around me And the torrents leapt to the mist-drenched plain; Ah, it was long this coming of me Back to the hills and the sounding sea.
Ye who can go when so it tideth To fallow fields when the Spring is new, Finding the spirit that there abideth, Taking fill of the sun and the dew; Little ye know of the cross of the town And the small pale folk who go up and down.
Fifty years spent before I found me A bank knee-deep with climbing rose, Saw, or had space to look around me, Knew how the apple buds and blows; And all the while that I thought me wise I walked as one with blinded eyes.
Scarcely a lad who passes twenty But finds him a girl to balm his heart; Only I, who had work so plenty, Bade this loving keep apart: Once I saw a girl in a crowd, But I hushed my heart when it cried out aloud.
City courts in January, — City courts in wilted June, Often ye will catch and carry Echoes of some straying tune; Ah, but underneath the feet Echo stifles in a street.
Fifty years spent, and what do they bring me? Now I can buy the meadow and hill: Where is the heart of the boy to sing thee? Where is the life for thy living to fill? And thirty years back in a city crowd I passed a girl when my heart cried loud!
The City. [Charles Hanson Towne]
When, sick of all the sorrow and distress That flourished in the City like foul weeds, I sought blue rivers and green, opulent meads, And leagues of unregarded loneliness Whereon no foot of man had seemed to press, I did not know how great had been my needs, How wise the woodland's gospels and her creeds, How good her faith to one long comfortless.
But in the silence came a Voice to me; In every wind it murmured, and I knew It would not cease though far my heart might roam. It called me in the sunrise and the dew, At noon and twilight, sadly, hungrily, The jealous City, whispering always — "Home!"
The Most-Sacred Mountain. [Eunice Tietjens]
Space, and the twelve clean winds of heaven, And this sharp exultation, like a cry, after the slow six thousand steps of climbing! This is Tai Shan, the beautiful, the most holy.
Below my feet the foot-hills nestle, brown with flecks of green; and lower down the flat brown plain, the floor of earth, stretches away to blue infinity. Beside me in this airy space the temple roofs cut their slow curves against the sky, And one black bird circles above the void.
Space, and the twelve clean winds are here; And with them broods eternity — a swift, white peace, a presence manifest. The rhythm ceases here. Time has no place. This is the end that has no end.
Here, when Confucius came, a half a thousand years before the Nazarene, he stepped, with me, thus into timelessness. The stone beside us waxes old, the carven stone that says: "On this spot once Confucius stood and felt the smallness of the world below." The stone grows old: Eternity is not for stones. But I shall go down from this airy place, this swift white peace, this stinging exultation. And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm of the daily round. Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I shall feel time ravel thin about me; For once I stood In the white windy presence of eternity.
The Chant of the Colorado. [Cale Young Rice]
(At the Grand Canyon)
My brother, man, shapes him a plan And builds him a house in a day, But I have toiled through a million years For a home to last alway. I have flooded the sands and washed them down, I have cut through gneiss and granite. No toiler of earth has wrought as I, Since God's first breath began it. High mountain-buttes I have chiselled, to shade My wanderings to the sea. With the wind's aid, and the cloud's aid, Unweary and mighty and unafraid, I have bodied eternity.
My brother, man, builds for a span: His life is a moment's breath. But I have hewn for a million years, Nor a moment dreamt of death. By moons and stars I have measured my task — And some from the skies have perished: But ever I cut and flashed and foamed, As ever my aim I cherished: My aim to quarry the heart of earth, Till, in the rock's red rise, Its age and birth, through an awful girth Of strata, should show the wonder-worth Of patience to all eyes.
My brother, man, builds as he can, And beauty he adds for his joy, But all the hues of sublimity My pinnacled walls employ. Slow shadows iris them all day long, And silvery veils, soul-stilling, The moon drops down their precipices, Soft with a spectral thrilling. For all immutable dreams that sway With beauty the earth and air, Are ever at play, by night and day, My house of eternity to array In visions ever fair.
The Water Ouzel. [Harriet Monroe]
Little brown surf-bather of the mountains! Spirit of foam, lover of cataracts, shaking your wings in falling waters! Have you no fear of the roar and rush when Nevada plunges — Nevada, the shapely dancer, feeling her way with slim white fingers? How dare you dash at Yosemite the mighty — Tall, white limbed Yosemite, leaping down, down over the cliff? Is it not enough to lean on the blue air of mountains? Is it not enough to rest with your mate at timberline, in bushes that hug the rocks? Must you fly through mad waters where the heaped-up granite breaks them? Must you batter your wings in the torrent? Must you plunge for life and death through the foam?
Old Manuscript. [Alfred Kreymborg]
The sky Is that beautiful old parchment In which the sun And the moon Keep their diary. To read it all, One must be a linguist More learned than Father Wisdom; And a visionary More clairvoyant than Mother Dream. But to feel it, One must be an apostle: One who is more than intimate In having been, always, The only confidant — Like the earth Or the sky.
The Runner in the Skies. [James Oppenheim]
Who is the runner in the skies, With her blowing scarf of stars, And our Earth and sun hovering like bees about her blossoming heart? Her feet are on the winds, where space is deep, Her eyes are nebulous and veiled, She hurries through the night to a far lover.
Evening Song of Senlin. [Conrad Aiken]
It is moonlight. Alone in the silence I ascend my stairs once more, While waves, remote in a pale blue starlight, Crash on a white sand shore. It is moonlight. The garden is silent. I stand in my room alone. Across my wall, from the far-off moon, A rain of fire is thrown . . .
There are houses hanging above the stars, And stars hung under a sea: And a wind from the long blue vault of time Waves my curtains for me . . .
I wait in the dark once more, Swung between space and space: Before my mirror I lift my hands And face my remembered face. Is it I who stand in a question here, Asking to know my name? . . . It is I, yet I know not whither I go, Nor why, nor whence I came.
It is I, who awoke at dawn And arose and descended the stair, Conceiving a god in the eye of the sun, — In a woman's hands and hair. It is I whose flesh is grey with the stones I builded into a wall: With a mournful melody in my brain Of a tune I cannot recall . . .
There are roses to kiss: and mouths to kiss; And the sharp-pained shadow of death. I remember a rain-drop on my cheek, — A wind like a fragrant breath . . . And the star I laugh on tilts through heaven; And the heavens are dark and steep . . . I will forget these things once more In the silence of sleep.
A Thrush in the Moonlight. [Witter Bynner]
In came the moon and covered me with wonder, Touched me and was near me and made me very still. In came a rush of song, like rain after thunder, Pouring importunate on my window-sill.
I lowered my head, I hid it, I would not see nor hear, The birdsong had stricken me, had brought the moon too near. But when I dared to lift my head, night began to fill With singing in the darkness. And then the thrush grew still. And the moon came in, and silence, on my window-sill.
Orchard. [H. D.]
I saw the first pear As it fell — The honey-seeking, golden-banded, The yellow swarm Was not more fleet than I, (Spare us from loveliness) And I fell prostrate Crying: You have flayed us With your blossoms, Spare us the beauty Of fruit-trees.
The honey-seeking Paused not, The air thundered their song, And I alone was prostrate.
O rough-hewn God of the orchard, I bring you an offering — Do you, alone unbeautiful, Son of the god, Spare us from loveliness:
These fallen hazel-nuts, Stripped late of their green sheaths, Grapes, red-purple, Their berries Dripping with wine, Pomegranates already broken, And shrunken figs And quinces untouched, I bring you as offering.
Heat. [H. D.]
O wind, rend open the heat, Cut apart the heat, Rend it to tatters.
Fruit cannot drop Through this thick air — Fruit cannot fall into heat That presses up and blunts The points of pears And rounds the grapes.
Cut the heat — Plough through it, Turning it on either side Of your path.
Madonna of the Evening Flowers. [Amy Lowell]
All day long I have been working, Now I am tired. I call: "Where are you?" But there is only the oak tree rustling in the wind. The house is very quiet, The sun shines in on your books, On your scissors and thimble just put down, But you are not there. Suddenly I am lonely: Where are you? I go about searching.
Then I see you, Standing under a spire of pale blue larkspur, With a basket of roses on your arm. You are cool, like silver, And you smile. I think the Canterbury bells are playing little tunes.
You tell me that the peonies need spraying, That the columbines have overrun all bounds, That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded. You tell me these things. But I look at you, heart of silver, White heart-flame of polished silver, Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur. And I long to kneel instantly at your feet, While all about us peal the loud, sweet 'Te Deums' of the Canterbury bells.
The New God. [James Oppenheim]
Ye morning-glories, ring in the gale your bells, And with dew water the walk's dust for the burden-bearing ants: Ye swinging spears of the larkspur, open your wells of gold And pay your honey-tax to the hummingbird . . .
O now I see by the opening of blossoms, And of bills of the hungry fledglings, And the bright travel of sun-drunk insects, Morning's business is afoot: Earth is busied with a million mouths!
Where goes eaten grass and thrush-snapped dragonfly? Creation eats itself, to spawn in swarming sun-rays . . . Bull and cricket go to it: life lives on life . . . But O, ye flame-daubed irises, and ye hosts of gnats, Like a well of light moving in morning's light, What is this garmented animal that comes eating and drinking among you? What is this upright one, with spade and with shears?
He is the visible and the invisible, Behind his mouth and his eyes are other mouth and eyes . . . Thirster after visions He sees the flowers to their roots and the Earth back through its silent ages: He parts the sky with his gaze: He flings a magic on the hills, clothing them with Upanishad music, Peopling the valley with dreamed images that vanished in Greece millenniums back; And in the actual morning, out of longing, shapes on the hills To-morrow's golden grandeur . . .
O ye million hungerers and ye sun-rays Ye are the many mothers of this invisible god, This Earth's star and sun that rises singing and toiling among you, This that is I, in joy, in the garden, Singing to you, ye morning-glories, Calling to you, ye swinging spears of the larkspur.
Patterns. [Amy Lowell]
I walk down the garden paths, And all the daffodils Are blowing, and the bright blue squills. I walk down the patterned garden-paths In my stiff, brocaded gown. With my powdered hair and jewelled fan, I too am a rare Pattern. As I wander down The garden paths.
My dress is richly figured, And the train Makes a pink and silver stain On the gravel, and the thrift Of the borders. Just a plate of current fashion, Tripping by in high-heeled, ribboned shoes. Not a softness anywhere about me, Only whalebone and brocade. And I sink on a seat in the shade Of a lime tree. For my passion Wars against the stiff brocade. The daffodils and squills Flutter in the breeze As they please. And I weep; For the lime tree is in blossom And one small flower has dropped upon my bosom.
And the plashing of waterdrops In the marble fountain Comes down the garden-paths. The dripping never stops. Underneath my stiffened gown Is the softness of a woman bathing in a marble basin, A basin in the midst of hedges grown So thick, she cannot see her lover hiding, But she guesses he is near, And the sliding of the water Seems the stroking of a dear Hand upon her. What is Summer in a fine brocaded gown! I should like to see it lying in a heap upon the ground. All the pink and silver crumpled up on the ground.
I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths, And he would stumble after, Bewildered by my laughter. I should see the sun flashing from his sword-hilt and the buckles on his shoes. I would choose To lead him in a maze along the patterned paths, A bright and laughing maze for my heavy-booted lover, Till he caught me in the shade, And the buttons of his waistcoat bruised my body as he clasped me, Aching, melting, unafraid. With the shadows of the leaves and the sundrops, And the plopping of the waterdrops, All about us in the open afternoon — I am very like to swoon With the weight of this brocade, For the sun sifts through the shade.
Underneath the fallen blossom In my bosom, Is a letter I have hid. It was brought to me this morning by a rider from the Duke. "Madam, we regret to inform you that Lord Hartwell Died in action Thursday se'nnight." As I read it in the white, morning sunlight, The letters squirmed like snakes. "Any answer, Madam," said my footman. "No," I told him. "See that the messenger takes some refreshment. No, no answer." And I walked into the garden, Up and down the patterned paths, In my stiff, correct brocade. The blue and yellow flowers stood up proudly in the sun, Each one. I stood upright too, Held rigid to the pattern By the stiffness of my gown. Up and down I walked, Up and down.
In a month he would have been my husband. In a month, here, underneath this lime, We would have broke the pattern; He for me, and I for him, He as Colonel, I as Lady, On this shady seat. He had a whim That sunlight carried blessing. And I answered, "It shall be as you have said." Now he is dead.
In Summer and in Winter I shall walk Up and down The patterned garden-paths In my stiff, brocaded gown. The squills and daffodils Will give place to pillared roses, and to asters, and to snow. I shall go Up and down In my gown. Gorgeously arrayed, Boned and stayed. And the softness of my body will be guarded from embrace By each button, hook, and lace. For the man who should loose me is dead, Fighting with the Duke in Flanders, In a pattern called a war. Christ! What are patterns for?
Richard Cory. [Edwin Arlington Robinson]
Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed, And he was always human when he talked; But still he fluttered pulses when he said, "Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich, — yes, richer than a king, — And admirably schooled in every grace: In fine, we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, Went home and put a bullet through his head.
Of One Self-Slain. [Charles Hanson Towne]
When he went blundering back to God, His songs half written, his work half done, Who knows what paths his bruised feet trod, What hills of peace or pain he won?
I hope God smiled and took his hand, And said, "Poor truant, passionate fool! Life's book is hard to understand: Why couldst thou not remain at school?"
The Silent Folk. [Charles Wharton Stork]
Oh, praise me not the silent folk; To me they only seem Like leafless, bird-abandoned oak And muffled, frozen stream.
I want the leaves to talk and tell The joy that's in the tree, And water-nymphs to weave a spell Of pixie melody.
Your silent folk may be sincere, But still, when all is said, We have to grant they're rather drear, — And maybe, too, they're dead.
Convention. [Agnes Lee]
The snow is lying very deep. My house is sheltered from the blast. I hear each muffled step outside, I hear each voice go past.
But I'll not venture in the drift Out of this bright security, Till enough footsteps come and go To make a path for me.
Mad Blake. [William Rose Benet]
Blake saw a treeful of angels at Peckham Rye, And his hands could lay hold on the tiger's terrible heart. Blake knew how deep is Hell, and Heaven how high, And could build the universe from one tiny part. Blake heard the asides of God, as with furrowed brow He sifts the star-streams between the Then and the Now, In vast infant sagacity brooding, an infant's grace Shining serene on his simple, benignant face.
Blake was mad, they say, — and Space's Pandora-box Loosed its wonders upon him — devils, but angels indeed. I, they say, am sane, but no key of mine unlocks One lock of one gate wherethrough Heaven's glory is freed. And I stand and I hold my breath, daylong, yearlong, Out of comfort and easy dreaming evermore starting awake, — Yearning beyond all sanity for some echo of that Song Of Songs that was sung to the soul of the madman, Blake!
The Name. [Anna Hempstead Branch]
When I come back from secret dreams In gardens deep and fair, How very curious it seems — This mortal name I bear.
For by this name I make their bread And trim the household light And sun the linen for the bed And close the door at night.
I wonder who myself may be, And whence it was I came — Before the Church had laid on me This frail and earthly name.
My sponsors spake unto the Lord And three things promised they, Upon my soul with one accord Their easy vows did lay.
My ancient spirit heard them not. I think it was not there. But in a place they had forgot It drank a starrier air.
Yes, in a silent place and deep — There did it dance and run, And sometimes it lay down to sleep Or sprang into the sun.
The Priest saw not my aureole shine! My sweet wings saw not he! He graved me with a solemn sign And laid a name on me.
Now by this name I stitch and mend, The daughter of my home, By this name do I save and spend And when they call, I come.
But oh, that Name, that other Name, More secret and more mine! It burns as does the angelic flame Before the midmost shrine.
Before my soul to earth was brought Into God's heart it came, He wrote a meaning in my thought And gave to me a Name.
By this Name do I ride the air And dance from star to star, And I behold all things are fair, For I see them as they are.
I plunge into the deepest seas, In flames I, laughing, burn. In roseate clouds I take my ease Nor to the earth return.
It is my beauteous Name — my own — That I have never heard. God keeps it for Himself alone, That strange and lovely word.
God keeps it for Himself — but yet You are His voice, and so In your heart He is calling me, And unto you I go.
Love, by this Name I sing, and breathe A fresh, mysterious air. By this I innocently wreathe New garlands for my hair.
By this Name I am born anew More beautiful, more bright. More roseate than angelic dew, Apparelled in delight.
I'll sing and stitch and make the bread In the wonder of my Name, And sun the linen for the bed And tend the fireside flame.
By this Name do I answer yes — Word beautiful and true. By this I'll sew the bridal dress I shall put on for you.
Songs of an Empty House. [Marguerite Wilkinson]
Before I die I may be great, The chanting guest of kings, A queen in wonderlands of song Where every blossom sings. I may put on a golden gown And walk in sunny light, Carrying in my hair the day, And in my eyes the night.
It may be men will honor me — The wistful ones and wise, Who know the ruth of victory, The joy of sacrifice. I may be rich, I may be gay, But all the crowns grow old — The laurel withers and the bay And dully rusts the gold.
Before I die I may break bread With many queens and kings — Oh, take the golden gown away, For there are other things — And I shall miss the love of babes With flesh of rose and pearl, The dewy eyes, the budded lips — A boy, a little girl.
My father got me strong and straight and slim, And I give thanks to him; My mother bore me glad and sound and sweet, — I kiss her feet.
But now, with me, their generation fails, And nevermore avails To cast through me the ancient mould again, Such women and men.
I have no son, whose life of flesh and fire Sprang from my splendid sire, No daughter for whose soul my mother's flesh Wrought raiment fresh.
Life's venerable rhythms like a flood Beat in my brain and blood, Crying from all the generations past, "Is this the last?"
And I make answer to my haughty dead, Who made me, heart and head, "Even the sunbeams falter, flicker and bend — I am the end."
The Hill Wife. [Robert Frost]
One ought not to have to care So much as you and I Care when the birds come round the house To seem to say good-bye;
Or care so much when they come back With whatever it is they sing; The truth being we are as much Too glad for the one thing
As we are too sad for the other here — With birds that fill their breasts But with each other and themselves And their built or driven nests.
Always — I tell you this they learned — Always at night when they returned To the lonely house from far away, To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray, They learned to rattle the lock and key To give whatever might chance to be Warning and time to be off in flight: And preferring the out- to the in-door night, They learned to leave the house-door wide Until they had lit the lamp inside.
The Oft-Repeated Dream
She had no saying dark enough For the dark pine that kept Forever trying the window-latch Of the room where they slept.
The tireless but ineffectual hands That with every futile pass Made the great tree seem as a little bird Before the mystery of glass!
It never had been inside the room, And only one of the two Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream Of what the tree might do.
It was too lonely for her there, And too wild, And since there were but two of them, And no child,
And work was little in the house, She was free, And followed where he furrowed field, Or felled tree.
She rested on a log and tossed The fresh chips, With a song only to herself On her lips.
And once she went to break a bough Of black alder. She strayed so far she scarcely heard When he called her —
And didn't answer — didn't speak — Or return. She stood, and then she ran and hid In the fern.
He never found her, though he looked Everywhere, And he asked at her mother's house Was she there.
Sudden and swift and light as that The ties gave, And he learned of finalities Besides the grave.
A Love Song. [Theodosia Garrison]
My love it should be silent, being deep — And being very peaceful should be still — Still as the utmost depths of ocean keep — Serenely silent as some mighty hill.
Yet is my love so great it needs must fill With very joy the inmost heart of me, The joy of dancing branches on the hill The joy of leaping waves upon the sea.
Envoi. [Josephine Preston Peabody]
Beloved, till the day break, Leave wide the little door; And bless, to lack and longing, Our brimming more-and-more.
Is love a scanted portion, That we should hoard thereof? — Oh, call unto the deserts, Beloved and my Love!
Our Little House. [Thomas Walsh]
Our little house upon the hill In winter time is strangely still; The roof tree, bare of leaves, stands high, A candelabrum for the sky, And down below the lamplights glow, And ours makes answer o'er the snow.
Our little house upon the hill In summer time strange voices fill; With ceaseless rustle of the leaves, And birds that twitter in the eaves, And all the vines entangled so The village lights no longer show.
Our little house upon the hill Is just the house of Jack and Jill, And whether showing or unseen, Hid behind its leafy screen; There's a star that points it out When the lamp lights are in doubt.
The Homeland. [Dana Burnet]
My land was the west land; my home was on the hill, I never think of my land but it makes my heart to thrill; I never smell the west wind that blows the golden skies, But old desire is in my feet and dreams are in my eyes.
My home crowned the high land; it had a stately grace. I never think of my land but I see my mother's face; I never smell the west wind that blows the silver ships But old delight is in my heart and mirth is on my lips.
My land was a high land; my home was near the skies. I never think of my land but a light is in my eyes; I never smell the west wind that blows the summer rain — But I am at my mother's knee, a little lad again.
Cradle Song. [Josephine Preston Peabody]
Lord Gabriel, wilt thou not rejoice When at last a little boy's Cheek lies heavy as a rose And his eyelids close?
Gabriel, when that hush may be, This sweet hand all heedfully I'll undo for thee alone, From his mother's own.
Then the far blue highway paven With the burning stars of heaven, He shall gladden with the sweet Hasting of his feet: —
Feet so brightly bare and cool, Leaping, as from pool to pool; From a little laughing boy Splashing rainbow joy!
Gabriel, wilt thou understand How to keep this hovering hand? — Never shut, as in a bond, From the bright beyond? —
Nay, but though it cling and close Tightly as a climbing rose, Clasp it only so, — aright, Lest his heart take fright.
(Dormi, dormi, tu. The dusk is hung with blue.)
Lord Michael, wilt not thou rejoice When at last a little boy's Heart, a shut-in murmuring bee, Turns him unto thee?
Wilt thou heed thine armor well, — To take his hand from Gabriel, So his radiant cup of dream May not spill a gleam?
He will take thy heart in thrall, Telling o'er thy breastplate, all Colors, in his bubbling speech, With his hand to each.
(Dormi, dormi, tu. Sapphire is the blue, Pearl and beryl, they are called, Crysoprase and emerald, Sard and amethyst Numbered so, and kissed.)
Ah, but find some angel-word For thy sharp, subduing sword! Yea, Lord Michael, make no doubt He will find it out:
(Dormi, dormi, tu! His eyes will look at you.)
Last, a little morning space, Lead him to that leafy place Where Our Lady sits awake, For all mothers' sake.
Bosomed with the Blessed One, He shall mind her of her Son, Once so folded from all harms In her shrining arms.
(In her veil of blue, Dormi, dormi, tu.)
So; — and fare thee well. Softly, — Gabriel . . . When the first faint red shall come, Bid the Day-star lead him home, For the bright world's sake, To my heart, awake.
Slumber Song. [Louis V. Ledoux]
Drowsily come the sheep From the place where the pastures be, By a dusty lane To the fold again, First one, and then two, and three: First one, then two, by the paths of sleep Drowsily come the sheep.
Drowsily come the sheep, And the shepherd is singing low: After eight comes nine In the endless line, They come, and then in they go. First eight, then nine, by the paths of sleep Drowsily come the sheep.
Drowsily come the sheep And they pass through the sheepfold door; After one comes two, After one comes two, Comes two and then three and four. First one, then two, by the paths of sleep, Drowsily come the sheep.
Ballad of a Child. [John G. Neihardt]
Yearly thrilled the plum tree With the mother-mood; Every June the rose stock Bore her wonder-child: Every year the wheatlands Reared a golden brood: World of praying Rachaels, Heard and reconciled!
"Poet," said the plum tree's Singing white and green, "What avails your mooning, Can you fashion plums?" "Dreamer," crooned the wheatland's Rippling vocal sheen, "See my golden children Marching as with drums!"
"By a god begotten," Hymned the sunning vine, "In my lyric children Purple music flows!" "Singer," breathed the rose bush, "Are they not divine?" "Have you any daughters Mighty as a rose?"
~Happy, happy mothers! Cruel, cruel words! Mine are ghostly children, Haunting all the ways; Latent in the plum bloom, Calling through the birds, Romping with the wheat brood In their shadow plays!
Gotten out of star-glint, Mothered of the Moon; Nurtured with the rose scent, Wild elusive throng! Something of the vine's dream Crept into a tune; Something of the wheat-drone Echoed in a song.~
Once again the white fires Smoked among the plums; Once again the world-joy Burst the crimson bud; Golden-bannered wheat broods Marched to fairy drums; Once again the vineyard Felt the Bacchic blood.
"Lo, he comes, — the dreamer" — Crooned the whitened boughs, "Quick with vernal love-fires — Oh, at last he knows! See the bursting plum bloom There above his brows!" "Boaster!" breathed the rose bush, "'Tis a budding rose!"
Droned the glinting acres, "In his soul, mayhap, Something like a wheat-dream Quickens into shape!" Sang the sunning vineyard, "Lo, the lyric sap Sets his heart a-throbbing Like a purple grape!"
~Mother of the wheatlands, Mother of the plums, Mother of the vineyard — All that loves and grows — Such a living glory To the dreamer comes, Mystic as a wheat-song, Mighty as a rose!
Star-glint, moon-glow, Gathered in a mesh! Spring-hope, white fire By a kiss beguiled! Something of the world-joy Dreaming into flesh! Bird-song, vine-thrill Quickened to a child!~
Ambition. [Aline Kilmer]
Kenton and Deborah, Michael and Rose, These are fine children as all the world knows, But into my arms in my dreams every night Come Peter and Christopher, Faith and Delight.
Kenton is tropical, Rose is pure white, Deborah shines like a star in the night; Michael's round eyes are as blue as the sea, And nothing on earth could be dearer to me.
But where is the baby with Faith can compare? What is the colour of Peterkin's hair? Who can make Christopher clear to my sight, Or show me the eyes of my daughter Delight?
When people inquire I always just state: "I have four nice children and hope to have eight. Though the first four are pretty and certain to please, Who knows but the rest may be nicer than these?"
The Gift. [Louis V. Ledoux]
Let others give you wealth and love, And guard you while you live; I cannot set my gift above The gifts that others give.
And yet the gift I give is good: In one man's eyes to see The worship of your maidenhood While children climb your knee.
The Ancient Beautiful Things. [Fannie Stearns Davis]
I am all alone in the room. The evening stretches before me Like a road all delicate gloom Till it reaches the midnight's gate. And I hear his step on the path, And his questioning whistle, low At the door as I hurry to meet him.
He will ask, "Are the doors all locked? Is the fire made safe on the hearth? And she — is she sound asleep?"
I shall say, "Yes, the doors are locked, And the ashes are white as the frost: Only a few red eyes To stare at the empty room. And she is all sound asleep, Up there where the silence sings, And the curtains stir in the cold."
He will ask, "And what did you do While I have been gone so long? So long! Four hours or five!"
I shall say, "There was nothing I did. — I mended that sleeve of your coat. And I made her a little white hood Of the furry pieces I found Up in the garret to-day. She shall wear it to play in the snow, Like a little white bear, — and shall laugh, And tumble, and crystals of stars Shall shine on her cheeks and hair. — It was nothing I did. — I thought You would never come home again!"
Then he will laugh out, low, Being fond of my folly, perhaps; And softly and hand in hand We shall creep upstairs in the dusk To look at her, lying asleep: Our little gold bird in her nest: The wonderful bird who flew in At the window our Life flung wide. (How should we have chosen her, Had we seen them all in a row, The unborn vague little souls, All wings and tremulous hands? How should we have chosen her, Made like a star to shine, Made like a bird to fly, Out of a drop of our blood, And earth, and fire, and God?)
Then we shall go to sleep, Glad. — O God, did you know When you moulded men out of clay, Urging them up and up Through the endless circles of change, Travail and turmoil and death, Many would curse you down, Many would live all gray With their faces flat like a mask: But there would be some, O God, Crying to you each night, "I am so glad! so glad! I am so rich and gay! How shall I thank you, God?"
Was that one thing you knew When you smiled and found it was good: The curious teeming earth That grew like a child at your hand? Ah, you might smile, for that! — — I am all alone in the room. The books and the pictures peer, Dumb old friends, from the dark. The wind goes high on the hills, And my fire leaps out, being proud. The terrier, down on the hearth, Twitches and barks in his sleep, Soft little foolish barks, More like a dream than a dog . . .
I will mend the sleeve of that coat, All ragged, — and make her the hood Furry, and white, for the snow. She shall tumble and laugh . . . Oh, I think Though a thousand rivers of grief Flood over my head, — though a hill Of horror lie on my breast, — Something will sing, "Be glad! You have had all your heart's desire: The unknown things that you asked When you lay awake in the nights, Alone, and searching the dark For the secret wonder of life. You have had them (can you forget?): The ancient beautiful things!" . . .
How long he is gone. And yet It is only an hour or two. . . .
Oh, I am so happy. My eyes Are troubled with tears. Did you know, O God, they would be like this, Your ancient beautiful things? Are there more? Are there more, — out there? — O God, are there always more?
Mater Dolorosa. [Louis V. Ledoux]
O clinging hands, and eyes where sleep has set Her seal of peace, go not from me so soon. O little feet, take not the pathway yet, The dust of other feet with tears is wet, And sorrow wanders there with slow regret; O eager feet, take not the path so soon.
Take it not yet, for death is at the end, And kingly death will wait until you come. Full soon the feet of youth will turn the bend, The eyes will see where followed footsteps wend. Go not so soon, though death be found a friend; For kingly death will wait until you come.
Prevision. [Aline Kilmer]
I know you are too dear to stay; You are so exquisitely sweet: My lonely house will thrill some day To echoes of your eager feet.
I hold your words within my heart, So few, so infinitely dear; Watching your fluttering hands I start At the corroding touch of fear.
A faint, unearthly music rings From you to Heaven — it is not far! A mist about your beauty clings Like a thin cloud before a star.
My heart shall keep the child I knew, When you are really gone from me, And spend its life remembering you As shells remember the lost sea.
"A Wind Rose in the Night". [Aline Kilmer]
A wind rose in the night, (She had always feared it so!) Sorrow plucked at my heart And I could not help but go.
Softly I went and stood By her door at the end of the hall. Dazed with grief I watched The candles flaring and tall.
The wind was wailing aloud: I thought how she would have cried For my warm familiar arms And the sense of me by her side.
The candles flickered and leapt, The shadows jumped on the wall. She lay before me small and still And did not care at all.
How much of Godhood. [Louis Untermeyer]
How much of Godhood did it take — What purging epochs had to pass, Ere I was fit for leaf and lake And worthy of the patient grass?
What mighty travails must have been, What ages must have moulded me, Ere I was raised and made akin To dawn, the daisy and the sea.
In what great struggles was I felled, In what old lives I labored long, Ere I was given a world that held A meadow, butterflies and Song?
But oh, what cleansings and what fears, What countless raisings from the dead, Ere I could see Her, touched with tears, Pillow the little weary head.
The First Food. [George Sterling]
Mother, in some sad evening long ago, From thy young breast my groping lips were taken, Their hunger stilled, so soon again to waken, But nevermore that holy food to know.
Ah! nevermore! for all the child might crave! Ah! nevermore! through years unkind and dreary! Often of other fare my lips are weary, Unwearied once of what thy bosom gave.
(Poor wordless mouth that could not speak thy name! At what unhappy revels has it eaten The viands that no memory can sweeten, — The banquet found eternally the same!)
Then fell a shadow first on thee and me, And tendrils broke that held us two how dearly! Once infinitely thine, then hourly, yearly, Less thine, as less the worthy thine to be.
(O mouth that yet should kiss the mouth of Sin! Were lies so sweet, now bitter to remember? Slow sinks the flame unfaithful to an ember; New beauty fades and passion's wine is thin.)
How poor an end of that solicitude And all the love I had not from another! Peace to thine unforgetting heart, O Mother, Who gav'st the dear and unremembered food!
The Monk in the Kitchen. [Anna Hempstead Branch]
Order is a lovely thing; On disarray it lays its wing, Teaching simplicity to sing. It has a meek and lowly grace, Quiet as a nun's face. Lo — I will have thee in this place! Tranquil well of deep delight, Transparent as the water, bright — All things that shine through thee appear As stones through water, sweetly clear. Thou clarity, That with angelic charity Revealest beauty where thou art, Spread thyself like a clean pool. Then all the things that in thee are Shall seem more spiritual and fair, Reflections from serener air — Sunken shapes of many a star In the high heavens set afar.
Ye stolid, homely, visible things, Above you all brood glorious wings Of your deep entities, set high, Like slow moons in a hidden sky. But you, their likenesses, are spent Upon another element. Truly ye are but seemings — The shadowy cast-off gleamings Of bright solidities. Ye seem Soft as water, vague as dream; Image, cast in a shifting stream.
What are ye? I know not. Brazen pan and iron pot, Yellow brick and grey flag-stone That my feet have trod upon — Ye seem to me Vessels of bright mystery. For ye do bear a shape, and so Though ye were made by man, I know An inner Spirit also made And ye his breathings have obeyed.
Shape the strong and awful Spirit, Laid his ancient hand on you. He waste chaos doth inherit; He can alter and subdue. Verily, he doth lift up Matter, like a sacred cup. Into deep substance he reached, and lo Where ye were not, ye were; and so Out of useless nothing, ye Groaned and laughed and came to be. And I use you, as I can, Wonderful uses, made for man, Iron pot and brazen pan.
What are ye? I know not; Nor what I really do When I move and govern you. There is no small work unto God. He requires of us greatness; Of his least creature A high angelic nature, Stature superb and bright completeness. He sets to us no humble duty. Each act that he would have us do Is haloed round with strangest beauty. Terrific deeds and cosmic tasks Of his plainest child he asks. When I polish the brazen pan I hear a creature laugh afar In the gardens of a star, And from his burning presence run Flaming wheels of many a sun. Whoever makes a thing more bright, He is an angel of all light. When I cleanse this earthen floor My spirit leaps to see Bright garments trailing over it. Wonderful lustres cover it, A cleanness made by me. Purger of all men's thoughts and ways, With labor do I sound Thy praise, My work is done for Thee. Whoever makes a thing more bright, He is an angel of all light. Therefore let me spread abroad The beautiful cleanness of my God.
One time in the cool of dawn Angels came and worked with me. The air was soft with many a wing. They laughed amid my solitude And cast bright looks on everything. Sweetly of me did they ask That they might do my common task. And all were beautiful — but one With garments whiter than the sun Had such a face Of deep, remembered grace, That when I saw I cried — "Thou art The great Blood-Brother of my heart. Where have I seen thee?" — And he said, "When we are dancing 'round God's throne, How often thou art there. Beauties from thy hands have flown Like white doves wheeling in mid-air. Nay — thy soul remembers not? Work on, and cleanse thy iron pot."
What are we? I know not.
A Saint's Hours. [Sarah N. Cleghorn]
In the still cold before the sun (Her Matins) Her brothers and her sisters small She woke, and washed and dressed each one.
And through the morning hours all (Prime) Singing above her broom she stood And swept the house from hall to hall.
Then out she ran with tidings good (Tierce) Across the field and down the lane, To share them with the neighborhood.
Four miles she walked, and home again, (Sexts) To sit through half the afternoon And hear a feeble crone complain.
But when she saw the frosty moon (Nones) And lakes of shadow on the hill, Her maiden dreams grew bright as noon.
She threw her pitying apron frill (Vespers) Over a little trembling mouse When the sleek cat yawned on the sill.
In the late hours and drowsy house, (Evensong) At last, too tired, beside her bed She fell asleep — her prayers half said.
A Lady. [Amy Lowell]
You are beautiful and faded Like an old opera tune Played upon a harpsichord; Or like the sun-flooded silks Of an eighteenth-century boudoir. In your eyes Smoulder the fallen roses of out-lived minutes, And the perfume of your soul Is vague and suffusing, With the pungence of sealed spice-jars. Your half-tones delight me, And I grow mad with gazing At your blent colours.
My vigour is a new-minted penny, Which I cast at your feet. Gather it up from the dust, That its sparkle may amuse you.
The Child in Me. [May Riley Smith]
She follows me about my House of Life (This happy little ghost of my dead Youth!) She has no part in Time's relentless strife She keeps her old simplicity and truth — And laughs at grim Mortality, This deathless Child that stays with me — (This happy little ghost of my dead Youth!)
My House of Life is weather-stained with years — (O Child in Me, I wonder why you stay.) Its windows are bedimmed with rain of tears, The walls have lost their rose, its thatch is gray. One after one its guests depart, So dull a host is my old heart. (O Child in Me, I wonder why you stay!)
For jealous Age, whose face I would forget, Pulls the bright flowers you bring me from my hair And powders it with snow; and yet — and yet I love your dancing feet and jocund air. I have no taste for caps of lace To tie about my faded face — I love to wear your flowers in my hair.
O Child in Me, leave not my House of Clay Until we pass together through the Door, When lights are out, and Life has gone away And we depart to come again no more. We comrades who have travelled far Will hail the Twilight and the Star, And smiling, pass together through the Door!
The Son. [Ridgely Torrence]
I heard an old farm-wife, Selling some barley, Mingle her life with life And the name "Charley".
Saying, "The crop's all in, We're about through now; Long nights will soon begin, We're just us two now.
Twelve bushels at sixty cents, It's all I carried — He sickened making fence; He was to be married —
It feels like frost was near — His hair was curly. The spring was late that year, But the harvest early."
Muy Vieja Mexicana. [Alice Corbin]
I've seen her pass with eyes upon the road — An old bent woman in a bronze-black shawl, With skin as dried and wrinkled as a mummy's, As brown as a cigar-box, and her voice Like the low vibrant strings of a guitar. And I have fancied from the girls about What she was at their age, what they will be When they are old as she. But now she sits And smokes away each night till dawn comes round, Thinking, beside the pinyons' flame, of days Long past and gone, when she was young — content To be no longer young, her epic done:
For a woman has work and much to do, And it's good at the last to know it's through, And still have time to sit alone, To have some time you can call your own. It's good at the last to know your mind And travel the paths that you traveled blind, To see each turn and even make Trips in the byways you did not take — But that, 'por Dios', is over and done, It's pleasanter now in the way we've come; It's good to smoke and none to say What's to be done on the coming day, No mouths to feed or coat to mend, And none to call till the last long end. Though one have sons and friends of one's own, It's better at last to live alone. For a man must think of food to buy, And a woman's thoughts may be wild and high; But when she is young she must curb her pride, And her heart is tamed for the child at her side. But when she is old her thoughts may go Wherever they will, and none to know. And night is the time to think and dream, And not to get up with the dawn's first gleam; Night is the time to laugh or weep, And when dawn comes it is time to sleep . . .
When it's all over and there's none to care, I mean to be like her and take my share Of comfort when the long day's done, And smoke away the nights, and see the sun Far off, a shrivelled orange in a sky gone black, Through eyes that open inward and look back.
Hrolf's Thrall, His Song. [Willard Wattles]
There be five things to a man's desire: Kine flesh, roof-tree, his own fire, Clean cup of sweet wine from goat's hide, And through dark night one to lie beside.
Four things poor and homely be: Hearth-fire, white cheese, own roof-tree, True mead slow brewed with brown malt; But a good woman is savour and salt.
Plow, shove deep through gray loam; Hack, sword, hack for straw-thatch home; Guard, buckler, guard both beast and human — God, send true man his true woman!
The Interpreter. [Orrick Johns]
In the very early morning when the light was low She got all together and she went like snow, Like snow in the springtime on a sunny hill, And we were only frightened and can't think still.
We can't think quite that the katydids and frogs And the little crying chickens and the little grunting hogs, And the other living things that she spoke for to us Have nothing more to tell her since it happened thus.
She never is around for any one to touch, But of ecstasy and longing she too knew much, And always when any one has time to call his own She will come and be beside him as quiet as a stone.
Old King Cole. [Edwin Arlington Robinson]
In Tilbury Town did Old King Cole A wise old age anticipate, Desiring, with his pipe and bowl, No Khan's extravagant estate. No crown annoyed his honest head, No fiddlers three were called or needed; For two disastrous heirs instead Made music more than ever three did.
Bereft of her with whom his life Was harmony without a flaw, He took no other for a wife, Nor sighed for any that he saw; And if he doubted his two sons, And heirs, Alexis and Evander, He might have been as doubtful once Of Robert Burns and Alexander.
Alexis, in his early youth, Began to steal — from old and young. Likewise Evander, and the truth Was like a bad taste on his tongue. Born thieves and liars, their affair Seemed only to be tarred with evil — The most insufferable pair Of scamps that ever cheered the devil.
The world went on, their fame went on, And they went on — from bad to worse; Till, goaded hot with nothing done, And each accoutred with a curse, The friends of Old King Cole, by twos, And fours, and sevens, and elevens, Pronounced unalterable views Of doings that were not of heaven's.
And having learned again whereby Their baleful zeal had come about, King Cole met many a wrathful eye So kindly that its wrath went out — Or partly out. Say what they would, He seemed the more to court their candor; But never told what kind of good Was in Alexis and Evander.
And Old King Cole, with many a puff That haloed his urbanity, Would smoke till he had smoked enough, And listen most attentively. He beamed as with an inward light That had the Lord's assurance in it; And once a man was there all night, Expecting something every minute.
But whether from too little thought, Or too much fealty to the bowl, A dim reward was all he got For sitting up with Old King Cole. "Though mine," the father mused aloud, "Are not the sons I would have chosen, Shall I, less evilly endowed, By their infirmity be frozen?
"They'll have a bad end, I'll agree, But I was never born to groan; For I can see what I can see, And I'm accordingly alone. With open heart and open door, I love my friends, I like my neighbors; But if I try to tell you more, Your doubts will overmatch my labors.
"This pipe would never make me calm, This bowl my grief would never drown. For grief like mine there is no balm In Gilead, or in Tilbury Town. And if I see what I can see, I know not any way to blind it; Nor more if any way may be For you to grope or fly to find it.
"There may be room for ruin yet, And ashes for a wasted love; Or, like One whom you may forget, I may have meat you know not of. And if I'd rather live than weep Meanwhile, do you find that surprising? Why, bless my soul, the man's asleep! That's good. The sun will soon be rising."
Spoon River Anthology. [Edgar Lee Masters]
Rich, honored by my fellow citizens, The father of many children, born of a noble mother, All raised there In the great mansion-house, at the edge of town. Note the cedar tree on the lawn! I sent all the boys to Ann Arbor, all of the girls to Rockford, The while my life went on, getting more riches and honors — Resting under my cedar tree at evening. The years went on. I sent the girls to Europe; I dowered them when married. I gave the boys money to start in business. They were strong children, promising as apples Before the bitten places show. But John fled the country in disgrace. Jenny died in child-birth — I sat under my cedar tree. Harry killed himself after a debauch, Susan was divorced — I sat under my cedar tree. Paul was invalided from over study, Mary became a recluse at home for love of a man — I sat under my cedar tree. All were gone, or broken-winged or devoured by life — I sat under my cedar tree. My mate, the mother of them, was taken — I sat under my cedar tree, Till ninety years were tolled. O maternal Earth, which rocks the fallen leaf to sleep!
Out of the lights and roar of cities, Drifting down like a spark in Spoon River, Burnt out with the fire of drink, and broken, The paramour of a woman I took in self-contempt, But to hide a wounded pride as well. To be judged and loathed by a village of little minds — I, gifted with tongues and wisdom, Sunk here to the dust of the justice court, A picker of rags in the rubbage of spites and wrongs, — I, whom fortune smiled on! I in a village, Spouting to gaping yokels pages of verse, Out of the lore of golden years, Or raising a laugh with a flash of filthy wit When they brought the drinks to kindle my dying mind. To be judged by you, The soul of me hidden from you, With its wound gangrened By love for a wife who made the wound, With her cold white bosom, treasonous, pure and hard, Relentless to the last, when the touch of her hand At any time, might have cured me of the typhus, Caught in the jungle of life where many are lost. And only to think that my soul could not react, As Byron's did, in song, in something noble, But turned on itself like a tortured snake — Judge me this way, O world!
Reading in Ovid the sorrowful story of Itys, Son of the love of Tereus and Procne, slain For the guilty passion of Tereus for Philomela, The flesh of him served to Tereus by Procne, And the wrath of Tereus, the murderess pursuing Till the gods made Philomela a nightingale, Lute of the rising moon, and Procne a swallow! Oh livers and artists of Hellas centuries gone, Sealing in little thuribles dreams and wisdom, Incense beyond all price, forever fragrant, A breath whereof makes clear the eyes of the soul! How I inhaled its sweetness here in Spoon River! The thurible opening when I had lived and learned How all of us kill the children of love, and all of us, Knowing not what we do, devour their flesh; And all of us change to singers, although it be But once in our lives, or change — alas — to swallows, To twitter amid cold winds and falling leaves!
In youth my wings were strong and tireless, But I did not know the mountains. In age I knew the mountains But my weary wings could not follow my vision — Genius is wisdom and youth.
They brought me ambrotypes Of the old pioneers to enlarge. And sometimes one sat for me — Some one who was in being When giant hands from the womb of the world Tore the republic. What was it in their eyes? — For I could never fathom That mystical pathos of drooped eyelids, And the serene sorrow of their eyes. It was like a pool of water, Amid oak trees at the edge of a forest, Where the leaves fall, As you hear the crow of a cock Where the third generation lives, and the strong men From a far-off farm-house, seen near the hills And the strong women are gone and forgotten. And these grand-children and great grand-children Of the pioneers! Truly did my camera record their faces, too, With so much of the old strength gone, And the old faith gone, And the old mastery of life gone, And the old courage gone, Which labors and loves and suffers and sings Under the sun!
William H. Herndon
There by the window in the old house Perched on the bluff, overlooking miles of valley, My days of labor closed, sitting out life's decline, Day by day did I look in my memory, As one who gazes in an enchantress' crystal globe, And I saw the figures of the past, As if in a pageant glassed by a shining dream, Move through the incredible sphere of time. And I saw a man arise from the soil like a fabled giant And throw himself over a deathless destiny, Master of great armies, head of the republic, Bringing together into a dithyramb of recreative song The epic hopes of a people; At the same time Vulcan of sovereign fires, Where imperishable shields and swords were beaten out From spirits tempered in heaven. Look in the crystal! See how he hastens on To the place where his path comes up to the path Of a child of Plutarch and Shakespeare. O Lincoln, actor indeed, playing well your part, And Booth, who strode in a mimic play within the play, Often and often I saw you, As the cawing crows winged their way to the wood Over my house-top at solemn sunsets, There by my window, Alone.
Out of me unworthy and unknown The vibrations of deathless music: "With malice toward none, with charity for all." Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions, And the beneficent face of a nation Shining with justice and truth. I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds, Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln, Wedded to him, not through union, But through separation. Bloom forever, O Republic, From the dust of my bosom!
Lincoln. [John Gould Fletcher]
Like a gaunt, scraggly pine Which lifts its head above the mournful sandhills; And patiently, through dull years of bitter silence, Untended and uncared for, starts to grow.
Ungainly, labouring, huge, The wind of the north has twisted and gnarled its branches; Yet in the heat of midsummer days, when thunderclouds ring the horizon, A nation of men shall rest beneath its shade. And it shall protect them all, Hold everyone safe there, watching aloof in silence; Until at last one mad stray bolt from the zenith Shall strike it in an instant down to earth.
There was a darkness in this man; an immense and hollow darkness, Of which we may not speak, nor share with him, nor enter; A darkness through which strong roots stretched downwards into the earth Towards old things:
Towards the herdman-kings who walked the earth and spoke with God, Towards the wanderers who sought for they knew not what, and found their goal at last; Towards the men who waited, only waited patiently when all seemed lost, Many bitter winters of defeat;
Down to the granite of patience These roots swept, knotted fibrous roots, prying, piercing, seeking, And drew from the living rock and the living waters about it The red sap to carry upwards to the sun.
Not proud, but humble, Only to serve and pass on, to endure to the end through service; For the ax is laid at the roots of the trees, and all that bring not forth good fruit Shall be cut down on the day to come and cast into the fire.
There is a silence abroad in the land to-day, And in the hearts of men, a deep and anxious silence; And, because we are still at last, those bronze lips slowly open, Those hollow and weary eyes take on a gleam of light.
Slowly a patient, firm-syllabled voice cuts through the endless silence Like labouring oxen that drag a plow through the chaos of rude clay-fields: "I went forward as the light goes forward in early spring, But there were also many things which I left behind.
"Tombs that were quiet; One, of a mother, whose brief light went out in the darkness, One, of a loved one, the snow on whose grave is long falling, One, only of a child, but it was mine.
"Have you forgot your graves? Go, question them in anguish, Listen long to their unstirred lips. From your hostages to silence, Learn there is no life without death, no dawn without sun-setting, No victory but to him who has given all."
The clamour of cannon dies down, the furnace-mouth of the battle is silent. The midwinter sun dips and descends, the earth takes on afresh its bright colours. But he whom we mocked and obeyed not, he whom we scorned and mistrusted, He has descended, like a god, to his rest.
Over the uproar of cities, Over the million intricate threads of life wavering and crossing, In the midst of problems we know not, tangling, perplexing, ensnaring, Rises one white tomb alone.
Beam over it, stars, Wrap it round, stripes — stripes red for the pain that he bore for you — Enfold it forever, O flag, rent, soiled, but repaired through your anguish; Long as you keep him there safe, the nations shall bow to your law.
Strew over him flowers: Blue forget-me-nots from the north, and the bright pink arbutus From the east, and from the west rich orange blossom, And from the heart of the land take the passion-flower;
Rayed, violet, dim, With the nails that pierced, the cross that he bore and the circlet, And beside it there lay also one lonely snow-white magnolia, Bitter for remembrance of the healing which has passed.
Abraham Lincoln walks at Midnight. [Vachel Lindsay]
(In Springfield, Illinois)
It is portentous, and a thing of state That here at midnight, in our little town A mourning figure walks, and will not rest, Near the old court-house pacing up and down,
Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards He lingers where his children used to play, Or through the market, on the well-worn stones He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.
A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black, A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl Make him the quaint great figure that men love, The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.
He cannot sleep upon his hillside now. He is among us: — as in times before! And we who toss and lie awake for long Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.
His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings. Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep? Too many peasants fight, they know not why, Too many homesteads in black terror weep.
The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart. He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main. He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now The bitterness, the folly and the pain.
He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn Shall come; — the shining hope of Europe free: The league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth, Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.
It breaks his heart that kings must murder still, That all his hours of travail here for men Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace That he may sleep upon his hill again?
Prayer during Battle. [Hermann Hagedorn]
Lord, in this hour of tumult, Lord, in this night of fears, Keep open, oh, keep open My eyes, my ears.
Not blindly, not in hatred, Lord, let me do my part. Keep open, oh, keep open My mind, my heart!
Prayer of a Soldier in France. [Joyce Kilmer]
My shoulders ache beneath my pack (Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).
I march with feet that burn and smart (Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).
Men shout at me who may not speak (They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).
I may not lift a hand to clear My eyes of salty drops that sear.
(Then shall my fickle soul forget Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)
My rifle hand is stiff and numb (From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).
Lord, Thou didst suffer more for me Than all the hosts of land and sea.
So let me render back again This millionth of Thy gift. Amen.
The White Comrade. [Robert Haven Schauffler]
Under our curtain of fire, Over the clotted clods, We charged, to be withered, to reel And despairingly wheel When the bugles bade us retire From the terrible odds.
As we ebbed with the battle-tide, Fingers of red-hot steel Suddenly closed on my side. I fell, and began to pray. I crawled on my hands and lay Where a shallow crater yawned wide; Then I swooned. . . .
When I woke, it was yet day. Fierce was the pain of my wound, But I saw it was death to stir, For fifty paces away Their trenches were. In torture I prayed for the dark And the stealthy step of my friend Who, stanch to the very end, Would creep to the danger zone And offer his life as a mark To save my own.
Night fell. I heard his tread, Not stealthy, but firm and serene, As if my comrade's head Were lifted far from that scene Of passion and pain and dread; As if my comrade's heart In carnage took no part; As if my comrade's feet Were set on some radiant street Such as no darkness might haunt; As if my comrade's eyes, No deluge of flame could surprise, No death and destruction daunt, No red-beaked bird dismay, Nor sight of decay.
Then in the bursting shells' dim light I saw he was clad in white. For a moment I thought that I saw the smock Of a shepherd in search of his flock. Alert were the enemy, too, And their bullets flew Straight at a mark no bullet could fail; For the seeker was tall and his robe was bright; But he did not flee nor quail. Instead, with unhurrying stride He came, And gathering my tall frame, Like a child, in his arms . . .
I slept, And awoke From a blissful dream In a cave by a stream. My silent comrade had bound my side. No pain now was mine, but a wish that I spoke, — A mastering wish to serve this man Who had ventured through hell my doom to revoke, As only the truest of comrades can. I begged him to tell me how best I might aid him, And urgently prayed him Never to leave me, whatever betide; When I saw he was hurt — Shot through the hands that were clasped in prayer! Then, as the dark drops gathered there And fell in the dirt, The wounds of my friend Seemed to me such as no man might bear. Those bullet-holes in the patient hands Seemed to transcend All horrors that ever these war-drenched lands Had known or would know till the mad world's end. Then suddenly I was aware That his feet had been wounded, too; And, dimming the white of his side, A dull stain grew. "You are hurt, White Comrade!" I cried. His words I already foreknew: "These are old wounds," said he, "But of late they have troubled me."
Smith, of the Third Oregon, dies. [Mary Carolyn Davies]
Autumn in Oregon is wet as Spring, And green, with little singings in the grass, And pheasants flying, Gold, green and red, Great, narrow, lovely things, As if an orchid had snatched wings. There are strange birds like blots against a sky Where a sun is dying. Beyond the river where the hills are blurred A cloud, like the one word Of the too-silent sky, stirs, and there stand Black trees on either hand. Autumn in Oregon is wet and new As Spring, And puts a fever like Spring's in the cheek That once has touched her dew — And it puts longing too In eyes that once have seen Her season-flouting green, And ears that listened to her strange birds speak.
Autumn in Oregon — I'll never see Those hills again, a blur of blue and rain Across the old Willamette. I'll not stir A pheasant as I walk, and hear it whirr Above my head, an indolent, trusting thing. When all this silly dream is finished here, The fellows will go home to where there fall Rose-petals over every street, and all The year is like a friendly festival. But I shall never watch those hedges drip Color, not see the tall spar of a ship In our old harbor. — They say that I am dying, Perhaps that's why it all comes back again: Autumn in Oregon and pheasants flying —
Song. [Edward J. O'Brien]
She goes all so softly Like a shadow on the hill, A faint wind at twilight That stirs, and is still.
She weaves her thoughts whitely, Like doves in the air, Though a gray mound in Flanders Clouds all that was fair.
Lonely Burial. [Stephen Vincent Benet]
There were not many at that lonely place, Where two scourged hills met in a little plain. The wind cried loud in gusts, then low again. Three pines strained darkly, runners in a race Unseen by any. Toward the further woods A dim harsh noise of voices rose and ceased. — We were most silent in those solitudes — Then, sudden as a flame, the black-robed priest, The clotted earth piled roughly up about The hacked red oblong of the new-made thing, Short words in swordlike Latin — and a rout Of dreams most impotent, unwearying. Then, like a blind door shut on a carouse, The terrible bareness of the soul's last house.
I have a Rendezvous with Death. [Alan Seeger]
I have a rendezvous with Death At some disputed barricade, When Spring comes back with rustling shade And apple-blossoms fill the air — I have a rendezvous with Death When Spring brings back blue days and fair.
It may be he shall take my hand And lead me into his dark land And close my eyes and quench my breath — It may be I shall pass him still. I have a rendezvous with Death On some scarred slope of battered hill When Spring comes round again this year And the first meadow-flowers appear.
God knows 'twere better to be deep Pillowed in silk and scented down, Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep, Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath, Where hushed awakenings are dear . . . But I've a rendezvous with Death At midnight in some flaming town, When Spring trips north again this year, And I to my pledged word am true, I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Rouge Bouquet. [Joyce Kilmer]
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet There is a new-made grave to-day, Built by never a spade nor pick Yet covered with earth ten metres thick. There lie many fighting men, Dead in their youthful prime, Never to laugh nor love again Nor taste the Summertime. For Death came flying through the air And stopped his flight at the dugout stair, Touched his prey and left them there, Clay to clay. He hid their bodies stealthily In the soil of the land they fought to free And fled away. Now over the grave abrupt and clear Three volleys ring; And perhaps their brave young spirits hear The bugle sing: "Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Slumber well where the shell screamed and fell. Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor, You will not need them any more. Danger's past; Now at last, Go to sleep!"
There is on earth no worthier grave To hold the bodies of the brave Than this place of pain and pride Where they nobly fought and nobly died. Never fear but in the skies Saints and angels stand Smiling with their holy eyes On this new-come band. St. Michael's sword darts through the air And touches the aureole on his hair As he sees them stand saluting there, His stalwart sons; And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill Rejoice that in veins of warriors still The Gael's blood runs. And up to Heaven's doorway floats, From the wood called Rouge Bouquet, A delicate cloud of buglenotes That softly say: "Farewell! Farewell! Comrades true, born anew, peace to you! Your souls shall be where the heroes are And your memory shine like the morning-star. Brave and dear, Shield us here. Farewell!"
Francis Ledwidge. [Grace Hazard Conkling]
(Killed in action July 31, 1917)
Nevermore singing Will you go now, Wearing wild moonlight On your brow. The moon's white mood In your silver mind Is all forgotten. Words of wind From off the hedgerow After rain, You do not hear them; They are vain. There is a linnet Craves a song, And you returning Before long. Now who will tell her, Who can say On what great errand You are away? You whose kindred Were hills of Meath, Who sang the lane-rose From her sheath, What voice will cry them The grief at dawn Or say to the blackbird You are gone?
April on the Battlefields. [Leonora Speyer]
April now walks the fields again, Trailing her tearful leaves And holding all her frightened buds against her heart: Wrapt in her clouds and mists, She walks, Groping her way among the graves of men.
The green of earth is differently green, A dreadful knowledge trembles in the grass, And little wide-eyed flowers die too soon: There is a stillness here — After a terror of all raving sounds — And birds sit close for comfort upon the boughs Of broken trees.
April, thou grief! What of thy sun and glad, high wind, Thy valiant hills and woods and eager brooks, Thy thousand-petalled hopes? The sky forbids thee sorrow, April! And yet — I see thee walking listlessly Across those scars that once were joyous sod, Those graves, Those stepping-stones from life to life.
Death is an interruption between two heart-beats, That I know — Yet know not how I know — But April mourns, Trailing her tender green, The passion of her green, Across the passion of those fearful fields.
Yes, all the fields! No barrier here, No challenge in the night, No stranger-land; She passes with her perfect countersign, Her green; She wanders in her mournful garden, Dropping her buds like tears, Spreading her lovely grief upon the graves of man.
Earth's Easter. [Robert Haven Schauffler]
Earth has gone up from its Gethsemane, And now on Golgotha is crucified; The spear is twisted in the tortured side; The thorny crown still works its cruelty. Hark! while the victim suffers on the tree, There sound through starry spaces, far and wide, Such words as in the last despair are cried: "My God! my God! Thou hast forsaken me!"
But when earth's members from the cross are drawn, And all we love into the grave is gone, This hope shall be a spark within the gloom: That, in the glow of some stupendous dawn, We may go forth to find, where lilies bloom, Two angels bright before an empty tomb.
The Fields. [Witter Bynner]
Though wisdom underfoot Dies in the bloody fields, Slowly the endless root Gathers again and yields.
In fields where hate has hurled Its force, where folly rots, Wisdom shall be unfurled Small as forget-me-nots.
In Spite of War. [Angela Morgan]
In spite of war, in spite of death, In spite of all man's sufferings, Something within me laughs and sings And I must praise with all my breath. In spite of war, in spite of hate Lilacs are blooming at my gate, Tulips are tripping down the path In spite of war, in spite of wrath. "Courage!" the morning-glory saith; "Rejoice!" the daisy murmureth, And just to live is so divine When pansies lift their eyes to mine.
The clouds are romping with the sea, And flashing waves call back to me That naught is real but what is fair, That everywhere and everywhere A glory liveth through despair. Though guns may roar and cannon boom, Roses are born and gardens bloom; My spirit still may light its flame At that same torch whence poppies came. Where morning's altar whitely burns Lilies may lift their silver urns In spite of war, in spite of shame.
And in my ear a whispering breath, "Wake from the nightmare! Look and see That life is naught but ecstasy In spite of war, in spite of death!"
Wide Haven. [Clement Wood]
Tired of man's futile, petty cry, Of lips that lie and flout, I saw the slow sun dim and die And the slim dusk slip out . . . Life held no room for doubt.
What though Death claim the ones I prize In War's insane crusade, Last night I saw Orion rise And the great day-star fade, And I am not dismayed.
To Any one. [Witter Bynner]
Whether the time be slow or fast, Enemies, hand in hand, Must come together at the last And understand.
No matter how the die is cast Nor who may seem to win, You know that you must love at last — Why not begin?
Peace. [Agnes Lee]
Suddenly bells and flags! Suddenly — door to door — Tidings! Can we believe, We, who were used to war?
Yet we have dreamed her face, Knowing her light must be, Knowing that she must come. Look — she comes, it is she!
Tattered her raiment floats, Blood is upon her wings. Ah, but her eyes are clear! Ah, but her voice outrings!
Soon where the shrapnel fell Petals shall wake and stir. Look — she is here, she lives! Beauty has died for her.
The Kings are passing Deathward. [David Morton]
The Kings are passing deathward in the dark Of days that had been splendid where they went; Their crowns are captive and their courts are stark Of purples that are ruinous, now, and rent. For all that they have seen disastrous things: The shattered pomp, the split and shaken throne, They cannot quite forget the way of Kings: Gravely they pass, majestic and alone.
With thunder on their brows, their faces set Toward the eternal night of restless shapes, They walk in awful splendor, regal yet, Wearing their crimes like rich and kingly capes . . . Curse them or taunt, they will not hear or see; The Kings are passing deathward: let them be.
Jerico. [Willard Wattles]
Jerico, Jerico, Round and round the walls I go Where they watch with scornful eyes, Where the captained bastions rise; Heel and toe, heel and toe, Blithely round the walls I go.
Jerico, Jerico, Round and round the walls I go . . . All the golden ones of earth Regal in their lordly mirth . . . Heel and toe, heel and toe, Round and round the walls I go.
Jerico, Jerico, Blithely round the walls I go, With a broken sword in hand Where the mighty bastions stand; Heel and toe, heel and toe, Hear my silly bugle blow.
Heel and toe, heel and toe, Round the walls of Jerico . . . Past the haughty golden gate Where the emperor in state Smiles to see the ragged show, Round and round the towers go.
Jerico, Jerico, Round and round and round I go . . . All their sworded bodies must Lie low in their tower's dust . . . Heel and toe, heel and toe, Blithely round the walls I go.
Heel and toe, heel and toe, — I will blow a thunder note From my brazen bugle's throat Till the sand and thistle know The leveled walls of Jerico, Jerico, Jerico, Jerico. . . .
Students. [Florence Wilkinson]
John Brown and Jeanne at Fontainebleau — 'T was Toussaint, just a year ago; Crimson and copper was the glow Of all the woods at Fontainebleau. They peered into that ancient well, And watched the slow torch as it fell. John gave the keeper two whole sous, And Jeanne that smile with which she woos John Brown to folly. So they lose The Paris train. But never mind! — All-Saints are rustling in the wind, And there's an inn, a crackling fire — (It's 'deux-cinquante', but Jeanne's desire); There's dinner, candles, country wine, Jeanne's lips — philosophy divine!
There was a bosquet at Saint Cloud Wherein John's picture of her grew To be a Salon masterpiece — Till the rain fell that would not cease. Through one long alley how they raced! — 'T was gold and brown, and all a waste Of matted leaves, moss-interlaced. Shades of mad queens and hunter-kings And thorn-sharp feet of dryad-things Were company to their wanderings; Then rain and darkness on them drew. The rich folks' motors honked and flew. They hailed an old cab, heaven for two; The bright Champs-Elysees at last — Though the cab crawled it sped too fast.
Paris, upspringing white and gold: Flamboyant arch and high-enscrolled War-sculpture, big, Napoleonic — Fierce chargers, angels histrionic; The royal sweep of gardened spaces, The pomp and whirl of columned Places; The Rive Gauche, age-old, gay and gray; The impasse and the loved cafe; The tempting tidy little shops; The convent walls, the glimpsed tree-tops; Book-stalls, old men like dwarfs in plays; Talk, work, and Latin Quarter ways.
May — Robinson's, the chestnut trees — Were ever crowds as gay as these? The quick pale waiters on a run, The round, green tables, one by one, Hidden away in amorous bowers — Lilac, laburnum's golden showers. Kiss, clink of glasses, laughter heard, And nightingales quite undeterred. And then that last extravagance — O Jeanne, a single amber glance Will pay him! — "Let's play millionaire For just two hours — on princely fare, At some hotel where lovers dine A deux and pledge across the wine!" They find a damask breakfast-room, Where stiff silk roses range their bloom. The garcon has a splendid way Of bearing in grand dejeuner. Then to be left alone, alone, High up above Rue Castiglione; Curtained away from all the rude Rumors, in silken solitude; And, John, her head upon your knees — Time waits for moments such as these.
Tampico. [Grace Hazard Conkling]
Oh, cut me reeds to blow upon, Or gather me a star, But leave the sultry passion-flowers Growing where they are.
I fear their sombre yellow deeps, Their whirling fringe of black, And he who gives a passion-flower Always asks it back.
Which. [Corinne Roosevelt Robinson]
We ask that Love shall rise to the divine, And yet we crave him very human, too; Our hearts would drain the crimson of his wine, Our souls despise him if he prove untrue! Poor Love! I hardly see what you can do! We know all human things are weak and frail, And yet we claim that very part of you, Then, inconsistent, blame you if you fail. When you would soar, 't is we who clip your wings, Although we weep because you faint and fall. Alas! it seems we want so many things, That no dear love could ever grant them all! Which shall we choose, the human or divine, The crystal stream, or yet the crimson wine?