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Title: Days and Dreams - Poems
Author: Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Days and Dreams - Poems" ***

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by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)






NEW YORK                   LONDON
27 West Twenty-third St.   27 King William St., Strand

The Knickerbocker Press


The Knickerbocker Press, New York
Printed and Bound by
G. P. Putnam's Sons


    _O lyrist of the lowly and the true,
          The song I sought for you
    Hides yet unsung. What hope for me to find,
          Lost in the dædal mind,
    The living utterance with lovely tongue!
          To say, as erst was sung
    By Ariosto of Knight-errantry,--
          Through lands of Poesy,
    Song's Paladin, knight of the dream and day,
          The wizard shield you sway
    Of that Atlantes power, sweet and terse,
          The skyey-builded verse:
    The shield that dazzles, brilliant with surprise,
          Our unanointed eyes.--
    Oh, had I written as 't were worthy you,
          Each line, a spark of dew,--
    As once Ferdusi shone in Persia,--
          Had strung each rosy spray
    Of the unfolding flower of each song;
          And Iran's bulbul tongue
    Had sobbed its heart out o'er the fountain's slab
          In gardens of Afrasiab._



ONE DAY AND ANOTHER               1

DAYS AND DREAMS                  93

DEITY                            95

SELF                             97

SELF AND SOUL                    99

THE DREAM OF DREAD              102

DEATH IN LIFE                   105

THE EVE OF ALL-SAINTS           110

MATER DOLOROSA                  116

THE OLD INN                     119

LAST DAYS                       121

THE ROMANZA                     123

MY ROMANCE                      125

THE EPIC                        127

THE BLIND HARPER                129

ELPHIN                          131

PRE-ORDINATION                  134

AT THE STILE                    138


AT THE CORREGIDOR'S             142

THE PORTRAIT                    145

ISMAEL                          150

A PRE-EXISTENCE                 154

BEHRAM AND EDDETMA              158





_He waits musing._

    Herein the dearness of her is:
      The thirty perfect days of June
    Made one, in beauty and in bliss
    Were not more white to have to kiss,
      To love not more in tune.

    And oft I think she is too true,
      Too innocent for our day;
    For in her eyes her soul looks new--
    Two crowfoot-blossoms watchet-blue
      Are not more soft than they.

    So good, so kind is she to me,
      In darling ways and happy words,
    Sometimes my heart fears she may be
    Too much with God and secretly
      Sweet sister to the birds.


_Becoming impatient._

    The owls are quavering, two, now three,
      And all the green is graying;
    The owls our trysting dials be--
      There is no time for staying.

    I wait you where this buckeye throws
      Its tumbled shadow over
    Wood-violet and the bramble-rose,
      Long lady-fern and clover.

    Spice-seeded sassafras weighs deep
      Rough rail and broken paling,
    Where all day long the lizards sleep
      Like lichen on the railing.

    Behind you you will feel the moon's
      Gold stealing like young laughter;
    And mists--gray ghosts of picaroons--
      Its phantom treasure after.

    And here together, youth and youth,
      Love will be doubly able;
    Each be to each as true as truth,
      And dear as fairy fable.

    The owls are calling and the maize
      With fallen dew is dripping--
    Ah, girlhood, through the dewy haze
      Come like a moonbeam slipping.


_He hums._

    There is a fading inward of the day,
      And all the pansy sunset hugs one star;
    To eastward dwindling all the land is gray,
      While barley meadows westward smoulder far.

            Now to your glass will you pass
                For the last time?
            Humming that ballad we know?--
            Here while I wait it is late
                And is past time--
            And love's hours they go, they go.

    There is a drawing downward of the night;
      The wedded Heaven wends married to the Moon;
    Above, the heights hang golden in her light,
      Below, the woods bathe dewy in the June.

            There through the dew is it you
                Coming lawny?
            Or a moth in the vines?
            You!--at your throat I may note
                Twinkling tawny,
            A glow-worm, your brooch that shines.


_She speaks._

        How many smiles in the asking?--
          Herein I can not deceive you;
        My "yes" in a "no" was a-masking,
          Nor thought, dear, once to grieve you.
    I hid. The humming-bird happiness here
    Danced up i' the blood ... but what are words
    When the speech of two souls all truth affords?
    Affirmative, negative what in love's ear?--
    I wished to say "yes" and somehow said "no";
    The woman within me knew you would know,
            For it held you six times dear.

_He speaks._

        So many hopes in a wooing!--
          Therein you could not deceive me;
        The heart was here and the hope pursuing,
          Knew that you loved, believe me.--
    Bunched bells o' the blush pomegranate--to fix
    At your throat; three drops of fire they are;
    And the maiden moon and the maiden star
    Sink silvery over yon meadow ricks.
    Will you look?--till I hug your head back, so--
    For I know it is "yes" though you whisper "no,"--
            And my kisses, sweet, are six.


_She speaks._

    Could I recall every joy that befell me
    There in the past with its anguish and bliss,
    Here in my heart it has whispered to tell me,
            These were no joys to this.

    Were it not well if our love could forget them,
    Veiling the _was_ with the dawn of the _is_?
    Dead with the past we should never regret them,
            These were no joys to this.

    When they were gone and the present stood speechful,
    Ardent with word and with look and with kiss,
    What though we know that their eyes are beseechful,
            These were no joys to this.

    Is it not well to have more of the spirit,
    Living high futures this earthly must miss?
    Less of the flesh with the past pining near it?--
            Such is the joy of this.


_She sings._

            We will leave reason,
            Dear, for a season;
            Reason were treason
                Since yonder nether
            Foot-hills are clad now
            In nothing sad now;
            We will be glad now,
                Glad as this weather.
    Heart and heart! in the Maytime, Maytime,
    Youth and Love take playtime, playtime ...
    I in the dairy; you are the airy
    Majesty passing; Love is the fairy
        Bringing us two together.

_He sings._

            Starlight in masses
            Of mist that passes,
            Stars in the grasses;
                Star-bud and flower
            Laughingly know us;
            Secretly show us
            Earth is below us
                And for the hour
    Soul has soul. In the Maytime, Maytime,
    Youth and Love take playtime, playtime ...
    You are a song; a singer I hear it
    Whispered in star and in flower; the spirit,
        Love, is the power.


_He speaks._

    And say we can not wed us now,
      Since roses and the June are here,
    Meseems, beneath the beechen bough
      'T is just as sweet, my doubly dear,
    To swear anew each old love vow,
      And love another year.

    When breathe green woodlands through and through
      Wild scents of heliotrope and rain,
    Where deep the moss mounds cool with dew,
      Beyond the barley-blowing lane,
    More wise than wedding, is to woo--
      So we will woo again.

    All night I lie awake and mark
      The hours by no clanging clock,
    But in the dim and dewy dark
      Far crowing of some punctual cock;
    Until the lyric of the lark
      Mounts and Morn's gates unlock.

    And would you be a nun and miss
      All this delightful ache of love?
    Not have the moon for what she is?
      Love's honey-horn God holds above--
    No world, for worlds are in a kiss
      If worlds are good enough.

    So say we can not wed us now,
      Since roses and the June are here
    We 'll stroll beneath the doddered bough,
      Heaven's mated songsters singing near,
    To swear anew each old love vow,
      And love another year.


_He opens his heart._

    And had we lived in the days
    Of the Khalif Haroun er Reshid,
    We had loved, as the story says,
    Did the Sultan's favorite one
    And the Persian Emperor's son
    Ali ben Bekkar, he
    Of the Kisra dynasty.

    Do you know the story well
    Of the Khalif Haroun's sultana?--
    When night on the palace fell,
    A slave through a secret door,
    Low-arched on the Tigris' shore,
    By a hidden winding stair
    Ben Bekkar brought to his fair?

    Then there was laughter and mirth,
    And feasting and singing together,
    In a chamber of marvellous worth;
    In a chamber vaulted high
    On columns of ivory;
    Its dome, like the irised skies,
    Mooned over with peacock eyes;
    And the curtains and furniture,
    Damask and juniper.

    Ten slave-girls--so many blooms--
    Stand sconcing tamarisk torches,
    Silk-clad from the Irak looms;
    Ten handmaidens serve the feast,
    Each like to a star in the East;
    Ten singers, their lutes a-tune,
    Each like to a bosomed moon.

    For her in the stuff of Merv
    Blue-clad, unveiled, and jewelled,
    No metaphor made may serve;
    Scarved deep with her own dark hair,
    The jewels like fire-flies there--
    Blossom and moon and star,
    The Lady Shemsennehar.

    The zone embracing her waist,--
    The ransom of forty princes,--
    But her form more priceless is placed;
    Carbuncles of Istakhar
    In her coronet burning are--
    Though gems of the Jamshid race,
    Far rarer the gem of her face.

    Tall-shaped like the letter I,
    With a face like an Orient morning;
    Eyes of the bronze-black sky;
    Lips, of the pomegranate split,
    With the light of her language lit;
    Cheeks, which the young blood dares
    Make blood-red anemone lairs.

    Kohled with voluptuous look,
    From opaline casting-bottles,
    Handmaidens over them shook
    Rose-water, and strewed with bloom
    Mosaics old of the room;
    Torch-rays on the walls made bars,
    Or minted down golden dinars.

    Roses of Rocknabad,
    Hyacinths of Bokhara;--
    Not a spray of cypress sad;--
    Narcissus and jessamine o'er
    Carved pillar and cedarn door;
    Pomegranates and bells of clear
    Tulips of far Kashmeer.

    And the chamber glows like a flower
    Of the Tuba, or vale of El Liwa;
    And the bronzen censers glower;
    And scents of ambergris pour
    With myrrh brought out of Lahore,
    And musk of Khoten, and good
    Aloes and sandal-wood.

    Rubies, a tragacanth-red,
    Angered in armlet and anklet
    Dragon-like eyes that bled:
    Bangles and necklaces dangled
    Diamonds, whose prisms were angled,
    Over veil and from coiffure, each
    Or apricot-colored or peach.

    And Ghoram now smites her lute,
    Sings loves of Mejnoon and Leila,
    Or amorous ghazals may suit:--
    And the flambeaux snap and wave
    Barbaric on free and slave,
    Rich fabrics and bezels of gems,
    And roses in anadems.

    Sherbets in ewers of gold,
    Fruits in salvers carnelian;
    Flagons of grotesque mold,
    Made of a sapphire glass,
    Stained with wine of Shirâz;
    Shaddock and melon and grape
    On plate of an antique shape:

    Vases of frost and of rose,
    An alabaster graven,
    Filled with the mountain snows;
    Goblets of mother-of-pearl,
    One filigree silver-swirl;
    Vessels of gold foamed up
    With spray of spar on the cup.--

    When a slave bursts in with the cry:
    "The eunuchs! the Khalif's eunuchs!
    With scimitars bared draw nigh!
    Wesif and Afif and he,
    Chief of the hideous three,
    Mesrour! the Sultan 's seen
    'Mid a hundred weapons' sheen!"...

    _We_, never had parted, no!
    As parted those lovers fearful;
    But kissing you so and so,
    When they came they had found us dead
    On the flowers our blood dyed red;
    Our lips together and
    The dagger in my hand.


_She speaks, musing._

    O cities built by music! lyres of love
      Strung to a songful sea! did I but own
      One harp chord of one broken barbiton
    What had I budded for our life thereof?

    In docile shadows under bluebell skies
      A home upon the poppied edge of eve,
      Beneath lone peaks the splendors never leave,
    In lemon orchards whence the egret flies.

    Where pitying gray the pitiless eyes of Death
      Blight no slight bud unfostered, I have thought;
      Deep, lily-deep, pearl-pale daturas, fraught
    With dewy fragrance like an angel's breath.

    Sleep in the days; the twilights tuned and tame
      Through mockbirds throating to attentive stars;
      Each morn outrivalling each in opal bars;
    Eves preaching beauty with rose-tongues of flame.

    O country by the undiscovered sea!
      The dream infolds thee and the way is dim--
      With head not high, what if I follow him,
    Love--with the madness and the melody?


_He, after a pause, lightly._

    An elf there is who stables the hot
    Red wasp that stings o' the apricot;
    An elf who rowels his spiteful bay,
    Like a mote on a ray, away, away;
    An elf who saddles the hornet lean
    To din i' the ear o' the swinging bean;
    Who hunts with a hat cocked half awry
    The bottle-blue o' the dragon-fly:--
    O ho, O hi! Oh, well know I.

    An elf there is where the clover tips
    A horn whence the summer leaks and drips,
    Where lanthorns of mustard-flowers bloom,
    In the dusk awaits the bee's dull boom;
    Gay gold brocade from head to knee,
    Who robs the caravan bumble-bee;
    Big bags of honey bee-merchants pay
    To the bandit elf of the Fairy way,--
    O ho, O hey! I have heard them say.

    Another ouphen the butterflies know,
    Who paints their wings like the buds that blow;
    Flowers, staining the dew-drops through,
    Seals their colors in tubes of dew;
    Colors to dazzle the butterflies' wing--
    The evening moth is another thing:
    The butterfly's glory he got at dawn,
    The moon-moth's got when the moon was wan;
    He it is, that the hollyhocks hear,
    Who dangles a brilliant i' each one's ear;
    Teases at noon the pane's green fly,
    And lights at night the glow-worm's eye:--
    O ho, O hi! Oh, well know I.

    But the dearest elf, so the poets say,
    Is the elf who hides in an eye of gray;
    Who curls in a dimple and slips along
    The strings of a lute or a lover's song;
    Shines in a scent, or wings a rhyme,
    And laughs in the bells of a wedding chime;
    Hides unhidden, where none may know,
    In her bosom's blossom or throat's blue bow--
    O ho, O ho!--a friend or foe?


_She, seriously._

    Who the loser, who the winner,
      If the Fancy fail as preacher?--
    None who loved was yet beginner
      Though another's love-beseecher;
    Love's revealment 's of the inner
      Life and deity, the teacher.

    Who may falsify the feeling
      To the lover who is loser?
    Has she felt:--the mere revealing
      Of the passion 's his accuser;
    She conceals it; the concealing
      Is her own love's self-abuser.

    One hath said, no flower knoweth
      Of the fragrance it revealeth;
    Song, its soul that overfloweth,
      Never nightingale's heart feeleth--
    Such the love the spirit groweth,
      Love unconscious if it healeth.



    Handsels of anemones
      The surrendered hours
    Pour about the sweet Spring's knees--
    Crowding babies of the breeze,
      Her unstudied flowers.

    When 't is dawn, bestowing Day
      Strews with coins of golden
    Every furlong of his way--
    Like a Sultan gone to pray
      At a Kaaba olden.

    Warlock Night, when dips the dark,
      Opens, tire on tire,
    Windows of an heavenly ark,
    Whence the stars swarm, spark on spark,
      Butterflies of fire.

    With the night, the day, the spring,--
      Godly chords of beauty,--
    We the instrument will string
    Of our lives and love shall sing
      Songs of truth and duty.



    How it was I can not tell,
      For I know not where nor why,
    And the beautiful befell
      In a land that does not lie
    East or West where mortals dwell--
      But beneath a vaguer sky.

    Was it in the golden ages,
      Or the iron, that I heard,
    In prophetic speech of sages,
      How had come a snowy bird
    'Neath whose wing lay written pages
      Of an unknown lover's word?

    I forget; you may remember
      How the earthquake shook our ships;
    How our city, one huge ember,
      Blazed within the thick eclipse;
    When you found me--deep December
      Sealed on icy eyes and lips.

    I forget. No one may say
      Pre-existences are true:
    Here 's a flower dies to-day,
      Resurrected blooms anew:
    Death is dumb and Life is gray--
      Who shall doubt what God can do!



    As to this, nothing to tell,
      You being all my belief;
    Doubt may not enter or dwell
      Here where your image is chief,
    Royal, to quicken or quell,
      Swaying no sceptre of grief.

    Wise with the wisdom of Spring--
      Dew-drops, a world in each prism,
    Gems from the universe ring:--
      Free of all creed and all schism,
    Buds that are speechless but bring
      God-uttered God aphorism.

    See how the synod is met
      There of the planets to preach us--
    Freed from the frost's oubliette,
      Here how the flowers beseech us--
    Were it not well to forget
      Winter and night as they teach us?

    Dew-drop, a bud, and a star,
      These--each a separate thought
    Over man's logic how far!--
      God to a unit hath wrought--
    Love, making these what they are,
      For without love they were naught.

    Millions of stars; and they roll
      Over your path that is white,
    Here where we end the long stroll.--
      Seen of the innermost sight,
    All of the love of my soul
      Kisses your spirit. Good-night.



_She delays, meditating._

    Sad skies and a foggy rain
    Dripping from streaming eaves;
    Over and over again
    Dead drop of the trickling leaves;
    And the woodward winding lane,
    And the hill with its shocks of sheaves,
      One scarce perceives.

    Must I go in such sad weather
    By the lane or over the hill?
    Where the splitting milk-weed's feather
    Dim, diamond-like rain-drops fill?
    Or where, ten stars together,
    Buff ox-eyes rank the rill
      By the old corn-mill?

    The creek by this is swollen,
    And its foaming cascades sound;
    And the lilies, smeared with pollen,
    In the race look dull and drowned;--
    'T is the path we oft have stolen
    To the bridge, that rambles round
      With willows crowned.

    Through a bottom wild with berry
    Or packed with the iron-weeds,
    With their blue combs washed and very
    Purple; the sorghum meads
    Glint green near a wilding cherry;
    Where the high wild-lettuce seeds
      The fenced path leads.

    A bird in the rain beseeches;
    And the balsams' budding balls
    Smell drenched by the way which reaches
    The wood where the water falls;
    Where the warty water-beeches
    Hang leaves one blister of galls,
      The mill-wheel drawls.

    My shawl instead of a bonnet!...
    Though the wood be soaking yet
    Through the wet to the rock I 'll run it--
    How sweet to meet in the wet!--
    Our rock with the vine upon it,
    Each flower a fiery jet-- ...
      He won't forget!


_He speaks, rowing._

    Deep are the lilies here that lay
    Lush, lambent leaves along our way,
    Or pollen-dusty bob and float
    White nenuphars about our boat
    This side the woodland we have reached;
    Two rapid strokes our skiff is beached.

    There is no path. Heaped foxgrapes choke
    Huge trunks they wrap. This giant oak
    Floods from the Alleghanies bore
    To wedge here by this sycamore;
    Its wounded bulk, heart-rotted white,
    Lights ghostly foxfire in the night.

    Now oar we through this willow fringe
    The bulging shore that bosks,--a tinge
    Of green mists down the marge;--where old,
    Scarred cottonwoods build walls of shade
    With breezy balsam pungent; bowled
    Around vined trunks the floods have made
    Concentric hollows. On we pass.

    As we pass, we pass, we pass,
    In daisy jungles deep as grass,
    A bubbling sparrow flirts above
    In wood-words with its woodland love:
    A white-streaked woodpecker afar
    Knocks: slant the sun dashed, each a star,
    Three glittering jays flash over: slim
    The piping sand-snipes skip and skim
    Before us: and a finch or thrush--
      Who may discover where such sing?--
    The silence rinses with a gush
      Of mellow music gurgling.

    On we pass, and onward oar
    To yon long lip of ragged shore,
    Where from yon rock spouts, babbling frore
    A ferny spring; where dodging by
    Rests sulphur-disced that butterfly;
    Mallows, rank crowded in for room,
    'Mid wild bean and wild mustard bloom;
    Where fishers 'neath those cottonwoods
      Last Spring encamped those ashes say
    And charcoal boughs.--'T is long till buds!--
      Here who in August misses May?


_He speaks, resting._

    Here the shores are irised; grasses
    Clump the water gray that glasses
    Broken wood and deepened distance:
    Far the musical persistence
    Of a field-lark lingers low
    In the west where tulips blow.

    White before us flames one pointed
    Star; and Day hath Night anointed
    King; from out her azure ewer
    Pouring starry fire, truer
    Than true gold. Star-crowned he stands
    With the starlight in his hands.

    Will the moon bleach through the ragged
    Tree-tops ere we reach yon jagged
    Rock, that rises gradually?
    Pharos of our homeward valley.
    Down the dusk burns golden-red;
    Embers are the stars o'erhead.

    At my soul some Protean elf is:
    You 're Simaetha, I am Delphis;
    You are Sappho and her Phaon--
    I. We love. There lies a ray on
    All the dark Æolian seas
    'Round the violet Lesbian leas.

    On we drift. He loves you. Nearer
    Looms our island. Rosier, clearer
    The Leucadian cliff we follow,
    Where the temple of Apollo
    Lifts a pale and pillared fire--
    Strike, oh, strike the Lydian lyre;
    Out of Hellas blows the breeze
    Singing to the Sapphic seas.


_He sings._

    Night, Night, 't is night. The moon before to love us,
      And all the moonlight tangled in the stream:
    Love, love, my love, and all the stars above us,
      The stars above and every star a dream.

    In odorous purple, where the falling warble
      Of water cascades and the plunged foam glows,
    A columned ruin heaps its sculptured marble
      Curled with the chiselled rebeck and the rose.

_She sings._

    Sleep, Sleep, sweet Sleep sleeps at the drifting tiller,
      And in our sail the Spirit of the Rain--
    Love, love, my love, ah bid thy heart be stiller,
      And, hark! the music of the harping main.

    What flowers are those that blow their balm unto us?
      Bow white their brows' aromas each a flame?
    Ah, child, too kind the love we know, that knew us,
      That kissed our eyes that we might see the same.


    Night! night! good night! no dream it is to vanish,
      The temple and the nightingale are there;
    The thornless roses bruising none to banish,
      The moon and one wild poppy in thy hair.


    Night! night! good night! and love's own star before thee,
      And love's star-image in the starry sea;
    Yes, yes, ah yes! a presence to watch o'er thee--
      Night! night! good night and good the gods to thee!


_Homeward through flowers: she speaks._

    O simple offerings of the common hills;
    Love's lowly names, that make you trebly sweet!
    One Johnny-jump-up, but an apron-full
    Of starry crowfoot, making mossy dells
    Dim with heaven's morning blue; dew-dripping plumes
    Of waxen "dog-mouths"; red the tippling cups
    Of gypsy-lilies all along the creek,
    Where dull the freckled silence sleeps, and dark
    The water runs when, at high noon, the cows
    Wade knee-deep and the heat hums drowsy with
    The drone of dizzy flies;--one Samson-flower
    Blue-streaked and crystal as a summer's cloud;
    White violets, milk-weed, scarlet Indian-pinks,
    All fragile-scented and familiar as
    Pink baby faces and blue infant eyes.

    O fair suggestions of a life more fair!
    Love's fragrant whispers of an untaught faith,
    High habitations 'neath a godlier blue
    Beyond the sin of Earth, in heavens prepared--
    What is it?--halcyon to utter calm,
    Faith? such as wrinkled wisdom, doubting, has
    Yearned for and sought in miser'd lore of worlds,
    And vainly?--Love?--Oh, have I learned to live?


_He speaks._

    Would you have known it seeing it?
    Could you have seen it being it?
    Waving me out of the budding land
    Sunbeam-jewelled a bloom-white hand,
    Wafting me life and hope and love,
    Life with the hope of the love thereof,

    --"What is the value of knowing it?"--
    Only the worth of owing it;
    Need of the bud contents the light;
    Dew at dawn and nard at night,
    Beauty, aroma, honey at heart,
    Which is debtor, part for part,

    Thoughts, when the heart is heedable,
    Then to the heart are readable;
    I in the texts of your eyes have read
    Deep as the depth of the living dead,
    Measures of truth in unsaid song
    Learned from the soul to haunt me long,

    Love perpends each laudable
    Thought of the soul made audible,
    Said in gardens of bliss or pain:
    Moonlight rays in drops of rain,
    Feels the faith in its sleep awake,
    Wish of the silent words that shake


_She hums and muses._

    _If love I have had of thee thou hadst of me,
      No loss was in giving it over;
    Could I give aught but that I had of thee,
      Being no more than thy lover?_

    And let it cease. When what befalls befalls,
      You cannot love me less,
    Loving me much now. Neither weeks nor walls,
      With bitterest distress,

    Shall all avail. Despair will find reprieve,
      Though dark the soul be tossed,
    In past possession of that love you grieve,
      The love which you have lost.

    Ponder the morning, or the midnight moon,
      The wilding of the wold,
    The morning slitting from night's brown cocoon
      Wide wings of flaxen gold:

    The moon that, had not darkness been before,
      Had never shone to lead;
    And think that, though you are, you are not poor,
      Since you have loved indeed.

    From flower to star read upward; you shall see
      The purposes of loss,
    Deep hierograms of gracious deity,
      And comfort in your cross.


_She speaks._

    Sunday shall we ride together?
      Not the root-rough, rambling way
      Through the woods we went that day,
    In the sultry summer weather,

    Past the Methodist Camp-Meeting,
      Where religion helped the hymn
      Gather volume, and a slim
    Minister with textful greeting

    Welcomed us and still expounded.
      From the service on the hill
      We had rode three hills and still
    Far away the singing sounded.

    Nor that road through weed and berry
      Drowsy days led me and you
      To the old-time barbecue,
    Where the country-side made merry.

    Dusty vehicles together;
      Darkies with the horses by
      'Neath the soft Kentucky sky,
    And a smell of bark and leather;

    When you smiled, "Our modern tourney:
      Gallantry and politics
      Dinner, dance and intermix."
    As we went the homeward journey

    'Twixt hot chaparrals and thickets,
      Heard brisk fiddles, scraping still,
      Drone and thump the quaint quadrille,
    Like a worried band of crickets.--

    Neither road. The shady quiet
      Of that way by beech and birch,
      Winding to the ruined church
    On the Fork that sparkles by it.

    Where the silent Sundays listen
      For the preacher whom we bring,
      In our hearts to preach and sing
    Week-day shade to Sabbath glisten.


_He, at parting._

    Yes, to-morrow; when the morn,
      Pentecost of flame, uncloses
    Portals that the stars adorn,
      Whence a golden presence throws his
      Fiery swords and burning roses
    At the wide wood's world of wall,
    Spears of sparkle at each fall;

    Then together let us ride
      Down deep-wood cathedral places,
    Where the pilgrim wild-flowers hide,
      Praying Sabbath in their faces;
      Where in truest untaught phrases,
    Worship in each rhythmic word,
    Sings no migratory bird....

    Pearl on pearl the high stars dight
      Jewels of divine devices
    'Round the Afric throat of Night;
      Where yon misty glimmer rises
      Soon the white moon crystallizes
    Out of darkness, like a spell.--
    Late, 't is late. Till dawn, farewell.



    Now rests the season in forgetfulness,
        Careless in beauty of maturity;
        The ripened roses 'round brown temples, she
    Fulfils completion in a dreamy guess:
    Now Time grants night the more and day the less;
        The gray decides; and brown
    Dim golds and reds in dulling greens express
        Themselves and broaden as the year goes down.
    Sadder the croft where, thrusting gray and high
    Their balls of seeds, the hoary onions die,
    Where, Falstaff-like, buff-bellied pumpkins lie:
        Deeper each wilderness;
    Sadder the blue of hills that lounge along
    The lonesome west; sadder the song
    Of the wild red-bird in the leafage yellow,
        Deeper and dreamier, aye!
    Than woods or waters, leans the languid sky
    Above lone orchards where the cider-press
        Drips and the russets mellow.

    Nature grows liberal; under woodland leaves
        The beech-nuts' burs their little pockets poke,
        Plump with the copper of the nuts that choke;
    Above our bristling way the spider weaves
    A glittering web for which the Dawn designs
        Thrice twenty rows of sparkles. By the oak,
    That rolls old roots in many gnarly lines,
        The acorn thimble, smoothly broke,
    Shines by its saucer. On sonorous pines
    The far wind organs; but the forest here
        To no weak breeze hath woke;
    Far off the wind, but crumbling near and near,--
    Each tingling twig expectant, and the gray
    Surmise of heaven pilots it the way,
        Rippling the leafy spines,
    Until the wildwood, one exultant sway,
    Booms, and the sunlight, arrowing through it, shines
        Visible applause you hear.

    How glows the garden! though the white mists keep
        The vagabond in flowers reminded of
        Decay that comes to slay in open love,
    When the full moon hangs cold and night is deep,
    Unheeding such their cardinal colors leap
        Gay in the crescent of the blade of death;
    Spaced innocents in swaths he weeps to reap,
        Waiting his scythe a breath,
    To gravely lay them dead with one last sweep.--
        Long, long admire
    Their splendors manifold:--
    The scarlet salvia showered with spurts of fire;
    Cascading lattices, dark vines that creep,
    Nightshade and cypress; there the marigold
    Burning--a shred of orange sunset caught
    And elfed in petals that eve's goblins brought
    From elfland; there, predominant red,
        The dahlia lifts its head
    By the white balsams' red-bruised horns of honey,
        In humming spaces sunny.
    The crickets singing dirges noon and night
    For morn-born flowers, at dusk already dead,
        For dusk-dead flowers weep;
        While tired Summer white,
    Where yonder aster whispering odor rocks,--
    The withered poppies knotted in her locks,--
    Sighs, 'mong her sleepy hollyhocks asleep.


    The hips were reddening on the rose,
      The haws hung slips of fire;
    We went the woodland way that goes
      Up hills of branch and briar.
    The hooked thorn held her gown and seemed
      Imploring her be staying
    The sunlight of herself that beamed
      Beside it gently swaying.

    Low bent the golden saxifrage;
      Its yellow bells like bangles
    The foxglove fluttered. Like a page--
      From out the rail-fence angles--
    With crimson plume the sumach, hosed
      In Lincoln green, attended
    My lady of the elder, posed
      In blue-black jewels splendid.

    And as we mounted up the hill
      The rocky path that stumbled
    Spread smooth; and all the day was still
      And odorous with umbled
    Tops of wild-carrots drying gray;
      And there, soft-sunned before us,
    An orchard dwindling away
      With dappled boughs bent o'er us.

    An orchard where the pippin fell
      Worm-bitten, bruised, and dusty;
    And hornet-stung, each like a bell,
      The Bartlett ripened rusty;
    The smell of tawny peach and plum,
      That offered luscious yellow;
    Of wasp and bee the hidden hum,
      Made all the warm air mellow.

    And on we went where many-hued
      Hung wild the morning-glory,
    Their blue balloons in shadows, dewed
      With frost-white dew-drops hoary;
    In bush and burgrass far away
      Beneath us stretched the valley,
    Cleft by one creek that laughed with day
      And babbled musically.

    The brown, the bronze, the gray, the red
      Of weed and briar ran riot
    Flush to dark woodland walls that led
      To nooks of whispering quiet.
    Long, feathering bursts of golden-rod
      Ran golden woolly patches--
    Bloom-sunsets of the withered sod
      The dying summer catches.

    Then o'er the hills, loose-tumbling rolled--
      O'erleaping expectation--
    The sunset, flaming marigold,
      A system's conflagration:
    And homeward turning, she and I
      Went as one self in being--
    God met us in the earth and sky
      And Love had purged our seeing.


          Say, my dear, O my dear,
          These are the eves for speaking;
    There is no wight will work us spite
          Beneath the sunset's streaking.

          Yes, my dear, O my dear,
          These are the eves for telling;
    To walk together in starry weather
          Ere springs o' the moon are welling.

          O my dear, yes, my dear,
          These are the dusks for staying;
    When twilight dreams of night who seems
          Among long-purples praying.

          "No, my dear!"--"Yes, my dear!"
          These are the nights to kiss it
    Times twice-a-twenty: they grow a-plenty
          On lips that will not miss it.


    To dream where silence sleeps
      A sorrow's sleep that sighs;
    Where all heaven's azure peeps
      Blue from one wildflower's eyes
    Where, in reflecting deeps,--
      Of cloudier woods and skies,--
      Another gray world lies.

    Divining God from things
      Humble as weeds and bees;
    From songs the free bird sings
      Learn all are vain but these;
    In light-delighted springs,
      Wise, star-familiar trees,
      Seek love's philosophies.


    Here where the days are dimmest,
    Each old, big-hearted tree
    Gives bounteous sympathy;
    Here where dead nights sit grimmest
    In druid company;
    Here where the days are dimmest.

    Leaves of my lone communion,
    Leaves; and the listening sigh
    Of silence wanders by;
    While on my soul the union
    Is--of the wood and sky--
    Leaves of my lone communion.

    And eyes with tears are aching,
    While life waits wistfully
    For love that may not be:
    In visions vain of waking
    Lives all it can not see.--
    And eyes with tears are aching,
    And eyes with tears are aching.


    And here alone I sit and see it so.
    A vale of willows swelling into knobs,
    A bulwark eastward. Sloping low
    Westward the scooping waters flow
    Under a rocky culvert's arch that throbs
    With clanging wheels of transient trains that go
    Screaming to north and south.
    Here all the weary waters, stagnant stayed,
    Sleep at the culvert's mouth;
    The current's hungry hiccup still afraid,
    Haply, that I should never know
    The secret 'neath the striate scum o' the stream
    The devil and the dream,
    I, dropping gravels so the echo sob
    Mocking and thin as music of a shade
    In shades that wring from rocks a hollow woe,
    Complaining phantoms of faint whispers rob.

    There, up the valley where the lank grass leaps
    Blades each a crooked kris,
    The currents strike or miss
    Dream melodies: No wide-belled mallow sleeps
    Monandrous flowers oval as a kiss;
    No mandrake curling convolutions up
    Loops heavy blossoms, each a conical cup
    That swoons moon-nectar and a serpent's hiss;
    No tiger-lily, where the crayfish play,
    Mirrors a savage face, a copper hue
    Streaked with a crimson dew;
    No dragon-fly in endless error keeps
    Sewing the pale-gold gown of day
    With tangled stitches of a burning blue,--
    Whose brilliant body but a needle is,
    An azurn and incarnate ray:--
    But here, where haunted with the shade,
    The dull stream stales and dies,
    Are beauties none or few,
    Such sinister and new;
    And one at widest noon-gaze shrinks afraid
    Beneath the timid skies;
    So, if you ask me why I answer this:--

    You know not; only where the kildees wade
    There in the foamy scum,
    There where the wet rocks ail,--
    Low rocks to which the water-reptiles come,
    Basking pied bodies in the brindled shade,--
    Dim as a bubble's prism on the grail
    Below, an angled sparkle rayed,
    While lights and shadows aid
    From breeze-blown clouds that lounge at sunny loss,
    Deep down, a sense of wavy features quail
    The heart; with lips that writhe and fade
    And clench; tough, rooty limbs that twist and cross,
    And flabby hair of smoky moss.

    A brimstone sunset. And at night
    The twinkling flies in will-o'-the-wisp dance wheel
    Through copse and open, all a gnomish green.
    I hear the water, and the wave is white
    There where the boulder plants a keel,
    And each taunt ripple 's sheen.--
    Where instant insects dot
    The dark with spurts of sulphur--bright,
    Beneath the hazy height,
    No bitter-almond trees make wan the night,
    Building bloom ridges of a ghostly lustre,
    But white-tops tossing cluster over cluster:
    Huge-seen within that twilight spot--
    As if a hill-born giant, half asleep,
    Had dropped his night-cap while he drove his sheep
    Foldward through fallow browns
    And foxy grays,--a something crowns
    The knoll--is it the odorous peak
    Of one June-savory timothy stack?

    Now, one dead ash behind,
    A weak moon shows a withered cheek
    Of Quaker quiet, wasted o'er the vines'
    Appentice ruins roofing pillared pines:
    Beyond these, back and back,
    An oak-wood stretches black--
    And here the whining were-wolves of the wind
    Snuff snarling: but their eyes are blind,
    Although their fangs are fierce;
    And though they never pierce
    Beyond the bad, bedevilled woodland streak,
    I hear them, yes, I hear
    A padding o' footsteps near,
    A prowling pant in ear
    And can not fly!--yes!--no!--
    What horror holds me?--That uncoiling slow,
    Sure, mastering chimera there,
    Hooping firm unseen feelers 'round my neck
    A binding, bruising coil ...
    The waters burn and boil;
    The fire-flies the dappled darkness fleck
    With impish dabs of blazing wizard's oil ...
    Deep, deep into the black eye of the beck
    I stare, magnetic fixed, and little reck
    If all the writhing shadow slips,
    Dripping around me, to the eyes and hips,
    Where grinning murder leers with lupine lips.


    What can it mean for me? what have I done to her?
    I in our freedom of love as a sun to her;
    She to our liberty goddess and slumberless
    Moon of the stars shining silver and numberless:
    Who on my life, that was thorny and showery,
    Came--and made dewyness; smiled--and made flowery;
    Mine! the affinitized one of humanity:
    Mine! the elected of soul over vanity--
    What have I done to her, what have I done!

    What can it mean for me? what have I said to her?
    I, who have idolized, worshipped, and pled to her;
    Sung for her, laughed for her, sorrowed and sighed for her,
    Lived for her, hated and gladly had died for her!
    See; she has written me thus! she has written me--
    Sooner would dagger or serpent had smitten me!
    Would they had shrivelled or ever they'd read of it!
    Eyes, that are wide to the bitterest dread of it--
    What have I said to her, what have I said!

    What shall I make of it, I, who am trembling
    Fearful of loss?--Oh, enamored, dissembling
    Flame!--of the candle that burning, but guttering,
    Flatters the moth that comes circling and fluttering
    Out of the summer night; trusting, importunate,
    Quitting cool flowers for this--O unfortunate!--
    Such has she been to me making me such to her,
    Slaying me, saying I never was much to her--
    What shall I make of it, what can I make!

    Love, in thy everglades, moaning and motionless
    Look, I have fallen; the evil is potionless:
    I, with no thought but the heavens that lock us in,
    Set naked feet 'mid the cottonmouth, moccasin
    Under wild-roses, the Cherokee, eying me:--
    In the sweet blue with the egrets that, flying me,
    Loosened like blooms from magnolias, rose slenderly
    White and pale pink; where the mocking-bird tenderly
    Sang, making vistas of mosses melodious,
    Wandered unheeding my steps in the odious
    Slime that was venom; I followed the fiery
    Violet curve of thy star falling wiry--
    So was I lost in night, thus am undone!...

    Have I not told to her--living alone for her--
    Purposed unfoldments of love I had sown for her
    Here in the soil of my soul? their variety
    Endless; and ever she answered with piety.--
    See! it has come to this ... all the tale's suavity
    At the ninth chapter grows stupid with gravity;
    Duller than death all our beautiful history--
    Close it!--the _finis_ is more than a mystery.--
    Yes, I will tell her this; yes, I will tell.


    I seem to hear her speak and see
      That blue-hung room. Her perfume comes
    From lavender folds vined dreamily--
      A-blossom with brocaded blooms,--
      A stuff of Orient looms.

    Again I hear her speak and back,
      Where steals the showery sunlight, piles
    A whatnot dainty bric-a-brac
      Beside a tall clock; each glazed tile's
      Blue-patterned profile smiles.

    I hear her say, "Ah, had we known,
      Could what has been have ever been?--
    And now!"... How hurt the hard ache shone
      In eyes whose sadness seemed to lean
      On something far, unseen!

    And as in sleep my own self seems
      Outside my suffering self: I flush
    In mists of undetermined dreams;
      Behold her musing in that hush
      Of lilac light and plush.

    Smiling but tortured. Yes, I feel
      Despite that face, not seeming sad,
    In those calm temples thoughts like steel
      Remorseless bore. I had gone mad
      Had I once deemed her glad.

    Unconsciously, with eyes that yearn
      To pierce beyond the present far,
    Searching some future hope, I turn;--
      There in her garden one fierce star,
      Beyond the window's bar,--

    Vermilion as a storm-sunk sun,--
      A phyllocactus?--all the life
    Of torrid middays in but one
      Rich crimson bloom--flames red as strife;
      And near it, rankly rife--

    Deep coreopsis?--heavy hues
      Of soft seal-bronze and satiny gold,
    Sway girandoles whose jets of dews
      Burn points of starlight diamond-cold,
      Warm-colored, manifold.

    She dare not speak; I can not. Yet
      An intercourse 'twixt brain and brain
    Goes feverish on.--Crushed, smelling wet,
      Through silken curtains drift again
      Verbena-scents of rain.

    I in the doorway turn and stay;
      Angry her cameo beauty mark
    Set in that smile--Oh! will she say
      No farewell? no regret? one spark
      Of hope to cheer the dark?

    That sepia-sketch--conceive it so--
      A roguish head with jaunty eyes
    Laughing beneath a rose-chapeau,
      Silk-masked, unmasking--it denies
      The full-faced flower surprise;

    Hung o'er her davenport.... We read
      The true beneath the false; perceive
    The smile that hides the ache.--Indeed!
      _Whose_ soul unmasks?... not mine!--I grieve
      Here, here, but laugh and leave....


    Beyond the knotty apple-trees
      That fade about the old brick-barn,
    Its tattered arms and tattered knees
    A scare-crow tosses to the breeze
      Among the shocks of corn.

    All things grow gray in earth and sky;
      The cold wind sounding drearily
    Makes all the rusty branches fly;
    The rustling leaves a-rotting lie;
      The year is waning wearily.

    At night I hear the far wild geese
      Honk in frost-bitten heavens, under
    Arcturus. Though I seem to cease
    Outside myself and sleep in peace,
      I drowse awake and wonder.

    I know torn thistles by the creek
      Hang hairy with the frost; the tented
    Brown acres of the corn stretch bleak
    And ghostly in the moonlight, weak
      In hollows bitter-scented.

    Dream back the ways we strolled at morn
      Through woods of summer ever singing;
    Moon-trysts beneath the crooked thorn,
    The tasselled meads of cane and corn
      Their restless shadows swinging....

    I stand and oar our boat among
      The dripping lilies of the river;
    I reach her hat the grape-vine long
    Struck in the stream; we sing a song,
      That song ... I wake and shiver.

    And then my feverish mind reverts
      To our sad words and sadder parting
    In days long gone; and, oh! it hurts
    Within here, for the soul asserts
      Mine the fool fault from starting.

    And I must lie awake and think
      Of her with such regrets as gladly
    No unrebuking conscience shrink;
    And hear the wild-fowls' clangor sink
      Through plaintive starlight sadly.

    When all are overflown and deep
      The stoic night is left forsaken,
    For company I well would weep,
    Since all my spirit fears to sleep,
      Sleep of such visions shaken.

    Grave visions of dead deeds that flaw
      Our waking hours, ever haunting;
    Else were we, lacking love and law,
    Rude scare-crow things of sticks and straw
      Undaunted and undaunting.


    The sun a splintered splendor was
      In sober trees that broke and blurred,
        That afternoon we went together
    In droning hum and whirling buzz,
      Where hard the dinning locust whirred,
        Through fields of golden-rod a-feather.

    So sweet it was to look and lean
      To your young face and feel the light
        Of eyes that fondled mine unsaddened!
    The laugh that left lips more serene;
      The words that blossomed like the white
        Life-everlasting there and gladdened.

    Maturing Summer, you were fraught
      With wiser beauties then than now
        Parades rich Autumn's red November;
    This stuns: there dreams no subtle thought
      As then on hinting bush and bough--
        But now I am alone, remember.


    Through iron-weeds and roses
      And bronzing beech and oak,
    Old porches it discloses,
    Above the briars and roses
      Fall's feeble sunbeams soak.

    Neglected walks that tangle
      The dodder-strangled grass;
    Its chimney shows one angle
    Heaped with dead leaves that spangle
      The paths that round it pass.

    The early mists that bury
      And hide them in its rooms,
    From spider closets--very
    Dim with old webs--will hurry
      Out in the raining glooms.

    They haunt each stair and basement;
      They stand on hearth and porch;
    Lean from each paneless casement,
    Or in the moonlight's lacement
      Fly with a phantom torch.

    There is a sense of frost here;
      And gusts that sob away
    Of something that was lost here,
    Long, long ago was lost here,
      But what, they can not say.

    There croons no owl to startle
      Despondency within;
    No raven o'er its portal
    To scare the daring mortal
      And guard its cellared sin.

    The creaking road descries it
      This side the dusty toll;
    The farmer passing eyes it;
    None stops t' philosophize it,
      This symbol of a soul.


    Though the dog-tooth violet come
            With the shower,
    And the wild-bee haunt and hum
            Every flower,
    We shall never wend as when
    Love laughed leading us from men
    Over violet vale and glen,
    Where the red-bird sang an hour,
    And we heard the partridge drum.

    Here October shadows pray,
            Till one stills
    Joyance, where for buried May
            Sob the rills:
    So love's vision has arisen
    Of the long ago: I listen--
    Memory, tears in eyes that glisten
    Points but Indiana hills
    Fading dark-blue far away.



      When in her cloudy chiton
      Spring freed the donjoned rills,
      And trumpeting, a Triton,
      Wind-war was on the hills;
      O'er ways, hope's buds bedizen,
      Long ways the glory lies on,
      Love spread us an horizon
      Of gold beyond life's ills.

      When Summer came with sickle
      Stuck in a sheaf of gleams,
      And eves were honey-trickle
      From bee-hives of the beams;
      Scrolls of the days blue-blotted,
      Scrolls of the night star-dotted,
      To love and us allotted
      A world of woven dreams.

      When Autumn waited tired--
      A fair-faced heretic--
      _Auto-de-fés_ Frost fired
      In Winter's Bishopric;
      Our loves, a song had started,
      Grew with the song sad-hearted,
      Sweet loves long-sworn were parted,
      Though life for love was sick.

      Now is the Winter waited
      'Neath skies of frozen gold,
      Or raining heavens hated
      Of winds that curse and scold.--
      Shall this be so: that never
      Shall sunlight snowlight sever?
      Forever and forever
    The heart wait winter-cold?


    Soft music bring that seems to weep
      All this dull sorrow of the soul;
    Vague music soft to utter sleep,
      Sleep and undying dole:
    Forgetting not--forgotten most--
    How love is well though lost.

    So weary, oh! and yet so fain
      In silent service of the heart;
    Still feeling if it be in vain
      Love's spirit hath His part;
    And if in death God grant the rest
    Life were but kind at best.


    Last night I slept till midnight
      Then woke, and far away
    A cock crowed; lonely and distant
      Came mournful a watch-dog's bay;
    But lonelier, slower the tedious
      Old clock ticked on towards day.

    And what a day!--remember
      The morns of a Summer and Spring,
    That bound two lives together?
      Each morn a wedding ring
    Of dew and dreams and sparkle,
      Of flowers and birds a-wing?

    Broad morns when I strolled the garden
      Awaiting one the rose
    Expected, fresh in its blushes--
      The Giant of Battle that grows
    A head of radiance and fragrance,
      The champion of the close.

    Not in vain did I wait, departed
      Summer, this morning mocks;
    'Mid the powdery crystal and crimson
      Of your hollow hollyhocks;
    Your fairy-bells and poppies,
      And the bee that in them rocks.

    Cool-clad 'mid the pendulous purple
      Of the morning-glory vine,
    By the giant pearls pellucid
      Of the peonies a-line,
    The snapdragons' and the pansies'
      Deep-colored jewel mine.

    Shall I ever see my mealy,
      Drunk dusty-millers gay;
    My lady-slippers bashful
    Of butterfly and ray;
      My gillyflowers as spicy
    Each as a day of May?

    Oh, dear when I think of the handfuls
      Of little gold coin a-mass,
    My bachelor's-buttons scatter
      Over the garden grass;
    Of the marigold that boasts its
      One bit of burning brass;

    More bitter I feel the winter
      Tighten to spirit and heart;
    And dream of the days remembered
      As lost--of the past a part;
    Of the ways we went, all blotted,
      Tear-blotted on love's chart.

    And I see the mill and the diamonds
      Of foam tossed from its wheel;
    Red lilies tumbled together,
      The madcap wind at heel;
    And the timid veronicas' blossoms--
      Those prayers the woods conceal.

    The wild-cat gray of the meadows
      That the ox-eyed daisies dot,
    Fawn-eyed and a leopard-yellow,
      That tangle a tawny spot--
    As if some panther tired
      Lay dozing tame and hot.

    Ah! back again with the present,
      With winds that pinch and twist
    Each leaf in their peevish passion,
      And whirl wherever they list;
    With the morning hoary and nipping,
      Whose mausolean mist

    Builds white a tomb for the daylight--
      A frosty, shaggy fog,
    That fits gray wigs on the cedars,
      And furs with wool each log;
    Carpets with satin the meadow,
      And velvets white the bog.

    Alone at morn--indifferent;
      Alone at eve--I sigh;
    And wait, like the wind complaining,
      Complain and know not why;
    But ailing and longing and hating
      Because I cannot die.

    How dull are the sunsets! dreary
      Cold, hard and harsh and dead!
    Far richer were those of August,
      One stain of wine-dark red--
    The juice of a mulberry vintage--
      To the new moon overhead.

    But now I sit with the sighing
      Dead wests of a dying year!
    Like the fallen leaves and the acorns
      Am worthless and feel as sear;
    For the soul and the body sicken,
      And the heart's one scalding tear.

    And I stare from my window! The darkness,
      Like a bravo, his cloak throws on;
    The moon, like a hidden lanthorn,
      Glitters--or dagger drawn;
    All my heart cries out beseeching:
      "Strike here! strike and be gone!"


    When friends are sighing
      Round one and one
    Nearer is lying,
      Nearer the sun,
    When one is dying
      And all is done;

    I may remember,
      You may forget
    Words, each an ember,
      Burning here yet--
    In dead December
      One will regret.

    Love we have given,
      Over and o'er,
    All, who has driven
      Us from his door,
    Is he forgiven
      When he is poor?

    What if you wept once,
      What though he knew!
    What if he slept once!
      Still he was true,
    If he but kept once
      Something of you.

    Never forgetful,
      Love may forget;
    Froward and fretful,
      Child, he will fret;
    Ever regretful,
      He will regret.

    Love would be sweeter
      If we but knew;
    Lives be completer
      To themselves true;
    Hearts more in metre,
      Truth looking through.

    Flesh never near it,
      Being impure,
    Mind must endear it
      Making it sure--
    Love in the spirit,
      That will endure.

    So when to-morrow
      Ceases and we
    Quit this we borrow,
    Such chastens sorrow
      So it may see.

    There will be weeping,
      Weary and deep,--
    God's be the keeping
      Of those that weep!--
    When our loved, sleeping,
      Sleep their long sleep;

    Then they are dearer
      Than we're aware;
    Character clearer,
      Being more fair;
    Then they are nearer,
      Nearer by prayer.


    They will not say I can not live beyond the weary night,
    But then I know that I shall die before comes morning's light.
    How frail is flesh!--but you 'll forgive me now I tell you how
    I loved you, love you; and the pain it gives to leave you now?

    This could not be on earth; the flesh, that clothes the soul of me--
    Ordained at birth a sacrifice to this heredity--
    Denied, forbade.--Ah, you have seen the bright spots in my cheeks
    Grow hectic, as before comes night blood dyes the sunset's streaks?

    Consumption. "But I promised you my love"--'t is left forlorn
    Of life God summons unto him, and is it then forsworn?
    Oh, I was glad in love of you; but think: if I had died
    Ere babe of mine had come to be a solace at your side?

    Had it been little then, your grief, when Heaven had made us one
    In everything that's good on earth and then the good undone?
    No! no!--and had I lived to raise a boy we saw each day
    Bud into beauty, with that blight born in him that must slay!

    Just when we cherish him the most, and youthful, sunny pride
    Sits on his curly front, he pines and dies ere I have died.
    Whose fault?--not mine! but hers or his, that ancestor who gave
    Escutcheon to our humble house--a death's-head and a grave.

    Beneath the pomp of those grim arms we live and may not move;
    Nor faith, nor fame, nor wealth avail to hurl them down, nor love.
    How could I tell you this?--not then! when all the world was spun
    Of morning colors for our love to walk and dance upon.

    I could not tell you how disease hid here a viper germ,
    Precedence slowly claiming and so slowly fixing firm.
    And when I broke our plighted troth and would not tell you why,
    I loved you, thinking "time enough when I have come to die."

    Draw off my rings and let my hands rest so ... the wretched cough
    Will interrupt my feeble speech and will not be put off....
    Ah, anyhow, my anodyne is this--to feel that you
    Are near me, that your healthy hand soothes mine's unhealthy dew.

    And that your heart excuses all, and that you will not fret
    Because you understand me now and never will forget.--
    Now bring me roses pale and pure and tell me death's a lie,
    --Late was it hard for me to live, now it is hard to die.



    Vased in her bedroom window, white
      As her glad girlhood, never lost,
    I smelt the roses; and the night
      Outside was fog and frost.

    What though I claimed her dying there!
      God nor one angel understood
    Nor cared, who from loved feet to hair
      Had changed to mist her blood.

    Love, love had claimed us long, and long
      Our hearts sang harp-strung, late and soon;
    But God!--God jangles thus the song
      And makes discord of tune.

    What lily lilier than her face!
      More virgin than her lips I kissed!
    When morn like God, with gold and grace
      Broke massed in mist! broke massed in mist!


    Love, to your face farewell now,
      Pillowed a flower on flowers;
    Eyes, white-weighed with a spell now;
    Lips, with nothing to tell now,
      That bade adieu to ours.

    Dear, is your soul so daggered
      There by a world that hates?
    Love--is _he_ ever laggard?
    Hope--is _her_ face so haggard?
      You, who are one with the Fates?

    Never to wait to-morrow
      Under such worldly skies!
    Never to sleep with sorrow!
    Hour by hour to borrow
      Joy that has only sighs!

    Sweet, farewell forever;
      And a burning tear or two--
    Will they reach your knowledge ever,
    And touch through the dreams that sever
      My life from the life of you?

    O Life, in my flesh so fearful
      Medicine me this pain!
    Thy eyes with a science cheerful,
    But mine, with a mystery tearful,
      Tearful and slumber-fain.

    Love, to your lips farewell now--
      Your spirit through them I kiss;
    Lips--so sealed with a spell now!
    Lips, with nothing to tell now
      But this! but this! but this!...


    So long it seems since last I saw her face,
                So long ago it seems,
    Like some sad soul, in unconjectured space,
    Lost in the happiness of some dead grace
    Remembered--I. And, oh! a little while
    The sorrow stabs and Death conceals no smile
    From Love bowed weeping in a thorny place--
    So long ago, our love is what are dreams!

    Since she is gone no more I feel the light,
                Since she is gone beyond,
    Burst like a revelation out of night,--
    Golden convictions of far futures bright,--
    Whiles clouds around the west take marble tones;
    For Hope sits sighing in a place of stones,
    Dark locks dishevelled and face very white,--
    Since she is gone and life's an iron bond.

    Now she is dead the doubt Love dulled with awe,
                Now she is dead to me,
    Questions the wisdom of diviner law.
    Self-solved of self I search to find a flaw--
    O egotism of Earth's fools and slaves!--
    For Faith leans thoughtful in a place of graves,
    On that unseen from this seen known to draw,
    Now she is dead and it is hard to see.


    Ridged and bleak the gray forsaken
      Twilight at the night has guessed,
    Where no star of dusk has taken
      Flame unshaken in the west.

    All the day the woodlands dying
      Moaned, and drippings as of grief
    Tossed from barren boughs with sighing
      Death of flying twig and leaf.

    Ah, to be a dream unbroken,
      Past the ironies of Fate!
    Born a tree; with branches oaken
      Dear unspoken intimate.

    Who may say that man has never
      Lived the mighty hearts of trees?
    Graduating Godward ever,
      The Forever finds through these?

    Colors, we have lived, are cherished;
      Odors, we have been, are ours;
    Entity alone has perished;
      Beauty-nourished souls were flowers.

    Music, when the fancy guesses,
      Lifts us loftier thoughts among;
    Spirit that the flesh distresses,
      But expresses self with song....

    Heaven in darkness bends upbraiding
      Without moonlight, without star;
    Darkness and the reason aiding,
      All but fading phantoms are.

    Still philosophy is saying:
      "Now that hope with life seems gone,
    Some are cursing, some are praying,
      God smiles raying in the dawn!"


    Wild weather; the whip of the sleet
      On the shuttered casement tapping;
    A shadow from face to feet,
      Like a shroud, my spirit wrapping,

    Wild weather; and how is she
      Now the sting of the storm beats serried,
    Over the stone and the tree
      Of the grave where she is buried?

    Wild weather; I cannot weep--
      But the skies weep on and worry;
    So I sleep, and dream in my sleep
      How I hear dim garments hurry....

    Star weather and footsteps of stars;
      And I see white raiment glisten,
    Like the glow on the face of Mars
      When the stars to the angels listen.

    And with me I see how she stands
      With lips high thought has weighted;
    With testifying hands,
      And eyes with purity mated.

    Have I spoken and have I kneeled
      To the prayer I worship, I wonder?--
    What waits on her lips that are sealed?
      God-sealed and who shall sunder!

    I sob, "Oh your stay was long!
      You are come, but your feet were laggard,
    With mansuetude and song
      For a heart your death has daggered."

    And I lift wet eyes to her
      Unutterable with weeping,
    And beg for the loves that were,
      Now passed into Heaven's keeping....

    I wake and a clock tolls three--
      And the night and the storm lie serried
    On the testament that's she,
      Closed, clasped, and forever buried.


    The night is shrewd with storm and sleet;
      Each loose-warped casement raps or groans;
    I hear the wailing woodland beat
      The tempest with long blatant moans,
    Like one who fears defeat.

    And sitting here beyond the storm,
      Alone within the lonely house,
    It seems of Sleep the Fairy charm
      Weaves incantations; even the mouse
    That scratched has come to harm.

    And in this grave light, stolen o'er
      Familiar objects, grown severe,
    I 'm strange--as, opening a door,
      One finds one's dead self standing near,
    One knew not dead before.

    The old stair rings with growling gusts;
      Each hearth's flue gasps a gorgon throat
    That snores and sleeps; the spectral dusts,
      Which yonder Shawnee war-gear coat,
    Whose quiver hangs and rusts,

    Are shaken; till I feel that he,
      Who wore it in the wild war-dance,
    And died in it, fills shadowy
      Its wampumed skins; its plume, perchance,
    Shakes, scowling eyes at me.

    And so the Swedenborge I toss
      Aside, contented with the dark
    That takes me. O'er the fire-light cross;
      Pass where the andirons spit and spark,
    And ponder o'er her loss.

    Or from the flaw-splashed window yearn
      Out toward the waste, where sway and dip
    Dank, dark December boughs, where burn
      Some late last leaves, that icy drip
    No matter where you turn.

    Where sodden soil, you scarce have trod,
      Fills oozy footprints; and the night
    So ugly that it mocks at God,
      Creating monsters which the sight
    Fancies, unseen, abroad.

    The months I count: how long it seems
      Since that bland summer when with her,
    There on her porch, in rainy gleams
      We watched the mellow lightning stir
    In rain-clouds gray as dreams!

    When all the west a torn gold sheet--
      Swift openings of some Titan's forge--
    Laid bald with storm; in quivering heat
      Pitched precipice and nightmare gorge,
    Where thunder torrents beat.

    And strong the wind was as again
      Storm lit the instant earth; and how
    The wood sprang out one virent stain;
      We read no more--lost is it now!--
    In _Romance of a Reign_;

    A tale of nowhere; then that we
      Were reading till we heard the plunge
    Of distant thunder sullenly,
      And left to mark long lightnings lunge
    Convulsions fiery.

    What worlds love wrought us, dreaming there,
      Of sorcery and necromance!
    With spirits lustrous of the air,
      A land like one great pearl, a trance
    Of floods and forests fair.

    Where white-faced flowers sang and thought;
      Where fragrant birds flew, brilliant-blown,
    In winging odors; feather-fraught
      With light, where breathing colors shone,
    On throbbing music brought.

    Or built us some snug country home
      Among the hills; with terraces
    Vine-hung and orchared o'er the foam
      Of the Ohio, far one sees
    Wind crimson in the gloam.

    And this! and this!--alone! alone!
      To hear the sweep of winter rain,
    The missiled sleet's sharp arrows blown;
      Dark shadow on the freezing pane,
    And on my heart a moan!


    He dreamed of hills so deep with woods
      Storm-barriers on the summer sky
    Are not more dark, where plunged loud floods
      Down rocks of sullen dye.

    Flat ways were his where sparsely grew
      Gnarled, iron-colored oaks, with rifts,
    Between dead boughs, of Eden-blue:
      Ways where the speedwell lifts

    Its shy appeal, and spreading far--
      The gold, the fallen gold of dawn
    Staining each blossom's balanced star--
      Hollows of cowslips wan.

    Where 'round the feet the lady-smock
      And pearl-pale lady-slipper creep;
    White butterflies upon them rock
      Or seal-brown suck and sleep.

    At eve the west shoots crooked fire
      Athwart a half-moon leaning low;
    While one white, arrowy star throbs higher
      In curdled honey-glow.

    Was it some elfin euphrasy
      That purged his spirit so that there
    Blue harebells, by those ways that be,
      Seemed summoning to prayer?

    For all the death within him prays;
      Not he--his higher self, whose love
    Fire-filled the flesh. Its light still stays
      Touched by the soul above.

    They found him dead his songs beside,
      Six stairs above the din and dust
    Of life: and that for which he died
      Denied him even a crust.


    No personal; a God divinely crowned
    With gold and raised upon a golden throne
    Deep in a golden glory, whence he nods
    Man this or that--and little more than man!

    And shalt thou see Him individual?
    Not till the freed intelligence hath sought
    Ten hundred hundred years to rise and love,
    Piercing the singing cycles under God,--
    Their iridescent evolutions orbed
    In wild prismatic splendors,--shall it see--
    Through God-propinquity become a god--
    See, lightening out of spheric harmonies,
    Resplendencies of empyrean light,
    Prisms and facets of ten million beams
    Starring a crystal of berainbowed rays,
    And in this--eyes of burning sapphire, eyes
    Deep as the music of the beautiful;
    And o'er the eyes, limpid hierarchal brows,
    As they were lilies of seraphic fire;
    Lips underneath, of trembling ruby--lips
    Whose tongue's a chord, and every sound a song:
    Cherubic faces of intensity
    In multiplying myriads to a word
    Forming the unit--God; Supremity
    Creative and ubiquitous.

                              From this
    Thy intellect, detached, expelled and breathed
    Exaltant into flesh endowed with soul,
    One sparkle of the Essence clothed with clay.--
    O high development! devolvings up
    From matter to unmattered potencies,
    Up to the source and fountain of all mind,
    Beauty and truth, inviolable Love,
    And so resumed and reabsorbed in God,
    One more expression of eternity!


    A Sufi debauchee of dreams
      Spake this:--From Sodomite to Peri
    Earth tablets us; we live and are
      Man's own long commentary.

    Is one begat in Bassora,
      One lies in Damietta dying--
    The plausibilities of God
      All possibles o'erlying.

    But burns the lust within the flesh?--
      Hell's but a homily to Heaven,--
    Put then the individual first,
      And of thyself be shriven.

    Neither in adamant nor brass
      The scrutinizing eye records it;
    The arm is rooted in the heart,
      The heart that rules and lords it.

    Be that it is and thou art all;
      And what thou art so thou hast written
    Thee of the lutanists of Love,
      Or of the torture-smitten.


    It came to me in my sleep,
      And I rose from my sleep and went
    Out in the night to weep,
      Over the bristling bent.
    With my soul, it seemed, I stood
    Alone in a moaning wood.

    And my soul said, gazing at me,
      "Shall I show you another land
    Than other this flesh can see?"
      And took into hers my hand.--
    We passed from the wood to a heath
    As starved as the ribs of Death.

    Three skeleton trees we pass,
      Bare bones on an iron moor,
    Where every leaf and the grass
      Was a thorn and a thistle hoar.
    And my soul said, looking on me,
    "_The past of your life you see._"

    And a swine-herd passed with his swine,
      Deformed; and I heard him growl;
    Two eyes of a sottish shine
      Leered under two brows as foul.
    And my soul said, "_This is the lust_
    _That soils my limbs with the dust._"

    And a goose wife hobbled by
      On a crutch, with the devil's geese;
    A-mumbling how life is a lie,
      And cursing my soul without cease.
    And my soul said, "_This is desire;_
    _The meaning of life is higher._"

    And we came to a garden, close
      To a hollow of graves and tombs;
    A garden as red as a rose
      Hung over of obscene glooms;
    The heart of each rose was a spark
    That smouldered or splintered the dark.

    And I was aware of a girl
      With a wild-rose face, who came
    With a mouth like a shell's split pearl,
      Rose-clad in a robe of flame;
    And she plucked the roses and gave,
    And my flesh was her veriest slave.

    She vanished. My lips would have kissed
      The flowers she gave me with sighs,
    But they writhed in my hands and hissed,
      In their hearts were a serpent's eyes.
    And my soul said, "_Pleasure is she;_
    _The joys of the flesh you see_."

    And I bowed with a heart too weary,
      That longed for rest, for sleep;
    And my eyes were heavy and teary,
      And yearned for a way to weep.
    And my soul smiled, "_This may be!_
    _Will you know me and follow me?_"


    I have lain for an hour or twain
      Awake, and the tempest is beating
    On the roof, and the sleet on the pane,
      And the winds are three enemies meeting;
    And I listen and hear it again,
      My name, in the silence, repeating.

    Then dumbness of death that must slay,
      Till the midnight is burst like a bubble;
    And out of the darkness a ray--
      'T is she! the all beautiful double;
    With a face like the breaking of day,
      Eyes dark with the magic of trouble.

    I move not; she lies with her lips
      At mine; and I feel she is drawing
    My life from my heart to their tips,
      My heart where the horror is gnawing;
    My life in a thousand slow sips,
      My flesh with her sorcery awing.

    She binds me with merciless eyes;
      She drinks of my blood, and I hear it
    Drain up with a shudder and rise
      To the lips, like the serpent's, that steer it
    And she lies and she laughs as she lies,
      Saying, "Lo, thy affinitized spirit!"

    Then I hear--as if torturing swords
      Had shivered and torments had grated
    Hoarse iron deep under; and words
      As of sins that howled out and awaited
    A fiend who lashed into their hords,
      And a demon who lacerated.

    And I shriek and lie clammy and stark,
      As the curse of a devil mounts higher,
    Up--out of damnation and dark,
      Up--a hobble of hoofs that is dire;
    I feel that his mouth is a spark,
      His features, of filth and of fire.

    "To thy body's corruption, thy grave!
      Thy hell! from which thou hast stolen!"
    And a blackness rolls down like a wave
      With a clamor of tongues that are swollen--
    And I feel that my flesh is the slave
      Of a--vampire, diakka, eidolon?


        Within my veins it beats
        And burns within my brain;
    For when the year is sad and sear
        I dream the dream again.

        Ah! over young am I
        God knows! yet in this sleep
    More pain and woe than women know
        I know, and doubly deep!...

        Seven towers of shaggy rock
        Rise red to ragged skies,
    Built in a marsh that, black and harsh,
        To dead horizons lies.

        Eternal sunset pours,
        Around its warlock towers,
    A glowing urn where garnets burn
        With fire-dripping flowers.

        O'er bat-like turrets high,
        Stretched in a scarlet line,
    The crimson cranes through rosy rains
        Drop like a ruby wine.

        Once in the banquet-hall
        These scarlet storks are heard:--
    I sit at board with men o' th' sword
        And knights of noble word;

        Cased all in silver mail;
        But he, I love and fear,
    In glittering gold beside me bold
        Sits like a lover near.

        Wild music echoes in
        The hollow towers there;
    Behind bright bars o' his visor, stars
        Beam in his eyes and glare.

        Wild music oozes from
        Arched ceilings, caked with white
    Groined pearl; and floors like mythic shores
        That sing to seas of light.

        Wild music and a feast,
        And one's belovèd near
    In burning mail--why am I pale,
        So pale with grief and fear?

        Red heavens and slaughter-red
        The marsh to west and east;
    Seven slits of sky, seven casements high,
        Flare on the blood-red feast.

        Our torches tall are these,
        Our revel torches seven,
    That spill from gold soft splendors old--
        The hour of night--eleven.

        No word. The sparkle aches
        In cups of diamond-spar,
    That prism the light of ruddy white
        In royal wines of war.

        No word. Rich plate that rays,
        Splashes of splitting fires,
    Off beryl brims; while sobs and swims
        Enchantment of lost lyres.

        I lean to him I love,
        And in the silence say:
    "Would thy dear grace reveal thy face,
        If love should crave and pray?"

        Grave Silence, like a king,
        At that strange feast is set;
    Grave Silence still as the soul's will,
        That rules the reason yet.

        But when I speak, behold!
        The charm is snapped, for low
    Speaks out the mask o' his golden casque,
        "At midnight be it so!"

        And Silence waits severe,
        Till one sonorous tower,
    Owl-swarmed, that looms in glaring glooms,
        Sounds slow the midnight hour.

        Three strokes; the knights arise,
        The palsy from them flung,
    To meward mock like some hoarse rock
        When wrecking waves give tongue.

        Six strokes; and wailing out
        The music hoots away;
    The fiery glimmer of eve dies dimmer,
        The red grows ghostly gray.

        Nine strokes; and dropping mould
        The crumbling hall is lead;
    The plate is rust, the feast is dust,
        The banqueters are dead.

        Twelve strokes pound out and roll;
        The huge walls writhe and shake
    O'er hissing things with taloned wings--
        Christ Jesus, let me wake!

        Then rattling in the night
        _His_ iron visor slips--
    In rotting mail a death's-head pale
        Kisses my loathing lips.

        Two hell-fierce lusts its eyes,
        Sharp-pointed like a knife,
    That flaming seem to say, "_No dream!_
        _No dream! the truth of Life!_"



    This is the tale they tell,
      Of an Hallowe'en;
    This is the thing that befell
    Me and the village Belle,
      Beautiful Aimee Dean.


    Did I love her?--God and she,
      They know and I!
    And love was the life of me--
    Whatever else may be,
      Would God that I could die!


    That All-Saints' eve was dim;
      The frost lay white
    Under strange stars and a slim
    Moon in the graveyard grim,
      An Autumn ghost of light.


    They told her: "Go alone,
      With never a word,
    To the burial plot's unknown
    Grave with the grayest stone,
      When the clock on twelve is heard;


    "Three times around it pass,
      With never a sound;
    Each time a wisp of grass
    And myrtle pluck, and pass
      Out of the ghostly ground;


    "And the bridegroom that's to be
      At smiling wait,
    With a face like mist to see,
    With graceful gallantry
      Will bow you to the gate."


    She laughed at this, and so
      Bespoke us how
    To the burial place she'd go:--
    And I was glad to know,
      For I'd be there to bow.


    An acre from the farm
      The homestead graves
    Lay walled from sun and storm;
    Old cedars of priestly form
      Around like sentinel slaves.


    I loved, but never could say
      Such words to her,
    And waited from day to day,
    Nursing the hope that lay
      Under the doubts that were.--


    She passed 'neath the iron arch
      Of the legended ground,
    And the moon like a twisted torch
    Burned over one lonesome larch;
      She passed with never a sound.


    Three times had the circle traced,
      Three times had bent
    To the grave that the myrtle graced;
    Three times, then softly faced
      Homeward, and slowly went.


    Had the moonlight changed me so?
      Or fear undone
    Her stepping strange and slow?
    Did she see and did not know?
      Or loved she another one?


    Who knows?--She turned to flee
      With a face so white
    That it haunts and will haunt me;
    The wind blew gustily,
      The graveyard gate clanged tight.


    Did she think it me or--what,
      Clutching her dress?
    Her face so pinched that not
    A star in a stormy spot
      Shows half as much distress.


    Did I speak? did she answer aught?
      O God! had I said
    "Aimee, 't is I!" but naught!--
    And the mist and the moon distraught
      Stared with me on her--dead....


    This is the tale they tell
      Of the Hallowe'en;
    This is the thing that befell
    Me and the village Belle,
      Beautiful Aimee Dean.


    The nuns sing, "_ora pro nobis_,"
      The lancets glitter above;
    And the beautiful Virgin whose robe is
      Woven of infinite love,
    Infinite love and sorrow,
      Prays for them there on high;--
    Who has most need of her prayers,--to-morrow
      Shall tell them,--they or I?

    Up in the hills together
      We loved, where the world seemed true;
    Our world of the whin and heather,
      Our skies of a nearer blue,
    A blue from which one borrows
      A faith that helps one die--
    O Mother, sweet Mother of Sorrows,
      None needs such more than I!

    We lived, we loved unwedded--
      Love's sin and its shame that slays!--
    No ill of the year we dreaded,
      No day of its coming days;
    Its coming days, their many
      Trials by morn and night,
    And I know no land, not any,
      Where love's lilies grow so white!

    Was he false to me, my Mother!
      Or I to him, my God!--
    Who gave thee right, O brother!
      To take God's right and rod!
    God's rod of avenging morrows,
      And the life here in my side!
    O Mother, God's Mother of Sorrows,
      For both I would have died!

    By the wall of the Chantry kneeling,
      I pray and the organ rings,
    "_Gloria! gloria!_" pealing,
      "_Sancta Maria_" sings!
    They will find us dead to-morrow
      By the wall of their nunnery,
    O Mother, sweet Mother of Sorrow!
      His unborn babe and me.



    Red-winding from the sleepy town,
      One takes the lone, forgotten lane
    Straight through the hills. A brush-bird brown
      Bubbles in thorn-flowers sweet with rain;
      Light shivers sink the gleaming grain;
    The cautious drip of higher leaves
      The lower dips that drip again.--
    Above the tangled tops it heaves
    Its gables and its haunted eaves.


    One creeper, gnarled to bloomlessness,
      O'er-forests all its eastern wall;
    The sighing cedars rake and press
      Dark boughs along the panes they sprawl;
      While, where the sun beats, breaks a drawl
    Of hiving wasps; one bushy bee,
      Gold-dusty, hurls along the hall
    To hum into a crack.--To me
    The shadows seem too scared to flee.


    Of ragged chimneys martins make
      Huge pipes of music; twittering here
    Build, breed, and roost.--My footfalls wake
      Strange stealing echoes, till I fear
      I'll meet my pale self coming near;
    My phantom face as in a glass;
      Or one men murdered, buried--where?
    Dim in gray, stealthy glimmer, pass
    With lips that seem to moan "Alas."


    Aye! heartbreak of the tattered hills,
    And mourning of the raining sky!
    Heartbreak and mourning, since God wills,
        Are mine, and God knows why!

    The brutal wind that herds the storm
    In hail-big clouds that freeze along,
    As this gray heart are doubly warm
        With thrice the joy of song.

    I held one dearer than each day
    Of life God sets in limpid gold--
    What thief hath stole that gem away
        To leave me poor and old!

    The heartbreak of the hills be mine,
    Of trampled twig and mired leaf,
    Of rain that sobs through thorn and pine
        An unavailing grief!

    The sorrow of the childless skies'
    _Good-nights_, long said, yet never said,
    As when I kissed my child's blue eyes
        And lips ice-dumb and dead.


    In a kingdom of mist and moonlight,
      Or ever the world was known,
    Past leagues of unsailed water,
    There reigned a king with a daughter
      That shone like a starry stone.

    The day grew out o' the moonlight;
      But never a day was there.
    The king was wise as hoary,
    And his daughter, like the glory
      Of seven kingdoms, fair.

    And the night dimmed over the moonlight,--
      And ever the mist was gray,--
    With slips of dull stars, bluer
    Where the princess met her wooer,
      A page like the month o' May.

    In her eyes the mist, and the moonlight
      In hair of a crumpled gold;
    By day they wooed a-hawking,
    A-hawking laughed, a-mocking
      The good, white king and old.

    On the sea the mist, and the moonlight
      Poured pale to the lilies' tips;--
    At eve, when the hawks were feeding,
    In courts to the kennels leading,
      He kissed her mouth and lips.

    On towers the mist, and the moonlight
      On a dead face staring up;--
    His kingly couch was ready,
    But and her hand was steady
      Giving the poisoned cup.


    If it so befalls that the midnight hovers
      In mist no moonlight breaks,
    The leagues of years my spirit covers,
      And myself myself forsakes.

    And I live in a land of stars and flowers,
      White cliffs by a silver sea;
    And the pearly points of her opal towers
      From the mountains beckon me.

    And I think that I know that I hear her calling
      From a casement bathed with light--
    The music of waters in waters falling
      To palms from a rocky height.

    And I feel that I think my love's awaited
      By the romance of her charms;
    That her feet are early and mine belated
      In a world that chains my arms.

    But I break my chains and the rest is easy--
      In the shadow of the rose
    Snow-white, that blooms in her garden breezy,
      We meet and no one knows.

    To dream sweet dreams and kiss sweet kisses;
      The world--it may live or die;
    The world that forgets, the soul that misses
      The life that has long gone by.

    We speak old vows that have long been spoken,
      And weep a long-gone woe,--
    For you must know our hearts were broken
      Hundreds of years ago.


    "To arms!" the battle bugles blew.
      The daughter of their Earl was she,
    Lord of a thousand swords and true;
      He but a squire of low degree.

    The horns of war blew up to horse:
      He kissed her mouth; her face was white;
    "God grant they bear thee back no corse!"--
      "God give I win my spurs to-night!"

    Each watch-tower's blazing beacon scarred
      A blood-blot in the wounded dark:
    She heard knights gallop battleward,
      And from the turret leaned to mark.

    "My God, deliver me and mine!
      My child! my God!" all night she prayed:
    She saw the battle beacons shine;
      She saw the battle beacons fade.

    They brought him on a bier of spears.--
      For him--the death-won spurs and name;
    For her--the sting of secret tears,
      And convent walls to hide her shame.


    And thus it came my feet were led
      To wizard walls that hairy hung
    Old as their rock the moss made dead;
      And, like a ditch of fire flung
    Around it, uncouth flowers red
      Thrust spur and fang and tongue.

    And here I harped. Did dead men list?
      Or was it hollow hinges gnarred
    Huge, iron scorn in donjon-twist?
      And when I thought a face sword-scarred
    Would curse me, lo! a woman kissed
      At me hands ringed and starred.

    And so I sang; for she had leaned
      Rare beauty to me, dark and tall;
    I sang of Love, whose Court is queened
      Of Aliénor the virginal,
    Nor saw how rolled on me a fiend
      Wolf-eyeballs from the wall.

    Oh, how I sang! until she laughed
      Red lips that made lute harmony;
    I sang of knights who fought and quaffed
      To Love's own paragon, Marie--
    Nor saw the suzerain whose shaft
      Was bowed and bent on me.

    And I had harped until she wept;
      But when I sang of Ermengarde
    Of Anjou,--where her Court is kept
      By brave, by beauty, and by bard,--
    She turned a raven there and swept
      Me, like a fury, 'ward.

    A bleeding beak had pierced my sight;
      A crimson claw each cheek had lined;
    One glimpse: wild walls of threatening night
      Heaped raven battlements behind
    A moat of blazing serpents bright--
      And then I wandered blind.


    The eve was a burning copper,
      The night was a boundless black
    Where wells of the lightning crumbled
      And boiled with blazing rack,
    When I came to the coal-black castle
      With the wild rain on my back.

    Thrice under its goblin towers,
      Where the causey of rock was laid,
    Thrice, there at its spider portal,
      My scornful bugle brayed,
    But never a warder questioned,--
      An owl's was the answer made.

    When the heaven above was blistered
      One scald of blinding storm,
    And the blackness clanged like a cavern
      Of iron where demons swarm,
    I rode in the court of the castle
      With the shield upon my arm.

    My sword unsheathed and certain
      Of the visor of my casque,
    My steel steps challenged the donjon
      My gauntlet should unmask;
    But never a knight or varlet
      To stay or slay or ask.

    My heels on the stone ground iron,
      My fists on the bolts clashed steel;--
    In the hall, the roar of the torrent,
      In the turret, the thunder's peal;--
    And I found her there in the turret
      Alone by her spinning-wheel.

    She spun the flax of a spindle,
      And I wondered on her face;
    She spun the flax of a spindle,
      And I marvelled on her grace;
    She spun the flax of a spindle,
      And I watched a little space.

    But nerves of my manhood weakened;
      The heart in my breast was wax;
    Myself but the hide of an image
      Out-stuffed with the hards of flax:--
    She spun and she smiled a-spinning
      A spindle of blood-red flax.

    She spun and she laughed a-spinning
      The blood of my veins in a skein;
    But I knew how the charm was mastered,
      And snapped in the hissing vein;
    So she wove but a fiery scorpion
      That writhed from her hands again....

    Fleeing in rain and in tempest,
      Saw by the cataract's bed,--
    Cancers of ulcerous fire,
      Wounds of a bloody red,--
    Its windows glare in the darkness
      Eyes of a dragon's head.


    She bewitched me in my childhood,
      And the witch's charm is hidden--
    Far beyond the wicked wildwood
      I shall find it, I am bidden.

    She commands me, she who bound me
      With soft sorcery to follow;
    In a golden snare who wound me
      To her bosom's snowy hollow....

    Comes a night-dark stallion sired
      Of the wind; a mare his mother
    Whom Thessalian madness fired,
      And the hurricane his brother.

    Then my soul delays no longer:
      Though the night around is scowling,
    Keenly mount him blacker, stronger
      Than the tempest that is howling.

    At our ears wild shadows whistle;
      Brazen forks the lightning o'er us
    Flames; and huge the thunder's missile
      Bursts behind us, drags before us.

    Over fire-scorched fields of stubble;
      Iron forests dark with wonder;
    Evil marshes black with trouble;
      Nightmare torrents thundering under:

    In the thorn that past us races,
      Harelipped hags like crows are rocking;
    Stunted oaks have dwarf-like faces
      Gnarled that leer an impish mocking:

    Rocks, in which the storm is hooting,
      Thrust a humpbacked murder over;
    Bristling heaths, dead thistles shooting,
      Raven-haunted gibbets cover:

    Each and all are passed, like water
      Under-rolled into a cavern,
    Till we see the Devil's daughter
      Waiting at the Devil's tavern.

    And we stay; I drain the beaker
      In her hand; the draught is fire;
    World-remembrances grow weaker,
      And my spirit, one desire.

    Course it! course it! Darkness passes
      Like an uprolled banner tattered;
    Walled before us mountain masses
      Rise like centuries unscattered.

    And the storm flies ragged. Slowly
      Comes a moon of copper-color,
    And the evil night grows holy,
      Mists the wild ride growing duller.

    In the round moon's angry scanning,
      Demon-swift cross spider arches
    Of the web-thick bridges spanning
      Chasms of her kingdom's marches.

    We have reached her kingdom, olden
      As the sea that sighs its sadness;
    Rocks and trees and sands are golden,
      And the air a golden gladness.

    Shapely ingots are the flowers,
      And the waters, amber brightness;
    Gold-bright, song-birds in the bowers
      Sing with eyes of diamond whiteness.

    And she meets me with a chalice
      Like the Giamschid ruby burning,
    And I drain it without malice,
      To her towers of topaz turning.

    Many hundred years forgetting
      All that's earth: within her power
    I possess her: naught regretting
      Since each year is as an hour.


    Young Harry leapt over the stile and kissed her,
      Over the stile the stars a-winking;
    He thought it was Mary--'t was Mary's sister--
      And love hath a way of thinking.

    "Thy pail, sweetheart, I will take and carry."--
      Over the stile the stars hang yellow.--
    "Just to the spring, my sweetheart Harry."--
      And love is a heartless fellow.

    "Thou saidst me _yea_ when the frost did shower
      Over the stile from stars a-shiver."--
    "I say thee _nay_ now the cherry-trees flower,
      And love is taker and giver."

    "O false! thou art false to me, sweetheart!"--
      Over the stile the stars a-glister.
    "To thee, the stars, and myself, sweetheart,
      I never was aught save Mary's sister.

    "Sweet Mary's sister and thou my Harry,
      Her Harry and mine, but mine the weeping:
    In a month or twain you two will marry--
      And I in my grave be sleeping."

    Alone among the meadows of millet,
      Over the stile the stars pursuing,
    Some tears in her pail as she stoops to fill it--
      And love hath a way of doing.


    The times they had kissed and parted
      That night were over a score;
    Each time that the cavalier started,
      Each time she would swear him o'er,

    "Thou art going to Barcelona!--
      To make Naxera thy bride!
    Seduce the Lady Yöna!--
      And thy lips have lied! have lied!

    "I love thee! I love thee, thou knowest!
      And thou shalt not give away
    The love to my life thou owest;
      And my heart commands thee stay!--

    "I say thou hast lied and liest!--
      For where is there war in the state?--
    Thou goest, by Heaven the highest!
      To choose thee a fairer mate.

    "Wilt thou go to Barcelona
      When thy queen in Toledo is?
    To wait on the haughty Yöna,
      When thou hast these lips to kiss?"

    And they stood in the balcony over
      The old Toledo square:
    And weeping she took for her lover
      A red rose out of her hair.

    And they kissed farewell; and higher
      The moon made amber the air:
    And she drew for the traitor and liar
      A stiletto out of her hair....

    When the night-watch lounged through the quiet
      With the stir of halberds and swords,
    Not a bravo was there to defy it,
      Not a gallant to brave with words.

    One man, at the corner's turning,
      Quite dead. And they stoop or stand--
    In his heart a dagger burning,
      And a red rose crushed in his hand.


    To Don Odora says Donna De Vine:
      "I yield to thy long endeavor!--
    At my balcony be on the stroke of nine,
      And, Signor, am thine forever!"

    This beauty but once had the Don descried
      As she quit the confessional; followed;
    "What a foot for silk! a face for a bride--
      Hem--!" the rest Odora swallowed.

    And with vows as soft as his oaths were sweet
      Her heart he barricaded;
    And pressed this point with a present meet,
      And that point serenaded.

    What else could the enemy do but yield
      To a handsome importuning!
    A gallant blade with a lute for shield
      All night at her lattice mooning!

    "_Que es estrella!_ O lily of girls!
      Here's that for thy fierce duenna:
    A purse of pistoles and a rosary o' pearls
      And gold as yellow as henna.

    "She will drop from thy balcony's rail, my sweet!
      My seraph! this silken ladder;
    And then--sweet then!--my soul at thy feet
      No lover of lovers gladder!"

    And the end of it was!--But I will not say
      How he won to the room of the lady:--
    Ah! to love is life and to live is gay,
      For the rest--a maravedi!

    Now comes her betrothed from the wars, and he,
      A Count of the Court Castilian,
    A Don Diabolus, sword at knee,
      And moustaches--uncivilian.

    And his is a jealous love; and--for
      He marks that this marriage makes sadder--
    He watches, and sees a robber to her,
      Or gallant, ascend a ladder.

    So he pushes inquiry unto her room,
      With his naked sword demanding--
    An Alquazil with the face of Doom,
      Sure of a stout withstanding.

    And weapon to weapon they foined and fought;
      Diabolus' thrusts were vicious;
    Three thrusts to the floor Odora had brought,
      A fourth was more malicious,

    Through the offered bosom of Donna De Vine--
      And this is the Count's condition ...
    Was he right, was he wrong? the question is mine,
      To judge--for the Inquisition.


    In some quaint Nürnberg _maler-atelier_
    Uprummaged. When and where was never clear,
    Nor yet how he obtained it. When, by whom
    'T was painted--who shall say? itself a gloom
    Resisting inquisition. I opine
    It is a Dürer. Humph?--that touch, this line
    Are not deniable; distinguished grace
    In the pure oval of the noble face;
    The color badly tarnished. Half in light
    Extend it, so; incline; the exquisite
    Expression leaps abruptly: piercing scorn,
    Imperial beauty; icy, each a thorn
    Of light--disdainful eyes and ... well! no use!
    Effaced and but beheld, a sad abuse
    Of patience. Often, vaguely visible,
    The portrait fills each feature, making swell
    The soul with hope: avoiding face and hair
    Alive with lively warmth; astonished there
    "Occult substantial!" you exult, when, ho!
    You hold a blur; an undetermined glow
    Dislimns a daub.--Restore?--ah, I have tried
    Our best restorers, all! it has defied ...
    Storied, mysterious, say, mayhap a ghost
    Lives in the canvas; hers, some artist lost,
    A duchess', haply. Her he worshipped; dared
    Not tell he worshipped; from his window stared
    Of Nuremburg one sunny morn when she
    Passed paged to court. Her cold nobility
    Loved, lived for like a purpose; seized and plied
    A feverish brush--her face! despaired and died.

    The narrow Judengasse; gables frown
    Around a skinny usurer's, where brown
    And dirty in a corner long it lay,
    Heaped in a pile of riff-raff, such as--say,
    Retables done in tempora and old
    Panels by Wohlgemuth; stiff paintings cold
    Of martyrs and apostles, names forgot;
    Holbeins and Dürers, say, a haloed lot
    Of praying saints, madonnas: such, perchance,
    Mid wine-stained purples mothed; a whole romance
    Of crucifixes, rosaries; inlaid
    Arms Saracen-elaborate; a strayed
    Niello of Byzantium; rich work
    In bronze, of Florence; here a delicate dirk,
    There holy patens.

                        So, my ancestor,
    The first De Herancour, esteemed by far
    This piece most precious, most desirable;
    Purchased and brought to Paris. It looked well
    In the dark panelling above the old
    Hearth of his room. The head's religious gold,
    The soft severity of the nun face,
    Made of the room an apostolic place
    Revered and feared.--

                        Like some lived scene I see
    That Gothic room; its Flemish tapestry:
    Embossed above the aged lintel, shield--
    Deep Or-enthistled, in an Argent field
    Three Sable mallets--arms De Herancour,
    Carved with the torso of the crest that bore,
    Outstretched, two mallets. Lozenge-paned, embayed,
    Its slender casements; on a lectern laid,
    A vellum volume of black-lettered text;
    Near by a blinking taper--as if vexed
    With silken gusts a nervous curtain sends,
    Behind which, maybe, daggered Murder bends;--
    Waxed floors of rosy oak, whereon the red
    Torchlight of Medicean wrath is shed,
    Down knightly corridors; a carven couch
    Sword-slashed; dark velvets of the chairs that crouch,
    It seems, with fright; clear-clashing near, more near,
    The stir of searching steel.

                                What find they here?--
    'T is St. Bartholomew's--a Huguenot
    Dead in his chair?--dead! violently shot
    With horror, eyes glued on a portrait there,
    Coiling his neck one blood line, like a hair
    Of finest fire; the portrait, like a fiend,--
    Looking exalted visitation,--leaned
    From its black panel; in its eyes a hate
    Demonic; hair--a glowing auburn, late
    A dim, enduring golden.

                            "Just one thread
    Of the fierce hair around his throat," they said,
    "Twisting a burning ray, he--staring-dead."


    Ismael, the Sultan, in the Ramazan,
    Girdled with guards and many a yataghan,
    Pachas and amins, viziers wisdom-gray,
    And holy marabouts, betook his way
    Through Mekinez.--Written the angel's word,
    Of Eden's Kauther, reads, "Slay! praying the Lord!
    Pray! slaying the victims!" so the Sultan went,
    The Cruel Sultan, with this good intent,

    In white bournouse and sea-green caftan clad
    First to the mosque. Long each muezzin had
    Summoned the faithful unto prayer and let
    The "Allah Akbar!" from each minaret,
    Call to their thousand lamps of blazing gold.
    Prostrated prayed the Sultan. On the old
    Mosaics of the mosque--whose hollow steamed
    With aloes-incense--lean ecstatics dreamed
    On Allah and his Prophet, and how great
    Is God, and how unstable man's estate.
    Conviction on him, in this chanting low
    Of Koran texts, the Caliph's passion so
    Exalted rose,--lamps of religious awe,
    Loud smitings of the everlasting law
    On unbelievers,--trebly manifest
    The Faith's anointed sword he feels confessed.

    So from the mosque, whose arabesques above--
    The marvellous work of Oriental love--
    Seen with new splendors of Heaven's blue and gold,
    Applauding all, he, as the gates are rolled
    Ogival back to let the many forth,
    Cries war to all the unbelieving North.

    Soon have they passed the tight bazaar; along
    Close, crooked streets, too narrow for the throng;
    The place of owls and tombs; the merloned wall,
    Camel and steed and ass. Projecting all
    Its towering battlements, his palace gray,
    Seraglios and courts, against the day
    Lifts, vanishes. And now, soul-set on hate,
    From Mekinez they pass the scolloped gate.

    Two dozing beggars, baking each a sore,
    Sprawl in the sun the city gate before;
    A leprous cripple and a thief, whose eyes--
    Burnt out with burning iron,--as supplies
    The law for thieves,--two fly-thick wounds blood-raw,
    Lifted shrill voices as they heard or saw;
    Praised God, and flung into the dust each face
    With words of "victory and Allah's grace
    Attend our Caliph, Mouley-Ismael!
    Even at the cost of ours his days be well!"

    And grimly smiling as he grimly passed,
    "While God most merciful, who is, shall last,--
    Now by Es Sirat!--will a liar's word
    And thief's prevail or prosper?--Pray the Lord!--
    What! at your lives' cost?--my devout intent!
    Even as 't is bidden let their necks be bent!
    Though words be pious, evil at the soul
    Naught is the prayer!--So let their prayer be whole.
    Nay! give them gold; but when the sequins cease
    From the slaves' hands, by these my Soudanese
    They die!" he said; and even as he said
    Rolled in the dust each writhing, withered head.

    And frowning westward, as the day grew late,
    Four bleeding heads stared from the city gate
    'Neath this inscription, for the passer-by,
    "There is no virtue but in God the High."


    An intimation of some previous life,
    Or dark dream, in the present dim-divined,
    Of some uncertain sleep--or lived or dreamed
    In some dead life--between a dusk and dawn;

    From heathen battles to Toledo's gates,
    Far off defined, his corselet and camail,
    Damascened armet, shattered; in an eve's
    Anger of brass a galloping glitter, one
    Rode arrow-wounded. And the city caught
    A cry before him and a wail behind,
    Of walls beleaguered; battles; conquered kings;
    Triumphant Taric; broken Spain and slaves.

    And I, a Moslem slave, a miser Jew's,
    Housed near the Tagus--squalid and alone
    Save for his slave, held dear--to beat and starve--
    Leaner than my lank shadow when the moon,
    A burning beacon, westerns; and my bones
    A visible hunger; famished with the fear,
    Soul-garb of slaves, I bore him--I, who held
    Him soul and self, more hated than his God,
    Stood silent; fools had laughed; I saw my way.

    War-time crops weapons; and the blade I bought
    Was subtly pointed. For, I knew his ways:
    The nightly nuptials of his jars of gems
    And bags of doublas--oh, I knew his ways.
    A shadow, woven in the hangings, hid
    Till time said _now_; gaunt from the hangings stole
    Behind him; humped and stooping so, his heart
    Clove through the faded tunic, murrey-dyed;
    Grinned exultation while the grim, slow blood
    Drenched black and darkened round the oblong wound,
    And his old face thinned grayer than morn's moon.

    Rubies from Badakhshân in rose lights dripped
    Slim tears of poppy-purple crystal; dull,
    Red, ember-pregnant, carbuncles wherein
    Fevered a captive crimson; bugles wan
    Of cat-eyed hyacinths; moon-emeralds
    With starry greenness stabbed; in limpid stains
    Of liquid lilac, Persian amethysts;
    Fire-opals savage and mesmeric with
    Voluptuous flame, long, sweet, and sensuous as
    Soft eyes of Orient women; sapphires beamed
    With talismanic violet, from tombs,
    Deev-guarded, of primordial Solimans;
    Length-agonized with fire, diamonds of
    Golconda--This, a sandaled dervise bare
    Seven days, beneath a red Arabian sun,
    Seven nights, beneath a round Arabian moon,
    Under his tongue; an Emeer's ransom, held
    Of some wild tribe.... Bleached in the perishing waste
    A Bedouin Arab found sand-strangled bones,
    A skeleton, vulture-torn, fierce in whose skull
    One blazing eye--the diamond. At Aleppo
    Bartered--a bauble for his desert love.--
    Jacinth and Indian pearl, gem jolting gem,
    Flashed, rutilating in the irised light,
    A rain of splintered fire; and his head,
    Long-haired, white-sunk among them.

                                        Yet I took
    All--though his eyes burned in them; though, meseemed,
    Each several jewel glared a separate curse....

    Well! dead men work us mischief from the grave.
    Richer than all Castile and yet not dare
    Drink but from cups of Roman murra, spar
    Bowl-sprayed with fibrile gold! spar sensitive
    Of poison! I, no slave, yet all a slave
    To fear a dead fool's malice!--Still, how else!
    Feasting within the music of my halls,
    While perfumed beauty danced in sinuous robes,
    Diaphanous, more silken than those famed
    Of loomed Amorgos or of classic Kos,
    Draining the unflawed murrhine, Xeres-brimmed,
    Had I reeled poisoned, dying wolfsbane-slain!


    Against each prince now she had held her own,
    An easy victor for the seven years
    O'er kings and sons of kings; Eddetma, she
    Who, when much sought in marriage, hating men,
    Espoused their ways to win beyond their worth
    Through martial exercise and hero deeds:
    She, who accomplished in all warlike arts,
    Let cry through every kingdom of the kings:--
    "Eddetma weds with none but him who proves
    Himself her master in the push of arms,
    Her suitor's foeman she. And he who fails,
    So overcome of woman, woman-scorned,
    Disarmed, dishonored, yet shall he depart,
    Brow-bearing, forehead-stigmatized with fire,
    'Behold, a freedman of Eddetma this.'
    Let cry, and many princes put to shame,
    Pretentious courtiers small in thew and thigh,
    Proud-palanquined from principalities
    Of Irak and of Hind and farther Sind.
    Though she was queenly as that Empress of
    The proud Amalekites, Tedmureh, and
    More beautiful, yet she had held her own.

    To Behram of the Territories, one
    Son of a Persian monarch swaying kings,
    Came bruit of her and her noised victories,
    Her maiden beauty and her warrior strength;
    Eastward he journeyed from his father's court,
    With men and steeds and store of wealth and arms,
    To the rich city where her father reigned,
    Its seven citadels by Seven Seas.
    And messengered the monarch with a gift
    Of savage vessels wroughten out of gold,
    Of foreign fabrics stiff with gems and gold.
    Vizier-ambassadored the old king gave
    His answer to the suitor:--"I, my son,
    What grace have I above the grace of God?
    What power is mine but a material?
    What rule have I unto the substanceless?
    Me, than the shadow of the Prophet's shade
    Less, God invests with power but of man;
    Man! and the right beyond man's right is God's;
    His the dominion of the secret soul--
    And His her soul! Now hath my daughter sworn,
    By all her vestal soul, that none shall know
    Her but her better in the listed field,
    Determining spear and sword.--Grant Fate thy trust;
    She hangs her hand upon to-morrow's joust,
    A prize to win.--My greeting and farewell."
    Informed Eddetma and the lists arose.
    Armored and keen with a Chorasmian mace,
    Davidean hauberk came she. Her the prince,
    Harnessed in scaly gold Arabian, met;
    So clanged the prologue of the battle. As
    Closer it waxed, Prince Behram, who a while
    Withheld his valor,--in that she he loved
    Opposed him and beset him, woman whom
    He had not scathed for the Chosroës' wealth,--
    Beheld his madness; how he were undone
    With shining shame unless he strove withal,
    Whirled fiery sword and smote; the bassinet
    Rushed from the haughty face that long had scorned
    The wide world's vanquished royalty, and so
    Rushed on his own defeat. For like unto
    A moon gray clouds have caverned all the eve,
    The thunder splits and, virgin triumph, there
    She sails a silver aspect, vanquished so
    Was Behram by his blow. A wavering strength
    Swerved in its purpose; with no final stroke
    Stunned stood he and surrendered; stared and stared,
    All his strong life absorbed into her face,
    All the wild warrior, arrowed by her eyes,
    Tamed, and obedient to lip and look.
    Then she on him, as condor on a kite,
    Plunged pitiless and beautiful and fierce,
    One trophy more to added victories;
    Haled off his arms, amazement dazing him;
    Seized steed and garb, confusion filling him;
    And scoffed him forth brow-branded with his shame.

    Dazzled, six days he sat, a staring trance;
    But on the seventh, casting stupor off,
    Rose, and the straitness of the case that held
    Him as with manacles of knitted fire,
    Considered, and decided on a way....

    Once when Eddetma with a houri band
    Of high-born damsels, under eunuch guard,
    In the walled palace pleasaunce took her ease,
    Under a myrrh-bush by a fountain side,
    Where Afrits' nostrils snorted diamond rain
    In scooped cornelian, one, a dim, hoar head,--
    A patriarch mid gardener underlings,--
    Bent spreading gems and priceless ornaments
    Of jewelled amulets of hollow gold
    Sweet with imprisoned ambergris and musk;
    Symbolic stones in sorcerous carcanets,
    Gem-talismans in cabalistic gold.
    Whereon the princess marvelled and bade ask,
    What did the elder with his riches there?
    Who, questioned, mumbled in his bushy beard,
    "To buy a wife withal"; whereat they laughed
    As oafs when wisdom stumbles. Quoth a maid,
    With orient midnight in her starry eyes,
    And tropic music on her languid tongue,
    "And what if I should wed with thee, O beard
    Grayer than my great-grandfather's, what then?"
    "One kiss, no more, and, child, thou wert divorced,"
    He; and the humor took them till the birds,
    That listened in the spice-tree and the plane,
    Sang gayly of the gray-beard and his kiss.

    Then quoth the princess, "Thou wilt wed with him
    Ansada?" mirth in her two eyes' gazelles,
    And gravity bird-nestled in her speech;
    And took Ansada's hand and laid it in
    The old man's staggering hand, and he unbent
    Thin, wrinkled brows and on his staff arose,
    Weighed with the weight of many heavy years,
    And kissed her leaning on his shaking staff,
    And heaped her bosom with an Amir's wealth,
    And left them laughing at his foolish beard.

    Now on the next day, as she took her ease
    With her glad troop of girlhood,--maidens who
    So many royal tulips seemed,--behold,
    Bowed with white years, upon a flowery sward
    The ancient with new jewelry and gems,
    Wherefrom the sun coaxed wizard fires and lit
    Glimmers in glowing green and pendent pearl,
    Ultramarine and beaded, vivid rose;
    And so they stood to wonder, and one asked
    As yesternoon wherefore the father there
    Displayed his Sheikh locks and the genie gems?
    --"Another marriage and another kiss?--
    What! doth the tomb-ripe court his youth again?
    O aged, libertine in wish not deed!
    O prodigal of wives as well as wealth!
    Here stands thy damsel"; trilled the Peri-tall
    Diarra with the raven in her hair,
    Two lemon-flowers blowing in her cheeks,
    And took the dotard's jewels with the kiss
    In merry mockery.

                      Ere the morrow's dawn,
    Bethought Eddetma: "Shall my handmaidens,
    Teasing a gray-beard's whim to wrinkled smiles,
    For withered kisses still divide his wealth?
    While I stand idle, lose the caravan
    Whose least is notable?--My right and mine--
    Betide me what betides."...

                      And with the morn
    Before the man,--for privily she came,
    Stood habited as of her tire-maids
    In humble raiment. Now the ancient saw
    And knew her for the princess that she was,
    And kindling gladness of the knowledge made
    Two sparkling forges of his deep dark eyes
    Beneath the ashes of his priestly brows.
    Not timidly she came; but coy approach
    Became the maiden of Eddetma's suite;
    And humbly answered he, "All my old heart!"--
    Responsive to her quavering request--
    "The daughter of the king did give thee leave?
    And thou wouldst well?--Then wed with me forth-right.
    Thy hand, thy lips." So he arose and gave
    Her of barbaric jewelry and gems,
    And seized her hand and from her lips the kiss,
    When from his age, behold, the dotage fell,
    And from the man all palsied hoariness;
    Victorious-eyed and amorous with youth,
    A god in ardent capabilities
    Resistless held her; and she, swooning, saw
    Gloating the branded brow of Prince Behram.


_A Transcript._

    Among the tales, wherein it hath been told,
    In golden letters in a book of gold,
    Of Hatim Taï's hospitality,
    Who, substanceless in death and shadowy,
    Made men his guests upon that mountain top
    Whereon his tomb grayed from a thistle crop;--
    A tomb of rock where women hewn of stone,
    Rude figures, spread dishevelled hair; whose moan
    From dark to daybreak made the silence cry;
    The camel drivers, being tented nigh,
    "Ghouls or hyenas," shuddering would say
    But only girls of granite find at day:--

    And of that city, Sheddad son of Aad
    Built mid the Sebaa sands.--A king who had
    Dominion of the world and many kings.--
    Builded in pride and power out of things
    Unstable of the earth. For he had read
    Of Paradise, and to his soul had said,
    "Now in this life the like of Paradise
    I 'll build me and the Prophet's may despise,
    Knowing no need of that he promises."
    So for this city taxed the lands and seas,
    And Columned Irem, on a blinding height,
    Blazed in the desert like a chrysolite;
    The manner of its building, it is told,
    Alternate bricks of silver and of gold:
    How Sheddad with his women and his slaves,
    His thousand viziers, armored troops as waves
    Of ocean countless, God with awful flame--
    Shot sheer in thunder on him--God, his shame
    Confounded and abolished, ere his eyes
    Had glimpsed bright follies of that Paradise;
    Lay blotted to a wilderness the land
    Accurséd, and the city lost in sand:
    Among such tales--who questions of their sooth?--
    One is recorded of an Arab youth:

    The Khalif Hisham ben Abdulmelik
    Hunting one day, by some unwonted freak
    Rode parted from his retinue and gave
    Chase to an antelope. Without or slave,
    Amir or vizier to a pasture place
    Of sheep he came, where dark, in tattered grace,
    Watched one, an Arab youth. And as it came
    The antelope drew off, with mouth of flame
    And tongue of fire to the youth he turned
    Shouting, "Ho! fellow! in what school hast learned!
    Seest not the buck escapes me? worthless one!
    O desert dullard!"

                      Rising in the sun,
    "O ignorant," he said, "of that just worth
    Of those the worthy of our Muslim earth!
    In that thou look'st upon me--what thou art!--
    As one fit for contempt, thou lack'st no part
    Of my disdain?--Allah! I would not own
    A dog of thine for friend no other known--
    Of speech a tyrant, manners of an ass!"
    And flung him, rags and rage, into the grass.

    Provoked, astonished, wrinkled angrily,
    Hissed Hisham, "Slave! thou know'st me not I see!"
    Calmly the youth, "Aye, verily I know,
    O mannerless! thy tongue hath told me so,
    Thy tongue commanding ere it spake me _peace_--
    Soon art thou known, nor late may knowledge cease."

    "O dog! I am thy Khalif! by a hair
    Thy life hangs rav'ling."

                              "May it dangle there
    Till thou art rotted!--Whiles, upon thy head
    Misfortunes shower!--Of his dwelling place,
    Allah, be thou forgetful!--What! his grace
    Hisham ben Merwan, king of many words--
    Few generosities!"...

                      A flash of swords
    In drifts of dust and lo! the Khalif's troops
    Surrounding ride. As when a merlin stoops
    Some stranger quarry, prey that swims the wind,
    Heron or eagle; kenning not its kind
    There whence 'tis cast until it, towering, feels
    An eagle's tearing talons, falling reels
    In broken circles downward--so the youth,
    An Arab fearless as the face of Truth
    Of all that made him instant of his death,
    Waited with eyes indifferent, equal breath.

    The palace reached, "Bring in the prisoner
    Before the Khalif," and he came as were
    He in no wise concerned: unquestioning went
    Chin bowed on breast, and on his feet a bent
    Dark gaze of scornful freedom unafraid,
    Till at the Khalif's throne his steps were staid;
    And unsaluting, standing head held down,
    An armed attendant blazed him with a frown,
    "Dog of the Bedouins! thy eyes rot out!
    Insulter! must the whole big world needs shout
    'Commander of the Faithful,' so thou see?"

    To him the Arab sneering, "Verily,
    Packsaddle of an ass."

                          The Khalif's rage
    Exceeded now, and, "By my realm and rage!
    Arab, thy hour is come, thy very last;
    Thy hope is vanished and thy life is past."
    The shepherd answered, "Aye?--by Allah, then,
    O Hisham, if my time be stretched again,
    Unscissored of what Destiny ordain,
    Little or great, thy words give little pain."

    Then the chief Chamberlain, "O vilest one
    Of all the Arabs! wilt thou not be done
    Bandying thy baseness with the Ruler of
    The Faithful?" spat upon his face. A scoff
    Fiery made answer:

                    "There be some have heard
    The nonsense of our God, the text absurd,
    'One day each soul whatever shall be prompt
    To bow before me and to give accompt.'"

    Then wroth indeed was Hisham; hotly said,
    "He braves us!--headsman, ho! his peevish head!
    See; canst thou medicine its speech anew,
    Doctor its multiplying words to few;
    Divorce them well." So, where the Arab stood,
    Bound him; made kneel upon the cloth of blood:
    With curving sword the headsman leaned at pause,
    And, even as 'tis custom made of laws,
    To the descendant of the Prophet quoth,
    "O Khalif, shall I strike?"

                                "By Iblis' oath!
    Strike!" answered Hisham; but again the slave
    Questioned; and yet again the Khalif gave
    His nodded "yea"; and for the third time then
    He asked--and knowing neither men nor Jinn
    Might save him if the Khalif spake assent,
    Signalled the sword, the youth with body bent
    Laughed--till the wang-teeth of each jaw appeared,
    Laughed--as with scorn the King of kings he 'd beard,
    Insulting death. So, with redoubled spleen
    Roared Hisham rising, "It is truly seen
    That thou art mad who mockest Azrael!"

    The Arab answered: "Listen!--Once befell,
    Commander of the Faithful, that a hawk,
    A hungry hawk, pounced on a sparrow-cock;
    And winging nestward with his meal in claw,
    To him the sparrow, for the creature saw
    The hawk's conceit, addressed this slyly, 'Oh,
    Most great, most royal, there is not, I know,
    That in me which will stay thy stomach's stress,
    I am too paltry for thy mightiness';
    With which the hawk was pleased, and flattered so
    In his self-praise, he let the sparrow go."

    Then smiled the Khalif Hisham; and a sign
    Staying the scimitar, that hung malign
    A threatening crescent, said, "God bless, preserve
    The Prophet whom all true believers serve!--
    Now by my kinship to the Prophet, and
    Had he at first but spake us thus this hand
    Had ne'er been reckless, and instead of hate
    He had had all--except the Khalifate."
    Bade stuff his mouth with jewels and entreat
    Him courteously, then from the palace beat.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Days and Dreams - Poems" ***

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