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Title: Shapes and Shadows
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 "Shapes and Shadows" ***

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                    [Illustration: MADISON CAWEIN]

             Under the Stars and Stripes.

    High on the world did our fathers of old,
        Under the stars and stripes,
    Blazon the name that we now must uphold,
        Under the stars and stripes.
    Vast in the past they have builded an arch
    Over which Freedom has lighted her torch.
    Follow it! Follow it! Come, let us march
        Under the stars and stripes!

    We in whose bodies the blood of them runs,
        Under the stars and stripes,
    We will acquit us as sons of their sons,
        Under the stars and stripes.
    Ever for justice, our heel upon wrong,
    We in the light of our vengeance thrice strong!
    Rally together! Come tramping along
        Under the stars and stripes!

    Out of our strength and a nation's great need,
        Under the stars and stripes,
    Heroes again as of old we shall breed,
        Under the stars and stripes.
    Broad to the winds be our banner unfurled!
    Straight in Spain's face let defiance be hurled!
    God on our side, we will battle the world
        Under the stars and stripes!

                                  MADISON CAWEIN.

                From "_Poems of American Patriotism_,"
                       selected by _R. L. Paget_.

       *       *       *       *       *




                      POEMS by _Madison Cawein_

                      NEW YORK: _R. H. Russell_


                 _Copyright, 1898, by R. H. Russell_

       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *

A Table of Contents

_The Evanescent Beautiful_         1

_August_                           2

_The Higher Brotherhood_           4

_Gramarye_                         5

_Dreams_                           7

_The Old House_                    8

_The Rock_                        10

_Rain_                            12

_Standing-Stone Creek_            13

_The Moonmen_                     15

_The Old Man Dreams_              19

_Since Then_                      20

_Comrades_                        21

_Waiting_                         23

_Contrasts_                       24

_In June_                         25

_After long Grief and Pain_       26

_Can I forget?_                   27

_The House of Fear_               28

_At Dawn_                         29

_Storm_                           30

_Memories_                        31

_Which_                           32

_Sunset in Autumn_                34

_The Legend of the Stone_         36

_Time and Death and Love_         40

_Passion_                         41

_When the Wine-Cup at the Lip_    42

_Art_                             43

_A Song for Old Age_              45

_Tristram and Isolt_              46

_The Better Lot_                  47

_Dusk in the Woods_               48

_At the Ferry_                    50

_Her Violin_                      52

_Her Vesper Song_                 54

_At Parting_                      55

_Carissima Mea_                   56

_Margery_                         59

_Constance_                       61

_Gertrude_                        63

_Lydia_                           64

_A Southern Girl_                 65

_A Daughter of the States_        66

_An Autumn Night_                 67

_Lines_                           68

_The Blind God_                   69

_A Valentine_                     70

_A Catch_                         71

_The New Year_                    73

_Then and Now_                    75

_Epilogue_                        76

       *       *       *       *       *

The Dedication

    _Ah, not for us the Heavens that hold_
    GOD'S _message of Promethean fire!
    The Flame that fell on bards of old
    To hallow and inspire._

    _Yet let the Soul dream on and dare
    No less_ SONG'S _height that these possess:
    We can but fail; and may prepare
    The way to some success._

       *       *       *       *       *

Shapes & Shadows

_By Madison Cawein_


    Day after Day, young with eternal beauty,
    Pays flowery duty to the month and clime;
    Night after night erects a vasty portal
    Of stars immortal for the march of Time.

    But where are now the Glory and the Rapture,
    That once did capture me in cloud and stream?
    Where now the Joy that was both speech and silence?
    Where the beguilance that was fact and dream?

    I know that Earth and Heaven are as golden
    As they of olden made me feel and see;
    Not in themselves is lacking aught of power
    Through star and flower--something's lost in me.

    _Return! Return!_ I cry, _O Visions vanished,
    O Voices banished, to my Soul again!_--
    The near Earth blossoms and the far Skies glisten,
    I look and listen, but, alas! in vain.



    Clad on with glowing beauty and the peace,
      Benign, of calm maturity, she stands
      Among her meadows and her orchard-lands,
    And on her mellowing gardens and her trees,
      Out of the ripe abundance of her hands,
                  Bestows increase
    And fruitfulness, as, wrapped in sunny ease,
                Blue-eyed and blonde she goes,
    Upon her bosom _Summer's_ richest rose.


    And he who follows where her footsteps lead,
      By hill and rock, by forest-side and stream,
      Shall glimpse the glory of her visible dream,
    In flower and fruit, in rounded nut and seed:
      She in whose path the very shadows gleam;
                  Whose humblest weed
    Seems lovelier than _June's_ loveliest flower, indeed,
                And sweeter to the smell
    Than _April's_ self within a rainy dell.


    Hers is a sumptuous simplicity
      Within the fair Republic of her flowers,
      Where you may see her standing hours on hours,
    Breast-deep in gold, soft-holding up a bee
      To her hushed ear; or sitting under bowers
                  Of greenery,
    A butterfly a-tilt upon her knee;
                Or, lounging on her hip,
    Dancing a cricket on her finger-tip.


    Aye, let me breathe hot scents that tell of you:
      The hoary catnip and the meadow-mint,
      On which the honour of your touch doth print
    Itself as odour. Let me drink the hue
      Of ironweed and mist-flow'r here that hint,
                  With purple and blue,
    The rapture that your presence doth imbue
                Their inmost essence with,
    Immortal though as transient as a myth.


    Yea, let me feed on sounds that still assure
      Me where you hide: the brooks', whose happy din
      Tells where, the deep retired woods within,
    Disrobed, you bathe; the birds', whose drowsy lure
      Tells where you slumber, your warm-nestling chin
                  Soft on the pure
    Pink cushion of your palm ... What better cure
                For care and memory's ache
    Than to behold you so and watch you wake!


    To come in touch with mysteries
    Of beauty idealizing Earth,
    Go seek the hills, grown old with trees,
    The old hills wise with death and birth.

    There you may hear the heart that beats
    In streams, where music has its source;
    And in wild rocks of green retreats
    Behold the silent soul of force.

    Above the love that emanates
    From human passion, and reflects
    The flesh, must be the love that waits
    On Nature, whose high call elects

    None to her secrets save the few
    Who hold that facts are far less real
    Than dreams, with which all facts indue
    Themselves approaching the Ideal.


    There are some things that entertain me more
    Than men or books; and to my knowledge seem
    A key of Poetry, made of magic lore
    Of childhood, opening many a fabled door
    Of superstition, mystery, and dream
              Enchantment locked of yore.

    For, when through dusking woods my pathway lies,
    Often I feel old spells, as o'er me flits
    The bat, like some black thought that, troubled, flies
    Round some dark purpose; or before me cries
    The owl that, like an evil conscience, sits
              A shadowy voice and eyes.

    Then, when down blue canals of cloudy snow
    The white moon oars her boat, and woods vibrate
    With crickets, lo, I hear the hautboys blow
    Of Elf-land; and when green the fireflies glow,
    See where the goblins hold a Fairy Fête
              With lanthorn row on row.

    Strange growths, that ooze from long-dead logs and spread
    A creamy fungus, where the snail, uncoiled,
    And fat slug feed at morn, are Pixy bread
    Made of the yeasted dew; the lichens red,
    Besides these grown, are meat the Brownies broiled
              Above a glow-worm bed.

    The smears of silver on the webs that line
    The tree's crook'd roots, or stretch, white-wove, within
    The hollow stump, are stains of Faëry wine
    Spilled on the cloth where Elf-land sat to dine,
    When night beheld them drinking, chin to chin,
              O' the moon's fermented shine.

    What but their chairs the mushrooms on the lawn,
    Or toadstools hidden under flower and fern,
    Tagged with the dotting dew!--With knees updrawn
    Far as his eyes, have I not come upon
    PUCK seated there? but scarcely 'round could turn
              Ere, presto! he was gone.

    And so though Science from the woods hath tracked
    The Elfin; and with prosy lights of day
    Unhallowed all his haunts; and, dulling, blacked
    Our eyesight, still hath Beauty never lacked
    For seers yet; who, in some wizard way,
              Prove Fancy real as Fact.


    My thoughts have borne me far away
    To Beauties of an older day,
    Where, crowned with roses, stands the DAWN,
    Striking her seven-stringed barbiton
    Of flame, whose chords give being to
    The seven colours, hue for hue;
    The music of the colour-dream
    She builds the day from, beam by beam.

    My thoughts have borne me far away
    To Myths of a diviner day,
    Where, sitting on the mountain, NOON
    Sings to the pines a sun-soaked tune
    Of rest and shade and clouds and skies,
    Wherein her calm dreams idealize
    Light as a presence, heavenly fair,
    Sleeping with all her beauty bare.

    My thoughts have borne me far away
    To Visions of a wiser day,
    Where, stealing through the wilderness,
    NIGHT walks, a sad-eyed votaress,
    And prays with mystic words she hears
    Behind the thunder of the spheres,
    The starry utterance that's hers,
    With which she fills the Universe.


    Quaint and forgotten, by an unused road,
    An old house stands: around its doors the dense
          Blue iron-weeds grow high;
    The chipmunks make a highway of its fence;
    And on its sunken flagstones slug and toad
          Silent as lichens lie.

    The timid snake upon its hearth's cool sand
    Sleeps undisturbed; the squirrel haunts its roof;
          And in the clapboard sides
    Of closets, dim with many a spider woof,
    Like the uncertain tapping of a hand,
          The beetle-borer hides.

    Above its lintel, under mossy eaves,
    The mud-wasps build their cells; and in the floor
          Of its neglected porch
    The black bees nest. Through each deserted door,
    Vague as a phantom's footsteps, steal the leaves,
          And dropped cones of the larch.

    But come with me when sunset's magic old
    Transforms the ruin of that ancient house;
          When windows, one by one,--
    Like age's eyes, that youth's love-dreams arouse,--
    Grow lairs of fire; and glad mouths of gold
          Its wide doors, in the sun.

    Or let us wait until each rain-stained room
    Is carpeted with moonlight, pattened oft
          With the deep boughs o'erhead;
    And through the house the wind goes rustling soft,
    As might the ghost--a whisper of perfume--
        Of some sweet girl long dead.


    Here, at its base, in dingled deeps
    Of spice-bush, where the ivy creeps,
        The cold spring scoops its hollow;
    And there three mossy stepping-stones
    Make ripple murmurs; undertones
        Of foam that blend and follow
    With voices of the wood that drones.

    The quail pipes here when noons are hot;
    And here, in coolness sunlight-shot
        Beneath a roof of briers,
    The red-fox skulks at close of day;
    And here at night, the shadows gray
        Stand like FRANCISCAN friars,
    With moonbeam beads whereon they pray.

    Here yawns the ground-hog's dark-dug hole;
    And there the tunnel of the mole
        Heaves under weed and flower;
    A sandy pit-fall here and there
    The ant-lion digs and lies a-lair;
        And here, for sun and shower,
    The spider weaves a silvery snare.

    The poison-oak's rank tendrils twine
    The rock's south side; the trumpet-vine,
        With crimson bugles sprinkled,
    Makes green its eastern side; the west
    Is rough with lichens; and, gray-pressed
        Into an angle wrinkled,
    The hornets hang an oblong nest.

    The north is hid from sun and star,
    And here,--like an Inquisitor
        Of Faëry Inquisition,
    That roots out Elf-land heresy,--
    Deep in the rock, with mystery
        Cowled for his grave commission,
    The Owl sits magisterially.


    Around, the stillness deepened; then the grain
    Went wild with wind; and every briery lane
    Was swept with dust; and then, tempestuous black,
    Hillward the tempest heaved a monster back,
    That on the thunder leaned as on a cane;
    And on huge shoulders bore a cloudy pack,
    That gullied gold from many a lightning-crack:
    One great drop splashed and wrinkled down the pane,
    And then field, hill, and wood were lost in rain.

    At last, through clouds,--as from a cavern hewn
    Into night's heart,--the sun burst, angry roon;
    And every cedar, with its weight of wet,
    Against the sunset's fiery splendour set,
    Frightened to beauty, seemed with rubies strewn;
    Then in drenched gardens, like sweet phantoms met,
    Dim odours rose of pink and mignonette;
    And in the East a confidence, that soon
    Grew to the calm assurance of the Moon.


    A weed-grown slope, whereon the rain
      Has washed the brown rocks bare,
    Leads tangled from a lonely lane
      Down to a creek's broad stair
    Of stone, that, through the solitude,
    Winds onward to a quiet wood.

    An intermittent roof of shade
      The beech above it throws;
    Along its steps a balustrade
      Of beauty builds the rose;
    In which, a stately lamp of green
    At intervals the cedar's seen.

    The water, carpeting each ledge
      Of rock that runs across,
    Glints 'twixt a flow'r-embroidered edge
      Of ferns and grass and moss;
    And in its deeps the wood and sky
    Seem patterns of the softest dye.

    Long corridors of pleasant dusk
      Within the house of leaves
    It reaches; where, on looms of musk,
      The ceaseless locust weaves
    A web of summer; and perfume
    Trails a sweet gown from room to room.

    Green windows of the boughs, that swing,
      It passes, where the notes
    Of birds are glad thoughts entering,
      And butterflies are motes;
    And now a vista where the day
    Opens a door of wind and ray.

    It is a stairway for all sounds
      That haunt the woodland sides;
    On which, boy-like, the southwind bounds,
      Girl-like, the sunbeam glides;
    And, like fond parents, following these,
    The oldtime dreams of rest and peace.


    I stood in the forest on HURON HILL
    When the night was old and the world was still.

    The Wind was a wizard who muttering strode
    In a raven cloak on a haunted road.

    The Sound of Water, a witch who crooned
    Her spells to the rocks the rain had runed.

    And the Gleam of the Dew on the fern's green tip
    Was a sylvan passing with robe a-drip.

    The Light of the Stars was a glimmering maid
    Who stole, an elfin, from glade to glade.

    The Scent of the Woods in the delicate air,
    A wildflower shape with chilly hair.

    And Silence, a spirit who sat alone
    With a lifted finger and eyes of stone.

    And it seemed to me these six were met
    To greet a greater who came not yet.

    And the speech they spoke, that I listened to,
    Was the archetype of the speech I knew.

    For the Wind clasped hands with the Water's rush,
    And I heard them whisper, _Hush, oh, hush!_

    The Light of the Stars and the Dew's cool gleam
    Touched lips and murmured, _Dream, oh dream!_

    The Scent of the Woods and the Silence deep
    Sighed, bosom to bosom, _Sleep, oh, sleep!_

    And so for a moment the six were dumb,
    Then exulted together, _They come, they come!_

    And I stood expectant and seemed to hear
    A visible music drawing near.

    And the first who came was the Captain Moon
    Bearing a shield in GOD'S House hewn.

    Then an Army of glamour, a glittering Host,
    Beleaguered the night from coast to coast.

    And the world was filled with spheric fire
    From the palpitant chords of many a lyre,

    As out of the East the MOONMEN came
    Smiting their harps of silver and flame.

    More beauty and grace did their forms express
    Than the QUEEN OF LOVE'S white nakedness.

    More chastity too their faces held
    Than the snowy breasts of DIANA swelled.

    Translucent-limbed, I saw the beat
    In their hearts of pearl of the golden heat.

    And the hair they tossed was a crystal light,
    And the eyes beneath it were burning white.

    Their hands that lifted, their feet that fell,
    Made the darkness blossom to asphodel.

    And the heavens, the hills, and the streams they trod
    Shone pale with th' communicated God.

    A placid frenzy, a waking trance,
    A soft oracular radiance,

    Wrapped forms that moved as melodies move,
    Laurelled with god-head and halo'd with love.

    So there in the forest on HURON HILL
    The MOONMEN camped when the world was still....

    What wonder that they who have looked on these
    Are lost to the earth's realities!

    That they sit aside with a far-off look
    Dreaming the dreams that are writ in no book!

    That they walk alone till the day they die,
    Even as I, yea, even as I!


    The blackened walnut in its spicy hull
              Rots where it fell;
    And, in the orchard, where the trees stand full,
              The pear's ripe bell
    Drops; and the log-house in the bramble lane,
              From whose low door
    Stretch yellowing acres of the corn and cane,
              He sees once more.

    The cat-bird sings upon its porch of pine;
              And o'er its gate,
    All slender-podded, twists the trumpet-vine,
              A leafy weight;
    And in the woodland, by the spring, mayhap,
              With eyes of joy
    Again he bends to set a rabbit-trap,
              A brown-faced boy.

    Then, whistling, through the underbrush he goes,
              Out of the wood,
    Where, with young cheeks, red as an _Autumn_ rose,
              Beneath her hood,
    His sweetheart waits, her school-books on her arm;
              And now it seems
    Beside his chair he sees his wife's fair form--
              The old man dreams.


    I found myself among the trees
    What time the reapers ceased to reap;
    And in the berry blooms the bees
    Huddled wee heads and went to sleep,
    Rocked by the silence and the breeze.

    I saw the red fox leave his lair,
    A shaggy shadow, on the knoll;
    And, tunnelling his thoroughfare
    Beneath the loam, I watched the mole--
    Stealth's own self could not take more care.

    I heard the death-moth tick and stir,
    Slow-honeycombing through the bark;
    I heard the crickets' drowsy chirr,
    And one lone beetle burr the dark--
    The sleeping woodland seemed to purr.

    And then the moon rose; and a white
    Low bough of blossoms--grown almost
    Where, ere you died, 'twas our delight
    To tryst,--dear heart!--I thought your ghost....
    The wood is haunted since that night.


    Down through the woods, along the way
    That fords the stream; by rock and tree,
    Where in the bramble-bell the bee
    Swings; and through twilights green and gray
    The red-bird flashes suddenly,
    My thoughts went wandering to-day.

    I found the fields where, row on row,
    The blackberries hang black with fruit;
    Where, nesting at the elder's root,
    The partridge whistles soft and low;
    The fields, that billow to the foot
    Of those old hills we used to know.

    There lay the pond, still willow-bound,
    On whose bright surface, when the hot
    Noon burnt above, we chased the knot
    Of water-spiders; while around
    Our heads, like bits of rainbow, shot
    The dragonflies without a sound.

    The pond, above which evening bent
    To gaze upon her rosy face;
    Wherein the twinkling night would place
    A vague, inverted firmament,
    In which the green frogs tuned their bass,
    And firefly sparkles came and went.

    The oldtime woods we often ranged,
    When we were playmates, you and I;
    The oldtime fields, with boyhood's sky
    Still blue above them!--Naught was changed!
    Nothing!--Alas, then tell me why
    Should we be? whom long years estranged.


    Come to the hills, the woods are green--
      _The heart is high when_ LOVE _is sweet_--
    There is a brook that flows between
      Two mossy trees where we can meet,
    Where we can meet and speak unseen.

    I hear you laughing in the lane--
      _The heart is high when_ LOVE _is sweet_--
    The clover smells of sun and rain
      And spreads a carpet for our feet,
    Where we can sit and dream again.

    Come to the woods, the dusk is here--
      _The heart is high when_ LOVE _is sweet_--
    A bird upon the branches near
      Sets music to our hearts' glad beat,
    Our hearts that beat with something dear.

    I hear your step; the lane is passed;--
      _The heart is high when_ LOVE _is sweet_--
    The little stars come bright and fast,
      Like happy eyes to see us greet,
    To see us greet and kiss at last.


    No eve of summer ever can attain
    The gladness of that eve of late _July_,
    When 'mid the roses, filled with musk and rain,
    Against the wondrous topaz of the sky,
    I met you, leaning on the pasture bars,--
    While heaven and earth grew conscious of the stars.

    No night of blackest winter can repeat
    The bitterness of that _December_ night,
    When at your gate, gray-glittering with sleet,
    Within the glimmering square of window-light,
    We parted,--long you clung unto my arm,--
    While heaven and earth surrendered to the storm.

IN _June_.

    Deep in the West a berry-coloured bar
    Of sunset gleams; against which one tall fir
    Is outlined dark; above which--courier
    Of dew and dreams--burns dusk's appointed star.
    And flash on flash, as when the elves wage war
    In Goblinland, the fireflies bombard
    The stillness; and, like spirits, o'er the sward
    The glimmering winds bring fragrance from afar.
    And now withdrawn into the hill-wood belts
    A whippoorwill; while, with attendant states
    Of purple and silver, slow the great moon melts
    Into the night--to show me where _she_ waits,--
    Like some slim moonbeam,--by the old beech-tree,
    Who keeps her lips, fresh as a flower, for me.


    There is a place hung o'er with summer boughs
    And drowsy skies wherein the gray hawk sleeps;
    Where waters flow, within whose lazy deeps,
    Like silvery prisms that the winds arouse,
    The minnows twinkle; where the bells of cows
    Tinkle the stillness, and the bob-white keeps
    Calling from meadows where the reaper reaps,
    And children's laughter haunts an old-time house;
    A place where life wears ever an honest smell
    Of hay and honey, sun and elder-bloom--
    Like some dear, modest girl--within her hair:
    Where, with our love for comrade, we may dwell
    Far from the city's strife whose cares consume--
    Oh, take my hand and let me lead you there.

_Can I Forget?_

    Can I forget how LOVE once led the ways
    Of our two lives together, joining them;
    How every hour was his anadem,
    And every day a tablet in his praise!
    Can I forget how, in his garden place,
    Among the purple roses, stem to stem,
    We heard the rumour of his robe's bright hem,
    And saw the aureate radiance of his face!--
    Though I behold my soul's high dreams down-hurled,
    And FALSEHOOD sit where Truth once towered white,
    And in LOVE'S place, usurping lust and shame....
    Though flowers be dead within the winter world,
    Are flowers not there? and starless though the night,
    Are stars not there, eternal and the same?


    Vast are its halls, as vast the halls and lone
    Where DEATH stalks listening to the wind and rain;
    And dark that house, where I shall meet again
    My long-dead Sin in some dread way unknown;
    For I have dreamed of stairs of haunted stone,
    And spectre footsteps I have fled in vain;
    And windows glaring with a blood-red stain,
    And horrible eyes, that burn me to the bone,
    Within a face that looks as that black night
    It looked when deep I dug for it a grave,--
    The dagger wound above the brow, the thin
    Blood trickling down slantwise the ghastly white;--
    And I have dreamed not even GOD can save
    Me and my soul from that risen Sin.


    Far off I heard dark waters rush;
    The sky was cold; the dawn broke green;
    And wrapped in twilight and strange hush
    The gray wind moaned between.

    A voice rang through the House of Sleep,
    And through its halls there went a tread;
    Mysterious raiment seemed to sweep
    Around the pallid dead.

    And then I knew that I had died,
    I, who had suffered so and sinned--
    And 't was myself I stood beside
    In the wild dawn and wind.


    I looked into the night and saw
    GOD writing with tumultuous flame
    Upon the thunder's front of awe,--
    As on sonorous brass,--the Law,
    Terrific, of HIS judgement name.

    Weary of all life's best and worst,
    With hands of hate, I--who had pled,
    I, who had prayed for death at first
    And had not died--now stood and cursed
    GOD, yet he would not strike me dead.


    Here where LOVE lies perishèd,
    Look not in upon the dead;
    Lest the shadowy curtains, shaken
    In my Heart's dark chamber, waken
    Ghosts, beneath whose garb of sorrow
    Whilom gladness bows his head:
    When you come at morn to-morrow,
    Look not in upon the dead,
    Here where LOVE lies perishèd.

    Here where LOVE lies cold interred,
    Let no syllable be heard;
    Lest the hollow echoes, housing
    In my Soul's deep tomb, arousing
    Wake a voice of woe, once laughter
    Claimed and clothed in joy's own word:
    When you come at dusk or after,
    Let no syllable be heard,
    Here where LOVE lies cold interred.


    The wind was on the forest,
      And silence on the wold;
    And darkness on the waters,
      And heaven was starry cold;
    When Sleep, with mystic magic,
      Bade me this thing behold:

    This side, an iron woodland;
      That side, an iron waste;
    And heaven, a tower of iron,
      Wherein the wan moon paced,
    Still as a phantom woman,
      Ice-eyed and icy-faced.

    And through the haunted tower
      Of silence and of night,
    My Soul and I went only,
      My Soul, whose face was white,
    Whose one hand signed me listen,
      One bore a taper-light.

    For, lo! a voice behind me
      Kept sighing in my ear
    The dreams my flesh accepted,
      My mind refused to hear--
    Of one I loved and loved not,
      Whose spirit now spake near.

    And, lo! a voice before me
      Kept calling constantly
    The hopes my mind accepted,
      My flesh refused to see--
    Of one I loved and loved not,
      Whose spirit spake to me.

    This way the one would bid me;
      This way the other saith:--
    Sweet is the voice behind me
      Of LIFE that followeth;
    And sweet the voice before me
      Of LIFE whose name is DEATH.

SUNSET IN _Autumn_.

    Blood-coloured oaks, that stand against a sky of gold and brass;
    Gaunt slopes, on which the bleak leaves glow of brier and sassafras,
    And broom-sedge strips of smoky pink and pearl-gray clumps of grass,
    In which, beneath the ragged sky, the rain-pools gleam like glass.

    From West to East, from wood to wood, along the forest-side,
    The winds,--the sowers of the LORD,--with thunderous footsteps stride;
    Their stormy hands rain acorns down; and mad leaves, wildly dyed,
    Like tatters of their rushing cloaks, stream round them far and wide.

    The frail leaf-cricket in the weeds rings a faint fairy bell;
    And like a torch of phantom ray the milkweed's windy shell
    Glimmers; while wrapped in withered dreams, the wet autumnal smell
    Of loam and leaf, like some sad ghost, steals over field and dell.

    The oaks against a copper sky--o'er which, like some black lake
    Of DIS, dark clouds, like surges fringed with sullen fire, break--
    Loom sombre as Doom's citadel above the vales, that make
    A pathway to a land of mist the moon's pale feet shall take.

    Now, dyed with burning carbuncle, a Limbo-litten pane,
    Within its wall of storm, the West opens to hill and plain,
    On which the wild geese ink themselves, a far triangled train;
    And then the shuttering clouds close down--and night is here again.


    The year was dying, and the day
      Was almost dead;
    The West, beneath a sombre gray,
      Was sombre red.
    The gravestones in the ghostly light,
      'Mid trees half bare,
    Seemed phantoms, clothed in glimmering white,
      That haunted there.

    I stood beside the grave of one,
      Who, here in life,
    Had wronged my home; who had undone
      My child and wife.
    I stood beside his grave until
      The moon came up--
    As if the dark, unhallowed hill
      Lifted a cup.

    No stone was there to mark his grave,
      No flower to grace--
    'T was meet that weeds alone should wave
      In such a place.
    I stood beside his grave until
      The stars swam high,
    And all the night was iron still
      From sky to sky.

    What cared I if strange eyes seemed bright
      Within the gloom!
    If, evil blue, a wandering light
      Burnt by each tomb!
    Or that each crookèd thorn-tree seemed
      A witch-hag cloaked!
    Or that the owl above me screamed,
      The raven croaked!

    For I had cursed him when the day
      Was sullen red;
    Had cursed him when the West was gray,
      And day was dead;
    And now when night made dark the pole,
      Both soon and late
    I cursed his body, yea, and soul,
      With the hate of hate.

    Once in my soul I seemed to hear
      A low voice say,--
    _'T were better to forgive,--and fear
      Thy God,--and pray._
    I laughed; and from pale lips of stone
      On sculptured tombs
    A mocking laugh replied alone
      Deep in the glooms.

    And then I felt, I felt--as if
      Some force should seize
    The body; and its limbs stretch stiff,
      And, fastening, freeze
    Down, downward deeper than the knees
      Into the earth--
    While still among the twisted trees
      That voice made mirth.

    And in my Soul was fear, despair,--
      Like lost ones feel,
    When knotted in their pitch-stiff hair,
      They feel the steel
    Of devils' forks lift up, through sleet
      Of hell's slant fire,
    Then plunge,--as white from head to feet
      I grew entire.

    A voice without me, yet within,
      As still as frost,
    Intoned: _Thy sin is thrice a sin,
      Thrice art thou lost.
    Behold, how God would punish thee!
      For this thy crime--
    Thy crime of hate and blasphemy--
      Through endless time!_

    _O'er him, whom thou wouldst not forgive,
      Record what good
    He did on earth! and let him live
      Loved, understood!
    Be memory thine of all the worst
      He did thine own!_
    There at the head of him I cursed
      I stood--a stone.


    Last night I watched for Death--
      So sick of life was I!--
    When in the street beneath
      I heard his watchman cry
      The hour, while passing by.

    I called. And in the night
      I heard him stop below,
    His owlish lanthorn's light
      Blurring the windy snow--
      How long the time and slow!

    I said, _Why dost thou cower
      There at my door and knock?
    Come in! It is the hour!
      Cease fumbling at the lock!
      Naught's well! 'Tis no o'clock!_

    Black through the door with him
      Swept in the _Winter's_ breath;
    His cloak was great and grim--
      But he, who smiled beneath,
      Had the face of Love not Death.


    The wine-loud laughter of indulged Desire
    Upon his lips, and, in his eyes, the fire
    Of uncontrol, he takes in reckless hands,--
    And interrupts with discords,--the sad lyre
    Of LOVE'S deep soul, and never understands.

_When the Wine-Cup at the Lip._

    When the wine-cup at the lip
      Slants its sparkling fire,
    O'er its level, while you sip,
    Have you marked the finger-tip
    Of the god DESIRE slip,
      Of the god DESIRE?
    Saying--_Lo, the hours run!
    Live your day before 't is done!_

    When the empty goblet lies
      At the ended revel,
    In the glass, the wine-stain dyes,
    Have you marked the hollow eyes
    Of a mocking Devil rise,
      Of a mocking Devil?
    Saying--_Lo, the day is through!
    Look on joy it gave to you!_


[_A Phantasy._]

    I know not how I found you
      With your wild hair a-blow,
    Nor why the world around you
      Would never let me know:
    Perhaps 't was Heaven relented,
    Perhaps 't was Hell resented
    My dream, and grimly vented
      Its hate upon me so.

    In Shadowland I met you
      Where all dim shadows meet;
    Within my heart I set you,
      A phantom bitter-sweet:
    No hope for me to win you,
    Though I with soul and sinew
    Strive on and on, when in you
      There is no heart or heat!

    Yet ever, aye, and ever,
      Although I knew you lied,
    I followed on, but never
      Would your white form abide:
    With loving arms stretched meward,
    As Sirens beckon seaward
    To some fair vessel leeward,
      Before me you would glide.

    But like an evil fairy,
      That mocks one with a light,
    Now near, you led your airy,
      Now far, your fitful flight:
    With red-gold tresses blowing,
    And eyes of sapphire glowing,
    With limbs like marble showing,
      You lured me through the night.

    To some unearthly revel
      Of mimes, a motley crew,
    'Twixt Angel-land and Devil,
      You lured me on, I knew,
    And lure me still! soft whiling
    The way with hopes beguiling,
    While dark Despair sits smiling
      Behind the eyes of you!


    Now nights grow cold and colder,
      And North the wild vane swings,
    And round each tree and boulder
      The driving snow-storm sings--
    Come, make my old heart older,
      O memory of lost things!

    Of Hope, when promise sung her
      Brave songs and I was young,
    That banquets now on hunger
      Since all youth's songs are sung;
    Of Love, who walks with younger
      Sweethearts the flowers among.

    Ah, well! while Life holds levee,
      Death's ceaseless dance goes on.
    So let the curtains, heavy
      About my couch, be drawn--
    The curtains, sad and heavy,
      Where all shall sleep anon.

_Tristram And Isolt._

    Night and vast caverns of rock and of iron;
    Voices like water, and voices like wind;
    Horror and tempests of hail that environ
    Shapes and the shadows of two who have sinned.

    Wan on the whirlwind, in loathing uplifting
    Faces that loved once, forever they go,
    TRISTAM and ISOLT, the lovers, go drifting,
    The sullen laughter of Hell below.


    Her life was bound to crutches: pale and bent,
    But smiling ever, she would go and come:
    For of her soul GOD made an instrument
    Of strength and comfort to an humble home.

    Better a life of toil and slow disease
    That LOVE companions through the patient years,
    Than one whose heritage is loveless ease,
    That never knows the blessedness of tears.


    Three miles of hill it is; and I
    Came through the woods that waited, dumb,
    For the cool _Summer_ dusk to come;
    And lingered there to watch the sky
    Up which the gradual sunset clomb.

    A tree-toad quavered in a tree;
    And then a sudden whip-poor-will
    Called overhead, so wildly shrill,
    The startled woodland seemed to see
    How very lone it was and still.

    Then through dark boughs its stealthy flight
    An owl took; and, at sleepy strife,
    The cricket turned its fairy fife;
    And through the dead leaves, in the night,
    Soft rustlings stirred of unseen life.

    And in the punk-wood everywhere
    The inserts ticked, or bored below
    The rotted bark; and, glow on glow,
    The gleaming fireflies here and there
    Lit up their Jack-o'-lantern show.

    I heard a vesper-sparrow sing,
    Withdrawn, it seemed, into the far
    Slow sunset's tranquil cinnabar;
    The sunset, softly smouldering
    Behind gaunt trunks, with its one star.

    A dog barked; and down ways, that gleamed,
    Through dew and clover faint the noise
    Of cow-bells moved. And then a voice,
    That sang a-milking, so it seemed,
    Made glad my heart as some glad boy's.

    And then the lane; and full in view
    A farmhouse with a rose-grown gate,
    And honeysuckle paths, await
    For night's white moon and love and you--
    These are the things that made me late.


    Oh, dim and wan came in the dawn,
      And gloomy closed the day;
    The killdee whistled among the weeds,
    The heron flapped in the river reeds,
      And the snipe piped far away.

    At dawn she stood--her dark gray hood
      Flung back--in the ferry-boat;
    Sad were the eyes that watched him ride,
    Her raider love, from the riverside,
      His kiss on her mouth and throat.

    Like some wild spell the twilight fell,
      And black the tempest came;
    The heavens seemed filled with the warring dead,
    Whose batteries opened overhead
      With thunder and with flame.

    At night again in the wind and rain,
      She toiled at the ferry oar;
    For she heard a voice in the night and storm,
    And it seemed that her lover's shadowy form
      Beckoned her to the shore.

    And swift to save she braved the wave,
      And reached the shore and found
    His riderless horse, with head hung low,
    A blur of blood on the saddle-bow,
      And the empty night around.



    Her violin!--Again begin
    The dream-notes of her violin;
    And dim and fair, with gold-brown hair,
    I seem to see her standing there,
    Soft-eyed and sweetly slender:
    The room again, with strain on strain,
    Vibrates to LOVE's melodious pain,
    As, sloping slow, is poised her bow,
    While round her form the golden glow
    Of sunset spills its splendour.


    Her violin!--now deep, now thin,
    Again I hear her violin;
    And, dream by dream, again I seem
    To see the love-light's tender gleam
    Beneath her eyes' long lashes:
    While to my heart she seems a part
    Of her pure song's inspirèd art;
    And, as she plays, the rosy grays
    Of twilight halo hair and face,
    While sunset burns to ashes.


    O violin!--Cease, cease within
    My soul, O haunting violin!
    In vain, in vain, you bring again
    Back from the past the blissful pain
    Of all the love then spoken;
    When on my breast, at happy rest,
    A sunny while her head was pressed--
    Peace, peace to these wild memories!
    For, like my heart naught remedies,
    Her violin lies broken.


    The _Summer_ lightning comes and goes
    In one pale cloud above the hill,
    As if within its soft repose
    A burning heart were never still--
    As in my bosom pulses beat
    Before the coming of his feet.

    All drugged with odorous sleep, the rose
    Breathes dewy balm about the place,
    As if the dreams the garden knows
    Took immaterial form and face--
    As in my heart sweet thoughts arise
    Beneath the ardour of his eyes.

    The moon above the darkness shows
    An orb of silvery snow and fire,
    As if the night would now disclose
    To heav'n her one divine desire--
    As in the rapture of his kiss
    All of my soul is drawn to his.

    The cloud, it knows not that it glows;
    The rose knows nothing of its scent;
    Nor knows the moon that it bestows
    Light on our earth and firmament--
    So is the soul unconscious of
    The beauties it reveals through LOVE.


    What is there left for us to say,
    Now it has come to say good-by?
    And all our dreams of yesterday
    Have vanished in the sunset sky--
    What is there left for us to say,
    Now different ways before us lie?

    A word of hope, a word of cheer,
    A word of love, that still shall last,
    When we are far to bring us near
    Through memories of the happy past;
    A word of hope, a word of cheer,
    To keep our sad hearts true and fast.

    What is there left for us to do,
    Now it has come to say farewell?
    And care, that bade us once adieu,
    Returns again with us to dwell--
    What is there left for us to do,
    Now different ways our fates compel?

    Clasp hands and sigh, touch lips and smile,
    And look the love that shall remain--
    When severed so by many a mile--
    The sweetest balm for bitterest pain;
    Clasp hands and sigh, touch lips and smile,
    And trust in GOD to meet again.


    I look upon my lady's face,
      And, in the world about me, see
    No face like hers in any place:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    It is not made, as others sing
      Of their dear loves, like ivory,
    But like a wild rose in the spring:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Her brow is low and very fair,
      And o'er it, smooth and shadowy,
    Lies deep the darkness of her hair:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Beneath her brows her eyes are gray,
      And gaze out glad and fearlessly,
    Their wonder haunts me night and day:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Her eyebrows, arched and delicate,
      Twin curves of pencilled ebony,
    Within their spans contain my fate:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Her mouth, that was for kisses curved,
      So small and sweet, it well may be
    That it for me is yet reserved:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Between her hair and rounded chin,
      Calm with her soul's calm purity,
    There lies no shadow of a sin:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Of perfect form, she is not tall,
      Just higher than the heart of me,
    Where'er I place her, all in all:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    She is not shaped, as some have sung
      Of their dear loves, like some slim tree,
    But like the moon when it is young:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Her hands, that smell of violet,
     So white and fashioned gracefully,
    Have woven round my heart a net:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Yea, I have loved her many a day;
      And though for me she may not be,
    Still at her feet my love I lay:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._

    Albeit she be not for me,
    GOD send her grace and grant that she
    Know nought of sorrow all her days:
    _Therefore it is I sing her praise._



    When _Spring_ is here and MARGERY
    Goes walking in the woods with me,
    She is so white, she is so shy,
    The little leaves clap hands and cry--
    So white is she, so sky is she,
                Ah me!
    The maiden May hath just passed by!_


    When _Summer's_ here and MARGERY
    Goes walking in the fields with me,
    She is so pure, she is so fair,
    The wildflowers eye her and declare--
    So pure is she, so fair is she,
                Just see,
    Where our sweet cousin takes the air!_


    Why is it that my MARGERY
    Hears nothing that these say to me?
    She is so good, she is so true,
    My heart it maketh such ado;
    So good is she, so true is she,
                You see,
    She can not hear the other two._


    Beyond the orchard, in the lane,
    The crested red-bird sings again--
    O bird, whose song says, _Have no care._
    Should I not care when CONSTANCE there,--
    My CONSTANCE, with the bashful gaze,
    Pink-gowned like some sweet hollyhock,--
    If I declare my love, just says
    Some careless thing as if in mock?
    Like--_Past the orchard, in the lane,
    How sweet the red-bird sings again_!

    There, while the red-bird sings his best,
    His listening mate sits on the nest--
    O bird, whose patience says, _All's well_,
    How can it be with me, now tell?
    When CONSTANCE, with averted eyes,--
    Soft-bonneted as some sweet-pea,--
    If I speak marriage, just replies
    With some such quaint irrelevancy,
    As, _While the red-bird sings his best,
    His loving mate sits on the nest_.

    What shall I say? what can I do?
    Would such replies mean aught to you,
    O birds, whose gladness says, _Be glad_?
    Have I not reason to be sad
    When CONSTANCE, with demurest glance,
    Her face a-poppy with distress,
    If I reproach her, pouts, perchance,
    And answers so in waywardness?--
    _What shall I say? what can I do?
    My meaning should be plain to you!_


    When first I gazed on GERTRUDE'S face,
    Beheld her loveliness and grace;
    Her brave gray eyes, her raven hair,
    Her ways, more winsome than the kiss
    _Spring_ gives the flowers; her smile, that is
    Brighter than all the summer air
    Made sweet with birds:--I did declare,--
    And still declare!--there is no one,
    No girl beneath the moon or sun,
    So beautiful to look upon!
    And to my thoughts, that on her dwell,
    Nothing seems more desirable--
    Not OPHIR gold nor ORIENT pearls--
    Than seems this jewel-girl of girls.


    When Autumn's here and days are short,
      Let LYDIA laugh and, hey!
    Straightway 't is _May-day_ in my heart,
      And blossoms strew the way.

    When _Summer's_ here and days are long,
      Let LYDIA sigh and, ho!
    _December's_ fields I walk among,
      And shiver in the snow.

    No matter what the Seasons are,
      My LYDIA is so dear,
    My soul admits no Calendar
      Of earth when she is near.


    Serious but smiling, stately and serene,
      And dreamier than a flower;
    A girl in whom all sympathies convene
      As perfumes in a bower;
    Through whom one feels what soul and heart may mean,
      And their resistless power.

    Eyes, that commune with the frank skies of truth,
      Where thought like starlight curls;
    Lips of immortal rose, where love and youth
      Nestle like two sweet pearls;
    Hair, that suggests the Bible braids of RUTH,
      Deeper than any girl's.

    When first I saw you, 't was as if within
      My soul took shape some song--
    Played by a master of the violin--
      A music pure and strong,
    That rapt my soul above all earthly sin
      To heights that know no wrong.


    She has the eyes of some barbarian Queen
    Leading her wild tribes into battle; eyes,
    Wherein th' unconquerable soul defies,
    And Love sits throned, imperious and serene.

    And I have thought that Liberty, alone
    Among the mountain stars, might look like her,
    Kneeling to GOD, her only emperor,
    Kindling her torch on FREEDOM'S altar-stone.

    For in her self, regal with riches of
    Beauty and youth, again those Queens seem born--
    BOADICEA, meeting scorn with scorn,
    And ERMENGARDE, returning love for love.

AN _Autumn_ NIGHT.

    Some things are good on _Autumn_ nights,
    When with the storm the forest fights,
    And in the room the heaped hearth lights
        Old-fashioned press and rafter:
    Plump chestnuts hissing in the heat,
    A mug of cider, sharp and sweet,
    And at your side a face petite,
        With lips of laughter.

    Upon the roof the rolling rain,
    And tapping at the window-pane,
    The wind that seems a witch's cane
        That summons spells together:
    A hand within your own awhile;
    A mouth reflecting back your smile;
    And eyes, two stars, whose beams exile
        All thoughts of weather.

    And, while the wind lulls, still to sit
    And watch her fire-lit needles flit
    A-knitting, and to feel her knit
        Your very heartstrings in it:
    Then, when the old clock ticks _'tis late_,
    To rise, and at the door to wait,
    Two words, or at the garden gate,
        A kissing minute.


    If GOD should say to me, _Behold!--
        Yea, who shall doubt?--
    They who love others more than me,
    Shall I not turn, as oft of old,
    My face from them and cast them out?
    So let it be with thee, behold!_--
    I should not care, for in your face
        Is all GOD'S grace.

    If GOD should say to me, _Behold!--
        Is it not well?--
    They who have other gods than me,
    Shall I not bid them, as of old,
    Depart into the outer_ HELL?
    _So let it be with thee, behold!_--
    I should not care, for in your eyes
        Is PARADISE.


    I know not if she be unkind,
      If she have faults I do not care;
    Search through the world--where will you find
    A face like hers, a form, a mind?
      _I love her to despair._

    If she be cruel, cruelty
      Is a great virtue, I will swear;
    If she be proud--then pride must be
    Akin to Heaven's divinest three--
      _I love her to despair._

    Why speak to me of that and this?
      All you may say weighs not a hair!
    In her,--whose lips I may not kiss,--
    To me naught but perfection is!--
      _I love her to despair._


    My life is grown a witchcraft place
    Through gazing on thy form and face.

    Now 't is thy Smile's soft sorcery
    That makes my soul a melody.

    Now 't is thy Frown, that comes and goes,
    That makes my heart a page of prose.

    Some day, perhaps, a word of thine
    Will change me to thy VALENTINE.


    When roads are mired with ice and snow,
    And the air of morn is crisp with rime;
    When the holly hangs by the mistletoe,
    And bells ring in the CHRISTMAS time:--
    It's--Saddle, my Heart, and ride away,
    To the sweet-faced girl with the eyes of gray!
    Who waits with a smile for the gifts you bring--
    A man's strong love and a wedding-ring--
        It's--Saddle, my Heart, and ride!

    When vanes veer North and storm-winds blow,
    And the sun of noon is a blur o'erhead;
    When the holly hangs by the mistletoe,
    And the CHRISTMAS service is sung and said:--
    It's--Come, O my Heart, and wait awhile,
    Where the organ peals, in the altar aisle,
    For the gifts that the church now gives to you--
    A woman's hand and a heart that's true.
        It's--Come, O my Heart, and wait!

    When rooms gleam warm with the fire's glow,
    And the sleet raps sharp on the window-pane;
    When the holly hangs by the mistletoe,
    And CHRISTMAS revels begin again:--
    It's--Home, O my Heart, and love, at last!
    And her happy breast to your own held fast;
    A song to sing and a tale to tell,
    A good-night kiss, and all is well.
        It's--Home, O my Heart, and love!


    Lift up thy torch, O Year, and let us see
            What Destiny
    Hath made thee heir to at nativity!

    Doubt, some call Faith; and ancient Wrong and Might,
            Whom some name Right;
    And Darkness, that the purblind world calls Light.

    Despair, with Hope's brave form; and Hate, who goes
            In Friendship's clothes;
    And Happiness, the mask of many woes.

    Neglect, whom Merit serves; Lust, to whom, see,
            Love bends the knee;
    And Selfishness, who preacheth charity.

    Vice, in whose dungeon Virtue lies in chains;
            And Cares and Pains,
    That on the throne of Pleasure hold their reigns.

    Corruption, known as Honesty; and Fame
            That's but a name;
    And Innocence, the outward guise of Shame.

    And Folly, men call Wisdom here, forsooth;
            And, like a youth,
    Fair Falsehood, whom some worship for the Truth.

    Abundance, who hath Famine's house in lease;
            And, high 'mid these,
    War, blood-black, on the spotless shrine of Peace.

    Lift up thy torch, O Year! assist our sight!
            Deep lies the night
    Around us, and GOD grants us little light!


    When my old heart was young, my dear,
    The Earth and Heaven were so near
    That in my dreams I oft could hear
        The steps of unseen races;
    In woodlands, where bright waters ran,
    On hills, GOD'S rainbows used to span,
    I followed voices not of man,
        And smiled in spirit faces.

    Now my old heart is old, my sweet,
    No longer Earth and Heaven meet;
    All Life is grown to one long street
        Where fact with fancy clashes;
    The voices now that speak to me
    Are prose instead of poetry:
    And in the faces now I see
        Is less of flame than ashes.


    Beyond the moon, within a land of mist,
        Lies the dim Garden of all Dead Desires,
    Walled round with morning's clouded amethyst,
        And haunted of the sunset's shadowy fires;
    There all lost things we loved hold ghostly tryst--
        Dead dreams, dead hopes, dead loves, and dead desires.

    Sad are the stars that day and night exist
        Above the Garden of all Dead Desires;
    And sad the roses that within it twist
        Deep bow'rs; and sad the wind that through it quires;
    But sadder far are they who there hold tryst--
        Dead dreams, dead hopes, dead loves, and dead desires.

    There, like a dove, upon the twilight's wrist,
        Soft in the Garden of all Dead Desires,
    Sleep broods; and there, where never a serpent hissed,
        On the wan willows music hangs her lyres,
    ÆOLIAN dials by which phantoms tryst--
        Dead dreams, dead hopes, dead loves, and dead desires.

    There you shall hear low voices; kisses kissed,
        Faint in the Garden of all Dead Desires,
    By lips the anguish of vain song makes whist;
        And meet with shapes that art's despair attires;
    And gaze in eyes where all sweet sorrows tryst--
        Dead dreams, dead hopes, dead loves, and dead desires.

    Thither we go, dreamer and realist,
        Bound for the Garden of all Dead Desires,
    Where we shall find, perhaps, all Life hath missed,
        All Life hath longed for when the soul aspires,
    All Earth's elusive loveliness at tryst--
        Dead dreams, dead hopes, dead loves, and dead desires.

       *       *       *       *       *

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Shapes and Shadows" ***

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