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Title: Gloucester Moors and Other Poems
Author: Moody, William Vaughn, 1869-1910
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 "Gloucester Moors and Other Poems" ***

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By William Vaughn Moody

  GLOUCESTER MOORS and Other Poems. 12mo, $1.25.
  THE FIRE-BRINGER. 12mo, $1.10, _net_. Postage 8 cents.
  THE MASQUE OF JUDGMENT. 12mo, $1.50.

  THE GREAT DIVIDE. 12mo, $1.00, _net_. Postage 10 cents.
  THE FAITH HEALER. 12mo, $1.00, _net_. Postage 10 cents.






[Illustration: TOUT BIEN OU RIEN]

The Riverside Press Cambridge




Several poems of this collection, including "An Ode in Time of
Hesitation," "The Brute," and "On a Soldier Fallen in the
Philippines," have appeared in the _Atlantic Monthly_; "Gloucester
Moors" and "Faded Pictures," in _Scribner's Magazine_; and "The Ride
Back," under a different title in the _Chap-Book_. The author is
indebted to the editors of these periodicals for leave to reprint.



  GLOUCESTER MOORS                                     1

  GOOD FRIDAY NIGHT                                    5

  ROAD-HYMN FOR THE START                              9

  AN ODE IN TIME OF HESITATION                        12

  THE QUARRY                                          22


  UNTIL THE TROUBLING OF THE WATERS                   26

  JETSAM                                              39

  THE BRUTE                                           49

  THE MENAGERIE                                       55

  THE GOLDEN JOURNEY                                  62

  HEART'S WILD-FLOWER                                 65

  HARMONICS                                           67

  ON THE RIVER                                        68

  THE BRACELET OF GRASS                               70

  THE DEPARTURE                                       72

  FADED PICTURES                                      74

  A GREY DAY                                          75

  THE RIDE BACK                                       76

  SONG-FLOWER AND POPPY                               80



  HOW THE MEAD-SLAVE WAS SET FREE                     86

  A DIALOGUE IN PURGATORY                             89

  THE DAGUERREOTYPE                                   98



    A mile behind is Gloucester town
    Where the fishing fleets put in,
    A mile ahead the land dips down
    And the woods and farms begin.
    Here, where the moors stretch free
    In the high blue afternoon,
    Are the marching sun and talking sea,
    And the racing winds that wheel and flee
    On the flying heels of June.

    Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue,
    Blue is the quaker-maid,
    The wild geranium holds its dew
    Long in the boulder's shade.
    Wax-red hangs the cup
    From the huckleberry boughs,
    In barberry bells the grey moths sup,
    Or where the choke-cherry lifts high up
    Sweet bowls for their carouse.

    Over the shelf of the sandy cove
    Beach-peas blossom late.
    By copse and cliff the swallows rove
    Each calling to his mate.
    Seaward the sea-gulls go,
    And the land-birds all are here;
    That green-gold flash was a vireo,
    And yonder flame where the marsh-flags grow
    Was a scarlet tanager.

    This earth is not the steadfast place
    We landsmen build upon;
    From deep to deep she varies pace,
    And while she comes is gone.
    Beneath my feet I feel
    Her smooth bulk heave and dip;
    With velvet plunge and soft upreel
    She swings and steadies to her keel
    Like a gallant, gallant ship.

    These summer clouds she sets for sail,
    The sun is her masthead light,
    She tows the moon like a pinnace frail
    Where her phosphor wake churns bright.
    Now hid, now looming clear,
    On the face of the dangerous blue
    The star fleets tack and wheel and veer,
    But on, but on does the old earth steer
    As if her port she knew.

    God, dear God! Does she know her port,
    Though she goes so far about?
    Or blind astray, does she make her sport
    To brazen and chance it out?
    I watched when her captains passed:
    She were better captainless.
    Men in the cabin, before the mast,
    But some were reckless and some aghast,
    And some sat gorged at mess.

    By her battened hatch I leaned and caught
    Sounds from the noisome hold,--
    Cursing and sighing of souls distraught
    And cries too sad to be told.
    Then I strove to go down and see;
    But they said, "Thou art not of us!"
    I turned to those on the deck with me
    And cried, "Give help!" But they said, "Let be:
    Our ship sails faster thus."

    Jill-o'er-the-ground is purple blue,
    Blue is the quaker-maid,
    The alder-clump where the brook comes through
    Breeds cresses in its shade.
    To be out of the moiling street
    With its swelter and its sin!
    Who has given to me this sweet,
    And given my brother dust to eat?
    And when will his wage come in?

    Scattering wide or blown in ranks,
    Yellow and white and brown,
    Boats and boats from the fishing banks
    Come home to Gloucester town.
    There is cash to purse and spend,
    There are wives to be embraced,
    Hearts to borrow and hearts to lend,
    And hearts to take and keep to the end,--
    O little sails, make haste!

    But thou, vast outbound ship of souls,
    What harbor town for thee?
    What shapes, when thy arriving tolls,
    Shall crowd the banks to see?
    Shall all the happy shipmates then
    Stand singing brotherly?
    Or shall a haggard ruthless few
    Warp her over and bring her to,
    While the many broken souls of men
    Fester down in the slaver's pen,
    And nothing to say or do?


    At last the bird that sang so long
    In twilight circles, hushed his song:
    Above the ancient square
    The stars came here and there.

    Good Friday night! Some hearts were bowed,
    But some amid the waiting crowd
    Because of too much youth
    Felt not that mystic ruth;

    And of these hearts my heart was one:
    Nor when beneath the arch of stone
    With dirge and candle flame
    The cross of passion came,

    Did my glad spirit feel reproof,
    Though on the awful tree aloof,
    Unspiritual, dead,
    Drooped the ensanguined Head.

    To one who stood where myrtles made
    A little space of deeper shade
    (As I could half descry,
    A stranger, even as I),

    I said, "These youths who bear along
    The symbols of their Saviour's wrong,
    The spear, the garment torn,
    The flaggel, and the thorn,--

    "Why do they make this mummery?
    Would not a brave man gladly die
    For a much smaller thing
    Than to be Christ and king?"

    He answered nothing, and I turned.
    Throned in its hundred candles burned
    The jeweled eidolon
    Of her who bore the Son.

    The crowd was prostrate; still, I felt
    No shame until the stranger knelt;
    Then not to kneel, almost
    Seemed like a vulgar boast.

    I knelt. The doll-face, waxen white,
    Flowered out a living dimness; bright
    Dawned the dear mortal grace
    Of my own mother's face.

    When we were risen up, the street
    Was vacant; all the air hung sweet
    With lemon-flowers; and soon
    The sky would hold the moon.

    More silently than new-found friends
    To whom much silence makes amends
    For the much babble vain
    While yet their lives were twain,

    We walked along the odorous hill.
    The light was little yet; his will
    I could not see to trace
    Upon his form or face.

    So when aloft the gold moon broke,
    I cried, heart-stung. As one who woke
    He turned unto my cries
    The anguish of his eyes.

    "Friend! Master!" I cried falteringly,
    "Thou seest the thing they make of thee.
    Oh, by the light divine
    My mother shares with thine,

    "I beg that I may lay my head
    Upon thy shoulder and be fed
    With thoughts of brotherhood!"
    So through the odorous wood,

    More silently than friends new-found
    We walked. At the first meadow bound
    His figure ashen-stoled
    Sank in the moon's broad gold.


        Leave the early bells at chime,
        Leave the kindled hearth to blaze,
    Leave the trellised panes where children linger out the waking-time,
    Leave the forms of sons and fathers trudging through the misty ways,
    Leave the sounds of mothers taking up their sweet laborious days.

        Pass them by! even while our soul
        Yearns to them with keen distress.
    Unto them a part is given; we will strive to see the whole.
    Dear shall be the banquet table where their singing spirits press;
    Dearer be our sacred hunger, and our pilgrim loneliness.

        We have felt the ancient swaying
        Of the earth before the sun,
    On the darkened marge of midnight heard sidereal rivers playing;
    Rash it was to bathe our souls there, but we plunged and all was done.
    That is lives and lives behind us--lo, our journey is begun!

        Careless where our face is set,
        Let us take the open way.
    What we are no tongue has told us: Errand-goers who forget?
    Soldiers heedless of their harry? Pilgrim people gone astray?
    We have heard a voice cry "Wander!" That was all we heard it say.

        Ask no more: 't is much, 't is much!
        Down the road the day-star calls;
    Touched with change in the wide heavens, like a leaf the frost winds
    Flames the failing moon a moment, ere it shrivels white and falls;
    Hid aloft, a wild throat holdeth sweet and sweeter intervals.

        Leave him still to ease in song
        Half his little heart's unrest:
    Speech is his, but we may journey toward the life for which we long.
    God, who gives the bird its anguish, maketh nothing manifest,
    But upon our lifted foreheads pours the boon of endless quest.


(After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while
storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted
negro regiment, the 54th Massachusetts.)


    Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made
    To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe,
    And set here in the city's talk and trade
    To the good memory of Robert Shaw,
    This bright March morn I stand,
    And hear the distant spring come up the land;
    Knowing that what I hear is not unheard
    Of this boy soldier and his negro band,
    For all their gaze is fixed so stern ahead,
    For all the fatal rhythm of their tread.
    The land they died to save from death and shame
    Trembles and waits, hearing the spring's great name,
    And by her pangs these resolute ghosts are stirred.


    Through street and mall the tides of people go
    Heedless; the trees upon the Common show
    No hint of green; but to my listening heart
    The still earth doth impart
    Assurance of her jubilant emprise,
    And it is clear to my long-searching eyes
    That love at last has might upon the skies.
    The ice is runneled on the little pond;
    A telltale patter drips from off the trees;
    The air is touched with southland spiceries,
    As if but yesterday it tossed the frond
    Of pendent mosses where the live-oaks grow
    Beyond Virginia and the Carolines,
    Or had its will among the fruits and vines
    Of aromatic isles asleep beyond
    Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.


    Soon shall the Cape Ann children shout in glee,
    Spying the arbutus, spring's dear recluse;
    Hill lads at dawn shall hearken the wild goose
    Go honking northward over Tennessee;
    West from Oswego to Sault Sainte-Marie,
    And on to where the Pictured Rocks are hung,
    And yonder where, gigantic, willful, young,
    Chicago sitteth at the northwest gates,
    With restless violent hands and casual tongue
    Moulding her mighty fates,
    The Lakes shall robe them in ethereal sheen;
    And like a larger sea, the vital green
    Of springing wheat shall vastly be outflung
    Over Dakota and the prairie states.
    By desert people immemorial
    On Arizonan mesas shall be done
    Dim rites unto the thunder and the sun;
    Nor shall the primal gods lack sacrifice
    More splendid, when the white Sierras call
    Unto the Rockies straightway to arise
    And dance before the unveiled ark of the year,
    Sounding their windy cedars as for shawms,
    Unrolling rivers clear
    For flutter of broad phylacteries;
    While Shasta signals to Alaskan seas
    That watch old sluggish glaciers downward creep
    To fling their icebergs thundering from the steep,
    And Mariposa through the purple calms
    Gazes at far Hawaii crowned with palms
    Where East and West are met,--
    A rich seal on the ocean's bosom set
    To say that East and West are twain,
    With different loss and gain:
    The Lord hath sundered them; let them be sundered yet.


    Alas! what sounds are these that come
    Sullenly over the Pacific seas,--
    Sounds of ignoble battle, striking dumb
    The season's half-awakened ecstasies?
    Must I be humble, then,
    Now when my heart hath need of pride?
    Wild love falls on me from these sculptured men;
    By loving much the land for which they died
    I would be justified.
    My spirit was away on pinions wide
    To soothe in praise of her its passionate mood
    And ease it of its ache of gratitude.
    Too sorely heavy is the debt they lay
    On me and the companions of my day.
    I would remember now
    My country's goodliness, make sweet her name.
    Alas! what shade art thou
    Of sorrow or of blame
    Liftest the lyric leafage from her brow,
    And pointest a slow finger at her shame?


    Lies! lies! It cannot be! The wars we wage
    Are noble, and our battles still are won
    By justice for us, ere we lift the gage,
    We have not sold our loftiest heritage.
    The proud republic hath not stooped to cheat
    And scramble in the market-place of war;
    Her forehead weareth yet its solemn star.
    Here is her witness: this, her perfect son,
    This delicate and proud New England soul
    Who leads despisèd men, with just-unshackled feet,
    Up the large ways where death and glory meet,
    To show all peoples that our shame is done,
    That once more we are clean and spirit-whole.


    Crouched in the sea fog on the moaning sand
    All night he lay, speaking some simple word
    From hour to hour to the slow minds that heard,
    Holding each poor life gently in his hand
    And breathing on the base rejected clay
    Till each dark face shone mystical and grand
    Against the breaking day;
    And lo, the shard the potter cast away
    Was grown a fiery chalice crystal-fine
    Fulfilled of the divine
    Great wine of battle wrath by God's ring-finger stirred.
    Then upward, where the shadowy bastion loomed
    Huge on the mountain in the wet sea light,
    Whence now, and now, infernal flowerage bloomed,
    Bloomed, burst, and scattered down its deadly seed,--
    They swept, and died like freemen on the height,
    Like freemen, and like men of noble breed;
    And when the battle fell away at night
    By hasty and contemptuous hands were thrust
    Obscurely in a common grave with him
    The fair-haired keeper of their love and trust.
    Now limb doth mingle with dissolvèd limb
    In nature's busy old democracy
    To flush the mountain laurel when she blows
    Sweet by the southern sea,
    And heart with crumbled heart climbs in the rose:--
    The untaught hearts with the high heart that knew
    This mountain fortress for no earthly hold
    Of temporal quarrel, but the bastion old
    Of spiritual wrong,
    Built by an unjust nation sheer and strong,
    Expugnable but by a nation's rue
    And bowing down before that equal shrine
    By all men held divine,
    Whereof his band and he were the most holy sign.


    O bitter, bitter shade!
    Wilt thou not put the scorn
    And instant tragic question from thine eyes?
    Do thy dark brows yet crave
    That swift and angry stave--
    Unmeet for this desirous morn--
    That I have striven, striven to evade?
    Gazing on him, must I not deem they err
    Whose careless lips in street and shop aver
    As common tidings, deeds to make his cheek
    Flush from the bronze, and his dead throat to speak?
    Surely some elder singer would arise,
    Whose harp hath leave to threaten and to mourn
    Above this people when they go astray.
    Is Whitman, the strong spirit, overworn?
    Has Whittier put his yearning wrath away?
    I will not and I dare not yet believe!
    Though furtively the sunlight seems to grieve,
    And the spring-laden breeze
    Out of the gladdening west is sinister
    With sounds of nameless battle overseas;
    Though when we turn and question in suspense
    If these things be indeed after these ways,
    And what things are to follow after these,
    Our fluent men of place and consequence
    Fumble and fill their mouths with hollow phrase,
    Or for the end-all of deep arguments
    Intone their dull commercial liturgies--
    I dare not yet believe! My ears are shut!
    I will not hear the thin satiric praise
    And muffled laughter of our enemies,
    Bidding us never sheathe our valiant sword
    Till we have changed our birthright for a gourd
    Of wild pulse stolen from a barbarian's hut;
    Showing how wise it is to cast away
    The symbols of our spiritual sway,
    That so our hands with better ease
    May wield the driver's whip and grasp the jailer's keys.


    Was it for this our fathers kept the law?
    This crown shall crown their struggle and their ruth?
    Are we the eagle nation Milton saw
    Mewing its mighty youth,
    Soon to possess the mountain winds of truth,
    And be a swift familiar of the sun
    Where aye before God's face his trumpets run?
    Or have we but the talons and the maw,
    And for the abject likeness of our heart
    Shall some less lordly bird be set apart?--
    Some gross-billed wader where the swamps are fat?
    Some gorger in the sun? Some prowler with the bat?


    Ah no!
    We have not fallen so.
    We are our fathers' sons: let those who lead us know!
    'T was only yesterday sick Cuba's cry
    Came up the tropic wind, "Now help us, for we die!"
    Then Alabama heard,
    And rising, pale, to Maine and Idaho
    Shouted a burning word.
    Proud state with proud impassioned state conferred,
    And at the lifting of a hand sprang forth,
    East, west, and south, and north,
    Beautiful armies. Oh, by the sweet blood and young
    Shed on the awful hill slope at San Juan,
    By the unforgotten names of eager boys
    Who might have tasted girls' love and been stung
    With the old mystic joys
    And starry griefs, now the spring nights come on,
    But that the heart of youth is generous,--
    We charge you, ye who lead us,
    Breathe on their chivalry no hint of stain!
    Turn not their new-world victories to gain!
    One least leaf plucked for chaffer from the bays
    Of their dear praise,
    One jot of their pure conquest put to hire,
    The implacable republic will require;
    With clamor, in the glare and gaze of noon,
    Or subtly, coming as a thief at night,
    But surely, very surely, slow or soon
    That insult deep we deeply will requite.
    Tempt not our weakness, our cupidity!
    For save we let the island men go free,
    Those baffled and dislaureled ghosts
    Will curse us from the lamentable coasts
    Where walk the frustrate dead.
    The cup of trembling shall be drainèd quite,
    Eaten the sour bread of astonishment,
    With ashes of the hearth shall be made white
    Our hair, and wailing shall be in the tent;
    Then on your guiltier head
    Shall our intolerable self-disdain
    Wreak suddenly its anger and its pain;
    For manifest in that disastrous light
    We shall discern the right
    And do it, tardily.--O ye who lead,
    Take heed!
    Blindness we may forgive, but baseness we will smite.



    Between the rice swamps and the fields of tea
    I met a sacred elephant, snow-white.
    Upon his back a huge pagoda towered
    Full of brass gods and food of sacrifice.
    Upon his forehead sat a golden throne,
    The massy metal twisted into shapes
    Grotesque, antediluvian, such as move
    In myth or have their broken images
    Sealed in the stony middle of the hills.
    A peacock spread his thousand dyes to screen
    The yellow sunlight from the head of one
    Who sat upon the throne, clad stiff with gems,
    Heirlooms of dynasties of buried kings,--
    Himself the likeness of a buried king,
    With frozen gesture and unfocused eyes.
    The trappings of the beast were over-scrawled
    With broideries--sea-shapes and flying things,
    Fan-trees and dwarfed nodosities of pine,
    Mixed with old alphabets, and faded lore
    Fallen from ecstatic mouths before the Flood,
    Or gathered by the daughters when they walked
    Eastward in Eden with the Sons of God
    Whom love and the deep moon made garrulous.
    Between the carven tusks his trunk hung dead;
    Blind as the eyes of pearl in Buddha's brow
    His beaded eyes stared thwart upon the road;
    And feebler than the doting knees of eld,
    His joints, of size to swing the builder's crane
    Across the war-walls of the Anakim,
    Made vain and shaken haste. Good need was his
    To hasten: panting, foaming, on the slot
    Came many brutes of prey, their several hates
    Laid by until the sharing of the spoil.
    Just as they gathered stomach for the leap,
    The sun was darkened, and wide-balanced wings
    Beat downward on the trade-wind from the sea.
    A wheel of shadow sped along the fields
    And o'er the dreaming cities. Suddenly
    My heart misgave me, and I cried aloud,
    "Alas! What dost thou here? What dost _thou_ here?"
    The great beasts and the little halted sharp,
    Eyed the grand circler, doubting his intent.
    Straightway the wind flawed and he came about,
    Stooping to take the vanward of the pack;
    Then turned, between the chasers and the chased,
    Crying a word I could not understand,--
    But stiller-tongued, with eyes somewhat askance,
    They settled to the slot and disappeared.



        Streets of the roaring town,
        Hush for him, hush, be still!
        He comes, who was stricken down
        Doing the word of our will.
        Hush! Let him have his state,
        Give him his soldier's crown.
        The grists of trade can wait
        Their grinding at the mill,
    But he cannot wait for his honor, now the trumpet has been blown.
    Wreathe pride now for his granite brow, lay love on his breast of

        Toll! Let the great bells toll
        Till the clashing air is dim.
        Did we wrong this parted soul?
        We will make it up to him.
        Toll! Let him never guess
        What work we set him to.
        Laurel, laurel, yes;
        He did what we bade him do.
    Praise, and never a whispered hint but the fight he fought was good;
    Never a word that the blood on his sword was his country's own

        A flag for the soldier's bier
        Who dies that his land may live;
        O, banners, banners here,
        That he doubt not nor misgive!
        That he heed not from the tomb
        The evil days draw near
        When the nation, robed in gloom,
        With its faithless past shall strive.
    Let him never dream that his bullet's scream went wide of its island
    Home to the heart of his darling land where she stumbled and sinned
          in the dark.


    Two hours, two hours: God give me strength for it!
    He who has given so much strength to me
    And nothing to my child, must give to-day
    What more I need to try and save my child
    And get for him the life I owe to him.
    To think that I may get it for him now,
    Before he knows how much he might have missed
    That other boys have got! The bitterest thought
    Of all that plagued me when he came was this,
    How some day he would see the difference,
    And drag himself to me with puzzled eyes
    To ask me why it was. He would have been
    Cruel enough to do it, knowing not
    That was the question my rebellious heart
    Cried over and over one whole year to God,
    And got no answer and no help at all.
    If he had asked me, what could I have said?
    What single word could I have found to say
    To hide me from his searching, puzzled gaze?
    Some coward thing at best, never the truth;
    The truth I never could have told him. No,
    I never could have said, "God gave you me
    To fashion you a body, right and strong,
    With sturdy little limbs and chest and neck
    For fun and fighting with your little mates,
    Great feats and voyages in the breathless world
    Of out-of-doors,--He gave you me for this,
    And I was such a bungler, that is all!"
    O, the old lie--that thought was not the worst.
    I never have been truthful with myself.
    For by the door where lurked one ghostly thought
    I stood with crazy hands to thrust it back
    If it should dare to peep and whisper out
    Unbearable things about me, hearing which
    The women passing in the streets would turn
    To pity me and scold me with their eyes,
    Who was so bad a mother and so slow
    To learn to help God do his wonder in her
    That she--O my sweet baby! It was not
    The fear that you would see the difference
    Between you and the other boys and girls;
    No, no, it was the dimmer, wilder fear,
    That you might never see it, never look
    Out of your tiny baby-house of mind,
    But sit your life through, quiet in the dark,
    Smiling and nodding at what was not there!
    A foolish fear: God could not punish so.
    Yet until yesterday I thought He would.
    My soul was always cowering at the blow
    I saw suspended, ready to be dealt
    The moment that I showed my fear too much.
    Therefore I hid it from Him all I could,
    And only stole a shaking glance at it
    Sometimes in the dead minutes before dawn
    When He forgets to watch. Till yesterday.
    For yesterday was wonderful and strange
    From the beginning. When I wakened first
    And looked out at the window, the last snow
    Was gone from earth; about the apple-trees
    Hung a faint mist of bloom; small sudden green
    Had run and spread and rippled everywhere
    Over the fields; and in the level sun
    Walked something like a presence and a power,
    Uttering hopes and loving-kindnesses
    To all the world, but chiefly unto me.
    It walked before me when I went to work,
    And all day long the noises of the mill
    Were spun upon a core of golden sound,
    Half-spoken words and interrupted songs
    Of blessed promise, meant for all the world,
    But most for me, because I suffered most.
    The shooting spindles, the smooth-humming wheels,
    The rocking webs, seemed toiling to some end
    Beneficent and human known to them,
    And duly brought to pass in power and love.
    The faces of the girls and men at work
    Met mine with intense greeting, veiled at once,
    As if they knew a secret they must keep
    For fear the joy would harm me if they told
    Before some inkling filtered to my mind
    In roundabout ways. When the day's work was done
    There lay a special silence on the fields;
    And, as I passed, the bushes and the trees,
    The very ruts and puddles of the road
    Spoke to each other, saying it was she,
    The happy woman, the elected one,
    The vessel of strange mercy and the sign
    Of many loving wonders done in Heaven
    To help the piteous earth.

                               At last I stopped
    And looked about me in sheer wonderment.
    What did it mean? What did they want with me?
    What was the matter with the evening now
    That it was just as bound to make me glad
    As morning and the live-long day had been?
    Me, who had quite forgot what gladness was,
    Who had no right to anything but toil,
    And food and sleep for strength to toil again,
    And that fierce frightened anguish of my love
    For the poor little spirit I had wronged
    With life that was no life. What had befallen
    Since yesterday? No need to stop and ask!
    Back there in the dark places of my mind
    Where I had thrust it, fearing to believe
    An unbelievable mercy, shone the news
    Told by the village neighbors coming home
    Last night from the great city, of a man
    Arisen, like the first evangelists,
    With power to heal the bodies of the sick,
    In testimony of his master Christ,
    Who heals the soul when it is sick with sin.
    Could such a thing be true in these hard days?
    Was help still sent in such a way as that?
    No, no! I did not dare to think of it,
    Feeling what weakness and despair would come
    After the crazy hope broke under me.
    I turned and started homeward, faster now,
    But never fast enough to leave behind
    The voices and the troubled happiness
    That still kept mounting, mounting like a sea,
    And singing far-off like a rush of wings.
    Far down the road a yellow spot of light
    Shone from my cottage window, rayless yet,
    Where the last sunset crimson caught the panes.
    Alice had lit the lamp before she went;
    Her day of pity and unmirthful play
    Was over, and her young heart free to live
    Until to-morrow brought her nursing-task
    Again, and made her feel how dark and still
    That life could be to others which to her
    Was full of dreams that beckoned, reaching hands,
    And thrilling invitations young girls hear.
    My boy was sleeping, little mind and frame
    More tired just lying there awake two hours
    Than with a whole day's romp he should have been.
    He would not know his mother had come home;
    But after supper I would sit awhile
    Beside his bed, and let my heart have time
    For that worst love that stabs and breaks and kills.
    This I thought over to myself by rote
    And habit, but I could not feel my thoughts;
    For still that dim unmeaning happiness
    Kept mounting, mounting round me like a sea,
    And singing inward like a wind of wings.

    Before I lifted up the latch, I knew.
    I felt no fear; the One who waited there
    In the low lamplight by the bed, had come
    Because I was his sister and in need.
    My word had got to Him somehow at last,
    And He had come to help me or to tell
    Where help was to be found. It was not strange.
    Strange only He had stayed away so long;
    But that should be forgotten--He was here.
    I pushed the door wide open and looked in.
    He had been kneeling by the bed, and now,
    Half-risen, kissed my boy upon the lips,
    Then turned and smiled and pointed with his hand.
    I must have fallen on the threshold stone,
    For I remember that I felt, not saw,
    The resurrection glory and the peace
    Shed from his face and raiment as He went
    Out by the door into the evening street.
    But when I looked, the place about the bed
    Was yet all bathed in light, and in the midst
    My boy lay changed,--no longer clothed upon
    With scraps and shreds of life, but like the child
    Of some most fortunate mother. In a breath
    The image faded. There he lay again
    The same as always; and the light was gone.
    I sank with moans and cries beside the bed.
    The cruelty, O Christ, the cruelty!
    To come at last and then to go like that,
    Leaving the darkness deeper than before!
    Then, though I heard no sound, I grew aware
    Of some one standing by the open door
    Among the dry vines rustling in the porch.
    My heart laughed suddenly. He had come back!
    He had come back to make the vision true.
    He had not meant to mock me: God was God,
    And Christ was Christ; there was no falsehood there.
    I heard a quiet footstep cross the room
    And felt a hand laid gently on my hair,--
    A human hand, worn hard by daily toil,
    Heavy with life-long struggle after bread.
    Alice's father. The kind homely voice
    Had in it such strange music that I dreamed
    Perhaps it was the Other speaking in him,
    Because His own bright form had made me swoon
    With its too much of glory. What he brought
    Was news as good as ever heavenly lips
    Had the dear right to utter. He had been
    All day among the crowds of curious folk
    From the great city and the country-side
    Gathered to watch the Healer do his work
    Of mercy on the sick and halt and blind,
    And with his very eyes had seen such things
    As awestruck men had witnessed long ago
    In Galilee, and writ of in the Book.
    To-morrow morning he would take me there
    If I had strength and courage to believe.
    It might be there was hope; he could not say,
    But knew what he had seen. When he was gone
    I lay for hours, letting the solemn waves
    Thundering joy go over and over me.

    Just before midnight baby fretted, woke;
    He never yet has slept a whole night through
    Without his food and petting. As I sat
    Feeding and petting him and singing soft,
    I felt a jealousy begin to ache
    And worry at my heartstrings, hushing down
    The gladness. Jealousy of what or whom?
    I hardly knew, or could not put in words;
    At least it seemed too foolish and too wrong
    When said, and so I shut the thought away.
    Only, next minute, it came stealing back.
    After the change, would my boy be the same
    As this one? Would he be my boy at all,
    And not another's--his who gave the life
    I could not give, or did not anyhow?
    How could I look in his new eyes to claim
    The whole of him, the body and the breath,
    When some one not his mother, a strange man,
    Had clothed him in that beauty of the flesh--
    Perhaps (for who could know?), perhaps, by some
    Hateful disfiguring miracle, had even
    Transformed his spirit to a better one,
    Better, but not the same I prayed for him
    Down out of Heaven through the sleepless nights,--
    The best that God would send to such as me.
    I tried to strangle back the wicked pain;
    Fancied him changed and tried to love him so.
    No use; it was another, not my child,
    Not my frail, broken, priceless little one,
    My cup of anguish, and my trembling star
    Hung small and sad and sweet above the earth,
    So sure to fall but for my cherishing!

    When he had dropped asleep again, I rose
    And wrestled with the sinful selfishness,
    The dark injustice, the unnatural pain.
    Fevered at last with pacing to and fro,
    I raised the bedroom window and leaned out.
    The white moon, low behind the sycamores,
    Silvered the silent country; not a voice
    Of all the myriads summer moves to sing
    Had yet awakened; in the level moon
    Walked that same presence I had heard at dawn
    Uttering hopes and loving-kindnesses,
    But now, dispirited and reticent,
    It walked the moonlight like a homeless thing.
    O, how to cleanse me of the cowardice!
    How to be just! Was I a mother, then,
    A mother, and not love her child as well
    As her own covetous and morbid love?
    Was it for this the Comforter had come,
    Smiling at me and pointing with His hand?
    --What had He meant to have me think or do,
    Smiling and pointing?

                          All at once I saw
    A way to save my darling from myself
    And make atonement for my grudging love!
    Under the sycamores and up the hill
    And down across the river, the wet road
    Went stretching cityward, silvered in the moon.
    I who had shrunk from sacrifice, even I,
    Who had refused God's blessing for my boy,
    Would take him in my arms and carry him
    Up to the altar of the miracle.
    I would not wait for daylight, nor the help
    Of any human friendship; I alone,
    Through the still miles of country, I alone,
    Only my arms to shield him and my feet
    To bear him: he should have no one to thank
    But me for that. I knew the way was long,
    But knew strength would be given. So I came.
    Soon the stars failed; the late moon faded too:
    I think my heart had sucked their beams from them
    To build more blue amid the murky night
    Its own miraculous day. From creeks and fields
    The fog climbed slowly, blotted out the road;
    And hid the signposts telling of the town;
    After a while rain fell, with sleet and snow.
    What did I care? Baby was snug and dry.
    Some day, when I was telling him of this,
    He would but hug me closer, hearing how
    The night conspired against us. Better hard
    Than easy, then: I almost felt regret
    My body was so capable and strong
    To do its errand. Honeyed drop by drop,
    The ghostly jealousy, loosening at my breast,
    Distilled into a dew of quiet tears
    And fell with splash of music in the wells
    And on the hidden rivers of my soul.

    The hardest part was coming through the town.
    The country, even when it hindered most,
    Seemed conscious of the thing I went to find.
    The rocks and bushes looming through the mist
    Questioned and acquiesced and understood;
    The trees and streams believed; the wind and rain,
    Even they, for all their temper, had some words
    Of faith and comfort. But the glaring streets,
    The dizzy traffic, the piled merchandise,
    The giant buildings swarming with fierce life--
    Cared nothing for me. They had never heard
    Of me nor of my business. When I asked
    My way, a shade of pity or contempt
    Showed through men's kindness--for they all were kind.
    Daunted and chilled and very sick at heart,
    I walked the endless pavements. But at last
    The streets grew quieter; the houses seemed
    As if they might be homes where people lived;
    Then came the factories and cottages,
    And all was well again. Much more than well,
    For many sick and broken went my way,
    Alone or helped along by loving hands;
    And from a thousand eyes the famished hope
    Looked out at mine--wild, patient, querulous,
    But always hope and hope, a thousand tongues
    Speaking one word in many languages.

    In two hours He will come, they say, will stand
    There on the steps, above the waiting crowd,
    And touch with healing hands whoever asks
    Believingly, in spirit and in truth.
    Can such a mercy be, in these hard days?
    Is help still sent in such a way as that?
    Christ, I believe; pity my unbelief!


    I wonder can this be the world it was
    At sunset? I remember the sky fell
    Green as pale meadows, at the long street-ends,
    But overhead the smoke-wrack hugged the roofs
    As if to shut the city from God's eyes
    Till dawn should quench the laughter and the lights.
    Beneath the gas flare stolid faces passed,
    Too dull for sin; old loosened lips set hard
    To drain the stale lees from the cup of sense;
    Or if a young face yearned from out the mist
    Made by its own bright hair, the eyes were wan
    With desolate fore-knowledge of the end.
    My life lay waste about me: as I walked,
    From the gross dark of unfrequented streets
    The face of my own youth peered forth at me,
    Struck white with pity at the thing I was;
    And globed in ghostly fire, thrice-virginal,
    With lifted face star-strong, went one who sang
    Lost verses from my youth's gold canticle.
    Out of the void dark came my face and hers
    One vivid moment--then the street was there;
    Bloat shapes and mean eyes blotted the sear dusk;
    And in the curtained window of a house
    Whence sin reeked on the night, a shameful head
    Was silhouetted black as Satan's face
    Against eternal fires. I stumbled on
    Down the dark slope that reaches riverward,
    Stretching blind hands to find the throat of God
    And crush Him in his lies. The river lay
    Coiled in its factory filth and few lean trees.
    All was too hateful--I could not die there!
    I whom the Spring had strained unto her breast,
    Whose lips had felt the wet vague lips of dawn.
    So under the thin willows' leprous shade
    And through the tangled ranks of riverweed
    I pushed--till lo, God heard me! I came forth
    Where, 'neath the shoreless hush of region light,
    Through a new world, undreamed of, undesired,
    Beyond imagining of man's weary heart,
    Far to the white marge of the wondering sea
    This still plain widens, and this moon rains down
    Insufferable ecstasy of peace.

    My heart is man's heart, strong to bear this night's
    Unspeakable affliction of mute love
    That crazes lesser things. The rocks and clods
    Dissemble, feign a busy intercourse;
    The bushes deal in shadowy subterfuge,
    Lurk dull, dart spiteful out, make heartless signs,
    Utter awestricken purpose of no sense,--
    But I walk quiet, crush aside the hands
    Stretched furtively to drag me madmen's ways.
    I know the thing they suffer, and the tricks
    They must be at to help themselves endure.
    I would not be too boastful; I am weak,
    Too weak to put aside the utter ache
    Of this lone splendor long enough to see
    Whether the moon is still her white strange self
    Or something whiter, stranger, even the face
    Which by the changed face of my risen youth
    Sang, globed in fire, her golden canticle.
    I dare not look again; another gaze
    Might drive me to the wavering coppice there,
    Where bat-winged madness brushed me, the wild laugh
    Of naked nature crashed across my blood.
    So rank it was with earthy presences,
    Faun-shapes in goatish dance, young witches' eyes
    Slanting deep invitation, whinnying calls
    Ambiguous, shocks and whirlwinds of wild mirth,--
    They had undone me in the darkness there,
    But that within me, smiting through my lids
    Lowered to shut in the thick whirl of sense,
    The dumb light ached and rummaged, and with out,
    The soaring splendor summoned me aloud
    To leave the low dank thickets of the flesh
    Where man meets beast and makes his lair with him,
    For spirit reaches of the strenuous vast,
    Where stalwart stars reap grain to make the bread
    God breaketh at his tables and is glad.
    I came out in the moonlight cleansed and strong,
    And gazed up at the lyric face to see
    All sweetness tasted of in earthen cups
    Ere it be dashed and spilled, all radiance flung
    Beyond experience, every benison dream,
    Treasured and mystically crescent there.

    O, who will shield me from her? Who will place
    A veil between me and the fierce in-throng
    Of her inexorable benedicite?
    See, I have loved her well and been with her!
    Through tragic twilights when the stricken sea
    Groveled with fear, or when she made her throne
    In imminent cities built of gorgeous winds
    And paved with lightnings; or when the sobering stars
    Would lead her home 'mid wealth of plundered May
    Along the violet slopes of evensong.
    Of all the sights that starred the dreamy year,
    For me one sight stood peerless and apart:
    Bright rivers tacit; low hills prone and dumb;
    Forests that hushed their tiniest voice to hear;
    Skies for the unutterable advent robed
    In purple like the opening iris buds;
    And by some lone expectant pool, one tree
    Whose gray boughs shivered with excess of awe,--
    As with preluding gush of amber light,
    And herald trumpets softly lifted through,
    Across the palpitant horizon marge
    Crocus-filleted came the singing moon.
    Out of her changing lights I wove my youth
    A place to dwell in, sweet and spiritual,
    And all the bitter years of my exile
    My heart has called afar off unto her.
    Lo, after many days love finds its own!
    The futile adorations, the waste tears,
    The hymns that fluttered low in the false dawn,
    She has uptreasured as a lover's gifts;
    They are the mystic garment that she wears
    Against the bridal, and the crocus flowers
    She twined her brow with at the going forth;
    They are the burden of the song she made
    In coming through the quiet fields of space,
    And breathe between her passion-parted lips
    Calling me out along the flowering road
    Which summers through the dimness of the sea.

    Hark, where the deep feels round its thousand shores
    To find remembered respite, and far drawn
    Through weed-strewn shelves and crannies of the coast
    The myriad silence yearns to myriad speech.
    O sea that yearns a day, shall thy tongues be
    So eloquent, and heart, shall all thy tongues
    Be dumb to speak thy longing? Say I hold
    Life as a broken jewel in my hand,
    And fain would buy a little love with it
    For comfort, say I fain would make it shine
    Once in remembering eyes ere it be dust,--
    Were life not worthy spent? Then what of this,
    When all my spirit hungers to repay
    The beauty that has drenched my soul with peace?
    Once at a simple turning of the way
    I met God walking; and although the dawn
    Was large behind Him, and the morning stars
    Circled and sang about his face as birds
    About the fieldward morning cottager,
    My coward heart said faintly, "Let us haste!
    Day grows and it is far to market-town."
    Once where I lay in darkness after fight,
    Sore smitten, thrilled a little thread of song
    Searching and searching at my muffled sense
    Until it shook sweet pangs through all my blood,
    And I beheld one globed in ghostly fire
    Singing, star-strong, her golden canticle;
    And her mouth sang, "The hosts of Hate roll past,
    A dance of dust motes in the sliding sun;
    Love's battle comes on the wide wings of storm,
    From east to west one legion! Wilt thou strive?"
    Then, since the splendor of her sword-bright gaze
    Was heavy on me with yearning and with scorn
    My sick heart muttered, "Yea, the little strife,
    Yet see, the grievous wounds! I fain would sleep."
    O heart, shalt thou not once be strong to go
    Where all sweet throats are calling, once be brave
    To slake with deed thy dumbness? Let us go
    The path her singing face looms low to point,
    Pendulous, blanched with longing, shedding flame
    Of silver on the brown grope of the flood;
    For all my spirit's soilure is put by
    And all my body's soilure, lacking now
    But the last lustral sacrament of death
    To make me clean for those near-searching eyes
    That question yonder whether all be well,
    And pause a little ere they dare rejoice.

    Question and be thou answered, passionate face!
    For I am worthy, worthy now at last
    After so long unworth; strong now at last
    To give myself to beauty and be saved;
    Now, being man, to give myself to thee,
    As once the tumult of my boyish heart
    Companioned thee with rapture through the world,
    Forth from a land whereof no poet's lip
    Made mention how the leas were lily-sprent,
    Into a land God's eyes had looked not on
    To love the tender bloom upon the hills.
    To-morrow, when the fishers come at dawn
    Upon that shell of me the sea has tossed
    To land, as fit for earth to use again,
    Men, meeting at the shops and corner streets,
    Will speak a word of pity, glossing o'er
    With altered accent, dubious sweep of hand,
    Their virile, just contempt for one who failed.
    But they can never cast my earnings up,
    Who know so well my losses. Even you
    Who in the mild light of the spirit walk
    And hold yourselves acquainted with the truth,
    Be not too swift to judge and cast me out!
    You shall find other, nobler ways than mine
    To work your soul's redemption,--glorious noons
    Of battle 'neath the heaven-suspended sign,
    And nightly refuge 'neath God's ægis-rim;
    Increase of wisdom, and acquaintance held
    With the heart's austerities; still governance,
    And ripening of the blood in the weekday sun
    To make the full-orbed consecrated fruit
    At life's end for the Sabbath supper meet.
    I shall not sit beside you at that feast,
    For ere a seedling of my golden tree
    Pushed off its petals to get room to grow,
    I stripped the boughs to make an April gaud
    And wreathe a spendthrift garland for my hair.
    But mine is not the failure God deplores;
    For I of old am beauty's votarist,
    Long recreant, often foiled and led astray,
    But resolute at last to seek her there
    Where most she does abide, and crave with tears
    That she assoil me of my blemishment.
    Low looms her singing face to point the way,
    Pendulous, blanched with longing, shedding flame
    Of silver on the brown grope of the flood.
    The stars are for me; the horizon wakes
    Its pilgrim chanting; and the little sand
    Grows musical of hope beneath my feet.
    The waves that leap to meet my swimming breast
    Gossip sweet secrets of the light-drenched way,
    And when the deep throbs of the rising surge
    Pulse upward with me, and a rain of wings
    Blurs round the moon's pale place, she stoops to reach
    Still welcome of bright hands across the wave,
    And sings low, low, globed all in ghostly fire,
    Lost verses from my youth's gold canticle.


    Through his might men work their wills.
    They have boweled out the hills
    For food to keep him toiling in the cages they have wrought;
    And they fling him, hour by hour,
    Limbs of men to give him power;
    Brains of men to give him cunning; and for dainties to devour
    Children's souls, the little worth; hearts of women, cheaply bought:
    He takes them and he breaks them, but he gives them scanty thought.

    For about the noisy land,
    Roaring, quivering 'neath his hand,
    His thoughts brood fierce and sullen or laugh in lust of pride
    O'er the stubborn things that he,
    Breaks to dust and brings to be.
    Some he mightily establishes, some flings down utterly.
    There is thunder in his stride, nothing ancient can abide,
    When he hales the hills together and bridles up the tide.

    Quietude and loveliness,
    Holy sights that heal and bless,
    They are scattered and abolished where his iron hoof is set;
    When he splashes through the brae
    Silver streams are choked with clay,
    When he snorts the bright cliffs crumble and the woods go down like
    He lairs in pleasant cities, and the haggard people fret
    Squalid 'mid their new-got riches, soot-begrimed and desolate.

    They who caught and bound him tight
    Laughed exultant at his might,
    Saying, "Now behold, the good time comes for the weariest and the
    We will use this lusty knave:
    No more need for men to slave;
    We may rise and look about us and have knowledge ere the grave."
    But the Brute said in his breast, "Till the mills I grind have ceased,
    The riches shall be dust of dust, dry ashes be the feast!

    "On the strong and cunning few
    Cynic favors I will strew;
    I will stuff their maw with overplus until their spirit dies;
    From the patient and the low
    I will take the joys they know;
    They shall hunger after vanities and still an-hungered go.
    Madness shall be on the people, ghastly jealousies arise;
    Brother's blood shall cry on brother up the dead and empty skies.

    "I will burn and dig and hack
    Till the heavens suffer lack;
    God shall feel a pleasure fail him, crying to his cherubim,
    'Who hath flung yon mud-ball there
    Where my world went green and fair?'
    I shall laugh and hug me, hearing how his sentinels declare,
    ''T is the Brute they chained to labor! He has made the bright earth
    Store of wares and pelf a plenty, but they got no good of him.'"

    So he plotted in his rage:
    So he deals it, age by age.
    But even as he roared his curse a still small Voice befell;
    Lo, a still and pleasant voice bade them none the less rejoice,
    For the Brute must bring the good time on; he has no other choice.
    He may struggle, sweat, and yell, but he knows exceeding well
    He must work them out salvation ere they send him back to hell.

    All the desert that he made
    He must treble bless with shade,
    In primal wastes set precious seed of rapture and of pain;
    All the strongholds that he built
    For the powers of greed and guilt--
    He must strew their bastions down the sea and choke their towers with
    He must make the temples clean for the gods to come again,
    And lift the lordly cities under skies without a stain.

    In a very cunning tether
    He must lead the tyrant weather;
    He must loose the curse of Adam from the worn neck of the race;
    He must cast out hate and fear,
    Dry away each fruitless tear,
    And make the fruitful tears to gush from the deep heart and clear.
    He must give each man his portion, each his pride and worthy place;
    He must batter down the arrogant and lift the weary face,
    On each vile mouth set purity, on each low forehead grace.

    Then, perhaps, at the last day,
    They will whistle him away,
    Lay a hand upon his muzzle in the face of God, and say,
    "Honor, Lord, the Thing we tamed!
    Let him not be scourged or blamed.
    Even through his wrath and fierceness was thy fierce wroth world
    Honor Thou thy servants' servant; let thy justice now be shown."
    Then the Lord will heed their saying, and the Brute come to his own,
    'Twixt the Lion and the Eagle, by the armpost of the Throne.


    Thank God my brain is not inclined to cut
    Such capers every day! I 'm just about
    Mellow, but then--There goes the tent-flap shut.
    Rain 's in the wind. I thought so: every snout
    Was twitching when the keeper turned me out.

    That screaming parrot makes my blood run cold.
    Gabriel's trump! the big bull elephant
    Squeals "Rain!" to the parched herd. The monkeys scold,
    And jabber that it 's rain water they want.
    (It makes me sick to see a monkey pant.)

    I 'll foot it home, to try and make believe
    I 'm sober. After this I stick to beer,
    And drop the circus when the sane folks leave.
    A man 's a fool to look at things too near:
    They look back, and begin to cut up queer.

    Beasts do, at any rate; especially
    Wild devils caged. They have the coolest way
    Of being something else than what you see:
    You pass a sleek young zebra nosing hay,
    A nylghau looking bored and distingué,--

    And think you 've seen a donkey and a bird.
    Not on your life! Just glance back, if you dare.
    The zebra chews, the nylghau has n't stirred;
    But something 's happened, Heaven knows what or where,
    To freeze your scalp and pompadour your hair.

    I 'm not precisely an æolian lute
    Hung in the wandering winds of sentiment,
    But drown me if the ugliest, meanest brute
    Grunting and fretting in that sultry tent
    Did n't just floor me with embarrassment!

    'T was like a thunder-clap from out the clear,
    One minute they were circus beasts, some grand,
    Some ugly, some amusing, and some queer:
    Rival attractions to the hobo band,
    The flying jenny, and the peanut stand.

    Next minute they were old hearth-mates of mine!
    Lost people, eyeing me with such a stare!
    Patient, satiric, devilish, divine;
    A gaze of hopeless envy, squalid care,
    Hatred, and thwarted love, and dim despair.

    Within my blood my ancient kindred spoke,--
    Grotesque and monstrous voices, heard afar
    Down ocean caves when behemoth awoke,
    Or through fern forests roared the plesiosaur
    Locked with the giant-bat in ghastly war.

    And suddenly, as in a flash of light,
    I saw great Nature working out her plan;
    Through all her shapes from mastodon to mite
    Forever groping, testing, passing on
    To find at last the shape and soul of Man.

    Till in the fullness of accomplished time,
    Comes brother Forepaugh, upon business bent,
    Tracks her through frozen and through torrid clime,
    And shows us, neatly labeled in a tent,
    The stages of her huge experiment;

    Blabbing aloud her shy and reticent hours;
    Dragging to light her blinking, slothful moods;
    Publishing fretful seasons when her powers
    Worked wild and sullen in her solitudes,
    Or when her mordant laughter shook the woods.

    Here, round about me, were her vagrant births;
    Sick dreams she had, fierce projects she essayed;
    Her qualms, her fiery prides, her crazy mirths;
    The troublings of her spirit as she strayed,
    Cringed, gloated, mocked, was lordly, was afraid,

    On that long road she went to seek mankind;
    Here were the darkling coverts that she beat
    To find the Hider she was sent to find;
    Here the distracted footprints of her feet
    Whereby her soul's Desire she came to greet.

    But why should they, her botch-work, turn about
    And stare disdain at me, her finished job?
    Why was the place one vast suspended shout
    Of laughter? Why did all the daylight throb
    With soundless guffaw and dumb-stricken sob?

    Helpless I stood among those awful cages;
    The beasts were walking loose, and I was bagged!
    I, I, last product of the toiling ages,
    Goal of heroic feet that never lagged,--
    A little man in trousers, slightly jagged.

    Deliver me from such another jury!
    The Judgment-day will be a picnic to 't.
    Their satire was more dreadful than their fury,
    And worst of all was just a kind of brute
    Disgust, and giving up, and sinking mute.

    Survival of the fittest, adaptation,
    And all their other evolution terms,
    Seem to omit one small consideration,
    To wit, that tumblebugs and angleworms
    Have souls: there 's soul in everything that squirms.

    And souls are restless, plagued, impatient things,
    All dream and unaccountable desire;
    Crawling, but pestered with the thought of wings;
    Spreading through every inch of earth's old mire
    Mystical hanker after something higher.

    Wishes _are_ horses, as I understand.
    I guess a wistful polyp that has strokes
    Of feeling faint to gallivant on land
    Will come to be a scandal to his folks;
    Legs he will sprout, in spite of threats and jokes.

    And at the core of every life that crawls
    Or runs or flies or swims or vegetates--
    Churning the mammoth's heart-blood, in the galls
    Of shark and tiger planting gorgeous hates,
    Lighting the love of eagles for their mates;

    Yes, in the dim brain of the jellied fish
    That is and is not living--moved and stirred
    From the beginning a mysterious wish,
    A vision, a command, a fatal Word:
    The name of Man was uttered, and they heard.

    Upward along the æons of old war
    They sought him: wing and shank-bone, claw and bill
    Were fashioned and rejected; wide and far
    They roamed the twilight jungles of their will;
    But still they sought him, and desired him still.

    Man they desired, but mind you, Perfect Man,
    The radiant and the loving, yet to be!
    I hardly wonder, when they came to scan
    The upshot of their strenuosity,
    They gazed with mixed emotions upon _me_.

    Well, my advice to you is, Face the creatures,
    Or spot them sideways with your weather eye,
    Just to keep tab on their expansive features;
    It is n't pleasant when you 're stepping high
    To catch a giraffe smiling on the sly.

    If nature made you graceful, don't get gay
    Back-to before the hippopotamus;
    If meek and godly, find some place to play
    Besides right where three mad hyenas fuss:
    You may hear language that we won't discuss.

    If you 're a sweet thing in a flower-bed hat,
    Or her best fellow with your tie tucked in,
    Don't squander love's bright springtime girding at
    An old chimpanzee with an Irish chin:
    _There may be hidden meaning in his grin._


    All day he drowses by the sail
    With dreams of her, and all night long
    The broken waters are at song
    Of how she lingers, wild and pale,
    When all the temple lights are dumb,
    And weaves her spells to make him come.

    The wide sea traversed, he will stand
    With straining eyes, until the shoal
    Green water from the prow shall roll
    Upon the yellow strip of sand--
    Searching some fern-hid tangled way
    Into the forest old and grey.

    Then he will leap upon the shore,
    And cast one look up at the sun,
    Over his loosened locks will run
    The dawn breeze, and a bird will pour
    Its rapture out to make life seem
    Too sweet to leave for such a dream.

    But all the swifter will he go
    Through the pale, scattered asphodels,
    Down mote-hung dusk of olive dells,
    To where the ancient basins throw
    Fleet threads of blue and trembling zones
    Of gold upon the temple stones.

    There noon keeps just a twilight trace;
    Twixt love and hate, and death and birth,
    No man may choose; nor sobs nor mirth
    May enter in that haunted place.
    All day the fountain sphynx lets drip
    Slow drops of silence from her lip.

    To hold the porch-roof slender girls
    Of milk-white marble stand arow;
    Doubt never blurs a single brow,
    And never the noon's faintness curls
    From their expectant hush of pride
    The lips the god has glorified.

    But these things he will barely view,
    Or if he stay to heed them, still
    But as the lark the lights that spill
    From out the sun it soars unto,
    Where, past the splendors and the heats,
    The sun's heart's self forever beats.

    For wide the brazen doors will swing
    Soon as his sandals touch the pave;
    The anxious light inside will wave
    And tremble to a lunar ring
    About the form that lieth prone
    Before the dreadful altar-stone.

    She will not look or speak or stir,
    But with drowned lips and cheeks death-white
    Will lie amid the pool of light,
    Until, grown faint with thirst of her,
    He shall bow down his face and sink
    Breathless beneath the eddying brink.

    Then a swift music will begin,
    And as the brazen doors shut slow,
    There will be hurrying to and fro,
    And lights and calls and silver din,
    While through the star-freaked swirl of air
    The god's sweet cruel eyes will stare.


    To-night her lids shall lift again, slow, soft, with vague desire,
    And lay about my breast and brain their hush of spirit fire,
    And I shall take the sweet of pain as the laborer his hire.

    And though no word shall e'er be said to ease the ghostly sting,
    And though our hearts, unhoused, unfed, must still go wandering,
    My sign is set upon her head while stars do meet and sing.

    Not such a sign as women wear who make their foreheads tame
    With life's long tolerance, and bear love's sweetest, humblest name,
    Nor such as passion eateth bare with its crown of tears and flame.

    Nor such a sign as happy friend sets on his friend's dear brow
    When meadow-pipings break and blend to a key of autumn woe,
    And the woodland says playtime 's at end, best unclasp hands and go.

    But where she strays, through blight or blooth, one fadeless flower
          she wears,
    A little gift God gave my youth,--whose petals dim were fears,
    Awes, adorations, songs of ruth, hesitancies, and tears.

    O heart of mine, with all thy powers of white beatitude,
    What are the dearest of God's dowers to the children of his blood?
    How blow the shy, shy wilding flowers in the hollows of his wood?


    This string upon my harp was best beloved:
    I thought I knew its secrets through and through;
    Till an old man, whose young eyes lightened blue
    'Neath his white hair, bent over me and moved
    His fingers up and down, and broke the wire
    To such a laddered music, rung on rung,
    As from the patriarch's pillow skyward sprung
    Crowded with wide-flung wings and feet of fire.

    O vibrant heart! so metely tuned and strung
    That any untaught hand can draw from thee
    One clear gold note that makes the tired years young--
    What of the time when Love had whispered me
    Where slept thy nodes, and my hand pausefully
    Gave to the dim harmonics voice and tongue?


    The faint stars wake and wonder,
    Fade and find heart anew;
    Above us and far under
    Sphereth the watchful blue.

    Silent she sits, outbending,
    A wild pathetic grace,
    A beauty strange, heart-rending,
    Upon her hair and face.

    O spirit cries that sever
    The cricket's level drone!
    O to give o'er endeavor
    And let love have its own!

    Within the mirrored bushes
    There wakes a little stir;
    The white-throat moves, and hushes
    Her nestlings under her.

    Beneath, the lustrous river,
    The watchful sky o'erhead.
    God, God, that Thou should'st ever
    Poison thy children's bread!


    The opal heart of afternoon
    Was clouding on to throbs of storm,
    Ashen within the ardent west
    The lips of thunder muttered harm,
    And as a bubble like to break
    Hung heaven's trembling amethyst,
    When with the sedge-grass by the lake
    I braceleted her wrist.

    And when the ribbon grass was tied,
    Sad with the happiness we planned,
    Palm linked in palm we stood awhile
    And watched the raindrops dot the sand;
    Until the anger of the breeze
    Chid all the lake's bright breathing down,
    And ravished all the radiancies
    From her deep eyes of brown.

    We gazed from shelter on the storm,
    And through our hearts swept ghostly pain
    To see the shards of day sweep past,
    Broken, and none might mend again.
    Broken, that none shall ever mend;
    Loosened, that none shall ever tie.
    O the wind and the wind, will it never end?
    O the sweeping past of the ruined sky!



    I sat beside the glassy evening sea,
    One foot upon the thin horn of my lyre,
    And all its strings of laughter and desire
    Crushed in the rank wet grasses heedlessly;
    Nor did my dull eyes care to question how
    The boat close by had spread its saffron sails,
    Nor what might mean the coffers and the bales,
    And streaks of new wine on the gilded prow.
    Neither was wonder in me when I saw
    Fair women step therein, though they were fair
    Even to adoration and to awe,
    And in the gracious fillets of their hair
    Were blossoms from a garden I had known,
    Sweet mornings ere the apple buds were blown.


    One gazed steadfast into the dying west
    With lips apart to greet the evening star;
    And one with eyes that caught the strife and jar
    Of the sea's heart, followed the sunward breast
    Of a lone gull; from a slow harp one drew
    Blind music like a laugh or like a wail;
    And in the uncertain shadow of the sail
    One wove a crown of berries and of yew.
    Yet even as I said with dull desire,
    "All these were mine, and one was mine indeed,"
    The smoky music burst into a fire,
    And I was left alone in my great need,
    One foot upon the thin horn of my lyre
    And all its strings crushed in the dripping weed.


    Only two patient eyes to stare
    Out of the canvas. All the rest--
    The warm green gown, the small hands pressed
    Light in the lap, the braided hair

    That must have made the sweet low brow
    So earnest, centuries ago,
    When some one saw it change and glow--
    All faded! Just the eyes burn now.

    I dare say people pass and pass
    Before the blistered little frame,
    And dingy work without a name
    Stuck in behind its square of glass.

    But I, well, I left Raphael
    Just to come drink these eyes of hers,
    To think away the stains and blurs
    And make all new again and well.

    Only, for tears my head will bow,
    Because there on my heart's last wall,
    Scarce one tint left to tell it all,
    A picture keeps its eyes, somehow.


    Grey drizzling mists the moorlands drape,
    Rain whitens the dead sea,
    From headland dim to sullen cape
    Grey sails creep wearily.
    I know not how that merchantman
    Has found the heart; but 't is her plan
    Seaward her endless course to shape.

    Unreal as insects that appall
    A drunkard's peevish brain,
    O'er the grey deep the dories crawl,
    Four-legged, with rowers twain:
    Midgets and minims of the earth,
    Across old ocean's vasty girth
    Toiling--heroic, comical!

    I wonder how that merchant's crew
    Have ever found the will!
    I wonder what the fishers do
    To keep them toiling still!
    I wonder how the heart of man
    Has patience to live out its span,
    Or wait until its dreams come true.


    _Before the coming of the dark, he dreamed
    An old-world faded story: of a knight,
    Much like in need to him, who was no knight!
    And of a road, much like the road his soul
    Groped over, desperate to meet Her soul.
    Beside the bed Death waited. And he dreamed._

    His limbs were heavy from the fight,
    His mail was dark with dust and blood;
    On his good horse they bound him tight,
    And on his breast they bound the rood
    To help him in the ride that night.

    When he crashed through the wood's wet rim,
    About the dabbled reeds a breeze
    Went moaning broken words and dim;
    The haggard shapes of twilight trees
    Caught with their scrawny hands at him.

    Between the doubtful aisles of day
    Strange folk and lamentable stood
    To maze and beckon him astray,
    But through the grey wrath of the wood
    He held right on his bitter way.

    When he came where the trees were thin,
    The moon sat waiting there to see;
    On her worn palm she laid her chin,
    And laughed awhile in sober glee
    To think how strong this knight had been.

    When he rode past the pallid lake,
    The withered yellow stems of flags
    Stood breast-high for his horse to break;
    Lewd as the palsied lips of hags
    The petals in the moon did shake.

    When he came by the mountain wall,
    The snow upon the heights looked down
    And said, "The sight is pitiful.
    The nostrils of his steed are brown
    With frozen blood; and he will fall."

    The iron passes of the hills
    With question were importunate;
    And, but the sharp-tongued icy rills
    Had grown for once compassionate,
    The spiteful shades had had their wills.

    Just when the ache in breast and brain
    And the frost smiting at his face
    Had sealed his spirit up with pain,
    He came out in a better place,
    And morning lay across the plain.

    He saw the wet snails crawl and cling
    On fern-stalks where the rime had run,
    The careless birds went wing and wing,
    And in the low smile of the sun
    Life seemed almost a pleasant thing.

    Right on the panting charger swung
    Through the bright depths of quiet grass;
    The knight's lips moved as if they sung,
    And through the peace there came to pass
    The flattery of lute and tongue.

    From the mid-flowering of the mead
    There swelled a sob of minstrelsy,
    Faint sackbuts and the dreamy reed,
    And plaintive lips of maids thereby,
    And songs blown out like thistle seed.

    Forth from her maidens came the bride,
    And as his loosened rein fell slack
    He muttered, "In their throats they lied
    Who said that I should ne'er win back
    To kiss her lips before I died!"




    He plays the deuce with my writing time,
    For the penny my sixth-floor neighbor throws;
    He finds me proud of my pondered rhyme,
    And he leaves me--well, God knows
    It takes the shine from a tunester's line
    When a little mate of the deathless Nine
    Pipes up under your nose!

    For listen, there is his voice again,
    Wistful and clear and piercing sweet.
    Where did the boy find such a strain
    To make a dead heart beat?
    And how in the name of care can he bear
    To jet such a fountain into the air
    In this gray gulch of a street?

    Tuscan slopes or the Piedmontese?
    Umbria under the Apennine?
    South, where the terraced lemon-trees
    Round rich Sorrento shine?
    Venice moon on the smooth lagoon?--
    Where have I heard that aching tune,
    That boyish throat divine?

    Beyond my roofs and chimney pots
    A rag of sunset crumbles gray;
    Below, fierce radiance hangs in clots
    O'er the streams that never stay.
    Shrill and high, newsboys cry
    The worst of the city's infamy
    For one more sordid day.

    But my desire has taken sail
    For lands beyond, soft-horizoned:
    Down languorous leagues I hold the trail,
    From Marmalada, steeply throned
    Above high pastures washed with light,
    Where dolomite by dolomite
    Looms sheer and spectral-coned,

    To purple vineyards looking south
    On reaches of the still Tyrrhene;
    Virgilian headlands, and the mouth
    Of Tiber, where that ship put in
    To take the dead men home to God,
    Whereof Casella told the mode
    To the great Florentine.

    Up stairways blue with flowering weed
    I climb to hill-hung Bergamo;
    All day I watch the thunder breed
    Golden above the springs of Po,
    Till the voice makes sure its wavering lure,
    And by Assisi's portals pure
    I stand, with heart bent low.

    O hear, how it blooms in the blear dayfall,
    That flower of passionate wistful song!
    How it blows like a rose by the iron wall
    Of the city loud and strong.
    How it cries "Nay, nay" to the worldling's way,
    To the heart's clear dream how it whispers, "Yea;
    Time comes, though the time is long."

    Beyond my roofs and chimney piles
    Sunset crumbles, ragged, dire;
    The roaring street is hung for miles
    With fierce electric fire.
    Shrill and high, newsboys cry
    The gross of the planet's destiny
    Through one more sullen gyre.

    Stolidly the town flings down
    Its lust by day for its nightly lust;
    Who does his given stint, 't is known,
    Shall have his mug and crust.--
    Too base of mood, too harsh of blood,
    Too stout to seize the grosser good,
    Too hungry after dust!

    O hark! how it blooms in the falling dark,
    That flower of mystical yearning song:
    Sad as a hermit thrush, as a lark
    Uplifted, glad, and strong.
    Heart, we have chosen the better part!
    Save sacred love and sacred art
    Nothing is good for long.



    Before St. Francis' burg I wait,
    Frozen in spirit, faint with dread;
    His presence stands within the gate,
    Mild splendor rings his head.
    Gently he seems to welcome me:
    Knows he not I am quick, and he
    Is dead, and priest of the dead?

    I turn away from the gray church pile;
    I dare not enter, thus undone:
    Here in the roadside grass awhile
    I will lie and watch for the sun.
    Too purged of earth's good glee and strife,
    Too drained of the honied lusts of life,
    Was the peace these old saints won!

    And lo! how the laughing earth says no
    To the fear that mastered me;
    To the blood that aches and clamors so
    How it whispers "Verily."
    Here by my side, marvelous-dyed,
    Bold stray-away from the courts of pride,
    A poppy-bell flaunts free.

    St. Francis sleeps upon his hill,
    And a poppy flower laughs down his creed;
    Triumphant light her petals spill,
    His shrines are dim indeed.
    Men build and plan, but the soul of man,
    Coming with haughty eyes to scan,
    Feels richer, wilder need.

    How long, old builder Time, wilt bide
    Till at thy thrilling word
    Life's crimson pride shall have to bride
    The spirit's white accord,
    Within that gate of good estate
    Which thou must build us soon or late,
    Hoar workman of the Lord?


    Nay, move not! Sit just as you are,
    Under the carved wings of the chair.
    The hearth-glow sifting through your hair
    Turns every dim pearl to a star
    Dawn-drowned in floods of brightening air.

    I have been thinking of that night
    When all the wide hall burst to blaze
    With spears caught up, thrust fifty ways
    To find my throat, while I lay white
    And sick with joy, to think the days

    I dragged out in your hateful North--
    A slave, constrained at banquet's need
    To fill the black bull's horns with mead
    For drunken sea-thieves--were henceforth
    Cast from me as a poison weed,

    While Death thrust roses in my hands!
    But you, who knew the flowers he had
    Were no such roses ripe and glad
    As nod in my far southern lands,
    But pallid things to make men sad,

    Put back the spears with one calm hand,
    Raised on your knee my wondering head,
    Wiped off the trickling drops of red
    From my torn forehead with a strand
    Of your bright loosened hair, and said:

    "Sea-rovers! would you kill a skald?
    This boy has hearkened Odin sing
    Unto the clang and winnowing
    Of raven's wings. His heart is thralled
    To music, as to some strong king;

    "And this great thraldom works disdain
    Of lesser serving. Once release
    These bonds he bears, and he may please
    To give you guerdon sweet as rain
    To sailors calmed in thirsty seas."

    Then, having soothed their rage to rest,
    You led me to old Skagi's throne,
    Where yellow gold rims in the stone;
    And in my arms, against my breast,
    Thrust his great harp of walrus bone.

    How they came crowding, tunes on tunes!
    How good it was to touch the strings
    And feel them thrill like happy things
    That flutter from the gray cocoons
    On hedge rows, in your gradual springs!

    All grew a blur before my sight,
    As when the stealthy white fog slips
    At noonday on the staggering ships;
    I saw one single spot of light,
    Your white face, with its eager lips--

    And so I sang to that. O thou
    Who liftedst me from out my shame!
    Wert thou content when Skagi came,
    Put his own chaplet on my brow,
    And bent and kissed his own harp-frame?


    _Poi disse un altro.... "Io son Buonconte:
    Giovanna o altri non ha di me cura;
    Per ch' io vo tra costor con bassa fronte."_

    _Seguito il terzo spirito al secondo,
    "Ricorditi di me, che son la Pia;
    Siena mi fe, disfecemi Maremma.
    Salsi colui che inannellata pria
    Disposata m' avea colla sua gemma."_

                            PURGATORIO, CANTO V.



    Sister, the sun has ceased to shine;
    By companies of twain and trine
    Stars gather; from the sea
    The moon comes momently.

    On all the roads that ring our hill
    The sighing and the hymns are still:
    It is our time to gain
    Strength for to-morrow's pain.

    Yet still your eyes are wholly bent
    Upon the way that Virgil went,
    Following Sordello's sign,
    With the dark Florentine.

    Night now has barred their upward track:
    There where the mountain-side folds back
    And in the Vale of Flowers
    The Princes count their hours

    Those three friends sit in the clear starlight
    With the green-clad angels left and right,--
    Soul made by wakeful soul
    More earnest for the goal.

    So let us, sister, though our place
    Is barren of that Valley's grace,
    Sit hand in hand, till we
    Seem rich as those friends be.


    LA PIA

    Brother, 't were sweet your hand to feel
    In mine; it would a little heal
    The shame that makes me poor,
    And dumb at the heart's core.

    But where our spirits felt Love's dearth,
    Down on the green and pleasant earth,
    Remains the fleshly shell,
    Love's garment tangible.

    So now our hands have naught to say:
    Heart unto heart some other way
    Must utter forth its pain,
    Must glee or comfort gain.

    Ah, no! For souls like you and me
    Some comfort waits, but never glee:
    Not yours the young men's singing
    In Heaven, at the bride-bringing;

    Not mine, beside God's living waters,
    Dance of the marriageable daughters,
    The laughter and the ease
    Beneath His summer trees.



    In fair Arezzo's halls and bowers
    My Giovanna speeds her hours
    Delicately, nor cares
    To shorten by her prayers

    My days upon this mount of ruth:
    If those who come from earth speak sooth,
    Though still I call and call,
    She does not heed at all.

    And if aright your words I read
    At Dante's passing, he you wed
    Dipped from the drains of Hell
    The marriage hydromel.

    O therefore, while the moon intense
    Holds yonder dreaming sea suspense,
    And round the shadowy coasts
    Gather the wistful ghosts,

    Let us sit quiet all the night,
    And wonder, wonder on the light
    Worn by those spirits fair
    Whom Love has not left bare.


    LA PIA

    Even as theirs, the chance was mine
    To meet and mate beneath Love's sign,
    To feel in soul and sense
    The solemn influence

    Which, breathed upon a man or maid,
    Maketh forever unafraid,
    Though life with death unite
    That spirit to affright,--

    Which lifts the changèd heart high up,
    As the priest lifts the changèd cup,
    Boldens the feet to pace
    Before God's proving face.

    O just a thought beyond the blue
    The wings of the dove yearned down and through!
    Even now I hear and hear
    How near they were, how near!

    I murmur not. Rightly disgraced,
    The weak hand stretched abroad in haste
    For gifts barely allowed
    The tacit, strong, and proud.

    But therefore was I so intent
    To watch where Dante onward went
    With the Roman spirit pure
    And the grave troubadour,

    Because my mind was busy then
    With the loves that wait those gentle men:
    Cunizza one; and one
    Bice, above the sun;

    And for the other, more and less
    Than woman's near-felt tenderness,
    A million voices dim
    Praising him, praising him.



    The waves that wash this mountain's base
    Were crimson in the sun's low rays,
    When, singing high and fast,
    An angel downward passed,

    To bid some patient soul arise
    And make it fair for Paradise;
    And upward, so attended,
    That soul its journey wended;

    Yet you, who in these lower rings
    Wait for the coming of such wings,
    Turned not your eyes to view
    Whether they came for you,

    But watched, but watched great Virgil stayed
    Greeting Sordello's couchant shade,
    Which to salute him rose
    Like lion from its pose;

    While humbly by those lords of song
    Stood he whose living limbs are strong
    To mount where Mary's bliss
    Is shed on Beatrice.

    On him your gaze was fastened, more
    Than on those great names Mantua bore;
    Your eyes hold the distress
    Still, of that wistfulness.

    Yea, fit he seemed much love to rouse!
    His pilgrim lips and iron brows
    Grew like a woman's, dim,
    While you held speech with him;

    And troubled came his mortal breath
    The while I told him of my death;
    His looks were changed and wan
    When Virgil led him on.


    LA PIA

    E'er since Casella came this morn,
    Newly o'er yonder ocean borne,
    Bound upward for the choir
    Who purge themselves in fire,

    And from that meinie he was of
    Stayed backward at my cry of love,
    To speak awhile with me
    Of life and Tuscany,

    And, parting, told us how e'er day
    Was done, Dante would come this way,
    With mortal feet, to find
    His sweetheart, sky-enshrined,--

    E'er since Casella spoke such news
    My heart has lain in a golden muse,
    Picturing him and her,
    What starry ones they were.

    And now the moon sheds its compassion
    O'er the hushed mount, I try to fashion
    The manner of their meeting,
    Their few first words of greeting.

    O well for them, with claspèd hands,
    Unshamed amid the heavenly bands!
    They hear no pitying pair
    Of old-time lovers there

    Look down and say in an undertone,
    "This latest-come, who comes alone,
    Was still alone on earth,
    And lonely from his birth."

    Nor feel a sudden whisper mar
    God's weather, "Dost thou see the scar
    That spirit hideth so?
    Who dealt her such a blow

    "That God can hardly wipe it out?"
    And answer, "She gave love, no doubt,
    To one who saw not fit
    To set much store by it."


    This, then, is she,
    My mother as she looked at seventeen,
    When she first met my father. Young incredibly,
    Younger than spring, without the faintest trace
    Of disappointment, weariness, or tean
    Upon the childlike earnestness and grace
    Of the waiting face.
    These close-wound ropes of pearl
    (Or common beads made precious by their use)
    Seem heavy for so slight a throat to wear;
    But the low bodice leaves the shoulders bare
    And half the glad swell of the breast, for news
    That now the woman stirs within the girl.
    And yet,
    Even so, the loops and globes
    Of beaten gold
    And jet
    Hung, in the stately way of old,
    From the ears' drooping lobes
    On festivals and Lord's-day of the week,
    Show all too matron-sober for the cheek,--
    Which, now I look again, is perfect child,
    Or no--or no--'t is girlhood's very self,
    Moulded by some deep, mischief-ridden elf
    So meek, so maiden mild,
    But startling the close gazer with the sense
    Of passions forest-shy and forest-wild,
    And delicate delirious merriments.

    As a moth beats sidewise
    And up and over, and tries
    To skirt the irresistible lure
    Of the flame that has him sure,
    My spirit, that is none too strong to-day,
    Flutters and makes delay,--
    Pausing to wonder on the perfect lips,
    Lifting to muse upon the low-drawn hair
    And each hid radiance there,
    But powerless to stem the tide-race bright,
    The vehement peace which drifts it toward the light
    Where soon--ah, now, with cries
    Of grief and giving-up unto its gain
    It shrinks no longer nor denies,
    But dips
    Hurriedly home to the exquisite heart of pain,--
    And all is well, for I have seen them plain,
    The unforgettable, the unforgotten eyes!
    Across the blinding gush of these good tears
    They shine as in the sweet and heavy years
    When by her bed and chair
    We children gathered jealously to share
    The sunlit aura breathing myrrh and thyme,
    Where the sore-stricken body made a clime
    Gentler than May and pleasanter than rhyme,
    Holier and more mystical than prayer.

    God, how thy ways are strange!
    That this should be, even this,
    The patient head
    Which suffered years ago the dreary change!
    That these so dewy lips should be the same
    As those I stooped to kiss
    And heard my harrowing half-spoken name,
    A little ere the one who bowed above her,
    Our father and her very constant lover,
    Rose stoical, and we knew that she was dead.
    Then I, who could not understand or share
    His antique nobleness,
    Being unapt to bear
    The insults which time flings us for our proof,
    Fled from the horrible roof
    Into the alien sunshine merciless,
    The shrill satiric fields ghastly with day,
    Raging to front God in his pride of sway
    And hurl across the lifted swords of fate
    That ringed Him where He sat
    My puny gage of scorn and desolate hate
    Which somehow should undo Him, after all!
    That this girl face, expectant, virginal,
    Which gazes out at me
    Boon as a sweetheart, as if nothing loth
    (Save for the eyes, with other presage stored)
    To pledge me troth,
    And in the kingdom where the heart is lord
    Take sail on the terrible gladness of the deep
    Whose winds the gray Norns keep,--
    That this should be indeed
    The flesh which caught my soul, a flying seed,
    Out of the to and fro
    Of scattering hands where the seedsman Mage,
    Stooping from star to star and age to age
    Sings as he sows!
    That underneath this breast
    Nine moons I fed
    Deep of divine unrest,
    While over and over in the dark she said,
    "Blessèd! but not as happier children blessed"--
    That this should be
    Even she....
    God, how with time and change
    Thou makest thy footsteps strange!
    Ah, now I know
    They play upon me, and it is not so.
    Why, 't is a girl I never saw before,
    A little thing to flatter and make weep,
    To tease until her heart is sore,
    Then kiss and clear the score;
    A gypsy run-the-fields,
    A little liberal daughter of the earth,
    Good for what hour of truancy and mirth
    The careless season yields
    Hither-side the flood o' the year and yonder of the neap;
    Then thank you, thanks again, and twenty light good-byes.--
    O shrined above the skies,
    Frown not, clear brow,
    Darken not, holy eyes!
    Thou knowest well I know that it is thou!
    Only to save me from such memories
    As would unman me quite,
    Here in this web of strangeness caught
    And prey to troubled thought
    Do I devise
    These foolish shifts and slight;
    Only to shield me from the afflicting sense
    Of some waste influence
    Which from this morning face and lustrous hair
    Breathes on me sudden ruin and despair.
    In any other guise,
    With any but this girlish depth of gaze,
    Your coming had not so unsealed and poured
    The dusty amphoras where I had stored
    The drippings of the winepress of my days.
    I think these eyes foresee,
    Now in their unawakened virgin time,
    Their mother's pride in me,
    And dream even now, unconsciously,
    Upon each soaring peak and sky-hung lea
    You pictured I should climb.
    Broken premonitions come,
    Shapes, gestures visionary,
    Not as once to maiden Mary
    The manifest angel with fresh lilies came
    Intelligibly calling her by name;
    But vanishingly, dumb,
    Thwarted and bright and wild,
    As heralding a sin-defiled,
    Earth-encumbered, blood-begotten, passionate man-child,
    Who yet should be a trump of mighty call
    Blown in the gates of evil kings
    To make them fall;
    Who yet should be a sword of flame before
    The soul's inviolate door
    To beat away the clang of hellish wings;
    Who yet should be a lyre
    Of high unquenchable desire
    In the day of little things.--
    Look, where the amphoras,
    The yield of many days,
    Trod by my hot soul from the pulp of self
    And set upon the shelf
    In sullen pride
    The Vineyard-master's tasting to abide--
    O mother mine!
    Are these the bringings-in, the doings fine,
    Of him you used to praise?
    Emptied and overthrown
    The jars lie strown.
    These, for their flavor duly nursed,
    Drip from the stopples vinegar accursed;
    These, I thought honied to the very seal,
    Dry, dry,--a little acid meal,
    A pinch of mouldy dust,
    Sole leavings of the amber-mantling must;
    These, rude to look upon,
    But flasking up the liquor dearest won,
    Through sacred hours and hard,
    With watching and with wrestlings and with grief,
    Even of these, of these in chief,
    The stale breath sickens, reeking from the shard.
    Nothing is left. Ay, how much less than naught!
    What shall be said or thought
    Of the slack hours and waste imaginings,
    The cynic rending of the wings,
    Known to that froward, that unreckoning heart
    Whereof this brewage was the precious part,
    Treasured and set away with furtive boast?
    O dear and cruel ghost,
    Be merciful, be just!
    See, I was yours and I am in the dust.
    Then look not so, as if all things were well!
    Take your eyes from me, leave me to my shame,
    Or else, if gaze they must,
    Steel them with judgment, darken them with blame;
    But by the ways of light ineffable
    You bade me go and I have faltered from,
    By the low waters moaning out of hell
    Whereto my feet have come,
    Lay not on me these intolerable
    Looks of rejoicing love, of pride, of happy trust!

    Nothing dismayed?
    By all I say and all I hint not made
    O then, stay by me! Let
    These eyes afflict me, cleanse me, keep me yet.
    Brave eyes and true!
    See how the shriveled heart, that long has lain
    Dead to delight and pain,
    Stirs, and begins again
    To utter pleasant life, as if it knew
    The wintry days were through;
    As if in its awakening boughs it heard
    The quick, sweet-spoken bird.
    Strong eyes and brave,
    Inexorable to save!

  |                                                                    |
  | Transcriber's Note:                                                |
  |                                                                    |
  |                                                                    |
  | Spacing for contractions has been retained to match the original   |
  | 1901 text.                                                         |
  |                                                                    |
  | Both "gray" and "grey" are used in this text, as per the original. |
  |                                                                    |

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