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Title: Nirvana Days
Author: Rice, Cale Young, 1872-1943
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.

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by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



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                             NIRVANA DAYS

                                  BY
                           CALE YOUNG RICE

                              AUTHOR OF
                CHARLES DI TOCCA, A NIGHT IN AVIGNON,
                    YOLANDA OF CYPRUS, DAVID, ETC.


                               NEW YORK
                      DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                                MCMIX


                _Copyright, 1909, by Cale Young Rice_



                                  TO
                           JAMES LANE ALLEN

                 WITH FRIENDSHIP AND FAITHFUL ESTEEM



                               FOREWORD


A few of the poems of this volume are retained from two of the author's
earlier volumes which are now out of print. The rest are new.



                               CONTENTS


  NON-DRAMATIC:                                              PAGE
    INVOCATION                                                  3
    THE FAIRIES OF GOD                                          4
    A SONG OF THE OLD VENETIANS                                 6
    NIRVANA DAYS                                                8
    THE YOUNG TO THE OLD                                       21
    OFF THE IRISH COAST                                        23
    A VISION OF VENUS AND ADONIS                               24
    SOMNAMBULISM                                               26
    SERENATA MAGICA                                            28
    O-SHICHI AND MOTO                                          31
    AS OF OLD                                                  40
    A PRAYER                                                   42
    THE SONG OF A NATURE WORSHIPER                             43
    THE INFINITE'S QUEST                                       45
    LAD AND LASS                                               46
    THE STRONG MAN TO HIS SIRES                                48
    AT STRATFORD                                               53
    THE IMAGE PAINTER                                          54
    WANDA                                                      56
    IN A STORM                                                 60
    ANTAGONISTS                                                61
    SEEDS                                                      63
    WORLD-SORROW                                               64
    THE SOUL'S RETURN                                          67
    BIRTHRIGHT                                                 69
    ROMANCE                                                    71
    ON THE ATLANTIC                                            73
    BY A SILENT STREAM                                         74
    THE GREAT BUDDHA OF KAMAKURA TO THE SPHINX                 76
    NECROMANCE                                                 78
    LOOK NOT TO THE WEST                                       79
    A NIKKO SHRINE                                             81
    THE QUESTION                                               83
    I'LL LOOK NO MORE                                          85
    NIGHT'S OCCULTISM                                          86

  MORE OR LESS DRAMATIC:                                     PAGE
    UNCROWNED                                                  87
    WRITTEN IN HELL                                            88
    AT THE HELM                                                93
    DEAD LOVE                                                  94
    MORTAL SIN                                                 96
    SEA-MAD                                                    97
    THE DEATH-SPRITE                                           99
    WORMWOOD                                                  103
    QUEST AND REQUITAL (_A Quatorzain Sequence_)              105
    LOVE IN EXTREMIS                                          112
    OVER THE DREGS                                            114
    BEWITCHED                                                 116
    QUARREL                                                   118
    OF THE FLESH                                              120
    A DEATH SONG                                              123
    ON BALLYTEIGUE BAY                                        125
    NIGHT-RIDERS                                              129
    HONOR                                                     132
    BRUDE, A DRAMATIC FANTASY                                 135



  INVOCATION

  (_From a High Cliff_)


  Sweep unrest
  Out of my blood,
  Winds of the sea! Sweep the fog
  Out of my brain
  For I am one
  Who has told Life he will be free.
  Who will not doubt of work that's done,
  Who will not fear the work to do.
  Who will hold peaks Promethean
  Better than all Jove's honey-dew.
  Who when the Vulture tears his breast
  Will smile into the Terror's Eyes.
  Who for the World has this Bequest--
  Hope, that eternally is wise.



  THE FAIRIES OF GOD


  Last night I slipt from the banks of dream
  And swam in the currents of God,
  On a tide where His fairies were at play,
  Catching salt tears in their little white hands,
  For human hearts;
  And dancing dancing, in gala bands,
  On the currents of God;
  And singing, singing:--
  _There is no wind blows here or spray--
  Wind upon us!
  Only the waters ripple away
  Under our feet as we gather tears.
  God has made mortals for the years,
  Us for alway!
  God has made mortals full of fears,
  Fears for the night and fears for the day.
  If they would free them from grief that sears,
  If they would keep all that love endears,
  If they would lay no more lilies on biers--
  Let them say!
  For we are swift to enchant and tire
  Time's will!
  Our feet are wiser than all desire,
  Our song is better than faith or fame;
  To whom it is given no ill e'er came,
  Who has it not grows chill!
  Who has it not grows laggard and lame,
  Nor knows that the world is a Minstrel's lyre,
  Smitten and never still!..._
  Last night on the currents of God.



  A SONG OF THE OLD VENETIANS


  The seven fleets of Venice
  Set sail across the sea
  For Cyprus and for Trebizond
  Ayoub and Araby.
  Their gonfalons are floating far,
  St. Mark's has heard the mass,
  And to the noon the salt lagoon
  Lies white, like burning glass.

  The seven fleets of Venice--
  And each its way to go,
  Led by a Falier or Tron,
  Zorzi or Dandalo.
  The Patriarch has blessed them all,
  The Doge has waved the word,
  And in their wings the murmurings
  Of waiting winds are heard.

  The seven fleets of Venice--
  And what shall be their fate?
  One shall return with porphyry
  And pearl and fair agàte.
  One shall return with spice and spoil
  And silk of Samarcand.
  But nevermore shall _one_ win o'er
  The sea, to any land.

  _Oh, they shall bring the East back,
  And they shall bring the West,
  The seven fleets our Venice sets
  A-sail upon her quest.
  But some shall bring despair back
  And some shall leave their keels
  Deeper than wind or wave frets,
  Or sun ever steals._



  NIRVANA DAYS


  I

  If I were in Japan today,
    In little Japan today,
  I'd watch the sampan-rowers ride
    On Yokohama bay.
  I'd watch the little flower-folk
    Pass on the Bund, where play
  Of "foreign" music fills their ears
    With wonder new alway.

  Or in a kuruma I'd step
    And "Noge-yama!" cry,
  And bare brown feet should wheel me fast
    Where Noge-yama, high
  Above the city and sea's vast
    Uprises, with the sigh
  Of pines about its festal fanes
    Built free to sun and sky.

  And there till dusk I'd sit and think
    Of Shaka Muni, lord
  Of Buddhas; or of Fudo's fire
    And rope and lifted sword.
  And, ere I left, a surging shade
    Of clouds, a distant horde,
  Should break and Fugi's cone stand clear--
    With sutras overscored.

  Sutras of ice and rock and snow,
    Written by hands of heat
  And thaw upon it, till 'twould seem
    Meant for the final seat
  Of the lord Buddha and his bliss--
    If ever he repeat
  This life where millions still are bound
    Within Illusion's cheat.


  II

  Or were I in Japan today--
    Perchance at Kyoto--
  Down Tera-machi I would search
    For charm or curio.
  Up narrow stairs in sandals pure
    Of soil or dust I'd go
  Into a room of magic shapes--
    Gods, dragons, dread Nio.

  And seated on the silent mats,
    With many a treasure near--
  Of ivory the gods have dreamt,
    And satsuma as dear,
  Of bronzes whose mysterious mint
    Seems not of now or here--
  I'd buy and dream and dream and buy,
    Lost far in Mâyâ's sphere.

  Then gathering up my gains at last,
    Mid "sayonaras" soft
  And bows and gentle courtesies
    Repeated oft and oft,
  My host and I should part--"O please
    The skies much weal to waft
  His years," I'd think, then cross San-jo
    To fair Chion-in aloft.

  For set aloft and set apart,
    Beyond the city's din,
  Under the shade of ancient heights
    Lies templed calm Chion-in.
  And there the great bell's booming fills
    Its gates all day, and thin
  Low beating on mokugyo, by
    Priests passioning for sin.

  And there the sun upon its courts
    And carvings, gods and graves,
  Rests as no light of earth-lands known,
    Like to Nirvana laves
  And washes with sweet under-flow
    Into the soul's far caves.
  And no more shall this life seem real
    To one who feels its waves.

  "No more!" I'd say, then wander on
    To Kiyomizu-shrine,
  Which is so old antiquity's
    Far self cannot divine
  Its birth, but knows that Kwannon, she
    Of mercy's might benign,
  Has reached her thousand hands always
    From it to Nippon's line.

  And She should hear my many prayers,
    And have my freest gifts.
  And many days beside her should
    I watch the crystal rifts
  Of Otawa's clear waters earn
    Their way, o'er rocks and drifts,
  Beside the trestled temple down--
    Like murmurs of sweet shrifts.

  Then, when the city wearied me,
    To Katsura I'd wend--
  A garden hid across green miles
    Of rice-lands quaintly penned.
  And, by the stork-bestridden lake,
    I'd walk or musing mend
  My soul with lotus-memories
    And hopes--without an end.


  III

  Or were I in Japan today,
    Hiroshima should call
  My heart--Hiroshima built round
    Her ancient castle wall.
  By the low flowering moat where sun
    And silence ever fall
  Into a swoon, I'd build again
    Old days of Daimyo thrall.

  Of charge and bloody countercharge,
    When many a samurai
  Fierce-panoplied fell at its pale,
    Suppressing groan or cry;
  Suppressing all but silent hates
    That swept from eye to eye,
  While lips smiled decorously on,
    Or mocked urbane goodbye.

  Then to the river I would pass
    And drift upon its tide
  By many a tea-house hung in bloom
    Above its mirrored side.
  And geisha fluttering gay before
    Their guests should pause in pied
  Kimono, then with laughter bright
    Behind the shoji hide.

  Unto an isle of Ugina's
    Low port my craft should swing,
  Or scarce an island seems it now
    To my fair fancying,
  But a shrined jut of earth up thro
    The sea from which to sing
  Unto the evening star of all
    Night's incarnations bring.

  Then backward thro the darkened streets
    I'd walk: long lanterns writ
  With ghostly characters should dance
    Beside each door, or flit,
  Thin paper spirits, to and fro
    And mow the wind, when it
  Demanded of them reverence
    And passed with twirl or twit.

  What music, too, of samisen
    And koto I should hear!
  Tinkle on weirder tinkle thro
    The strangely wistful ear
  What shadows on the shoji-door
    Of my dim soul should veer
  All night in sleep, and haunt the light
    Of many a coming year!


  IV

  Or were I in Japan today,
    From Ujina I'd sail
  For mountain-isled Migajima
    Upon the distance, frail
  As the mirage, to Amida,
    Of this world's transient tale,
  Where he sits clothed in boundless light
    And sees it vainly ail.

  Up to the great sea-torii,
    Its temple-gate, I'd wind,
  There furl my sail beneath its beam;
    And soon my soul should find
  What it shall never, tho it sift
    The world elsewhere, and blind
  Itself at last with sight of all
    Earth's blisses to mankind.

  "Migajima! Migajima!"
    How would enchantment chant
  The syllables within me, till
    Desire should cease and pant
  Of passion press no more my will--
    But let charmed peace supplant
  All thought of birth and death and birth--
    Yea, karma turn askant.

  For on Migajima none may
    Give birth and none may die--
  Since birth and death are equal sins
    Unto the wise. So I
  Should muse all day where the sea spills
    Its murmur softly by
  The still stone lanterns all arow
    Under the deathless sky.

  And under cryptomeria-tree
    And camphor-tree and pine,
  And tall pagoda, rising roof
    On roof into the shine
  Of the pure air--red roof on roof,
    With memories in each line
  Of far Confucian China where
    They first were held divine.

  And o'er Migajima the moon
    Should rise for me again.
  So magical its glow, I dare
    Think of it only when
  My heart is strong to shun the snare
    Of witcheries that men
  May lose their souls in evermore,
    Nor, after, care nor ken.


  V

  Yes, were I in Japan today
    These things I'd do, and more.
  For Ise gleams in royal groves,
    And Nara with its lore,
  And Nikko hid in mountains--where
    The Shogun, great of yore,
  Built timeless tombs whose glory glooms
    Funereally o'er.

  These things I'd do! But last of all,
    On Kamakura's lea,
  I'd seek Daibutsu's face of calm
    And still the final sea
  Of all the West within me--from
    Its fret and fever free
  My spirit--into patience, peace,
    And passion's mastery.



  THE YOUNG TO THE OLD


  You who are old--
  And have fought the fight--
  And have won or lost or left the field--
  Weigh us not down
  With fears of the world, as we run!
  With the wisdom that is too right,
  The warning to which we cannot yield,
  The shadow that follows the sun,
  Follows forever!
  And with all that desire must leave undone,
  Though as a god it endeavor;
  Weigh, weigh us not down!

  But gird our hope to believe--
  That all that is done
  Is done by dream and daring--
  Bid us dream on!
  That Earth was not born
  Or Heaven built of bewaring--
  Yield us the dawn!
  You dreamt your hour--and dared, but we
  Would dream till all you despaired of _be_;
  Would dare--till the world,
  Won to a new wayfaring,
  Be thence forever easier upward drawn!



  OFF THE IRISH COAST


  Gulls on the wind,
  Crying! crying!
  Are you the ghosts
  Of Erin's dead?
  Of the forlorn
  Whose days went sighing
  Ever for Beauty
  That ever fled?

  Ever for Light
  That never kindled?
  Ever for Song
  No lips have sung?
  Ever for Joy
  That ever dwindled?
  Ever for Love that stung?



  A VISION OF VENUS AND ADONIS


  I know not where it was I saw them sit,
  For in my dreams I had outwandered far
  That endless wanderer men call the sea--
  Whose winds like incantations wrap the world
  And help the moon in her high mysteries.
  I know not how it was that I was led
  Unto their tryst; or what dim infinite
  Of perfect and imperishable night
  Hung round, a radiance ineffable;
  For I was too intoxicate and tranced
  With beauty that I knew was very love.
  So when divinity from her had stolen
  Into his spirit, as, from fields of myrrh
  Or forests of red sandal by the sea,
  Steal slaking airs, and he began to speak,
  I could but gather these few fleeting words:
  "Your glance sends fragrance sweeter than the lily,
  Your hands are visible bodiments of song
  You are the voice that April light has lost,
  Her silence that was music of glad birds.
  The wind's heart have you, and its mystery,
  When poet Spring comes piping o'er the hills
  To make of Tartarus forgotten fear.
  Yea all the generations of the world,
  Whose whence and whither but the gods shall know.
  Are vassal to your vows forevermore."
  And she, I knew, made answer, for her words
  Fell warm as womanhood with wordless things,
  But I had drifted on within my dream,
  To that pale space which is oblivion.



  SOMNAMBULISM


  I

  Night is above me,
  And Night is above the night.
  The sea is beside me soughing, or is still.
  The earth as a somnambulist moves on
  In a strange sleep ...
  A sea-bird cries.
  And the cry wakes in me
  Dim, dead sea-folk, my sires--
  Who more than myself are me.
  Who sat on their beach long nights ago and saw
  The sea in its silence;
  And cursed it or implored:
  Or with the Cross defied;
  Then on the morrow in their boats went down.


  II

  Night is above me ...
  And Night is above the night.
  Rocks are about me, and, beyond, the sand ...
  And the low reluctant tide,
  That rushes back to ebb a last farewell
  To the flotsam borne so long upon its breast.
  Rocks.... But the tide is out,
  And the slime lies naked, like a thing ashamed
  That has no hiding-place.
  And the sea-bird hushes--
  The bird and all far cries within my blood--
  And earth as a somnambulist moves on.



  SERENATA MAGICA

  (_Venetian_)


  My gondola is a black sea-swan,
    And glides beneath the moon.
  Dark palaces beside me pass,
  Like visions in a beryl-glass
  Of what shall never be, alas,
    Or what has been too soon.
  Like what shall never be, but in
    The breathing of a swoon.

  My gondola is a black sea-swan,
    And makes her mystic way
  From door to phantom water-door,
  While carven balconies hang o'er
  And casements framed for love say more
    Than love can ever say.
  Say more than any voice but voice
    Of silent magic may.

  My gondola is a black sea-swan--
    Rialto lies behind.
  And by me the Salute swings,
  A loveliness that must take wings
  And vanish, as imaginings
    Within an Afrit's mind;
  As vague and vast imaginings
    That can no substance find.

  My gondola is a black sea-swan:
    San Marco and the shaft
  Of the slim Campanile steal
  Into my trance and leave a seal
  Upon my senses, like the feel
    Of long enchantment quaffed:
  Of long enchantments such as songs
    Of sage Al Raschid waft.

  My gondola is a black sea-swan
    And gains to the lagoon,
  Where samphire and sea-lavender
  Around me float or softly stir,
  While far-off Venice still lifts her
    Fair witchery to the moon
  And all that wonder e'er gave birth
    Seems out of beauty hewn.



  O-SHICHI AND MOTO


  I

    O-Shichi, all my heart today
    Is dreaming of your fate;
    And of your little house that stood
    Beside the temple gate;
    Of its plum-garden hid away
    Behind white paper doors;
  And of the young boy-priest who read too late with you love-lores.


  II

    O-Shichi dwelt in Yedo--where
    A thousand wonders dwell.
    Gods, golden palaces and shrines
    That like a charm enspell.
    O-Shichi dwelt among them there,
    More wondrous, she, than all--
  A flower some forgetful god had from his hand let fall.


  III

    And all her days were as the dream
    On flowers in the sun.
    And all her ways were as the waves
    That by Shin-bashi run.
    And in her gaze there was the gleam
    Of stars that cannot wait
  Too long for love and so fare forth from heaven to find a mate.


  IV

    O-Shichi dwelt so, till one night
    When all the city slept,
    When not a paper lantern swung,
    When only fire-flies swept
    Soft cipherings of spirit-light
    Across the temple's gloom--
  Sudden a cry was heard--the cry that should O-Shichi doom.


  V

    For following the cry came flame,
    A Chaya's roof a-blaze.
    And quickly was the street a stream
    Of stricken folk, whose gaze
    Knew well that when the morning came
    Their homes would be but smoke
  Vanished upon the winds: now had O-Shichi's fate awoke.


  VI

    And waited. For at morning priests
    In pity of her years
    And desolation led her back
    Behind the great god's spheres;
    The great god Buddha, who of beasts
    And men all mindful was.
  O Buddha, in thy very courts O-Shichi learned love's laws!


  VII

    Love of the body and the soul,
    Not of Nirvana's state!
    Love that beyond itself can see
    No beauty wise or great.
    O-Shichi for a moon--a whole
    Moon happy there beheld
  The young boy-priest whose yearning e'er into his eyes upwelled.


  VIII

    So all too soon for her was found
    Elsewhere a kindly thatch.
    And all too soon O-Shichi heard
    Behind her close love's latch.
    They led her from the temple's ground
    Into untrysting days.
  And all too soon that happy moon was hid in sorrow's haze.


  IX

    For now at dawn she rose to dress
    With blooms some honored vase,
    Or to embroider or brew tea's
    Sweet ceremonial grace.
    Or she at dusk, in sick distress,
    Before the butsudan,
  Must to ancestral tablets pray--not to her Moto-San!


  X

    Not unto him, her love, who sways
    Her breast, as moon the tide,
    Whose breath is incense--Ah, again
    To see him softly glide
    Before the grave god-idol's gaze
    Of inward ecstasy,
  To watch the great bell boom for him its mystic sutra-plea.


  XI

    But weeks grew into weariness,
    And weariness to pain,
    And pain to lonely wildness, which
    Set fire unto her brain.
    And, "I will see my love!" distress
    Made fair O-Shichi cry,
  "Tho for ten lives away from him I then must live and die."


  XII

    Yet--no! She dared not go to him,
    To her he could not come.
    Then, sudden a thought her being swept
    And struck her loud heart dumb.
    Till in her rose confusion dim,
    Fear fighting with Desire--
  Which to O-Shichi took the shape of Fudo, god of fire.


  XIII

    And Fudo won her: for that night
    Did fond O-Shichi dare
    To set aflame her father's house,
    Hoping again to share
    The temple with her acolyte,
    Her lover-priest, who, spent
  With speechless passion for her face, in vain strove to repent.


  XIV

    But ah! what destiny can do
    Is not for folly's hand.
    The flames O-Shichi kindled were
    From sea to Shiba fanned.
    And it was learned a love-sick girl
    Had charred a thousand homes.
  Then were the fury-smitten folk like to a sea that foams.


  XV

    And so they seized her: but not in
    The temple--O not there
    Had she been led again by priests
    In pity--led to share
    Her lover's eyes; no, but her sin
    Brought not one dear delight
  To poor O-Shichi--who was now to look on her last rite.


  XVI

    For to the stake they bound her--fire
    They lit--to be her fate....
    O-Shichi, have I dreamt it all?
    Your face, the temple gate,
    The fair boy-priest shut from desire
    In Buddhahood to-be?
  Then let me dream and ever dream, O flower by Yedo's sea.



  AS OF OLD


  The fishermen bade their wives farewell,
  (The sun floated merry up the morning)
  They sang, to the rhythm of the low-swung swell,
           "O come, lads, scorning
           The highlands high,
           There's no warning
           In the blue south sky,
           There's no warning,
           O come, lads, free,
  We'll cross the harbor bar and put to sea!"

  The fisherwives prayed, the sails blew fast,
  (O home it is happy where there's hoping)
  They prayed--till the mist dimmed each dim mast:
           Then "We're not moping,"
           They sweetly sang,
           "Winds come groping
           And clouds o'erhang,
           But we're not moping
           Tho left ashore;
  They'll come to us at dusk when day is o'er."

  But swifter than God the sea-quake came,
  (The fishers they were swallowed in its swirling)
  O swifter than men could name God's name.
           And white waves curling
           Hissed in to shore.
           The sea-birds whirling
           Saw what, dashed hoar?
           The sea-birds whirling
           Saw dead upborne
  The fishers that went forth upon the morn.



  A PRAYER


  One cricket left, of summer's choir.
  One glow-worm, flashing life's last fire.
    One frog with leathern croak
      Beneath the oak,--
        And the pool stands leaden
    Where November twilights deaden
      Day's unspent desire.

  One star in heaven--East or West.
  One wind--a gypsy seeking rest.
    One prayer within my heart--
      For all who part
        Upon Death's dark portal,
    With no hope of an immortal
      Morrow for life's quest.



  THE SONG OF A NATURE WORSHIPER


  Live! Live! Live!
  O send no day unto death,
  Undrained of the light, of the song, of the dew,
  Distilling within its breath.
  Drink deep of the sun, drink deep of the night,
  Drink deep of the tempest's brew,
  Of summer, of winter, of autumn, of spring--
  Whose flight can give what men never give!--
      Live!

  Live! Live! Live!
  And love life's every throb:
  The twinkling of shadows enmeshed in the trees,
  The passionate sunset's sob;
  The hurtling of wind, the heaving of hill,
  The moon-dizzy cloud, the seas
  That sweep with infinite sweeping all shores,
  And thrill with a joy unfugitive!--
      Live!

  Live! Live! Live!
  Unloose from custom and care,
  From duty and sorrow and clinging design
  Thy soul, through the silent Air.
  Go into the fields where Nature's alone
  And drink from her mystic wine
  Divinity--till thou art even as She,
  Great all ills of the world to forgive!
      Live!



  THE INFINITE'S QUEST


  All night the rain
  And the wind that beat
  Dull wings of pain
  On the seas without.
  All night a Voice
  That broke in my brain
  And blew blind thoughts about.

  All night they whirled
  As a haunted throng
  From some dim world
  Where there is no rest.
  All night the rain.
  And the wind that swirled,
  And the Infinite's lone quest.



  LAD AND LASS


  I heard the buds open their lips and whisper,
            Whisper,
                "Spring is here!"
            The robins listened
            And sang it loud.
            The blue-birds came
            In a fluttering crowd.
            The cardinal preached
            It high and proud,
                Spring!

  And thro the warm earth their song went trilling,
            Trilling,
                "Wake! Arise!"
            The kingcups quickly
            Assembled, strong.
            The bluets stept
            From the moss in throng.
            Like fairies too
            Came the cress along.
                Spring!

  And love in your breast, my lass, awaking--
            Waking.
                _Love_ was born!
            Your eyes were kindled,
            Your lips were warm.
            Wild beauties broke
            From your face and form.
            And all my heart
            Was a heaven-storm,
                Was Spring!



  THE STRONG MAN TO HIS SIRES


  Tonight as I was riding on a wave
    Of triumph and of glory,
  A Question suddenly, as from the grave,
    Rose in me, culpatory.

  "Whence come to you this joyance and this strength"
    It said, "this might of vision?
  This will that measures all things to its length,
    That cuts with calm decision?

  "This blood within your veins, that is as wine
    Which Destiny's self blesses.
  Whence flows it, from what grape that is divine,
    Or trodden from what presses?

  "Do you so proud forget what hands have borne
    You to the heights and crowned you?
  Would you behold what sackcloth has been worn
    That laurels may surround you?"...

  "I would--O lips invisible! whose breath"--
    I answered--"so arraigns me;
  Whose voice is as a sound sent forth of Death,
    And like to Death entrains me.

  "I would! For if the flesh of me and soul
    Are fibred with the ages,
  My triumph is of them and manifold
    Of all life's mystic stages."

  So, forth they came--a vast ancestral line,
    Upon my vision teeming,
  All shapes whose natal semblance could affine
    Them to me, faintly gleaming.

  I knew them as I knew myself, and felt
    The Day of each within me;
  And so began to speak, the while they dwelt
    About--they who had been me.

  "My Sires," I said, "think you I have forgot
    The fervor of your living?
  How into me is moulded all you thought.
      Of getting or of giving?

  "Think you I do not feel my every drop
    Of blood is as an ocean
  In which are surging and will never stop
    All things your hope gave motion?

  "My senses, that are swift to take delight
    And shrine it in their being,
  Are they not born of all your faith, and bright
    With all your bliss of seeing?

  "And my full heart within whose fount I hear
    Your voices that are vanished,
  Can it forget its gratitude or fear
    Foes that you braved and banished?

  "No. But the blindly striving years that led
    You to the Rose's beauty,
  Or taught you out of Ill to disembed
    The golden veins of Duty;

  "The wasting and incalculable wants
    That in you quailed or quivered;
  The longing that lit stars no dark now daunts--
    _I know, who stand delivered!_

  "To you then from whose throng the centuries
    Long dead slip now their shrouding,
  Who from oblivion's profundities
    Rise up, and round are crowding,

  "I say, Immortal do I hold your will!
    Its gathered might ascending
  Is sacred with the unconquerable might
    Of God--who sees its ending;

  "Of God--on whose strong Vine, Heredity,
    Rooted in Voids primeval,
  The world climbs ever to some great To-Be
    Of passion or reprieval."

  I said--and on night's infinite beheld
    Silence alone beside me;
  And majesty of greater meanings welled
    Into my soul, to guide me.



  AT STRATFORD


  I could not sleep. The wind poured in my ear
  Immortal names--Lear, Hamlet, Hal, Macbeth,
  And thro the night I heard the rushing breath
  Of ghost and witch and fool go whirling by.
  I followed them, under the phantom sphere
  Of the pale moon, along the Avon's near
  And nimbused flowing, followed to his bier--
  Who had evoked them first with mighty eye.
  And as I gazed upon the peaceful spire
  That points above earth's most immortal dust,
  I could have asked God for His starry Lyre
  Out of the skies to play my praise upon.
  I could have shouted, as, O Wind, thou must,
  "Here lies Humanity: kneel, and pass on."



  THE IMAGE PAINTER


  Up under the roof, in cold or heat,
  Far up, aloof from the city street,
      She sat all day
      And painted gray
  Cold idols, scarcely human.
  And if she thought of ease and rest,
  Of love that spells God's name the best,
  Her few friends heard but one request--
    "Pray for a tired little woman."

  She sat from dawn till weary dusk.
  Her hands plied on--with but a husk
      Of bread to break
      And for Christ's sake
  To bless: was _He_ not human?
  Then when the light would leave her brush
  She'd sit there still, in the dim hush,
  And say aloud, lest tears should rush--
    "Pray for a tired little woman."

  They found her so--one morning when
  A knock brought no sweet welcome ken
      Of her still face
      And cloistral grace
  And brow so bravely human.
  They found her by the window bar,
  Her eyes fixed where had been some star.
  O you that rest, where'er you are,
    Pray for the tired little woman.



  WANDA

  "She shall be sportive as the fawn
   That wild with glee across the lawn
   Or up the mountain springs;"


    I'm Wanda born
    Of the mirthful morn
  So I heard the red-buds whisper
    To the forest beech,
    Tho I know that each
  Is but a gossipy lisper.

    I taunt the brook
    With his hair outshook
  O'er the weir so cool and mossy,
    And mock the crow
    As he peers below
  With a caw that's vain and saucy.

    Where the wahoo reds
    And the sumac spreads
  Tall plumes o'er the purple privet,
    I beg a kiss
    Of the wind, tho I wis
  Right well he never will give it.

    I hide in the nook
    And sunbeams look
  For me everywhere, like fairies.
    Then out I glide
    By the gray deer's side--
  Ha, ha, but he never tarries!

    Then I fright the hare
    From his turfy lair
  And after him send a volley
    Of song that stops
    Him under the copse
  In wonderment at my folly.

    And Autumn cries
    "Be sad!" or sighs
  Thro her nun lips palely pouting.
    But then I leap
    To the woods and keep
  It wild with gleeing and shouting.

    And when the sun
    Has almost spun
  A path to his far Golconda,
    I climb the hill
    And listen, still,
  While he calls me--"Wanda! Wanda!"

    And then I go
    To the valley--Oh,
  My dreams are sweeter than dreaming!
    All night I play
    Over lands of Fay,
  In delight that seems not seeming.



  IN A STORM

  (_To a Petrel_)


  All day long in the spindrift swinging,
  Bird of the sea! bird of the sea!
  How I would that I had thy winging--
  How I envy thee!

  How I would that I had thy spirit,
  So to careen, joyous to cry,
  Over the storm and never fear it!
  Into the night that hovers near it!
  Calm on a reeling sky!

  All day long, and the night, unresting!
  Ah! I believe thy every breath
  Means that Life's Best comes ever breasting
  Peril and pain and death!



  ANTAGONISTS


  I

  Life flung to Art this voice, of mercy bare.
  "Fool, to my human earth come you, so free,
  To wreathe with phantom immortality
  Whoever climbs with passionate lone care
  That shifting, feverous and shadow stair
  To Beauty--which is vainer than the sea
  On furious thirst, or than a mote to Me
  Who fill yon infinite great Everywhere?
  Let them alone--my children! they are born
  To mart and soil and saving commerce o'er
  Wind, wave and many-fruited continents.
  And you can feed them but of crumbs and scorn,
  And futile glory when they are no more.
  Within my hand alone is recompense!"


  II

  But Art made fierce reply, "Anathema,
  On you who fill flesh but the spirit scorn.
  Who give it to the unrequiting law
  Of your brute soullessness and heart unborn
  To aught than barter in your low bazaar--
  Though Beauty die for it from star to star.
  You are the god of Judas and those who
  Betrayed Him unto nail and thorn and sword!
  Of that relentless worm-bit Florence horde
  Who drove lone Dante from them till he grew
  So great in death they begged his bones to strew
  Their pride and wealth and useless praise upon.
  Anathema! I cry; and will, till none
  Of all earth's children still shall worship you."



  SEEDS


  A thousand years
  In a mummy's hand
  A seed may lie.
  Then, planted, spring
  Into life again
  Under sun and sky.

  A thousand days
  In a soul's dark ways
  A word may wait.
  But a touch at length
  May arouse its strength
  And the word proves--Fate.



  WORLD-SORROW

  (_The Cry of the Modern_)


  World-sorrow have I known, like unto God.
  Nothing there is of pain but echoes down
  My breast with wan reverberance and pang,
  And peaceless passes thro it evermore.
  The struck bird's cry wounds my all-feeling blood
  To pity that will not be solacèd,
  Sounds on me like far pleas of the unborn
  Against predestined days. A withering bud
  Brews barrenness thro all the verdancy
  Of Spring. And in a tear--tho anguish shape it
  On the warm lid of joy--earth's Tragedy,
  Whose curtain falls not for it has no end,
  Comes mirrored to me as infinite Ill.

  How shall I 'scape it! How, O how escape
  The trooping of prayers lost upon the void,
  Of hopes misborn and fading not to rest!
  How shall I burn not with all vain-lit loves
  That alway billow thro me their slow fire
  Fed by the agony of new-broke hearts!
  How loose me from too long commisery
  For those whom unrequiting Time has given
  To the altar of the aching world's unrest!
  A grief immitigable to the Hand
  Whose mystery of returning sun can heal
  Winter away, seems here; a grief but calm
  Of immortality can make forgiven!

  For even as all the gleaming girth of stars
  That wreathe the Illimitable beauteously
  Quench not the vast of night, so do all joys
  Life strews along her passing to the grave
  Prevail not o'er the shadow of sure death.
  And O Humanity, long-suffering Harp
  Of passion-strings unnumbered, shall His skill
  Flung thus forever o'er thy fragile rest
  Build but these harmonies that seem sometimes
  Unworth the misery of the trampled worm?
  Would, would I were not vibrant with all strains
  He strikes from thee, or else more perfect tuned!
  World-sorrow have I known, like unto God.



  THE SOUL'S RETURN


    Let me lie here--
  I care not for the distant hills today,
    And the blue sphere
  Of far infinity that draws away
    All to its deep,
    Would only sweep
  Soothing the farther from me with its sway.

    Let me lie here--
  Gazing with vacant sadness on this weed.
    The cricket near
  Will utter all my heart can bear to heed.
    Another voice
    Would swell the noise
  And surge, that ever sound in human need.

    Let me lie here:
  For now, so long my wasted soul has tossed
    On the wide Mere
  Of Mystery Hope's wing alone has crossed,
    I ask no more
    Than to restore
  To simple things the wonder they have lost.



  BIRTHRIGHT

  (_To A. H. R._)


  My own, among the unnumbered years
  God casts from that full Garner which
  Is His Eternity one shall
  Be ours, beyond all fate or fears.

  For, ranging lone amid its thorns.
  Seeking the buds that grew between,
  We met and made its morning seem
  New in a world grown old to morns.

  And so tho He may scatter still
  Many a fadeless other round,
  In none, for us shall there be found
  That first awakening and thrill.

  But as in peace we tread Love's Land,
  To which it gave us right of birth,
  We shall remember that New Earth
  Came when we first walked hand in hand.



  ROMANCE

  (_To A. H. R. on North Cliff, Lynton, Devon_)


  White-caps hurry to meet the shore
  An hundred fathoms down.
  Gray sails are shimmering on the wind
  Far out from Lynmouth town.

  High crags above us are whispering keen,
  The heather and the ling
  Laugh to the sky as driven by
  The wild gulls cry or cling.

  And, where the far sun like a god
  Scatters the mist, lies Shore.
  Is it Romance's magic realm
  Spring reigns forever o'er?

  Romance that our morning hearts could see
  Across the darkest foam?
  Then do we know it well, my love,
  Because it is our Home.



  ON THE ATLANTIC

  (_To A. H. R._)


  Who stood upon that schooner's driven deck
  Last night as reefed and shuddering she hove
  Into the twilight and all desperate drove
  From wave to angrier wave that sought her wreck?
  Who labored at her helm and watched the wind
  Stagger the sea with all his stunning might,
  Until in dimness dwindling from our sight
  She vanished in the wrack that rode behind?
  We know not, you and I, but our two souls
  That followed as storm-petrels o'er the waves
  Felt all the might of Him who sinks or saves,
  And all the pity of earth's unreached goals.
  Felt all--then swift returning to our love
  Dwelt in its peace, uplifted safe above.



  BY A SILENT STREAM


  To sit by a silent stream,
  Watching water-lilies dream:
    While breezes winnow
    The floating seeds,
    And the aery minnow
  Weaves his wavy web among the reeds.

  Where a fallen sycamore
  Whitely arches a pathway o'er,
    And shadows darkle
    The lambent cool,
    As, softly a-sparkle.
  Sunbeams arrow lightnings thro the pool.

  Where the everlasting's breath
  Odors mysteries of death.
    Where iron-weeds, rusted
    Leaf and pod,
    By insects dusted,
  Rustle--then in autumn sadness nod.

  To sit ... till every sense
  Lose thought of whither and whence;
    Till earth and heaven
    And faith and fate
    No longer leaven
  Life, with hope or fear, or love or hate.



  THE GREAT BUDDHA OF KAMAKURA TO THE SPHINX


  Grave brother of the burning sands,
  Whose eyes enshrine forever
  The desert's soul, are you not worn
  Of gazing outward to dim strands
  Of stars that weary never?

  Infinity no answer has
  For Time's untold distresses.
  Its deepest maze of mystery
  Is but Illusion built up as
  The blind build skies--with guesses.

  Nor has Eternity a place
  On any starry summit.
  The winds of Death are wide as Life,
  And leave no world untouched--but race,
  And soon with Night benumb it.

  And Karma is the law of soul
  And star--yea, of all Being.
  And from it but one way there is.
  Retreat into that trancèd Whole--
  Which is not Sight nor Seeing;

  Which is not Mind nor Mindlessness,
  Nor Deed nor driven Doer,
  Nor Want nor Wasting of Desire;
  But only that which won can bless;
  And of all else is pure.

  Turn then your eyes from the far track
  Of worlds, and gazing inward,
  O brother, fare where Life has come,
  Yea, into its far Whence fare back.
  All other ways are sinward.



  NECROMANCE


  Can heedless gazing teach me more than toil?
  Can swaying of sere sedge along the slope,
  Or the dull lisp of oaken limbs that foil
  The sun's ensheathing fervor, interfuse
  My vacant being with far meanings whose
  Soft airs blow from the hidden seas of Hope?
  Or can the wintry sumac sably stooping
  So charm and lift my heart from heartless drooping
  When other healings all were asked in vain?
  Yes--there are witcheries in the things of earth
  That breathe with an illimitable voice
  Wisdom and calm to us, and lure to birth
  Dim intimations bidding us rejoice
  Even in the great mystery of Pain.



  LOOK NOT TO THE WEST


  Look not to the west where the sun is dying
    On fields of darkening clouds!
  Look not to the west where the wild birds nest
    And the winds are hieing
    To sweep away sleep from the forest,
  And tatter the shrouds of sable silence
  Lit by the fire-fly's morris-dance.
  Look not to the west--
    'Tis best for the heart to hear not the chants
    Of Evening over day's death!

  Look not to the west where the sun is dying--
    The sun that rose with song!
  Look not to the west where the closèd quest
    Of thy soul seems lying;
    Where every sorrow that ever
  Was wed with wrong in human breast,
  From the sea of its radiance never fades!
  Look not to the west--
    'Tis best for the heart to see not the shades
    That rise--the wrecks of the Past!



  A NIKKO SHRINE


  Under the sway, in old Japan,
    Of silent cryptic trees,
  There is a shrine the worldliest
    Would near with bended knees.

  Green, thro a torii, the way
    Leads to it, worn, across
  A rivulet whose voice intones
    With mystery of moss.

  A mystery that is everywhere:
    The god beneath his shrine
  Seems but a mossy shape--yet so
    Ensheathed is more divine.

  For tho Nature has muffled him
    And sealed him there away,
  The meaning of all faith remains--
    That men will ever pray.

  Aye will, as long as soul has need,
    As long as earth is sod
  With tombs, bow down the knee to all
    That wakens in them God.



  THE QUESTION


  I shall lie so one day,
  With lips of Silence set;
  Eyes that no tear can wet
  Again: a thing of Clay.

  I shall lie so, and Earth
  Will seize again her dust--
  Though she must gnaw and rust
  The coffin's iron girth.

  I shall lie so--and they
  Who still the Day bestride,
  Will stand so by my side
  And with sad yearning say:

  "What is he now, this man,
  Shut in a pallor there,
  His spirit that could dare,
  What--what now is its span?

  "A withered atom's space
  Within a withered brain?
  Or can it from the Wain
  To far Orion race?"

  And, like all that have died,
  I shall but answer--naught.
  Yet Time this truth has taught:
  The Question--will abide.



  I'LL LOOK NO MORE


  I'll look no more! thro timeless hours my eyes
  Without intent have watched the slowing flight
  Of ebon crows across quiescent skies
  Till all are gone; the last, a lonely bird,
  Scudding to rest thro streams of golden curd
  That flow far eastward to the coming night.
  And as I turn again to foiling thought
  My spirit leaves me--as faint zephyrs leave
  The trees at evening; tho all day they've sought
  A place to hide them in and fondly grieve.
  And silently the slow oil sinks beneath
  The noiseless burning wick of yellow flame.
  It is as if God back to him would breathe
  All the world's given life, and end its Aim.



  NIGHT'S OCCULTISM


  Northward the twilight thro dark drifts
    Of cloud-wreck lingers cold.
  Southward the sated lightning sinks
    Beneath the wooded wold.

  Eastward immovable deep shade
    Is sealed with mystery.
  Westward a memory of dead gold
    Wakes on a sunset sea.

  Under, is earth's still orbiting;
    Over, a clearing star:
  In all, the spirit litany
    Of life's strange avatar.



  UNCROWNED


  I am not other than men are, you say?
  But faulty and failing? And your love can lend
  No glory of illusion to o'erlay
  The lack, and make me seem one in whom blend
  Nobilities wherein your heart may lose
  All that it feels of flaw in me, or rues?

  Can it so be? Did ever woman love
  Whose faith wreathed not about the brow she chose
  Aureolas illumining him above
  All that another thinks he is, or knows?
  I ask it bravely, for the way is long,
  And, haloless, should I not lead you wrong?



  WRITTEN IN HELL

  (_By Sir Giles, whom the Witch of Urm leads to Judas Iscariot_)


  Against a castle moated gloomily by a bitter drain of blood,
  From whose fetid wave contumely
  Of all truth was reeking fumily
  And infectiously, I stood;
    Waiting for her sign--
    A shriek repeated nine.

  I shrank at every aspish quivering fear set crawling in my breast.
  But betimes I felt a shivering
  Shriek cut ear and brain with slivering
  Stings of terror, sin, unrest--
    Christ! it raised the dead
    Out of the moat's black bed.

  Nine times--and then across the thickening reek a rusty draw was
          dropped;
  Thro portcullis sped a quickening
  Shadow past to where with sickening
  Feet, befixed by awe I stopped--
    There she laughed a laugh
    No devil's soul could quaff.

  I swear its clamor tore the stuttering leaves from shrub and shrunken
          tree;
  Swear no limbo e'er heard muttering
  Like that spawn of echoes sputtering
  Midnight with their drunken glee--
    Yet, ere half were done,
    I could not hear a one.

  She put her finger burning eerily to my lips--I heard them lock.
  Led me then a marsh-way, cheerily--
  Tho the quick ooze spurted drearily
  Thro root-rotten curd and rock.
    Things like water-ghouls
    Slid slimily in pools.

  She stepped just once upon a hideous burrow, dank and haired with grass;
  Fixed upon me eyes perfidious
  As a fiend's are, yet insidious--
  Questioned if I dared to pass.
    "I will search all Hell
    To find him," from me fell.

  And so was drawn thro dark cadaverous with the sound of gabbling dead.
  Where we heard them hoot palaverous
  Drivel learned beneath unsavorous
  Moulds, and saw a glutton's head
    Grin to a hissing bat,
    That scraped him as he spat.

  Witch she was, I knew, turned shepherdess to a soul blind as a sheep's.
  But I dogged her on o'er jeopardous
  Steeps down which she sped with leopardess
  Limbs into miasmic deeps.
    "Swim," she gasped behind--
    Then like a she-wolf whined.

  It almost seemed to me as deadening as the sluice of dreary Styx.
  Fire and foulness mixed with leadening
  Slush I drank; but swam the reddening
  Stuff a league with weary licks.
    Up a sulphurous bank
    We climbed, and there I sank.

  Again she laughed that laugh--a shrivelling, ghastly, gaunt, uncanny
          spate.
  Up I sprang and cursed my snivelling
  Soul for weariness--for drivelling,
  And for so forgetting Hate.
    "You will find him there"
    She pointed--thro her hair.

  I write these words from Hell where bloodily locked with him in fight
          I woke.
  Where we fall down caverns ruddily
  Spilt with glazing gore and muddily
  Dashed with stagnant night and smoke.
    Yet I do not care,
    For he groans by me--there.



  AT THE HELM

  (_Nova Scotian_)


  Fog, and a wind that blows the sea
  Blindly into my eyes.
  And I know not if my soul shall be
  When the day dies.

  But if it be not and I lose
  All that men live to gain--
  I who have little known but hues
  Of wind and rain--

  Still I shall envy no man's lot,
  For I have held this great,
  Never in whines to have forgot
  That Fate is Fate.



  DEAD LOVE


  If this should never end--
  This wandering in oblivious mood
  Along a rutless road that leads
  From wood to deeper wood--
  This crunching with unheedful foot
  Acorns, I think, and withered leaves ...
  Perhaps a rotten root--

  If this should never end--
  This seeing with insentient eyes
  Something that seems like earth, and, too,
  Like overbending skies;
  This feeling, well--that time is space,
  Space, time; and each a pallid glass
  In which Life sees her face--

  If it should never end--
  The road, the wandering and the feel
  Of dead infinities that seem
  O'er our dead sense to steal,
  And like seas cease above--
  Would it much matter, love?



  MORTAL SIN

  (_Song for a drama_)


  Much the wind
  Knows of my heart,
  Though he whispers in my ear
  That he has seen me burn and start
  When I dream of your breast, my dear.

  Much the wind
  Knows of my soul!
  For no soul has he to lose
  On a mistress who can dole
  Kisses that drug as poison-dews.



  SEA-MAD

  (_A Breton Maid_)


  Three waves of the sea came up on the wind to me!
  One said:
  "Away! he is dead!
  Upon my foam I have flung his head!
  Go back to your cote, you shall never wed!--
          (Nor he!)"

  Three waves of the sea came up on the wind to me.
  Two brake.
  The third with a quake
  Cried loud, "O maid, I'll find for thy sake
  His dead lost body: prepare his wake!"
  (And back it plunged to the sea!)

  Three waves of the sea came up on the wind to me.
  One bore--
  And swept on the shore--
  His pale, pale face I shall kiss no more!
  Ah, woe to women death passes o'er!
          (Woe's me!)



  THE DEATH-SPRITE

  (_A ballad for God_)

  _A. D._ 909


  Three kings with naught of a care
    To a hunting went;
  Three kings of stirrup fair
    And of yew-bow bent.

  Away they rode with a song
    On the summer tide;
  Away from thrid and throng
    By the blue lake side.

  And "Ho!" they vaunted aloud
    To the morning hills.
  And "Ha!"--What reck the proud
    For the God of Ills?

  Naught! so they swagged thro the glade
    Where the roe-buck rose:
  She nosed the wind, affrayed
    By the blod "Ho, hos!"

  "Three arrows now to her heart!"
    They shouted, and sped,
  Each king, an evil dart
    With a flinten head.

  And O she staggered down--
    O unpitied, slain!
  But in her dreadful swoun
    There was more than pain!

  For Horror sprang from her blood,
    A Spectre of Death!
  It drew them thro the wood--
    Where a Chapel saith

  Masses for souls that are lost
    In the wilds of sin--
  There mumbled, "Ye'll pay cost
    Ere to shrift ye win!"

  Then led them to a bay tree
    By an open grave,
  Where three ghost-kings in three
    Stony coffins clave.

  Which spake, "Lo, we too were fair!"--
    "Unto this ye'll come!"--
  "Ay ye, who of naught beware!"--
    So spake--and were dumb.

  Then of fright and dread the kings flung
    Away yew-tree bow
  (The Chapel bell slow rung
    With the bleak wind's blow).

  And fast they fled thro the glade
    To the castle hall.
  _But God had not been stayed--
    They were lepers, all!_

  Woe then to kings! to the pelf
    That men call pride!
  Christ shrive us all from self,
    From the Death-sprite hide!



  WORMWOOD

  (_In Old England_)


  What is he whispering to her there
    Under the hedge-row spray?
  "Spring, Spring, Spring?"--Is the world so fair
  To him, fool, that he has no care
    As he cuckoos it all day?

  Is he quite sure--quite sure the sap
    Of life's not hate, but love?
  If I should tell him there's no gap
  Between her and a ... nameless hap,
    Would he still want his "dove"?

  Or would he go as blind to buds
    As I am, who watch here,
  While he is pouring poet floods
  From his thin lips, and while his blood's
    Burning for her so near?

  It would be swords--swords!... And his steel
    Should rip death from my breast.
  But would he ever know the feel
  Of Spring again, of its ribald reel,
    As once _I_ did, the best?

  No! He would curse henceforward leaf
    And flower and light--as I.
  Spring?--It is fire, lust, ashes, grief--
  All that a Hell can hold, in fief!...
    He'll learn it ere he die.



  QUEST AND REQUITAL


  I

  (_Before He Comes_)

  Sweet under swooning blue and mellow mist
  September waves of forest overflow
  The hills with crimson, amaranth and gold.
  Winds warm with the memory of scented hours
  Dead Summer gathers in her leafy lap,
  Rustle the distance with dim murmurings
  That sink upon the air as soft as shades
  Dropt from the overleaning clouds to earth;
  While golden-rod and sedge and aster hushed
  In sunny silence and the oblivion
  Of life drawn from the insentient veins of Time,
  Await the searing swoon of Autumn's reign.
  It is a day when death must seem as birth,
  And birth as death; and life--till love comes--pain.


  II

  (_He Has Come_)

  These are the leafy hills and listless vales
  Of iridescent Autumn--this the oak
  Against whose lichened bole I leant and looked
  Away the sunny hours of afternoon.
  Here are the bitter-sweet and elder sprays
  I fingered, dreaming to the muted flow
  Of breezes overhead--and here the word
  I wrote unwittingly upon the soil.
  How long ago it was I cannot tell:
  The loneliness of unrequited love
  Lies like a blank eternity between
  Those hours and these I hear slip thro my heart.
  I only know all days I've ever seen
  Must seem now of some other life apart!


  III

  (_He Loves_)

  "Will you let any moment dip its wing
  Into your heart and find no love of me
  To tint with deathless Dream"--he said--"and Spring,
  Its flight to the dim bourne of memory?
  Will you have any grief that can forget
  How grief should find forgetfulness in love?
  And since your soul in my soul's zone is set
  Will it sometimes ask other spheres to rove
  Where touch and voice of me shall not be met?
  Ah no! in all the underdeeps of Death
  Or overheights of Life it still shall be
  At tryst with mine thro moan or ecstasy.
  In all!" ... Yet ere a year he'll draw no breath
  But is another's!--Will God let it be?


  IV

  (_Betrayed by Him_)

  All day I've bent my heart beneath the yoke
  Of goading toil, remembering to forget,
  To still upon my lips his kiss that woke
  Me in elysian love one word has broke--
  One stinging word of severance and regret.
  All day I've blotted from my eyes his face,
  But now at evening tide it comes again,
  And memories into my darkened soul
  Rush as the stars into high heaven's space.
  As the bright stars! But, ah, tomorrow! when
  Once more I must forget and see life's goal,
  That was so green, with sering laurel hung.
  Tomorrow and tomorrow! till is wrung
  Peace from the piteous hours I strive among!


  V

  (_Finding No Peace_)

  I say unto all hearts that cannot rest
  For want of love, for beating loud and lonely,
  Pray the great Mercy-God to give you only
  Love that is passionless within the breast.
  Pray that it may not be a haunting fire,
  A vision that shall steal insatiably
  All beauteous content, all sweet desire,
  From faith and dream, star, flower, and song, and sea.
  But seek that soul and soul may meet together
  Knowing they have forever been but one--
  Meet and be surest when ill's chartless weather
  Drives blinding gales of doubt across their sun.
  Pray--pray! lost love uptorn shall seem as nether
  Hell-hate and rage beyond oblivion.


  VI

  (_In After Years to Him_)

  You say that love then led us--you and me?
  I say 'twas hate, that wore love's wanting eyes:
  Hate that I could not tear away the lies
  That wrapped you with their silken sorcery.
  Hate that for you I could not open skies
  Where beauty lives of her own loveliness;
  That God would give me no omnipotence
  To purge and mould anew your soul's numb sense.
  Aye, hate that I could love you not tho love
  Pent in me ached with passion-born distress--
  While thro unfathomable dark the Prize
  Seemed sinking, as my soul, from heaven above.
  Love, say you? love? and hate rent us apart?
  I tell you hate alone so tears the heart.


  VII

  (_To Him After His Death_)

  God who can bind the stars eternally
  With but a breath of spirit speech, a thought;
  Who can within earth's arms lay the mad sea
  Unseverably, and count it as sheer naught;
  With his All-might could bind not you and me.
  For tho He pressed us heart to burning heart
  And set then to the passion that enthralls
  His sanction, still our souls stood e'er apart,
  As aliens beating fierce against the walls
  Of dark unsympathy that would upstart.
  Stood aliens, aye! and would tho we should meet,
  Beyond the oblivion of unnumbered births,
  Upon some world where Time cannot repeat
  The feeblest syllable that once was earth's.



  LOVE IN EXTREMIS


  I care not what they say who hold
  We should speak but of life and joy;
  I have met death in one I love,
  Death lusting to destroy.

  And I have fought him vein by vein,
  Loosened his cold and creeping clutch,
  Driven him from her--twice and thrice--
  With might too much.

  Yet with too little! for I know
  That she at last will lie there still.
  Then all my fire of love shall fail
  To thaw that chill;

  For it will freeze light from her eyes,
  Pulse from her breast and from her soul
  Me, whom no opiate of peace
  Can e'er console.

  None: ... till I follow her, in time,
  And find her, though all Dust deny!
  With that to be I'll front the day,
  And fronting die.



  OVER THE DREGS


  If I had died last year when Death
  And I were at finger-tips, till Life
  Slipping between blew her warm breath
  Into my heart again and veins,
  And opened my eyes and nulled my pains--

  If I had died where would you be?
  You so passionate, yet quick
  To escape from passion's mastery,
  When clasping and kiss and touch are gone,
  And days and space are between us drawn?

  Where would you be? My arms you chose--
  Arms too ready to seize and sin--
  And kept no burning forbiddance in those
  Still eyes of yours, or else, I think ...
  No! I unsay it! No!... So drink.

  Drink! the last glass! And then ... "My thought?"
  It is that when we've reached the last
  Of pleasure we are like two who've fought,
  Who have no common love but love
  Of fighting--so does our passion prove!

  For it is only passion--such!
  Tho clasping and kiss and touch were love,
  A little--and sometimes, maybe, much,
  When soul and heaven looked far away,
  And flesh seemed only flesh--and clay.

  But, it is ended! So, drink!... How
  You've ruined me, as I have you!
  All that you might have been! and--now!
  All that I was, until ... 'Tis clear
  I should have died in Spring last year.



  BEWITCHED

  (_On a Devon Moor_)


  Why do I babble of bitter chills--
  And icy trees--and snowy fallows?
  Why do I shudder as twilight spills
  A ghostly gray and the bent moon sallows
  The moor with her wicked flame?
  Why do the gibbering croons of the hag
  In her hut by the wood
  Go muttering, muttering in my blood--
  Till the hoot of an owl
  On the snag of a tomb
  Breaks out of the gloom
  Like the wail of a witch's name?

  Ugh, it is drawing my feet away--
  The road's gone! the moonlet's sunken!
  What shall I do if it comes to fray
  With fiends invisible, wild and drunken--
  Fiends on a churchless fell!
  Ha, is it cracking of ice in the bog
  That is clutching my throat,
  Or devils gnawing the widow's shoat?
  By the Cross of the Christ,
  There's a fog that is black
  As--U-r-r!--at my back!--
  They are dragging me ... down to ... hell!



  QUARREL


  And is it so
  That two who stand
  Heart closed in heart,
  Hand knit to hand,
  Can let love go
  Asunder, so?
  Speak hard--not understand?

  That one asks much?
  One gives too small?
  And so is lost,
  It may be--All?
  That for a touch
  Of pride we such
  A heaven can let fall?

  No!--But to Fate
  Say with me, "Go:
  Death may bring dross
  But this I know;
  _Love can abate
  Life's harshest hate,
  So loving I bend low._"



  OF THE FLESH

  (_At Monte Carlo_)


    We met upon the street;
  Quick passion sprung into the eye of each;
    No dilettante heat!
  For though I do not love her now, beseech
    You, signor, do you think
  We could face so in any spot, nor fear
    To leap the fatal brink
  Into each other's arms--that, once a-near,
    Hell's self could make us shrink?

    No, no! Such love as ours
  Stabbed peace heart-deep and burnt the flesh to mad.
    It scorned the simple powers
  Of sympathy and mild repose, and had
    One thirst alone--to hold
  Each other mouth to still unsated mouth
    Until, perchance, the cold
  And damp of death should end some night its drouth.

    But only day would come,
  Unlock our arms and show us duty's eye
    Calm, pale, and sternly dumb.
  And so we'd swear never to kiss or sigh
    Again--for well we knew
  God grants such boons only to man and wife.
    But night distilled the dew
  Of loneliness--and so, once more, that life.

    And how was the spell burst?
  Each long embrace seemed sweeter than the last;
    Each dulling heart-beat nurst
  The shame, until I tore me from the past,
    And cried, "I hate my soul,
  And thine and this false love!" She fainted--fell.
    I kissed her lips ... stole
  The ring that choked her finger ... said farewell.

    And since then Time has pressed
  Ten restless years. But if I saw her lay
    Her hand upon her breast,
  As once she used, and send her soul to say
    A word with those dark eyes ...
  Ha, what is that, signor? "Respect?... My wife?"
    That's as may be. You rise?
  Adieu, signor. Fate deals the cards in life.



  A DEATH SONG

  (_For a Drama_)


  Toll no bell and say no prayer,
  Let no rose die on my bier.
  All I hoped for shall appear
  Or be well forgotten, there.
  (Like the waves of yesteryear.)

  Toll no bell and drop no sigh,
  Bear me softly to the tomb;
  Life was dark, but light is nigh--
  Light no sorrow shall consume
  (And no kiss of love--or cry).

  Toll no bell; the clod will toll
  Grief enough for any ear.
  When the last has sounded clear,
  Know that I have reached the Goal
  (Which is God seen thro no tear).



  ON BALLYTEIGUE BAY


  I've heard the sea-dead three nights come keening
    And crying to my door.
  Why will they affright me with their threening
    Forevermore!
  O have they no grave in the salt sea-places
    To lay them in?
  Do they know, do they know--with their cold dead faces!--
    Know ... my sin?

  There's blood on my soul. The Lord cannot wipe it
    Away with His own blood.
  I've beaten my breast with blows that stripe it,
    And burned His Rood
  With kisses that shrivel my lips--that shrivel
    To sin on the air.
  But the night and the storm cry on me evil.
    Does He not care?

  There's blood on my soul: but then ... she should never
    Have said it was _his_--the child--
  And _hers_--for she knew I'd never forgive her ...
    I grew so wild
  There was just one thing to be done--to kill her:
    Just one--no more.
  I took the keen steel ... one stroke would still her ...
    I counted four.

  And she fell--fell down on the kelp--none near her.
    But when she lay so fair
  I kissed her ... because I knew I should fear her,
    And smoothed her hair;
  And shut her two eyes that fixed me fearless
    Of death and pain.
  And the blood on my hand I wiped off tearless--
    And that on my brain.

  And I buried her quickly. The thorn-trees cover
    Her grave with spines. I pray
  That each in its fall will prick her and shove her
    To colder clay.
  But ... yonder! ... she's up! and moans in the heather
    A whimpering thing!
  I'll bury her deeper in Autumn weather ...
    Or Winter ... or Spring.

  And then if she comes with them still to call me
    Each night, I'll tell her loud
  He was mine! and laugh when they try to pall me
    With sea and shroud.
  And I'll swear not to care for Christ or Devil.
    They'll skitter back
  To the waves, at that, and be gone with their revel....
    God spare me the rack!



  NIGHT-RIDERS[1]

    [1] This clan of tobacco outlaws in Kentucky during 1907-1908
    cast such disgrace on her good name as years will not suffice
    to erase.


  See them mount in the dead of night--
    Men, three hundred strong!
  Armed and silent, masked from the light,
    Speeding swartly along.
  What is their errand? manly fight?
    Clench with a manly foe?
  I would rather be dead of wrong
    Than ride among them so.

  See them enter the sleeping town.
    Hear the warning shot!
  Keep to your beds, free men--down, down!
    Dare you to move?--dare not!
  These are your masters--these who crown
    Black Anarchy their king--
  I would rather my hand should rot
    Than have it do this thing.

  See them steal to the house they seek--
    Brave men, O, brave all!
  There lies a sick boy, fever-weak;
    Who comes forth at call?
  A woman? "Go in, you bitch!" they reek.
    "Give us the old man out!"
  Rather my bitten tongue should fall
    To palsy than so shout.

  And--they have him, "the old man," now,
    Bound--with nine beside.
  One, a Judge of the Law's grave brow,
    Sworn by it to bide.
  "Lash him!"--a hundred lashes plow
    A free-born back with pain!
  God, shall we let such cowards ride
    And burn and beat and stain?

  O the shame, and the bitter shame,
    That thus, across our land,
  Crime can arise and write her name
    Broad, with a bloody hand!
  O the shame, and the bitter shame
    Upon our chivalry.
  I would rather have led the band
    That diced on Calvary.

  So, Night-errants, ride on and ride--
    Avenging, wrongly, wrong.
  But when the children at your side
    Grow lawless up and strong;
  When at their drunken hands you've died
    As beasts beside your door,
  You will repent, God knows it--long,
    These nights to Hell made o'er.



  HONOR

  (_To the Night-Riders Who Murdered Hedges_)


  Honor to men
  Who leave their homes
    And children safe asleep,
  To take the cover of night and fright
    Women that wake and weep!
  Honor, again,
  To those who mount
    For blood--hounds in a pack!
  But let us honor the most of all--
    Men that shoot in the back!

  For, it is good
  To fare a-field
    And frighten helpless things,
  And how good with a torch to scorch
    A poor man's harvestings.
  But, if you would
  Do something high
    And blameless, brave not black,
  Ride till you find a peaceful man--
    Then shoot--shoot in the back!

  Why, there was one
  In Palestine
    Who gave a certain kiss.
  _More_, fine friends, do you give who live
    In a land not far from this!
  For what _he_ had done
  He hanged himself--
    Shame made a sick heart crack.
  But you will muster and ride again--
    And shoot--shoot in the back!

  Oh, and you may!
  But wait, the Day
    Will come--shall it not come?
  The Sovereign Law that you flaunt and daunt,
    Will she lie always dumb?
  Her prisons gray
  They are slow, but wide;
    When they open, you will lack
  Many a thing--but most the fair,
    Brave chance to shoot in the back!

  O that a man
  Should write such words
    Of any soul alive!
  That any shameless ear should hear--
    And still in stealth connive
  To burn and to ban,
  From home and help,
    The weak who fear the rack!
  That he could wait till Justice _turns_,
    Then shoot--shoot in the back!



                              BRUDE[2]

                       (_A Dramatic Fantasy_)

    [2] This sketch, written in 1898, was in no sense conceived
    for the stage.


  Dealing with:
          _Boadicea_, queen of the Britons.
          _Lamora_, a Gaulish captive.
          _Brude_, a Druid.
          _Cormo_, a warrior.
          _Corlun_, Druid high-priest,
              and
          _Horma_, a wandering hag.


    SCENE: _A Hall of hewn wood, on the island of Mona, in which_
    BOADICEA _sits enthroned and attended. On her right,
    warriors, long-haired, mustached and painted with woad. On
    the left, a band of Druids robed in white: among them_ BRUDE,
    _whom she watches jealously from time to time. On the floor
    in front of her cringes_ LAMORA, _held by_ CORMO.

    _Boadicea._ Britons, hear!
  Ye know how my lord,
  Caerleon's liege,
  Swore feal to the Romans
  His lorn wife and daughters--
  When the wolf, Death,
  Gnawed life from his heart.
  Ye know how the Roman,
  Ravenous traitor,
  Slaves us with thongs
  Of brutal behest.
  Will ye still daunt
  Your necks to the noose?

    _All._ No! no! Queen! no, no, no!

    _Boadicea._ Then, warriors of iron,
  Sworded with terror,
  Fly to your henges!
  Fight till ye crowd
  Hell with the ghosts
  Of ethlings that Britons hate.

    _Warriors._ To the slaughter! Hro! to the slaughter!

                             [_They rush from the hall in haste._

    _Boadicea (continuing)._ And ye, Druid seers,
  Heard by the gods,
  Feared by the fiends,
  Ye must away!
  To your dark fane,
  The gaunt oak-forest
  Holy with mistle!
  White-robed as spirits,
  Gold knives uplifting,
  Sing to the serpents,
  Seek the Charmed Egg!

    _Druids (bowing with weird signs)._ Great is the Queen.
  Her Druids hear.
  But shall no gift be made?

    _Boadicea._ Yea ... since Lactantius,
  God more than all gods,
  Will not be soothed
  By sheep or cattle,
  On your high altar
  Slay ye this maiden of Gaul!

      [_Points to_ LAMORA, _who cries out to her, then to_ BRUDE:

    _Lamora._ Nay, Queen, O pity!
  O, Brude, win pity!
  Let her not yield me
  Prey to the gods.
  Rather in battle
  'Gainst the hard Roman
  Would I be trampled
  Into the grave.
  Trampled by war-hoofs ...
  Into a grave of blood!

    _Boadicea._ Proud-lip! mocker!
  Dare you sputter
  Shame on the awful gods?

                [_Strikes her down...._ BRUDE _watches helpless._

    _Corlun (coming forward)._ Kneel, Druids, kneel!
  Then bear her away!
  Meet me at midnight,
  Druids' day,
  Deep within Mona's wood.

                          [_They kneel, then go, bearing_ LAMORA.


    SCENE II: _Sunset. A rocky cave near the forest._ BRUDE
    _facing back and forth with restless muttering._

    _Brude._ O thou Lactantius,
  Whom other gods
  Worship with trembling,
  While their star-chariots
  Roll to the sea!
  Symbolled by circles,
  Endless in being,
  Dost thou love life-blood
  As Druids say?
  When the white maiden's
  Pierced on the altar
  Dost thou drink praises
  From her wide wound?
  So teach the seers,
  So did I, Brude, swear--
  Till I saw Lamora!
  Her eyes are love-fires,
  Her words are sorcery
  Stronger than god-laws!
  But ... who comes hither?
                                             [_Has heard a moan._
  Hither harasser
  Of these my thoughts?
  Ha! is it Lamora
  Followed by Cormo?
  Curses like vampires
  Fall on his head!
                                                  [_Steps aside._

    _Lamora (entering in despair)._ Mother! sweet mother,
  Far in the Eastland,
  Soon must thy daughter
  Pass from earth's day!
  Ne'er shall a boy-babe
  Suck from her bosom
  Valor to strangle
  Wolves in the lair!
  Never shall husband
  From the red war-fields
  Bring her the foeman's spoils!

    _Cormo (behind her)._ Lamora, proud one--

    _Lamora._ Leave me, viper!
  Stand from me farther!
  Will you e'en now
  With tongue spit poison
  On my last ebbing hour?

    _Cormo._ Nay, maiden, cruel,
  But I will aid thee.
  Words are as smoke,
  Deeds as flame!
  Hear! I will save thee
  From Druid talons
  And bear thee whither thou wilt:
  Give but thy vow to wed me!

    _Lamora._ Wed thee?--thee?...
  Never--while cliffs
  O'er the plain jutting
  Plight void death to the leaper!
  Never while waves
  Curl gray lips
  Yearning to gulf the doomed!

    _Cormo._ Then thou shalt die! shalt die!
  Druids shall gash
  Streamings of life
  Out of thy shrinking sides!

    _Lamora._ Then die I will!...
  But not thro fear.
  Coward of Britons,
  Will I e'er mother
  Child of thy loins.
  Rather let flames,
  Tongues of the gods,
  Suck the red life from my breast.
  Yea, let the gods,
  Glutless as men,
  And, as women,
  Treacherous, vain--
  Strike, at the call of thy Queen!
                                      [_Goes, followed by_ CORMO.

    _Brude (coming forward)._ No! thou shalt live, live, live!

                [_Goes into cave, then comes forth with a knife._


    SCENE III: _Midnight. A stormy glade in the forest. On one
    side a cromlech whereon_ LAMORA _lies bound_: CORLUN _beside
    her with an uplifted blade of gold. On the other side
    Druids--around a pot of serpents over a fire in the cavern of
    an uprooted tree._

                                [BRUDE _is among them, watchful._

    _Corlun (chanting)._ Orpo!--Ai!--
  Now shall the Roman
  Backward be driven,
    O gods!
  Orpo!--Ai!--
  For to the death stroke
  Lamora's given,
    O gods!
  Orpo! Ai!--
  Her skyward soul
  Thro the dank dark shall rise,
  As the morn's sun
  Unto your halls
  Far o'er the skies.
  And she shall say
  Thus Druids crave
  Help of the helpers of men.

    _Druids (incanting around the cavern)._ Orpo!--Ai!--
  Serpents are spawned
  Of devils' spit,
    O gods!
  Orpo!--Ai!--
  Spit boiled with blood
  In caverns lit
  By fungous fangs
  From Mona's wood.

                    [_They circle._ BRUDE _steals behind_ CORLUN.

  Orpo!--Ai!--
  Serpents are spawned
  In magic broth
  To coil and wriggle,
  Writhe and twist;
  Till their froth
  Becomes a mist,
  Till the mist
  An egg shall form--
  Charm that Druids prize.

    _Brude (with a sudden cry)._ Corlun, the gods
  Wait for thy soul!
                                                    [_Slays him._
  Lamora, fly!
  With me, fly--
  Thro the black forest!
                                            [_Has cut her bonds._
  Great Lactantius,
  Maker of gods,
  Loves _not_ the maiden's death-cry!

                                                  [_They escape._

    _Druids (in terror)._ Corlun is slain!
  Corlun! slain!
  Woe to the Druids!
  Woe from the heavens!
  Woe from the ireful Queen!

                                       [_They pursue confusedly._


    SCENE IV: _Dawn; far in the forest. Enter_ BRUDE _and_ LAMORA
    _faintingly to a spot where_ HORMA, _the hag, unseen by them
    is gathering herbs._

    _Lamora._ Strength no more
  Wings me for flight.
  With hunger of sleep I faint.
                                                        [_Falls._

    _Brude (sinking by her)._ Yet ere thy sleep,
  Maid like the dawn,
  List to my heart's wild uttering!
  All I have dared
  Was for thy love--
  Tho but to love thee
  Would I dare all!

    _Lamora._ Ah! What is love,
  Brude wise and noble?
  Is it this burning
  Far in my breast
  Melting my soul to thine?
  Is it this power
  Hid in my eyes
  Shaping thy face
  On hill and cloud?
  Is it this whisper,
  As of sea-waves,
  Singing thy name to me?
  Yea! So now we may sleep.

             [_They lie down._ HORMA, _the hag, who has heard_
               _them, creeps maundering up and gazes at them._

    _Horma._ Owl and eaglet?
  Have they fled?
  Then let witch-toads sing!
  Oaths forgotten,
  Would they wed?
  Then let bull-bats,
  Wild a-wing,
  Flap the moon from heaven!
  Deep in the forest--
  Ha! ho! ho!

                        [_Breaks off, hearing shouts. Continues._

  They'll be slain!

                                                      [_Fleeing._

  They'll be slain!

    _Brude (waking)._ What was my dream?...

                                             [_Hears the shouts._

  Lamora! Lamora!

                [_They start up and look at each other. Silence._

    _Lamora (at length)._ So was it doomed.
  Now we must cross
  Thro the death-fog
  Unto the blest.
  But side by side,
  And ere they come.
                                          [_Hands him her knife._
  Here we shall die.
  But in the Meadows
  Where the thin shades
  Wander and wander,
  Ever in love we'll live!
  Fold first thy arms around me.
                                                   [_They embrace._

    _Brude (starting from her)._ Hear! they have come--
  Cormo! The Queen!...

    _Lamora._ Then strike! for thy face
  Alone would I see in death!

    _Brude (killing her then himself)._ Cormo!... Queen!... Death!
  Ye shall never ... tear us apart!

                       [_Falls with her in his arms, as_ BOADICEA
                        _and warriors enter._

    _Boadicea (seeing them)._ Dead!... Leave them, food
  For beast and bird!
  Leave them! away! away!

                               [_All go with pride and spurning._



                               THE END





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