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Title: Songs and Satires
Author: Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950
Language: English
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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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SONGS AND SATIRES


  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS
  ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

  MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
  LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA
  MELBOURNE

  THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
  TORONTO



SONGS AND SATIRES


  _By_
  EDGAR LEE MASTERS

  AUTHOR OF
  "SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY"


  New York
  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
  1916

  _All rights reserved_



  COPYRIGHT, 1916,
  BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.

  Set up and electrotyped. Published March, 1916.
  Reprinted March, June, 1916.

  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A



For permission to print in book form certain of these poems I wish to
acknowledge an indebtedness to _Poetry_, _The Smart Set_, _The Little
Review_, _The Cosmopolitan Magazine_, and William Marion Reedy, Editor
of _Reedy's Mirror_.



CONTENTS


                                  PAGE

  SILENCE                            1

  ST. FRANCIS AND LADY CLARE         4

  THE COCKED HAT                    10

  THE VISION                        18

  SO WE GREW TOGETHER               21

  RAIN IN MY HEART                  31

  THE LOOP                          32

  WHEN UNDER THE ICY EAVES          40

  IN THE CAR                        41

  SIMON SURNAMED PETER              43

  ALL LIFE IN A LIFE                47

  WHAT YOU WILL                     56

  THE CITY                          57

  THE IDIOT                         65

  HELEN OF TROY                     68

  O GLORIOUS FRANCE                 71

  FOR A DANCE                       74

  WHEN LIFE IS REAL                 76

  THE QUESTION                      78

  THE ANSWER                        79

  THE SIGN                          80

  WILLIAM MARION REEDY              82

  A STUDY                           85

  PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN               88

  IN THE CAGE                       91

  SAVING A WOMAN: ONE PHASE         95

  LOVE IS A MADNESS                 97

  ON A BUST                         98

  ARABEL                           101

  JIM AND ARABEL'S SISTER          108

  THE SORROW OF DEAD FACES         116

  THE CRY                          119

  THE HELPING HAND                 120

  THE DOOR                         121

  SUPPLICATION                     122

  THE CONVERSATION                 125

  TERMINUS                         130

  MADELINE                         132

  MARCIA                           134

  THE ALTAR                        135

  SOUL'S DESIRE                    137

  BALLAD OF LAUNCELOT AND ELAINE   140

  THE DEATH OF LAUNCELOT           149

  IN MICHIGAN                      156

  THE STAR                         166



SONGS AND SATIRES



SILENCE


    I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea,
  And the silence of the city when it pauses,
  And the silence of a man and a maid,
  And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
  And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
  And the silence of the sick
  When their eyes roam about the room.
  And I ask: For the depths
  Of what use is language?
  A beast of the field moans a few times
  When death takes its young:
  And we are voiceless in the presence of realities--
  We cannot speak.

    A curious boy asks an old soldier
  Sitting in front of the grocery store,
  "How did you lose your leg?"
  And the old soldier is struck with silence,
  Or his mind flies away,
  Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
  It comes back jocosely
  And he says, "A bear bit it off."
  And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
  Dumbly, feebly lives over
  The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
  The shrieks of the slain,
  And himself lying on the ground,
  And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
  And the long days in bed.
  But if he could describe it all
  He would be an artist.
  But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
  Which he could not describe.

    There is the silence of a great hatred,
  And the silence of a great love,
  And the silence of a deep peace of mind,
  And the silence of an embittered friendship.
  There is the silence of a spiritual crisis,
  Through which your soul, exquisitely tortured,
  Comes with visions not to be uttered
  Into a realm of higher life.
  And the silence of the gods who understand each other without speech.
  There is the silence of defeat.
  There is the silence of those unjustly punished;
  And the silence of the dying whose hand
  Suddenly grips yours.
  There is the silence between father and son,
  When the father cannot explain his life,
  Even though he be misunderstood for it.

    There is the silence that comes between husband and wife.
  There is the silence of those who have failed;
  And the vast silence that covers
  Broken nations and vanquished leaders.
  There is the silence of Lincoln,
  Thinking of the poverty of his youth.
  And the silence of Napoleon
  After Waterloo.
  And the silence of Jeanne d'Arc
  Saying amid the flames, "Blessed Jesus"--
  Revealing in two words all sorrow, all hope.
  And there is the silence of age,
  Too full of wisdom for the tongue to utter it
  In words intelligible to those who have not lived
  The great range of life.

    And there is the silence of the dead.
  If we who are in life cannot speak
  Of profound experiences,
  Why do you marvel that the dead
  Do not tell you of death?
  Their silence shall be interpreted
  As we approach them.



ST. FRANCIS AND LADY CLARE


  Antonio loved the Lady Clare.
  He caught her to him on the stair
  And pressed her breasts and kissed her hair,
  And drew her lips in his, and drew
  Her soul out like a torch's flare.
  Her breath came quick, her blood swirled round;
  Her senses in a vortex swound.
  She tore him loose and turned around,
  And reached her chamber in a bound
  Her cheeks turned to a poppy's hue.

  She closed the door and turned the lock,
  Her breasts and flesh were turned to rock.
  She reeled as drunken from the shock.
  Before her eyes the devils skipped,
  She thought she heard the devils mock.
  For had her soul not been as pure
  As sifted snow, could she endure
  Antonio's passion and be sure
  Against his passion's strength and lure?
  Lean fears along her wonder slipped.

  Outside she heard a drunkard call,
  She heard a beggar against the wall
  Shaking his cup, a harlot's squall
  Struck through the riot like a sword,
  And gashed the midnight's festival.
  She watched the city through the pane,
  The old Silenus half insane,
  The idiot crowd that drags its chain--
  And then she heard the bells again,
  And heard the voices with the word:

  Ecco il santo! Up the street
  There was the sound of running feet
  From closing door and window seat,
  And all the crowd turned on its way
  The Saint of Poverty to greet.
  He passed. And then a circling thrill,
  As water troubled which was still,
  Went through her body like a chill,
  Who of Antonio thought until
  She heard the Saint begin to pray.

  And then she turned into the room
  Her soul was cloven through with doom,
  Treading the softness and the gloom
  Of Asia's silk and Persia's wool,
  And China's magical perfume.
  She sickened from the vases hued
  In corals, yellows, greens, the lewd
  Twined dragon shapes and figures nude,
  And tapestries that showed a brood
  Of leopards by a pool!

  Candles of wax she lit before
  A pier glass standing from the floor;
  Up to the ceiling, off she tore
  With eager hands her jewels, then
  The silken vesture which she wore.
  Her little breasts so round to see
  Were budded like the peony.
  Her arms were white as ivory,
  And all her sunny hair lay free
  As marigold or celandine.

  Her blue eyes sparkled like a vase
  Of crackled turquoise, in her face
  Was memory of the mad embrace
  Antonio gave her on the stair,
  And on her cheeks a salt tear's trace.
  Like pigeon blood her lips were red.
  She clasped her bands above her head.
  Under her arms the waxlight shed
  Delicate halos where was spread
  The downy growth of hair.

  Such sudden sin the virgin knew
  She quenched the tapers as she blew
  Puff! puff! upon them, then she threw
  Herself in tears upon her knees,
  And round her couch the curtain drew.
  She called upon St. Francis' name,
  Feeling Antonio's passion maim
  Her body with his passion's flame
  To save her, save her from the shame
  Of fancies such as these!

  "Go by mad life and old pursuits,
  The wine cup and the golden fruits,
  The gilded mirrors, rosewood flutes,
  I would praise God forevermore
  With harps of gold and silver lutes."
  She stripped the velvet from her couch
  Her broken spirit to avouch.
  She saw the devils slink and slouch,
  And passion like a leopard crouch
  Half mirrored on the polished floor.

  Next day she found the saint and said:
  I would be God's bride, I would wed
  Poverty and I would eat the bread
  That you for anchorites prepare,
  For my soul's sake I am in dread.
  Go then, said Francis, nothing loth,
  Put off this gown of green snake cloth,
  Put on one somber as a moth,
  Then come to me and make your troth
  And I will clip your golden hair.

  She went and came. But still there lay,
  A gem she did not put away,
  A locket twixt her breasts, all gay
  In shimmering pearls and tints of blue,
  And inlay work of fruit and spray.
  St. Francis felt it as he slipped
  His hand across her breast and whipped
  Her golden tresses ere he clipped--
  He closed his eyes then as he gripped
  The shears, plunged the shears through.

  The waterfall of living gold.
  The locks fell to the floor and rolled,
  And curled like serpents which unfold.
  And there sat Lady Clare despoiled.
  Of worldly glory manifold.
  She thrilled to feel him take and hide
  The locket from her breast, a tide
  Of passion caught them side by side.
  He was the bridegroom, she the bride--
  Their flesh but not their spirits foiled.

  Thus was the Lady Clare debased
  To sack cloth and around her waist
  A rope the jeweled belt replaced.
  Her feet made free of silken hose
  Naked in wooden sandals cased
  Went bruised to Bastia's chapel, then
  They housed her in St. Damian
  And here she prayed for poor women
  And here St. Francis sought her when
  His faith sank under earthly woes.

  Antonio cursed St. Clare in rhyme
  And took to wine and got the lime
  Of hatred on his soul, in time
  Grew healed though left a little lame,
  And laughed about it in his prime;
  When he could see with crystal eyes
  That love is a winged thing which flies;
  Some break the wings, some let them rise
  From earth like God's dove to the skies
  Diffused in heavenly flame.



THE COCKED HAT

Would that someone would knock Mr. Bryan into a cocked hat.--WOODROW
WILSON.


  It ain't really a hat at all, Ed:
  You know that, don't you?
  When you bowl over six out of the nine pins,
  And the three that are standing
  Are the triangular three in front,
  You've knocked the nine into a cocked hat.
  If it was really a hat, he would be knocked in, too.
  Which he hardly is. For a man with money,
  And a man who can draw a crowd to listen
  To what he says, ain't all-in yet....
  Oh yes, defeated
  And killed off a dozen times, but still
  He's one of the three nine pins that's standing ...
  Eh? Why, the other is Teddy, the other
  Wilson, we'll say. We'll see, perhaps.
  But six are down to make the cocked hat--
  That's me and thousands of others like me,
  And the first-rate men who were cuffed about
  After the Civil War,
  And most of the more than six million men
  Who followed this fellow into the ditch,
  While he walked down the ditch and stepped to the level--
  Following an ideal!

         *       *       *       *       *

  Do you remember how slim he was,
  And trim he was,
  With black hair and pale brow,
  And the hawk-like nose and flashing eyes,
  Not turning slowly like an owl
  But with a sudden eagle motion?...

  One time, in '96, he came here
  And we had just a dollar and sixty cents
  In the treasury of the organization.
  So I stuck his lithograph on a pole
  And started out for the station.
  By the time we got back here to Clark street
  Four thousand men were marching in line,
  And a band that was playing for an opening
  Of a restaurant on Franklin street
  Had left the job and was following his carriage.
  Why, it took all the money Mark Hanna could raise
  To beat me, with nothing but a pole
  And a lithograph.
  And it wasn't because he was one of the prophets
  Come back to earth again.
  It shows how human hearts are hungry
  How wonderfully true they are--
  And how they will rise and follow a man
  Who seems to see the truth!
  Well, these fellows who marched are the cocked hat,
  And I am the cocked hat and the six millions,
  And more are the cocked hat,
  Who got themselves despised or suspected
  Of ignorance or something for being with him.
  But still, he's one of the pins that's standing.
  He got the money that he went after,
  And he has a place in history, perhaps--
  Because we took the blow and fell down
  When the ripping ball went wild on the alley.

         *       *       *       *       *

  For we were radicals,
  And he wasn't a radical.
  Eh? Why, a radical stands for freedom,
  And for truth--which he never finds
  But always looks for.
  A radical is not a moralist.
  A radical doesn't say:
  "This is true and you must believe it;
  This is good and you must accept it,
  And if you don't believe it and accept it
  We'll get a law and make you,
  And if you don't obey the law, we'll kill you--"
  Oh no! A radical stands for freedom.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Do you remember that banquet at the Tremont
  In '97 on Jackson's day?
  Bryan and Altgeld walked together
  Out to the banquet room.
  That's the time he said the bolters must
  Bring fruits meet for repentance--ha! ha! Oh, Gawd!--
  They never did it and they didn't have to,
  For they had made friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,
  Even as he did, a little later, in his own way.
  Well, Darrow was there that night.
  I thought it was terribly raw in him,
  But he said to Bryan, there, in a group:
  "You'd better go back to Lincoln and study
  Science, history, philosophy,
  And read Flaubert's Madam something-or-other,
  And quit this village religious stuff.
  You're head of the party before you are ready
  And a leader should lead with thought."
  And Bryan turned to the others and said:
  "Darrow's the only man in the world
  Who looks down on me for believing in God."
  "Your kind of a God," snapped Darrow.
  Honest, Ed, I didn't see this religious business
  In Bryan in '96 or 1900.
  Oh well, I knew he went to Church,
  And talked as statesmen do of God--
  But McKinley did it, and I used to laugh:
  "We've got a man to match McKinley,
  And it's good for us, in a squeeze like this,
  We didn't nominate some fellow
  Ethical culture or Unitarian."
  You see, the newspapers and preachers then
  Were raising such a hullabaloo
  About irreligion and dishonesty,
  And calling old Altgeld an anarchist,
  And comparing us to Robespierre
  And the guillotine boys in France.
  And a little of this religion came in handy.
  The same as if you saw a Mason button on me,
  You'd know, you see--but Gee!
  He was 24-carat religious,
  A cover-to-cover man....
  He was a trained collie,
  And he looked like a lion,
  There in the convention of '96--What do you know about that?

         *       *       *       *       *

  But right here, I tell you he ain't a hypocrite,
  This ain't a pose. But I'll tell you:
  In '96 when they knocked him out,
  I know what he said to himself as well
  As if I heard him say it ...
  I'll tell you in a minute.
  But suppose you were giving a lecture on the constitution,
  And you got mixed on your dates,
  And the audience rotten-egged you,
  And some one in the confusion
  Stole the door receipts,
  And there you were, disgraced and broke!
  But suppose you could just change your clothes,
  And lecture to the same audience
  On the religious nature of Washington,
  And be applauded and make money--
  You'd do it, wouldn't you?
  Well, this is what Bill said to himself:
  "I'm naturally regular and religious.
  I'm a moral man and I can prove it
  By any one in Marion County,
  Or Jacksonville or Lincoln, Nebraska.
  I'm a radical, but a radical
  Alone can be religious.
  I belong to the church, if not to the bank,
  Of the people who defeated me.
  And I'll prove to religious people
  That I'm a man to be trusted--
  And just what a radical is.
  And I'll make some money while winning the votes
  Of the churches over the country."...

  That's it--it ain't hypocrisy,
  It's using what you are for ends,
  When you find yourself in trouble.
  And this accounts for "The Prince of Peace"--
  Except no one but him could write it--
  And "The Value of an Ideal"--
  (Which is money in bank and several farms) ...

  His place in history?
  One time my grandfather, who was nearly blind,
  Went out to sow some grass seed.
  They had two sacks in the barn,
  One with grass seed, one with fertilizer,
  And he got the sack with fertilizer,
  And scattered it over the ground,
  Thinking he was sowing grass.
  And as he was finishing up, a grandchild,
  Dorothy, eight years old,
  Followed him, dropping flower seeds.
  Well, after a time
  That was the greatest patch of weeds
  You ever saw! And the old man sat,
  Half blind, on the porch, and said:
  "Good land, that grass is growing!"
  And there was nothing but weeds except
  A few nasturtiums here and there
  That Dorothy had sown....
  Well, I forgot.
  There was a sunflower in one corner
  That looked like a man with a golden beard
  And a mass of tangled, curly hair--
  And a pumpkin growing near it....

         *       *       *       *       *

  Say, Ed! lend me eighty dollars
  To pay my life insurance.



THE VISION


  Of that dear vale where you and I have lain
  Scanning the mysteries of life and death
  I dreamed, though how impassable the space
  Of time between the present and the past!
  This was the vision that possessed my mind;
  I thought the weird and gusty days of March
  Had eased themselves in melody and peace.
  Pale lights, swift shadows, lucent stalks, clear streams,
  Cool, rosy eves behind the penciled mesh
  Of hazel thickets, and the huge feathered boughs
  Of walnut trees stretched singing to the blast;
  And the first pleasantries of sheep and kine;
  The cautioned twitterings of hidden birds;
  The flight of geese among the scattered clouds;
  Night's weeping stars and all the pageantries
  Of awakened life had blossomed into May,
  Whilst she with trailing violets in her hair
  Blew music from the stops of watery stems,
  And swept the grasses with her viewless robes,
  Which dreaming men thought voices, dreaming still.
  Now as I lay in vision by the stream
  That flows amidst our well beloved vale,
  I looked throughout the vista stretched between
  Two ranging hills; one meadowed rich in grass;
  The other wooded, thick and quite obscure
  With overgrowth, rank in the luxury
  Of all wild places, but ever growing sparse
  Of trees or saplings on the sudden slope
  That met the grassy level of the vale;--
  But still within the shadow of those woods,
  Which sprinkled all beneath with fragrant dew,
  There grew all flowers, which tempted little paths
  Between them, up and on into the wood.
  Here, as the sun had left his midday peak
  The incommunicable blue of heaven blent
  With his fierce splendor, filling all the air
  With softened glory, while the pasturage
  Trembled with color of the poppy blooms
  Shook by the steps of the swift-sandaled wind.
  Nor any sound beside disturbed the dream
  Of Silence slumbering on the drowsy flowers.
  Then as I looked upon the widest space
  Of open meadow where the sunlight fell
  In veils of tempered radiance, I saw
  The form of one who had escaped the care
  And equal dullness of our common day.
  For like a bright mist rising from the earth
  He made appearance, growing more distinct
  Until I saw the stole, likewise the lyre
  Grasped by the fingers of the modeled hand.
  Yea, I did see the glory of his hair
  Against the deep green bay-leaves filleting
  The ungathered locks. And so throughout the vale
  His figure stood distinct and his own shade
  Was the sole shadow. Deeming this approach
  Augur of good, as if in hidden ways
  Of loveliness the gods do still appear
  The counselors of men, and even where
  Wonder and meditation wooed us oft,
  I cried, "Apollo"--and his form dissolved,
  As if the nymphs of echo, who took up
  The voice and bore it to the hollow wood,
  By that same flight had startled the great god
  To vanishment. And thereupon I woke
  And disarrayed the figment of my thought.
  For of the very air, magic with hues,
  Blent with the distant objects, I had formed
  The splendid apparition, and so knew
  It was, alas! a dream within a dream!



"SO WE GREW TOGETHER"


          Reading over your letters I find you wrote me
  "My dear boy," or at times "dear boy," and the envelope
  Said "master"--all as I had been your very son,
  And not the orphan whom you adopted.
  Well, you were father to me! And I can recall
  The things you did for me or gave me:
  One time we rode in a box car to Springfield
  To see the greatest show on earth;
  And one time you gave me redtop boots,
  And one time a watch, and one time a gun.
  Well, I grew to gawkiness with a voice
  Like a rooster trying to crow in August
  Hatched in April, we'll say.
  And you went about wrapped up in silence
  With eyes aflame, and I heard little rumors
  Of what they were doing to you, and how
  They wronged you--and we were poor--so poor!
  And I could not understand why you failed,
  And why if you did good things for the people
  The people did not sustain you.
  And why you loved another woman than Aunt Susan,
  So it was whispered at school, and what could be baser,
  Or so little to be forgiven?...

                  They crowded you hard in those days.
  But you fought like a wounded lion
  For yourself I know, but for us, for me.
  At last you fell ill, and for months you tottered
  Around the streets as thin as death,
  Trying to earn our bread, your great eyes glowing
  And the silence around you like a shawl!
  But something in you kept you up.
  You grew well again and rosy with cheeks
  Like an Indian peach almost, and eyes
  Full of moonlight and sunlight, and a voice
  That sang, and a humor that warded
  The arrows off. But still between us
  There was reticence; you kept me away
  With a glittering hardness; perhaps you thought
  I kept you away--for I was moving
  In spheres you knew not, living through
  Beliefs you believed in no more, and ideals
  That were just mirrors of unrealities.
  As a boy can be I was critical of you.
  And reasons for your failures began to arise
  In my mind--I saw specific facts here and there
  With no philosophy at hand to weld them
  And synthesize them into one truth--
  And a rush of the strength of youth
  Deluded me into thinking the world
  Was something so easily understood and managed
  While I knew it not at all in truth.
  And an adolescent egotism
  Made me feel you did not know me
  Or comprehend the all that I was.
  All this you divined....

          So it went. And when I left you and passed
  To the world, the city--still I see you
  With eyes averted, and feel your hand
  Limp with sorrow--you could not speak.
  You thought of what I might be, and where
  Life would take me, and how it would end--
  There was longer silence. A year or two
  Brought me closer to you. I saw the play now
  And the game somewhat and understood your fights
  And enmities, and hardnesses and silences,
  And wild humor that had kept you whole--
  For your soul had made it as an antitoxin
  To the world's infections. And you swung to me
  Closer than before--and a chumship began
  Between us....

                What vital power was yours!
  You never tired, or needed sleep, or had a pain,
  Or refused a delight. I loved the things now
  You had always loved, a winning horse,
  A roulette wheel, a contest of skill
  In games or sports ... long talks on the corner
  With men who have lived and tell you
  Things with a rich flavor of old wisdom or humor;
  A woman, a glass of whisky at a table
  Where the fatigue of life falls, and our reserves
  That wait for happiness come up in smiles,
  Laughter, gentle confidences. Here you were
  A man with youth, and I a youth was a man,
  Exulting in your braveries and delight in life.
  How you knocked that scamp over at Harry Varnell's
  When he tried to take your chips! And how I,
  Who had thought the devil in cards as a boy,
  Loved to play with you now and watch you play;
  And watch the subtle mathematics of your mind
  Prophecy, divine the plays. Who was it
  In your ancestry that you harked back to
  And reproduced with such various gifts
  Of flesh and spirit, Anglo-Saxon, Celt?--
  You with such rapid wit and powerful skill
  For catching illogic and whipping Error's
  Fangéd head from the body?...

                      I was really ahead of you
  At this stage, with more self-consciousness
  Of what man is, and what life is at last,
  And how the spirit works, and by what laws,
  With what inevitable force. But still I was
  Behind you in that strength which in our youth,
  If ever we have it, squeezes all the nectar
  From the grapes. It seemed you'd never lose
  This power and sense of joy, but yet at times
  I saw another phase of you....

                                There was the day
  We rode together north of the old town,
  Past the old farm houses that I knew--
  Past maple groves, and fields of corn in the shock,
  And fields of wheat with the fall green.
  It was October, but the clouds were summer's,
  Lazily floating in a sky of June;
  And a few crows flying here and there,
  And a quail's call, and around us a great silence
  That held at its core old memories
  Of pioneers, and dead days, forgotten things!
  I'll never forget how you looked that day. Your hair
  Was turning silver now, but still your eyes
  Burned as of old, and the rich olive glow
  In your cheeks shone, with not a line or wrinkle!--
  You seemed to me perfection--a youth, a man!
  And now you talked of the world with the old wit,
  And now of the soul--how such a man went down
  Through folly or wrong done by him, and how
  Man's death cannot end all,
  There must be life hereafter!...

  As you were that day, as you looked and spoke,
  As the earth was, I hear as the soul of it all
  Godard's _Dawn_, Dvorák's _Humoresque_,
  The Morris Dances, Mendelssohn's _Barcarole_,
  And old Scotch songs, _When the Kye Come Hame_,
  And _The Moon Had Climbed the Highest Hill_,
  The Musseta Waltz and Rudolph's Narrative;
  Your great brow seemed Beethoven's
  And the lust of life in your face Cellini's,
  And your riotous fancy like Dumas.
  I was nearer you now than ever before,
  And finding each other thus I see to-day
  How the human soul seeks the human soul
  And finds the one it seeks at last.
  For you know you can open a window
  That looks upon embowered darkness,
  When the flowers sleep and the trees are still
  At Midnight, and no light burns in the room;
  And you can hide your butterfly
  Somewhere in the room, but soon you will see
  A host of butterfly mates
  Fluttering through the window to join
  Your butterfly hid in the room.
  It is somehow thus with souls....

              This day then I understood it all:
  Your vital democracy and love of men
  And tolerance of life; and how the excess of these
  Had wrought your sorrows in the days
  When we were so poor, and the small of mind
  Spoke of your sins and your connivance
  With sinful men. You had lived it down,
  Had triumphed over them, and you had grown.
  Prosperous in the world and had passed
  Into an easy mastery of life and beyond the thought
  Of further conquests for things.
  As the Brahmins say, no more you worshiped matter,
  Or scarcely ghosts, or even the gods
  With singleness of heart.
  This day you worshiped Eternal Peace
  Or Eternal Flame, with scarce a laugh or jest
  To hide your worship; and I understood,
  Seeing so many facets to you, why it was
  Blind Condon always smiled to hear your voice,
  And why it was in a greenroom years ago
  Booth turned to you, marking your face
  From all the rest, and said, "There is a man
  Who might play Hamlet--better still Othello";
  And why it was the women loved you; and the priest
  Could feed his body and soul together drinking
  A glass of beer and visiting with you....

                  Then something happened:
  Your face grew smaller, your brow more narrow,
  Dull fires burned in your eyes,
  Your body shriveled, you walked with a cynical shuffle,
  Your hands mixed the keys of life,
  You had become a discord.
  A monstrous hatred consumed you--
  You had suffered the greatest wrong of all,
  I knew and granted the wrong.
  You had mounted up to sixty years, now breathing hard,
  And just at the time that honor belonged to you
  You were dishonored at the hands of a friend.
  I wept for you, and still I wondered
  If all I had grown to see in you and find in you
  And love in you was just a fond illusion--
  If after all I had not seen you aright as a boy:
  Barbaric, hard, suspicious, cruel, redeemed
  Alone by bubbling animal spirits--
  Even these gone now, all of you smoke
  Laden with stinging gas and lethal vapor....
  Then you came forth again like the sun after storm--
  The deadly uric acid driven out at last
  Which had poisoned you and dwarfed your soul--
  So much for soul!

  The last time I saw you
  Your face was full of golden light,
  Something between flame and the richness of flesh.
  You were yourself again, wholly yourself.
  And oh, to find you again and resume
  Our understanding we had worked so long to reach--
  You calm and luminant and rich in thought!
  This time it seemed we said but "yes" or "no"--
  That was enough; we smoked together
  And drank a glass of wine and watched
  The leaves fall sitting on the porch....
  Then life whirled me away like a leaf,
  And I went about the crowded ways of New York.

  And one night Alberta and I took dinner
  At a place near Fourteenth Street where the music
  Was like the sun on a breeze-swept lake
  When every wave is a patine of fire,
  And I thought of you not at all
  Looking at Alberta and watching her white teeth
  Bite off bits of Italian bread,
  And watching her smile and the wide pupils
  Of her eyes, electrified by wine
  And music and the touch of our hands
  Now and then across the table.
  We went to her house at last.
  And through a languorous evening.
  Where no light was but a single candle,
  We circled about and about a pending theme
  Till at last we solved it suddenly in rapture
  Almost by chance; and when I left
  She followed me to the hall and leaned above
  The railing about the stair for the farewell kiss--
  And I went into the open air ecstatically,
  With the stars in the spaces of sky between
  The towering buildings, and the rush
  Of wheels and clang of bells,
  Still with the fragrance of her lips and cheeks
  And glinting hair about me, delicate
  And keen in spite of the open air.
  And just as I entered the brilliant car
  Something said to me you are dead--
  I had not thought of you, was not thinking of you.
  But I knew it was true, as it was,
  For the telegram waited me at my room....
                I didn't come back.
  I could not bear to see the breathless breath
  Over your brow--nor look at your face--
  However you fared or where
  To what victories soever--
  Vanquished or seemingly vanquished!



RAIN IN MY HEART


  There is a quiet in my heart
  Like one who rests from days of pain.
  Outside, the sparrows on the roof
  Are chirping in the dripping rain.

  Rain in my heart; rain on the roof;
  And memory sleeps beneath the gray
  And windless sky and brings no dreams
  Of any well remembered day.

  I would not have the heavens fair,
  Nor golden clouds, nor breezes mild,
  But days like this, until my heart
  To loss of you is reconciled.

  I would not see you. Every hope
  To know you as you were has ranged.
  I, who am altered, would not find
  The face I loved so greatly changed.



THE LOOP


  From State street bridge a snow-white glimpse of sea
  Beyond the river walled in by red buildings,
  O'ertopped by masts that take the sunset's gildings,
  Roped to the wharf till spring shall set them free.
  Great floes make known how swift the river's current.
  Out of the north sky blows a cutting wind.
  Smoke from the stacks and engines in a torrent
  Whirls downward, by the eddying breezes thinned.
  Enskyed are sign boards advertising soap,
  Tobacco, coal, transcontinental trains.
  A tug is whistling, straining at a rope,
  Fixed to a dredge with derricks, scoops and cranes.
  Down in the loop the blue-gray air enshrouds,
  As with a cyclops' cape, the man-made hills
  And towers of granite where the city crowds.
  Above the din a copper's whistle shrills.
  There is a smell of coffee and of spices.
  We near the market place of trade's devices.
  Blue smoke from out a roasting room is pouring.
  A rooster crows, geese cackle, men are bawling.
  Whips crack, trucks creak, it is the place of storing,
  And drawing out and loading up and hauling
  Fruit, vegetables and fowls and steaks and hams,
  Oysters and lobsters, fish and crabs and clams.
  And near at hand are restaurants and bars,
  Hotels with rooms at fifty cents a day,
  Beer tunnels, pool rooms, places where cigars
  And cigarettes their window signs display;
  Mixed in with letterings of printed tags,
  Twine, boxes, cartels, sacks and leather bags,
  Wigs, telescopes, eyeglasses, ladies' tresses,
  Or those who manicure or fashion dresses,
  Or sell us putters, tennis balls or brassies,
  Make shoes, pull teeth, or fit the eye with glasses.

  And now the rows of windows showing laces,
  Silks, draperies and furs and costly vases,
  Watches and mirrors, silver cups and mugs,
  Emeralds, diamonds, Indian, Persian rugs,
  Hats, velvets, silver buckles, ostrich-plumes,
  Drugs, violet water, powder and perfumes.
  Here is a monstrous winking eye--beneath
  A showcase by an entrance full of teeth.
  Here rubber coats, umbrellas, mackintoshes,
  Hoods, rubber boots and arctics and galoshes.
  Here is half a block of overcoats,
  In this bleak time of snow and slender throats.
  Then windows of fine linen, snakewood canes,
  Scarfs, opera hats, in use where fashion reigns.
  As when the hive swarms, so the crowded street
  Roars to the shuffling of innumerable feet.
  Skyscrapers soar above them; they go by
  As bees crawl, little scales upon the skin
  Of a great dragon winding out and in.
  Above them hangs a tangled tree of signs,
  Suspended or uplifted like dædalian
  Hieroglyphics when the saturnalian
  Night commences, and their racing lines
  Run fire of blue and yellow in a puzzle,
  Bewildering to the eyes of those who guzzle,
  And gourmandize and stroll and seek the bubble
  Of happiness to put away their trouble.

  Around the loop the elevated crawls,
  And giant shadows sink against the walls
  Where ten to twenty stories strive to hold
  The pale refraction of the sunset's gold.
  Slop underfoot, we pass beneath the loop.
  The crowd is uglier, poorer; there are smells
  As from the depths of unsuspected hells,
  And from a groggery where beer and soup
  Are sold for five cents to the thieves and bums.
  Here now are huge cartoons in red and blue
  Of obese women and of skeleton men,
  Egyptian dancers, twined with monstrous snakes,
  Before the door a turbaned lithe Hindoo,
  A bagpipe shrilling, underneath a den
  Of opium, whence a man with hand that shakes,
  Rolling a cigarette, so palely comes.
  The clang of car bells and the beat of drums.
  Draft horses clamping with their steel-shod hoofs.
  The buildings have grown small and black and worn;
  The sky is more beholden; o'er the roofs
  A flock of pigeons soars; with dresses torn
  And yellow faces, labor women pass
  Some Chinese gabbling; and there, buying fruit,
  Stands a fair girl who is a late recruit
  To those poor women slain each year by lust.
  'Tis evening now and trade will soon begin.
  The family entrance beckons for a glass
  Of hopeful mockery, the piano's din
  Into the street with sounds of rasping wires
  Filters, and near a pawner's window shows
  Pistols, accordions; and, luring buyers,
  A Jew stands mumbling to the passer-by
  Of jewelry and watches and old clothes.
  A limousine gleams quickly--with a cry
  A legless man fastened upon a board
  With casters 'neath it by a sudden shove
  Darts out of danger. And upon the corner
  A lassie tells a man that God is love,
  Holding a tambourine with its copper hoard
  To be augmented by the drunken scorner.
  A woman with no eyeballs in her sockets
  Plays "Rock of Ages" on a wheezy organ.
  A newsboy with cold hands thrust in his pockets
  Cries, "All about the will of Pierpont Morgan!"
  The roofline of the street now sinks and dwindles.
  The windows are begrimed with dust and beer.
  A child half clothed, with legs as thin as spindles,
  Carries a basket with some bits of coal.
  Between lace curtains eyes of yellow leer,
  The cheeks splotched with white places like the skin
  Inside an eggshell--destitute of soul.
  One sees a brass lamp oozing kerosene
  Upon a stand whereon her elbows lean;
  Lighted, it soon will welcome negroes in.

  The railroad tracks are near. We almost choke
  From filth whirled from the street and stinging vapors.
  Great engines vomit gas and heavy smoke
  Upon a north wind driving tattered papers,
  Dry dung and dust and refuse down the street.
  A circumambient roar as of a wheel
  Whirring far off--a monster's heart whose beat
  Is full of murmurs, comes as we retreat
  Towards Twenty-second. And a man with jaw
  Set like a tiger's, with a dirty beard,
  Skulks toward the loop, with heavy wrists red-raw
  Glowing above his pockets where his hands
  Pushed tensely round his hips the coat tails draw,
  And show what seems a slender piece of metal
  In his hip pocket. On these barren strands
  He waits for midnight for old scores to settle
  Against his ancient foe society,
  Who keeps the soup house and who builds the jails.
  Switchmen and firemen with their dinner pails
  Go by him homeward, and he wonders if
  These fellows know a hundred thousand workers
  Walk up and down the city's highways, stiff
  From cold and hunger, doomed to poverty,
  As wretched as the thieves and crooks and shirkers.
  He scurries to the lake front, loiters past
  The windows of wax lights with scarlet shades,
  Where smiling diners back of ambuscades
  Of silk and velvet hear not winter's blast
  Blowing across the lake. He has a thought
  Of Michigan, where once at picking berries
  He spent a summer--then his eye is caught
  At Randolph street by written light which tarries,
  Then like a film runs into sentences.
  He sees it all as from a black abyss.
  Taxis with skid chains rattle, limousines
  Draw up to awnings; for a space he catches
  A scent of musk or violets, sees the patches
  On powdered cheeks of furred and jeweled queens.
  The color round his cruel mouth grows whiter,
  He thrusts his coarse hands in his pockets tighter:
  He is a thief, he knows he is a thief,
  He is a thief found out, and, as he knows,
  The whole loop is a kingdom held in fief
  By men who work with laws instead of blows
  From sling shots, so he curses under breath
  The money and the invisible hand that owns
  From year to year, in spite of change and death,
  The wires for the lights and telephones,
  The railways on the streets, and overhead
  The railways, and beneath the winding tunnel
  Which crooks stole from the city for a runnel
  To drain her nickels; and the pipes of lead
  Which carry gas, wrapped round us like a snake,
  And round the courts, whose grip no court can break.
  He curses bitterly all those who rise,
  And rule by just the spirit which he plies
  Coarsely against the world's great store of wealth;
  Bankers and usurers and cliques whose stealth
  Works witchcraft through the market and the press,
  And hires editors, or owns the stock
  Controlling papers, playing with finesse
  The city's thinking, that they may unlock
  Treasures and powers like burglars in the dark.
  And thinking thus and cursing, through a flurry
  Of sudden snow he hastens on to Clark.
  In a cheap room there is an eye to mark
  His coming and be glad. His footsteps hurry.
  She will have money, earned this afternoon
  Through men who took her from a near saloon
  Wherein she sits at table to dragoon
  Roughnecks or simpletons upon a lark.
  Within a little hall a fierce-eyed youth
  Rants of the burdens on the people's backs--
  He would cure all things with the single tax.
  A clergyman demands more gospel truth,
  Speaking to Christians at a weekly dinner.
  A parlor Marxian, for a beginner
  Would take the railways. And amid applause
  Where lawyers dine, a judge says all will be
  Well if we hand down to posterity
  Respect for courts and judges and the laws.
  An anarchist would fight. Upon the whole,
  Another thinks, to cultivate one's soul
  Is most important--let the passing show
  Go where it wills, and where it wills to go.

  Outside the stars look down. Stars are content
  To be so quiet and indifferent.



WHEN UNDER THE ICY EAVES


  When under the icy eaves
    The swallow heralds the sun,
  And the dove for its lost mate grieves
    And the young lambs play and run;
  When the sea is a plane of glass,
    And the blustering winds are still,
  And the strength of the thin snows pass
    In mists o'er the tawny hill--
  The spirit of life awakes
  In the fresh flags by the lakes.

  When the sick man seeks the air,
    And the graves of the dead grow green,
  Where the children play unaware
    Of the faces no longer seen;
  When all we have felt or can feel,
    And all we are or have been,
  And all the heart can hide or reveal,
    Knocks gently, and enters in:--
  The spirit of life awakes,
  In the fresh flags by the lakes.



IN THE CAR


  We paused to say good-by,
  As we thought for a little while,
  Alone in the car, in the corner
  Around the turn of the aisle.

  A quiver came in your voice,
  Your eyes were sorrowful too;
  'Twas over--I strode to the doorway,
  Then turned to wave an adieu.

  But you had not come from the corner,
  And though I had gone so far,
  I retraced, and faced you coming
  Into the aisle of the car.

  You stopped as one who was caught
  In an evil mood by surprise.--
  I want to forget, I am trying
  To forget the look in your eyes.

  Your face was blank and cold,
  Like Lot's wife turned to salt.
  I suddenly trapped and discovered
  Your soul in a hidden fault.

  Your eyes were tearless and wide,
  And your wide eyes looked on me
  Like a Mænad musing murder,
  Or the mask of Melpomene.

  And there in a flash of lightning
  I learned what I never could prove:
  That your heart contained no sorrow,
  And your heart contained no love.

  And my heart is light and heavy,
  And this is the reason why:
  I am glad we parted forever,
  And sad for the last good-by.



SIMON SURNAMED PETER


  Time that has lifted you over them all--
  O'er John and o'er Paul;
  Writ you in capitals, made you the chief
  Word on the leaf--
  How did you, Peter, when ne'er on His breast
  You leaned and were blest--
  And none except Judas and you broke the faith
  To the day of His death,--
  You, Peter, the fisherman, worthy of blame,
  Arise to this fame?

  'Twas you in the garden who fell into sleep
  And the watch failed to keep,
  When Jesus was praying and pressed with the weight
  Of the oncoming fate.
  'Twas you in the court of the palace who warmed
  Your hands as you stormed
  At the damsel, denying Him thrice, when she cried:
  "He walked at his side!"
  You, Peter, a wave, a star among clouds, a reed in the wind,
  A guide of the blind,
  Both smiter and flyer, but human alway, I protest,
  Beyond all the rest.

  When at night by the boat on the sea He appeared
  Did you wait till he neared?
  You leaped in the water, not dreading the worst
  In your joy to be first
  To greet Him and tell Him of all that had passed
  Since you saw Him the last.
  You had slept while He watched, but fierce were you, fierce and awake
  When they sought Him to take,
  And cursing, no doubt, as you smote off, as one of the least,
  The ear of the priest.
  Then Andrew and all of them fled, but you followed Him,
      hoping for strength
  To save him at length
  Till you lied to the damsel, oh penitent Peter, and crept,
  Into hiding and wept.

  Oh well! But he asked all the twelve, "Who am I?"
  And who made reply?
  As you leaped in the sea, so you spoke as you smote with the sword;
  "Thou art Christ, even Lord!"
  John leaned on His breast, but he asked you, your strength to foresee,
  "Nay, lovest thou me?"
  Thrice over, as thrice you denied Him, and chose you to lead
  His sheep and to feed;
  And gave you, He said, the keys of the den and the fold
  To have and to hold.
  You were a poor jailer, oh Peter, the dreamer, who saw
  The death of the law
  In the dream of the vessel that held all the four-footed beasts,
  Unclean for the priests;
  And heard in the vision a trumpet that all men are worth
  The peace of the earth
  And rapture of heaven hereafter,--oh Peter, what power
  Was yours in that hour:
  You warder and jailer and sealer of fates and decrees,
  To use the big keys
  With which to reveal and fling wide all the soul and the scheme
  Of the Galilee dream,
  When you flashed in a trice, as later you smote with the sword:
  "Thou art Christ, even Lord!"

  We men, Simon Peter, we men also give you the crown
  O'er Paul and o'er John.
  We write you in capitals, make you the chief
  Word on the leaf.
  We know you as one of our flesh, and 'tis well
  You are warder of hell,
  And heaven's gatekeeper forever to bind and to loose--
  Keep the keys if you choose.
  Not rock of you, fire of you make you sublime
  In the annals of time.
  You were called by Him, Peter, a rock, but we give you the name
  Of Peter the Flame.
  For you struck a spark, as the spark from the shock
  Of steel upon rock.
  The rock has his use but the flame gives the light
  In the way in the night:--
  Oh Peter, the dreamer, impetuous, human, divine,
  Gnarled branch of the vine!



ALL LIFE IN A LIFE


  His father had a large family
  Of girls and boys and he was born and bred
  In a barn or kind of cattle shed.
  But he was a hardy youngster and grew to be
  A boy with eyes that sparkled like a rod
  Of white hot iron in the blacksmith shop.
  His face was ruddy like a rising moon,
  And his hair was black as sheep's wool that is black.
  And he had rugged arms and legs and a strong back.
  And he had a voice half flute and half bassoon.
  And from his toes up to his head's top
  He was a man, simple but intricate.
  And most men differ who try to delineate
  His life and fate.

  He never seemed ashamed
  Of poverty or of his origin. He was a wayward child,
  Nevertheless though wise and mild,
  And thoughtful but when angered then he flamed
  As fire does in a forge.
  When he was ten years old he ran away
  To be alone and watch the sea, and the stars
  At midnight from a mountain gorge.

  When he returned his parents scolded him
  And threatened him with bolts and bars.
  Then they grew soft for his return and gay
  And with their love would have enfolded him.
  But even at ten years old he had a way
  Of gazing at you with a look austere
  Which gave his kinfolk fear.
  He had no childlike love for father or mother,
  Sister or brother,
  They were the same to him as any other.
  He was a little cold, a little queer.

  His father was a laborer and now
  They made the boy work for his daily bread.
  They say he read
  A book or two during these years of work.
  But if there was a secret prone to lurk
  Between the pages under the light of his brow
  It came forth. And if he had a woman
  In love or out of love, or a companion or a chum,
  History is dumb.
  So far as we know he dreamed and worked with hands
  And learned to know his genius' commands
  Or what is called one's dæmon.

  And this became at last the city's call.
  He had now reached the age of thirty years,
  And found a Dream of Life and a solution
  For slavery of soul and even all
  Miseries that flow from things material.
  To free the world was his soul's resolution.
  But his family had great fears
  For him, knowing the evil
  Which might befall him, seeing that the light
  Of his own dream had blinded his mind's eyes.
  They could not tell but what he had a devil.
  But still in their tears despite,
  And warnings he departed with replies
  That when a man's genius calls him
  He must obey no matter what befalls him.

  What he had in his mind was growth
  Of soul by watching,
  And the creation of eyes
  Over your mind's eyes to supervise
  A clear activity and to ward off sloth.
  What he had in his mind was scotching
  And killing the snake of Hatred and stripping the glove
  From the hand of Hypocrisy and quenching the fire
  Of Falsehood and Unbrotherly Desire.--
  What he had in his mind was simply Love.
  And it was strange he preached the sword and force
  To establish Love, but it was not strange,
  Since he did this, his life took on a change.
  And what he taught seems muddled at its source
  With moralizing and with moral strife.
  For morals are merely the Truth diluted
  And sweetened up and suited
  To the business and bread of Life.

  And now this City was just what you'd find
  A city anywhere,
  A turmoil and a Vanity Fair,
  A sort of heaven and a sort of Tophet.
  There were so many leaders of his kind
  The city didn't care
  For one additional prophet.
  He said some extravagant things
  And planted a few stings
  Under the rich man's hide.
  And one of the sensational newspapers
  Gave him a line or two for cutting capers
  In front of the Palace of Justice and the Church.
  But all of the first grade people took the other side
  Of the street when they saw him coming
  With a rag tag crowd singing and humming,
  And curious boys and men up in a perch
  Of a tree or window taking the spectacle in,
  And the Corybantic din
  Of a Salvation Army as it were.
  And whatever he dreamed when he lived in a little town
  The intelligent people ignored him, and this is the stir
  And the only stir he made in the city.

  But there was a certain sinister
  Fellow who came to him hearing of his renown
  And said "You can be Mayor of this city,
  We need a man like you for Mayor."
  And others said "You'd make a lawyer or a politician,
  Look how the people follow you;
  Why don't you hire out as a special writer,
  You could become a business man, a rhetorician,
  You could become a player,
  You can grow rich. There's nothing for a fighter,
  Fighting as you are, but to end in ruin."
  But he turned from them on his way pursuing
  The dream he had in view.

  He had a rich man or two
  Who took up with him against the powerful frown
  Which looked him down.
  For you'll always find a rich man or two
  To take up with anything.
  There are those who can't get into society or bring
  Their riches to a social recognition;
  Or ill-formed souls who lack the real patrician
  Spirit for life.
  But as for him he didn't care, he passed
  Where the richness of living was rife.
  And like wise Goethe talking to the last
  With cabmen rather than with lords
  He sat about the markets and the fountains,
  He walked about the country and the mountains,
  Took trips upon the lakes and waded fords
  Barefooted, laughing as a young animal
  Disports itself amid the festival
  Of warm winds, sunshine, summer's carnival--
  With laborers, carpenters, seamen
  And some loose women.
  And certain notable sinners
  Gave him dinners.
  And he went to weddings and to places where youth slakes
  Its thirst for happiness, and they served him cakes
  And wine wherever he went.
  And he ate and drank and spent
  His time in feasting and in telling stories,
  And singing poems of lilies and of trees,
  With crowds of people crowded around his knees
  That searched with lightning secrets hidden
  Of life and of life's glories,
  Of death and of the soul's way after death.

  Time makes amends usually for scandal's breath,
  Which touched him to his earthly ruination.
  But this city had a Civic Federation,
  And a certain social order which intrigues
  Through churches, courts, with an endless ramification
  Of money and morals to save itself.
  And this city had a Bar Association,
  Also its Public Efficiency Leagues
  For laying honest men upon the shelf
  While making private pelf
  Secure and free to increase.
  And this city had illustrious Pharisees
  And this city had a legion
  Of men who make a business of religion,
  With eyes one inch apart,
  Dark and narrow of heart,
  Who give themselves and give the city no peace,
  And who are everywhere the best police
  For Life as business.
  And when they saw this youth
  Was telling the truth,
  And that his followers were multiplying,
  And were going about rejoicing and defying
  The social order and were stirring up
  The dregs of discontent in the cup
  With the hand of their own happiness,
  They saw dynamic mysteries
  In the poems of lilies and trees,
  Therefore they held him for a felony.

  If you will take a kernel of wheat
  And first make free
  The outer flake and then pare off the meat
  Of edible starch you'll find at the kernel's core
  The life germ. And this young man's words were dim
  With blasphemy, sedition at the rim,
  Which fired the heads of dreamers like new wine.
  But this was just the outward force of him.
  For this young man's philosophy was more
  Than such external ferment, being divine
  With secrets so profound no plummet line
  Can altogether sound it. It means growth
  Of soul by watching,
  And the creation of eyes
  Over your mind's eyes to supervise
  A clear activity and to ward off sloth.
  What he had in mind was scotching
  And killing the snake of Hatred and stripping the glove
  From the hand of Hypocrisy and quenching the fire
  Of falsehood and unbrotherly Desire.
  What he had in mind was simply Love.

  But he was prosecuted
  As a rebel and as a rebel executed
  Right in a public place where all could see.
  And his mother watched him hang for the felony.
  He hated to die being but thirty-three,
  And fearing that his poems might be lost.
  And certain members of the Bar Association,
  And of the Civic Federation,
  And of the League of Public Efficiency,
  And a legion
  Of men devoted to religion,
  With policemen, soldiers, roughs,
  Loose women, thieves and toughs,
  Came out to see him die,
  And hooted at him giving up the ghost
  In great despair and with a fearful cry!

  And after him there was a man named Paul
  Who almost spoiled it all.

  And protozoan things like hypocrites,
  And parasitic things who make a food
  Of the mysteries of God for earthly power
  Must wonder how before this young man's hour
  They lived without his blood,
  Shed on that day, and which
  In red cells is so rich.



WHAT YOU WILL


  April rain, delicious weeping,
    Washes white bones from the grave,
  Long enough have they been sleeping.
    They are cleansed, and now they crave
  Once more on the earth to gather
  Pleasure from the springtime weather.

  The pine trees and the long dark grass
    Feed on what is placed below.
  Think you not that there doth pass
    In them something we did know?
  This spell--well, friends, I greet ye once again
  With joy--but with a most unuttered pain.



THE CITY


  The Sun hung like a red balloon
  As if he would not rise;
  For listless Helios drowsed and yawned.
  He cared not whether the morning dawned,
  The brother of Eos and the Moon
  Stretched him and rubbed his eyes.

  He would have dreamed the dream again
  That found him under sea:
  He saw Zeus sit by Hera's side,
  He saw Hæphestos with his bride;
  He traced from Enna's flowery plain
  The child Persephone.

  There was a time when heaven's vault
  Cracked like a temple's roof.
  A new hierarchy burst its shell,
  And as the sapphire ceiling fell,
  From stern Jehovah's mad assault,
  Vast spaces stretched aloof:

  Great blue black depths of frozen air
  Engulfed the soul of Zeus.
  And then Jehovah reigned instead.
  For Judah was living and Greece was dead.
  And Hope was born to nurse Despair,
  And the Devil was let loose.

         *       *       *       *       *

  Far off in the waste empyrean
  The world was a golden mote.
  And the Sun hung like a red balloon,
  Or a bomb afire o'er a barracoon.
  And the sea was drab, and the sea was green
  Like a many colored coat.

  The sea was pink like cyclamen,
  And red as a blushing rose.
  It shook anon like the sensitive plant,
  Under the golden light aslant.
  The little waves patted the shore again
  Where the restless river flows.

  And thus it has been for ages gone--
  For a hundred thousand years;
  Ere Buddha lived or Jesus came,
  Or ever the city had place or name,
  The sea thrilled through at the kiss of dawn
  Like a soul of smiles and tears.

  When the city's seat was a waste of sand,
  And the hydra lived alone,
  The sound of the sea was here to be heard,
  And the moon rose up like a great white bird,
  Sailing aloft from the yellow strand
  To her silent midnight throne.

  Now Helios eyes the universe,
  And he knows the world is small.
  Of old he walked through pagan Tyre,
  Babylon, Sodom destroyed by fire,
  And sought to unriddle the primal curse
  That holds the race in thrall.

  So he stepped from the Sun in robes of flame
  As the city woke from sleep.
  He walked the markets, walked the squares,
  He walked the places of sweets and snares,
  Where men buy honor and barter shame,
  And the weak are killed as sheep.

  He saw the city is one great mart
  Where life is bought and sold.
  Men rise to get them meat and bread
  To barter for drugs or coffin the dead.
  And dawn is but a plucked-up heart
  For the dreary game of gold.

  "Ho! ho!" said Helios, "father Zeus
  Would never botch it so.
  If he had stolen Joseph's bride,
  And let his son be crucified
  The son's blood had been put to use
  To ease the people's woe."

  "He of the pest and the burning bush,
  Of locusts, lice, and frogs,
  Who made me stand, veiling my light,
  While Joshua slaughtered the Amorite,
  Who blacked the skin of the sons of Cush,
  And builded the synagogues."

  "And Jehovah the great is omnipotent,
  While Zeus was bound by Fate.
  But Athens fell when Peter took Rome,
  And Chicago is made His hecatomb.
  And since from the hour His son was sent
  The hypocrite holds the state."

  Helios traversed the city streets
  And this is what he saw:
  Some sold their honor, some their skill,
  The soldier hired himself to kill,
  The judges bartered the judgment seats
  And trafficked in the law.

  The starving artist sold his youth,
  The writer sold his pen;
  The lawyer sharpened up his wits
  Like a burglar filing auger bits,
  And Jesus' vicar sold the truth
  To the famished sons of men.

  In every heart flamed cruelty
  Like a little emerald snake.
  And each one knew if he should stand
  In another's way the dagger-hand
  Would make the stronger the feofee
  Of the coveted wapentake.

  There's not a thing men will not do
  For honor, gold, or power.
  We smile and call the city fair,
  We call life lovely and debonair,
  But Proserpina never grew
  So deadly a passion flower.

  Go live for an hour in a tropic land
  Hid near a sinking pool:
  The lion and tiger come to drink,
  The boa crawls to the water's brink,
  The elephant bull kneels down in the sand
  And drinks till his throat is cool.

  Jehovah will keep you awhile unseen
  As you lie behind the rocks.
  But go, if you dare, to slake your thirst,
  Though Jesus died for our life accursed
  Your bones by the tiger will be licked clean
  As he licks the bones of an ox.

  And the sky may be blue as fleur de lis,
  And the earth be tulip red;
  And God in heaven, and life all good
  While you lie hid in the underwood:
  And the city may leave you sorrow free
  If you ask it not for bread.

  One day Achilles lost a horse
  While the pest at Troy was rife,
  And a million maggots fought and ate
  Like soldiers storming a city's gate,
  And Thersites said, as he looked at the corse,
  "Achilles, that is life."

         *       *       *       *       *

  Day fades and from a million cells
  The office people pour.
  Like bees that crawl on the honeycomb
  The workers scurry to what is home,
  And trains and traffic and clanging bells
  Make the cañon highways roar.

  Helios walked the city's ways
  Till the lights began to shine.
  Then the janitor women start to scrub
  And the Pharisees up and enter the club,
  And the harlot wakes, and the music plays
  And the glasses glow with wine.

  Now we're good fellows one and all,
  And the buffet storms with talk.
  "The market's closed and trade's at end
  We had our battle, now I'm your friend."
  And thanks to the spirit of alcohol
  Men go for a ride or walk.

  Oh but traffic is not all done
  Nor everything yet sold.
  There's woman to win, and plots to weave,
  There's a heart to hurt, or one to deceive,
  And bargains to bind ere rise of Sun
  To garner the morrow's gold.

  The market at night is as full of fraud
  As the market kept by day.
  The courtesan buys a soul with a look,
  A dinner tempers the truth in a book,
  And love is sold till love is a bawd,
  And falsehood froths in the play.

  And men and women sell their smiles
  For friendship's lifeless dregs.
  For fear of the morrow we bend and bow
  To moneybags with the slanting brow.
  For the heart that knows life's little wiles
  Seldom or never begs.

  "Poor men," sighed Helios, "how they long
  For the ultimate fire of love.
  They yearn, through life, like the peacock moth,
  And die worn out in search of the troth.
  For love in the soul is the siren song
  That wrecks the peace thereof."

         *       *       *       *       *

  Helios turned from the world and fled
  As the convent bell tolled six.
  For he caught a glimpse of an agéd crone
  Who knelt beside a coffin alone;
  She had sold her cloak to shrive the dead
  And buy a crucifix!



THE IDIOT


  Two children in a garden
  Shouting for joy
  Were playing dolls and houses,
  A girl and boy.
  I smiled at a neighbor window,
  And watched them play
  Under a budding oak tree
  On a wintry day.

  And then a board half broken
  In the high fence
  Fell over and there entered,
  I know not whence,
  A jailbird face of yellow
  With a vacant sulk,
  His body was a sickly
  Thing of bulk.

  His open mouth was slavering,
  And a green light
  Turned disc-like in his eyeballs,
  Like a dog's at night.
  His teeth were like a giant's,
  And far apart;
  I saw him reel on the children
  With a stopping heart.
  He trampled their dolls and ruined
  The house they made;
  He struck to earth the children
  With a dirty spade.
  As a tiger growls with an antelope
  After the hunt,
  Over the little faces
  I heard him grunt.

  I stood at the window frozen,
  And short of breath,
  And then I saw the idiot
  Was Master Death!

  A bird in the lilac bushes
  Began to sing.
  The garden colored before me
  To the kiss of spring.
  And the yellow face in a moment
  Was a mystic white;
  The matted hair was softened
  To starry light.
  The ragged coat flowed downward
  Into a robe;
  He carried a sword and a balance
  And stood on a globe.
  I watched him from the window
  Under a spell;
  The idiot was the angel
  Azrael!



HELEN OF TROY

On an ancient vase representing in bas-relief the flight of
Helen.


  This is the vase of Love
  Whose feet would ever rove
    O'er land and sea;
  Whose hopes forever seek
  Bright eyes, the vermeiled cheek,
    And ways made free.

  Do we not understand
  Why thou didst leave thy land,
    Thy spouse, thy hearth?
  Helen of Troy, Greek art
  Hath made our heart thy heart,
    Thy mirth our mirth.

  For Paris did appear,--
  Curled hair and rosy ear
    And tapering hands.
  He spoke--the blood ran fast,
  He touched, and killed the past,
    And clove its bands.

  And this, I deem, is why
  The restless ages sigh,
    Helen, for thee.
  Whate'er we do or dream,
  Whate'er we say or seem,
    We would be free.

  We would forsake old love,
  And all the pain thereof,
    And all the care;
  We would find out new seas,
  And lands more strange than these,
    And flowers more fair.

  We would behold fresh skies
  Where summer never dies
    And amaranths spring;
  Lands where the halcyon hours
  Nest over scented bowers
    On folded wing.

  We would be crowned with bays,
  And spend the long bright days
    On sea or shore;
  Or sit by haunted woods,
  And watch the deep sea's moods,
    And hear its roar.

  Beneath that ancient sky
  Who is not fain to fly
    As men have fled?
  Ah! we would know relief
  From marts of wine and beef,
    And oil and bread.

  Helen of Troy, Greek art
  Hath made our heart thy heart,
    Thy love our love.
  For poesy, like thee,
  Must fly and wander free
    As the wild dove.



O GLORIOUS FRANCE


  You have become a forge of snow white fire,
  A crucible of molten steel, O France!
  Your sons are stars who cluster to a dawn
  And fade in light for you, O glorious France!
  They pass through meteor changes with a song
  Which to all islands and all continents
  Says life is neither comfort, wealth, nor fame,
  Nor quiet hearthstones, friendship, wife nor child
  Nor love, nor youth's delight, nor manhood's power,
  Nor many days spent in a chosen work,
  Nor honored merit, nor the patterned theme
  Of daily labor, nor the crowns nor wreaths
  Or seventy years.

                    These are not all of life,
  O France, whose sons amid the rolling thunder
  Of cannon stand in trenches where the dead
  Clog the ensanguinéd ice. But life to these
  Prophetic and enraptured souls is vision,
  And the keen ecstasy of fated strife,
  And divination of the loss as gain,
  And reading mysteries with brightened eyes
  In fiery shock and dazzling pain before
  The orient splendor of the face of Death,
  As a great light beside a shadowy sea;
  And in a high will's strenuous exercise,
  Where the warmed spirit finds its fullest strength
  And is no more afraid. And in the stroke
  Of azure lightning when the hidden essence
  And shifting meaning of man's spiritual worth
  And mystical significance in time
  Are instantly distilled to one clear drop
  Which mirrors earth and heaven.

                                  This is life
  Flaming to heaven in a minute's span
  When the breath of battle blows the smoldering spark.
  And across these seas
  We who cry Peace and treasure life and cling
  To cities, happiness, or daily toil
  For daily bread, or trail the long routine
  Of seventy years, taste not the terrible wine
  Whereof you drink, who drain and toss the cup
  Empty and ringing by the finished feast;
  Or have it shaken from your hand by sight
  Of God against the olive woods.

  As Joan of Arc amid the apple trees
  With sacred joy first heard the voices, then
  Obeying plunged at Orleans in a field
  Of spears and lived her dream and died in fire,
  Thou, France, hast heard the voices and hast lived
  The dream and known the meaning of the dream,
  And read its riddle: How the soul of man
  May to one greatest purpose make itself
  A lens of clearness, how it loves the cup
  Of deepest truth, and how its bitterest gall
  Turns sweet to soul's surrender.

                                    And you say:
  Take days for repetition, stretch your hands
  For mocked renewal of familiar things:
  The beaten path, the chair beside the window,
  The crowded street, the task, the accustomed sleep,
  And waking to the task, or many springs
  Of lifted cloud, blue water, flowering fields--
  The prison house grows close no less, the feast
  A place of memory sick for senses dulled
  Down to the dusty end where pitiful Time
  Grown weary cries Enough!



FOR A DANCE


  There is in the dance
    The joy of children on a May day lawn.
  The fragments of old dreams and dead romance
    Come to us from the dancers who are gone.

  What strains of ancient blood
    Move quicker to the music's passionate beat?
  I see the gulls fly over a shadowy flood
    And Munster fields of barley and of wheat.

  And I see sunny France,
    And the vine's tendrils quivering to the light,
  And faces, faces, yearning for the dance
    With wistful eyes that look on our delight.

  They live through us again
    And we through them, who wish for lips and eyes
  Wherewith to feel, not fancy, the old pain
    Passed with reluctance through the centuries

  To us, who in the maze
    Of dancing and hushed music woven afresh
  Amid the shifting mirrors of hours and days
    Know not our spirit, neither know our flesh;

  Nor what ourselves have been,
    Through the long way that brought us to the dance:
  I see a little green by Camolin
    And odorous orchards blooming in Provence.

  Two listen to the roar
    Of waves moon-smitten, where no steps intrude.
  Who knows what lips were kissed at Laracor?
    Or who it was that walked through Burnham wood?



WHEN LIFE IS REAL


  We rode, we rode against the wind.
  The countless lights along the town
  Made the town blacker for their fire,
  And you were always looking down.

  To 'scape the blustering breath of March,
  Or was it for your mind's disguise?
  Still I could shut my eyes and see
  The turquoise color of your eyes.

  Surely your ermine furs were warm,
  And warm your flowing cloak of red;
  Was it the wild wind kept you thus
  Pensive and with averted head?

  I scarcely spoke, my words were swept
  Like winged things in the wind's despite.
  We rode, and with what shadow speed
  Across the darkness of the night!

  Without a word, without a look.
  What was the charm and what the spell
  That made one hour of life become
  A memory ever memorable?

         *       *       *       *       *

  All craft, all labor, all desire,
  All toil of age, all hope of youth
  Are shadows from the fount of fire
  And mummers of the truth.

  How bloodless books, how pulseless art,
  Vain kingly and imperial zeal,
  Vain all memorials of the heart!
  When Life itself is real!

  We traced the golden clouds of spring,
  We roved the beach, we walked the land.
  What was the world? A Phantom thing
  That vanished in your hand.

  You were as quiet as the sky.
  Your eyes were liquid as the sea.
  And in that hour that passed us by
  We lived eternally.



THE QUESTION


  I

  The sea moans and the stars are bright,
  The leaves lisp 'neath a rolling moon.
  I shut my eyes against the night
  And make believe the time is June--
  The June that left us over-soon.

  This is the path and this the place
  We sat and watched the moving sea,
  And I the moonlight on your face.
  We were not happy--woe is me,
  Happiness is but memory!

  It seemeth, now that you are gone,
  My heart a measured pain doth keep:--
  Are you now, as I am, alone?
  Do you make merry, do you weep?
  In whose arms are you now asleep?



THE ANSWER


  II

  I made my bed beneath the pines
  Where the sea washed the sandy bars;
  I heard the music of the winds,
  And blest the aureate face of Mars.
  All night a lilac splendor throve
  Above the heaven's shadowy verge;
  And in my heart the voice of love
  Kept music with the dreaming surge.

  A little maid was at my side--
  She slept--I scarcely slept at all;
  Until toward the morning-tide
  A dream possessed me with its thrall.
  She sweetly breathed; around my breast
  I felt her warmth like drowsy bliss,
  Then came the vision of unrest--
  I saw your face and felt your kiss.

  I woke and knew with what dismay
  She read my secret and surprise;
  She only said, "Again 'tis day!
  How red your cheeks, how bright your eyes!"



THE SIGN


  There's not a soul on the square,
  And the snow blows up like a sail,
  Or dizzily drifts like a drunken man
  Falling, before the gale.

  And when the wind eddies it rifts
  The snow that lies in drifts;
  And it skims along the walk and sifts
  In stairways, doorways all about
  The steps of the church in an angry rout.
  And one would think that a hungry hound
  Was out in the cold for the sound.

  But I do not seem to mind
  The snow that makes one blind,
  Nor the crying voice of the wind--
  I hate to hear the creak of the sign
  Of Harmon Whitney, attorney at law:
  With its rhythmic monotone of awe.
  And neither a moan nor yet a whine,
  Nor a cry of pain--one can't define
  The sound of a creaking sign.

  Especially if the sky be bleak,
  And no one stirs however you seek,
  And every time you hear it creak
  You wonder why they leave it stay
  When a man is buried and hidden away
  Many a day!



WILLIAM MARION REEDY


  He sits before you silent as Buddha,
  And then you say
  This man is Rabelais.
  And while you wonder what his stock is,
  English or Irish, you behold his eyes
  As big and brown as those desirable crockies
  With which as boys we used to play.
  And then you see the spherical light that lies
  Just under the iris coloring,
  Before which everything,
  Becomes as plain as day.

  If you have noticed the rolling jowls
  And the face that speaks its chief
  Delight in beer and roast beef
  Before you have seen his eyes, you see
  A man of fleshly jollity,
  Like the friars of old in gowns and cowls
  To make a show of scowls.
  And when he speaks from an orotund depth that growls
  In a humorous way like Fielding or Smollett
  That turns in a trice to Robert La Follette
  Or retraces to Thales of Crete,
  And touches upon Descartes coming back
  Through the intellectual Zodiac
  That's something of a feat.
  And you see that the eyes are really the man,
  For the thought of him proliferates
  This way over to Hindostan,
  And that way descanting on Yeats.
  With a word on Plato's symposium,
  And a little glimpse of Theocritus,
  Or something of Bruno's martyrdom,
  Or what St. Thomas Aquinas meant
  By a certain line obscure to us.
  And then he'll take up Horace's odes
  Or the Roman civilization;
  Or a few of the Iliad's episodes,
  Or the Greek deterioration.
  Or skip to a word on the plasmic jelly,
  Which Benjamin Moore and others think
  Is the origin of life. Then Shelley
  Comes in a for a look of understanding.
  Or he'll tell you about the orientation
  Of the ancient dream of Zion.
  Or what's the matter with Bryan.
  And while the porter is bringing a drink
  Something into his fancy skips
  And he talks about the Apocalypse,
  Or a painter or writer now unknown
  In France or Germany who will soon
  Have fame of him through the whole earth blown.

  It's not so hard a thing to be wise
  In the lore of books.
  It's a different thing to be all eyes,
  Like a lighthouse which revolves and looks
  Over the land and out to sea:
  And a lighthouse is what he seems to me!
  Sitting like Buddha spiritually cool,
  Young as the light of the sun is young,
  And taking the even with the odd
  As a matter of course, and the path he's trod
  As a path that was good enough.
  With a sort of transcendental sense
  Whose hatred is less than indifference,
  And a gift of wisdom in love.
  And who can say as he classifies
  Men and ages with his eyes
  With cool detachment: this is dung,
  And that poor fellow is just a fool.
  And say what you will death is a rod.
  But I see a light that shines and shines
  And I rather think it's God.



A STUDY


  If your thoughts were as clear as your eyes,
  And the whole of your heart were true,
  You were fitter by far for winning--
  But then that would not be you.

  If your pulse beat time to love
  As fast as you think and plan,
  You could kindle a lasting passion
  In the breast of the strongest man.

  If you felt as much as you thought,
  And dreamed what you seem to dream,
  A world of elysian beauty
  Your ruined heart would redeem.

  If you thought in the light of the sun,
  Or the blood in your veins flowed free,
  If you gave your kisses but gladly,
  We two could better agree.

  If you were strong where I counted,
  And weak where yourself were at stake,
  You would have my strength for your giving,
  You would gain and not lose for my sake.

  If your heart overruled your head,
  Or your head were lord of your heart,
  Or the two were lovingly balanced,
  I think we never should part.

  If you came to me spite of yourself,
  And staid not away through design,
  These days of loving and living
  Were sweet as Olympian wine.

  If you could weep with another,
  And tears for yourself controlled,
  You could waken and hold to a pity
  You waken, but do not hold.

  If your lips were as fain to speak
  As your face is fashioned to hide--
  You would know that to lay up treasure
  A woman's heart must confide.

  If your bosom were something richer,
  Or your hands more fragile and thin,
  You would call what the world calls evil,
  Or sin and be glad of the sin.

  If your soul were aflame with love,
  Or your head were devoted to truth,
  You never would toss on your pillow
  Bewildered 'twixt rapture and ruth.

  If you were the you of my dreams,
  And the you of my dreams were mine,
  These days, half sweet and half bitter,
  Would taste like Olympian wine.

  Oh, subtle and mystic Egyptians!
  Who chiseled the Sphinx in the East,
  With head and the breasts of a woman,
  And body and claws of a beast.

  And gave her a marvellous riddle
  That the eyeless should read as he ran:
  What crawls and runs and is baffled
  By woman, the sphinx--but a man?

  Many look in her face and are conquered,
  Where one all her heart has explored;
  A thousand have made her their sovereign,
  But one is her sovereign and lord.

  For him she leaps from her standard
  And fawns at his feet in the sand,
  Who sees that himself is her riddle,
  And she but the work of his hand.



PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN


  The pathos in your face is like a peace,
  It is like resignation or a grace
  Which smiles at the surcease
  Of hope. But there is in your face
  The shadow of pain, and there is a trace
  Of memory of pain.

  I look at you again and again,
  And hide my looks lest your quick eye perceives
  My search for your despair.
  I look at your pale hands--I look at your hair;
  And I watch you use your hands, I watch the flare
  Of thought in your eyes like light that interweaves
  A flutter of color running under leaves--
  Such anguished dreams in your eyes!
  And I listen to you speak
  Words like crystals breaking with a tinkle,
  Or a star's twinkle.
  Sometimes as we talk you rise
  And leave the room, and then I rub a streak
  Of a tear from my cheek.

  You tell me such magical things
  Of pictures, books, romance
  And of your life in France
  In the varied music of exquisite words,
  And in a voice that sings.

  All things are memory now with you,
  For poverty girds
  Your hopes, and only your dreams remain.
  And sometimes here and there
  I see as you turn your head a whitened hair,
  Even when you are smiling most.
  And a light comes in your eyes like a passing ghost,
  And a color runs through your cheeks as fresh
  As burns in a girl's flesh.
  Then I can shut my eyes and feel the pain
  That has become a part of you, though I feign
  Laughter myself. One sees another's bruise
  And shakes his thought out of it shuddering.
  So I turn and clamp my will lest I bring
  Your sorrow into my flesh, who cannot choose
  But hear your words and laughter,
  And watch your hands and eyes.

  Then as I think you over after
  I have gone from you, and your face
  Comes to me with its grace
  Of memory of unfound love:
  You seem to me the image of all women
  Who dream and keep under smiles the grief thereof,
  Or sew, or sit by windows, or read books
  To hide their Secret's looks.
  And after a time go out of life and leave
  No uttered words but in their silence grieve
  For Life and for the things no tongue can tell:
  Why Life hurts so, and why Love haunts and hurts
  Poor men and women in this demi-hell.

  Perhaps your pathos means that it is well
  Death in his time the aspiring torch inverts,
  And all tired flesh and haunted eyes and hands
  Moving in painéd whiteness are put under
  The soothing earth to brighten April's wonder.



IN THE CAGE


  The sounds of mid-night trickle into the roar
  Of morning over the water growing blue.
  At ten o'clock the August sunbeams pour
  A blinding flood on Michigan Avenue.

  But yet the half-drawn shades of bottle green
  Leave the recesses of the room
  With misty auras drawn around their gloom
  Where things lie undistinguished, scarcely seen.

  You, standing between the window and the bed
  Are edged with rainbow colors. And I lie
  Drowsy with quizzical half-open eye
  Musing upon the contour of your head,
  Watching you comb your hair,
  Clothed in a corset waist and skirt of silk,
  Tied with white braid above your slender hips
  Which reaches to your knees and makes your bare
  And delicate legs by contrast white as milk.
  And as you toss your head to comb its tresses
  They flash upon me like long strips of sand
  Between a moonlit sea, pale as your hand,
  And a red sun that on a high dune stresses
  Its sanguine heat.

                      And then at times your lips,
  Protruding half unconscious half in scorn
  Engage my eyes while looking through the morn
  At the clear oval of your brow brought full
  Over the sovereign largeness of your eyes;
  Or at your breasts that shake not as you pull
  The comb through stubborn tangles, only rise
  Scarcely perceptible with breath or signs,
  Firm unmaternal like a young Bacchante's,
  Or at your nose profoundly dipped like Dante's
  Over your chin that softly melts away.

  Now you seem fully under my heart's sway.
  I have slipped through the magic of your mesh
  Freed once again and strengthened by your flesh,
  You seem a weak thing for a strong man's play.
  Yet I know now that we shall scarce have parted
  When I shall think of you half heavy hearted.
  I know our partings. You will faintly smile
  And look at me with eyes that have no guile,
  Or have too much, and pass into the sphere
  Where you keep independent life meanwhile.
  How do you live without me, is the fear?
  You do not lean upon me, ask my love, or wonder
  Of other loves I may have hidden under
  These casual renewals of our love.
  And if I loved you I should lie in flame,
  Ari, go about re-murmuring your name,
  And these are things a man should be above.

  And as I lie here on the imminent brink
  Of soul's surrender into your soul's power,
  And in the white light of the morning hour
  I see what life would be if we should link
  Our lives together in a marriage pact:
  For we would walk along a boundless tract
  Of perfect hell; but your disloyalty
  Would be of spirit, for I have not won
  Mastered and bound your spirit unto me.
  And if you had a lover in the way
  I have you it would not by half betray
  My love as does your vague and chainless thought,
  Which wanders, soars or vanishes, returns,
  Changes, astonishes, or chills or burns,
  Is unresisting, plastic, freely wrought
  Under my hands yet to no unison
  Of my life and of yours. Upon this brink
  I watch you now and think
  Of all that has been preached or sung or spoken
  Of woman's tragedy in woman's fall;
  And all the pictures of a woman broken
  By man's superior strength.

                              And there you stand
  Your heart and life as firmly in command
  Of your resolve as mine is, knowing all
  Of man, the master, and his power to harm,
  His rulership of spheres material,
  Bread, customs, rules of fair repute--
  What are they all against your slender arm?
  Which long since plucked the fruit
  Of good and evil, and of life at last
  And now of Life. For dancing you have cast
  Veil after veil of ideals or pretense
  With which men clothe the being feminine
  To satisfy their lordship or their sense
  Of ownership and hide the things of sin--
  You have thrown them aside veil after veil;
  And there you stand unarmored, weirdly frail,
  Yet strong as nature, making comical
  The poems and the tales of woman's fall....
  You nod your head, you smile, I feel the air
  Made by the closing door. I lie and stare
  At the closed door. One, two, your tuftèd steps
  Die on the velvet of the outer hall.
  You have escaped. And I would not pursue.
  Though we are but caged creatures, I and you--
  A male and female tiger in a zoo.
  For I shall wait you. Life himself will track
  Your wanderings and bring you back,
  And shut you up again with me and cage
  Our love and hatred and our silent rage.



SAVING A WOMAN: ONE PHASE


  To a lustful thirst she came at first
  And gave him her maiden's pride;
  And the first man scattered the flower of her love,
  Then turned to his chosen bride.

  She waned with grief as a fading star,
  And waxed as a shining flame;
  And the second man had her woman's love,
  But the second was playing the game.

  With passion she stirred the man who was third;
  Woe's me! what delicate skill
  She plied to the heart that knew her art
  And fled from her wanton will.

  Now calm and demure, oh fair, oh pure,
  Oh subtle, patient and wise,
  She trod the weary round of life,
  With a sorrow deep in her eyes.

  Now a hero who knew how false, how true
  Was the speech that fell from her lips,
  With a Norseman's strength took sail with her,
  And landed and burnt his ships.

  He gave her pity, he gave her mirth,
  And the hurt in her heart he nursed;
  But under the silence of her brows
  Was a dream of the man who was first.

  And all the deceit and lust of men
  Had sharpened her own deceit;
  And down to the gates of hell she led
  Her friend with her flying feet.

  For a bitten bud will never bloom,
  And a woman lost is lost!
  And the first and the third may go unscathed,
  But some man pays the cost.

  And the books of life are full of the rune,
  And this is the truth of the song:
  No man can save a woman's soul,
  Nor right a woman's wrong.



LOVE IS A MADNESS


  Love is a madness, love is a fevered dream,
  A white soul lost in a field of scarlet flowers--
  Love is a search for the lost, the ever vanishing gleam
  Of wings, desires and sorrows and haunted hours.

  Will the look return to your eyes, the warmth to your hand?
  Love is a doubt, an ache, love is a writhing fear.
  Love is a potion drunk when the ship puts out from land,
  Rudderless, sails at full, and with none to steer.

  The end is a shattered lamp, a drunken seraph asleep,
  The upturned face of the drowned on a barren beach.
  The glare of noon is o'er us, we are ashamed to weep--
  The beginning and end of love are devoid of speech.



ON A BUST


  Your speeches seemed to answer for the nonce--
  They do not justify your head in bronze!
  Your essays! talent's failures were to you
  Your philosophic gamut, but things true,
  Or beautiful, oh never! What's the pons
  For you to cross to fame?--Your head in bronze?

  What has the artist caught? The sensual chin
  That melts away in weakness from the skin,
  Sagging from your indifference of mind;
  The sullen mouth that sneers at human kind
  For lack of genius to create or rule;
  The superficial scorn that says "you fool!"
  The deep-set eyes that have the mud-cat look
  Which might belong to Tolstoi or a crook.
  The nose half-thickly fleshed and half in point,
  And lightly turned awry as out of joint;
  The eyebrows pointing upward satyr-wise,
  Scarce like Mephisto, for you scarcely rise
  To cosmic irony in what you dream--
  More like a tomcat sniffing yellow cream.
  The brow! 'Tis worth the bronze it's molded in
  Save for the flat-top head and narrow thin
  Backhead which shows your spirit has not soared.
  You are a Packard engine in a Ford,
  Which wrecks itself and turtles with its load,
  Too light and powerful to keep the road.
  The master strength for twisting words is caught
  In the swift turning wheels of iron thought.
  With butcher knives your hands can vivisect
  Our butterflies, but you can not erect
  Temples of beauty, wisdom. You can crawl
  Hungry and subtle over Eden's wall,
  And shame half grown up truth, or make a lie
  Full grown as good. You cannot glorify
  Our dreams, or aspirations, or deep thirst.
  To you the world's a fig tree which is curst.
  You have preached every faith but to betray;
  The artist shows us you have had your day.

  A giant as we hoped, in truth a dwarf;
  A barrel of slop that shines on Lethe's wharf,
  Which seemed at first a vessel with sweet wine
  For thirsty lips. So down the swift decline
  You went through sloven spirit, craven heart
  And cynic indolence. And here the art
  Of molding clay has caught you for the nonce
  And made your shame our shame--your head in bronze!
  Some day this bust will lie amid old metals
  Old copper boilers, wires, faucets, kettles.
  Some day it will be melted up and molded
  In door knobs, inkwells, paper knives, or folded
  In leaves and wreaths around the capitals
  Of marble columns, or for arsenals
  Fashioned in something, or in course of time
  Successively made each of these, from grime
  Rescued successively, or made a bell
  For fire or worship, who on earth can tell?
  One thing is sure, you will not long be dust
  When this bronze will be broken as a bust
  And given to the junkman to re-sell.
  You know this and the thought of it is hell!



ARABEL


  Twists of smoke rise from the limpness of jewelled fingers,
  The softness of Persian rugs hushes the room.
  Under a dragon lamp with a shade the color of coral
  Sit the readers of poems one by one.
  And all the room is in shadow except for the blur
  Of mahogany surface, and tapers against the wall.

  And a youth reads a poem of love: forever and ever
  Is his soul the soul of the loved one; a woman sings
  Of the nine months which go to the birth of a soul.
  And after a time under the lamp a man
  Begins to read a letter having no poem to read.
  And the words of the letter flash and die like a fuse
  Dampened by rain--it's a dying mind that writes
  What Byron did for the Greeks against the Turks.
  And a sickness enters our hearts. The jewelled hands
  Clutch at the arms of the chairs--about the room
  One hears the parting of lips, and a nervous shifting
  Of feet and arms.

                    And I look up and over
  The reader's shoulder and see the name of the writer.
  What is it I see? The name of a man I knew!
  You are an ironical trickster, Time, to bring
  After so many years and into a place like this
  This face before me: hair slicked down and parted
  In the middle and cheeks stuck out with fatness,
  Plump from camembert and clicquot, eyelids
  Thin as skins of onions, cut like dough 'round the eyes.
  Such was your look in a photograph I saw
  In a silver frame on a woman's dresser--and such
  Your look in life, you thing of flesh alone!

                              And then
  As a soul looks down on the body it leaves--
  A body by fever slain--I look on myself
  As I was a decade ago, while the letter is read:

                              I enter a box
  Of a theater with Jim, my friend of fifty,
  I being twenty-two. Two women are in the box
  One of an age for Jim and one of an age for me.
  And mine is dressed in a dainty gown of dimity,
  And she fans herself with a fan of silver spangles
  Till a subtle odor of delicate powder or of herself
  Enters my blood and I stare at her snowy neck,
  And the glossy brownness of her hair until
  She feels my stare, and turns half-view and I see
  How like a Greek's is her nose, with just a little
  Aquiline touch; and I catch the flash of an eye,
  And the glint of a smile on the richness of her lips.
  The company now discourses upon the letter
  But my dream goes on:

                        I re-live a rapture
  Which may be madness, and no man understands
  Until he feels it no more. The youth that was I
  From the theater under the city's lights follows the girl
  Desperate lest in the city's curious chances
  He never sees her again. And boldly he speaks.
  And she and the older woman, her sister
  Smile and speak in turn, and Jim who stands
  While I break the ice comes up--and so
  Arm in arm we go to the restaurant,
  I in heaven walking with Arabel,
  And Jim with her older sister.
  We drive them home under a summer moon,
  And while I explain to Arabel my boldness,
  And crave her pardon for it, Jim, the devil,
  Laughs apart with her sister while I wonder
  What Jim, the devil, is laughing at. No matter
  To-morrow I walk in the park with Arabel.

  Just now the reader of the letter
  Tells of the writer's swift descent
  From wealth to want.

  We are in the park next afternoon by the water.
  I look at her white throat full as it were of song.
  And her rounded virginal bosom, beautiful!
  And I study her eyes, I search to the depths her eyes
  In the light of the sun. They are full of little rays
  Like the edge of a fleur de lys, and she smiles
  At first when I fling my soul at her feet.

  But when I repeat I love her, love her only,
  A cloud of wonder passes over her face,
  She veils her eyes. The color comes to her cheeks.
  And when she picks some clover blossoms and tears them
  Her hand is trembling. And when I tell her again
  I love her, love her only, she blots her eyes
  With a handkerchief to hide a tear that starts.

  And she says to me: "You do not know me at all,
  How can you love me? You never saw me before
  Last night." "Well, tell me about yourself."
  And after a time she tells me the story:
  About her father who ran away from her mother;
  And how she hated her father, and how she grieved
  When her mother died; and how a good grandmother
  Helped her and helps her now. And how her sister
  Divorced her husband. And then she paused a moment:
  "I am not strong, you'd have to guard me gently,
  And that takes money, dear, as well as love.
  Two years ago I was very ill, and since then
  I am not strong."

                    "Well I can work," I said.
  "And what would you think of a little cottage
  Not too far out with a yard and hosts of roses,
  And a vine on the porch, and a little garden,
  And a dining room where the sun comes in,
  When a morning breeze blows over your brow,
  And you sit across the table and serve me
  And neither of us can speak for happiness
  Without our voices breaking, or lips trembling."

  She is looking down with little frowns on her brow.
  "But if ever I had to work, I could not do it,
  I am not really well."

                          "But I can work," I said.
  I rise and lift her up, holding her hand.
  She slips her arm through mine and presses it.
  "What a good man you are," she said. "Just like a brother--
  I almost love you, I believe I love you."

  The reader of the letter, being a doctor,
  Is talking learnedly of the writer's case
  Which has the classical marks of paresis.

  Next day I look up Jim and rhapsodize
  About a cottage with roses and a garden,
  And a dining room where the sun comes in,
  And Arabel across the table. Jim is smoking
  And flicking the ashes, but never says a word
  Till I have finished. Then in a quiet voice:
  "Arabel's sister says that Arabel's straight,
  But she isn't, my boy--she's just like Arabel's sister.
  She knew you had the madness for Arabel.
  That's why we laughed and stood apart as we talked.
  And I'll tell you now I didn't go home that night,
  I shook you at the corner and went back,
  And staid that night. Now be a man, my boy,
  Go have your fling with Arabel, but drop
  The cottage and the roses."

  They are still discussing the madman's letter.

  And memory permeates me like a subtle drug:
  The memory of my love for Arabel,
  The torture, the doubt, the fear, the restless longing,
  The sleepless nights, the pity for all her sorrows,
  The speculation about her and her sister,
  And what her illness was;
  And whether the man I saw one time was leaving
  Her door or the next door to it, and if her door
  Whether he saw my Arabel or her sister....

  The reader of the letter is telling how the writer
  Left his wife chasing the lure of women.

  And it all comes back to me as clear as a vision:
  The night I sat with Arabel strong but conquered.
  Whatever I did, I loved her, whatever she was.
  Madness or love the terrible struggle must end.
  She took my hand and said, "You must see my room."
  We stood in the doorway together and on her dresser
  Was a silver frame with the photograph of a man--
  I had seen him in life: hair slicked down and parted
  In the middle and cheeks stuck out with fatness
  Plump from camembert and clicquot, eyelids
  Thin as skins of onions, cut like dough 'round the eyes.
  "There is his picture," she said, "ask me whatever you will.
  Take me as mistress or wife, it is yours to decide.
  But take me as mistress and grow like the picture before you,
  Take me as wife and be the good man you can be.
  Choose me as mistress--how can I do less for dearest?
  Or make me your wife--fate makes me your mistress or wife."
  "I can leave you," I said. "You can leave me," she echoed,
  "But how about hate in your heart."

                            "You are right," I replied.

  The company is now discussing the subject of love--
  They seem to know little about it.

  But my wife, who is sitting beside me, exclaims:
  "Well, what is this jangle of madness and weakness,
  What has it to do with poetry, tell me?"

                                "Well, it's life," Arabel.
  "There's the story of Hamlet, for instance," I added.
  Then fell into silence.



JIM AND ARABEL'S SISTER


  Last night a friend of mine and I sat talking,
  When all at once I found 'twas one o'clock.
  So we came out and he went home to wife
  And children, and I started for the club
  Which I call home; and then just like a flash
  You came into my mind. I bought a slug
  And stood, in the booth, with doubtful heart and heard
  The buzzer buzz. Well, it was sweet to me
  To hear your voice at last--it was so drowsy,
  Like a child's voice. And I could see your eyes
  Heavy with sleep, and I could see you standing
  In nightgown with head leaned against the wall....

  Julia! the welcome of your drowsy voice
  Went through me like the warmth of priceless wine--
  It showed your understanding, that you know
  How it is with a man, and how it is with me
  Who work by day and sometimes drift by night
  About this hellish city. Though you know
  That I am fifty-one, can you imagine
  My feeling with no children growing up?
  My feeling as of one who sees a play
  And afterwards sits somewhere at a table
  And talks with friends about the different parts
  Over a sandwich and a glass of beer?
  My feeling with this money which I've made
  And cannot use? Sometimes the stress of working
  The money dulls the fancy which could use it
  In splendid dreams or in the art of life.
  Well, here was I ringing your bell at last
  At half-past one, and there you stood before me
  With a sleepy voice and a sleepy smile, with hands
  So warm, and cheeks so red from sleep, not vexed,
  But like a child, awakened, who smiles at you
  With half-shut eyes and kisses you, so you
  Gave me a kiss. The world seems better, Julia,
  For that kiss which you gave me at the door....

  Breakfast? Why, toast and coffee, not too strong,
  My heart acts queer of late....

                                  I want to say
  Lest I forget it, if you ever hear
  From Arabel or Francis what I said
  To Francis when he told me he intended
  To marry Arabel, why just remember
  Our talk this morning and forget I said it--
  I'm sorry that I said it. But, you see,
  That night we met, I being fifty-one
  And old at what men call the game, looked on
  With steady eye and quiet nerve, I saw you
  Just as I'd see a woman anywhere;
  And I found you as I'd found others before you,
  But with this difference so it seemed to me:
  What had been false with them was real with you,
  What had been shame with them with you was life,
  What had been craft with them with you was nature,
  What had been sin with them to you was good,
  What had been vice with them to you the honest
  And uncorrupted innocence of a human
  Heart so human looking on our souls.
  What had been coarse to them to you was clean
  As rain is, or fresh flowers, all things that grow
  And move and sing along creation's way.
  You came to me like friendship, what you gave
  Was friendship's gift, when friends think least of self
  And least of motive. And it is through you
  That I have risen out of the pit where sneers
  And laughter, looks and words obscene,
  Blaspheme our nature. It is through you, Julia,
  As one amid great beach trees where soft mosses
  Pillow our heads and where we see the clouds
  Upon their infinite sailings and the lake
  Washes beneath us, and we lie and think
  How this has been forever and will be
  When we are dust a thousand, thousand years,
  Yet how life is eternal--just as one
  Who there falls into prayer for ecstasy
  Of wonder, prophecy could not blaspheme
  The Eternal Power (as he might well blaspheme
  The gospel hymns and ritual) that I
  Cannot blaspheme you, Julia.
  For what is our communion, yours and mine,
  If it be not a way of laying hold
  On that mysterious essence which makes one
  Of heaven and earth, makes kindred human hands....
  Tears are not like you, Julia; laugh, that's right!
  Pour me a little coffee, if you please.

  I'll take from my herbarium certain species
  To make my points: Now here there is the woman
  Of life promiscuous, or nearly so.
  She fixes her design upon a man,
  Who's married and the riotous game begins.
  They go along a year or two perhaps.
  Then psychic chemistry performs its part:
  They are in love, or he's in love with her.
  What shall be done with love? Now watch the woman:
  That which she gave without love at the first
  She now withdraws in spite of love unless
  He breaks his life up, cuts all former ties
  And weds her. Do you wonder sometimes men
  Kill women with a knife or strangle them?
  Well, here's another: She has been to Ogontz,
  You meet her at a dinner-dance, we'll say.
  She has green eyes and hair as light as jonquils;
  She wears black velvet and a salmon sash.
  And when you dance with her she has a way
  Of giving you her flesh beneath thin silk,
  Which almost lisps as she caresses you
  With legs that scarcely touch you; and she says
  Things with a double meaning, and she smiles
  To carry out her meaning. Well, you think
  The girl is yours, and after weeks of chasing
  She lands you up at the appointed place
  With mamma, who looks at you with big eyes,
  That have a nervous way of opening
  And closing slowly like a big wax doll's,
  From which great clouds of wrath and wonder come;
  Which meeting is a way of saying to you:
  The girl is yours if you will marry her,
  And let her have your money.

                                Julia, be still;
  I can't go on while you are laughing so.
  I know that men are easy, but to see
  Women as women see them is a gift
  That comes to men who reach my age in life....

  Well, here's another, here's the type of woman
  Whose power of motherhood conceals the art
  By which she thrives, through which she reaches also
  An apotheosis in society.
  Her dream is children conscious or unconscious.
  And her strength is the race's, and she draws
  The urgings of posterity and leans
  Upon the hopes and ideals of the day.
  To her a man must sacrifice his life.
  But women, Julia, of whatever type,
  Are still but waiting ovules seeking man,
  And man's life to develop, even to live.
  And like the praying mantis who's devoured
  In the embrace, man is devoured by women
  In some way, by some sort. Love is a flame
  In man's life where he warms him but to suck
  The invisible heat and perish. Life is cramped,
  Bound down with many ropes, shut in by gates--
  Love is not free which should be wholly free
  For Life's sake.

                    On Michigan Avenue
  At lunch time, or at five o'clock, you'll see
  In rain or shine a certain tailor walk
  In modish coat and trousers, with a cane.
  That fellow is the pitifulest man I know.
  He has no woman, cannot find a woman,
  Because all women, seeing him, divine
  What surges through him, and within their hearts
  Laugh slyly and deny him for the fun
  Of seeing how denial keeps him walking
  All up and down the boulevard. He's found
  No hand of human friendship like yours, Julia.
  I use him for my point. If we could make
  Some fine erotometer one could sit
  And watch its trembling springs and nervous hands
  Record the waves of longing in the city,
  And the urge of life that writhes beneath the blows
  Of custom and of fear. Love is not free,
  Which should be wholly free for Life's sake.

                          Julia.
  So much for all these things, and now for you
  To whom they lead.

                      You'll find among the marshes
  The sundew and the pitcher plant; in shallows,
  Where the green scum floats languidly you'll find
  The water lily with white petals and
  A sickly perfume. But the sundew catches
  The midges flitting by with rainbow wings,
  Impales them on its tiny spines, in time
  Devours them. And the pitcher plant holds out
  Its cup of green for larger bugs, which fall
  Into the water, treasured there like tears
  Of women, and so drowned are soon absorbed
  Into the verdant vesture of its leaves.
  The pitcher plant and sundew, water lily
  Well typify the nature of most women
  Who must have blood or soul of man to live--
  Except you, Julia. For my friend at Hinsdale
  Who raises flowers laid out a primrose bed.
  He read somewhere that primroses will change
  Under your eyes sometimes to something else,
  Become another flower and not a primrose,
  Another species even. So he watched
  And saw it, saw this miracle! The seed
  Has somewhere in its vital self the power
  Of this mutation. What is the origin
  Of spiritual species? For you're a primrose, Julia,
  Who has mutated: You are not a mother;
  Nor are you yet the woman seeking marriage;
  Nor yet the woman thriving by her sex;
  Nor yet the woman spoken of by Solomon
  Who waits and watches and whose steps lead down
  To death and hell. Nor yet Delilah who
  Rejoices in the secret of man's strength
  And in subduing it.

                        You are a flower
  Designed to comfort such poor men as I,
  And show the world how love can be a thing
  That asks no more than what it freely gives,
  And gives all--all some women call the prize
  For life or honor, riches, power or place.
  You are a blossom in the primrose bed
  So raised to subtler color, sweeter scent.
  You have mutated, Julia, that is it,
  This flower of you is what I call _The Lover_!



THE SORROW OF DEAD FACES


  I have seen many faces changed by the Sculptor Death--
  But never a face like Harold's who passed in a throe of pain.
  There were maidens and youths in the bud, and men in the lust of life;
  And women whom child-birth racked till the crying soul slipped through;
  Patriarchs withered with age and nuns ascetical white;
  And one who wasted her virgin wealth in a riot of joy.
  Brothers and sisters at last in a quiet and purple pall,
  Fellow voyagers bound to a port on an ash-blue sea,
  Locked in an utterless grief, in a mystery fearful to dream.
  All of these I have seen--but the face of Harold the bold
  Looked with a penitent pallor and stared with a sad surprise.

  For now at last he was still who never knew rest in life.
  And the ardent heat of his blood was cold as the sweat of a stone.
  Life came in an evil hour and stabbed with a poisoned word
  The heart of a girl who faintly smiled through her tears.
  And her little life was tossed as the eddies that whirl in the hollows
  From the great world-currents that wreck the battle ships at sea.
  And the face of dead Lillian seemed like a rain-ruined flower.

  Or what is writ on the brow of the babe as the mother wails for the day
  When it leaped in the light of the sun and babbled its pure delight?

  But the face of William the Great was fashioned by life and thought;
  And death made it massive as bronze, and deepened the lines thereof:
  Some for the will and some for patience, and some for hope--
  Hope for the weal of the world wherein he mightily strove--
  Yet what did it all bespeak--what but submission and awe,
  And a trace of pain as one with a sword in his side?

  I have seen many faces changed by the Sculptor Death
  But the sorrow thereof is dumb like the cloth that lies on the brow.
  So what should be said of the faun surprised in the woodland dances,
  Of Harold the light of heart who fought with fear to the last?



THE CRY


  There's a voice in my heart that cries and cries for tears.
  It is not a voice, but a pain of many fears.
  It is not a pain, but the rune of far-off spheres.

  It may be a dæmon of pent and high emprise,
  That looks on my soul till my soul hides and cries,
  Loath to rebuke my soul and bid it arise.

  It may be myself as I was in another life,
  Fashioned to lead where strife gives way to strife,
  Pinioned here in failure by knife thrown after knife.

  The child turns o'er in the womb; and perhaps the soul
  Nurtures a dream too strong for the soul's control,
  When the dream hath eyes, and senses its destined goal.

  Deep in darkness the bulb under mould and clod
  Feels the sun in the sky and pushes above the sod;
  Perhaps this cry in my heart is nothing but God!



THE HELPING HAND


  Mother, my head is bloody, my breast is red with scars.
  Well, foolish son, I told you so, why went you to the wars?

  Mother, my soul is crucified, my thirst is past belief.
  How are you crucified, my son, betwixt a thief and thief?

  Mother, I feel the terror and the loveliness of life.
  Tell me of the children, son, and tell me of the wife.

  Mother, your face is but a face among a million more.
  You're standing on the deck, my son, and looking at the shore.

  I lean against the wall, mother, and struggle hard for breath.
  You must have heard the step, my son, of the patrolman Death.

  Mother, my soul is weary, where is the way to God?
  Well, kiss the crucifix, my son, and pass beneath the rod.



THE DOOR


  This is the room that thou wast ushered in.
  Wouldst thou, perchance, a larger freedom win?
  Wouldst thou escape for deeper or no breath?
  There is no door but death.

  Do shadows crouch within the mocking light?
  Stand thou! but if thy terrored heart takes flight
  Facing maimed Hope and wide-eyed Nevermore,
  There is no less one door.

  Dost thou bewail love's end and friendship's doom,
  The dying fire, drained cup, and gathering gloom?
  Explore the walls, if thy soul ventureth--
  There is no door but death.

  There is no window. Heaven hangs aloof
  Above the rents within the stairless roof.
  Hence, soul, be brave across the ruined floor--
  Who knocks? Unbolt the door!



SUPPLICATION

_For He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust._--PSALM
CIII. 14.


  Oh Lord, when all our bones are thrust
    Beyond the gaze of all but Thine;
  And these blaspheming tongues are dust
    Which babbled of Thy name divine,
  How helpless then to carp or rail
    Against the canons of Thy word;
  Wilt Thou, when thus our spirits fail,
      Have mercy, Lord?

  Here from this ebon speck that floats
    As but a mote within Thine eye,
  Vain sneers and curses from our throats
    Rise to the vault of Thy fair sky:
  Yet when this world of ours is still
    Of this all-wondering, tortured horde,
  And none is left for Thee to kill--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Thou knowest that our flesh is grass;
    Ah! let our withered souls remain
  Like stricken reeds of some morass,
    Bleached, in Thy will, by ceaseless rain.
  Have we not had enough of fire,
    Enough of torment and the sword?--
  If these accrue from Thy desire--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Dost Thou not see about our feet
    The tangles of our erring thought?
  Thou knowest that we run to greet
    High hopes that vanish into naught.
  We bleed, we fall, we rise again;
    How can we be of Thee abhorred?
  We are Thy breed, we little men--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Wilt Thou then slay for that we slay,
    Wilt Thou deny when we deny?
  A thousand years are but a day,
    A little day within Thine eye:
  We thirst for love, we yearn for life;
    We lust, wilt Thou the lust record?
  We, beaten, fall upon the knife--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Thou givest us youth that turns to age;
    And strength that leaves us while we seek.
  Thou pourest the fire of sacred rage
    In costly vessels all too weak.
  Great works we planned in hopes that Thou
    Fit wisdom therefor wouldst accord;
  Thou wrotest failure on our brow--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Could we but know, as Thou dost know--
    Hold the whole scheme at once in mind!
  Yet, dost Thou watch our anxious woe
    Who piece with palsied hands and blind
  The fragments of our little plan,
    To thrive and earn Thy blest reward,
  And make and keep the world of man--
      Have mercy, Lord!

  Thou settest the sun within his place
    To light the world, the world is Thine,
  Put in our hands and through Thy grace
    To be subdued and made divine.
  Whether we serve Thee ill or well,
    Thou knowest our frame, nor canst afford
  To leave Thy own for long in hell--
      Have mercy, Lord!



THE CONVERSATION


_The Human Voice_

  You knew then, starting let us say with ether,
  You would become electrons, out of whirling
  Would rise to atoms; then as an atom resting
  Till through Yourself in other atoms moving
  And by the fine affinity of power
  Atom with atom massed, You would go on
  Over the crest of visible forms transformed,
  Would be a molecule, a little system
  Wherein the atoms move like suns and planets
  With satellites, electrons. So as worlds build
  From star-dust, as electron to electron,
  The same attraction drawing, molecules
  Would wed and pass over the crest again
  Of visible forms, lying content as crystals,
  Or colloids--ready now to use the gleam
  Of life. As 'twere I see You with a match,
  As one in darkness lights a candle, and one
  Sees not his friend's form in the shadowed room
  Until the candle's lighted? Even his form
  Is darkened by the new-made light, he stands
  So near it! Well, I add to all I've asked
  Whether You knew the cell born to the glint
  Of that same lighted candle would not rest
  Even as electrons rest not--but would surge
  Over the crest of visible forms, become
  Beneath our feet things hidden from the eye
  However aided,--as above our heads
  Beyond the Milky Way great systems whirl
  Beyond the telescope,--become bacilli,
  Amoeba, starfish, swimming things, on land
  The serpent, and then birds, and beasts of prey
  The tiger (You in the tiger) on and on
  Surging above the crest of visible forms until
  The ape came--oh what ages they are to us--
  But still creation flies on wings of light--
  Then to the man who roamed the frozen fields
  Neither man nor ape,--we found his jaw, You know,
  At Heidelberg, in a sand-pit. On and on
  Till Babylon was builded, and arose
  Jerusalem and Memphis, Athens, Rome,
  Venice and Florence, Paris, London, Berlin,
  New York, Chicago--did You know, I ask,
  All this would come of You in ether moving?

_A Voice_

  I knew.

_The Human Voice_

  You knew that man was born to be destroyed,
  That as an atom perfect, whole, at ease,
  Drawn to some other atom, is broken, changed
  And rises o'er the crest of visible things
  To something else--that man must pass as well
  Through equal transformation. And You knew
  The unutterable things of man's life: From the first
  You saw his wracked Deucalion-soul that looks
  Backward on life that rises, where he rose
  Out of the stones. You saw him looking forward
  Over the purple mists that hide the gulf.
  Ere the green cell rose, even in the green cell
  You saw the sequences of thought--You saw
  That one would say, "All's matter" and another,
  "All's mind," and man's mind which reflects the image,
  Could not envision it. That even worship
  Of what you are would be confused by cries
  From India or Palestine. That love
  Which sees itself beginning in the seeds,
  Which fly and seek each other, maims
  The soul at the last in loss of child or friend
  Father or mother. And You knew that sex,
  Ranging from plants through beasts and up to us
  Had ties of filth--And out of them would rise
  Diverse philosophies to tear the world.
  You knew, when the green cell arose, that even
  The You which formed it moving on would bring
  Races and breeds, madmen, tyrants, slaves,
  The idiot child, the murderer, the insane--
  All springing from the action of one law.
  You knew the enmity that lies between
  The lives of micro-beings and our own. You knew
  How man would rise to vision of himself:
  Immortal only in the race's life.
  And past the atom and the first glint of life,
  Saw him with soul enraptured, yet o'ershadowed
  Amid self-consciousness!

_A Voice_

                            I knew.
  But this your fault: You see me as apart,
  Over, removed, at enmity with You.
  You are in Me, and of Me, even at one
  With Me. But there's your soul--your soul may be
  The germinal cell of vaster evolution.
  Why try to tell you? If I gave a cell
  Voice to inquire, and it should ask you this:
  "After me what, a stalk, a flower, life
  That swims or crawls?" And if I gave to you
  Wisdom to say: "You shall become a reed
  By the water's edge"--how could the cell foresee
  What the reed is, bending beneath the wind
  When the lake ripples and the skies are blue
  As larkspur? Therefore I, who moved in darkness
  Becoming light in suns and light in souls
  And mind with thought--for what is thought but light
  Sprung from the clash of ether?--I am with you.
  And if beyond this stable state that stands
  For your life here (as cells are whole and balanced
  Till the inner urge bring union, then a breaking
  And building up to higher life), there is
  No memory of this world nor of your thought,
  Nor sense of life on this world lived and borne;
  Or whether you remember, know yourself
  As one who lived here, suffered here, aspired--
  What does it matter?--you cannot be lost,
  As I am lost not. Therefore be at peace.
  And from the laws whose orbits cross and run
  To seeming tangles, find the law through which
  Your soul shall be perfected till it draw,--
  As the green cell the sunlight draws and turns
  Its chemical effulgence into life--
  My inner splendor. All the rest is mine
  In infinite time. For if I should unroll
  The parchment of the future, it were vain--
  You could not read it.



TERMINUS


  Terminus shows the ways and says,
  "All things must have an end."
  Oh, bitter thought we hid away
  When first you were my friend.

  We hid it in the darkest place
  Our hearts had place to hide,
  And took the sweet as from a spring
  Whose waters would abide.

  For neither life nor the wide world
  Has greater store than this:--
  The thought that runs through hands and eyes
  And fills the silences.

  There is a void the agéd world
  Throws over the spent heart;
  When Life has given all she has,
  And Terminus says depart.

  When we must sit with folded hands,
  And see with inward eye
  A void rise like an arctic breath
  To hollow the morrow's sky.

  To-morrow is, and trembling leaves,
  And 'wildered winds from Thrace
  Look for you where your face has bloomed,
  And where may bloom your face.

  Beyond the city, over the hill,
  Under the anguished moon,
  The winds and my dreams seek after you
  By meadow, water and dune.

  All things must have an end, we know;
  But oh, the dreaded end;
  Whether in life, whether in death,
  To lose the cherished friend.

  To lose in life the cherished friend,
  While the myrtle tree is green;
  To live and have the cherished friend
  With only the world between.

  With only the wide, wide world between,
  Where memory has mortmain.
  Life pours more wine in the heart of man
  Than the heart of man can contain.

  Oh, heart of man and heart of woman,
  Thirsting for blood of the vine,
  Life waits till the heart has lived too much
  And then pours in new wine!



MADELINE


  I almost heard your little heart
  Begin to beat, and since that hour
  Your life has grown apace and blossomed,
  Fed by the same miraculous power,

  That moved the rivulet of your life,
  And made your heart begin to beat.
  Now all day your steps are a-patter.
  Oh, what swift and musical feet!

  You sleep. I wait to see you wake,
  With wonder-eyes and hands that reach.
  I laugh to hear your thoughts that gather
  Too fast on your budding lips for speech.

  Your sunny hair is cut as if
  'Twere trimmed around a yellow crock.
  How gay the ribbon, and oh, how cunning
  The flaring skirt of the little frock!

  You build and play and search and pry,
  And hunt for dolls and forgotten toys.
  Why do you never tire of playing,
  Or cease from mischief, or cease from noise?

  You will not sleep? You are tired of the house?
  You are just as naughty as you can be.
  Madeline, Madeline, come to the garden,
  And play with Marcia under the tree!



MARCIA


  Madeline's hair is straight and yours
  Is just as curly as tendril vines;
  And she is fair, but a deeper color
  Your cheeks of olive incarnadines.

  A serious wisdom burns and glows
  Steadily in your dark-eyed look.
  Already a wit and a little stoic--
  Perhaps you are going to write a book,

  Or paint a picture, or sing or act
  The part of Katherine or Juliet.
  I believe you were born with the gift of knowing
  When to remember and when to forget.

  And when to stifle and kill a grief,
  And clutch your heart when it beats in vain.
  The heart that has most strength for feeling
  Must have the strength to conquer the pain.

  You understand? It seems that you do--
  Though you cannot utter a word to me.
  Marcia, Marcia, look at Madeline
  Building a doll-house under the tree!



THE ALTAR


  My heart is an altar whereon
  Many sacrificial fires have been kindled
  In praise of spring and Aphrodite.

  My heart is an altar of chalcedony,
  Crowned with a tablet of bronze,
  Blacked with smoke, scarred with fire,
  And scented with the aromatic bitterness
  Of dead incense.

  Albeit let us murmur a little Doric prayer
  Over the ashes which lie scattered around the altar;
  For the April rain has wept over them,
  And from them the crocus smelts its Roman gold.

  What though there are remnants here
  Of faded coronals,
  And bits of silver string
  Torn from forgotten harps?
  Perfect amid the ashes sleeps a cup of amethyst.
  Let us take it and pour the sea from it,
  And while the savor of dead lips is washed away,
  Let us lift our hands to this sky of hyacinth.
  Let us light the altar newly, for lo! it is spring.

  Bring from the re-kindled woodland
  Flames of columbine, jewel-weed and trumpet-creeper,
  There where the woodman burns the fallen tree,
  And scented smoke arises
  On azure wings between the branches,
  Budding with adolescent life.
  With these let us light the altar,
  That a scarlet flame may lean
  Against the silver sea.

  For thou art fire also,
  And air, and water, and the resurgent earth,
  For thou art woman, thou art love.
  Thou art April of the Arcadian moon,
  Thou art the swift sun racing through snowy clouds,
  Thou art the creative silence of flowering valleys.
  Thy face is the apple tree in bloom;
  Thine eyes the glimpses of green water
  When the tree's blossoms shake
  As soft winds fan them.
  Thy hair is flame blown against the sea's mist--
  Thou art spring.

  The fire on the altar burns brightly,
  And the sea sparkles in the sun.
  Let us murmur a Doric prayer
  For the gift of love,
  For the gift of life,
  Oh Life! Oh Love! We lift our hands to thee!



SOUL'S DESIRE


  Her soul is like a wolf that stands
  Where sunlight falls between the trees
  Of a sparse forest's leafless edge,
  When Spring's first magic moveth these.

  Her soul is like a little brook,
  Thin edged with ice against the leaves,
  Where the wolf drinks and is alone,
  And where the woodbine interweaves.

  A bank late covered by the snow,
  But lighted by the frozen North;
  Her soul is like a little plot
  That one white blossom bringeth forth.

  Her soul is slim, like silver slips,
  And straight, like flags beside a stream.
  Her soul is like a shape that moves
  And changes in a wonder dream.

  Who would pursue her clasps a cloud,
  And taketh sorrow for his zeal.
  Memory shall sing him many songs
  While bound upon the torture wheel.

  Her soul is like a wolf that glides
  By moonlight o'er a phantom ridge;
  Her face is like a light that runs
  Beneath the shadow of a bridge.

  Her voice is like a woodland cry
  Heard in a summer's desolate hour.
  Her eyes are dim; her lips are faint,
  And tinctured like the cuckoo flower.

  Her little breasts are like the buds
  Of tulips in a place forlorn.
  Her soul is like a mandrake bloom
  Standing against the crimson moon.

  Her dream is like the fenny snake's,
  That warms him in the noonday's fire.
  She hath no thought, nor any hope,
  Save of herself and her desire.

  She is not life; she is not death;
  She is not fear, or joy or grief.
  Her soul is like a quiet sea
  Beneath a ruin-haunted reef.

  She is the shape the sailor sees,
  That slips the rock without a sound.
  She is the soul that comes and goes
  And leaves no mark, yet makes a wound.

  She is the soul that hunts and flies;
  She is a world-wide mist of care.
  She is the restlessness of life,
  Its rapture and despair.



BALLAD OF LAUNCELOT AND ELAINE


  It was a hermit on Whitsunday
  That came to the Table Round.
  "King Arthur, wit ye by what Knight
  May the Holy Grail be found?"

  "By never a Knight that liveth now;
  By none that feasteth here."
  King Arthur marvelled when he said,
  "He shall be got this year."

  Then uprose brave Sir Launcelot
  And there did mount his steed,
  And hastened to a pleasant town
  That stood in knightly need.

  Where many people him acclaimed,
  He passed the Corbin pounte,
  And there he saw a fairer tower
  Than ever was his wont.

  And in that tower for many years
  A dolorous lady lay,
  Whom Queen Northgalis had bewitched,
  And also Queen le Fay.

  And Launcelot loosed her from those pains,
  And there a dragon slew.
  Then came King Pelles out and said,
  "Your name, brave Knight and true?"

  "My name is Pelles, wit ye well,
  And King of the far country;
  And I, Sir Knight, am cousin nigh
  To Joseph of Armathie."

  "I am Sir Launcelot du Lake."
  And then they clung them fast;
  And yede into the castle hall
  To take the king's repast.

  Anon there cometh in a dove
  By the window's open fold,
  And in her mouth was a rich censer,
  That shone like Ophir gold.

  And therewithal was such savor
  As bloweth over sea
  From a land of many colored flowers
  And trees of spicery.

  And therewithal was meat and drink,
  And a damsel passing fair,
  Betwixt her hands of tulip-white,
  A golden cup did bear.

  "O, Jesu," said Sir Launcelot,
  "What may this marvel mean?"
  "That is," said Pelles, "richest thing
  That any man hath seen."

  "O, Jesu," said Sir Launcelot,
  "What may this sight avail?"
  "Now wit ye well," said King Pelles,
  "That was the Holy Grail."

  Then by this sign King Pelles knew
  Elaine his fair daughter
  Should lie with Launcelot that night,
  And Launcelot with her.

  And that this twain should get a child
  Before the night should fail,
  Who would be named Sir Galahad,
  And find the Holy Grail.

  Then cometh one hight Dame Brisen
  With Pelles to confer,
  "Now, wit ye well, Sir Launcelot
  Loveth but Guinevere."

  "But if ye keep him well in hand,
  The while I work my charms,
  The maid Elaine, ere spring of morn,
  Shall lie within his arms."

  Dame Brisen was the subtlest witch
  That was that time in life;
  She was as if Beelzebub
  Had taken her to wife.

  Then did she cause one known of face
  To Launcelot to bring,
  As if it came from Guinevere,
  Her wonted signet ring.

  "By Holy Rood, thou comest true,
  For well I know thy face.
  Where is my lady?" asked the Knight,
  "There in the Castle Case?"

  "'Tis five leagues scarcely from this hall,"
  Up spoke that man of guile.
  "I go this hour," said Launcelot,
  "Though it were fifty mile."

  Then sped Dame Brisen to the king
  And whispered, "An we thrive,
  Elaine must reach the Castle Case
  Ere Launcelot arrive."

  Elaine stole forth with twenty knights
  And a goodly company.
  Sir Launcelot rode fast behind,
  Queen Guinevere to see.

  Anon he reached the castle door.
  Oh! fond and well deceived.
  And there it seemed the queen's own train
  Sir Launcelot received.

  "Where is the queen?" quoth Launcelot,
  "For I am sore bestead,"
  "Have not such haste," said Dame Brisen,
  "The queen is now in bed."

  "Then lead me thither," saith he,
  "And cease this jape of thine."
  "Now sit thee down," said Dame Brisen,
  "And have a cup of wine."

  "For wit ye not that many eyes
  Upon you here have stared;
  Now have a cup of wine until
  All things may be prepared."

  Elaine lay in a fair chamber,
  'Twixt linen sweet and clene.
  Dame Brisen all the windows stopped,
  That no day might be seen.

  Dame Brisen fetched a cup of wine
  And Launcelot drank thereof.
  "No more of flagons," saith he,
  "For I am mad for love."

  Dame Brisen took Sir Launcelot
  Where lay the maid Elaine.
  Sir Launcelot entered the bed chamber
  The queen's love for to gain.

  Sir Launcelot kissed the maid Elaine,
  And her cheeks and brows did burn;
  And then they lay in other's arms
  Until the morn's underne.

  Anon Sir Launcelot arose
  And toward the window groped,
  And then he saw the maid Elaine
  When he the window oped.

  "Ah, traitoress," saith Launcelot,
  And then he gat his sword,
  "That I should live so long and now
  Become a knight abhorred."

  "False traitoress," saith Launcelot,
  And then he shook the steel.
  Elaine skipped naked from the bed
  And 'fore the knight did kneel.

  "I am King Pelles own daughter
  And thou art Launcelot,
  The greatest knight of all the world.
  This hour we have begot."

  "Oh, traitoress Brisen," cried the knight,
  "Oh, charmed cup of wine;
  That I this treasonous thing should do
  For treasures such as thine."

  "Have mercy," saith maid Elaine,
  "Thy child is in my womb."
  Thereat the morning's silvern light
  Flooded the bridal room.

  That light it was a benison;
  It seemed a holy boon,
  As when behind a wrack of cloud
  Shineth the summer moon.

  And in the eyes of maid Elaine
  Looked forth so sweet a faith,
  Sir Launcelot took his glittering sword,
  And thrust it in the sheath.

  "So God me help, I spare thy life,
  But I am wretch and thrall,
  If any let my sword to make
  Dame Brisen's head to fall."

  "So have thy will of her," she said,
  "But do to me but good;
  For thou hast had my fairest flower,
  Which is my maidenhood."

  "And we have done the will of God,
  And the will of God is best."
  Sir Launcelot lifted the maid Elaine
  And hid her on his breast.

  Anon there cometh in a dove,
  By the window's open fold,
  And in her mouth was a rich censer
  That shone like beaten gold.

  And therewithal was such savor,
  As bloweth over sea,
  From a land of many colored flowers,
  And trees of spicery.

  And therewithal was meat and drink,
  And a damsel passing fair,
  Betwixt her hands of silver white
  A golden cup did bear.

  "O Jesu," said Sir Launcelot,
  "What may this marvel mean?"
  "That is," she said, "the richest thing
  That any man hath seen."

  "O Jesu," said Sir Launcelot,
  "What may this sight avail?"
  "Now wit ye well," said maid Elaine,
  "This is the Holy Grail."

  And then a nimbus light hung o'er
  Her brow so fair and meek;
  And turned to orient pearls the tears
  That glistered down her cheek.

  And a sound of music passing sweet
  Went in and out again.
  Sir Launcelot made the sign of the cross,
  And knelt to maid Elaine.

  "Name him whatever name thou wilt,
  But be his sword and mail
  Thrice tempered 'gainst a wayward world,
  That lost the Holy Grail."

  Sir Launcelot sadly took his leave
  And rode against the morn.
  And when the time was fully come
  Sir Galahad was born.

  Also he was from Jesu Christ,
  Our Lord, the eighth degree;
  Likewise the greatest knight this world
  May ever hope to see.



THE DEATH OF SIR LAUNCELOT


  Sir Launcelot had fled to France
  For the peace of Guinevere,
  And many a noble knight was slain,
  And Arthur lay on his bier.

  Sir Launcelot took ship from France
  And sailed across the sea.
  He rode seven days through fair England
  Till he came to Almesbury.

  Then spake Sir Bors to Launcelot:
  The old time is at end;
  You have no more in England's realm
  In east nor west a friend.

  You have no friend in all England
  Sith Mordred's war hath been,
  And Queen Guinevere became a nun
  To heal her soul of sin.

  Sir Launcelot answered never a word
  But rode to the west countree
  Until through the forest he saw a light
  That shone from a nunnery.

  Sir Launcelot entered the cloister,
  And the queen fell down in a swoon.
  Oh blessed Jesu, saith the queen,
  For thy mother's love, a boon.

  Go hence, Sir Launcelot, saith the queen,
  And let me win God's grace.
  My heavy heart serves me no more
  To look upon thy face.

  Through you was wrought King Arthur's death,
  Through you great war and wrake.
  Leave me alone, let me bleed,
  Pass by for Jesu's sake.

  Then fare you well, saith Launcelot,
  Sweet Madam, fare you well.
  And sythen you have left the world
  No more in the world I dwell.

  Then up rose sad Sir Launcelot
  And rode by wold and mere
  Until he came to a hermitage
  Where bode Sir Bedivere.

  And there he put a habit on
  And there did pray and fast.
  And when Sir Bedivere told him all
  His heart for sorrow brast.

  How that Sir Mordred, traitorous knight
  Betrayed his King and sire;
  And how King Arthur wounded, died
  Broken in heart's desire.

  And so Sir Launcelot penance made,
  And worked at servile toil;
  And prayed the Bishop of Canterbury
  His sins for to assoil.

  His shield went clattering on the wall
  To a dolorous wail of wind;
  His casque was rust, his mantle dust
  With spider webs entwined.

  His listless horses left alone
  Went cropping where they would,
  To see the noblest knight of the world
  Upon his sorrow brood.

  Anon a Vision came in his sleep,
  And thrice the Vision saith:
  Go thou to Almesbury for thy sin,
  Where lieth the queen in death.

  Sir Launcelot cometh to Almesbury
  And knelt by the dead queen's bier;
  Oh none may know, moaned Launcelot,
  What sorrow lieth here.

  What love, what honor, what defeat
  What hope of the Holy Grail.
  The moon looked through the latticed glass
  On the queen's face cold and pale.

  Sir Launcelot kissed the ceréd cloth,
  And none could stay his woe,
  Her hair lay back from the oval brow,
  And her nose was clear as snow.

  They wrapped her body in cloth of Raines,
  They put her in webs of lead.
  They coffined her in white marble,
  And sang a mass for the dead.

  Sir Launcelot and seven knights
  Bore torches around the bier.
  They scattered myrrh and frankincense
  On the corpse of Guinevere.

  They put her in earth by King Arthur
  To the chant of a doleful tune.
  They heaped the earth on Guinevere
  And Launcelot fell in a swoon.

  Sir Launcelot went to the hermitage
  Some Grace of God to find;
  But never he ate, and never he drank
  And there he sickened and dwined.

  Sir Launcelot lay in a painful bed,
  And spake with a dreary steven;
  Sir Bishop, I pray you shrive my soul
  And make it clean for heaven.

  The Bishop houseled Sir Launcelot,
  The Bishop kept watch and ward.
  Bury me, saith Sir Launcelot,
  In the earth of Joyous Guard.

  Three candles burned the whole night through
  Till the red dawn looked in the room.
  And the white, white soul of Launcelot
  Strove with a black, black doom.

  I see the old witch Dame Brisen,
  And Elaine so straight and tall--
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  The shadows dance on the wall.

  I see long hands of dead women,
  They clutch for my soul eftsoon;
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  'Tis the drifting light of the moon.

  I see three angels, saith he,
  Before a silver urn.
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  The candles do but burn.

  I see a cloth of red samite
  O'er the holy vessels spread.
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  The great dawn groweth red.

  I see all the torches of the world
  Shine in the room so clear.
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  The white dawn draweth near.

  Sweet lady, I behold the face
  Of thy dear son, our Lord,
  Nay, saith the Bishop of Canterbury,
  The sun shines on your sword.

  Sir Galahad outstretcheth hands
  And taketh me ere I fail--
  Sir Launcelot's body lay in death
  As his soul found the Holy Grail.

  They laid his body in the quire
  Upon a purple pall.
  He was the meekest, gentlest knight
  That ever ate in hall.

  He was the kingliest, goodliest knight
  That ever England roved,
  The truest lover of sinful man
  That ever woman loved.

  I pray you all, fair gentlemen,
  Pray for his soul and mine.
  He lived to lose the heart he loved
  And drink but bitter wine.

  He wrought a woe he knew not of,
  He failed his fondest quest,
  Now sing a psalter, read a prayer
  May all souls find their rest.
                                        Amen.



IN MICHIGAN


  You wrote:
  "Come over to Saugatuck
  And be with me on the warm sand,
  And under cool beeches and aromatic cedars."
  And just then no one could do a thing in the city
  For the lure of far places, and something that tugged
  At one's heart because of a June sky,
  And stretches of blue water,
  And a warm wind blowing from the south.
  What could I do but take a boat
  And go to meet you?

  And when to-day is not enough,
  But you must live to-morrow also;
  And when the present stands in the way
  Of something to come,
  And there is but one you would see,
  All the interval of waiting is a wall.
  And so it was I walked the landward deck
  With flapping coat and hat pulled down;
  And I sat on the leeward deck and looked
  At the streaming smoke of the funnels,
  And the far waste of rhythmical water,
  And at the gulls flying by our side.

  There was music on board and dancing,
  But I could not take part.
  For above all there was the bluest sky,
  And around us the urge of magical distances.
  And just because you were in the violins,
  And in everything, and were wholly the world
  Of sense and sight,
  It was too much. One could not live it
  And make it all his own--
  It was too much.
  And I wondered where the rest could be going,
  Or what they thought of water and sky
  Without knowing you.

  But at four o'clock there was a rim,
  A circled edge of rainbow color
  Which suspired, widened and narrowed under your gaze:
  It was the phantasy of straining eyes,
  Or land--and it was land.
  It was distant trees.
  And then it was dunes, bluffs of yellow sand.
  We began to wonder how far it was--
  Five miles, or ten miles--
  Surely only five miles!--
  But at last whatever it was we swung to the end.
  We rounded the lighthouse pier,
  Almost before we knew.
  We slowed our speed in a dizzy river of black,
  We drifted softly to dock.

  I took the ferry,
  I crossed the river,
  I ran almost through the little batch
  Of fishermen's shacks.
  I climbed the winding road of the hill,
  And dove in a shadowy quiet
  Of paths of moss and dancing leaves,
  And straight stretched limbs of giant pines
  On patches of sky.
  I ran to the top of the bluff
  Where the lodge-house stood.
  And there the sunlit lake burst on me
  And wine-like air.
  And below me was the beach
  Where the serried lines of hurrying water
  Came up like rank on rank of men
  And fell with a shout on the rocks!
  I plunged, I stumbled, I ran
  Down the hill,
  For I thought I saw you,
  And it was you, you were there!
  And I shall never forget your cry,
  Nor how you raised your arms and cried,
  And laughed when you saw me.
  And there we were with the lake
  And the sun with his ruddy search-light blaze
  Stretching back to lost Chicago.
  The sun, the lake, the beach, and ourselves
  Were all that was left of Time,
  All else was lost.

  You were making a camp.
  You had bent from the bank a cedar bough
  And tied it down.
  And over it flung a quilt of many colors,
  And under it spread on the voluptuous silt
  Gray blankets and canvas pillows.
  I saw it all in a glance.
  And there in dread of eyes we stood
  Scanning the bluff and the beach,
  Lest in the briefest touch of lips
  We might be seen.

  For there were eyes, or we thought
  There were eyes, on the porch of the lodge,
  And eyes along the forest's rim on the hill,
  And eyes on the shore.
  But a minute past there was no sun,
  Only a star that shone like a match which lights
  To a blue intenseness amid the glow of a hearth.
  And we sat on the sand as dusk came down
  In a communion of silence and low words.
  Till you said at last: "We'll sup at the lodge,
  Then say good night to me and leave
  As if to stay overnight in the village.
  But instead make a long detour through the wood
  And come to the shore through that ravine,
  Be here at the tent at midnight."

  And so I did.
  I stole through echoless ways,
  Where no twigs broke and where I heard
  My heart beat like a watch under a pillow.
  And the whippoorwills were singing.
  And the sound of the surf below me
  Was the sound of silver-poplar leaves
  In a wind that makes no pause....
  I hurried down the steep ravine,
  And a bat flew up at my feet from the brush
  And crossed the moon.
  To my left was the lighthouse,
  And black and deep purples far away,
  And all was still.
  Till I stood breathless by the tent
  And heard your whispered welcome,
  And felt your kiss.

  Lovers lay at mid-night
  On roofs of Memphis and Athens
  And looked at tropical stars
  As large as golden beetles.
  Nothing is new, save this,
  And this is always new.
  And there in your tent
  With the balm of the mid-night breeze
  Sweeping over us,
  We looked at one great star
  Through a flap of your many-colored tent,
  And the eternal quality of rapture
  And mystery and vision flowed through us.

  Next day we went to Grand Haven,
  For my desire was your desire,
  Whatever wish one had the other had.
  And up the Grand River we rowed,
  With rushes and lily pads about us,
  And the sand hills back of us,
  Till we came to a quiet land,
  A lotus place of farms and meadows.
  And we tied our boat to Schmitty's dock,
  Where we had a dinner of fish.
  And where, after resting, to follow your will
  We drifted back to Spring Lake--
  And under a larger moon,
  Now almost full,
  Walked three miles to The Beeches,
  By a winding country road,
  Where we had supper.
  And afterwards a long sleep,
  Waking to the song of robins.

  And that day I said:
  There are wild places, blue water, pine forests,
  There are apple orchards, and wonderful roads
  Around Elk Lake--shall we go?
  And we went, for your desire was mine.
  And there we climbed hills,
  And ate apples along the shaded ways,
  And rolled great boulders down the steeps
  To watch them splash in the water.
  And we stood and wondered what was beyond
  The farther shore two miles away.
  And we came to a place on the shore
  Where four great pine trees stood,
  And underneath them wild flowers to the edge
  Of sand so soft for naked feet.
  And here, for not a soul was near,
  We stripped and swam far out, laughing, rejoicing,
  Rolling and diving in those great depths
  Of bracing water under a glittering sun.

  There were farm houses enough
  For food and shelter.
  But something urged us on.
  One knows the end and dreads the end
  Yet seeks the end.
  And you asked, "Is there a town near?
  Let's see a town."
  So we walked to Traverse City
  Through cut-over land and blasted
  Trunks and stumps of pine,
  And by the side of desolate hills.
  But when we got to Traverse City
  You were not content, nor was I.
  Something urged us on.
  Then you thought of Northport
  And of its Norse and German fishermen,
  And its quaint piers where they smoke fish.
  So we drove for thirty miles
  In a speeding automobile
  Over hills, around sudden curves, into warm coverts,
  Or hollows, sometimes at the edge of the Bay,
  Again on the hill,
  From where we could see Old Mission
  Amid blues and blacks, across a score of miles of the Bay,
  Waving like watered silk under the moon!
  And by meadows of clover newly cut,
  And by peach orchards and vineyards.
  But when we came to the little town
  Already asleep, though it was but eight o'clock,
  And only a few drowsy lamps
  With misty eyelids shone from a store or two,
  I said, "Do you see those twinkling lights?
  That's Northport Point, that's the Cedar Cabin--
  Let's go to the Cedar Cabin."
  And so we crossed the Bay
  Amid great waves in a plunging launch,
  And a roaring breeze and a great moon,
  For now the moon was full.

  So here was the Cedar Cabin
  On a strip of land as wide as a house and lawn,
  And on one side Lake Michigan,
  And on one side the Bay.
  There were distances of color all around,
  And stars and darknesses of land and trees,
  And at the point the lighthouse.
  And over us the moon,
  And over the balcony of our room
  All of these, where we lay till I slept,
  Listening to the water of the lake,
  And the water of the Bay.
  And we saw the moon sink like a red bomb,
  And we saw the stars change
  As the sky wheeled....
  Now this was the end of the earth,
  For this strip of land
  Ran out to a point no larger than one of the stumps
  We saw on the desolate hills.
  And moreover it seemed to dive under,
  Or waste away in a sudden depth of water.
  And around it was a swirl,
  To the north the bounding waves of the Lake,
  And to the south the Bay which seemed the Lake.
  But could we speak of it, even though
  I saw your eyes when you thought of it?
  A sigh of wind blew through the rustic temple
  When we saw this symbol together,
  And neither spoke.
  But that night, somewhere in the beginning of drowsiness,
  You said: "There is no further place to go,
  We must retrace."
  And I awoke in a torrent of light in the room,
  Hearing voices and steps on the walk:
  I looked for you,
  But you had arisen.
  Then I dressed and searched for you,
  But you were gone.
  Then I stood for long minutes
  Looking at a sail far out at sea
  And departed too.



THE STAR


  I am a certain god
  Who slipped down from a remote height
  To a place of pools and stars.
  And I sat invisible
  Amid a clump of trees
  To watch the madmen.

  There were cries and groans about me,
  And shouts of laughter and curses.
  Figures passed by with self-absorbed contempt,
  Wrinkling in bitter smiles about their lips.
  Others hurried on with set eyes
  Pursuing something.
  Then I said this is the place for mad Frederick--
  Mad Frederick will be here.

  But everywhere I could see
  Figures sitting or standing
  By little pools.
  Some seemed grown into the soil
  And were helpless.
  And of these some were asleep.
  Others laughed the laughter
  That comes from dying men
  Trying to face Death.
  And others said "I should be content,"
  And others said "I will fly."
  Whereupon sepulchral voices muttered,
  As of creatures sitting or hanging head down
  From limbs of the trees,
  "We will not let you."
  And others looked in their pools
  And clasped hands and said "Gone, all gone."
  By other pools there were dead bodies:
  Some of youth, some of age.
  They had given up the fight,
  They had drunk poisoned water,
  They had searched
  Until they fell--
  All had gone mad!

  Then I, a certain god,
  Curious to know
  What it is in pools and stars
  That drives men and women
  Over the earth in this quest
  Waited for mad Frederick.
  And then I heard his step.

  I knew that long ago
  He sat by one of these pools
  Enraptured of a star's image.
  And that hands, for his own good,
  As they said,
  Dumped clay into the pool
  And blotted his star.
  And I knew that after that
  He had said, "They will never spy again
  Upon my ecstasy.
  They will never see me watching one star.
  I will fly by rivers,
  And by little brooks,
  And by the edge of lakes,
  And by little bends of water,
  Where no wind blows,
  And glance at stars as I pass.
  They will never spy again
  Upon my ecstasy."

  And I knew that mad Frederick
  In this flight
  Through years of restless and madness
  Was caught by the image of a star
  In a mere beyond a meadow
  Down from a hill, under a forest,
  And had said,
  "No one sees;
  Here I can find life,
  Through vision of eternal things."
  But they had followed him.
  They stood on the brow of the hill,
  And when they saw him gazing in the water
  They rolled a great stone down the hill,
  And shattered the star's image.
  Then mad Frederick fled with laughter.
  It echoed through the wood.
  And he said, "I will look for moons,
  I will punish them who disturb me,
  By worshiping moons."
  But when he sought moons
  They left him alone,
  And he did not want the moons.
  And he was alone, and sick from the moons,
  And covered as with a white blankness,
  Which was the worst madness of all.

  And I, a certain god,
  Waiting for mad Frederick
  To enter this place of pools and stars,
  Saw him at last.
  With a sigh he looked about upon his fellows
  Sitting or standing by their pools.
  And some of the pools were covered with scum,
  And some were glazed as of filth,
  And some were grown with weeds,
  And some were congealed as of the north wind,
  And a few were yet pure,
  And held the star's image.
  And by these some sat and were glad,
  Others had lost the vision.
  The star was there, but its meaning vanished.
  And mad Frederick, going here and there,
  With no purpose,
  Only curious and interested
  As I was, a certain god,
  Came by a certain pool
  And saw a star.

  He shivered,
  He clasped his hands,
  He sank to his knees,
  He touched his lips to the water.

  Then voices from the limbs of the trees muttered:
  "There he is again."
  "He must be driven away."
  "The pool is not his."
  "He does not belong here."
  So as when bats fly in a cave
  They swooped from their hidings in the trees
  And dashed themselves in the pool.
  Then I saw what these flying things were--
  But no matter.
  They were illusions, evil and envious
  And dull,
  But with power to destroy.
  And mad Frederick turned away from the pool
  And covered his eyes with his arms.
  Then a certain god,
  Of less power than mine,
  Came and sat beside me and said:
  "Why do you allow this to be?
  They are all seeking,
  Why do you not let them find their heart's delight?
  Why do you allow this to be?"
  But I did not answer.
  The lesser god did not know
  That I have no power,
  That only the God has the power.
  And that this must be
  In spite of all lesser gods.

  And I saw mad Frederick
  Arise and ascend to the top of a high hill,
  And I saw him find the star
  Whose image he had seen in the pool.
  Then he knelt and prayed:
  "Give me to understand, O Star,
  Your inner self, your eternal spirit,
  That I may have you and not images of you,
  So that I may know what has driven me through the world,
  And may cure my soul.
  For I know you are Eternal Love,
  And I can never escape you.
  And if I cannot escape you,
  Then I must serve you.
  And if I must serve you,
  It must be to good and not ill--
  You have brought me from the forest of pools
  And the images of stars,
  Here to the hill's top.
  Where now do I go?
  And what shall I do?"


THE END

Printed in the United States of America.



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Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _italics_.

Punctuation has been corrected without note.

Inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation have been retained from the
original.

It is not always possible to determine if a new stanza begins at the top
of a printed page, but every effort has been made by the transcriber to
retain stanza breaks where appropriate.





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