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Title: Poems
Author: Rilke, Rainer Maria, 1875-1926
Language: English
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POEMS

by

RANIER MARIA RILKE


Translated by Jessie Lamont

With an Introduction by H.T.


New York

Tobias A. Wright

1918



TO THE MEMORY OF

AUGUSTE RODIN

THROUGH WHOM I CAME TO KNOW

RAINER MARIA RILKE



POEMS OF RAINER MARIA RILKE



INTRODUCTION


Acknowledgment

To the Editors of Poetry--A magazine of Verse, and Poet Lore, the
translator is indebted for permission to reprint certain poems in this
book--also to the compilers of the following anthologies--Amphora II
edited by Thomas Bird Mosher--The Catholic Anthology of World Poetry
selected by Carl van Doren.


CONTENTS

_Introduction:_
  The Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

_First Poems:_
  Evening
  Mary Virgin

_The Book of Pictures:_
  Presaging
  Autumn
  Silent Hour
  The Angels
  Solitude
  Kings in Legends
  The Knight
  The Boy
  Initiation
  The Neighbour
  Song of the Statue
  Maidens I
  Maidens II
  The Bride
  Autumnal Day
  Moonlight Night
  In April
  Memories of a Childhood
  Death
  The Ashantee
  Remembrance
  Music
  Maiden Melancholy
  Maidens at Confirmation
  The Woman who Loves
  Pont du Carrousel
  Madness
  Lament
  Symbols

_New Poems:_
  Early Apollo
  The Tomb of a Young Girl
  The Poet
  The Panther
  Growing Blind
  The Spanish Dancer
  Offering
  Love Song
  Archaic Torso of Apollo

_The Book of Hours:_

  _The Book of a Monk's Life_
    I Live my Life in Circles
    Many have Painted Her
    In Cassocks Clad
    Thou Anxious One
    I Love My Life's Dark Hours

  _The Book of Pilgrimage_
    By Day Thou Art The Legend and The Dream
    All Those Who Seek Thee
    In a House Was One
    Extinguish My Eyes
    In the Deep Nights

  _The Book of Poverty and Death_
    Her Mouth
    Alone Thou Wanderest
    A Watcher of Thy Spaces



THE POETRY OF RAINER MARIA RILKE

    εἶσὶ γὰρ οὖν, οἳ ἐν ταῖς ψυχαῖς κυοῦσιν

                                     Plato

The supreme problem of every age is that of finding its consummate
artistic expression. Before this problem every other remains of
secondary importance. History defines and directs its physical course,
science cooperates in the achievement of its material aims, but Art
alone gives to the age its spiritual physiognomy, its ultimate and
lasting expression.

The process of Art is on the one hand sensuous, the conception having
for its basis the fineness of organization of the senses; and on the
other hand it is severely scientific, the value of the creation being
dependent upon the craftsmanship, the mastery over the tool, the
technique.

Art, like Nature, its great and only reservoir for all time past and all
time to come, ever strives for elimination and selection. It is severe
and aristocratic in the application of its laws and impervious to appeal
to serve other than its own aims. Its purpose is the symbolization of
Life. In its sanctum there reigns the silence of vast accomplishment,
the serene, final, and imperturbable solitude which is the ultimate
criterion of all great things created.

To speak of Poetry is to speak of the most subtle, the most delicate,
and the most accurate instrument by which to measure Life.

Poetry is reality's essence visioned and made manifest by one endowed
with a perception acutely sensitive to sound, form, and colour, and
gifted with a power to shape into rhythmic and rhymed verbal symbols the
reaction to Life's phenomena. The poet moulds that which appears
evanescent and ephemeral in image and in mood into everlasting values.
In this act of creation he serves eternity.

Poetry, in especial lyrical poetry, must be acknowledged the supreme
art, culminating as it does in a union of the other arts, the musical,
the plastic, and the pictorial.

The most eminent contemporary poets of Europe have, each in accordance
with his individual temperament, reflected in their work the spiritual
essence of our age, its fears and failures, its hopes and high
achievements: Maeterlinck, with his mood of resignation and his
retirement into a dusky twilight where his shadowy figures move
noiselessly like phantoms in fate-laden dimness; Dehmel, the worshipper
of will, with his passion for materiality and the beauty of all things
physical and tangible; Verhaeren, the visionary of a new vitality, who
sees in the toilers of fields and factories the heroic gesture of our
time and who might have written its great epic of industry but for the
overwhelming lyrical mood of his soul.

Until a few years ago, known only to a relatively small community on the
continent but commanding an ever increasing attention which has borne
his name far beyond the boundary of his country, the personality of
Rainer Maria Rilke stands to-day beside the most illustrious poets of
modern Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The background against which the figure of Rainer Maria Rilke is
silhouetted is so varied, the influences which have entered into his
life are so manifold, that a study of his work, however slight, must
needs take into consideration the elements through which this poet has
matured into a great master.

Prague, the city in which Rilke was born in 1875, with its sinister
palaces and crumbling towers that rose in the early Middle Ages and have
reached out into our time like the threatening fingers of mighty hands
which have wielded swords for generations and which are stained with the
blood of many wounds of many races; the city where amid grey old ruins
blonde maidens are at play or are lost in reverie in the green cool
parks and shady gardens with which the Bohemian capital abounds, this
Prague of mingled grotesqueness and beauty gave to the young boy his
first impressions.

There is a period in the life of every artist when his whole being seems
lost in a contemplation of the surrounding world, when the application
to work is difficult, like the violent forcing of something that is
awaiting its time. This is the time of his dream, as sacred as the days
of early spring before wind and rain and light have touched the fruits
of the fields, when there is a tense bleak silence over the whole of
nature, in which is wrapped the strength of storms and the glow of the
summer's sun. This is the time of his deepest dream, and upon this dream
and its guarding depends the final realization of his life's work.

The young graduate of the Gymnasium was to enter upon the career of an
army officer in accordance with the traditions of the family, an old
noble house which traces its lineage far back to Carinthian ancestry.
His inclinations, however, pointed so decisively in the direction of the
finer arts of life that he left the Military Academy after a very short
attendance to devote himself to the study of philosophy and the history
of art.

As one turns the pages of Rilke's first small book of poems, published
originally under the title _Larenopfer_, in the year 1895, and which
appeared in more recent editions under the less descriptive name _Erste
Gedichte_, one realizes at once, in spite of a lack of plasticity in the
presentation, that here speaks one who has lingered long and lovingly
over the dream of his boyhood. As the title indicates, these poems are a
tribute, an offering to the Lares, the home spirits of his native town.
Prague and the surrounding country are the ever recurring theme of
almost every one of these poems. The meadows, the maidens, the dark
river in the evening, the spires of the cathedral at night rising like
grey mists are seen with a wonderment, the great well-spring of all
poetic imagination, with a well-nigh religious piety. Through all these
poems there sounds like a subdued accompaniment a note of gratitude for
the ability to thus vision the world, to be sunk in the music of all
things. "Without is everything that I feel within myself, and without
and within myself everything is immeasurable, illimitable."

These pictures of town and landscape are never separated from their
personal relation to the poet. He feels too keenly his dependence upon
them, as a child views flowers and stars as personal possessions. Not
until later was he to reach the height of an impersonal objectivity in
his art. What distinguishes these early poems from similar adolescent
productions is the restraint in the presentation, the economy and
intensity of expression and that quality of listening to the inner voice
of things which renders the poet the seer of mankind.

The second book of poems appeared two years later and like the first
volume _Traumgekrönt_ is full of the music that is reminiscent of the
mild melancholy of the Bohemian folk-songs, in whose gentle rhythms the
barbaric strength of the race seems to be lulled to rest as the waves of
a far-away tumultuous sea gently lap the shore. The themes of
_Traumgekrönt_ are extended somewhat beyond the immediate environment
of Prague and some of the most beautiful poems are luminous pictures of
villages hidden in the snowy blossoming of May and June, out of which
rises here and there the solitary soft voice of a boy or girl singing.
In these first two volumes the poet is satisfied with painting in words,
full of sonorous beauty, the surrounding world. From this period dates
the small poem _Evening_, which seems to have been sketched by a
Japanese painter, so clear and colourful is its texture, so precious and
precise are its outlines.

With _Advent_ and _Mir Zur Feier_, both published within the following
three years, a phase of questioning commences, a dim desire begins to
stir to reach out into the larger world "deep into life, out beyond
time." Whereas the early poems were characterized by a tendency to turn
away from the turmoil of life--in fact, the concrete world of reality
does not seem to exist--there is noticeable in these two later volumes
an advance toward life in the sense that the poet is beginning to
approach and to vision some of its greatest symbols.

Throughout the entire work of Rilke, in his poetry as well as in his
interpretations of painting and sculpture, there are two elements that
constitute the cornerstones in the structure of his art. If, as has been
said with a degree of verity, Nietzsche was primarily a musician whose
philosophy had for its basis and took its ultimate aspects from the
musical quality of his artistic endowment, it may be maintained with an
equal amount of truth that Rilke is primarily a painter and sculptor
whose poetry rests upon the fundaments of the pictorial and plastic
arts.

Up to the time of the publication of these volumes, Rilke's poems
possessed a quietude, a stillness suggested in the straight unbroken yet
delicate lines of the picture which he portrays and in the soft, almost
unpulsating rhythm of his words. The approach of evening or nightfall,
the coming of dawn, the change of the seasons, the slow changes of light
into darkness and of darkness into light, in short, the most silent yet
greatest metamorphoses in the external aspects of nature form the
contents of many of these first poems. The inanimate object and the
living creature in nature are not seen in the sharp contours of their
isolation; they are viewed and interpreted in the atmosphere that
surrounds them, in which they are enwrapped and so densely veiled that
the outlines are only dimly visible, be that atmosphere the mystic grey
of northern twilight or the dark velvety blue of southern summer nights.
In _Advent_, the experience of the atmosphere becomes an experience in
his innermost soul and, therefore, all things become of value to him
only in so far as they partake of the atmosphere, as they are seen in a
peculiar air and distance. This first phase in Rilke's work may be
defined as the phase of reposeful nature.

To this sphere of relaxation and restfulness in which the objects are
static and are changed only as the surrounding atmosphere affects them,
the second phase in the poet's development adds another element, which
later was to grow into dimensions so powerful, so violently breaking
beyond the limitations of simple expression in words that it could only
find its satisfaction in a dithyrambic hymn to the work of the great
plastic artist of our time, to the creations of Auguste Rodin. This
second element is that which the French sculptor in a different medium
has carried to perfection. It is the element of gesture, of dramatic
movement.

This might seem the appropriate place in which to speak of Rilke's
monograph on the art of Rodin. To do so would, however, be an undue
anticipation, for it will be necessary to trace Rilke's development
through several transitions before the value of his contact with the
work of Rodin can be fully measured.

The gesture, the movement begins in _Advent_ and _Celebration_ to
disturb the stillness prevailing in the first two volumes of poems. Even
here it is only gentle and shy at first like the stirring of a breath of
wind over a quiet sea; and gentle beings make this first gesture,
children and young women at play, singing, dancing or at prayer.

Particularly in the cycle _Songs of the Maidens_ in the book
_Celebration_, the atmosphere is condensed and becomes the psychic
background of the landscape against which the gesture of longing or
expectation is seen and felt. It is the impatience to burst into
blossoming, the longing for love which pulsates in these _Songs of the
Maidens_ with the tenseness of suspense. _The Prayers of the Maidens to
Mary_ have not the mild melody of maidenly prayer; they vibrate with the
ecstasy of expectant life, and the Madonna is more than the Heavenly
Virgin, their longing transforms her into the symbol of earthly love and
motherhood. This expectation, in spite of its intensity, is subdued and
is only heard like the cadence of a far off dream:

    "How shall I go on tiptoe
     From childhood to Annunciation
     Through the dim twilight
     Into Thy Garden?"

Mention should be made of some prose writings which Rilke published in
the year 1898 and shortly afterward. They are _Two Stories of Prague_,
_The Touch of Life_ and _The Last_; three volumes of short stories; a
two-act drama, _The Daily Life_, points to a strong Maeterlinck
influence, and finally _Stories of God_. With both beauty of detail and
problematic interest, the short stories show an incoherence of treatment
and a lack of dramatic co-ordination easily conceivable in a poet who is
essentially lyrical and who at that time had not mastered the means of
technique to give to his characters the clear chiselling of the epic
form.

       *       *       *       *       *

A sojourn in Russia and especially the acquaintance with the novels of
Dostoievsky became potent factors in Rilke's development and served to
deepen creations which without this influence might have terminated in a
grandiose æsthesia.

Broadly speaking, Russian art and literature may be described as
springing from an ethical impulse and as having for their motive power
and _raison d'être_ the tendency toward socio-political reform, in
contradistinction to the art and literature of Western culture, whose
motives and aims are primarily of an æsthetic nature and seek in art the
reconciliation of the dualism between spirit and matter.

Dostoievsky, whom Merejkovsky describes somewhere as the man with the
never-young face, the face "with its shadows of suffering and its
wrinkles of sunken-in cheeks ... but that which gives to this face its
most tortured expression is its seeming immobility, the suddenly
interrupted impulse, the life hardened into a stone:" this Dostoievsky
and particularly his _Rodion Raskolnikov_ cycle became a profound
artistic experience to Rilke. The poor, the outcasts, the homeless ones
received for him a new significance, the significance of the isolated
figure placed in the mighty everchanging current of a life in which this
figure stands strong and solitary. In the poem entitled _Pont Du
Carrousel_, written in Paris a few years later, Rilke has visioned the
blind beggar aloof amid the fluctuating crowds of the metropolis.

Of Russia and its influence upon him, Rilke writes: "Russia became for
me the reality and the deep daily realization that reality is something
that comes infinitely slowly to those who have patience. Russia is the
country where men are solitary, each one with a world within himself,
each one profound in his humbleness and without fear of humiliating
himself, and because of that truly pious. Here the words of men are only
fragile bridges above their real life."

The great symbols of Solitude and of Death enter into the poet's work.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the first decade of the new century Rilke reached the height of his
art and with a few exceptions the poems represented in this volume are
selected from the poems which were published between the years 1900 and
1908. The ascent toward the acme of Rilke's art after the year 1900 is
as rapid as it is precipitous. Only a few years previous we read in
Advent:

    "That is longing: To dwell in the flux of things,
     To have no home in the present.
     And these are wishes: gentle dialogues
     Of the poor hours with eternity."

With _Das Buch der Bilder_ the dream is ended, the veil of mist is
lifted and before us are revealed pictures and images that rise before
our eyes in clear colourful contours. Whether the poet conjures from the
depths of myth _The Kings in Legends_, or whether we read from _The
Chronicle of a Monk_ the awe-inspiring description of _The Last Judgment
Day_, or whether in Paris on a Palm Sunday we see _The Maidens at
Confirmation_, the pictures presented stand out with the clearness and
finality of the typical.

It is a significant fact that Rilke dedicated this book to Gerhart
Hauptmann, "in love and gratitude for his Michael Kramer." Hauptmann,
like Rilke in these poems, has placed before us great epic figures and
his art is so concentrated that often the simple expression of the
thought of one of his characters produces a shudder in the listener or
reader because in this thought there vibrates the suffering of an entire
social class and in it resounds the sorrow of many generations.

       *       *       *       *       *

In _The Book of Pictures_, Rilke's art reaches its culmination on what
might be termed its monumental side. The visualization is elevated to
the impersonal objective level which gives to the rhythm of these poems
an imperturbable calm, to the figures presented a monumental erectness.
_The Men of the House of Colonna_, _The Czars_, _Charles XII Riding
Through the Ukraine_ are portrayed each with his individual historical
gesture, with a luminosity as strong as the colour and movement which
they gave to their time. In the mythical poem, _Kings in Legends_, this
concrete element in the art of Rilke has found perhaps its supreme
expression:

    "Kings in old legends seem
     Like mountains rising in the evening light.
     They blind all with their gleam,
     Their loins encircled are by girdles bright,
     Their robes are edged with bands
     Of precious stones--the rarest earth affords--
     With richly jeweled hands
     They hold their slender, shining, naked swords."

There are in _The Book of Pictures_ poems in which this will to
concentrate a mood into its essence and finality is applied to purely
lyrical poems as in _Initiation_, that stands out in this volume like
"the great dark tree" itself so immeasurable is the straight line of its
aspiration reaching into the far distant silence of the night; or as in
the poem entitled _Autumn_, with its melancholy mood of gentle descent
in all nature.

In _The Book of Hours_, Rilke withdraws from the world not from
weariness but weighed down under the manifold conflicting visions. As
the prophet who would bring to the world a great possession must go
forth into the desert to be alone until the kingdom comes to him from
within, so the poet must leave the world in order to gain the deeper
understanding, to be face to face with God. The mood of _Das
Stunden-Buch_ is this mood of being face to face with God; it elevates
these poems to prayer, profound prayer of doubt and despair, exalted
prayer of reconciliation and triumph.

_The Book of Hours_ contains three parts written at different periods in
the poet's life: _The Book of a Monk's Life_ (1899); _The Book of
Pilgrimage_ (1901), and _The Book of Poverty and Death_ (1903), although
the entire volume was not published until several years later. _The Book
of Hours_ glows with a mystic fervour to know God, to be near him. In
this desire to approach the Nameless One, the young Brother in _The Book
of a Monk's Life_ builds up about God parables, images and legends
reminiscent of those of the 17th century Angelus Silesius, but sustained
by a more pregnant language because exalted by a more ardent visionary
force. The motif of _The Monk's Life_ is expressed in the poem beginning
with the lines:

    "I live my life in circles that grow wide
     And endlessly unroll."

Through the grey cell of the young Monk there flash in luminous
magnificence the colours of the great renaissance masters, for he feels
in Titian, in Michelangelo, in Raphael the same fervour that animates
him; they, too, are worshippers of the same God.

There are poems in _The Book of Pilgrimage_ of the stillness of a
whispered prayer in a great Cathedral and there are others that carry in
their exultation the music of mighty hymns. The visions in this second
book are no less ecstatic though less glowingly colourful; they have
withdrawn inward and have brought a great peace and a great faith as in
the poem of God, whose very manifestation is the quietude and hush of a
silent world:

    "By day Thou art the Legend and the Dream
     That like a whisper floats about all men,
     The deep and brooding stillnesses which seem,
     After the hour has struck, to close again.
     And when the day with drowsy gesture bends
     And sinks to sleep beneath the evening skies,
     As from each roof a tower of smoke ascends
     So does Thy Realm, my God, around me rise."

The last part of _The Book of Hours_, _The Book of Poverty and Death_,
is finally a symphony of variations on the two great symbolic themes in
the work of Rilke. As Christ in the parable of the rich young man
demands the abandonment of all treasures, so in this book the poet sees
the coming of the Kingdom, the fulfilment of all our longings for a
nearness to God when we have become simple again like little children
and poor in possessions like God Himself. In this phase of Rilke's
development, the principle of renunciation constitutes a certain
negative element in his philosophy. The poet later proceeded to a
positive acquiescence toward man's possessions, at least those acquired
or created in the domain of art.

In our approach through the mystic we touch reality most deeply. It is
because of this that all art and all philosophy culminate in their final
forms in a crystallization of those values of life that remain forever
inexplicable to pure reason; they become religious in the simple,
profound sense of that word. Before the eternal facts of Life doubt and
strife are reconciled into faith, will and pride change into humility.
The realization of this truth expressed in the medium of poetry is the
significance of Rilke's _Book of Hours_. A distinguished Scandinavian
writer has pronounced _Das Stunden-Buch_ one of the supreme literary
achievements of our time and its deepest and most beautiful book of
prayer.

In his subsequent poetic work Rilke did not again reach the sustained
high quality of this book, the mood and idea of which he incorporated
into a prose work of exquisite lyrical beauty: _The Sketch of Malte
Laurids Brigge_.

       *       *       *       *       *

In _New Poems_ (1907) and _New Poems, Second Part_ (1908) the historical
figure, frequently taken from the Old Testament, has grown beyond the
proportions of life; it is weightier with fate and invariably becomes
the means of expressing symbolically an abstract thought or a great
human destiny. _Abishag_ presents the contrast between the dawning and
the fading life; _David Singing Before Saul_ shows the impatience of
awakening ambition, and _Joshua_ is the man who forces even God to do
his will. The antique Hellenic world rises with shining splendour in the
poems _Eranna to Sappho_, _Lament for Antinous_, _Early Apollo_ and the
_Archaic Torso of Apollo_.

The spirit of the Middle Ages with its religious fervour and
superstitious fanaticism is symbolized in several poems, the most
important among which are _The Cathedral_, _God in the Middle Ages_,
_Saint Sebastian_ personifying martyrdom, and _The Rose Window_, whose
glowing magic is compared to the hypnotic power of the tiger's eye.
Modern Paris is often the background of the _New Poems_, and the crass
play of light and shadow upon the waxen masks of Life's disillusioned in
the Morgue is caught with the same intense realistic vision as the
flamingos and parrots spreading their vari-coloured soft plumage in the
warmth of the sun in the Avenue of the Jardin des Plantes.

Almost all of the poems in these two volumes are short and precise. The
images are portrayed with the sensitive intensity of impressionistic
technique. The majestic quietude of the long lines of _The Book of
Pictures_ is broken, the colours are more vibrant, more scintillating
and the pictures are painted in nervous, darting strokes as though to
convey the manner in which they were perceived: in one single,
all-absorbing glance. For this reason many of these _New Poems_ are not
quite free from a certain element of virtuosity. On the other hand,
Rilke achieves at times a perfect surety of rapid stroke as in the poem
_The Spanish Dancer_, who rises luminously on the horizon of our inner
vision like a circling element of fire, flaming and blinding in the
momentum of her movements. Degas and Zuloaga seem to have combined their
art on one canvas to give to this dancer the abundant elasticity of
grace and the splendid fantasy of colour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many of the themes in the _New Poems_ bear testimony to the fact that
Rilke travelled extensively, prior to the writing of these volumes, in
Italy, Germany, France, and Scandinavia. His book on the five painters
at the artists' colony at Worpswede, where he remained for a time,
entirely given over to the observation of the atmosphere, the movement
of the sky and the play of light upon the far heath of this northern
landscape, is an introduction to every interpretation of the work of
landscape painters and a tender poem to a land whose solitary and
melancholy beauty entered into his own work.

More vital than the influence of the personalities and the art treasures
of the countries which Rilke visited and more potent in its effect upon
his creations, like a great sun over the most fruitful years of his
life, stands the towering personality of Auguste Rodin. The _New Poems_
bear the dedication: "A mon grand ami, Auguste Rodin," indicating the
twofold influence which the French sculptor wielded over the poet, that
of a friend and that of an artist.

One recalls the broad, solidly-built figure of Rodin with his rugged
features and high, finely chiselled forehead, moving slowly among the
white glistening marble busts and statues as a giant in an old legend
moves among the rocks and mountains of his realm, patient, all-enduring,
the man who has mastered life, strong and tempered by the storms of
time. And one thinks of Rainer Maria Rilke, young, blond, with his
slender aristocratic figure, the slightly bent-forward figure of one who
on solitary walks meditates much and intensely, with his sensitive full
mouth and the "firm structure of the eyebrow gladly sunk in the shadow
of contemplation," the face full of dreams and with an expression of
listening to some distant music.

From no other book of his, not excepting _The Book of Hours_, can we
deduce so accurate a conception of Rilke's philosophy of Life and Art as
we can draw from his comparatively short monograph on Auguste Rodin.

Rilke sees in Rodin the dominant personification in our age of the
"power of servitude in all nature." For this reason the book on Rodin is
far more than a purely æsthetic valuation of the sculptor's work; Rilke
traces throughout the book the strongly ethical principle which works
itself out in every creative act in the realm of art. This grasp of the
deeper significance of all art gives to the book on Rodin its well-nigh
religious aspect of thought and its hymnlike rhythm of expression. He
begins: "Rodin was solitary before fame came to him, and afterward he
became perhaps still more solitary. For fame is ultimately but the
summary of all misunderstandings that crystallize about a new name." And
he sums up this one man's greatness: "Sometime it will be realized what
has made this great artist so supreme. He was a worker whose only desire
was to penetrate with all his forces into the humble and the difficult
significance of his tool. Therein lay a certain renunciation of life but
in just this renunciation lay his triumph--for Life entered into his
work."

Rodin became to Rilke the manifestation of the divine principle of the
creative impulse in man. Thus Rilke's monograph on Auguste Rodin will
remain the poet's testament on Life and Art.

       *       *       *       *       *

Rilke has lived deeply; he has absorbed into his artistic and spiritual
consciousness many of the supreme values of our time. His art holds the
mystic depth of the Slav, the musical strength of the German, and the
visual clarity of the Latin. As artist, he has felt life to be sacred,
and as a priest, he has brought to its altar many offerings.

H.T.

NEW YORK CITY,
AUTUMN, 1918.



FIRST POEMS



    EVENING


    The bleak fields are asleep,
    My heart alone wakes;
    The evening in the harbour
    Down his red sails takes.

    Night, guardian of dreams,
    Now wanders through the land;
    The moon, a lily white,
    Blossoms within her hand.



    MARY VIRGIN


    How came, how came from out thy night
    Mary, so much light
    And so much gloom:
    Who was thy bridegroom?

    Thou callest, thou callest and thou hast forgot
    That thou the same art not
    Who came to me
    In thy Virginity.

    I am still so blossoming, so young.
    How shall I go on tiptoe
    From childhood to Annunciation
    Through the dim twilight
    Into thy Garden.



THE BOOK OF PICTURES



    PRESAGING


    I am like a flag unfurled in space,
    I scent the oncoming winds and must bend with them,
    While the things beneath are not yet stirring,
    While doors close gently and there is silence in the chimneys
    And the windows do not yet tremble and the dust is still heavy--
    Then I feel the storm and am vibrant like the sea
    And expand and withdraw into myself
    And thrust myself forth and am alone in the great storm.



    AUTUMN


    The leaves fall, fall as from far,
    Like distant gardens withered in the heavens;
    They fall with slow and lingering descent.

    And in the nights the heavy Earth, too, falls
    From out the stars into the Solitude.

    Thus all doth fall. This hand of mine must fall
    And lo! the other one:--it is the law.
    But there is One who holds this falling
    Infinitely softly in His hands.



    SILENT HOUR


    Whoever weeps somewhere out in the world
    Weeps without cause in the world
    Weeps over me.

    Whoever laughs somewhere out in the night
    Laughs without cause in the night
    Laughs at me.

    Whoever wanders somewhere in the world
    Wanders in vain in the world
    Wanders to me.

    Whoever dies somewhere in the world
    Dies without cause in the world
    Looks at me.



    THE ANGELS


    They all have tired mouths
    And luminous, illimitable souls;
    And a longing (as if for sin)
    Trembles at times through their dreams.

    They all resemble one another,
    In God's garden they are silent
    Like many, many intervals
    In His mighty melody.

    But when they spread their wings
    They awaken the winds
    That stir as though God
    With His far-reaching master hands
    Turned the pages of the dark book of Beginning.



    SOLITUDE


    Solitude is like a rain
    That from the sea at dusk begins to rise;
    It floats remote across the far-off plain
    Upward into its dwelling-place, the skies,
    Then o'er the town it slowly sinks again.
    Like rain it softly falls at that dim hour
    When ghostly lanes turn toward the shadowy morn;
    When bodies weighed with satiate passion's power
    Sad, disappointed from each other turn;
    When men with quiet hatred burning deep
    Together in a common bed must sleep--
    Through the gray, phantom shadows of the dawn
    Lo! Solitude floats down the river wan ...



    KINGS IN LEGENDS


    Kings in old legends seem
    Like mountains rising in the evening light.
    They blind all with their gleam,
    Their loins encircled are by girdles bright,
    Their robes are edged with bands
    Of precious stones--the rarest earth affords--
    With richly jeweled hands
    They hold their slender, shining, naked swords.



    THE KNIGHT


    The Knight rides forth in coat of mail
    Into the roar of the world.
    And here is Life: the vines in the vale
    And friend and foe, and the feast in the hall,
    And May and the maid, and the glen and the grail;
    God's flags afloat on every wall
    In a thousand streets unfurled.

    Beneath the armour of the Knight
    Behind the chain's black links
    Death crouches and thinks and thinks:
    "When will the sword's blade sharp and bright
    Forth from the scabbard spring
    And cut the network of the cloak
    Enmeshing me ring on ring--
    When will the foe's delivering stroke
    Set me free
    To dance
    And sing?"



    THE BOY


    I wish I might become like one of these
    Who, in the night on horses wild astride,
    With torches flaming out like loosened hair
    On to the chase through the great swift wind ride.
    I wish to stand as on a boat and dare
    The sweeping storm, mighty, like flag unrolled
    In darkness but with helmet made of gold
    That shimmers restlessly. And in a row,
    Behind me in the dark, ten men that glow
    With helmets that are restless, too, like mine,
    Now old and dull, now clear as glass they shine.
    One stands by me and blows a blast apace
    On his great flashing trumpet and the sound
    Shrieks through the vast black solitude around
    Through which, as through a wild mad dream we race.
    The houses fall behind us on their knees,
    Before us bend the streets and them we gain,
    The great squares yieled to us and them we seize--
    And on our steeds rush like the roar of rain.



    INITIATION


    Whosoever thou art! Out in the evening roam,
    Out from thy room thou know'st in every part,
    And far in the dim distance leave thy home,
    Whosoever thou art.
    Lift thine eyes which lingering see
    The shadows on the foot-worn threshold fall,
    Lift thine eyes slowly to the great dark tree
    That stands against heaven, solitary, tall,
    And thou hast visioned Life, its meanings rise
    Like words that in the silence clearer grow;
    As they unfold before thy will to know
    Gently withdraw thine eyes--



    THE NEIGHBOUR


    Strange violin! Dost thou follow me?
    In many foreign cities, far away,
    Thy lone voice spoke to me like memory.
    Do hundreds play thee, or does but one play?

    Are there in all great cities tempest-tossed
    Men who would seek the rivers but for thee,

    Who, but for thee, would be forever lost?
    Why drifts thy lonely voice always to me?
    Why am I the neighbour always
    Of those who force to sing thy trembling strings?
    Life is more heavy--thy song says--
    Than the vast, heavy burden of all things.



    SONG OF THE STATUE


    Who so loveth me that he
    Will give his precious life for me?
    I shall be set free from the stone
    If some one drowns for me in the sea,
    I shall have life, life of my own,--
    For life I ache.

    I long for the singing blood,
    The stone is so still and cold.
    I dream of life, life is good.
    Will no one love me and be bold
    And me awake?

    -------------------------------

    I weep and weep alone,
    Weep always for my stone.
    What joy is my blood to me
    If it ripens like red wine?
    It cannot call back from the sea
    The life that was given for mine,
    Given for Love's sake.



    MAIDENS. I


    Others must by a long dark way
    Stray to the mystic bards,
    Or ask some one who has heard them sing
    Or touch the magic chords.
    Only the maidens question not
    The bridges that lead to Dream;
    Their luminous smiles are like strands of pearls
    On a silver vase agleam.

    The maidens' doors of Life lead out
    Where the song of the poet soars,
    And out beyond to the great world--
    To the world beyond the doors.



    MAIDENS. II


    Maidens the poets learn from you to tell
    How solitary and remote you are,
    As night is lighted by one high bright star
    They draw light from the distance where you dwell.

    For poet you must always maiden be
    Even though his eyes the woman in you wake
    Wedding brocade your fragile wrists would break,
    Mysterious, elusive, from him flee.

    Within his garden let him wait alone
    Where benches stand expectant in the shade
    Within the chamber where the lyre was played
    Where he received you as the eternal One.

    Go! It grows dark--your voice and form no more
    His senses seek; he now no longer sees
    A white robe fluttering under dark beech trees
    Along the pathway where it gleamed before.

    He loves the long paths where no footfalls ring,
    And he loves much the silent chamber where
    Like a soft whisper through the quiet air
    He hears your voice, far distant, vanishing.

    The softly stealing echo comes again
    From crowds of men whom, wearily, he shuns;
    And many see you there--so his thought runs--
    And tenderest memories are pierced with pain.



    THE BRIDE


    Call me, Beloved! Call aloud to me!
    Thy bride her vigil at the window keeps;
    The evening wanes to dusk, the dimness creeps
    Down empty alleys of the old plane-tree.

    O! Let thy voice enfold me close about,
    Or from this dark house, lonely and remote,
    Through deep blue gardens where gray shadows float
    I will pour forth my soul with hands stretched out ...



    AUTUMNAL DAY


    Lord! It is time. So great was Summer's glow:
    Thy shadows lay upon the dials' faces
    And o'er wide spaces let thy tempests blow.

    Command to ripen the last fruits of thine,
    Give to them two more burning days and press
    The last sweetness into the heavy wine.

    He who has now no house will ne'er build one,
    Who is alone will now remain alone;
    He will awake, will read, will letters write
    Through the long day and in the lonely night;
    And restless, solitary, he will rove
    Where the leaves rustle, wind-blown, in the grove.



    MOONLIGHT NIGHT


    South-German night! the ripe moon hangs above
    Weaving enchantment o'er the shadowy lea.
    From the old tower the hours fall heavily
    Into the dark as though into the sea--
    A rustle, a call of night-watch in the grove,
    Then for a while void silence fills the air;
    And then a violin (from God knows where)
    Awakes and slowly sings: Oh Love ... Oh Love ...



    IN APRIL


    Again the woods are odorous, the lark
    Lifts on upsoaring wings the heaven gray
    That hung above the tree-tops, veiled and dark,
    Where branches bare disclosed the empty day.

    After long rainy afternoons an hour
    Comes with its shafts of golden light and flings
    Them at the windows in a radiant shower,
    And rain drops beat the panes like timorous wings.

    Then all is still. The stones are crooned to sleep
    By the soft sound of rain that slowly dies;
    And cradled in the branches, hidden deep
    In each bright bud, a slumbering silence lies.



    MEMORIES OF A CHILDHOOD


    The darkness hung like richness in the room
    When like a dream the mother entered there
    And then a glass's tinkle stirred the air
    Near where a boy sat in the silent gloom.

    The room betrayed the mother--so she felt--
    She kissed her boy and questioned "Are you here?"
    And with a gesture that he held most dear
    Down for a moment by his side she knelt.

    Toward the piano they both shyly glanced
    For she would sing to him on many a night,
    And the child seated in the fading light
    Would listen strangely as if half entranced,

    His large eyes fastened with a quiet glow
    Upon the hand which by her ring seemed bent
    And slowly wandering o'er the white keys went
    Moving as though against a drift of snow.



   DEATH


   Before us great Death stands
   Our fate held close within his quiet hands.
   When with proud joy we lift Life's red wine
   To drink deep of the mystic shining cup
   And ecstasy through all our being leaps--
   Death bows his head and weeps.



    THE ASHANTEE
                    (Jardin d'Acclimatation, Paris)


    No vision of exotic southern countries,
    No dancing women, supple, brown and tall
    Whirling from out their falling draperies
    To melodies that beat a fierce mad call;

    No sound of songs that from the hot blood rise,
    No langorous, stretching, dusky, velvet maids
    Flashing like gleaming weapon their bright eyes,
    No swift, wild thrill the quickening blood pervades.

    Only mouths widening with a still broad smile
    Of comprehension, a strange knowing leer
    At white men, at their vanity and guile,
    An understanding that fills one with fear.

    The beasts in cages much more loyal are,
    Restlessly pacing, pacing to and fro,
    Dreaming of countries beckoning from afar,
    Lands where they roamed in days of long ago.

    They burn with an unquenched and smothered fire
    Consumed by longings over which they brood,
    Oblivious of time, without desire,
    Alone and lost in their great solitude.



    REMEMBRANCE


    Expectant and waiting you muse
    On the great rare thing which alone
    To enhance your life you would choose:
    The awakening of the stone,
    The deeps where yourself you would lose.

    In the dusk of the shelves, embossed
    Shine the volumes in gold and browns,
    And you think of countries once crossed,
    Of pictures, of shimmering gowns
    Of the women that you have lost.

    And it comes to you then at last--
    And you rise for you are aware
    Of a year in the far off past
    With its wonder and fear and prayer.



    MUSIC


    What play you, O Boy? Through the garden it stole
    Like wandering steps, like a whisper--then mute;
    What play you, O Boy? Lo! your gypsying soul
    Is caught and held fast in the pipes of Pan's flute.

    And what conjure you? Imprisoned is the song,
    It lingers and longs in the reeds where it lies;
    Your young life is strong, but how much more strong
    Is the longing that through your music sighs.

    Let your flute be still and your soul float through
    Waves of sound formless as waves of the sea,
    For here your song lived and it wisely grew
    Before it was forced into melody.

    Its wings beat gently, its note no more calls,
    Its flight has been spent by you, dreaming Boy!
    Now it no longer steals over my walls--
    But in my garden I'd woo it to joy.



    MAIDEN MELANCHOLY


    A young knight comes into my mind
    As from some myth of old.

    He came! You felt yourself entwined
    As a great storm would round you wind.
    He went! A blessing undefined
    Seemed left, as when church-bells declined
    And left you wrapt in prayer.
    You fain would cry aloud--but bind
    Your scarf about you and tear-blind
    Weep softly in its fold.

    A young knight comes into my mind
    Full armored forth to fare.

    His smile was luminously kind
    Like glint of ivory enshrined,
    Like a home longing undivined,
    Like Christmas snows where dark ways wind,
    Like sea-pearls about turquoise twined,
    Like moonlight silver when combined
    With a loved book's rare gold.



    MAIDENS AT CONFIRMATION

                    (Paris in May, 1903)


    The white veiled maids to confirmation go
    Through deep green garden paths they slowly wind;
    Their childhood they are leaving now behind:
    The future will be different, they know.

    Oh! Will it come? They wait--It must come soon!
    The next long hour slowly strikes at last,
    The whole house stirs again, the feast is past,
    And sadly passes by the afternoon ...

    Like resurrection were the garments white
    The wreathed procession walked through trees arched wide
    Into the church, as cool as silk inside,
    With long aisles of tall candles flaming bright:
    The lights all shone like jewels rich and rare
    To solemn eyes that watched them gleam and flare.

    Then through the silence the great song rose high
    Up to the vaulted dome like clouds it soared,
    Then luminously, gently down it poured--
    Over white veils like rain it seemed to die.

    The wind through the white garments softly stirred
    And they grew vari-coloured in each fold
    And each fold hidden blossoms seemed to hold
    And flowers and stars and fluting notes of bird,
    And dim, quaint figures shimmering like gold
    Seemed to come forth from distant myths of old.

    Outside the day was one of green and blue,
    With touches of a luminous glowing red,
    Across the quiet pond the small waves sped.
    Beyond the city, gardens hidden from view
    Sent odors of sweet blossoms on the breeze
    And singing sounded through the far off trees.

    It was as though garlands crowned everything
    And all things were touched softly by the sun;
    And many windows opened one by one
    And the light trembled on them glistening.



    THE WOMAN WHO LOVES


    Ah yes! I long for you. To you I glide
    And lose myself--for to you I belong.
    The hope that hitherto I have denied
    Imperious comes to me as from your side
    Serious, unfaltering and swift and strong.

    Those times: the times when I was quite alone
    By memories wrapt that whispered to me low,
    My silence was the quiet of a stone
    Over which rippling murmuring waters flow.

    But in these weeks of the awakening Spring
    Something within me has been freed--something
    That in the past dark years unconscious lay,
    Which rises now within me and commands
    And gives my poor warm life into your hands
    Who know not what I was that Yesterday.



    PONT DU CARROUSEL


    Upon the bridge the blind man stands alone,
    Gray like a mist veiled monument he towers
    As though of nameless realms the boundary stone
    About which circle distant starry hours.

    He seems the center around which stars glow
    While all earth's ostentations surge below.

    Immovably and silently he stands
    Placed where the confused current ebbs and flows;
    Past fathomless dark depths that he commands
    A shallow generation drifting goes....



    MADNESS


    She thinks: I am--Have you not seen?
    Who are you then, Marie?
    I am a Queen, I am a Queen!
    To your knee, to your knee!

    And then she weeps: I was--a child--
    Who were you then, Marie?
    Know you that I was no man's child,
    Poor and in rags--said she.

    And then a Princess I became
    To whom men bend their knees;
    To princes things are not the same
    As those a beggar sees.

    And those things which have made you great
    Came to you, tell me, when?
    One night, one night, one night quite late,
    Things became different then.

    I walked the lane which presently
    With strung chords seemed to bend;
    Then Marie became Melody
    And danced from end to end.

    The people watched with startled mien
    And passed with frightened glance
    For all know that only a Queen
    May dance in the lanes: dance!...



    LAMENT


    Oh! All things are long passed away and far.
    A light is shining but the distant star
    From which it still comes to me has been dead
    A thousand years ... In the dim phantom boat
    That glided past some ghastly thing was said.
    A clock just struck within some house remote.
    Which house?--I long to still my beating heart.
    Beneath the sky's vast dome I long to pray ...
    Of all the stars there must be far away
    A single star which still exists apart.
    And I believe that I should know the one
    Which has alone endured and which alone
    Like a white City that all space commands
    At the ray's end in the high heaven stands.



     SYMBOLS


     From infinite longings finite deeds rise
     As fountains spring toward far-off glowing skies,
     But rushing swiftly upward weakly bend
     And trembling from their lack of power descend--
     So through the falling torrent of our fears
     Our joyous force leaps like these dancing tears.



NEW POEMS



    EARLY APOLLO


    As when at times there breaks through branches bare
    A morning vibrant with the breath of spring,
    About this poet-head a splendour rare
    Transforms it almost to a mortal thing.

    There is as yet no shadow in his glance,
    Too cool his temples for the laurel's glow;
    But later o'er those marble brows, perchance,
    A rose-garden with bushes tall will grow,

    And single petals one by one will fall
    O'er the still mouth and break its silent thrall,
    --The mouth that trembles with a dawning smile
    As though a song were rising there the while.



    THE TOMB OF A YOUNG GIRL


    We still remember! The same as of yore
    All that has happened once again must be.
    As grows a lemon-tree upon the shore--
    It was like that--your light, small breasts you bore,
    And his blood's current coursed like the wild sea.

    That god--
              who was the wanderer, the slim
    Despoiler of fair women; he--the wise,--
    But sweet and glowing as your thoughts of him
    Who cast a shadow over your young limb
    While bending like your arched brows o'er your eyes.



    THE POET


    You Hour! From me you ever take your flight,
    Your swift wings wound me as they whir along;
    Without you void would be my day and night,
    Without you I'll not capture my great song.

    I have no earthly spot where I can live,
    I have no love, I have no household fane,
    And all the things to which myself I give
    Impoverish me with richness they attain.



    THE PANTHER


    His weary glance, from passing by the bars,
    Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;
    It seems to him there are a thousand bars
    And out beyond those bars the empty air.

    The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound
    Of supple tread behind the iron bands,
    Is like a dance of strength circling around,
    While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

    But there are times the pupils of his eyes
    Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,
    Tense with the flood of visions that arise
    Only to sink and die within his heart.



    GROWING BLIND


    Among all the others there sat a guest
    Who sipped her tea as if one apart,
    And she held her cup not quite like the rest;
    Once she smiled so it pierced one's heart.

    When the group of people arose at last
    And laughed and talked in a merry tone,
    As lingeringly through the rooms they passed
    I saw that she followed alone.

    Tense and still like one who to sing must rise
    Before a throng on a festal night
    She lifted her head, and her bright glad eyes
    Were like pools which reflected light.

    She followed on slowly after the last
    As though some object must be passed by,
    And yet as if were it once but passed
    She would no longer walk but fly.



    THE SPANISH DANCER


    As a lit match first flickers in the hands
    Before it flames, and darts out from all sides
    Bright, twitching tongues, so, ringed by growing bands
    Of spectators--she, quivering, glowing stands
    Poised tensely for the dance--then forward glides

    And suddenly becomes a flaming torch.
    Her bright hair flames, her burning glances scorch,
    And with a daring art at her command
    Her whole robe blazes like a fire-brand
    From which is stretched each naked arm, awake,
    Gleaming and rattling like a frightened snake.

    And then, as though the fire fainter grows,
    She gathers up the flame--again it glows,
    As with proud gesture and imperious air
    She flings it to the earth; and it lies there
    Furiously flickering and crackling still--
    Then haughtily victorious, but with sweet
    Swift smile of greeting, she puts forth her will
    And stamps the flames out with her small firm feet.



    OFFERING


    My body glows in every vein and blooms
    To fullest flower since I first knew thee,
    My walk unconscious pride and power assumes;
    Who art thou then--thou who awaitest me?

    When from the past I draw myself the while
    I lose old traits as leaves of autumn fall;
    I only know the radiance of thy smile,
    Like the soft gleam of stars, transforming all.

    Through childhood's years I wandered unaware
    Of shimmering visions my thoughts now arrests
    To offer thee, as on an altar fair
    That's lighted by the bright flame of thy hair
    And wreathéd by the blossoms of thy breasts.



    LOVE SONG


    When my soul touches yours a great chord sings!
    How shall I tune it then to other things?
    O! That some spot in darkness could be found
    That does not vibrate whene'er your depths sound.
    But everything that touches you and me
    Welds us as played strings sound one melody.
    Where is the instrument whence the sounds flow?
    And whose the master-hand that holds the bow?
    O! Sweet song--



    ARCHAIC TORSO OF APOLLO


    We cannot fathom his mysterious head,
    Through the veiled eyes no flickering ray is sent:
    But from his torso gleaming light is shed
    As from a candelabrum; inward bent
    His glance there glows and lingers. Otherwise
    The round breast would not blind you with its grace,
    Nor could the soft-curved circle of the thighs
    Steal to the arc whence issues a new race.
    Nor could this stark and stunted stone display
    Vibrance beneath the shoulders heavy bar,
    Nor shine like fur upon a beast of prey,
    Nor break forth from its lines like a great star--
    There is no spot that does not bind you fast
    And transport you back, back to a far past.



THE BOOK OF HOURS



_The Book of A Monk's Life_



    I live my life in circles that grow wide
    And endlessly unroll,
    I may not reach the last, but on I glide
    Strong pinioned toward my goal.

    About the old tower, dark against the sky,
    The beat of my wings hums,
    I circle about God, sweep far and high
    On through milleniums.

    Am I a bird that skims the clouds along,
    Or am I a wild storm, or a great song?



    Many have painted her. But there was one
    Who drew his radiant colours from the sun.
    Mysteriously glowing through a background dim
    When he was suffering she came to him,
    And all the heavy pain within his heart
    Rose in his hands and stole into his art.
    His canvas is the beautiful bright veil
    Through which her sorrow shines. There where the
    Texture o'er her sad lips is closely drawn
    A trembling smile softly begins to dawn ...
    Though angels with seven candles light the place
    You cannot read the secret of her face.



    In cassocks clad I have had many brothers
    In southern cloisters where the laurel grows,
    They paint Madonnas like fair human mothers
    And I dream of young Titians and of others
    In which the God with shining radiance glows.

    But though my vigil constantly I keep
    My God is dark--like woven texture flowing,
    A hundred drinking roots, all intertwined;
    I only know that from His warmth I'm growing.
    More I know not: my roots lie hidden deep
    My branches only are swayed by the wind.



    Thou Anxious One! And dost thou then not hear
    Against thee all my surging senses sing?
    About thy face in circles drawing near
    My thought floats like a fluttering white wing.

    Dost thou not see, before thee stands my soul
    In silence wrapt my Springtime's prayer to pray?
    But when thy glance rests on me then my whole
    Being quickens and blooms like trees in May.

    When thou art dreaming then I am thy Dream,
    But when thou art awake I am thy Will
    Potent with splendour, radiant and sublime,
    Expanding like far space star-lit and still
    Into the distant mystic realm of Time.



    I love my life's dark hours
    In which my senses quicken and grow deep,
    While, as from faint incense of faded flowers
    Or letters old, I magically steep
    Myself in days gone by: again I give
    Myself unto the past:--again I live.

    Out of my dark hours wisdom dawns apace,
    Infinite Life unrolls its boundless space ...

    Then I am shaken as a sweeping storm
    Shakes a ripe tree that grows above a grave
    'Round whose cold clay the roots twine fast and warm--
    And Youth's fair visions that glowed bright and brave,
    Dreams that were closely cherished and for long,
    Are lost once more in sadness and in song.



_The Book of Pilgrimage_



    By day Thou are the Legend and the Dream
    That like a whisper floats about all men,
    The deep and brooding stillnesses which seem,
    After the hour has struck, to close again.

    And when the day with drowsy gesture bends
    And sinks to sleep beneath the evening skies,
    As from each roof a tower of smoke ascends--
    So does Thy Realm, my God, around me rise.



    All those who seek Thee tempt Thee,
    And those who find would bind Thee
    To gesture and to form.

    But I would comprehend Thee
    As the wide Earth unfolds Thee.
    Thou growest with my maturity,
    Thou Art in calm and storm.

    I ask of Thee no vanity
    To evidence and prove Thee.
    Thou Wert in eons old.

    Perform no miracles for me,
    But justify Thy laws to me
    Which, as the years pass by me.
    All soundlessly unfold.



    In a house was one who arose from the feast
    And went forth to wander in distant lands,
    Because there was somewhere far off in the East
    A spot which he sought where a great Church stands.
    And ever his children, when breaking their bread,
    Thought of him and rose up and blessed him as dead.

    In another house was the one who had died,
    Who still sat at table and drank from the glass
    And ever within the walls did abide--
    For out of the house he could no more pass.
    And his children set forth to seek for the spot
    Where stands the great Church which he forgot.



    Extinguish my eyes, I still can see you,
    Close my ears, I can hear your footsteps fall,
    And without feet I still can follow you,
    And without voice I still can to you call.
    Break off my arms, and I can embrace you,
    Enfold you with my heart as with a hand.
    Hold my heart, my brain will take fire of you
    As flax ignites from a lit fire-brand--
    And flame will sweep in a swift rushing flood
    Through all the singing currents of my blood.



    In the deep nights I dig for you, O Treasure!
    To seek you over the wide world I roam,
    For all abundance is but meager measure
    Of your bright beauty which is yet to come.

    Over the road to you the leaves are blowing,
    Few follow it, the way is long and steep.
    You dwell in solitude--Oh, does your glowing
    Heart in some far off valley lie asleep?

    My bloody hands, with digging bruised, I've lifted,
    Spread like a tree I stretch them in the air
    To find you before day to night has drifted;
    I reach out into space to seek you there ...

    Then, as though with a swift impatient gesture,
    Flashing from distant stars on sweeping wing,
    You come, and over earth a magic vesture
    Steals gently as the rain falls in the spring.



_The Book of Poverty and Death_



    Her mouth is like the mouth of a fine bust
    That cannot utter sound, nor breathe, nor kiss,
    But that had once from Life received all this
    Which shaped its subtle curves, and ever must
    From fullness of past knowledge dwell alone,
    A thing apart, a parable in stone.



    Alone Thou wanderest through space,
    Profound One with the hidden face;
    Thou art Poverty's great rose,
    The eternal metamorphose
    Of gold into the light of sun.

    Thou art the mystic homeless One;
    Into the world Thou never came,
    Too mighty Thou, too great to name;
    Voice of the storm, Song that the wild wind sings,
    Thou Harp that shatters those who play Thy strings!



    A watcher of Thy spaces make me,
    Make me a listener at Thy stone,
    Give to me vision and then wake me
    Upon Thy oceans all alone.
    Thy rivers' courses let me follow
    Where they leap the crags in their flight
    And where at dusk in caverns hollow
    They croon to music of the night.
    Send me far into Thy barren land
    Where the snow clouds the wild wind drives,
    Where monasteries like gray shrouds stand--
    August symbols of unlived lives.
    There pilgrims climb slowly one by one,
    And behind them a blind man goes:
    With him I will walk till day is done
    Up the pathway that no one knows ...





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