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Title: Matins
Author: Sherman, Francis
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Matins" ***

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                                 MATINS

                            Francis Sherman


                 [Illustration: Title page decoration]


                                 BOSTON
                            COPELAND AND DAY
                               MDCCCXCVI



                   COPYRIGHT 1896 BY COPELAND AND DAY



                                   TO
                               MY FATHER



                                CONTENTS


At the Gate
A Life
At Matins
Ave
The Foreigner
Cadences
Easter-Song
The Rain
A Memory
Among the Hills
To Summer
The Path
The Last Flower
After Harvest
Heat in September
On the Hillside
Summer Dying
A November Vigil
Nunc Dimittis
Between the Battles
The Quiet Valley
The Kingfisher
The Conqueror
The King’s Hostel
Between the Winter and the Spring
The Mother
The Window of Dreams
The Relief of Wet Willows
The Builder
Te Deum Laudamus



AT THE GATE


    Swing open wide, O Gate,
    That I may enter in
    And see what lies in wait
    For me who have been born!
    Her word I only scorn
    Who spake of death and sin.

    I know what is behind
    Your heavy brazen bars;
    I heard it of the wind
    Where I dwelt yesterday:
    The wind that blows alway
    Among the ancient stars.

    Life is the chiefest thing
    The wind brought knowledge of,
    As it passed, murmuring:
    Life, with its infinite strength,
    And undiminished length
    Of years fulfilled with love.

    The wind spake not of sin
    That blows among the stars;
    And so I enter in
    (Swing open wide, O Gate!)
    Fearless of what may wait
    Behind your heavy bars.



A LIFE

                                   I.

    _Let us rise up and live!_  Behold, each thing
    Is ready for the moulding of our hand.
    Long have they all awaited our command;
    None other will they ever own for king.
    Until we come no bird dare try to sing,
    Nor any sea its power may understand;
    No buds are on the trees; in every land
    Year asketh year some tidings of some Spring.
    Yea, it is time,—high time we were awake!
    Simple indeed shall life be unto us.
    What part is ours?—To take what all things give;
    To feel the whole world growing for our sake;
    To have sure knowledge of the marvellous;
    To laugh and love.—_Let us rise up and live!_


                                  II.

    _Let us rule well and long_.  We will build here
    Our city in the pathway of the sun.
    On this side shall this mighty river run;
    Along its course well-laden ships shall steer.
    Beyond, great mountains shall their crests uprear,
    That from their sides our jewels may be won.
    Let all you toil!  Behold, it is well done;
    Under our sway all far things fall and near!
    All time is ours!  _Let us rule long and well!_
    So we have reigned for many a long, long day.
    No change can come....  What hath that slave to tell,
    Who dares to stop us on our royal way?
    "O King, last night within thy garden fell,
    From thine own tree, a rose whose leaves were gray."


                                  III.

    _Let us lie down and sleep!_  All things are still,
    And everywhere doth rest alone seem sweet.
    No more is heard the sound of hurrying feet
    Athrough the land their echoes once did fill.
    Even the wind knows not its ancient will,
    For each ship floats with undisturbéd sheet:
    Naught stirs except the Sun, who hastes to greet
    His handmaiden, the utmost western hill.
    Ah, there the glory is!  O west of gold!
    Once seemed our life to us as glad and fair;
    We knew nor pain nor sorrow anywhere!
    O crimson clouds!  O mountains autumn-stoled!
    Across even you long shadows soon must sweep.
    We too have lived.  _Let us lie down and sleep!_


                                  IV.

    _Nay, let us kneel and pray!_  The fault was ours,
    O Lord!  No other ones have sinned as we.
    The Spring was with us and we praised not thee;
    We gave no thanks for Summer’s strangest flowers.
    We built us many ships, and mighty towers,
    And held awhile the whole broad world in fee:
    Yea, and it sometime writhed at our decree!
    The stars, the winds,—all they were subject-powers.
    All things we had for slave.  We knew no God;
    We saw no place on earth where His feet trod—
    This earth, where now the Winter hath full sway,
    Well shrouded under cold white snows and deep.
    We rose and lived; we ruled; yet, ere we sleep,
    O Unknown God,—_Let us kneel down and pray!_



AT MATINS

    Because I ever have gone down Thy ways
    With joyous heart and undivided praise,
    I pray Thee, Lord, of Thy great loving-kindness,
    Thou’lt make to-day even as my yesterdays!"

    (At the edge of the yellow dawn I saw them stand,
    Body and Soul; and they were hand-in-hand:
    The Soul looked backward where the last night’s blindness
    Lay still upon the unawakened land;

    But the Body, in the sun’s light well arrayed,
    Fronted the east, grandly and unafraid:
    I knew that it was one might never falter
    Although the Soul seemed shaken as it prayed.)

    "O Lord" (the Soul said), "I would ask one thing:
    Send out Thy rapid messengers to bring
    Me to the shadows which about Thine altar
    Are ever born and always gathering.

    "For I am weary now, and would lie dead
    Where I may not behold my old days shed
    Like withered leaves around me and above me;
    Hear me, O Lord, and I am comforted!"

    "O Lord, because I ever deemed Thee kind"
    (The Body’s words were borne in on the wind);
    "Because I knew that Thou wouldst ever love me
    Although I sin, and lead me who am blind;

    Because of all these things, hear me who pray!
    Lord, grant me of Thy bounty one more day
    To worship Thee, and thank Thee I am living.
    Yet if Thou callest now, I will obey."

    (The Body’s hand tightly the Soul did hold;
    And over them both was shed the sun’s red gold;
    And though I knew this day had in its giving
    Unnumbered wrongs and sorrows manifold,

    I counted it a sad and bitter thing
    That this weak, drifting Soul must alway cling
    Unto this Body—wrought in such a fashion
    It must have set the gods, even, marvelling.

    And, thinking so, I heard the Soul’s loud cries,
    As it turned round and saw the eastern skies)
    "O Lord, destroy in me this new-born passion
    For this that has grown perfect in mine eyes!

    "O Lord, let me not see this thing is fair,
    This Body Thou hast given me to wear,—
    Lest I fall out of love with death and dying,
    And deem the old, strange life not hard to bear!

    "Yea, now, even now, I love this Body so—
    O Lord, on me Thy longest days bestow!
    O Lord, forget the words I have been crying,
    And lead me where Thou thinkest I should go!"

    (At the edge of the open dawn I saw them stand,
    Body and Soul, together, hand-in-hand,
    Fulfilled, as I, with strong desire and wonder
    As they beheld the glorious eastern land;

    I saw them, in the strong light of the sun,
    Go down into the day that had begun;
    I knew, as they, that night might never sunder
    This Body from the Soul that it had won.)



AVE!

    To-morrow, and a year is born again!
    (To-day the first bud wakened ’neath the snow.)
    Will it bring joys the old year did not know,
    Or will it burthen us with the old pain?
    Shall we seek out the Spring—to see it slain?
    Summer,—and learn all flowers have ceased to grow?
    Autumn,—and find it overswift to go?
    (The memories of the old year yet remain.)

    To-morrow, and another year is born!
    (Love liveth yet, O Love, we deemed was dead!)
    Let us go forth and welcome in the morn,
    Following bravely on where Hope hath led.
    (O Time, how great a thing thou art to scorn!)
    O Love, we shall not be uncomforted!



THE FOREIGNER

    He walked by me with open eyes,
    And wondered that I loved it so;
    Above us stretched the gray, gray skies;
    Behind us, foot-prints on the snow.

    Before us slept a dark, dark wood.
    Hemlocks were there, and little pines
    Also; and solemn cedars stood
    In even and uneven lines.

    The branches of each silent tree
    Bent downward, for the snow’s hard weight
    Was pressing on them heavily;
    They had not known the sun of late.

    (Except when it was afternoon,
    And then a sickly sun peered in
    A little while; it vanished soon
    And then they were as they had been.)

    There was no sound (I thought I heard
    The axe of some man far away)
    There was no sound of bee, or bird,
    Or chattering squirrel at its play.

    And so he wondered I was glad.
    —There was one thing he could not see;
    Beneath the look these dead things had
    I saw Spring eyes agaze at me.



CADENCES

                               (Mid-Lent)

    The low, gray sky curveth from hill to hill,
    Silent and all untenanted;
    From the trees also all glad sound hath fled,
    Save for the little wind that moaneth still
    Because it deemeth Earth is surely dead.

    For many days no woman hath gone by,
    Her gold hair knowing, as of old,
    The wind’s caresses and the sun’s kind gold;
    —Perchance even she hath thought it best to die
    Because all things are sad things to behold.

                            (Easter Morning)

    She cometh now, with the sun’s splendid shine
    On face and limbs and hair!
    Ye who are watching, have ye seen so fair
    A Lady ever as this one is of mine?
    Have ye beheld her likeness anywhere?

    See, as she cometh unrestrained and fleet
    Past the thrush-haunted trees,
    How glad the lilies are that touch her knees!
    How glad the grasses underneath her feet!
    And how even I am yet more glad than these!



EASTER-SONG

    Maiden, awake!  For Christ is born again!
    And let your feet disdain
    The paths whereby of late they have been led.
    Now Death itself is dead,
    And Love hath birth,
    And all things mournful find no place on earth.

    This morn ye all must go another way
    Than ye went yesterday.
    Not with sad faces shall ye silent go
    Where He hath suffered so;
    But where there be
    Full many flowers shall ye wend joyfully.

    Moreover, too, ye must be clad in white,
    As if the ended night
    Were but your bridal-morn’s foreshadowing.
    And ye must also sing
    In angel-wise:
    So shall ye be most worthy in His eyes.

    Maidens, arise!  I know where many flowers
    Have grown these many hours
    To make more perfect this glad Easter-day;
    Where tall white lilies sway
    On slender stem,
    Waiting for you to come and garner them;

    Where banks of mayflowers are, all pink and white,
    Which will Him well delight;
    And yellow buttercups, and growing grass
    Through which the Spring winds pass;
    And mosses wet,
    Well strown with many a new-born violet.

    All these and every other flower are here.
    Will ye not draw anear
    And gather them for Him, and in His name,
    Whom all men now proclaim
    Their living King?
    Behold how all these wait your harvesting!

    Moreover, see the darkness of His house!
    Think ye that He allows
    Such glory of glad color and perfume,
    But to destroy the gloom
    That hath held fast
    His altar-place these many days gone past?

    For this alone these blossoms had their birth,—
    To show His perfect worth!
    Therefore, O Maidens, ye must go apace
    To that strange garden-place
    And gather all
    These living flowers for His high festival.

    For now hath come the long-desired day,
    Wherein Love hath full sway!
    Open the gates, O ye who guard His home,
    His handmaidens are come!
    Open them wide,
    That all may enter in this Easter-tide!

    Then, maidens, come, with song and lute-playing,
    And all your wild flowers bring
    And strew them on His altar; while the sun—
    Seeing what hath been done—
    Shines strong once more,
    Knowing that Death hath Christ for conqueror.



THE RAIN

    O ye who so unceasing praise the Sun;
    Ye who find nothing worthy of your love
    But the Sun’s face and the strong light thereof;
    Who, when the day is done,
    Are all uncomforted
    Unless the night be crowned with many a star,
    Or mellow light be shed
    From the ancient moon that gazeth from afar,
    With pitiless calm, upon the old, tired Earth;
    O ye to whom the skies
    Must be forever fair to free your eyes
    From mortal pain;—
    Have ye not known the great exceeding worth
    Of that soft peace which cometh with the Rain?

    Behold! the wisest of you knows no thing
    That hath such title to man’s worshipping
    As the first sudden day
    The slumbrous Earth is wakened into Spring;
    When heavy clouds and gray
    Come up the southern way,
    And their bold challenge throw
    In the face of the frightened snow
    That covereth the ground.
    What need they now the armies of the Sun
    Whose trumpets now do sound?
    Alas, the powerless Sun!
    Hath he not waged his wars for days gone past,
    Each morning drawing up his cohorts vast
    And leading them with slow and even paces
    To assault once more the impenetrable places,
    Where, crystal-bound,
    The river moveth on with silent sound?
    O puny, powerless Sun!
    On the pure white snow where are the lightest traces
    Of what thy forces’ ordered ways have done?
    On these large spaces
    No footsteps are imprinted anywhere;
    Still the white glare
    Is perfect; yea, the snows are drifted still
    On plain and hill;
    And still the river knows the Winter’s iron will.

    Thou wert most wise, O Sun, to hide thy face
    This day beneath the cloud’s gray covering;
    Thou wert most wise to know the deep disgrace
    In which thy name is holden of the Spring.
    She deems thee now an impotent, useless thing,
    And hath dethroned thee from thy mighty place;
    Knowing that with the clouds will come apace
    The Rain, and that the rain will be a royal king.
    A king?—Nay, queen!
    For in soft girlish-wise she takes her throne
    When first she cometh in the young Spring-season;
    Gentle and mild,
    Yet with no dread of any revolution,
    And fearing not a land unreconciled,
    And unafraid of treason.
    In her dark hair
    Lieth the snow’s most certain dissolution;
    And in her glance is known
    The freeing of the rivers from their chainings;
    And in her bosom’s strainings
    Earth’s teeming breast is tokened and foreshown.

    Behold her coming surely, calmly down,
    Where late the clear skies were,
    With gray clouds for a gown;
    Her fragile draperies
    Caught by the little breeze
    Which loveth her!
    She weareth yet no crown,
    Nor is there any sceptre in her hands;
    Yea, in all lands,
    Whatever Spring she cometh, men know well
    That it is right and good for her to come;
    And that her least commands
    Must be fulfilled, however wearisome;
    And that they all must guard the citadel
    Wherein she deigns to dwell!

    And so, even now, her feet pass swiftly over
    The impressionable snow
    That vanisheth as woe
    Doth vanish from the rapt face of a lover,
    Who, after doubting nights, hath come to know
    His lady loves him so!
    (Yet not like him
    Doth the snow bear the signs of her light touch!
    It is all gray in places, and looks worn
    With some most bitter pain;
    As he shall look, perchance,
    Some early morn
    While yet the dawn is dim,
    When he awakens from the enraptured trance
    In which he, blind, hath lain,
    And knows that also he hath loved in vain
    The lady who, he deemed, had loved him much.
    And though her utter worthlessness is plain
    He hath no joy of his deliverance,
    But only asketh God to let him die,—
    And getteth no reply.)
    Yea, the snows fade before the calm strength of the rain!

    And while the rain is unabated,
    Well-heads are born and streams created
    On the hillsides, and set a-flowing
    Across the fields.  The river, knowing
    That there hath surely come at last
    Its freedom, and that frost is past,
    Gathereth force to break its chains;
    The river’s faith is in the Spring’s unceasing rains!

    See where the shores even now were firmly bound
    The slowly widening water showeth black,
    As from the fields and meadows all around
    Come rushing over the dark and snowless ground
    The foaming streams!
    Beneath the ice the shoulders of the tide
    Lift, and from shore to shore a thin, blue crack
    Starts, and the dark, long-hidden water gleams,
    Glad to be free.
    And now the uneven rift is growing wide;
    The breaking ice is fast becoming gray;
    It hears the loud beseeching of the sea,
    And moveth on its way.
    Surely at last the work of the rain is done!
    Surely the Spring at last is well begun,
    O unavailing Sun!

    O ye who worship only at the noon,
    When will ye learn the glory of the rain?
    Have ye not seen the thirsty meadow-grass
    Uplooking piteous at the burnished sky,
    And all in vain?
    Even in June
    Have ye not seen the yellow flowers swoon
    Along the roadside, where the dust, alas,
    Is hard to pass?
    Have ye not heard
    The song cease in the throat of every bird
    And know the thing all these were stricken by?

    Ye have beheld these things, yet made no prayer,
    O pitiless and uncompassionate!
    Yet should the sweeping
    Of Death’s wide wings across your face unsleeping
    Be felt of you to-night,
    And all your hair
    Know the soft stirring of an alien breath
    From out the mouth of Death,
    Would ye not then have memory of these
    And how their pain was great?
    Would ye not wish to hear among the trees
    The wind in his great might,
    And on the roof the rain’s unending harmonies?

    For when could death be more desired by us
    (Oh, follow, Death, I pray thee, with the Fall!)
    Than when the night
    Is heavy with the wet wind born of rain?
    When flowers are yellow, and the growing grass
    Is not yet tall,
    Or when all living things are harvested
    And with bright gold the hills are glorious,
    Or when all colors have faded from our sight
    And all is gray that late was gold and red?
    Have ye not lain awake the long night through
    And listened to the falling of the rain
    On fallen leaves, withered and brown and dead?
    Have none of you,
    Hearing its ceaseless sound, been comforted
    And made forgetful of the day’s live pain?
    Even _Thou_, who wept because the dark was great
    Once, and didst pray that dawn might come again,
    Has noon not seemed to be a dreaded thing
    And night a thing not wholly desolate
    And Death thy soul’s supremest sun-rising?
    Did not thy hearing strain
    To catch the moaning of the wind-swept sea,
    Where great tides be,
    And swift, white rain?
    Did not its far exulting teach thy soul
    That of all things the sea alone is free
    And under no control?
    Its liberty,—
    Was it not most desired by thy soul?

    I say,
    The Earth is alway glad, yea, and the sea
    Is glad alway
    When the rain cometh; either tranquilly
    As at the first dawn of a summer day
    Or in late autumn wildly passionate,
    Or when all things are all disconsolate
    Because that Winter has been long their king,
    Or in the Spring.
    —Therefore let now your joyful thanksgiving
    Be heard on Earth because the Rain hath come!
    While land and sea give praise, shall ye be dumb?
    Shall ye alone await the sun-shining?
    Your days, perchance, have many joys to bring;
    Perchance with woes they shall be burthensome;
    Yet when night cometh, and ye journey home,
    Weary, and sore, and stained with travelling,
    When ye seek out your homes because the night—
    The last, dark night—falls swift across your path,
    And on Life’s altar your last day lies slain,
    Will ye not cry aloud with that new might
    One dying with great things unfinished hath,
    "O God! if Thou wouldst only send Thy Rain!"



A MEMORY

    You are not with me though the Spring is here!
    And yet it seemed to-day as if the Spring
    Were the same one that in an ancient year
    Came suddenly upon our wandering.

    You must remember all that chanced that day.
    Can you forget the shy awaking call
    Of the first robin?—And the foolish way
    The squirrel ran along the low stone wall?

    The half-retreating sound of water breaking,
    Hushing, falling; while the pine-laden breeze
    Told us the tumult many crows were making
    Amid innumerable distant trees;

    The certain presence of the birth of things
    Around, above, beneath, us,—everywhere;
    The soft return of immemorial Springs
    Thrilling with life the fragrant forest air;

    All these were with us then.  Can you forget?
    Or must you—even as I—remember well?
    To-day, all these were with me, there,—and yet
    They seemed to have some bitter thing to tell;

    They looked with questioning eyes, and seemed to wait
    One’s doubtful coming whom of old they knew;
    Till, seeing me alone and desolate,
    They learned how vain was strong desire of you.



AMONG THE HILLS

    Far off, to eastward, I see the wide hill sloping
    Up to the place where the pines and sky are one;
    All the hill is gray with its young budding birches
    And red with its maple-tips and yellow with the sun.

    Sometimes, over it rolls a purple shadow
    Of a ragged cloud that wanders in the large, open sky,
    Born where the ploughed fields border on the river
    And melting into space where the pines are black and high.

    There all is quiet; but here where I am waiting,
    Among the firs behind me the wind is ill at ease;
    The crows, too, proclaim their old, incessant trouble,—
    I think there is some battle raging in the surging trees.

    And yet, should I go down beside the swollen river
    Where the vagrant timber hurries to the wide untrammelled sea,
    With the mind and the will to cross the new-born waters
    And to let the yellow hillside share its peace with me,

    —I know, then, that surely would come the old spring-fever
    And touch my sluggish blood with its old eternal fire;
    Till for me, too, the love of peace were over and forgotten,
    And the freedom of the logs had become my soul’s desire.



TO SUMMER

    Summer!  I praise thee, who art glorious!
    For now the sudden promise of the Spring
    Hath been fulfilled in many ways to us,
    And all live things are thine.
    Therefore, while all the earth
    Is glad, and young, and strangely riotous
    With love of thee, whose blood is even as wine,
    _I_ dare to sing,
    Worshipping thee, and thy face welcoming;
    I, also a lover of thy most wondrous worth.

    Yet with no scorn of any passed days
    Come I,—who even in April caught great pleasure,—
    Making of ancient woes the stronger praise;
    Nor build I this new crown
    For my new love’s fair head
    Of flowers plucked in once oft-travelled ways,
    And then forgot and utterly cast down;
    But from the measure
    Of a strange, undreamt-of, undivided treasure
    I glean, and thus my love is garlanded.

    Yea, with a crown such as no other queen
    That ever ruled on earth wore round her hair,
    And garments such as man hath never seen!
    The beauty Heaven hath
    For thee was magnified;
    I think the least of thy bright gold and green
    Once lived along God’s best-beloved path,
    And angels there

    Passed by, and gathered those He called most fair,
    And, at His bidding, dressed thee for Earth’s bride.
    How at thy coming we were glad again!
    We who were nigh to death, awaiting thee;
    And fain of death as one aweary of pain.
    Life had grown burthensome,
    Till suddenly we learned
    The joy the old brown earth has, when the rain
    Comes, and the earth is glad that it has come:
    That ecstasy
    The buds have, when the worn snow sets them free,
    The sea’s delight when storm-time has returned.

    O season of the strong triumphant Sun!
    Bringer of exultation unto all!
    Behold thy work ere yet thy day be run.
    Over thy growing grain
    How the winds rise and cease!
    Beheld these meadows where thick gold lies spun—
    There, last night, surely, thy long hair must have lain!
    Where trees are tall,
    Hear where young birds hold their high festival;
    And see where shallow waters know thy peace.

    Will any of these things ever pain thine eyes,
    Summer, that thou shouldst go another way
    Than ours, or shouldst our offerings despise?
    Come with me further still
    Where, in sight of the sea,
    This garden liveth under mellow skies;
    Of its dear odors drink thine utmost fill,
    And deign to stay
    A moment mid its colors’ glad array,—
    Is not this place a pleasant one for thee?

    Yea, thou wilt ever stay, I know full well!
    Why do I fear that thou wilt pass from us?
    Is not this earth thy home wherein to dwell?
    The perfect ways thereof
    Are thy desired ones;
    Earth hath no voice but of thy worth to tell.
    Therefore, as one who loves might praise his love,
    So, even thus,
    I hail thee, Summer, who art glorious,
    And know thy reign eternal as the Sun’s!



THE PATH

    Is this the path that knew your tread,
    Once, when the skies were just as blue
    As they are now, far overhead?
    Are these the trees that looked at you
    And listened to the words you said?

    Along this moss did your dress sweep?
    And is this broken stem the one
    That gave its flower to you to keep?
    And here where the grasses knew the sun
    Before a sickle came to reap
    Did your dear shadow softly fall?
    This place is very like, and yet
    No shadow lieth here at all;
    With dew the mosses still are wet
    Although the grass no more is tall.

    The small brown birds go rustling through
    The low-branched hemlock as of old;
    The tree-tops almost touch the blue;
    The sunlight falleth down like gold
    On one new flower that waiteth you.



THE LAST FLOWER

    O golden-rod, well-worshipped of the sun!
    Where else hath Summer tarried save in thee?
    This meadow is a barren thing to see,
    For here the reapers’ toil is over and done.
    Of all her many birds there is but one
    Left to assail the last wild raspberry;
    The buttercups and daisies withered be,
    And yet thy reign hath only now begun.
    O sign of power and sway imperial!
    O sceptre thrust into the hands of Fall
    By Summer ere Earth forget her soft foot’s tread!
    O woman-flower, for love of thee, alas,
    Even the trees have let their glory pass,
    And now with thy gold hair are garlanded!



AFTER HARVEST

    O Earth, O Mother, thou hast earned our praise!
    The long year through thou hast been good to us.
    Forgive us were we ever mutinous
    Or unbelieving in thy strange, sure ways.
    Sometimes, alas, we watched with wild amaze
    Thy passing, for thou wert imperious
    Indeed; and our estate seemed perilous,
    And we as grass the wind unseeing sways.
    Then, we were blind: the least among us sees,
    Now, in each well-stripped vine and barren field,
    Each garden that is fast a-perishing,
    The promise April surely had revealed
    Had we had grace to bend our stubborn knees
    Who seek thee now with humble thanksgiving.



HEAT IN SEPTEMBER

    And why shouldst thou come back to us, July,
    Who vanished while we prayed thee not to pass?
    Where are thy sunflowers?  Where thine uncut grass?
    Thy still, blue waters and thy cloudless sky?
    Surely, to-day thy very self is nigh;
    Only the wind that bloweth in, alas,
    Telleth of fire where many a green tree was;
    And the crimson sun at noonday standeth high.
    Must I, like him who, seeing once again
    The long-awaited face of his lost love,
    Hath little strength to thank the gods above
    (Remembering most the ancient passion’s pain),
    Yet striveth to recall the joys thereof,—
    Must I, like him, beseech thee to remain?



ON THE HILLSIDE

    October’s peace hath fallen on everything.
    In the far west, above the pine-crowned hill,
    With red and purple yet the heavens thrill—
    The passing of the sun remembering.
    A crow sails by on heavy, flapping wing,
    (In some land, surely the young Spring hath her will!)
    Below, the little city lieth still;
    And on the river’s breast the mist-wreaths cling.
    Here, on this slope that yet hath known no plough,
    The cattle wander homeward slowly now;
    In shapeless clumps the ferns are brown and dead.
    Among the fir-trees dusk is swiftly born;
    The maples will be desolate by morn.
    The last word of the summer hath been said.



SUMMER DYING

    Last night the heavy moaning wind
    Bore unto me
    Warning from Him who hath designed
    That change shall be.

    Beneath these mighty hills I lay,
    At rest at last,
    And thinking on the golden day
    But now gone past;

    When softly came a faint, far cry
    That night made clear,
    "_Thy reign is over, thou must die;_
    _Winter is near!_"

    "_Winter is near!_"  Yea, all night long
    Reëchoed far
    The burden of that weary song
    Of hopeless war.

    I prayed unto the fixéd King
    Of changing Time
    For longer life, till sun-rising
    And morning’s prime,

    And while to-day I watched the sun
    Rise, slant, and die;
    And now is night the stronger one.
    Again the cry

    Comes, louder now,—"_Thy reign is o’er!_"
    Yes, Lord, I know;
    And here I kneel on Earth’s cold floor
    Once, ere I go,

    And thank Thee for the long, long days
    Thou gavest me,
    And all the pleasant, laughing ways
    I walked with Thee.

    I have been happy since the first
    Glad day I rose
    And found the river here had burst
    Through ice and snows

    While I had slept.  Blue places were
    Amidst the gray,
    Where water showed; and the water
    Most quiet lay.

    Upon the ice great flocks of crows
    Were clamoring—
    Lest my blue eyes again should close—
    The eyes of Spring.

    I stepped down to the frozen shore—
    The snow was gone;
    And lo, where ice had been before,
    The river shone!

    With loud, hoarse cries back flew the birds
    To the tall pines;
    These were the first of Spring’s faint words
    And Summer’s signs.

    And now I hear Thee—"_Thou must die!_"
    Ah, might I stay,
    That I might hear one robin’s cry
    Bringing the day;

    That I might see the new grass come
    Where cattle range;
    The maples bud, wild roses bloom,
    Old willows change;

    That I might know one night in June
    Two found most fair,
    And see again the great half-moon
    Shine through her hair;

    Or under rough, gnarled boughs might lie,
    Where orchards are,
    And hear some glad child’s laughing cry
    Ring loud and far;

    Or even, Lord, though near my end
    It surely be,
    Couldst Thou not hold Time back, and send
    One day to me,

    One day—October’s brown and red
    Cover the hills,
    And all the brakes and ferns are dead,
    And quiet fills

    One place where many birds once sang?
    Then should I go
    Where heavy fir-trees overhang
    Their branches so,

    And slim white birches, quivering,
    Loose yellow leaves,
    And aspens grow, and everything
    For Summer grieves.

    Ah, there once more, ere day be done,
    To face the west,
    And see the sure and scarlet sun
    Sink to its rest

    Beyond the ploughed field sloping sheer
    Up to the sky;
    To feel the last light disappear
    And silent die;

    To see faint stars....  Yea, Lord, I come;
    I hear Thy call;
    Reach me Thy hand and guide me home,
    Lest I should fall....

    Back, Winter!  Back! ... Yea, Lord, I, dead,
    Now come to Thee;
    I know Thy voice, and Thou hast said
    "_Let Winter be!_"



A NOVEMBER VIGIL

    I wonder why my love for him
    Should grow so much these last three days,
    While he but stares as if some whim
    Had been discovered to his gaze;

    Some foolish whim that brings but shame
    Whatever time he thinks thereof,—
    To him my name is now the name
    Of some old half-forgotten love.

    And yet I starve for his least kiss
    And faint because my love is great;
    I, who am now no more than this,—
    An unseen beggar at his gate....

    _She watched the moon and spake aloud._
    _The moon seemed not to rise, but hung_
    _Just underneath the long straight cloud_
    _That low across the heavens swung,_

    _As if to press the old moon back_
    _Into its place behind the trees._
    _The trees stood where the hill was black;_
    _They were not vexed by any breeze._

    _The moon was not as it had been_
    _Before, when she had watched it rise;_
    _It was misshapen now, and thin,_
    _As if some trouble in the skies_

    _Had happened more than it could bear,_
    _Its color, too, was no more red;_
    _Nor was it like her yellow hair;—_
    _It looked as if its soul were dead._

    I, who was once well-loved of him,
    Am as a beggar by his gate
    Whereon black carvéd things look grim
    At one who thinks to penetrate.

    I do not ask if I may stray
    Once more in those desired lands;
    Another night, yet one more day,
    For these I do not make demands;

    For when the ripened hour is past
    Things such as these are asked in vain:
    His first day’s love,—were that the last
    I were repaid for this new pain.

    Out of his love great joy I had
    For many days; and even now
    I do not dare to be but glad
    When I remember, often, how

    He said he had great joy of me.
    The while he loved, no man, I think,
    Exceeded him in constancy;
    My passion, even, seemed to shrink

    Almost to nothing, when he came
    And told me all of love’s strange things:
    The paths love trod, love’s eyes of flame,
    Its silent hours, its rapid wings....

    _The moon still waited, watching her_
    _(The cloud still stretched there, close above;_
    _The trees beneath); it could not stir,_
    _And yet it seemed the shape thereof,_

    _Since she looked first, some change had known._
    _In places it had burned away,_
    _And one side had much thinner grown;_
    _—What light that came from it was gray._

    _It was not curved from east to west._
    _But lay upon its back; like one_
    _Wounded, or weary of some quest,_
    _Or by strong enemies undone._

    _Elsewhere no stars were in the sky;_
    _She knew they were burned out and dead_
    _Because no clouds went, drifting by,_
    _Across the light the strange moon shed._

    Now, I can hope for naught but death.
    I would not stay to give him pain,
    Or say the words a woman saith
    When love hath called aloud in vain

    And got no answer anywhere.
    It were far better I should die,
    And have rough strangers come to bear
    My body far away, where I

    Shall know the quiet of the tomb;
    That they should leave me, with no tears,
    To think and think within the gloom
    For many years, for many years.

    The thought of that strange, narrow place
    Is hard for me to bear, indeed;
    I do not fear cold Death’s embrace,
    And where black worms draw nigh to feed

    On my white body, then, I know
    That I shall make no mournful cry:
    But that I should be hidden so
    Where I no more may see the sky,—

    The wide sky filled with many a star,
    Or all around the yellow sun,
    Or even the sky where great clouds are
    That wait until the rain be done,

    —That is an evil thing for me....
    _Across the sky the cloud swung still_
    _And pressed the moon down heavily_
    _Where leafless trees grew on the hill._

    _The pale moon now was very thin._
    _There was no water near the place,_
    _Else would the moon that slept therein_
    _Have frightened her with its gray face._

    How shall I wish to see the sky!
    For that alone mine eyes shall weep;
    I care not where they make me lie,
    Nor if my grave be diggéd deep,

    So they leave loose my coffin’s lid
    And throw on me no mouldy clay,
    That the white stars may not be hid:
    This little thing is all I pray.

    Then I shall move me wearily,
    And clasp each bone that was my wrist,
    Around each slender bony knee;
    And wind my hair, that once he kissed,

    Around my body wasted thin,
    To keep me from the grave’s cold breath;
    And on my knees rest my poor chin,
    And think of what I lose by death.

    I shall be happy, being dead....
    _The moon, by now, had nearly gone,_
    _As if it knew its time was sped_
    _And feared the coming of the dawn._

    _It had not risen; one could see_
    _The cloud was strong to keep it back;_
    _It merely faded utterly,_
    _And where it was the sky grew black._

    _Till suddenly the east turned gray,_
    _Although no stars were overhead;_
    _And though the moon had died away,_
    _There came faint glimmerings of red;_

    _Then larger waves of golden light_
    _Heralded that the day was born,_
    _And on the furthest eastern height_
    _With swift feet came the waited morn._

    _With swift feet came the morn, but lo!_
    _Just as its triumph was begun,_
    _The first wild onset of the snow_
    _Strangled the glad imperial sun!_



NUNC DIMITTIS

    Lord of Love, Thy servant thus doth pray:
    Abide Thou where my Lady deigns to stay,
    Yet send Thy peace to lead me on my way;

    Because the memories of the things that were—
    That little blessed while with Thee and her—
    Make me a heavy-hearted traveller.

    And so, when some plain irks, or some steep hill,
    I—knowing that Thy will was once our will—
    Shall be most sure Thou livest with her still,

    And only waitest—Thou and she alone—
    Until I know again as I have known
    The glory that abideth near our throne.



BETWEEN THE BATTLES

    Let us bury him here,
    Where the maples are red!
    He is dead,
    And he died thanking God that he fell with the
      fall of the leaf and the year.

    Where the hillside is sheer,
    Let it echo our tread
    Whom he led;
    Let us follow as gladly as ever we followed who
      never knew fear.

    Ere he died, they had fled;
    Yet they heard his last cheer
    Ringing clear,—
    When we lifted him up, he would fain have
      pursued, but grew dizzy instead.

    Break his sword and his spear!
    Let this last prayer be said
    By the bed
    We have made underneath the wet wind in the
      maple trees moaning so drear:

    "O Lord God, by the red
    Sullen end of the year
    That is here,
    We beseech Thee to guide us and strengthen our
      swords till his slayers be dead!"



THE QUIET VALLEY

    They pity me who have grown old,—
    So old, mine eyes may not behold
    If any wolf chance near the fold.

    They pity me, because, alas!
    I lie and dream among the grass,
    And let the herds unheeded pass.

    They deem I must be sorrowing,
    Because I note not when the Spring
    Is over me and everything.

    They know not why I am forlorn,—
    How could they know?—They were not born
    When he rode here that April morn.

    They were not living when he came
    Into this valley, swift like flame,—
    Perchance they have not heard his name!

    My men were very valiant men—
    (Alas, that I had only ten!
    These people were not living then.)

    But when one is not yet awake
    His banner is not hard to take,
    His spears are easy things to break.

    And dazed men are not hard to slay
    When many foes, as strong as they,
    With swords and spears come down their way.

    This valley now has quiet grown;
    And I lie here content, alone,
    Dreaming of things that I have known;

    And count the mounds of waving grass—
    (Ten,—yea, and ten more, by the Mass!)
    And let the restless cattle pass.



THE KINGFISHER

    _Under the sun, the Kingfisher_
    _From his high place was watching her._

    He knew she came from some far place;
    For when she threw her body down,
    She seemed quite tired; and her face
    Had dust upon it; and her gown,
    That had been yellow, now was brown.

    She lay near where the shadows lie
    At noontime when they meet the sun.
    The water floated slowly by
    Her feet.  Her hair was all undone,
    And with the grass its gold was spun.

    The trees were tall and green behind,
    And hid the house upon the hill.
    This place was sheltered from the wind,
    And all the little leaves were still,
    And every fern and daffodil.

    Her face was hidden in her hands;
    And through the grass, and through her hair,
    The sunlight found the golden bands
    About her wrists.  (It was aware,
    Also, that her two arms were bare.)

    _From his high branch, the Kingfisher_
    _Looked down on her and pitied her._

    He wondered who that she could be,—
    This dear, strange lady, who had come
    To vex him with her misery;
    And why her days were wearisome,
    And what far country was her home.

    Her home must be far off indeed,
    Wherein such bitter grief could grow.
    Had there been no one there to plead
    For her when they had wronged her so?
    Did none her perfect honor know?

    Was there no sword or pennoned lance
    Omnipotent in hall or field
    For her complete deliverance?
    To make them cry, "We yield! we yield
    Were not her colors on some shield?

    _Had he been there? the Kingfisher,_
    _How he had fought and died for her!_

    A little yellow bird flew by;
    And where the water-weeds were still,
    Hovered a great blue dragon-fly;
    Small fishes set the streams a-thrill
      The Kingfisher forgot to kill.

    He only thought of her who lay
    Upon the ground and was so fair,—
    As fair as she who came one day
    And sat long with her lover there.
    The same gold sun was in her hair.

    They had come down, because of love,
    From the great house on the hillside:
    This lady had no share thereof,
    For now this place was sanctified!
    Had this fair lady’s lover died?

    Was this dear lady’s lover dead?
    Had she come here to wait until
    Her heart and soul were comforted?
    Why was it not within her will
    To seek the lady on the hill?

    She, too, was lonely; for he had
    Beheld her just this morning, when
    Her last kiss made her lover glad
    Who went to fight the heathen-men:
    (He said he would return again!)

    That lady would have charity
    He knew, because her love was great;
    And this one—fairer even than she—
    Should enter in her open gate
    And be no more disconsolate!

    _Under the sun, the Kingfisher_
    _Knew no one else might comfort her._



THE CONQUEROR

    I will go now where my dear Lady is,
    And tell her how I won in this great fight;
    Ye know not death who say this shape is his
    That loometh up between me and the light.

    As if death could wish anything of one
    Who hath to-day brought many men to death!
    Why should it not grow dark?—Surely the sun
    Hath seen since morning much that wearieth.

    Dead bodies; red, red blood upon the land;
    Torn sails of scattered ships upon the sea;
    And dead forgotten men stretched on the sand
    Close to the sea’s edge, where the waves are free;

    What day hath seen such things and hath not fled?
    What day hath stayed, hearing, for frequent sounds,
    The flashing swords of men well-helmeted,
    The moans of warriors sick of many wounds?

    Ye know not death; this thing is but the night.
    Wherefore I should be glad that it is come:
    For when I left my Lady for this fight,
    I said, "At sunset I am coming home."

    "When you return, I shall be here," she said,
    "God knows that I must pray a little while."
    And as she put my helmet on my head,
    She kissed me; and her blue eyes tried to smile.

    And still she waiteth underneath the trees.
    (When we had gone a little on our way
    I turned and looked; she knelt there on her knees:
    I heard her praying many times to-day.)

    Nay, nay, I need no wine!  She waiteth still
    Watching and praying till I come to her.
    She saw the sun drop down behind the hill
    And wondereth I am a loiterer.

    So I must go.  Bring me my shield and sword!
    (Is there no unstained grass will clean this stain?)
    This day is won;—but now the great reward
    Cometh!  O Love, thy prayers were not in vain!

    I am well rested now.—Nay, I can rise
    Without your help!  Why do ye look at me
    With so much pain and pity in your eyes,
    Who gained with me to-day this victory?

    I think we should be glad we are not dead,
    —Only, perchance, no Lady waiteth you,
    No Lady who is all uncomforted,
    And who hath watched and prayed these long hours through.

    Yea, I must go.—What?  Am I tired yet?
    Let me lie here and rest my aching side.
    The thought of her hath made me quite forget
    How sharp his sword was just before he died.



THE KING’S HOSTEL

    Let us make it fit for him!
    He will come ere many hours
    Are passed over.  Strew these flowers
    Where the floor is hard and bare!
    Ever was his royal whim
    That his place of rest were fair.

    Such a narrow little room!
    Think you he will deign to use it?
    Yes, we know he would not choose it
    Were there any other near;
    Here there is such damp and gloom,
    And such quietness is here.

    That he loved the light, we know;
    And we know he was the gladdest
    Always when the mirth was maddest
    And the laughter drowned the song;
    When the fire’s shade and glow
    Fell upon the loyal throng.

    Yet it may be, if he come,
    Now, to-night, he will be tired;
    And no more will be desired
    All the music once he knew;
    He will joy the lutes are dumb
    And be glad the lights are few.

    Heard you how the fight has gone?
    Surely it will soon be ended!
    Was their stronghold well defended
    Ere it fell before his might?
    Did it yield soon after dawn,
    Or when noon was at its height?

    Hark! his trumpet!  It is done.
    Smooth the bed.  And for a cover
    Drape those scarlet colors over;
    And upon these dingy walls
    Hang what banners he has won.
    Hasten ere the twilight falls!

    They are here!—We knew the best
    When we set us to prepare him
    Such a place; for they that bear him
    —They as he—seem weary too;
    Peace! and let him have his rest;
    There is nothing more to do.



BETWEEN THE WINTER AND THE SPRING

    Between the Winter and the Spring
    One came to me at dead of night;
    I heard him well as any might,
    Although his lips, unmurmuring.
    Made no sweet sounds for my delight;
    Also, I knew him, though long days
    (It seemed) had fallen across my ways
    Since I had felt his comforting.

    It was quite dark, but I could see
    His hair was yellow as the sun;
    And his soft garments, every one,
    Were white as angels’ throats may be;
    And as some man whose pain is done
    At last, and peace is surely his,
    His eyes were perfect with great bliss
    And seemed so glad to look at me.

    I knew that he had come to bring
    The change that I was waiting for,
    And, as he crossed my rush-strewn floor,
    I had no thought of questioning;
    And then he kissed me, o’er and o’er,
    Upon the eyes; so I fell
    Asleep unfrightened,—knowing well
    That morning would fulfil the Spring.

    And when they came at early morn
    And found that I at last was dead,
    Some two or three knelt by my bed
    And prayed for one they deemed forlorn;
    But he they wept for only said
    (Thinking of when the old days were),
    "Alas that God had need of her
    The very morning Spring was born!"



THE MOTHER

    The long dark night crawled slowly on;
    I waited patiently,
    Knowing at last the sudden dawn,
    Sometime, would surely be.

    It came,—to tell me everything
    Was Winter’s quiet slave:
    I waited still, aware that Spring
    Was strong to come and save.

    And then Spring came, and I was glad
    A few expectant hours;
    Until I learned the things I had
    Were only withered flowers

    Because there came not with the Spring
    As in the ancient days—
    The sound of his feet pattering
    Along Spring’s open ways;

    Because his sweetly serious eyes
    Looked into mine no more;
    Because no more in childish-wise
    He brought his gathered store

    Of dandelions to my bed,
    And violets and grass,—
    Deeming I would be comforted
    That Spring had come to pass.

    And now these unused toys and I
    Have little dread or care
    For any season that drifts by
    The silences we share;

    And sometimes, when we think to pray,
    Across the vacant years
    We see God watching him at play
    And pitying our tears.



THE WINDOW OF DREAMS

    It was quite dark within the room
    Wherein the Lady Alice sat;
    One had not seen, who looked thereat,
    The gathered dust upon her loom,
    There was such gloom.

    And though the hangings on the wall
    Were wrought so well and cunningly
    That many had come far to see
    Their glory once (for they were all
    Of cardinal,

    And gold, and silk, and curious glass)
    The ladies with the long red hair
    Thereon, the strong men fighting there,
    The little river edged with grass,—
    Were now, alas,

    As if they had been always gray.
    Likewise the lily, whose perfume
    Had once been over all the room,
    In which dark corner now it lay,—
    What man might say?

    She did not see these things, or know
    That they had changed since she had seen.
    She liked it best to sit between
    Two little firs (they used to grow,
    Once, long ago!)

    That stood each in an earthen pot
    Upon the window’s either side.
    They had been green before they died,
    But like the rest fell out their lot,—
    To be forgot.

    Yet what cared she for such as these,
    Whose window was toward the sun
    At sun-rising?  There was not one
    Of them so strong and sure to please,
    Or bring her ease,

    As what she saw when she looked through
    Her window just before the dawn.
    These were the sights she gazed upon:
    _Sir John, whose silken pennon flew,_
    _Yellow and blue,_

    _And proud to be upon his lance;_
    _The horse he rode being gray and white;_
    _A few men, unafraid to fight,_
    _Followed (there were some men in France_
    _Were brave, perchance!)_

    _And they were armed with swords and spears;_
    _Their horses, too, were mostly gray._
    _—They seemed not sad to go away,_
    _For they were men had lost their fears_
    _With their child-years._

    _They had such hope, there was but one_
    _Looked back: Sir John had strength to look._
    _His men saw not that his lance shook_
    _A little, for though night was done,_
    _There was no sun._

    _And so they rode into the dawn_
    _That waited just behind the hill;_
    _(In France there were some men to kill!)_
    These were the things she looked upon
    Till they were gone.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    The room was dark, and full of fear;
    And so the Lady Alice stayed
    Beside the window.  Here she prayed
    Each morning, and when night drew near,
    Year after year.

    Beside her lay some unused things:
    A trumpet that had long been mute;
    A vellum book; a little lute
    That once had ten unrusted strings;
    And four gold rings;

    A piece of faded cloth-of-gold;
    And three black pennies that were white
    As silver once:—the great delight
    She had of all these things of old
    Was now quite cold.

    Only the things that she could see
    Out of the window gladdened her;
    After the morning, those things were
    _A ship that rode triumphantly_
    (This sight would be

    Plainest a little ere the noon)
    _On wide blue waters, with the wind_
    _Strong from the west that lay behind;_
    _Its sail curved like a slender moon,_
    _Born into June._

    _An empty ship beside the shore_
    _Of some unconquered foreign land;_
    _Some brave men fighting on the sand_
    _As they had never fought before_
    _In any war;_

    _A few men fleeing to the hills_
    (This came a little after noon),
    _God, but the fight was ended soon!_
    _They were not hard to wound and kill!_
    _A trumpet shrill_

    _Echoes, and many knights pursue!_
    _And on the hillside dead men lie,_
    _Who learned before they came to die_
    _The yellow flags the victors flew_
    _Were crossed with blue!_

                     *      *      *      *      *

    No wonder that this window-place
    Could make the Lady Alice glad,
    When sights like these were what she had!
    Yet there was one that made her face
    For a little space

    Grow like a face that God has known.
    I think she was the happiest
    When the sun dropped into the west;
    This was the thing she then was shown,
    And this alone:

    _A laden ship that followed fast_
    _The way the setting sun had led;_
    _In the east wind her great sail spread;_
    _A brave knight standing near the mast;_
    _The shore at last!_

    Of all things, this the best did seem.
    And now the gathering darkness fell;
    The morn would bring him, she knew well;
    She slept; and in her sleep, I deem,
    She had one dream.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    Against the window-side she slept.
    This window-place was very strange;
    Since it was made it had known change.
    Beneath it once no women wept,
    And no vines crept

    And twisted in the broken glass.
    Some time ago, the little tree
    That she had planted tenderly
    Was not much higher than tall grass;
    But now, alas,

    Its branches were the greatest where
    Her window looked toward the sun.
    One branch, indeed, its way had won
    Into her room,—it did not bear
    Green leaves in here.

    Above the window, and inside,
    Great spider-webs were spun across.
    Where stone was, there was wet green moss
    Wherein small creeping things did hide
    Until they died.

    The leaves that looked toward the room
    Were hardly anything but veins;
    They had been wasted by the rains,
    Like some dead naked girl in the gloom
    Of some old tomb.

    But those outside were broad and green,
    And lived between the sun and shade.
    A perfect bower they had made,—
    Beneath them there should sit some queen,
    Born to be seen!

                     *      *      *      *      *

    It was quite dark within the place
    Wherein the Lady Alice slept.
    I heard the girls below who wept,
    But God did not (of His good grace)
    Show me her face.



THE RELIEF OF WET WILLOWS

    _Now this is the ballad of seven men_
    _Who rode to Wet Willows and back again._

    It was only an hour before the dawn
    When they deemed it best to awaken Sir John.

    For they knew his sword long years had hung
    On the wall, unhandled.  (Once he was young,—

    They did not remember; the tale had been told
    To them by their fathers, ere they grew old—

    And then his sword was a dreaded thing
    When the men from the North came a-warfaring!)

    But the women said that the things they knew
    Were best made known to their master, too:

    How, down at Wet Willows, there lay on the ground
    Some men who were dead and some who were bound

    And unable to succor the women who wept
    That the North-King had come while their warriors slept.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    So it came to pass, with the wind of the dawn,
    Six men with their armor girded on

    Had ridden around to the Eastern gate;
    It was there that Sir John had told them to wait.

    And when he came they were unafraid,
    And knew no envy for those who stayed

    Where the walls of the castle were strong and high;
    There were none save some women to bid them good-by,

    And they saw, as the sky in the East grew gray,
    That Sir John and his men were some miles on their way.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    _These things were heard and seen by the sun_
    _When noon at Wet Willows was nearly done._

    After the battle, the King from the North
    Bade his men lead the seven horses forth,

    And bind, one on each, the Southern man
    Who had dared to ride it when day began.

    The words that the Northern King had said
    Sir John and his men heard not, being dead;

    (Nor heard they the sobs of the women who knew
    That Sir John’s son’s son in the East was true

    To the cross that was white on the shield that he had);
    Nor knew they their home-going horses were glad;

    Nor did they remember the trees by the way,
    Or the streams that they crossed, or the dead leaves that lay

    By the roadside.  And when the moon rose, red and near,
    They saw not its splendor; no more did they hear

    The wind that was moaning from hill unto hill:
    Their leader,—his will was his horse’s will.

                     *      *      *      *      *

    In the Eastern sky faint streaks of gray
    Were changed to red, and it was day.

    The women had waited all night long
    Where the castle tower was high and strong;

    And now, at last, they beheld Sir John,
    And his men, and the horses they rode upon,

    Just crossing the brow of the nearest hill.
    The women’s cries rose loud and shrill,

    And in their joy they pitied not,
    The men Sir John and his men had fought

    And slain at Wet Willows.  (Sir John was not young
    They knew well; but the might of his sword as it swung,

    In the old fighting days, was a thing they well knew,—
    A shield was but glass as it clove its way through!)

                     *      *      *      *      *

    So they who had waited and watched and prayed
    The long night through were no more afraid

    To open the gate,—for Sir John and his men
    Who had fought at Wet Willows were home again.



THE BUILDER

    Come and let me make thee glad
    In this house that I have made!
    No where (I am unafraid!)
    Canst thou find its like on Earth:
    Come, and learn the perfect worth
    Of the labor I have had.

    I have fashioned it for thee,
    Every room and pictured wall;
    Every marble pillar tall,
    Every door and window-place;
    All were done that thy fair face
    Might look kindlier on me.

    Here, moreover, thou shalt find
    Strange, delightful, far-brought things:
    Dulcimers, whose tightened strings,
    Once, dead women loved to touch;
    (Deeming they could mimic much
    Of the music of the wind!)

    Heavy candlesticks of brass;
    Chess-men carved of ivory;
    Mass-books written perfectly
    By some patient monk of old;
    Flagons wrought of thick, red gold,
    Set with gems and colored glass;

    Burnished armor, once some knight
    (Dead, I deem, long wars ago!)
    Its great strength was glad to know
    When his Lady needed him:
    (Now that both his eyes are dim
    Both his sword and shield are bright!)

    Come, and share these things with me,
    Men have died to leave to us!
    We shall find life glorious
    In this splendid house of love;
    Come, and claim thy part thereof,—
    I have fashioned it for thee!



TE DEUM LAUDAMUS

    I will praise God alway for each new year,
    Knowing that it shall be most worthy of
    His kindness and His pity and His love
    I will wait patient, till, from sphere to sphere,
    Across large times and spaces, ringeth clear
    The voice of Him who sitteth high above,
    Saying, "Behold! thou hast had pain enough;
    Come; for thy Love is waiting for thee here!"
    I know that it must happen as God saith.
    I know it well.  Yet, also, I know well
    That where birds sing and yellow wild-flowers dwell,
    Or where some strange new sunset lingereth,
    All Earth shall alway of her presence tell
    Who liveth not for me this side of death.



THE FIRST EDITION OF THIS BOOK CONSISTS
OF FIVE HUNDRED COPIES WITH THIRTY-FIVE
ADDITIONAL COPIES ON ENGLISH
HAND MADE PAPER PRINTED BY THE
ROCKWELL AND CHURCHILL PRESS OF
BOSTON DURING NOVEMBER 1896





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