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Title: Kentucky Poems
Author: Cawein, Madison Julius, 1865-1914
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kentucky Poems" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



  The Author's thanks are due to Mr. R. H. RUSSELL, of New York, for
  kind permission to reprint from _Shapes and Shadows_ four of the poems
  published in this volume.



                             KENTUCKY POEMS

                            BY MADISON CAWEIN


                  WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY EDMUND GOSSE

                                NEW YORK
                           E. P. DUTTON & CO.
                                  1903



  NOTE


  The poems included in this volume have been selected from the
  following volumes of the author: _Moods and Memories_, _Red Leaves and
  Roses_, _Poems of Nature and Love_, _Intimations of the Beautiful_,
  _Days and Dreams_, _Undertones_, _Idyllic Monologues_, _The Garden of
  Dreams_, _Shapes and Shadows_, _Myth and Romance_, and _Weeds by the
  Wall_. None of the longer poems have been included in this selection.



  CONTENTS


  PROLOGUE

  FOREST AND FIELD

  SUMMER

  TO SORROW

  NIGHT

  A FALLEN BEECH

  A TWILIGHT MOTH

  THE GRASSHOPPER

  BEFORE THE RAIN

  AFTER RAIN

  THE HAUNTED HOUSE

  OCTOBER

  INDIAN SUMMER

  ALONG THE OHIO

  A COIGN OF THE FOREST

  CREOLE SERENADE

  WILL O' THE WISPS

  THE TOLLMAN'S DAUGHTER

  THE BOY COLUMBUS

  SONG OF THE ELF

  THE OLD INN

  THE MILL-WATER

  THE DREAM

  SPRING TWILIGHT

  A SLEET-STORM IN MAY

  UNREQUITED

  THE HEART O' SPRING

  'A BROKEN RAINBOW ON THE SKIES OF MAY'

  ORGIE

  REVERIE

  LETHE

  DIONYSIA

  THE NAIAD

  THE LIMNAD

  INTIMATIONS

  BEFORE THE TEMPLE

  ANTHEM OF DAWN

  AT THE LANE'S END

  THE FARMSTEAD

  A FLOWER OF THE FIELDS

  THE FEUD

  LYNCHERS

  DEAD MAN'S RUN

  AUGUST

  THE BUSH-SPARROW

  QUIET

  MUSIC

  THE PURPLE VALLEYS

  A DREAM SHAPE

  THE OLD BARN

  THE WOOD WITCH

  AT SUNSET

  MAY

  RAIN

  TO FALL

  SUNSET IN AUTUMN

  THE HILLS

  CONTENT

  HEART OF MY HEART

  OCTOBER

  MYTH AND ROMANCE

  GENIUS LOCI

  DISCOVERY

  THE OLD SPRING

  THE FOREST SPRING

  TRANSMUTATION

  DEAD CITIES

  FROST

  A NIGHT IN JUNE

  THE DREAMER

  WINTER

  MID-WINTER

  SPRING

  TRANSFORMATION

  RESPONSE

  THE SWASHBUCKLER

  SIMULACRA

  CAVERNS

  THE BLUE BIRD

  QUATRAINS

  ADVENTURERS

  EPILOGUE



INTRODUCTION


Since the disappearance of the latest survivors of that graceful and
somewhat academic school of poets who ruled American literature so long
from the shores of Massachusetts, serious poetry in the United States
seems to have been passing through a crisis of languor. Perhaps there is
no country on the civilised globe where, in theory, verse is treated
with more respect and, in practice, with a greater lack of grave
consideration than America. No conjecture as to the reason of this must
be attempted here, further than to suggest that the extreme value set
upon sharpness, ingenuity and rapid mobility is obviously calculated to
depreciate and to condemn the quiet practice of the most meditative of
the arts. Hence we find that it is what is called 'humorous' verse which
is mainly in fashion on the western side of the Atlantic. Those rhymes
are most warmly welcomed which play the most preposterous tricks with
language, which dazzle by the most mountebank swiftness of turn, and
which depend most for their effect upon paradox and the negation of
sober thought. It is probable that the diseased craving for what is
'smart,' 'snappy' and wide-awake, and the impulse to see everything
foreshortened and topsy-turvy, must wear themselves out before cooler
and more graceful tastes again prevail in imaginative literature.

Whatever be the cause, it is certain that this is not a moment when
serious poetry, of any species, is flourishing in the United States. The
absence of anything like a common impulse among young writers, of any
definite and intelligible, if excessive, _parti pris_, is immediately
observable if we contrast the American, for instance, with the French
poets of the last fifteen years. Where there is no school and no clear
trend of executive ambition, the solitary artist, whose talent forces
itself up into the light and air, suffers unusual difficulties, and runs
a constant danger of being choked in the aimless mediocrity that
surrounds him. We occasionally meet with a poet in the history of
literature, of whom we are inclined to say, Charming as he is, he would
have developed his talent more evenly and conspicuously,--with greater
decorum, perhaps,--if he had been accompanied from the first by other
young men like-minded, who would have formed for him an atmosphere and
cleared for him a space. This is the one regret I feel in contemplating,
as I have done for years past, the ardent and beautiful talent of Mr.
Cawein. I deplore the fact that he seems to stand alone in his
generation; I think his poetry would have been even better than it is,
and its qualities would certainly have been more clearly perceived, and
more intelligently appreciated, if he were less isolated. In his own
country, at this particular moment, in this matter of serious
nature-painting in lyric verse, Mr. Cawein possesses what Cowley would
have called 'a monopoly of wit,' In one of his lyrics Mr. Cawein asks--

    'The song-birds, are they flown away,
      The song-birds of the summer-time,
    That sang their souls into the day,
      And set the laughing hours to rhyme?
    No cat-bird scatters through the hush
      The sparkling crystals of her song;
    Within the woods no hermit-thrush
      Trails an enchanted flute along.'

To this inquiry, the answer is: the only hermit-thrush now audible
seems to sing from Louisville, Kentucky. America will, we may be
perfectly sure, calm herself into harmony again, and possess once more
her school of singers. In those coming days, history may perceive in Mr.
Cawein the golden link that bound the music of the past to the music of
the future through an interval of comparative tunelessness.

The career of Mr. Madison Cawein is represented to me as being most
uneventful. He seems to have enjoyed unusual advantages for the
cultivation and protection of the poetical temperament. He was born on
the 23rd of March 1865, in the metropolis of Kentucky, the vigorous city
of Louisville, on the southern side of the Ohio, in the midst of a
country celebrated for tobacco and whisky and Indian corn. These are
commodities which may be consumed in excess, but in moderation they make
glad the heart of man. They represent a certain glow of the earth, they
indicate the action of a serene and gentle climate upon a rich soil. It
was in this delicate and voluptuous state of Kentucky that Mr. Cawein
was born, that he was educated, that he became a poet, and that he has
lived ever since. His blood is full of the colour and odour of his
native landscape. The solemn books of history tell us that Kentucky was
discovered in 1769, by Daniel Boone, a hunter. But he first discovers a
country who sees it first, and teaches the world to see it; no doubt
some day the city of Louisville will erect, in one of its principal
squares, a statue to 'Madison Cawein, who discovered the Beauty of
Kentucky.' The genius of this poet is like one of those deep rivers of
his native state, which cut paths through the forests of chestnut and
hemlock as they hurry towards the south and west, brushing with the
impulsive fringe of their currents the rhododendrons and calmias and
azaleas that bend from the banks to be mirrored in their flushing
waters.

Mr. Cawein's vocation to poetry was irresistible. I do not know that he
ever tried to resist it. I have even the idea that a little more
resistance would have been salutary for a talent which nothing could
have discouraged, and which opposition might have taught the arts of
compression and selection. Mr. Cawein suffered at first, I think, from
lack of criticism more than from lack of eulogy. From his early writings
I seem to gather an impression of a Louisville more ready to praise what
was second-rate than what was first-rate, and practically, indeed,
without any scale of appreciation whatever. This may be a mistake of
mine; at all events, Mr. Cawein has had more to gain from the passage
of years in self-criticism than in inspiring enthusiasm. The fount was
in him from the first; but it bubbled forth before he had digged a
definite channel for it. Sometimes, to this very day, he sports with the
principles of syntax as Nature played games so long ago with the
fantastic caverns of the valley of the Green River or with the
coral-reefs of his own Ohio. He has bad rhymes, amazing in so delicate
an ear; he has awkwardness of phrase not expected in one so plunged in
contemplation of the eternal harmony of Nature. But these grow fewer and
less obtrusive as the years pass by.

The virgin timber-forests of Kentucky, the woods of honey-locust and
buck-eye, of white oak and yellow poplar, with their clearings full of
flowers unknown to us by sight or name, from which in the distance are
visible the domes of the far-away Cumberland Mountains, this seems to
be the hunting-field of Mr. Cawein's imagination. Here all, it must be
confessed, has hitherto been unfamiliar to the Muses. If Persephone 'of
our Cumnor cowslips never heard,' how much less can her attention have
been arrested by clusters of orchids from the Ocklawaha, or by the song
of the Whippoorwill, rung out when 'the west was hot geranium-red' under
the boughs of a black-jack on the slopes of Mount Kinnex. 'Not here,'
one is inclined to exclaim, 'not here, O Apollo, are haunts meet for
thee,' but the art of the poet is displayed by his skill in breaking
down these prejudices of time and place. Mr. Cawein reconciles us to his
strange landscape--the strangeness of which one has to admit is mainly
one of nomenclature,--by the exercise of a delightful instinctive
pantheism. He brings the ancient gods to Kentucky, and it is marvellous
how quickly they learn to be at home there. Here is Bacchus, with a
spicy fragment of calamus-root in his hand, trampling down the blue-eyed
grass, and skipping, with the air of a hunter born, into the hickory
thicket, to escape Artemis, whose robes, as she passes swiftly with her
dogs through the woods, startle the humming-birds, silence the green
tree-frogs, and fill the hot still air with the perfumes of peppermint
and pennyroyal. It is a queer landscape, but one of new natural
beauties frankly and sympathetically discovered, and it forms a _mise en
scène_ which, I make bold to say, would have scandalised neither Keats
nor Spenser.

It was Mr. Howells,--ever as generous in discovering new native talent
as he is unflinching in reproof of the effeteness of European
taste,--who first drew attention to the originality and beauty of Mr.
Cawein's poetry. The Kentucky poet had, at that time, published but one
tentative volume, the _Blooms of the Berry_, of 1887. This was followed,
in 1888, by _The Triumph of Music_, and since then hardly a year has
passed without a slender sheaf of verse from Mr. Cawein's garden. Among
these (if a single volume is to be indicated), the quality which
distinguishes him from all other poets,--the Kentucky flavour, if we may
call it so,--is perhaps to be most agreeably detected in _Intimations of
the Beautiful_. But it is time that I should leave the American lyrist
to make his own appeal to English ears, with but one additional word of
explanation, namely, that in this selection Mr. Cawein's narrative poems
on mediæval themes, and in general his cosmopolitan writings, have been
neglected in favour of such lyrics as would present him most vividly in
his own native landscape, no visitor in spirit to Europe, but at home
in that bright and exuberant West--

    Where, in the hazy morning, runs
      The stony branch that pools and drips,
      Where red-haws and the wild-rose hips
    Are strewn like pebbles; where the sun's
      Own gold seems captured by the weeds;
      To see, through scintillating seeds,
    The hunters steal with glimmering guns.
    To stand within the dewy ring
      Where pale death smites the bone-set blooms,
      And everlasting's flowers, and plumes
    Of mint, with aromatic wing!
      And hear the creek,--whose sobbing seems
      A wild man murmuring in his dreams,--
    And insect violins that sing!

So sweet a voice, so consonant with the music
of the singers of past times, heard in a place so
fresh and strange, will surely not pass without
its welcome from the lovers of genuine poetry.

                                     EDMUND GOSSE.



    PROLOGUE


     _There is a poetry that speaks
       Through common things: the grasshopper,
     That in the hot weeds creaks and creaks,
       Says all of summer to my ear:
       And in the cricket's cry I hear
     The fireside speak, and feel the frost
       Work mysteries of silver near
     On country casements, while, deep lost
    In snow, the gatepost seems a sheeted ghost.

        And other things give rare delight:
       Those guttural harps the green-frogs tune,
     Those minstrels of the falling night,
       That hail the sickle of the moon
          From grassy pools that glass her lune:
     Or,--all of August in its loud
       Dry cry,--the locust's call at noon,
     That tells of heat and never a cloud
    To veil the pitiless sun as with a shroud.

        The rain,--whose cloud dark-lids the moon,
       The great white eyeball of the night,--
     Makes music for me; to its tune
       I hear the flowers unfolding white,
       The mushroom growing, and the slight
     Green sound of grass that dances near;
       The melon ripening with delight;
     And in the orchard, soft and clear,
    The apple redly rounding out its sphere.

        The grigs make music as of old,
       To which the fairies whirl and shine
        Within the moonlight's prodigal gold,
       On woodways wild with many a vine:
       When all the wilderness with wine
     Of stars is drunk, I hear it say--
       'Is God restricted to confine
     His wonders only to the day,
    That yields the abstract tangible to clay?'

        And to my ear the wind of Morn,--
       When on her rubric forehead far
     One star burns big,--lifts a vast horn
       Of wonder where all murmurs are:
       In which I hear the waters war,
     The torrent and the blue abyss,
       And pines,--that terrace bar on bar
     The mountain side,--like lovers' kiss,
    And whisper words where naught but grandeur is.

        The jutting crags,--all iron-veined
       With ore,--the peaks, where eagles scream,
     That pour their cataracts, rainbow-stained,
       Like hair, in many a mountain stream,
       Can lift my soul beyond the dream
     Of all religions; make me scan
       No mere external or extreme,
     But inward pierce the outward plan
    And learn that rocks have souls as well as man._



    FOREST AND FIELD


    I

    Green, watery jets of light let through
    The rippling foliage drenched with dew;
    And golden glimmers, warm and dim,
    That in the vistaed distance swim;
    Where, 'round the wood-spring's oozy urn,
    The limp, loose fronds of forest fern
    Trail like the tresses, green and wet,
    A wood-nymph binds with violet.
    O'er rocks that bulge and roots that knot
    The emerald-amber mosses clot;
    From matted walls of brier and brush
    The elder nods its plumes of plush;
    And, Argus-eyed with many a bloom,
    The wild-rose breathes its wild perfume;
    May-apples, ripening yellow, lean
    With oblong fruit, a lemon-green,
    Near Indian-turnips, long of stem,
    That bear an acorn-oval gem,
    As if some woodland Bacchus there,--
    While braiding locks of hyacinth hair
    With ivy-tod,--had idly tost
    His thyrsus down and so had lost:
    And blood-root, that from scarlet wombs
    Puts forth, in spring, its milk-white blooms,
    That then like starry footsteps shine
    Of April under beech and pine;
    At which the gnarled eyes of trees
    Stare, big as Fauns' at Dryades,
    That bend above a fountain's spar
    As white and naked as a star.

    The stagnant stream flows sleepily
    Thick with its lily-pads; the bee,--
    All honey-drunk, a Bassarid,--
    Booms past the mottled toad, that, hid
    In calamus-plants and blue-eyed grass,
    Beside the water's pooling glass,
    Silenus-like, eyes stolidly
    The Mænad-glittering dragonfly.
    And pennyroyal and peppermint
    Pour dry-hot odours without stint
    From fields and banks of many streams;
    And in their scent one almost seems
    To see Demeter pass, her breath
    Sweet with her triumph over death.--
    A haze of floating saffron; sound
    Of shy, crisp creepings o'er the ground;
    The dip and stir of twig and leaf;
    Tempestuous gusts of spices brief
    Borne over bosks of sassafras
    By winds that foot it on the grass;
    Sharp, sudden songs and whisperings,
    That hint at untold hidden things--
    Pan and Sylvanus who of old
    Kept sacred each wild wood and wold.
    A wily light beneath the trees
    Quivers and dusks with every breeze--
    A Hamadryad, haply, who,--
    Culling her morning meal of dew
    From frail, accustomed cups of flowers,--
    Now sees some Satyr in the bowers,
    Or hears his goat-hoof snapping press
    Some brittle branch, and in distress
    Shrinks back; her dark, dishevelled hair
    Veiling her limbs one instant there.


    II

    Down precipices of the dawn
    The rivers of the day are drawn,
    The soundless torrents, free and far,
    Of gold that deluge every star.
    There is a sound of brooks and wings
    That fills the woods with carollings;
    And, dashed on moss and flow'r and fern,
    And leaves, that quiver, breathe and burn,
    Rose-radiance smites the solitudes,
    The dew-drenched hills, the dripping woods,
    That twitter as with canticles
    Of shade and light; and wind, that smells
    Of flowers, and buds, and boisterous bees,
    Delirious honey, and wet trees.--
    Through briers that trip them, one by one,
    With swinging pails, that take the sun,
    A troop of girls comes--berriers,
    Whose bare feet glitter where they pass
    Through dewdrop-trembling tufts of grass.
    And, oh! their laughter and their cheers
    Wake Echo 'mid her shrubby rocks
    Who, answering, from her mountain mocks
    With rapid fairy horns; as if
    Each mossy vale and weedy cliff
    Had its imperial Oberon,
    Who, seeking his Titania, hid
    In coverts caverned from the sun,
    In kingly wrath had called and chid.

    Cloud-feathers, oozing orange light,
    Make rich the Indian locks of night;
    Her dusky waist with sultry gold
    Girdled and buckled fold on fold.
    One star. A sound of bleating flocks.
    Great shadows stretched along the rocks,
    Like giant curses overthrown
    By some Arthurian champion.
    Soft-swimming sorceries of mist
    That streak blue glens with amethyst.
    And, tinkling in the clover dells,
    The twilight sound of cattle-bells.
    And where the marsh in reed and grass
    Burns, angry as a shattered glass,
    The flies make golden blurs, that shine
    Like drops of amber-scattered wine
    Spun high by reeling Bacchanals,
    When Bacchus wreathes his curling hair
    With vine-leaves, and from every lair
    His worshippers around him calls.
    They come, they come, a happy throng,
    The berriers with gibe and song;
    Their pails brimmed black to tin-bright eaves
    With luscious fruit, kept cool with leaves
    Of aromatic sassafras;
    'Twixt which some sparkling berry slips,
    Like laughter, from the purple mass,
    Wine-swollen as Silenus' lips.


    III

    The tanned and tired noon climbs high
    Up burning reaches of the sky;
    Below the drowsy belts of pines
    The rock-ledged river foams and shines;
    And over rainless hill and dell
    Is blown the harvest's sultry smell:
    While, in the fields, one sees and hears
    The brawny-throated harvesters,--
    Their red brows beaded with the heat,--
    By twos and threes among the wheat
    Flash their hot scythes; behind them press
    The binders--men and maids that sing
    Like some mad troop of piping Pan;--
    While all the hillsides swoon and ring
    Such sounds of Ariel airiness
    As haunted freckled Caliban.
    'O ho! O ho! 'tis noon I say.
        The roses blow.
    Away, away, above the hay,
    To the tune o' the bees the roses sway;
    The love-songs that they hum all day,
        So low! So low!
    The roses' Minnesingers they.'

    Up velvet lawns of lilac skies
    The tawny moon begins to rise
    Behind low, blue-black hills of trees,--
    As rises up, in Siren seas,
    To rock in purple deeps, hip-hid,
    A virgin-bosomed Oceanid.--
    Gaunt shadows crouch by tree and scaur,
    Like shaggy Satyrs waiting for
    The moonbeam Nymphs, the Dryads white,
    That take with loveliness the night,
    And glorify it with their love.
    The sweet, far notes I hear, I hear,
    Beyond dim pines and mellow ways,
    The song of some fair harvester,
    The lovely Limnad of the grove,
    Whose singing charms me while it slays.
    'O deep! O deep! the earth and air
        Are sunk in sleep.
    Adieu to care! Now everywhere
    Is rest; and by the old oak there
    The maiden with the nut-brown hair
        Doth keep, doth keep
    Tryst with her lover the young and fair.'


    IV

    Like Atalanta's spheres of gold,
    Within the orchard, apples rolled
    From sudden hands of boughs that lay
    Their leaves, like palms, against the day;
    And near them pears of rusty brown
    Lay bruised; and peaches, pink with down,
    And furry as the ears of Pan,
    Or, like Diana's cheeks, a tan
    Beneath which burnt a tender fire;
    Or wan as Psyche's with desire.
    And down the orchard vistas,--young,
    A hickory basket by him swung,
    A straw-hat, 'gainst the sloping sun
    Drawn brim-broad o'er his face,--he strode;
    As if he looked to find some one,
    His eyes far-fixed beyond the road.
    Before him, like a living burr,
    Rattled the noisy grasshopper.
    And where the cows' melodious bells
    Trailed music up and down the dells,
    Beside the spring, that o'er the ground
    Went whimpering like a fretful hound,
    He saw her waiting, fair and slim,
    Her pail forgotten there, for him.

    Yellow as sunset skies and pale
    As fairy clouds that stay or sail
    Through azure vaults of summer, blue
    As summer heavens, the wild-flowers grew;
    And blossoms on which spurts of light
    Fell laughing, like the lips one might
    Feign for a Hebe, or a girl
    Whose mouth is laughter-lit with pearl.
    Long ferns, in murmuring masses heaped;
    And mosses moist, in beryl steeped
    And musk aromas of the wood
    And silence of the solitude:
    And everything that near her blew
    The spring had showered thick with dew.--
    Across the rambling fence she leaned,
    Her fresh, round arms all white and bare;
    Her artless beauty, bonnet-screened,
    Rich-coloured with its auburn hair.
    A wood-thrush gurgled in a vine--
    Ah! 'tis his step, 'tis he she hears;
    The wild-rose smelt like some rare wine--
    He comes, ah, yes! 'tis he who nears.
    And her brown eyes and all her face
    Said welcome. And with rustic grace
    He leant beside her; and they had
    Some talk with youthful laughter glad:
    I know not what; I know but this
    Its final period was a kiss.



    SUMMER


    I

    Hang out your loveliest star, O Night! O Night!
        Your richest rose, O Dawn!
    To greet sweet Summer, her, who, clothed in light,
        Leads Earth's best hours on.
    Hark! how the wild birds of the woods
    Throat it within the dewy solitudes!
        The brook sings low and soft,
          The trees make song,
        As, from her heaven aloft
    Comes blue-eyed Summer like a girl along.


    II

    And as the Day, her lover, leads her in,
        How bright his beauty glows!
    How red his lips, that ever try to win
        Her mouth's delicious rose!
    And from the beating of his heart
    Warm winds arise and sighing thence depart;
        And from his eyes and hair
          The light and dew
        Fall round her everywhere,
    And Heaven above her is an arch of blue.


    III

    Come to the forest, or the treeless meadows
        Deep with their hay or grain;
    Come where the hills lift high their thrones of shadows,
        Where tawny orchards reign.
    Come where the reapers whet the scythe;
    Where golden sheaves are heaped; where berriers blythe,
        With willow-basket and with pail,
          Swarm knoll and plain;
        Where flowers freckle every vale,
    And beauty goes with hands of berry-stain.


    IV

    Come where the dragon-flies, a brassy blue,
        Flit round the wildwood streams,
    And, sucking at some horn of honey-dew,
        The wild-bee hums and dreams.
    Come where the butterfly waves wings of sleep,
    Gold-disked and mottled over blossoms deep;
        Come where beneath the rustic bridge
          The green frog cries;
        Or in the shade the rainbowed midge,
    Above the emerald pools, with murmurings flies.


    V

    Come where the cattle browse within the brake,
        As red as oak and strong;
    Where far-off bells the echoes faintly wake,
        And milkmaids sing their song.
    Come where the vine-trailed rocks, with waters hoary,
    Tell to the sun some legend or some story;
        Or, where the sunset to the land
          Speaks words of gold;
        Where ripeness walks, a wheaten band
    Around her hair and blossoms manifold.


    VI

    Come where the woods lift up their stalwart arms
        Unto the star-sown skies;
    Knotted and gnarled, that to the winds and storms
        Fling mighty rhapsodies:
    Or to the moon repeat what they have seen,
    When Night upon their shoulders vast doth lean.
        Come where the dew's clear syllable
          Drips from the rose;
        And where the fireflies fill
    The night with golden music of their glows.


    VII

    Now while the dingles and the vine-roofed glens
        Whisper their flowery tale
    Unto the silence; and the lakes and fens
        Unto the moonlight pale
    Murmur their rapture, let us seek her out,
    Her of the honey throat, and peachy pout,
        Summer! and at her feet,
          The love of old
        Lay like a sheaf of wheat,
    And of our hearts the purest gold of gold.



    TO SORROW


    I

    O dark-eyed goddess of the marble brow,
      Whose look is silence and whose touch is night,
    Who walkest lonely through the world, O thou,
      Who sittest lonely with Life's blown-out light;
    Who in the hollow hours of night's noon
      Criest like some lost child;
    Whose anguish-fevered eyeballs seek the moon
      To cool their pulses wild.
    Thou who dost bend to kiss Joy's sister cheek,
      Turning its rose to alabaster; yea,
    Thou who art terrible and mad and meek,
      Why in my heart art thou enshrined to-day?
          O Sorrow say, O say!


    II

    Now Spring is here and all the world is white,
      I will go forth, and where the forest robes
    Itself in green, and every hill and height
      Crowns its fair head with blossoms,--spirit globes
    Of hyacinth and crocus dashed with dew,--
      I will forget my grief,
    And thee, O Sorrow, gazing on the blue,
      Beneath a last year's leaf,
    Of some brief violet the south wind woos,
      Or bluet, whence the west wind raked the snow;
    The baby eyes of love, the darling hues
      Of happiness, that thou canst never know,
          O child of pain and woe.


    III

    On some hoar upland, sweet with clustered thorns,
      Hard by a river's windy white of waves,
    I shall sit down with Spring,--whose eyes are morns
      Of light; whose cheeks the rose of health enslaves,--
    And so forget thee braiding in her hair
      The snowdrop, tipped with green,
    The cool-eyed primrose and the trillium fair,
      And moony celandine.
    Contented so to lie within her arms,
      Forgetting all the sear and sad and wan,
    Remembering love alone, who o'er earth's storms,
      High on the mountains of perpetual dawn,
          Leads the glad hours on.


    IV

    Or in the peace that follows storm, when Even,
      Within the west, stands dreaming lone and far,
    Clad on with green and silver, and the Heaven
      Is brightly brooched with one gold-glittering star.
    I will lie down beside some mountain lake,
      'Round which the tall pines sigh,
    And breathing musk of rain from boughs that shake
      Storm balsam from on high,
    Make friends of Dream and Contemplation high
      And Music, listening to the mocking-bird,--
    Who through the hush sends its melodious cry,--
      And so forget a while that other word,
          That all loved things must die.



    NIGHT


    Out of the East, as from an unknown shore,
      Thou comest with thy children in thine arms,--
    Slumber and Dream,--whom mortals all adore,
      Their flowing raiment sculptured to their charms:
    Soft on thy breast thy lovely children rest,
    Laid like twin roses in one balmy nest.
      Silent thou comest, swiftly too and slow.
    There is no other presence like to thine,
    When thou approachest with thy babes divine,
      Thy shadowy face above them bending low,
    Blowing the ringlets from their brows of snow.

    Oft have I taken Sleep from thy dark arms,
      And fondled her fair head, with poppies wreathed,
    Within my bosom's depths, until its storms
      With her were hushed and I but faintly breathed.
    And then her sister, Dream, with frolic art
    Arose from rest, and on my sleeping heart
      Blew bubbles of dreams where elfin worlds were lost;
    Worlds where my stranger soul sang songs to me,
    And talked with spirits by a rainbowed sea,
      Or smiled, an unfamiliar shape of frost,
    Floating on gales of breathless melody.

    Day comes to us in garish glory garbed;
      But thou, thou bringest to the tired heart
    Rest and deep silence, in which are absorbed
      All the vain tumults of the mind and mart.
    Whether thou comest with hands full of stars,
    Or clothed in storm and clouds, the lightning bars,
      Rolling the thunder like some mighty dress,
    God moves with thee; we seem to hear His feet,
    Wind-like, along the floors of Heaven beat;
      To see His face, revealed in awfulness,
    Through thee, O Night, to ban us or to bless.



    A FALLEN BEECH


    Nevermore at doorways that are barken
    Shall the madcap wind knock and the moonlight;
    Nor the circle which thou once didst darken,
    Shine with footsteps of the neighbouring moonlight,
    Visitors for whom thou oft didst hearken.

    Nevermore, gallooned with cloudy laces,
    Shall the morning, like a fair freebooter,
    Make thy leaves his richest treasure-places;
    Nor the sunset, like a royal suitor,
    Clothe thy limbs with his imperial graces.

    And no more, between the savage wonder
    Of the sunset and the moon's up-coming,
    Shall the storm, with boisterous hoof-beats, under
    Thy dark roof dance, Faun-like, to the humming
    Of the Pan-pipes of the rain and thunder.

    Oft the Satyr-spirit, beauty-drunken,
    Of the Spring called; and the music measure
    Of thy sap made answer; and thy sunken
    Veins grew vehement with youth, whose pressure
    Swelled thy gnarly muscles, winter-shrunken.

    And the germs, deep down in darkness rooted,
    Bubbled green from all thy million oilets,
    Where the spirits, rain-and-sunbeam-suited,
    Of the April made their whispering toilets,
    Or within thy stately shadow footed.

    Oft the hours of blonde Summer tinkled
    At the windows of thy twigs, and found thee
    Bird-blithe; or, with shapely bodies, twinkled
    Lissom feet of naked flowers around thee,
    Where thy mats of moss lay sunbeam-sprinkled.

    And the Autumn with his gypsy-coated
    Troop of days beneath thy branches rested,
    Swarthy-faced and dark of eye; and throated
    Songs of roaming; or with red hand tested
    Every nut-bur that above him floated.

    Then the Winter, barren-browed, but rich in
    Shaggy followers of frost and freezing,
    Made the floor of thy broad boughs his kitchen,
    Trapper-like, to camp in; grimly easing
    Limbs snow-furred and moccasined with lichen.

    Now, alas! no more do these invest thee
    With the dignity of whilom gladness!
    They--unto whose hearts thou once confessed thee
    Of thy dreams--now know thee not! and sadness
    Sits beside thee where, forgot, dost rest thee.



    A TWILIGHT MOTH


    All day the primroses have thought of thee,
      Their golden heads close-haremed from the heat;
    All day the mystic moonflowers silkenly
      Veiled snowy faces,--that no bee might greet
    Or butterfly that, weighed with pollen, passed;--
    Keeping Sultana-charms for thee, at last,
      Their lord, who comest to salute each sweet.

    Cool-throated flowers that avoid the day's
      Too fervid kisses; every bud that drinks
    The tipsy dew and to the starlight plays
      Nocturns of fragrance, thy wing'd shadow links
    In bonds of secret brotherhood and faith;
    O bearer of their order's shibboleth,
      Like some pale symbol fluttering o'er these pinks.

    What dost thou whisper in the balsam's ear
      That sets it blushing, or the hollyhock's,--
    A syllabled silence that no man may hear,--
      As dreamily upon its stem it rocks?
    What spell dost bear from listening plant to plant,
    Like some white witch, some ghostly ministrant,
      Some spectre of some perished flower of phlox?

    O voyager of that universe which lies
      Between the four walls of this garden fair,--
    Whose constellations are the fireflies
      That wheel their instant courses everywhere,--
    'Mid fairy firmaments wherein one sees
    Mimic Boötes and the Pleiades,
      Thou steerest like some fairy ship-of-air.

    Gnome-wrought of moonbeam fluff and gossamer,
      Silent as scent, perhaps thou chariotest
    Mab or King Oberon; or, haply, her
      His queen, Titania, on some midnight quest.--
    Oh for the herb, the magic euphrasy,
    That should unmask thee to mine eyes, ah me!
      And all that world at which my soul hath guessed!



    THE GRASSHOPPER


    What joy you take in making hotness hotter,
      In emphasising dulness with your buzz,
      Making monotony more monotonous!
    When Summer comes, and drouth hath dried the water
    In all the creeks, we hear your ragged rasp
      Filling the stillness. Or,--as urchins beat
    A stagnant pond whereon the bubbles gasp,--
      Your switch-like music whips the midday heat.
    O bur of sound caught in the Summer's hair,
              We hear you everywhere!

    We hear you in the vines and berry-brambles,
      Along the unkempt lanes, among the weeds,
      Amid the shadeless meadows, gray with seeds,
    And by the wood 'round which the rail-fence rambles,
    Sawing the sunlight with your sultry saw.
      Or,--like to tomboy truants, at their play
    With noisy mirth among the barn's deep straw,--
      You sing away the careless summer-day.
    O brier-like voice that clings in idleness
              To Summer's drowsy dress!

    You tramp of insects, vagrant and unheeding,
      Improvident, who of the summer make
      One long green mealtime, and for winter take
    No care, aye singing or just merely feeding!
    Happy-go-lucky vagabond,--'though frost
      Shall pierce, ere long, your green coat or your brown,
    And pinch your body,--let no song be lost,
      But as you lived into your grave go down--
    Like some small poet with his little rhyme,
              Forgotten of all time.



    BEFORE THE RAIN


    Before the rain, low in the obscure east,
      Weak and morose the moon hung, sickly gray;
    Around its disc the storm mists, cracked and creased,
      Wove an enormous web, wherein it lay
      Like some white spider hungry for its prey.
    Vindictive looked the scowling firmament,
      In which each star, that flashed a dagger ray,
    Seemed filled with malice of some dark intent.

    The marsh-frog croaked; and underneath the stone
      The peevish cricket raised a creaking cry.
    Within the world these sounds were heard alone,
      Save when the ruffian wind swept from the sky,
      Making each tree like some sad spirit sigh;
    Or shook the clumsy beetle from its weed,
      That, in the drowsy darkness, bungling by,
    Sharded the silence with its feverish speed.

    Slowly the tempest gathered. Hours passed
      Before was heard the thunder's sullen drum
    Rumbling night's hollow; and the Earth at last,
      Restless with waiting,--like a woman, dumb
      With doubting of the love that should have clomb
    Her casement hours ago,--avowed again,
      'Mid protestations, joy that he had come.
    And all night long I heard the Heavens explain.



    AFTER RAIN


    Behold the blossom-bosomed Day again,
    With all the star-white Hours in her train,
    Laughs out of pearl-lights through a golden ray,
    That, leaning on the woodland wildness, blends
    A sprinkled amber with the showers that lay
    Their oblong emeralds on the leafy ends.
    Behold her bend with maiden-braided brows
    Above the wildflower, sidewise with its strain
    Of dewy happiness, to kiss again
    Each drop to death; or, under rainy boughs,
    With fingers, fragrant as the woodland rain,
    Gather the sparkles from the sycamore,
            To set within each core
    Of crimson roses girdling her hips,
    Where each bud dreams and drips.
    Smoothing her blue-black hair,--where many a tusk
    Of iris flashes,--like the falchions' sheen
    Of Faery 'round blue banners of its Queen,--
    Is it a Naiad singing in the dusk,
    That haunts the spring, where all the moss is musk
    With footsteps of the flowers on the banks?
    Or just a wild-bird voluble with thanks?

    Balm for each blade of grass: the Hours prepare
    A festival each weed's invited to.
    Each bee is drunken with the honied air:
    And all the air is eloquent with blue.
    The wet hay glitters, and the harvester
    Tinkles his scythe,--as twinkling as the dew,--
            That shall not spare
    Blossom or brier in its sweeping path;
            And, ere it cut one swath,
    Rings them they die, and tells them to prepare.

    What is the spice that haunts each glen and glade?
    A Dryad's lips, who slumbers in the shade?
    A Faun, who lets the heavy ivy-wreath
    Slip to his thigh as, reaching up, he pulls
    The chestnut blossoms in whole bosomfuls?
    A sylvan Spirit, whose sweet mouth doth breathe
    Her viewless presence near us, unafraid?
    Or troops of ghosts of blooms, that whitely wade
    The brook? whose wisdom knows no other song
    Than that the bird sings where it builds beneath
    The wild-rose and sits singing all day long.

    Oh, let me sit with silence for a space,
    A little while forgetting that fierce part
    Of man that struggles in the toiling mart;
    Where God can look into my heart's own heart
    From unsoiled heights made amiable with grace;
    And where the sermons that the old oaks keep
    Can steal into me.--And what better then
    Than, turning to the moss a quiet face,
    To fall asleep? a little while to sleep
    And dream of wiser worlds and wiser men.



    THE HAUNTED HOUSE


    I

    The shadows sit and stand about its door
    Like uninvited guests and poor;
    And all the long, hot summer day
    The grating locust dins its roundelay
    In one old sycamore.
    The squirrel leaves upon its rotting roof,
    In empty hulls, its tracks;
    And in its clapboard cracks
    The spider weaves a windy woof;
    Its cells the mud-wasp packs.
    The she-fox whelps upon its floor;
    The owlet roosts above its door;
    And where the musty mosses run,
    The freckled snake basks in the sun.


    II

    The children of what fathers sleep
      Beneath these melancholy pines?
    The slow slugs crawl among their graves where creep
      The doddered poison-vines.
    The orchard, near the meadow deep,
      Lifts up decrepit arms,
    Gray-lichened in a withering heap.
    No sap swells up to make it leap
      As once in calms and storms;
    No blossom lulls its age asleep;
      Each breeze brings sad alarms.
    Big, bell-round pears and apples, russet-red,
      No maiden gathers now;
    The worm-bored trunks weep gum, like tears, instead,
      From each decaying bough.


    III

    The woodlands around it are solitary
      And fold it like gaunt hands;
    The sunlight is sad and the moonlight is dreary,
    And the hum of the country is weary, so weary!
      And the bees go by in bands
      To other lovelier lands.
    The grasses are rotting in walk and in bower;
      The lonesomeness,--dank and rank
    As a chamber where lies for a lonely hour
    An old-man's corpse with many a flower,--
      Is hushed and blank.
    And even the birds have passed it by,
    To sing their songs to a happier sky,
      A happier sky and bank.


    IV

    In its desolate halls are lying,
      Gold, blood-red and browned,
    Drifted leaves of summer dying;
    And the winds, above them sighing,
      Turn them round and round,
      Make a ghostly sound
    As of footsteps falling, flying,
    Voices through the chambers crying,
      Of the haunted house.


    V

    Gazing down in her white shroud,
      Shroud of windy cloud,
    Comes at night the phantom moon;
    Comes and all the shadows soon,
      Crowding in the rooms, arouse;
    Shadows, ghosts, her rays lead on,
    Till beneath the cloud
    Like a ghost she's gone,
    In her gusty shroud,
    O'er the haunted house.



    OCTOBER


    I oft have met her slowly wandering
      Beside a leafy stream, her locks blown wild,
    Her cheeks a hectic flush, more fair than Spring,
      As if on her the sumach copse had smiled.
    Or I have seen her sitting, tall and brown,--
      Her gentle eyes with foolish weeping dim,--
        Beneath a twisted oak from whose red leaves
    She wound great drowsy wreaths and cast them down;
      The west-wind in her hair, that made it swim
        Far out behind, deep as the rustling sheaves.

    Or in the hill-lands I have often seen
      The marvel of her passage; glimpses faint
    Of glimmering woods that glanced the hills between,
      Like Indian faces, fierce with forest paint.
    Or I have met her 'twixt two beechen hills,
      Within a dingled valley near a fall,
        Held in her nut-brown hand one cardinal flower;
    Or wading dimly where the leaf-dammed rills
      Went babbling through the wildwood's arrased hall,
        Where burned the beech and maples glared their power.

    Or I have met her by some ruined mill,
      Where trailed the crimson creeper, serpentine,
    On fallen leaves that stirred and rustled chill,
      And watched her swinging in the wild-grape vine.
    While Beauty, sad among the vales and mountains,
      More sad than death, or all that death can teach,
        Dreamed of decay and stretched appealing arms,
    Where splashed the murmur of the forest's fountains;
      With all her loveliness did she beseech,
        And all the sorrow of her wildwood charms.

    Once only in a hollow, girt with trees,
      A-dream amid wild asters filled with rain,
    I glimpsed her cheeks red-berried by the breeze,
      In her dark eyes the night's sidereal stain.
    And once upon an orchard's tangled path,
      Where all the golden-rod had turned to brown,
        Where russets rolled and leaves were sweet of breath,
    I have beheld her 'mid her aftermath
      Of blossoms standing, in her gypsy gown,
        Within her gaze the deeps of life and death.



    INDIAN SUMMER


    The dawn is a warp of fever,
      The eve is a woof of fire;
    And the month is a singing weaver
      Weaving a red desire.

    With stars Dawn dices with Even
      For the rosy gold they heap
    On the blue of the day's deep heaven,
      On the black of the night's far deep.

    It's--'Reins to the blood!' and 'Marry!'--
      The season's a prince who burns
    With the teasing lusts that harry
      His heart for a wench who spurns.

    It's--'Crown us a beaker with sherry,
      To drink to the doxy's heels;
    A tankard of wine o' the berry,
      To lips like a cloven peel's.

    ''S death! if a king be saddened,
      Right so let a fool laugh lies:
    But wine! when a king is gladdened,
      And a woman's waist and her eyes.'

    He hath shattered the loom of the weaver,
      And left but a leaf that flits,
    He hath seized heaven's gold, and a fever
      Of mist and of frost is its.

    He hath tippled the buxom beauty,
      And gotten her hug and her kiss--
    The wide world's royal booty
      To pile at her feet for this.



    ALONG THE OHIO


    Athwart a sky of brass long welts of gold;
      A path of gold the wide Ohio lies;
    Beneath the sunset, billowing manifold,
            The dark-blue hill-tops rise.

    And westward dips the crescent of the moon
      Through great cloud-feathers, flushed with rosy ray,
    That close around the crystal of her lune
            The redbird wings of Day.

    A little skiff slips o'er the burnished stream;
      A fiery wake, that broadens far behind,
    Follows in ripples; and the paddles gleam
            Against the evening wind.

    Was it the boat, the solitude and hush,
      That with dead Indians peopled all the glooms?
    That made each bank, meseemed, and every bush
            Start into eagle-plumes?

    That made me seem to hear the breaking brush,
      And as the deer's great antlers swelled in view,
    To hear the arrow twang from cane and rush,
            That dipped to the canoe?

    To see the glimmering wigwams by the waves?
      And, wildly clad, around the camp-fires' glow,
    The Shawnee chieftains with their painted braves,
            Each grasping his war-bow?

    But now the vision like the sunset fades,
      The ribs of golden clouds have oozed their light;
    And from the west, like sombre sachem shades,
            Gallop the shades of night.

    The broad Ohio glitters to the stars;
      And many murmurs whisper in its woods--
    Is it the sorrow of dead warriors
            For their lost solitudes?

    The moon goes down; and like another moon
      The crescent of the river twinkles there,
    Unchanged as when the eyes of Daniel Boone
            Beheld it flowing fair.



    A COIGN OF THE FOREST


    The hills hang woods around, where green, below
    Dark, breezy boughs of beech-trees, mats the moss,
    Crisp with the brittle hulls of last year's nuts;
    The water hums one bar there; and a glow
    Of gold lies steady where the trailers toss
    Red, bugled blossoms and a rock abuts;
    In spots the wild-phlox and oxalis grow
    Where beech-roots bulge the loam, protrude across
    The grass-grown road and roll it into ruts.

    And where the sumach brakes grow dusk and dense,
    Among the rocks, great yellow violets,
    Blue-bells and wind-flowers bloom; the agaric
    In dampness crowds; a fungus, thick, intense
    With gold and crimson and wax-white, that sets
    The May-apples along the terraced creek
    At bold defiance. Where the old rail-fence
    Divides the hollow, there the bee-bird whets
    His bill, and there the elder hedge is thick.

    No one can miss it; for two cat-birds nest,
    Calling all morning, in the trumpet-vine;
    And there at noon the pewee sits and floats
    A woodland welcome; and his very best
    At eve the red-bird sings, as if to sign
    The record of its loveliness with notes.
    At night the moon stoops over it to rest,
    And unreluctant stars. Where waters shine
    There runs a whisper as of wind-swept oats.



    CREOLE SERENADE


    Under mossy oak and pine
      Whispering falls the fountained stream;
    In its pool the lilies shine
      Silvery, each a moonlight gleam.

    Roses bloom and roses die
      In the warm rose-scented dark,
    Where the firefly, like an eye,
      Winks and glows, a golden spark.

    Amber-belted through the night
      Swings the alabaster moon,
    Like a big magnolia white
      On the fragrant heart of June.

    With a broken syrinx there,
      With bignonia overgrown,
    Is it Pan in hoof and hair,
      Or his image carved from stone?

    See! her casement's jessamines part,
      And, with starry blossoms blent,
    Like the moon she leans--O heart,
      'Tis another firmament.

    SINGS

    The dim verbena drugs the dusk
      With lemon-heavy odours where
    The heliotropes breathe drowsy musk
      Into the jasmine-dreamy air;
    The moss-rose bursts its dewy husk
      And spills its attar there.

    The orange at thy casement swings
      Star-censers oozing rich perfumes;
    The clematis, long-petalled, clings
      In clusters of dark purple blooms;
    With flowers, like moons or sylphide wings,
      Magnolias light the glooms.

        Awake, awake from sleep!
          Thy balmy hair,
        Down-fallen, deep on deep,
          Like blossoms there,--
        That dew and fragrance weep,--
          Will fill the night with prayer.
        Awake, awake from sleep!

    And dreaming here it seems to me
      A dryad's bosom grows confessed,
    Bright in the moss of yonder tree,
      That rustles with the murmurous West--
    Or is it but a bloom I see,
      Round as thy virgin breast?

    Through fathomless deeps above are rolled
      A million feverish worlds, that burst,
    Like gems, from Heaven's caskets old
      Of darkness--fires that throb and thirst;
    An aloe, showering buds of gold,
      The night seems, star-immersed.

        Unseal, unseal thine eyes!
          O'er which her rod
        Sleep sways;--and like the skies,
          That dream and nod,
        Their starry majesties
          Will fill the night with God.
        Unseal, unseal thine eyes!



    WILL O' THE WISPS


    Beyond the barley meads and hay,
      What was the light that beckoned there?
    That made her sweet lips smile and say--
    'Oh, busk me in a gown of May,
      And knot red poppies in my hair.'

    Over the meadow and the wood
      What was the voice that filled her ears?
    That sent into pale cheeks the blood,
    Until each seemed a wild-brier bud
      Mown down by mowing harvesters?...

    Beyond the orchard, down the hill,
      The water flows, the water whirls;
    And there they found her past all ill,
    A plaintive face but smiling still,
      The cresses caught among her curls.

    At twilight in the willow glen
      What sound is that the silence hears,
    When all the dusk is hushed again
    And homeward from the fields strong men
      And women go, the harvesters?

    One seeks the place where she is laid,
      Where violets bloom from year to year--
    'O sunny head! O bird-like maid!
    The orchard blossoms fall and fade
      And I am lonely, lonely here.'

    Two stars burn bright above the vale;
      They seem to him the eyes of Ruth:
    The low moon rises very pale
    As if she, too, had heard the tale,
      All heartbreak, of a maid and youth.



    THE TOLLMAN'S DAUGHTER


    She stood waist-deep among the briers:
      Above in twisted lengths were rolled
      The sunset's tangled whorls of gold,
    Blown from the west's cloud-pillared fires.
    And in the hush no sound did mar,
      You almost heard o'er hill and dell,
    Deep, bubbling over, star on star,
      The night's blue cisterns slowly well.
    A crane, like some dark crescent, crossed
      The sunset, winging towards the west;
      While up the east her silver breast
    Of light the moon brought, white as frost.

    So have I painted her, you see,
      The tollman's daughter.--What an arm
      And throat was hers! and what a form!--
    Art dreams of such divinity.
    What braids of night to hold and kiss!
      There is no pigment anywhere
    A man might use to picture this--
      The splendour of her raven hair.
    A face as beautiful and bright,
      As rosy fair as twilight skies,
      Lit with the stars of hazel eyes
    And eyebrowed black with pencilled night.

    For her, I know, where'er she trod
      Each dewdrop raised a looking-glass
      To flash her beauty from the grass;
    That wild-flowers bloomed along the sod,
    And whispered perfume when she smiled;
      The wood-bird hushed to hear her song,
    Or, all enamoured, tame, not wild,
      Before her feet flew fluttering long.
    The brook went mad with melody,
      Eddied in laughter when she kissed
      With naked feet its amethyst--
    And I--I fell in love; ah me!



    THE BOY COLUMBUS


    And he had mused on lands each bird,--
      That winged from realms of Falerina,
    O'er seas of the Enchanted Sword,--
    In romance sang him, till he heard
      Vague foam on Islands of Alcina.

    For rich Levant and old Castile
      Let other seamen freight their galleys;
    With Polo he and Mandeville
    Through stranger seas a dreamy keel
      Sailed into wonder-peopled valleys.

    Far continents of flow'r and fruit,
      Of everlasting spring; where fountains
    'Mid flow'rs, with human faces, shoot;
    Where races dwell, both man and brute,
      In cities under golden mountains.

    Where cataracts their thunders hurl
      From heights the tempest has at mercy;
    Vast peaks that touch the moon, and whirl
    Their torrents down of gold and pearl;
      And forests strange as those of Circe.

    Let rapiered Love lute, in the shade
      Of royal gardens, to the Palace
    And Court, that haunt the balustrade
    Of terraces and still parade
      Their vanity and guile and malice.

    Him something calls diviner yet
      Than Love, more mighty than a lover;
    Heroic Truth that will not let
    Deed lag; a purpose, westward set,
      In eyes far-seeing to discover.



    SONG OF THE ELF


    I

    When the poppies, with their shields,
              Sentinel
    Forest and the harvest fields,
              In the bell
    Of a blossom, fair to see,
    There I stall the bumble-bee,
              My good stud;
    There I stable him and hold,
    Harness him with hairy gold;
    There I ease his burly back
    Of the honey and its sack
      Gathered from each bud.


    II

    Where the glow-worm lights its lamp,
              There I lie;
    Where, above the grasses damp,
              Moths go by;
    Now within the fussy brook,
    Where the waters wind and crook
              Round the rocks,
    I go sailing down the gloom
    Straddling on a wisp of broom;
    Or, beneath the owlet moon,
    Trip it to the cricket's tune
      Tossing back my locks.


    III

    Ere the crowfoot on the lawn
              Lifts its head,
    Or the glow-worm's light be gone,
              Dim and dead,
    In a cobweb hammock deep,
    'Twixt two ferns I swing and sleep,
              Hid away;
    Where the drowsy musk-rose blows
    And a dreamy runnel flows,
    In the land of Faëry,
    Where no mortal thing can see,
      All the elfin day.



    THE OLD INN


    Red-winding from the sleepy town,
      One takes the lone, forgotten lane
    Straight through the hills. A brush-bird brown
      Bubbles in thorn-flowers, sweet with rain,
      Where breezes bend the gleaming grain,
    And cautious drip of higher leaves
      The lower dips that drip again.--
    Above the tangled trees it heaves
    Its gables and its haunted eaves.

    One creeper, gnarled and blossomless,
      O'erforests all its eastern wall;
    The sighing cedars rake and press
      Dark boughs along the panes they sprawl;
      While, where the sun beats, drone and drawl
    The mud-wasps; and one bushy bee,
      Gold-dusty, hurls along the hall
    To buzz into a crack.--To me
    The shadows seem too scared to flee.

    Of ragged chimneys martins make
      Huge pipes of music; twittering, here
    They build and roost.--My footfalls wake
      Strange stealing echoes, till I fear
      I'll see my pale self drawing near,
    My phantom face as in a glass;
      Or one, men murdered, buried--where?--
    Dim in gray stealthy glimmer, pass
    With lips that seem to moan 'Alas.'



    THE MILL-WATER


    The water-flag and wild cane grow
    'Round banks whereon the sunbeams sow
    Fantastic gold when, on its shores,
    The wind sighs through the sycamores.

    In one green angle, just in reach,
    Between a willow-tree and beech,
    Moss-grown and leaky lies a boat
    The thick-grown lilies keep afloat.

    And through its waters, half awake,
    Slow swims the spotted water-snake;
    And near its edge, like some gray streak,
    Stands gaunt the still fly-up-the-creek.

    Between the lily-pads and blooms
    The water-spirits set their looms,
    That weave the lace-like light that dims
    The glimmering leaves of under limbs.

    Each lily is the hiding-place
    Of some dim wood-imp's elvish face,
    That watches you with gold-green eyes
    Where bubbles of its breathing rise.

    I fancy, when the waxing moon
    Leans through the trees and dreams of June,
    And when the black bat slants its wing,
    And lonelier the green-frogs sing;

    I fancy, when the whippoorwill
    In some old tree sings wild and shrill,
    With glow-worm eyes that dot the dark,--
    Each holding high a firefly spark

    To torch its way,--the wood-imps come:
    And some float rocking here; and some
    Unmoor the lily leaves and oar
    Around the old boat by the shore.

    They climb through oozy weeds and moss;
    They swarm its rotting sides and toss
    Their firefly torches o'er its edge
    Or hang them in the tangled sedge.

    The boat is loosed. The moon is pale.
    Around the dam they slowly sail.
    Upon the bow, to pilot it,
    A jack-o'-lantern gleam doth sit.

    Yes, I have seen it in my dreams!--
    Naught is forgotten! naught, it seems!--
    The strangled face, the tangled hair
    Of the drown'd woman trailing there.



    THE DREAM


    This was my dream:
                      It seemed the afternoon
    Of some deep tropic day; and yet the moon
    Stood round and bright with golden alchemy
    High in a heaven bluer than the sea.
    Long lawny lengths of perishable cloud
    Hung in a west o'er rolling forests bowed;
    Clouds raining colours, gold and violet,
    That, opening, seemed from mystic worlds to let
    Hints down of Parian beauty and lost charms
    Of dim immortals, young, with floating forms.
    And all about me fruited orchards grew,
    Pear, quince and peach, and plums of dusty blue;
    Rose-apricots and apples streaked with fire,
    Kissed into ripeness by the sun's desire
    And big with juice. And on far, fading hills,
    Down which it seemed a hundred torrent rills
    Flashed rushing silver, vines and vines and vines
    Of purple vintage swollen with cool wines;
    Pale pleasant wines and fragrant as late June,
    Their delicate tang drawn from the wine-white moon.
    And from the clouds o'er this sweet world there dripped
    An odorous music, strangely feverish-lipped,
    That swung and swooned and panted in mad sighs;
    Investing at each throb the air with eyes,
    And forms of sensuous spirits, limpid white,
    Clad on with raiment as of starry night;
    Fair, faint embodiments of melody,
    From out whose hearts of crystal one could see
    The music stream like light through delicate hands
    Hollowing a lamp. And as on sounding sands
    The ocean murmur haunts the rosy shells,
    Within whose convolutions beauty dwells,
    My soul became a vibrant harp of love,
    Re-echoing all the harmony above.



    SPRING TWILIGHT


    The sun set late; and left along the west
      A belt of furious ruby, o'er which snows
    Of clouds unrolled; each cloud a mighty breast
          Blooming with almond-rose.

    The sun set late; and wafts of wind beat down,
      And cuffed the blossoms from the blossoming quince;
    Scattered the pollen from the lily's crown,
          And made the clover wince.

    By dusky forests, through whose fretful boughs
      In flying fragments shot the evening's flame,
    Adown the tangled lane the quiet cows
          With dreamy tinklings came.

    The sun set late; but hardly had he gone
      When o'er the moon's gold-litten crescent there,
    Clean Phosphor, polished as a precious stone,
          Burned in fair deeps of air.

    As from faint stars the glory waned and waned,
      The crickets made the oldtime garden shrill;
    And past the luminous pasture-lands complained
          The first far whippoorwill.



    A SLEET-STORM IN MAY


    On southern winds shot through with amber light,
    Breathing soft balm and clothed in cloudy white,
    The lily-fingered Spring came o'er the hills,
    Waking the crocus and the daffodils.
    O'er the cold Earth she breathed a tender sigh--
    The maples sang and flung their banners high,
    Their crimson-tasselled pennons, and the elm
    Bound his dark brows with a green-crested helm.
    Beneath the musky rot of Autumn's leaves,
    Under the forest's myriad naked eaves,
    Life woke and rose in gold and green and blue,
    Robed in the starlight of the twinkling dew.
    With timid tread adown the barren wood
    Spring held her way, when, lo! before her stood
    White-mantled Winter wagging his white head,
    Stormy his brow and stormily he said:
      'The God of Terror, and the King of Storm,
    Must I remind thee how my iron arm
    Raised my red standards 'mid these conquered bowers,
    Turning their green to crimson?--Thou, with flowers,
    Thou wouldst supplant me! nay! usurp my throne!--
    Audacious one!'--And at her breast he tossed
    A bitter javelin of ice and frost;
    And left her lying on th' unfeeling mould.
    The fragile blossoms, gathered in the fold
    Of her warm bosom, fell in desolate rows
    About her beauty, and, like fragrant snows,
    Covered her lovely hands and beautiful feet,
    Or on her lips lay like last kisses sweet
    That died there. Lilacs, musky of the May,
    And bluer violets and snowdrops lay
    Entombed in crystal, icy dim and fair,
    Like teardrops scattered in her heavenly hair.

    Alas! sad heart, break not beneath the pain!
    Time changeth all; the Beautiful wakes again.--
    We should not question such; a higher power
    Knows best what bud is ripest or what flower,
    And silently plucks it at the fittest hour.



    UNREQUITED


    Passion? not hers, within whose virgin eyes
      All Eden lay.--And I remember how
    I drank the Heaven of her gaze with sighs--
      She never sighed, nor gave me kiss or vow.

    So have I seen a clear October pool,
      Cold, liquid topaz, set within the sear
    Gold of the woodland, tremorless and cool,
      Reflecting all the heartbreak of the year.

    Sweetheart? not she whose voice was music sweet;
      Whose face was sweeter than melodious prayer.
    Sweetheart I called her.--When did she repeat
      Sweet to one hope or heart to one despair?

    So have I seen a rose set round with thorn,
      Sung to and sung to by a bird of spring,
    And when, breast-pierced, the bird lay all forlorn,
      The rose bloomed on, fair and unnoticing.



    THE HEART O' SPRING


    Whiten, oh whiten, O clouds of lawn!
      Lily-like clouds that whiten above,
    Now like a dove, and now like a swan,
    But never, oh never--pass on! pass on!
      Never so white as the throat of my love.

    Blue-black night on the mountain peaks
      Is not so black as the locks o' my love!
    Stars that shine through the evening streaks
    Over the torrent that flashes and breaks,
      Are not so bright as the eyes o' my love!

    Moon in a cloud, a cloud of snow,
      Mist in the vale where the rivulet sounds,
    Dropping from ledge to ledge below,
    Turning to gold in the sunset's glow,
      Are not so soft as her footstep sounds.

    Sound o' May winds in the blossoming trees,
      Is not so sweet as her laugh that rings;
    Song o' wild birds on the morning breeze,
    Birds and brooks and murmur o' bees,
      Are harsh to her voice when she laughs or sings.

    The rose of my heart is she, my dawn!
      My star o' the east, my moon above!
    My soul takes ship for the Avalon
    Of her heart of hearts, and shall sail on
      Till it anchors safe in its haven of love.



    'A BROKEN RAINBOW ON THE SKIES OF MAY'


    A broken rainbow on the skies of May,
    Touching the dripping roses and low clouds,
    And in wet clouds its scattered glories lost:--
    So in the sorrow of her soul the ghost
    Of one great love, of iridescent ray,
    Spanning the roses dim of memory,
    Against the tumult of life's rushing crowds--
    A broken rainbow on the skies of May.

    A flashing humming-bird among the flowers,
    Deep-coloured blooms; its slender tongue and bill
    Sucking the syrups and the calyxed myrrhs,
    Till, being full of sweets, away it whirrs:--
    Such was his love that won her heart's rich bowers
    To give to him their all, their honied showers,
    The bloom from which he drank his body's fill--
    A flashing humming-bird among the flowers.

    A moon, moth-white, that through long mists of fleece
    Moves amber-girt into a bulk of black,
    And, lost to vision, rims the black with froth:--
    A love that swept its moon, like some great moth,
    Across the heaven of her soul's young peace;
    And, smoothly passing, in the clouds did cease
    Of time, through which its burning light comes back--
    A moon, moth-white, that moves through mists of fleece.

    A bolt of living thunder downward hurled,
    Momental blazing from the piled-up storm,
    That instants out the mountains and the ocean,
    The towering crag, then blots the sight's commotion:--
    Love, love that swiftly coming bared the world,
    The deeps of life, 'round which fate's clouds are curled,
    And, ceasing, left all night and black alarm--
    A bolt of living thunder downward hurled.



    ORGIE


    On nights like this, when bayou and lagoon
      Dream in the moonlight's mystic radiance,
      I seem to walk like one deep in a trance
    With old-world myths born of the mist and moon.

    Lascivious eyes and mouths of sensual rose
      Smile into mine; and breasts of luring light,
      And tresses streaming golden to the night,
    Persuade me onward where the forest glows.

    And then it seems along the haunted hills
      There falls a flutter as of beautiful feet,
      As if tempestuous troops of Mænads meet
    To drain deep bowls and shout and have their wills.

    And then I feel her limbs will be revealed
      Like some great snow-white moth among the trees;
      Her vampire beauty, waiting there to seize
    And dance me downward where my doom is sealed.



    REVERIE


    What ogive gates from gold of Ophir wrought,
      What walls of Parian, whiter than a rose,
    What towers of crystal, for the eyes of thought,
      Hast builded on far Islands of Repose?
    Thy cloudy columns, vast, Corinthian,
      Or huge, Ionic, colonnade the heights
        Of dreamland, looming o'er the soul's deep seas;
    Built melodies of marble, that no man
      Has ever reached, except in fancy's flights,
        Templing the presence of perpetual ease.

    Oft, where o'er plastic frieze and plinths of spar,--
      In glimmering solitudes of pillared stone,--
    The twilight blossoms with one violet star,
      With thee, O Reverie, I have stood alone,
    And there beheld, from out the Mythic Age,
      The rosy breasts of Cytherea--fair,
       Full-cestused, and suggestive of what loves
    Immortal--rise; and heard the lyric rage
      Of sun-burnt Poesy, whose throat breathes bare
        O'er leopard skins, fluting among his groves.

    Oft, where thy castled peaks and templed vales
      Cloud--like convulsive sunsets--shores that dream,
    Myrrh-fragrant, over siren seas whose sails
      Gleam white as lilies on a lilied stream,
    My soul has dreamed. Or by thy sapphire sea,
      In thy arcaded gardens, in the shade
       Of breathing sculpture, oft has walked with thought,
    And bent, in shadowy attitude, its knee
      Before the shrine of Beauty that must fade
        And leave no memory of the mind that wrought.

    Who hath beheld thy caverns where, in heaps,
      The wines of Lethe and Love's witchery,
    In sealéd Amphoræ a sibyl keeps,
      World-old, for ever guarded secretly?--
    No wine of Xeres or of Syracuse!
      No fine Falernian and no vile Sabine!--
        The stolen fire of a demigod,
    Whose bubbled purple goddess feet did bruise
      In crusted vats of vintage, where the green
        Flames with wild poppies, on the Samian sod.

    Oh, for the deep enchantment of one draught!
      The reckless ecstasy of classic earth!--
    With godlike eyes to laugh as gods have laughed
      In eyes of mortal brown, a mighty mirth.
    Of deity delirious with desire!
      To breathe the dropping roses of the shrines,
        The splashing wine-libation and the blood,
    And all the young priest's dreaming! To inspire
      My eager soul with beauty, 'til it shines
        An utt'rance of life's loftier brotherhood!

    So would I slumber in the old-world shades,
      And Poesy should touch me, as some bold
    Wild bee a pulpy lily of the glades,
      Barbaric-covered with the kernelled gold;
    And feel the glory of the Golden Age
      Less godly than my purpose, strong to dare
       Death with the pure immortal lips of love:
    Less lovely than my soul's ideal rage
      To mate itself with Music and declare
        Itself part meaning of the stars above.



    LETHE


    I

    There is a scent of roses and spilt wine
      Between the moonlight and the laurel coppice;
    The marble idol glimmers on its shrine,
      White as a star, among a heaven of poppies.
    Here all my life lies like a spilth of wine.
    There is a mouth of music like a lute,
      A nightingale that singeth to one flower;
    Between the falling flower and the fruit,
      Where love hath died, the music of an hour.


    II

    To sit alone with memory and a rose;
      To dwell with shadows of whilom romances;
    To make one hour of a year of woes
      And walk on starlight, in ethereal trances,
    With love's lost face fair as a moon-white rose.
    To shape from music and the scent of buds
      Love's spirit and its presence of sweet fire,
    Between the heart's wild burning and the blood's,
      Is part of life and of the soul's desire.


    III

    There is a song to silence and the stars,
      Between the forest and the temple's arches;
    And down the stream of night, like nenuphars,
      The tossing fires of the revellers' torches.--
    Here all my life waits lonely as the stars.--
    Shall not one hour of all those hours suffice
      For resignation God hath given as dower?
    Between the summons and the sacrifice
      One hour of love, th' eternity of an hour?


    IV

    The shrine is shattered and the bird is gone;
      Dark is the house of music and of bridal;
    The stars are stricken and the storm comes on;
      Lost in a wreck of roses lies the idol,
    Sad as the memory of a joy that's gone.--
    To dream of perished gladness and a kiss,
      Waking the last chord of love's broken lyre,
    Between remembering and forgetting, this
      Is part of life and of the soul's desire.



    DIONYSIA


    The day is dead; and in the west
    The slender crescent of the moon--
    Diana's crystal-kindled crest--
    Sinks hillward in a silvery swoon.
    What is the murmur in the dell?
    The stealthy whisper and the drip?
    A Dryad with her leaf-light trip?
    A Naiad o'er her fountain well?--
    Who with white fingers for her comb,
    Sleeks her blue hair, and from its curls
    Showers slim minnows and pale pearls,
    And hollow music of the foam.
    What is it in the vistaed ways
    That leans and springs, and stoops and sways?--
    The naked limbs of one who flees?
    An Oread who hesitates
    Before the Satyr form that waits,
    Crouching to leap, that there she sees?
    Or under boughs, reclining cool,
    A Hamadryad, like a pool
    Of moonlight, palely beautiful?
    Or Limnad, with her lilied face,
    More lovely than the misty lace
    That haunts a star and gives it grace?
    Or is it some Leimoniad
    In wildwood flowers dimly clad?
    Oblong blossoms white as froth,
    Or mottled like the tiger-moth;
    Or brindled as the brows of death,
    Wild of hue and wild of breath:
    Here ethereal flame and milk
    Blent with velvet and with silk;
    Here an iridescent glow
    Mixed with satin and with snow:
    Pansy, poppy and the pale
    Serpolet and galingale;
    Mandrake and anemone,
    Honey-reservoirs o' the bee;
    Cistus and the cyclamen,--
    Cheeked like blushing Hebe this,
    And the other white as is
    Bubbled milk of Venus when
    Cupid's baby mouth is pressed,
    Rosy to her rosy breast.
    And, besides, all flowers that mate
    With aroma, and in hue
    Stars and rainbows duplicate
    Here on earth for me and you.

    Yea! at last mine eyes can see!
    'Tis no shadow of the tree
    Swaying softly there, but she!--
    Mænad, Bassarid, Bacchant,
    What you will, who doth enchant
    Night with sensuous nudity.
    Lo! again I hear her pant
    Breasting through the dewy glooms--
    Through the glow-worm gleams and glowers
    Of the starlight;--wood-perfumes
    Swoon around her and frail showers
    Of the leaflet-tilted rain.
    Lo! like love, she comes again
    Through the pale voluptuous dusk,
    Sweet of limb with breasts of musk.
    With her lips, like blossoms, breathing
    Honeyed pungence of her kiss,
    And her auburn tresses wreathing
    Like umbrageous helichrys,
    There she stands, like fire and snow,
    In the moon's ambrosial glow,
    Both her shapely loins low-looped
    With the balmy blossoms, drooped,
    Of the deep amaracus.
    Spiritual, yet sensual,
    Lo, she ever greets me thus
    In my vision; white and tall,
    Her delicious body there,--
    Raimented with amorous air,--
    To my mind expresses all
    The allurements of the world.
    And once more I seem to feel
    On my soul, like frenzy, hurled
    All the passionate past.--I reel,
    Greek again in ancient Greece,
    In the Pyrrhic revelries;
    In the mad and Mænad dance;
    Onward dragged with violence;
    Pan and old Silenus and
    Faunus and a Bacchant band
    Round me. Wild my wine-stained hand
    O'er tumultuous hair is lifted;
    While the flushed and Phallic orgies
    Whirl around me; and the marges
    Of the wood are torn and rifted
    With lascivious laugh and shout.
    And barbarian there again,--
    Shameless with the shameless rout,
    Bacchus lusting in each vein,--
    With her pagan lips on mine,
    Like a god made drunk with wine,
    On I reel; and in the revels
    Her loose hair, the dance dishevels,
    Blows, and 'thwart my vision swims
    All the splendour of her limbs....

    So it seems. Yet woods are lonely.
    And when I again awake,
    I shall find their faces only
    Moonbeams in the boughs that shake;
    And their revels, but the rush
    Of night-winds through bough and brush.
    Yet my dreaming--is it more
    Than mere dreaming? Is a door
    Opened in my soul? a curtain
    Raised? to let me see for certain
    I have lived that life before?



    THE NAIAD


    She sits among the iris stalks
      Of babbling brooks; and leans for hours
      Among the river's lily flowers,
    Or on their whiteness walks:
      Above dark forest pools, gray rocks
      Wall in, she leans with dripping locks,
    And listening to the echo, talks
      With her own face--Iothera.

    There is no forest of the hills,
      No valley of the solitude,
      Nor fern nor moss, that may elude
    Her searching step that stills:
      She dreams among the wild-rose brakes
      Of fountains that the ripple shakes,
    And, dreaming of herself, she fills
      The silence with 'Iothera.'

    And every wind that haunts the ways
      Of leaf and bough, once having kissed
      Her virgin nudity, goes whist
    With wonder and amaze.
      There blows no breeze which hath not learned
      Her name's sweet melody, and yearned
    To kiss her mouth that laughs and says,
      'Iothera, Iothera.'

    No wild thing of the wood, no bird,
      Or brown or blue, or gold or gray,
      Beneath the sun's or moonlight's ray,
    That hath not loved and heard;
      They are her pupils; she can say
      No new thing but, within a day,
    They have its music, word for word,
      Harmonious as Iothera.

    No man who lives and is not wise
      With love for common flowers and trees,
      Bee, bird, and beast, and brook, and breeze,
    And rocks and hills and skies,--
      Search where he will,--shall ever see
      One flutter of her drapery,
    One glimpse of limbs, or hair, or eyes
      Of beautiful Iothera.



    THE LIMNAD


    I

    The lake she haunts gleams dreamily
    'Twixt sleepy boughs of melody,
    Set 'mid the hills beside the sea,
      In tangled bush and brier;
    Where the ghostly sunsets write
    Wondrous things in golden light;
    And above the pine-crowned height,
    Clouds of twilight, rosy white,
      Build their towers of fire.


    II

    'Mid the rushes there that swing,
    Flowering flags where voices sing
    When low winds are murmuring,
      Murmuring to stars that glitter;
    Blossom-white, with purple locks,
    Underneath the stars' still flocks,
    In the dusky waves she rocks,
    Rocks, and all the landscape mocks
      With a song most sweet and bitter.


    III

    Soft it sounds, at first, as dreams
    Filled with tears that fall in streams;
    Then it soars, until it seems
      Beauty's very self hath spoken;
    And the woods grow silent quite,
    Stars wax faint and flowers turn white;
    And the nightingales that light
    Near, or hear her through the night,
      Die, their hearts with longing broken.


    IV

    Dark, dim and sad o'er mournful lands,
    White-throated stars heaped in her hands,
    Like wildwood buds, the Twilight stands,
      The Twilight dreaming lingers;
    Listening where the Limnad sings
    Witcheries, whose beauty brings
    A great moon from hidden springs,
    Pale with amorous quiverings
      Feet of fire and silvery fingers.


    V

    In the vales Auloniads,
    On the mountains Oreads,
    On the leas Leimoniads,
      Naked as the stars that glisten,
    Pan, the Satyrs, Dryades,
    Fountain-lovely Naiades,
    Foam-lipped Oceanides,
    Breathless 'mid their seas and trees,
      Stay and stop and lean and listen.


    VI

    Large-eyed, Siren-like she stands,
    In the lake or on its sands,
    And with rapture from the hands
      Of the Night some stars are shaken;
    To her song the rushes swing,
    Lilies nod and ripples ring,
    Lost in helpless listening--
    These will wake that hear her sing,
      But one mortal will not waken.



    INTIMATIONS


    I

    Is it uneasy moonlight
    On the restless field, that stirs?
    Or wild white meadow-blossoms
    The night-wind bends and blurs?

    Is it the dolorous water,
    That sobs in the woods and sighs?
    Or heart of an ancient oak-tree,
    That breaks and, sighing, dies?

    The wind is vague with the shadows
    That wander in No-Man's Land;
    The water is dark with the voices
    That weep on the Unknown strand.

    O ghosts of the winds that call me!
    O ghosts of the whispering waves!
    As sad as forgotten flowers
    That die upon nameless graves!

    What is this thing you tell me
    In tongues of a twilight race,
    Of death, with the vanished features,
    Mantled, of my own face?


    II

    The old enigmas of the deathless dawns
    And riddles of the all immortal eves,--
    That still o'er Delphic lawns
    Speak as the gods spoke through oracular leaves--
    I read with new-born eyes,
    Remembering how, a slave;
    They buried me, a living sacrifice,
    Once in a dead king's grave.

    Or crowned with hyacinth and helichrys,
    How, towards the altar in the marble gloom,--
    Hearing the magadis
    Dirge through the pale amaracine perfume,--
    'Mid chanting priests I trod,
    With never a sigh or pause,
    To give my life to pacify a god,
    And save my country's cause.

    Again: Cyrenian roses on wild hair,
    And oil and purple smeared on breasts and cheeks,
    How, with mad torches there,--
    Reddening the cedars of Cithæron's peaks,--
    With gesture and fierce glance,
    Lascivious Mænad bands
    Once drew and slew me in the Pyrrhic dance,
    With Bacchanalian hands.


    III

    In eons of the senses,
    My spirit knew of yore,
    I found the Isle of Circe
    And felt her magic lore;
    And still the soul remembers
    What I was once before.

    She gave me flowers to smell of
    That wizard branches bore,
    Of weird and sorcerous beauty,
    Whose stems dripped human gore--
    Their scent when I remember
    I know that world once more.

    She gave me fruits to eat of
    That grew upon the shore,
    Of necromantic ripeness,
    With human flesh at core--
    Their taste when I remember
    I know that life once more.

    And then, behold! a serpent,
    That glides my face before,
    With eyes of tears and fire
    That glare me o'er and o'er--
    I look into its eyeballs,
    And know myself once more.



    BEFORE THE TEMPLE


    I

      All desolate she sate her down
    Upon the marble of the temple's stair.
    You would have thought her, with her eyes of brown,
      Flushed cheeks and hazel hair,
        A dryad dreaming there.


    II

      A priest of Bacchus passed, nor stopped
    To chide her; deeming her--whose chiton hid
    But half her bosom, and whose girdle dropped--
      Some grief-drowned Bassarid,
        The god of wine had chid.


    III

      With wreaths of woodland cyclamen
    For Dian's shrine, a shepherdess drew near,
    All her young thoughts on vestal beauty, when--
      She dare not look for fear--
        Behold the goddess here!


    IV

      Fierce lights on shields of bossy brass
    And helms of gold, next from the hills deploy
    Tall youths of Argos. And she sees _him_ pass,
      Flushed with heroic joy,
        On towards the siege of Troy.



    ANTHEM OF DAWN


    I

    Then up the orient heights to the zenith that balanced the
          crescent,--
    Up and far up and over,--the heaven grew erubescent,
    Vibrant with rose and with ruby from hands of the harpist Dawn,
    Smiting symphonic fire on the firmament's barbition;
    And the East was a priest who adored with offerings of gold and of
          gems,
    And a wonderful carpet unrolled for the inaccessible hems
    Of the glittering robes of her limbs; that, lily and amethyst,
    Swept glorying on and on through temples of cloud and mist.


    II

    Then out of the splendour and richness, that burned like a magic
          stone,
    The torrent suffusion that deepened and dazzled and broadened and
          shone,
    The pomp and the pageant of colour, triumphal procession of glare,
    The sun, like a king in armour, breathing splendour from feet to
          hair,
    Stood forth with majesty girdled, as a hero who towers afar
    Where the bannered gates are bristling hells and the walls are
          roaring war:
    And broad on the back of the world, like a Cherubin's fiery blade,
    The effulgent gaze of his aspect fell in glittering accolade.


    III

    Then billowing blue, like an ocean, rolled from the shores of dawn
          to even:
    And the stars, like rafts, went down: and the moon, like a
          ghost-ship driven,
    A feather of foam, from port to port of the cloud-built isles that
          dotted,
    With pearl and cameo, bays of the day, her canvas webbed and rooted,
    Lay lost in the gulf of heaven: while over her mixed and melted
    The beautiful children of Morn, whose bodies are opal-belted;
    The beautiful daughters of Dawn, who, over and under and after
    The rivered radiance wrestled; and rainbowed heaven with laughter
    Of halcyon sapphire.--O Dawn! thou visible mirth,
    Thou hallelujah of heaven! hosanna of Earth!



    AT THE LANE'S END


    I

    No more to strip the roses from
      The rose-boughs of her porch's place!--
    I dreamed last night that I was home
      Beside a rose--her face.

    I must have smiled in sleep--who knows?--
      The rose aroma filled the lane;
    I saw her white hand's lifted rose
      That called me home again.

    And yet when I awoke--so wan,
      An old face wet with icy tears!--
    Somehow, it seems, sleep had misdrawn
      A love gone thirty years.


    II

    The clouds roll up and the clouds roll down
    Over the roofs of the little town;
    Out in the hills where the pike winds by
    Fields of clover and bottoms of rye,
    You will hear no sound but the barking cough
    Of the striped chipmunk where the lane leads off;
    You will hear no bird but the sapsuckers
    Far off in the forest,--that seems to purr,
    As the warm wind fondles its top, grown hot,
    Like the docile back of an ocelot:
    You will see no thing but the shine and shade
    Of briers that climb and of weeds that wade
    The glittering creeks of the light, that fills
    The dusty road and the red-keel hills--
    And all day long in the pennyroy'l
    The grasshoppers at their anvils toil;
    Thick click of their tireless hammers thrum,
    And the wheezy belts of their bellows hum;
    Tinkers who solder the silence and heat
    To make the loneliness more complete.
    Around old rails where the blackberries
    Are reddening ripe, and the bumble-bees
    Are a drowsy rustle of Summer's skirts,
    And the bob-white's wing is the fan she flirts.
    Under the hill, through the iron weeds,
    And ox-eyed daisies and milkweeds, leads
    The path forgotten of all but one.
    Where elder bushes are sick with sun,
    And wild raspberries branch big blue veins
    O'er the face of the rock, where the old spring rains
    Its sparkling splinters of molten spar
    On the gravel bed where the tadpoles are,--
    You will find the pales of the fallen fence,
    And the tangled orchard and vineyard, dense
    With the weedy neglect of thirty years.
    The garden there,--where the soft sky clears
    Like an old sweet face that has dried its tears;--
    The garden plot where the cabbage grew
    And the pompous pumpkin; and beans that blew
    Balloons of white by the melon patch;
    Maize; and tomatoes that seemed to catch
    Oblong amber and agate balls
    Thrown from the sun in the frosty falls:
    Long rows of currants and gooseberries,
    And the balsam-gourd with its honey-bees.
    And here was a nook for the princess-plumes,
    The snap-dragons and the poppy-blooms,
    Mother's sweet-williams and pansy flowers,
    And the morning-glories' bewildered bowers,
    Tipping their cornucopias up
    For the humming-birds that came to sup.
    And over it all was the Sabbath peace
    Of the land whose lap was the love of these;
    And the old log-house where my innocence died,
    With my boyhood buried side by side.

    Shall a man with a face as withered and gray
    As the wasp-nest stowed in a loft away,--
    Where the hornets haunt and the mortar drops
    From the loosened logs of the clapboard tops;--
    Whom vice has aged as the rotting rooms
    The rain where memories haunt the glooms;
    A hitch in his joints like the rheum that gnars
    In the rasping hinge of the door that jars;
    A harsh, cracked throat like the old stone flue
    Where the swallows build the summer through;
    Shall a man, I say, with the spider sins
    That the long years spin in the outs and ins
    Of his soul, returning to see once more
    His boyhood's home, where his life was poor
    With toil and tears and their fretfulness,
    But rich with health and the hopes that bless
    The unsoiled wealth of a vigorous youth;
    Shall he not take comfort and know the truth
    In its threadbare raiment of falsehood?--Yea!
    In his crumbled past he shall kneel and pray,
    Like a pilgrim come to the shrine again
    Of the homely saints that shall soothe his pain,
    And arise and depart made clean from stain!


    III

    Years of care can not erase
      Visions of the hills and trees
    Closing in the dam and race;
      Not the mile-long memories
    Of the mill-stream's lovely place.

    How the sunsets used to stain
      Mirror of the water lying
    Under eaves made dark with rain!
      Where the red-bird, westward flying,
    Lit to try one song again.

    Dingles, hills, and woods, and springs,
      Where we came in calm and storm,
    Swinging in the grape-vine swings,
      Wading where the rocks were warm,
    With our fishing-nets and strings.

    Here the road plunged down the hill,
      Under ash and chinquapin,--
    Where the grasshoppers would drill
      Ears of silence with their din,--
    To the willow-girdled mill.

    There the path beyond the ford
      Takes the woodside, just below
    Shallows that the lilies sword,
      Where the scarlet blossoms blow
    Of the trumpet-vine and gourd.

    Summer winds, that sink with heat,
      On the pelted waters winnow
    Moony petals that repeat
      Crescents, where the startled minnow
    Beats a glittering retreat.

    Summer winds that bear the scent
      Of the iron-weed and mint,
    Weary with sweet freight and spent,
      On the deeper pools imprint
    Stumbling steps in many a dent.

    Summer winds, that split the husk
      Of the peach and nectarine,
    Trail along the amber dusk
      Hazy skirts of gray and green,
    Spilling balms of dew and musk.

    Where with balls of bursting juice
      Summer sees the red wild-plum
    Strew the gravel; ripened loose,
      Autumn hears the pawpaw drum
    Plumpness on the rocks that bruise:

    There we found the water-beech,
      One forgotten August noon,
    With a hornet-nest in reach,--
      Like a fairyland balloon,
    Full of bustling fairy speech.--

    Some invasion sure it was;
      For we heard the captains scold;
    Waspish cavalry a-buzz,--
      Troopers uniformed in gold,
    Sable-slashed,--to charge on us.

    Could I find the sedgy angle,
      Where the dragon-flies would turn
    Slender flittings into spangle
      On the sunlight? or would burn--
    Where the berries made a tangle--

    Sparkling green and brassy blue;
      Rendezvousing, by the stream,
    Bands of elf-banditti, who,
      Brigands of the bloom and beam,
    Drunken were with honey-dew.

    Could I find the pond that lay
      Where vermilion blossoms showered
    Fragrance down the daisied way?
      That the sassafras embowered
    With the spice of early May?

    Could I find it--did I seek--
      The old mill? Its weather-beaten
    Wheel and gable by the creek?
      With its warping roof; worm-eaten,
    Dusty rafters worn and weak.

    Where old shadows haunt old places,
      Loft and hopper, stair and bin;
    Ghostly with the dust that laces
      Webs that usher phantoms in,
    Wistful with remembered faces.

    While the frogs' grave litanies
      Drowse in far-off antiphone,
    Supplicating, till the eyes
      Of dead friendships, long alone
    In the dusky corners,--rise.

    Moonrays or the splintered slip
      Of a star? within the darkling
    Twilight, where the fireflies dip--
      As if Night a myriad sparkling
    Jewels from her hands let slip:

    While again some farm-boy crosses,--
      With a corn-sack for the meal,--
    O'er the creek, through ferns and mosses
      Sprinkled by the old mill-wheel,
    Where the water drips and tosses.



    THE FARMSTEAD


    Yes, I love the homestead. There
      In the spring the lilacs blew
    Plenteous perfume everywhere;
      There in summer gladioles grew
    Parallels of scarlet glare.

    And the moon-hued primrose cool,
      Satin-soft and redolent;
    Honeysuckles beautiful,
      Filling all the air with scent;
    Roses red or white as wool.

    Roses, glorious and lush,
      Rich in tender-tinted dyes,
    Like the gay tempestuous rush
      Of unnumbered butterflies,
    Clustering o'er each bending bush.

    Here japonica and box,
      And the wayward violets;
    Clumps of star-enamelled phlox,
      And the myriad flowery jets
    Of the twilight four-o'-clocks.

    Ah, the beauty of the place!
      When the June made one great rose,
    Full of musk and mellow grace,
      In the garden's humming close,
    Of her comely mother face!

    Bubble-like, the hollyhocks
      Budded, burst, and flaunted wide
    Gypsy beauty from their stocks;
      Morning glories, bubble-dyed,
    Swung in honey-hearted flocks.

    Tawny tiger-lilies flung
      Doublets slashed with crimson on;
    Graceful slave-girls, fair and young,
      Like Circassians, in the sun
    Alabaster lilies swung.

    Ah, the droning of the bee;
      In his dusty pantaloons
    Tumbling in the fleurs-de-lis;
      In the drowsy afternoons
    Dreaming in the pink sweet-pea.

    Ah, the moaning wildwood-dove!
      With its throat of amethyst
    Rippled like a shining cove
      Which a wind to pearl hath kissed,
    Moaning, moaning of its love.

    And the insects' gossip thin--
      From the summer hotness hid--
    In lone, leafy deeps of green;
      Then at eve the katydid
    With its hard, unvaried din.

    Often from the whispering hills,
      Borne from out the golden dusk,--
    Gold with gold of daffodils,--
      Thrilled into the garden's musk
    The wild wail of whippoorwills.

    From the purple-tangled trees,
      Like the white, full heart of night,
    Solemn with majestic peace,
      Swam the big moon, veined with light;
    Like some gorgeous golden-fleece.

    She was there with me.--And who,
      In the magic of the hour,
    Had not sworn that they could view,
      Beading on each blade and flower
    Moony blisters of the dew?

    And each fairy of our home,--
      Firefly,--its taper lit
    In the honey-scented gloam,
      Dashing down the dusk with it
    Like an instant-flaming foam.

    And we heard the calling, calling,
      Of the screech-owl in the brake;
    Where the trumpet-vine hung, crawling
      Down the ledge, into the lake
    Heard the sighing streamlet falling.

    Then we wandered to the creek
      Where the water-lilies, growing
    Thick as stars, lay white and weak;
      Or against the brooklet's flowing
    Bent and bathed a bashful cheek.

    And the moonlight, rippling golden,
      Fell in virgin aureoles
    On their bosoms, half unfolden,
      Where, it seemed, the fairies' souls
    Dwelt as perfume,--unbeholden;--

    Or lay sleeping, pearly-tented,
      Baby-cribbed within each bud,
    While the night-wind, piney-scented,
      Swooning over field and flood,
    Rocked them on the waters dented.

    Then the low, melodious bell
      Of a sleeping heifer tinkled,
    In some berry-briered dell,
      As her satin dewlap wrinkled
    With the cud that made it swell.

    And, returning home, we heard,
      In a beech-tree at the gate,
    Some brown, dream-behaunted bird,
      Singing of its absent mate,
    Of the mate that never heard.

    And, you see, now I am gray,
      Why within the old, old place,
    With such memories, I stay;
      Fancy out her absent face
    Long since passed away.

    She was mine--yes! still is mine:
      And my frosty memory
    Reels about her, as with wine
      Warmed into young eyes that see
    All of her that was divine.

    Yes, I loved her, and have grown
      Melancholy in that love,
    And the memory alone
      Of perfection such whereof
    She could sanctify each stone.

    And where'er the poppies swing--
      There we walk,--as if a bee
    Bent them with its airy wing,--
      Down her garden shadowy
    In the hush the evenings bring.



    A FLOWER OF THE FIELDS


    Bee-bitten in the orchard hung
    The peach; or, fallen in the weeds,
    Lay rotting, where still sucked and sung
    The gray bee, boring to its seed's
    Pink pulp and honey blackly stung.

    The orchard-path, which led around
    The garden,--with its heat one twinge
    Of dinning locusts,--picket-bound
    And ragged, brought me where one hinge
    Held up the gate that scraped the ground.

    All seemed the same: the martin-box--
    Sun-warped with pigmy balconies--
    Still stood, with all its twittering flocks,
    Perched on its pole above the peas
    And silvery-seeded onion-stocks.

    The clove-pink and the rose; the clump
    Of coppery sunflowers, with the heat
    Sick to the heart: the garden stump,
    Red with geranium-pots, and sweet
    With moss and ferns, this side the pump.

    I rested, with one hesitant hand
    Upon the gate. The lonesome day,
    Droning with insects, made the land
    One dry stagnation. Soaked with hay
    And scents of weeds the hot wind fanned.

    I breathed the sultry scents, my eyes
    Parched as my lips. And yet I felt
    My limbs were ice.--As one who flies
    To some wild woe.--How sleepy smelt
    The hay-sweet heat that soaked the skies!

    Noon nodded; dreamier, lonesomer
    For one long, plaintive, forest-side
    Bird-quaver.--And I knew me near
    Some heartbreak anguish.... She had died.
    I felt it, and no need to hear!

    I passed the quince and pear-tree; where,
    All up the porch, a grape-vine trails--
    How strange that fruit, whatever air
    Or earth it grows in, never fails
    To find its native flavour there!

    And she was as a flower, too,
    That grows its proper bloom and scent
    No matter what the soil: she, who,
    Born better than her place, still lent
    Grace to the lowliness she knew....

    They met me at the porch, and were
    Sad-eyed with weeping.--Then the room
    Shut out the country's heat and purr,
    And left light stricken into gloom--
    So love and I might look on her.



    THE FEUD


    Rocks, trees and rocks; and down a mossy stone
      The murmuring ooze and trickle of a stream
    Through bushes, where the mountain spring lies lone,--
      A gleaming cairngorm where the shadows dream,--
    And one wild road winds like a saffron seam.

    Here sang the thrush, whose pure, mellifluous note
      Dropped golden sweetness on the fragrant June;
    Here cat--and blue-bird and wood-sparrow wrote
      Their presence on the silence with a tune;
    And here the fox drank 'neath the mountain moon.

    Frail ferns and dewy mosses and dark brush,--
      Impenetrable briers, deep and dense,
    And wiry bushes,--brush, that seemed to crush
      The struggling saplings with its tangle, whence
    Sprawled out the ramble of an old rail-fence.

    A wasp buzzed by; and then a butterfly
      In orange and amber, like a floating flame;
    And then a man, hard-eyed and very sly,
      Gaunt-cheeked and haggard and a little lame,
    With an old rifle, down the mountain came.

    He listened, drinking from a flask he took
      Out of the ragged pocket of his coat;
    Then all around him cast a stealthy look;
      Lay down; and watched an eagle soar and float,
    His fingers twitching at his hairy throat.

    The shades grew longer; and each Cumberland height
      Loomed, framed in splendours of the dolphin dusk.
    Around the road a horseman rode in sight;
      Young, tall, blonde-bearded. Silent, grim, and brusque,
    He in the thicket aimed--The gun ran husk;

    And echoes barked among the hills and made
      Repeated instants of the shot's distress.--
    Then silence--and the trampled bushes swayed;--
      Then silence, packed with murder and the press
    Of distant hoofs that galloped riderless.



    LYNCHERS


    At the moon's down-going, let it be
    On the quarry hill with its one gnarled tree....

    The red-rock road of the underbush,
    Where the woman came through the summer hush.

    The sumach high and the elder thick,
    Where we found the stone and the ragged stick

    The trampled road of the thicket, full
    Of footprints down to the quarry pool.

    The rocks that ooze with the hue of lead,
    Where we found her lying stark and dead.

    The scraggy wood; the negro hut,
    With its doors and windows locked and shut.

    A secret signal; a foot's rough tramp;
    A knock at the door; a lifted lamp.

    An oath; a scuffle; a ring of masks;
    A voice that answers a voice that asks.

    A group of shadows; the moon's red fleck;
    A running noose and a man's bared neck.

    A word, a curse, and a shape that swings;
    The lonely night and a bat's black wings....

    At the moon's down-going, let it be
    On the quarry hill with its one gnarled tree.



    DEAD MAN'S RUN


    He rode adown the autumn wood,
      A man dark-eyed and brown;
    A mountain girl before him stood
      Clad in a homespun gown.

    'To ride this road is death for you!
      My father waits you there;
    My father and my brother, too,--
      You know the oath they swear.'

    He holds her by one berry-brown wrist,
      And by one berry-brown hand;
    And he hath laughed at her and kissed
      Her cheek the sun hath tanned.

    'The feud is to the death, sweetheart;
      But forward will I ride.'--
    'And if you ride to death, sweetheart,
      My place is at your side.'

    Low hath he laughed again and kissed
      And helped her with his hand;
    And they have ridd'n into the mist
      That belts the autumn land.

    And they had passed by Devil's Den,
      And come to Dead Man's Run,
    When in the brush rose up two men,
      Each with a levelled gun.

    'Down! down! my sister!' cries the one;--
      She gives the reins a twirl.--
    The other shouts, 'He shot my son!
      And now he steals my girl!'

    The rifles crack: she will not wail:
      He will not cease to ride:
    But, oh! her face is pale, is pale,
      And the red blood stains her side.

    'Sit fast, sit fast by me, sweetheart!
      The road is rough to ride!'--
    The road is rough by gulch and bluff,
      And her hair blows wild and wide.

    'Sit fast, sit fast by me, sweetheart!
      The bank is steep to ride!'--
    The bank is steep for a strong man's leap,
      And her eyes are staring wide.

    'Sit fast, sit fast by me, sweetheart!
      The Run is swift to ride!'--
    The Run is swift with mountain drift,
      And she sways from side to side.

    Is it a wash of the yellow moss,
      Or drift of the autumn's gold,
    The mountain torrent foams across
      For the dead pine's roots to hold?

    Is it the bark of the sycamore,
      Or peel of the white birch-tree,
    The mountaineer on the other shore
      Hath followed and still can see?

    No mountain moss or leaves, dear heart!
      No bark of birchen gray!--
    Young hair of gold and a face death-cold
      The wild stream sweeps away.



    AUGUST


    I

    Clad on with glowing beauty and the peace,
      Benign, of calm maturity, she stands
      Among her meadows and her orchard-lands,
    And on her mellowing gardens and her trees,
      Out of the ripe abundance of her hands
              Bestows increase
    And fruitfulness, as, wrapped in sunny ease,
        Blue-eyed and blonde she goes
    Upon her bosom Summer's richest rose.


    II

    And he who follows where her footsteps lead,
      By hill and rock, by forest-side and stream,
      Shall glimpse the glory of her visible dream,
    In flower and fruit, in rounded nut and seed:
      She, in whose path the very shadows gleam;
              Whose humblest weed
    Seems lovelier than June's loveliest flower, indeed,
        And sweeter to the smell
    Than April's self within a rainy dell.


    III

    Hers is a sumptuous simplicity
      Within the fair Republic of her flowers,
      Where you may see her standing hours on hours,
    Breast-deep in gold, soft-holding up a bee
      To her hushed ear; or sitting under bowers
              Of greenery,
    A butterfly a-tilt upon her knee;
        Or lounging on her hip,
    Dancing a cricket on her finger-tip.


    IV

    Ay, let me breathe hot scents that tell of you;
      The hoary catnip and the meadow-mint,
      On which the honour of your touch doth print
    Itself as odour. Let me drink the hue
      Of iron-weed and mist-flow'r here that hint,
              With purple and blue,
    The rapture that your presence doth imbue
        Their inmost essence with,
    Immortal though as transient as a myth.


    V

    Yea, let me feed on sounds that still assure
      Me where you hide: the brooks', whose happy din
      Tells where, the deep retired woods within,
    Disrobed, you bathe; the birds', whose drowsy lure
      Tells where you slumber, your warm nestling chin
              Soft on the pure,
    Pink cushion of your palm.... What better cure
        For care and memory's ache
    Than to behold you so, and watch you wake!



    THE BUSH-SPARROW


    I

    Ere wild-haws, looming in the glooms,
    Build bolted drifts of breezy blooms;
    And in the whistling hollow there
    The red-bud bends, as brown and bare
    As buxom Roxy's up-stripped arm;
    From some gray hickory or larch,
    Sighed o'er the sodden meads of March,
    The sad heart thrills and reddens warm
    To hear you braving the rough storm,
    Frail courier of green-gathering powers;
    Rebelling sap in trees and flowers;
    Love's minister come heralding--
    O sweet saint-voice among bleak bowers!
    O brown-red pursuivant of Spring!


    II

    'Moan' sob the woodland waters still
    Down bloomless ledges of the hill;
    And gray, gaunt clouds like harpies hang
    In harpy heavens, and swoop and clang
    Sharp beaks and talons of the wind:
    Black scowl the forests, and unkind
    The far fields as the near: while song
    Seems murdered and all beauty wrong.
    One weak frog only in the thaw
    Of spawny pools wakes cold and raw,
    Expires a melancholy bass
    And stops as if bewildered: then
    Along the frowning wood again,
    Flung in the thin wind's vulture face,
    From woolly tassels of the proud,
    Red-bannered maples, long and loud,
    'The Spring is come! is here! her Grace! her Grace!'


    III

    'Her Grace, the Spring! her Grace! her Grace!
    Climbs, beautiful and sunny browed,
    Up, up the kindling hills and wakes
    Blue berries in the berry brakes:
    With fragrant flakes, that blow and bleach,
    Deep-powders smothered quince and peach:
    Eyes dogwoods with a thousand eyes:
    Teaches each sod how to be wise
    With twenty wild-flowers to one weed,
    And kisses germs that they may seed.
    In purest purple and sweet white
    Treads up the happier hills of light,
    Bloom, cloudy-borne, song in her hair
    And balm and beam of odorous air.
    Winds, her retainers; and the rains
    Her yeomen strong that sweep the plains:
    Her scarlet knights of dawn, and gold
    Of eve, her panoply unfold:
    Her herald tabarded behold!
    Awake to greet! prepare to sing!
    She comes, the darling Duchess, Spring!'



    QUIET


    A log-hut in the solitude,
      A clapboard roof to rest beneath!
    This side, the shadow-haunted wood;
      That side, the sunlight-haunted heath.

    At daybreak Morn shall come to me
      In raiment of the white winds spun;
    Slim in her rosy hand the key
      That opes the gateway of the sun.

    Her smile shall help my heart enough
      With love to labour all the day,
    And cheer the road, whose rocks are rough,
      With her smooth footprints, each a ray.

    At dusk a voice shall call afar,
      A lone voice like the whippoorwill's;
    And, on her shimmering brow one star,
      Night shall descend the western hills.

    She at my door till dawn shall stand,
      With gothic eyes, that, dark and deep,
    Are mirrors of a mystic land,
      Fantastic with the towns of sleep.



    MUSIC


    Thou, oh, thou!
    Thou of the chorded shell and golden plectrum, thou
    Of the dark eyes and pale pacific brow!
    Music, who by the plangent waves,
    Or in the echoing night of labyrinthine caves,
    Or on God's mountains, lonely as the stars,
    Touchest reverberant bars
    Of immemorial sorrow and amaze;--
    Keeping regret and memory awake,
    And all the immortal ache
    Of love that leans upon the past's sweet days
    In retrospection!--now, oh, now,
    Interpreter and heart-physician, thou
    Who gazest on the heaven and the hell
    Of life, and singest each as well,
    Touch with thy all-mellifluous finger-tips,
    Or thy melodious lips,
    This sickness named my soul,
    Making it whole
    As is an echo of a chord,
    Or some symphonic word,
    Or sweet vibrating sigh,
    That deep, resurgent still doth rise and die
    On thy voluminous roll;
    Part of the beauty and the mystery
    That axles Earth with music; as a slave,
    Swinging it round and round on each sonorous pole,
    'Mid spheric harmony,
    And choral majesty,
    And diapasoning of wind and wave;
    Speeding it on its far elliptic way
    'Mid vasty anthemings of night and day.--
    O cosmic cry
    Of two eternities, wherein we see
    The phantasms, Death and Life,
    At endless strife
    Above the silence of a monster grave.



    THE PURPLE VALLEYS


    Far in the purple valleys of illusion
    I see her waiting, like the soul of music,
    With deep eyes, lovelier than cerulean pansies,
    Shadow and fire, yet merciless as poison;
    With red lips sweeter than Arabian storax,
    Yet bitterer than myrrh. O tears and kisses!
    O eyes and lips, that haunt my soul for ever!

    Again Spring walks transcendent on the mountains:
    The woods are hushed: the vales are blue with shadows:
    Above the heights, steeped in a thousand splendours,
    Like some vast canvas of the gods, hangs burning
    The sunset's wild sciography: and slowly
    The moon treads heaven's proscenium,--night's stately
    White queen of love and tragedy and madness.

    Again I know forgotten dreams and longings;
    Ideals lost; desires dead and buried
    Beside the altar sacrifice erected
    Within the heart's high sanctuary. Strangely
    Again I know the horror and the rapture,
    The utterless awe, the joy akin to anguish,
    The terror and the worship of the spirit.

    Again I feel her eyes pierce through and through me;
    Her deep eyes, lovelier than imperial pansies,
    Velvet and flame, through which her fierce will holds me,
    Powerless and tame, and draws me on and onward
    To sad, unsatisfied and animal yearnings,
    Wild, unrestrained--the brute within the human--
    To fling me panting on her mouth and bosom.

    Again I feel her lips like ice and fire,
    Her red lips, odorous as Arabian storax,
    Fragrance and fire, within whose kiss destruction
    Lies serpent-like. Intoxicating languors
    Resistlessly embrace me, soul and body;
    And we go drifting, drifting--she is laughing--
    Outcasts of God, into the deep's abysm.



    A DREAM SHAPE


    With moon-white hearts that held a gleam
    I gathered wild-flowers in a dream,
    And shaped a woman, whose sweet blood
    Was odour of the wildwood bud.

    From dew, the starlight arrowed through,
    I wrought a woman's eyes of blue;
    The lids that on her eyeballs lay,
    Were rose-pale petals of the May.

    Out of a rosebud's veins I drew
    The fragrant crimson beating through
    The languid lips of her, whose kiss
    Was as a poppy's drowsiness.

    Out of the moonlight and the air
    I wrought the glory of her hair,
    That o'er her eyes' blue heaven lay
    Like some gold cloud o'er dawn of day.

    I took the music of the breeze
    And water, whispering in the trees,
    And shaped the soul that breathed below
    A woman's blossom breasts of snow.

    A shadow's shadow in the glass
    Of sleep, my spirit saw her pass:
    And thinking of it now, meseems
    We only live within our dreams.

    For in that time she was to me
    More real than our reality;
    More real than Earth, more real than I--
    The unreal things that pass and die.



    THE OLD BARN


    Low, swallow-swept and gray,
    Between the orchard and the spring,
    All its wide windows overflowing hay,
    And crannied doors a-swing,
    The old barn stands to-day.

    Deep in its hay the Leghorn hides
    A round white nest; and, humming soft
    On roof and rafter, or its log-rude sides,
    Black in the sun-shot loft,
    The building hornet glides.

    Along its corn-crib, cautiously
    As thieving fingers, skulks the rat;
    Or in warped stalls of fragrant timothy,
    Gnaws at some loosened slat,
    Or passes shadowy.

    A dream of drouth made audible
    Before its door, hot, smooth, and shrill
    All day the locust sings.... What other spell
    Shall hold it, lazier still
    Than the long day's, now tell:--

    Dusk and the cricket and the strain
    Of tree-toad and of frog; and stars
    That burn above the rich west's ribbéd stain;
    And dropping pasture bars,
    And cow-bells up the lane.

    Night and the moon and katydid,
    And leaf-lisp of the wind-touched boughs;
    And mazy shadows that the fireflies thrid;
    And sweet breath of the cows,
    And the lone owl here hid.



    THE WOOD WITCH


    There is a woodland witch who lies
    With bloom-bright limbs and beam-bright eyes,
    Among the water-flags that rank
    The slow brook's heron-haunted bank.
    The dragon-flies, brass-bright and blue,
    Are signs she works her sorcery through;
    Weird, wizard characters she weaves
    Her spells by under forest leaves,--
    These wait her word, like imps, upon
    The gray flag-pods; their wings, of lawn
    And gauze; their bodies, gleaming green.
    While o'er the wet sand,--left between
    The running water and the still,--
    In pansy hues and daffodil,
    The fancies that she doth devise
    Take on the forms of butterflies,
    Rich-coloured.--And 'tis she you hear,
    Whose sleepy rune, hummed in the ear
    Of silence, bees and beetles purr,
    And the dry-droning locusts whirr;
    Till, where the wood is very lone,
    Vague monotone meets monotone,
    And slumber is begot and born,
    A faery child beneath the thorn.
    There is no mortal who may scorn
    The witchery she spreads around
    Her din demesne, wherein is bound
    The beauty of abandoned time,
    As some sweet thought 'twixt rhyme and rhyme.
    And through her spells you shall behold
    The blue turn gray, the gray turn gold
    Of hollow heaven; and the brown
    Of twilight vistas twinkled down
    With fireflies; and in the gloom
    Feel the cool vowels of perfume
    Slow-syllabled of weed and bloom.
    But, in the night, at languid rest,--
    When like a spirit's naked breast
    The moon slips from a silver mist,--
    With star-bound brow, and star-wreathed wrist,
    If you should see her rise and wave
    You welcome--ah! what thing could save
    You then? for evermore her slave!



    AT SUNSET


    Into the sunset's turquoise marge
    The moon dips, like a pearly barge
    Enchantment sails through magic seas
    To fairyland Hesperides,
          Over the hills and away.

    Into the fields, in ghost-gray gown,
    The young-eyed Dusk comes slowly down;
    Her apron filled with stars she stands,
    And one or two slip from her hands
          Over the hills and away.

    Above the wood's black caldron bends
    The witch-faced Night and, muttering, blends
    The dew and heat, whose bubbles make
    The mist and musk that haunt the brake
          Over the hills and away.

    Oh, come with me, and let us go
    Beyond the sunset lying low,
    Beyond the twilight and the night
    Into Love's kingdom of long light
          Over the hills and away.



    MAY


    The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed,
      That spangle the woods and dance--
    No gleam of gold that the twilights hold
      Is strong as their necromance:
    For, under the oaks where the woodpaths lead,
    The golden discs of the rattlesnake-weed
      Are the May's own utterance.

    The azure stars of the bluet bloom,
      That sprinkle the woodland's trance--
    No blink of blue that a cloud lets through
      Is sweet as their countenance:
    For, over the knolls that the woods perfume,
    The azure stars of the bluet bloom
      Are the light of the May's own glance.

    With her wondering words and her looks she comes,
      In a sunbeam of a gown;
    She needs but think and the blossoms wink,
      But look, and they shower down.
    By orchard ways, where the wild bee hums,
    With her wondering words and her looks she comes
      Like a little maid to town.



    RAIN


    I

    Around, the stillness deepened; then the grain
    Went wild with wind; and every briery lane
    Was swept with dust; and then, tempestuous black,
    Hillward the tempest heaved a monster back,
    That on the thunder leaned as on a cane;
    And on huge shoulders bore a cloudy pack,
    That gullied gold from many a lightning-crack:
    One great drop splashed and wrinkled down the pane,
    And then field, hill, and wood were lost in rain.


    II

    At last, through clouds,--as from a cavern hewn
    Into night's heart,--the sun burst, angry roon;
    And every cedar, with its weight of wet,
    Against the sunset's fiery splendour set,
    Frightened to beauty, seemed with rubies strewn:
    Then in drenched gardens, like sweet phantoms met,
    Dim odours rose of pink and mignonette;
    And in the East a confidence, that soon
    Grew to the calm assurance of the moon.



    TO FALL


    Sad-hearted spirit of the solitudes,
    Who comest through the ruin-wedded woods!
    Gray-gowned with fog, gold-girdled with the gloom
    Of tawny twilights; burdened with perfume
    Of rain-wet uplands, chilly with the mist;
    And all the beauty of the fire-kissed
    Cold forests crimsoning thy indolent way,
    Odorous of death and drowsy with decay.
    I think of thee as seated 'mid the showers
    Of languid leaves that cover up the flowers,--
    The little flower-sisterhoods, whom June
    Once gave wild sweetness to, as to a tune
    A singer gives her soul's wild melody,--
    Watching the squirrel store his granary.
    Or, 'mid old orchards I have pictured thee:
    Thy hair's profusion blown about thy back;
    One lovely shoulder bathed with gypsy black;
    Upon thy palm one nestling cheek, and sweet
    The rosy russets tumbled at thy feet.
    Was it a voice lamenting for the flowers?
    A heart-sick bird that sang of happier hours?
    A cricket dirging days that soon must die?
    Or did the ghost of Summer wander by?



    SUNSET IN AUTUMN


    Blood-coloured oaks, that stand against a sky of gold and brass;
    Gaunt slopes, on which the bleak leaves glow of brier and sassafras,
    And broom-sedge strips of smoky-pink and pearl-gray clumps of grass
    In which, beneath the ragged sky, the rain pools gleam like glass.

    From West to East, from wood to wood, along the forest-side,
    The winds,--the sowers of the Lord,--with thunderous footsteps
          stride;
    Their stormy hands rain acorns down; and mad leaves, wildly dyed,
    Like tatters of their rushing cloaks, stream round them far and
          wide.

    The frail leaf-cricket in the weeds rings a faint fairy bell;
    And like a torch of phantom ray the milkweed's windy shell
    Glimmers; while, wrapped in withered dreams, the wet autumnal smell
    Of loam and leaf, like some sad ghost, steals over field and dell.

    The oaks, against a copper sky--o'er which, like some black lake
    Of Dis, bronze clouds, like surges fringed with sullen fire, break--
    Loom sombre as Doom's citadel above the vales that make
    A pathway to a land of mist the moon's pale feet shall take.

    Now, dyed with burning carbuncle, a limbo-litten pane,
    Within its walls of storm, the West opens to hill and plain,
    On which the wild-geese ink themselves, a far triangled train,
    And then the shuttering clouds close down--and night is here again.



    THE HILLS


    There is no joy of earth that thrills
    My bosom like the far-off hills!
    Th' unchanging hills, that, shadowy,
    Beckon our mutability
    To follow and to gaze upon
    Foundations of the dusk and dawn.
    Meseems the very heavens are massed
    Upon their shoulders, vague and vast
    With all the skyey burden of
    The winds and clouds and stars above.
    Lo, how they sit before us, seeing
    The laws that give all Beauty being!
    Behold! to them, when dawn is near,
    The nomads of the air appear,
    Unfolding crimson camps of day
    In brilliant bands; then march away;
    And under burning battlements
    Of twilight plant their tinted tents.
    The truth of olden myths, that brood
    By haunted stream and haunted wood,
    They see; and feel the happiness
    Of old at which we only guess:
    The dreams, the ancients loved and knew,
    Still as their rocks and trees are true:
    Not otherwise than presences
    The tempest and the calm to these:
    One, shouting on them all the night,
    Black-limbed and veined with lambent light;
    The other with the ministry
    Of all soft things that company
    With music--an embodied form,
    Giving to solitude the charm
    Of leaves and waters and the peace
    Of bird-begotten melodies--
    And who at night doth still confer
    With the mild moon, that telleth her
    Pale tale of lonely love, until
    Wan images of passion fill
    The heights with shapes that glimmer by
    Clad on with sleep and memory.



    CONTENT


    When I behold how some pursue
    Fame, that is Care's embodiment
    Or fortune, whose false face looks true,--
    An humble home with sweet content
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    An humble home, where pigeons coo,
    Whose path leads under breezy lines
    Of frosty-berried cedars to
    A gate, one mass of trumpet-vines,
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    A garden, which all summer through,
    The roses old make redolent,
    And morning-glories, gay of hue,
    And tansy, with its homely scent,
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    An orchard, that the pippins strew,
    From whose bruised gold the juices spring;
    A vineyard, where the grapes hang blue,
    Wine-big and ripe for vintaging,
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    A lane that leads to some far view
    Of forest or of fallow-land,
    Bloomed o'er with rose and meadow-rue,
    Each with a bee in its hot hand,
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    At morn, a pathway deep with dew,
    And birds to vary time and tune;
    At eve, a sunset avenue,
    And whippoorwills that haunt the moon,
    Is all I ask for me and you.

    Dear heart, with wants so small and few,
    And faith, that's better far than gold,
    A lowly friend, a child or two,
    To care for us when we are old,
    Is all I ask for me and you.



    HEART OF MY HEART


    Here where the season turns the land to gold,
    Among the fields our feet have known of old,--
    When we were children who would laugh and run,
    Glad little playmates of the wind and sun,--
    Before came toil and care and years went ill,
    And one forgot and one remembered still;
    Heart of my heart, among the old fields here,
    Give me your hands and let me draw you near,
              Heart of my heart.

    Stars are not truer than your soul is true--
    What need I more of heaven then than you?
    Flowers are not sweeter than your face is sweet--
    What need I more to make my world complete?
    O woman nature, love that still endures,
    What strength has ours that is not born of yours?
    Heart of my heart, to you, whatever come,
    To you the lead, whose love hath led me home.
              Heart of my heart.



    OCTOBER


    Long hosts of sunlight, and the bright wind blows
      A tourney-trumpet on the listed hill;
    Past is the splendour of the royal rose
              And duchess daffodil.

    Crowned queen of beauty, in the garden's space,
      Strong daughter of a bitter race and bold,
    A ragged beggar with a lovely face,
              Reigns the sad marigold.

    And I have sought June's butterfly for days,
      To find it--like a coreopsis bloom--
    Amber and seal, rain-murdered 'neath the blaze
              Of this sunflower's plume.

    Here drones the bee; and there sky-daring wings
      Voyage blue gulfs of heaven; the last song
    The red-bird flings me as adieu, still rings
              Upon yon pear-tree's prong.

    No angry sunset brims with rubier red
      The bowl of heaven than the days, indeed,
    Pour in each blossom of this salvia-bed,
              Where each leaf seems to bleed.

    And where the wood-gnats dance, like some slight mist,
      Above the efforts of the weedy stream,
    The girl, October, tired of the tryst,
              Dreams a diviner dream.

    One foot just dipping the caressing wave,
      One knee at languid angle; locks that drown
    Hands nut-stained; hazel-eyed, she lies, and grave,
              Watching the leaves drift down.



    MYTH AND ROMANCE


    I

    When I go forth to greet the glad-faced Spring,
      Just at the time of opening apple-buds,
    When brooks are laughing, winds are whispering,
      On babbling hillsides or in warbling woods,
      There is an unseen presence that eludes:--
    Perhaps a dryad, in whose tresses cling
      The loamy odours of old solitudes,
    Who, from her beechen doorway, calls, and leads
      My soul to follow; now with dimpling words
      Of leaves; and now with syllables of birds;
    While here and there--is it her limbs that swing?
    Or restless sunlight on the moss and weeds?


    II

    Or, haply, 'tis a Naiad now who slips,
      Like some white lily, from her fountain's glass,
    While from her dripping hair and breasts and hips
      The moisture rains cool music on the grass.
      Her have I heard and followed, yet, alas!
    Have seen no more than the wet ray that dips
      The shivered waters, wrinkling where I pass;
    But in the liquid light where she doth hide,
      I have beheld the azure of her gaze
      Smiling; and, where the orbing ripple plays,
    Among her minnows I have heard her lips,
    Bubbling, make merry by the waterside.


    III

    Or now it is an Oread--whose eyes
      Are constellated dusk--who stands confessed,
    As naked as a flow'r; her heart's surprise,
      Like morning's rose, mantling her brow and breast:
      She, shrinking from my presence, all distressed
    Stands for a startled moment ere she flies,
      Her deep hair blowing, up the mountain crest,
    Wild as a mist that trails along the dawn.
      And is't her footfalls lure me? or the sound
      Of airs that stir the crisp leaf on the ground?
    And is't her body glimmers on yon rise?
    Or dogwood blossoms snowing on the lawn?


    IV

    Now 'tis a satyr piping serenades
      On a slim reed. Now Pan and Faun advance
    Beneath green-hollowed roofs of forest glades,
      Their feet gone mad with music: now, perchance,
      Sylvanus sleeping, on whose leafy trance
    The nymphs stand gazing in dim ambuscades
      Of sun-embodied perfume.--Myth, Romance,
    Where'er I turn, reach out bewildering arms,
      Compelling me to follow. Day and night
      I hear their voices and behold the light
    Of their divinity that still evades,
    And still allures me in a thousand forms.



    GENIUS LOCI


    I

    What wood-god, on this water's mossy curb,
      Lost in reflections of earth's loveliness,
    Did I, just now, unconsciously disturb?
      I who haphazard, wandering at a guess,
    Came on this spot, wherein with gold and flame
    Of buds and blooms the season writes its name.--
    Ah me! could I have seen him ere alarm
      Of my approach aroused him from his calm!
      As he, part Hamadryad and, mayhap,
    Part Faun, lay here; who left the shadow warm
      As a wood-rose, and filled the air with balm
      Of his wild breath as with ethereal sap.


    II

    Does not the moss retain some slight impress,
      Green-dented down, of where he lay or trod?
    Do not the flow'rs, so reticent, confess
      With conscious looks the contact of a god?
    Does not the very water garrulously
    Boast the indulgence of a deity?
    And, hark! in burly beech and sycamore
      How all the birds proclaim it! and the leaves
      Rejoice with clappings of their myriad hands!
    And shall not I believe, too, and adore,
      With such wide proof?--Yea, though my soul perceives
      No evident presence, still it understands.


    III

    And for a while it moves me to lie down
      Here on the spot his god-head sanctified:
    Mayhap some dream he dreamed may linger, brown
      And young as joy, around the forest side;
    Some dream within whose heart lives no disdain
    For such as I whose love is sweet and sane;
    That may repeat, so none but I may hear--
      As one might tell a pearl-strung rosary--
      Some epic that the leaves have learned to croon,
    Some lyric whispered in the wild-flow'r's ear,
      Whose murmurous lines are sung by bird and bee,
      And all the insects of the night and noon.


    IV

    For, all around me, upon field and hill,
      Enchantment lies as of mysterious flutes;
    As if the music of a god's goodwill
      Had taken on material attributes
    In blooms, like chords; and in the water-gleam,
    That runs its silvery scales on every stream;
    In sunbeam bars, up which the butterfly,
      A golden note, vibrates then flutters on--
      Inaudible tunes, blown on the pipes of Pan,
    That have assumed a visible entity,
      And drugged the air with beauty so, a Faun,
      Behold, I seem, and am no more a man.



    DISCOVERY


    What is it now that I shall seek
    Where woods dip downward, in the hills;
    A mossy nook, a ferny creek,
    And May among the daffodils.

    Or in the valley's vistaed glow,
    Past rocks of terraced trumpet-vines,
    Shall I behold her coming slow,
    Sweet May, among the columbines?

    With red-bud cheeks and bluet eyes,
    Big eyes, the homes of happiness,
    To meet me with the old surprise,
    Her hoiden hair all bonnetless.

    Who waits for me, where, note for note,
    The birds make glad the forest trees?
    A dogwood blossom at her throat,
    My May among th' anemones.

    As sweetheart breezes kiss the blooms,
    And dewdrops drink the moonlight's gleam,
    My soul shall kiss her lips' perfumes,
    And drink the magic of her dreams.



    THE OLD SPRING


    I

    Under rocks whereon the rose
    Like a strip of morning glows;
    Where the azure-throated newt
    Drowses on the twisted root;
    And the brown bees, humming homeward,
    Stop to suck the honey-dew;
    Fern and leaf-hid, gleaming gloamward,
    Drips the wildwood spring I knew,
    Drips the spring my boyhood knew.


    II

    Myrrh and music everywhere
    Haunt its cascades;--like the hair
    That a naiad tosses cool,
    Swimming strangely beautiful,
    With white fragrance for her bosom,
    For her mouth a breath of song:--
    Under leaf and branch and blossom
    Flows the woodland spring along,
    Sparkling, singing flows along.


    III

    Still the wet wan mornings touch
    Its gray rocks, perhaps; and such
    Slender stars as dusk may have
    Pierce the rose that roofs its wave;
    Still the thrush may call at noontide
    And the whippoorwill at night;
    Nevermore, by sun or moontide,
    Shall I see it gliding white,
    Falling, flowing, wild and white.



    THE FOREST SPRING


    Push back the brambles, berry-blue:
    The hollowed spring is full in view:
    Deep-tangled with luxuriant fern
    Its rock-embedded, crystal urn.

    Not for the loneliness that keeps
    The coigne wherein its silence sleeps;
    Not for wild butterflies that sway
    Their pansy pinions all the day
    Above its mirror; nor the bee,
    Nor dragonfly, that passing see
    Themselves reflected in its spar;
    Not for the one white liquid star,
    That twinkles in its firmament;
    Nor moon-shot clouds, so slowly sent
    Athwart it when the kindly night
    Beads all its grasses with the light
    Small jewels of the dimpled dew;
    Not for the day's inverted blue
    Nor the quaint, dimly coloured stones
    That dance within it where it moans:
    Not for all these I love to sit
    In silence and to gaze in it.
    But, know, a nymph with merry eyes
    Looks at me from its laughing skies;
    A graceful glimmering nymph who plays
    All the long fragrant summer days
    With instant sights of bees and birds,
    And speaks with them in water words,
    And for whose nakedness the air
    Weaves moony mists, and on whose hair,
    Unfilleted, the night will set
    That lone star as a coronet.



    TRANSMUTATION


    To me all beauty that I see
    Is melody made visible:
    An earth-translated state, may be,
    Of music heard in Heaven or Hell.

    Out of some love-impassioned strain
    Of saints, the rose evolved its bloom;
    And, dreaming of it here again,
    Perhaps re-lives it as perfume.

    Out of some chant that demons sing
    Of hate and pain, the sunset grew;
    And, haply, still remembering,
    Re-lives it here as some wild hue.



    DEAD CITIES


    Out of it all but this remains:--
    I was with one who crossed wide chains
    Of the Cordilleras, whose peaks
    Lock in the wilds of Yucatan,
    Chiapas and Honduras. Weeks--
    And then a city that no man
    Had ever seen; so dim and old,
    No chronicle has ever told
    The history of men who piled
    Its temples and huge teocallis
    Among mimosa-blooming valleys;
    Or how its altars were defiled
    With human blood; whose idols there
    With eyes of stone still stand and stare.

    So old the moon can only know
    How old, since ancient forests grow
    On mighty wall and pyramid.
    Huge ceïbas, whose trunks were scarred
    With ages, and dense yuccas, hid
    Fanes 'mid the cacti, scarlet-starred.
    I looked upon its paven ways,
    And saw it in its kingliest days;
    When from the lordly palace one,
    A victim, walked with prince and priest,
    Who turned brown faces toward the east
    In worship of the rising sun:
    At night ten hundred temples' spires
    On gold burnt everlasting fires.

    Uxmal? Palenque? or Copan?
    I know not. Only how no man
    Had ever seen; and still my soul
    Believes it vaster than the three.
    Volcanic rock walled in the whole,
    Lost in the woods as in some sea.
    _I only_ read its hieroglyphs,
    Perused its monster monoliths
    Of death, gigantic heads; and read
    The pictured codex of its fate,
    The perished Toltec; while in hate
    Mad monkeys cursed me, as if dead
    Priests of its past had taken form
    To guard its ruined shrines from harm.



    FROST


    Magician he, who, autumn nights,
      Down from the starry heavens whirls;
    A harlequin in spangled tights,
      Whose wand's touch carpets earth with pearls.

    Through him each pane presents a scene,
      A Lilliputian landscape, where
    The world is white instead of green,
      And trees and houses hang in air.

    Where Elfins gambol and delight,
      And haunt the jewelled bells of flowers;
    Where upside-down we see the night
      With many moons and starry showers.

    And surely in his wand or hand
      Is Midas magic, for, behold,
    Some morn we wake and find the land,
      Both field and forest, turned to gold.



    A NIGHT IN JUNE


    I

    White as a lily moulded of Earth's milk
      That eve the moon bloomed in a hyacinth sky;
      Soft in the gleaming glens the wind went by,
    Faint as a phantom clothed in unseen silk:
    Bright as a naiad's leap, from shine to shade
      The runnel twinkled through the shaken brier;
      Above the hills one long cloud, pulsed with fire,
    Flashed like a great enchantment-welded blade.
    And when the western sky seemed some weird land,
      And night a witching spell at whose command
      One sloping star fell green from heav'n; and deep
    The warm rose opened for the moth to sleep;
      Then she, consenting, laid her hands in his,
      And lifted up her lips for their first kiss.


    II

    There where they part, the porch's steps are strewn
      With wind-blown petals of the purple vine;
      Athwart the porch the shadow of a pine
    Cleaves the white moonlight; and like some calm rune
    Heaven says to Earth, shines the majestic moon;
      And now a meteor draws a lilac line
      Across the welkin, as if God would sign
    The perfect poem of this night of June.
    The wood-wind stirs the flowering chestnut-tree,
      Whose curving blossoms strew the glimmering grass
      Like crescents that wind-wrinkled waters glass;
    And, like a moonstone in a frill of flame,
      The dewdrop trembles on the peony,
      As in a lover's heart his sweetheart's name.



    THE DREAMER


    Even as a child he loved to thrid the bowers,
      And mark the loafing sunlight's lazy laugh;
      Or, on each season, spell the epitaph
    Of its dead months repeated in their flowers;
    Or list the music of the strolling showers,
      Whose vagabond notes strummed through a twinkling staff,
      Or read the day's delivered monograph
    Through all the chapters of its dædal hours.
    Still with the same child-faith and child regard
      He looks on Nature, hearing at her heart,
      The Beautiful beat out the time and place,
    Through which no lesson of this life is hard,
      No struggle vain of science or of art,
      That dies with failure written on its face.



    WINTER


    The flute, whence Summer's dreamy finger-tips
      Drew music,--ripening the pinched kernels in
      The burly chestnut and the chinquapin,
    Red-rounding-out the oval haws and hips,--
    Now Winter crushes to his stormy lips,
      And surly songs whistle around his chin;
      Now the wild days and wilder nights begin
    When, at the eaves, the crooked icicle drips.
    Thy songs, O Summer, are not lost so soon!
      Still dwells a memory in thy hollow flute,
      Which unto Winter's masculine airs doth give
    Thy own creative qualities of tune,
      Through which we see each bough bend white with fruit,
      Each bush with bloom, in snow commemorative.



    MID-WINTER


    All day the clouds hung ashen with the cold;
      And through the snow the muffled waters fell;
      The day seemed drowned in grief too deep to tell,
    Like some old hermit whose last bead is told.
    At eve the wind woke, and the snow clouds rolled
      Aside to leave the fierce sky visible;
      Harsh as an iron landscape of wan hell
    The dark hills hung framed in with gloomy gold.
    And then, towards night, the wind seemed some one at
      My window wailing: now a little child
      Crying outside my door; and now the long
    Howl of some starved beast down the flue. I sat
      And knew 'twas Winter with his madman song
      Of miseries on which he stared and smiled.



    SPRING


    First came the rain, loud, with sonorous lips;
      A pursuivant who heralded a prince:
      And dawn put on her livery of tints,
    And dusk bound gold about her hair and hips:
    And, all in silver mail, the sunlight came,
      A knight, who bade the winter let him pass;
      And freed imprisoned beauty, naked as
    The Court of Love, in all her wildflower shame.
    And so she came, in breeze-borne loveliness,
      Across the hills; and heav'n bent down to bless:
      Above her head the birds were as a lyre;
    And at her feet, like some strong worshipper,
      The shouting water pæan'd praise of her
      Who, with blue eyes, set the wild world on fire.



    TRANSFORMATION


    It is the time when, by the forest falls,
      The touch-me-nots hang fairy folly-caps;
      When ferns and flowers fill the lichened laps
    Of rocks with colour, rich as orient shawls:
    And in my heart I hear a voice that calls
      Me woodward, where the hamadryad wraps
      Her limbs in bark, and, bubbling in the saps,
    Sings the sweet Greek of Pan's old madrigals:
    There is a gleam that lures me up the stream--
      A Naiad swimming with wet limbs of light?
      Perfume that leads me on from dream to dream--
    An Oread's footprints fragrant with her flight?
      And, lo! meseems I am a Faun again,
      Part of the myths that I pursue in vain.



    RESPONSE


    There is a music of immaculate love,
      That beats within the virgin veins of Spring,--
      And trillium blossoms, like the stars that cling
    To fairies' wands; and, strung on sprays above,
    White-hearts and mandrake blooms--that look enough
      Like the elves' washing--white with laundering
      Of May-moon dews; and all pale-opening
    Wild-flowers of the woods are born thereof.
    There is no sod Spring's white foot brushes but
      Must feel the music that vibrates within,
      And thrill to the communicated touch
    Responsive harmonies, that must unshut
      The heart of Beauty for Song's concrete kin,
      Emotions--that are flowers--born of such.



    THE SWASHBUCKLER


    Squat-nosed and broad, of big and pompous port;
      A tavern visage, apoplexy haunts,
      All pimple-puffed: the Falstaff-like resort
    Of fat debauchery, whose veined cheek flaunts
    A flabby purple: rusty-spurred he stands
      In rakehell boots and belt, and hanger that
    Claps when, with greasy gauntlets on his hands,
      He swaggers past in cloak and slouch-plumed hat.
    Aggression marches armies in his words;
      And in his oaths great deeds ride cap-à-pie;
    His looks, his gestures breathe the breath of swords;
      And in his carriage camp all wars to be:--
      With him of battles there shall be no lack
    While buxom wenches are and stoops of sack.



    SIMULACRA


    Dark in the west the sunset's sombre wrack
      Unrolled vast walls the rams of war had split,
      Along whose battlements the battle lit
    Tempestuous beacons; and, with gates hurled back,
    A mighty city, red with ruin and sack,
      Through burning breaches, crumbling bit by bit,
      Showed where the God of Slaughter seemed to sit
    With Conflagration glaring at each crack.--
    Who knows? perhaps as sleep unto us makes
      Our dreams as real as our waking seems
      With recollections time can not destroy,
    So in the mind of Nature now awakes,
      Haply, some wilder memory, and she dreams
      The stormy story of the fall of Troy.



    CAVERNS

    WRITTEN OF COLOSSAL CAVE, KENTUCKY


    Aisles and abysses; leagues no man explores,
      Of rock that labyrinths and night that drips;
      Where everlasting silence broods, with lips
    Of adamant, o'er earthquake-builded floors.
    Where forms, such as the Demon-World adores,
      Laborious water carves; whence echo slips
      Wild-tongued o'er pools where petrifaction strips
    Her breasts of crystal from which crystal pours.--
    Here where primordial fear, the Gorgon, sits
      Staring all life to stone in ghastly mirth,
      I seem to tread, with awe no tongue can tell,--
    Beneath vast domes, by torrent-tortured pits,
      'Mid wrecks terrific of the ruined Earth,--
      An ancient causeway of forgotten Hell.



    THE BLUE BIRD


    From morn till noon upon the window-pane
      The tempest tapped with rainy finger-nails,
      And all the afternoon the blustering gales
    Beat at the door with furious feet of rain.
    The rose, near which the lily bloom lay slain,
      Like some red wound dripped by the garden rails,
      On which the sullen slug left slimy trails--
    Meseemed the sun would never shine again.
    Then in the drench, long, loud and full of cheer,--
      A skyey herald tabarded in blue,--
      A bluebird bugled ... and at once a bow
    Was bent in heaven, and I seemed to hear
      God's sapphire spaces crystallising through
      The strata'd clouds in azure tremolo.



    QUATRAINS


    POETRY

    Who hath beheld the goddess face to face,
    Blind with her beauty, all his days shall go
    Climbing lone mountains towards her temple's place,
    Weighed with song's sweet, inexorable woe.


    THE UNIMAGINATIVE

    Each form of beauty's but the new disguise
    Of thoughts more beautiful than forms can be;
    Sceptics, who search with unanointed eyes,
    Never the Earth's wild fairy-dance shall see.


    MUSIC

    God-born before the Sons of God, she hurled,
    With awful symphonies of flood and fire,
    God's name on rocking Chaos--world by world
    Flamed as the universe rolled from her lyre.


    THE THREE ELEMENTS

    They come as couriers of Heaven: their feet
    Sonorous-sandalled with majestic awe;
    In raiment of swift foam and wind and heat,
    Blowing the trumpets of God's wrath and law.


    ROME

    Above the circus of the world she sat,
    Beautiful and base, a harlot crowned with pride:
    Fierce nations, upon whom she sneered and spat,
    Shrieked at her feet and for her pastime died.


    ON READING THE LIFE OF HAROUN ER RESHID

    Down all the lanterned Bagdad of our youth
    He steals, with golden justice for the poor:
    Within his palace--you shall know the truth!--
    A blood-smeared headsman hides behind each door.


    MNEMOSYNE

    In classic beauty, cold, immaculate,
    A voiceful sculpture, stern and still she stands,
    Upon her brow deep-chiselled love and hate,
    That sorrow o'er dead roses in her hands.


    BEAUTY

    High as a star, yet lowly as a flower,
    Unknown she takes her unassuming place
    At Earth's proud masquerade--the appointed hour
    Strikes, and, behold! the marvel of her face.


    THE STARS

    These--the bright symbols of man's hope and fame,
    In which he reads his blessing or his curse--
    Are syllables with which God speaks his name
    In the vast utterance of the universe.


    ECHO

    Dweller in hollow places, hills and rocks,
    Daughter of Silence and old Solitude,
    Tip-toe she stands within her cave or wood,
    Her only life the noises that she mocks.



    ADVENTURERS


    Seemingly over the hill-tops,
      Possibly under the hills,
    A tireless wing that never drops,
      And a song that never stills.

    Epics heard on the stars' lips?
      Lyrics read in the dew?--
    To sing the song at our finger-tips,
      And live the world anew!

    Cavaliers of the Cortés kind,
      Bold and stern and strong,--
    And, oh, for a fine and muscular mind
      To sing a new-world's song!

    Sailing seas of the silver morn,
      Winds of the balm and spice,
    To put the old-world art to scorn
      At the price of any price!

    Danger, death, but the hope high!
      God's, if the purpose fail!
    Into the deeds of a vaster sky
      Sailing a dauntless sail.



    EPILOGUE


    I

    O Life! O Death! O God!
      Have we not striven?
    Have we not known Thee, God
      As Thy stars know Heaven?
    Have we not held Thee true,
      True as thy deepest,
    Sweet and immaculate blue
    Heaven that feels Thy dew!
    Have we not _known_ Thee true,
      O God who keepest.


    II

    O God, our Father, God!--
      Who gav'st us fire,
    To soar beyond the sod,
      To rise, aspire--
    What though we strive and strive,
    And all our soul says 'live'?
    The empty scorn of men
    Will sneer it down again.
    And, O sun-centred high,
      Who, too, art Poet,
    Beneath Thy tender sky
    Each day new Keatses die,
    Calling all life a lie;
    Can this be so--and why?--
      And canst Thou know it?


    III

    We know Thee beautiful,
      We know Thee bitter!
    Help Thou!--Men's eyes are dull,
    O God most beautiful!
    Make thou their souls less full
      Of things mere glitter.
    Dost Thou not see our tears?
    Dost Thou not hear the years
    Treading our hearts to shards,
    O Lord of all the Lords?--
    Arouse Thee, God of Hosts,
    There 'mid Thy glorious ghosts,
      So high and holy!
    Have mercy on our tears!
    Have mercy on our years!
    Our strivings and our fears,
    O Lord of lordly peers,
      On us, so lowly!


    IV

    On us, so fondly fain
    To tell what mother-pain
    Of Nature makes the rain.
    On us, so glad to show
    The sorrow of her snow,
    And all her winds that blow.

    Us, who interpret right
    Her mystic rose of light,
    Her moony rune of night.

    Us, who have utterance for
    Each warm, flame-hearted star
    That stammers from afar.

    Who hear the tears and sighs
    Of every bud that dies
    While heav'n's dew on it lies.

    Who see the power that dowers
    The wildwood bosks and bowers
    With musk of sap and flowers.

    Who see what no man sees
    In water, earth, and breeze,
    And in the hearts of trees.

    Turn not away Thy light,
    O God!--Our strength is slight!
    Help us who breast the height!
    Have mercy, Infinite!
      Have mercy!


  Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, (late) Printers to Her Majesty
                at the Edinburgh University Press





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