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Title: Poems
Author: Santayana, George
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 "Poems" ***

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SONNETS, 1883--1893--


SONNETS, 1895--



    To W. P








New editions of books are a venture for publishers rather than authors.
The author has committed his rash act once for all at the beginning and
he can hardly retract or repeat it. Nevertheless if I had not connived
and collaborated at this selection of verses written (almost all of
them) in my younger days, they probably would not have reappeared.
I therefore owe an apology to my best critics and friends, who have
always warned me that I am no poet; all the more since, in the sense in
which they mean the word, I heartily agree with them. Of impassioned
tenderness or Dionysiac frenzy I have nothing, nor even of that magic
and pregnancy of phrasere--ally the creation of a fresh idiom--which
marks the high lights of poetry. Even if my temperament had been
naturally warmer, the fact that the English language (and I can write
no other with assurance) was not my mother-tongue would of itself
preclude any inspired use of it on my part; its roots do not quite
reach to my centre. I never drank in in childhood the homely cadences
and ditties which in pure spontaneous poetry set the essential key.
I know no words redolent of the wonder-world, the fairy-tale, or the
cradle. Moreover, I am city-bred, and that companionship with nature,
those rural notes, which for English poets are almost inseparable
from poetic feeling, fail me altogether. Landscape to me is only a
background for fable or a symbol for fate, as it was to the ancients;
and the human scene itself is but a theme for reflection. Nor have
I been tempted into the by-ways even of towns, or fascinated by the
aspect and humours of all sorts and conditions of men. My approach to
language is literary, my images are only metaphors, and sometimes it
seems to me that I resemble my countryman Don Quixote, when in his airy
flights he was merely perched on a high horse and a wooden Pegasus; and
I ask myself if I ever had anything to say in verse that might not have
been said better in prose.

And yet, in reality, there was no such alternative. What I felt when
I composed those verses could not have been rendered in any other
form. Their sincerity is absolute, not only in respect to the thought
which might be abstracted from them and expressed in prose, but also
in respect to the aura of literary and religious associations which
envelops them. If their prosody is worn and traditional, like a
liturgy, it is because they represent the initiation of a mind into
a world older and larger than itself; not the chance experiences of
a stray individual, but his submission to what is not his chance
experience; to the truth of nature and the moral heritage of mankind.
Here is the uncertain hand of an apprentice, but of an apprentice in a
great school. Verse is one of the traditions of literature. Like the
orders of Greek architecture, the sonnet or the couplet or the quatrain
are better than anything else that has been devised to serve the same
function; and the innate freedom of poets to hazard new forms does not
abolish the freedom of all men to adopt the old ones. It is almost
inevitable that a man of letters, if his mind is cultivated and capable
of moral concentration, should versify occasionally, or should have
versified. He need not on that account pose as a poetic genius, and yet
his verses (like those of Michael Angelo, for instance) may form a
part, even if a subordinate part, of the expression of his mind. Poetry
was made for man, not man for poetry, and there are really as many
kinds of it as there are poets, or even verses. Is Hamlet's Soliloquy
poetry? Would it have conveyed its meaning better if not reined in by
the metre, and made to prance and turn to the cadences of blank verse?
Whether better or worse, it would certainly not be itself without
that movement. Versification is like a pulsing accompaniment, somehow
sustaining and exalting the clear logic of the words. The accompaniment
may be orchestral, but it is not necessarily worse for being thrummed
on a mandolin or a guitar. So the couplets of Pope or Dryden need not
be called poetry, but they could not have been prose. They frame in
a picture, balanced like the dance. There is an elevation, too, in
poetic diction, just because it is consecrated and archaic; a pomp
as of a religious procession, without which certain intuitions would
lose all their grace and dignity. Borrowed plumes would not even seem
an ornament if they were not in themselves beautiful. To say that
what was good once is good no longer is to give too much importance
to chronology. Æsthetic fashions may change, losing as much beauty
at one end as they gain at the other, but innate taste continues to
recognise its affinities, however remote, and need never change. Mask
and buskin are often requisite in order to transport what is great in
human experience out of its embosoming littleness. They are inseparable
from finality, from perception of the ultimate. Perhaps it is just this
tragic finality that English poets do not have and do not relish: they
feel it to be rhetorical. But verse after all is a form of rhetoric, as
is all speech and even thought; a means of pouring experience into a
mould which fluid experience cannot supply, and of transmuting emotion
into ideas, by making it articulate.

In one sense I think that my verses, mental and thin as their texture
may be, represent a true inspiration, a true docility. A Muse? not
exactly an English Muse--actually visited me in my isolation; the same,
or a ghost of the same, that visited Boethius or Alfred de Musset or
Leopardi. It was literally impossible for me then not to re-echo her
eloquence. When that compulsion ceased, I ceased to write verses. My
emotion--for there was genuine emotion--faded into a sense that my
lesson was learned and my troth plighted; there was no longer any
occasion for this sort of breathlessness and unction. I think the
discerning reader will probably prefer the later prose versions of my
philosophy; I prefer them myself, as being more broadly based, saner,
more humorous. Yet if he is curious in the matter he may find the
same thing here nearer to its fountain-head, in its accidental early
setting, and with its most authentic personal note.

For as to the subject of these poems, it is simply my philosophy
in the making. I should not give the title of philosopher to every
logician or psychologist who, in his official and studious moments,
may weigh argument against argument or may devise expedients for
solving theoretical puzzles. I see no reason why a philosopher should
be puzzled. What he sees he sees; of the rest he is ignorant; and his
sense of this vast ignorance (which is his natural and inevitable
condition) is a chief part of his knowledge and of his emotion.
Philosophy is not an optional theme that may occupy him on occasion. It
is his only possible life, his daily response to everything. He lives
by thinking, and his one perpetual emotion is that this world, with
himself in it, should be the strange world which it is. Everything
he thinks or utters will accordingly be an integral part of his
philosophy, whether it be called poetry or science or criticism. The
verses of a philosopher will be essentially epigrams, like those which
the Greek sages composed; they will moralise the spectacle, whether it
be some personal passion or some larger aspect of nature.

My own moral philosophy, especially as expressed in this more
sentimental form, may not seem very robust or joyous. Its fortitude
and happiness are those of but one type of soul. The owl hooting from
his wintry bough cannot be chanticleer crowing in the barnyard, yet he
is sacred to Minerva; and the universal poet, who can sing the humours
of winter no less lustily than those of spring, may even speak of his
"merry note," worthy to mingle with the other pleasant accidents of the
somberer season,

When icicles hang by the wall,
   .   .   .   .   .   .
And coughing drowns the parson's saw.

But whether the note seem merry or sad, musical or uncouth, it is
itself a note of nature; and it may at least be commended, seeing it
conveys a philosophy, for not conveying it by argument, but frankly
making confession of an actual spiritual experience, addressed only to
those whose ear it may strike sympathetically and who, crossing the
same dark wood on their own errands, may pause for a moment to listen

G. S.

_November_ 1922.




    I sought on earth a garden of delight,
    Or island altar to the Sea and Air,
    Where gentle music were accounted prayer,
    And reason, veiled, performed the happy rite.
    My sad youth worshipped at the piteous height
    Where God vouchsafed the death of man to share;
    His love made mortal sorrow light to bear,
    But his deep wounds put joy to shamèd flight.
    And though his arms, outstretched upon the tree,
    Were beautiful, and pleaded my embrace,
    My sins were loth to look upon his face.
    So came I down from Golgotha to thee,
    Eternal Mother; let the sun and sea
    Heal me, and keep me in thy dwelling-place.


    Slow and reluctant was the long descent,
    With many farewell pious looks behind,
    And dumb misgivings where the path might wind,
    And questionings of nature, as I went.
    The greener branches that above me bent,
    The broadening valleys, quieted my mind,
    To the fair reasons of the Spring inclined
    And to the Summer's tender argument.
    But sometimes, as revolving night descended,
    And in my childish heart the new song ended,
    I lay down, full of longing, on the steep;
    And, haunting still the lonely way I wended,
    Into my dreams the ancient sorrow blended,
    And with these holy echoes charmed my sleep.


    O world, thou choosest not the better part!
    It is not wisdom to be only wise,
    And on the inward vision close the eyes,
    But it is wisdom to believe the heart.
    Columbus found a world, and had no chart,
    Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
    To trust the soul's invincible surmise
    Was all his science and his only art.
    Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
    That lights the pathway but one step ahead
    Across a void of mystery and dread.
    Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine
    By which alone the mortal heart is led
    Unto the thinking of the thought divine.


    I would I had been born in nature's day,
    When man was in the world a wide-eyed boy,
    And clouds of sorrow crossed his sky of joy
    To scatter dewdrops on the buds of May.
    Then could he work and love and fight and pray,
    Nor heartsick grow in fortune's long employ.
    Mighty to build and ruthless to destroy
    He lived, while masked death unquestioned lay.
    Now ponder we the ruins of the years,
    And groan beneath the weight of boasted gain;
    No unsung bacchanal can charm our ears
    And lead our dances to the woodland fane,
    No hope of heaven sweeten our few tears
    And hush the importunity of pain.


    Dreamt I to-day the dream of yesternight,
    Sleep ever feigning one evolving theme,--
    Of my two lives which should I call the dream?
    Which action vanity? which vision sight?
    Some greater waking must pronounce aright,
    If aught abideth of the things that seem,
    And with both currents swell the flooded stream
    Into an ocean infinite of light.
    Even such a dream I dream, and know full well
    My waking passeth like a midnight spell,
    But know not if my dreaming breaketh through
    Into the deeps of heaven and of hell.
    I know but this of all I would I knew:
    Truth is a dream, unless my dream is true.


    Love not as do the flesh-imprisoned men
    Whose dreams are of a bitter bought caress,
    Or even of a maiden's tenderness
    Whom they love only that she loves again.
    For it is but thyself thou lovest then,
    Or what thy thoughts would glory to possess;
    But love thou nothing thou wouldst love the less
    If henceforth ever hidden from thy ken.
    Love but the formless and eternal Whole
    From whose effulgence one unheeded ray
    Breaks on this prism of dissolving clay
    Into the flickering colours of thy soul.
    These flash and vanish; bid them not to stay,
    For wisdom brightens as they fade away.


    I would I might forget that I am I,
    And break the heavy chain that binds me fast,
    Whose links about myself my deeds have cast.
    What in the body's tomb doth buried lie
    Is boundless; 'tis the spirit of the sky,
    Lord of the future, guardian of the past,
    And soon must forth, to know his own at last.
    In his large life to live, I fain would die.
    Happy the dumb beast, hungering for food,
    But calling not his suffering his own;
    Blessed the angel, gazing on all good,
    But knowing not he sits upon a throne;
    Wretched the mortal, pondering his mood,
    And doomed to know his aching heart alone.


    O martyred Spirit of this helpless Whole,
    Who dost by pain for tyranny atone,
    And in the star, the atom, and the stone,
    Purgest the primal guilt, and in the soul;
    Rich but in grief, thou dost thy wealth unroll,
    And givest of thy substance to thine own,
    Mingling the love, the laughter, and the groan
    In the large hollow of the heaven's bowl.
    Fill full my cup; the dregs and honeyed brim
    I take from thy just hand, more worthy love
    For sweetening not the draught for me or him.
    What in myself I am, that let me prove;
    Relent not for my feeble prayer, nor dim
    The burning of thine altar for my hymn.


    Have patience; it is fit that in this wise
    The spirit purge away its proper dross.
    No endless fever doth thy watches toss,
    For by excess of evil, evil dies.
    Soon shall the faint world melt before thine eyes,
    And, all life's losses cancelled by life's loss,
    Thou shalt lay down all burdens on thy cross,
    And be that day with God in Paradise.
    Have patience; for a long eternity
    No summons woke thee from thy happy sleep;
    For love of God one vigil thou canst keep
    And add thy drop of sorrow to the sea.
    Having known grief, all will be well with thee,
    Ay, and thy second slumber will be deep.


    Have I the heart to wander on the earth,
    So patient in her everlasting course,
    Seeking no prize, but bowing to the force
    That gives direction and hath given birth?
    Rain tears, sweet Pity, to refresh my dearth,
    And plough my sterile bosom, sharp Remorse,
    That I grow sick and curse my being's source
    If haply one day passes lacking mirth.
    Doth the sun therefore burn, that I may bask?
    Or do the tired earth and tireless sea,
    That toil not for their pleasure, toil for me?
    Amid the world's long striving, wherefore ask
    What reasons were, or what rewards shall be?
    The covenant God gave us is a task.


    Deem not, because you see me in the press
    Of this world's children run my fated race,
    That I blaspheme against a proffered grace,
    Or leave unlearned the love of holiness.
    I honour not that sanctity the less
    Whose aureole illumines not my face,
    But dare not tread the secret, holy place
    To which the priest and prophet have access.
    For some are born to be beatified
    By anguish, and by grievous penance done;
    And some, to furnish forth the age's pride,
    And to be praised of men beneath the sun;
    And some are born to stand perplexed aside
    From so much sorrow--of whom I am one.


    Mightier storms than this are brewed on earth
    That pricks the crystal lake with summer showers.
    The past hath treasure of sublimer hours,
    And God is witness to their changeless worth.
    Big is the future with portentous birth
    Of battles numberless, and nature's powers
    Outdo my dreams of beauty in the flowers,
    And top my revels with the demons' mirth.
    But thou, glad river that hast reached the plain,
    Scarce wak'st the rushes to a slumberous sigh.
    The mountains sleep behind thee, and the main
    Awaits thee, lulling an eternal pain
    With patience; nor doth Phoebe, throned on high,
    The mirror of thy placid heart disdain.


    Sweet are the days we wander with no hope
    Along life's labyrinthine trodden way,
    With no impatience at the steep's delay,
    Nor sorrow at the swift-descended slope.
    Why this inane curiosity to grope
    In the dim dust for gems' unmeaning ray?
    Why this proud piety, that dares to pray
    For a world wider than the heaven's cope?
    Farewell, my burden! No more will I bear
    The foolish load of my fond faith's despair,
    But trip the idle race with careless feet.
    The crown of olive let another wear;
    It is my crown to mock the runner's heat
    With gentle wonder and with laughter sweet.


    There may be chaos still around the world,
    This little world that in my thinking lies;
    For mine own bosom is the paradise
    Where all my life's fair visions are unfurled.
    Within my nature's shell I slumber curled,
    Unmindful of the changing outer skies,
    Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies,
    Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled.
    I heed them not; or if the subtle night
    Haunt me with deities I never saw,
    I soon mine eyelid's drowsy curtain draw
    To hide their myriad faces from my sight.
    They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe
    A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.


    A wall, a wall to hem the azure sphere,
    And hedge me in from the disconsolate hills!
    Give me but one of all the mountain rills,
    Enough of ocean in its voice I hear.
    Come no profane insatiate mortal near
    With the contagion of his passionate ills;
    The smoke of battle all the valleys fills,
    Let the eternal sunlight greet me here.
    This spot is sacred to the deeper soul
    And to the piety that mocks no more.
    In nature's inmost heart is no uproar,
    None in this shrine; in peace the heavens roll,
    In peace the slow tides pulse from shore to shore,
    And ancient quiet broods from pole to pole.


    A thousand beauties that have never been
    Haunt me with hope and tempt me to pursue;
    The gods, methinks, dwell just behind the blue;
    The satyrs at my coming fled the green.
    The flitting shadows of the grove between
    The dryads' eyes were winking, and I knew
    The wings of sacred Eros as he flew
    And left me to the love of things not seen.
    'Tis a sad love, like an eternal prayer,
    And knows no keen delight, no faint surcease.
    Yet from the seasons hath the earth increase,
    And heaven shines as if the gods were there.
    Had Dian passed there could no deeper peace
    Embalm the purple stretches of the air.


    There was a time when in the teeth of fate
    I flung the challenge of the spirit's right;
    The child, the dreamer of that visioned night,
    Woke, and was humbled unto man's estate.
    A slave I am; on sun and moon I wait,
    Who heed not that I live upon their light.
    Me they despise, but are themselves so bright
    They flood my heart with love, and quench my hate.
    O subtle Beauty, sweet persuasive worth
    That didst the love of being first inspire,
    We do thee homage both in death and birth.
    Thirsting for thee, we die in thy great dearth,
    Or borrow breath of infinite desire
    To chase thine image through the haunted earth.


    Blaspheme not love, ye lovers, nor dispraise
    The wise divinity that makes you blind,
    Sealing the eyes, but showing to the mind
    The high perfection from which nature strays.
    For love is God, and in unfathomed ways
    Brings forth the beauty for which fancy pined.
    I loved, and lost my love among mankind;
    But I have found it after many days.
    Oh, trust in God, and banish rash despair,
    That, feigning evil, is itself the curse!
    My angel is come back, more sad and fair,
    And witness to the truth of love I bear,
    With too much rapture for this sacred verse,
    At the exceeding answer to my prayer.


    Above the battlements of heaven rise
    The glittering domes of the gods' golden dwelling,
    Whence, like a constellation, passion-quelling,
    The truth of all things feeds immortal eyes.
    There all forgotten dreams of paradise
    From the deep caves of memory upwelling,
    All tender joys beyond our dim foretelling
    Are ever bright beneath the flooded skies.
    There we live o'er, amid angelic powers,
    Our lives without remorse, as if not ours,
    And others' lives with love, as if our own;
    For we behold, from those eternal towers,
    The deathless beauty of all winged hours,
    And have our being in their truth alone.


    These strewn thoughts, by the mountain pathway sprung,
    I conned for comfort, till I ceased to grieve,
    And with these flowering thorns I dare to weave
    The crown, great Mother, on thine altar hung.
    Teach thou a larger speech to my loosed tongue,
    And to mine opened eyes thy secrets give,
    That in thy perfect love I learn to live,
    And in thine immortality be young.
    The soul is not on earth an alien thing
    That hath her life's rich sources otherwhere;
    She is a parcel of the sacred air.
    She takes her being from the breath of Spring,
    The glance of Phoebus is her fount of light,
    And her long sleep a draught of primal night.



    Among the myriad voices of the Spring
    What were the voice of my supreme desire,
    What were my cry amid the vernal choir,
    Or my complaint before the gods that sing?
    O too late love, O flight on wounded wing,
    Infinite hope my lips should not suspire,
    Why, when the world is thine, my grief require,
    Or mock my dear-bought patience with thy sting?
    Though I be mute, the birds will in the boughs
    Sing as in every April they have sung,
    And, though I die, the incense of heart-vows
    Will float to heaven, as when I was young.
    But, O ye beauties I must never see,
    How great a lover have you lost in me!


    'Tis love that moveth the celestial spheres
    In endless yearning for the Changeless One,
    And the stars sing together, as they run
    To number the innumerable years.
    'Tis love that lifteth through their dewy tears
    The roses' beauty to the heedless sun,
    And with no hope, nor any guerdon won,
    Love leads me on, nor end of love appears.
    For the same breath that did awake the flowers,
    Making them happy with a joy unknown,
    Kindled my light and fixed my spirit's goal;
    And the same hand that reined the flying hours
    And chained the whirling earth to Phoebus' throne,
    In love's eternal orbit keeps the soul.


    But is this love, that in my hollow breast
    Gnaws like a silent poison, till I faint?
    Is this the vision that the haggard saint
    Fed with his vigils, till he found his rest?
    Is this the hope that piloted thy quest,
    Knight of the Grail, and kept thy heart from taint?
    Is this the heaven, poets, that ye paint?
    Oh, then, how like damnation to be blest!
    This is not love: it is that worser thing--
    Hunger for love, while love is yet to learn.
    Thy peace is gone, my soul; thou long must yearn.
    Long is thy winter's pilgrimage, till spring
    And late home-coming; long ere thou return
    To where the seraphs covet not, and burn.


    Although I decked a chamber for my bride,
    And found a moonlit garden for the tryst
    Wherein all flowers looked happy as we kissed,
    Hath the deep heart of me been satisfied?
    The chasm 'twixt our spirits yawns as wide
    Though our lips meet, and clasp thee as I list,
    The something perfect that I love is missed,
    And my warm worship freezes into pride.
    But why--O waywardness of nature!--why
    Seek farther in the world? I had my choice,
    And we said we were happy, you and I.
    Why in the forest should I hear a cry,
    Or in the sea an unavailing voice,
    Or feel a pang to look upon the sky?


    As in the midst of battle there is room
    For thoughts of love, and in foul sin for mirth;
    As gossips whisper of a trinket's worth
    Spied by the death-bed's flickering candle-gloom;
    As in the crevices of Caesar's tomb
    The sweet herbs flourish on a little earth:
    So in this great disaster of our birth
    We can be happy, and forget our doom.
    For morning, with a ray of tenderest joy
    Gilding the iron heaven, hides the truth,
    And evening gently woos us to employ
    Our grief in idle catches. Such is youth;
    Till from that summer's trance we wake, to find
    Despair before us, vanity behind.


    Oh, if the heavy last unuttered groan
    That lieth here could issue to the air,
    Then might God's peace descend on my despair
    And seal this heart as with a mighty stone.
    For what sin, Heaven, must I thus atone?
    Was it a sin to love what seemed so fair?
    If thou deny me hope, why give me care?
    I have not lived, and die alone, alone.
    This is not new. Many have perished so.
    Long years of nothing, with some days of grief,
    Made their sad life. Their own hand sought relief
    Too late to find it, impotently slow.
    I know, strong Fate, the trodden way I go.
    Joy lies behind me. Be the journey brief.


    Sleep hath composed the anguish of my brain,
    And ere the dawn I will arise and pray.
    Strengthen me, Heaven, and attune my lay
    Unto my better angel's clear refrain.
    For I can hear him in the night again,
    The breathless night, snow-smothered, happy, grey,
    With premonition of the jocund day,
    Singing a quiet carol to my pain.
    Slowly, saith he, the April buds are growing
    In the chill core of twigs all leafless now;
    Gently, beneath the weight of last night's snowing,
    Patient of winter's hand, the branches bow.
    Each buried seed lacks light as much as thou.
    Wait for the spring, brave heart; there is no knowing.


    Out of the dust the queen of roses springs;
    The brackish depths of the blown waters bear
    Blossoms of foam; the common mist and air
    Weave Vesper's holy, pity-laden wings.
    So from sad, mortal, and unhallowed things
    Bud stars that in their crowns the angels wear;
    And worship of the infinitely fair
    Flows from thine eyes, as wise Petrarca sings:
    "Hence comes the understanding of love's scope,
    That, seeking thee, to perfect good aspires,
    Accounting little what all flesh desires;
    And hence the spirit's happy pinions ope
    In flight impetuous to the heaven's choirs:
    Wherefore I walk already proud in hope."


    What riches have you that you deem me poor,
    Or what large comfort that you call me sad?
    Tell me what makes you so exceeding glad:
    Is your earth happy or your heaven sure?
    I hope for heaven, since the stars endure
    And bring such tidings as our fathers had.
    I know no deeper doubt to make me mad,
    I need no brighter love to keep me pure.
    To me the faiths of old are daily bread;
    I bless their hope, I bless their will to save,
    And my deep heart still meaneth what they said.
    It makes me happy that the soul is brave,
    And, being so much kinsman to the dead,
    I walk contented to the peopled grave.


    Let my lips touch thy lips, and my desire
    Contagious fever be, to set a-glow
    The blood beneath thy whiter breast than snow--
    Wonderful snow, that so can kindle fire!
    Abandon to what gods in us conspire
    Thy little wisdom, sweetest; for they know.
    Is it not something that I love thee so?
    Take that from life, ere death thine all require.
    But no! Then would a mortal warmth disperse
    That beauteous snow to water-drops, which, turned
    To marble, had escaped the primal curse.
    Be still a goddess, till my heart have burned
    Its sacrifice before thee, and my verse
    Told this late world the love that I have learned.


    A brother's love, but that I chose thee out
    From all the world, not by the chance of birth,
    But in the risen splendour of thy worth,
    Which, like the sun, put all my stars to rout.
    A lover's love, but that it bred no doubt
    Of love returned, no heats of flood and dearth,
    But, asking nothing, found in all the earth
    The consolation of a heart devout.
    A votary's love, though with no pale and wild
    Imaginations did I stretch the might
    Of a sweet friendship and a mortal light.
    Thus in my love all loves are reconciled
    That purest be, and in my prayer the right
    Of brother, lover, friend, and eremite.


    Let not thy bosom, to my foes allied,
    Insult my sorrow with this coat of mail,
    When for thy strong defence, if love assail,
    Thou hast the world, thy virtue, and my pride.
    But if thine own dear eyes I see beside
    Sharpened against me, then my strength will fail,
    Abandoning sail and rudder to the gale
    For thy sweet sake alone so long defied.
    If I am poor, in death how rich and brave
    Will seem my spirit with the love it gave;
    If I am sad, I shall seem happy then.
    Be mine, be mine in God and in the grave,
    Since naught but chance and the insensate wave
    Divides us, and the wagging tongue of men.


    A perfect love is nourished by despair.
    I am thy pupil in the school of pain;
    Mine eyes will not reproach thee for disdain,
    But thank thy rich disdain for being fair.
    Aye! the proud sorrow, the eternal prayer
    Thy beauty taught, what shall unteach again?
    Hid from my sight, thou livest in my brain;
    Fled from my bosom, thou abidest there.
    And though they buried thee, and called thee dead,
    And told me I should never see thee more,
    The violets that grew above thy head
    Would waft thy breath and tell thy sweetness o'er,
    And every rose thy scattered ashes bred
    Would to my sense thy loveliness restore.


    Though destiny half broke her cruel bars,
    Herself contriving we should meet on earth,
    And with thy beauty fed my spirit's dearth
    And tuned to love the ages' many jars,
    Yet there is potency in natal stars;
    And we were far divided in our birth
    By nature's gifts and half the planet's girth,
    And speech, and faith, and blood, and ancient wars.
    Alas! thy very radiance made division,
    Thy youth, thy friends, and all men's eyes that wooed
    Thy simple kindness came as in derision
    Of so much love and so much solitude;
    Or did the good gods order all to show
    How far the single strength of love can go?


    We needs must be divided in the tomb,
    For I would die among the hills of Spain,
    And o'er the treeless melancholy plain
    Await the coming of the final gloom.
    But thou--O pitiful!--wilt find scant room
    Among thy kindred by the northern main,
    And fade into the drifting mist again,
    The hemlocks' shadow, or the pines' perfume.
    Let gallants lie beside their ladies' dust,
    In one cold grave, with mortal love inurned;
    Let the sea part our ashes, if it must.
    The souls fled thence which love immortal burned,
    For they were wedded without bond of lust,
    And nothing of our heart to earth returned.


    We were together, and I longed to tell
    How drop by silent drop my bosom bled.
    I took some verses full of you, and read,
    Waiting for God to work some miracle.
    They told how love had plunged in burning hell
    One half my soul, while the other half had fled
    Upon love's wings to heaven; and you said:
    "I like the verses; they are written well."
    If I had knelt confessing "It is you,
    You are my torment and my rapture too,"
    I should have seen you rise in flushed disdain:
    "For shame to say so, be it false or true!"
    And the sharp sword that ran me through and through,
    On your white bosom too had left a stain.


    And I was silent. Now you do not know,
    But read these very words with vacant eyes,
    And, as you turn the page, peruse the skies,
    And I go by you as a cloud might go.
    You are not cruel, though you dealt the blow,
    And I am happy, though I miss the prize;
    For, when God tells you, you will not despise
    The love I bore you. It is better so.
    My soul is just, and thine without a stain.
    Why should not life divide us, whose division
    Is frail and passing, as its union vain?
    All things 'neath other planets will grow plain
    When, as we wander through the fields Elysian,
    Eternal echoes haunt us of this pain.


    Oh, not for me, for thee, dear God, her head
    Shines with this perfect golden aureole,
    For thee this sweetness doth possess her soul,
    And to thy chambers are her footsteps led.
    The light will live that on my path she shed,
    While any pilgrim yet hath any goal,
    And heavenly musicians from their scroll
    Will sing all her sweet words, when I am dead.
    In her unspotted heart is steadfast faith
    Fed on high thoughts, and in her beauteous face
    The fountain of the love that conquers death;
    And as I see her in her kneeling-place,
    A Gabriel comes, and with inaudible breath
    Whispers within me: Hail, thou full of grace.


    The world will say, "What mystic love is this?
    What ghostly mistress? What angelic friend?"
    Read, masters, your own passion to the end,
    And tell me then if I have writ amiss.
    When all loves die that hang upon a kiss,
    And must with cavil and with chance contend,
    Their risen selves with the eternal blend
    Where perfect dying is their perfect bliss.
    And might I kiss her once, asleep or dead,
    Upon the forehead or the globed eyes,
    Or where the gold is parted on her head,
    That kiss would help me on to paradise
    As if I kissed the consecrated bread
    In which the buried soul of Jesus lies.


    If, when the story of my love is old,
    This book should live and lover's leisure feed,
    Fair charactered, for bluest eye to read,--
    And richly bound, for whitest hand to hold,--
    O limn me then this lovely head in gold,
    And, limner, the soft lips and lashes heed,
    And set her in the midst, my love indeed,
    The sweet eyes tender, and the broad brow cold.
    And never let thy colours think to cast
    A brighter splendour on her beauties past,
    Or venture to disguise a fancied flaw;
    Let not thy painting falsify my rhyme,
    But perfect keep the mould for after time,
    And let the whole world see her as I saw.


    Yet why, of one who loved thee not, command
    Thy counterfeit, for other men to see,
    When God himself did on my heart for me
    Thy face, like Christ's upon the napkin, brand?
    O how much subtler than a painter's hand
    Is love to render back the truth of thee!
    My soul should be thy glass in time to be,
    And in my thought thine effigy should stand.
    Yet, lest the churlish critics of that age
    Should flout my praise, and deem a lover's rage
    Could gild a virtue and a grace exceed,
    I bid thine image here confront my page,
    That men may look upon thee as they read,
    And cry: Such eyes a better poet need.


    As when the sceptre dangles from the hand
    Of some king doting, faction runneth wild,
    Thieves shake their chains and traitors, long exiled,
    Hover about the confines of the land,
    Till the young Prince, anointed, takes command,
    Full of high purpose, simple, trustful, mild,
    And, smitten by his radiance undefiled,
    The ruffians are abashed, the cowards stand:--
    So in my kingdom riot and despair
    Lived by thy lack, and called for thy control,
    But at thy coming all the world grew fair;
    Away before thy face the villains stole,
    And panoplied I rose to do and bear,
    When love his clarion sounded in my soul.


    The candour of the gods is in thy gaze,
    The strength of Dian in thy virgin hand,
    Commanding as the goddess might command,
    And lead her lovers into higher ways.
    Aye, the gods walk among us in these days,
    Had we the docile soul to understand;
    And me they visit in this joyless land,
    To cheer mine exile and receive my praise.
    For once, methinks, before the angels fell,
    Thou, too, didst follow the celestial seven
    Threading in file the meads of asphodel.
    And when thou comest, lady, where I dwell,
    The place is flooded with the light of heaven
    And a lost music I remember well.


    For thee the sun doth daily rise, and set
    Behind the curtain of the hills of sleep,
    And my soul, passing through the nether deep
    Broods on thy love, and never can forget.
    For thee the garlands of the wood are wet,
    For thee the daisies up the meadow's sweep
    Stir in the sidelong light, and for thee weep
    The drooping ferns above the violet.
    For thee the labour of my studious ease
    I ply with hope, for thee all pleasures please,
    Thy sweetness doth the bread of sorrow leaven;
    And from thy noble lips and heart of gold
    I drink the comfort of the faiths of old,
    And thy perfection is my proof of heaven.


    Flower of the world, bright angel, single friend!
    I never asked of Heaven thou shouldst love me;
    As well ask Heaven's self that spreads above me
    With all his stars about my head to bend
    It is enough my spirit may ascend
    And clasp the good whence nothing can remove me;
    Enough, if faith and hope and love approve me,
    And make me worthy of the blessed end.
    And as a pilgrim from the path withdraws,
    Seeing Christ carven on the holy rood,
    And breathes an AVE in the solitude,
    So will I stop and pray--for I have cause--
    And in all crossways of my thinking pause
    Before thine image, saying: God is good.


    When I survey the harvest of the year
    And from time's threshing garner up the grain,
    What profit have I of forgotten pain,
    What comfort, heart-locked, for the winter's cheer?
    The season's yield is this, that thou art dear,
    And that I love thee, that is all my gain;
    The rest was chaff, blown from the weary brain
    Where now thy treasured image lieth clear.
    How liberal is beauty that, but seen,
    Makes rich the bosom of her silent lover!
    How excellent is truth, on which I lean!
    Yet my religion were a charmed despair,
    Did I not in thy perfect heart discover
    How beauty can be true and virtue fair.


    Thou hast no name, or, if a name thou bearest,
    To none it meaneth what it means to me:
    Thy form, the loveliness the world can see,
    Makes not the glory that to me thou wearest.
    Nor thine unuttered thoughts, though they be fairest
    And shaming all that in rude bosoms be:
    All they are but the thousandth part of thee,
    Which thou with blessed spirits haply sharest.
    But incommunicable, peerless, dim,
    Flooding my heart with anguish of despair,
    Thou walkest, love, before me, shade of Him
    Who only liveth, giveth, and is fair.
    And constant ever, though inconstant known,
    In all my loves I worshipped thee alone.


    Of Helen's brothers, one was born to die
    And one immortal, who, the fable saith,
    Gave to the other that was nigh to death
    One half his widowed immortality.
    They would have lived and died alternately,
    Breathing each other's warm transmuted breath,
    Had not high Zeus, who justly ordereth,
    Made them twin stars to shine eternally.
    My heart was dying when thy flame of youth
    Flooded its chambers through my gazing eyes.
    My life is now thy beauty and thy truth.
    Thou wouldst come down, forsaking paradise
    To be my comfort, but by Heaven's ruth
    I go to burn beside thee in the skies.


    After grey vigils, sunshine in the heart;
    After long fasting on the journey, food;
    After sharp thirst, a draught of perfect good
    To flood the soul, and heal her ancient smart.
    Joy of my sorrow, never can we part;
    Thou broodest o'er me in the haunted wood,
    And with new music fill'st the solitude
    By but so sweetly being what thou art.
    He who hath made thee perfect, makes me blest.
    O fiery minister, on mighty wings
    Bear me, great love, to mine eternal rest.
    Heaven it is to be at peace with things;
    Come chaos now, and in a whirlwind's rings
    Engulf the planets. I have seen the best.


    Though utter death should swallow up my hope
    And choke with dust the mouth of my desire,
    Though no dawn burst, and no aurorean choir
    Sing GLORIA DEO when the heavens ope,
    Yet have I light of love, nor need to grope
    Lost, wholly lost, without an inward fire;
    The flame that quickeneth the world entire
    Leaps in my breast, with cruel death to cope.
    Hath not the night-environed earth her flowers?
    Hath not my grief the blessed joy of thee?
    Is not the comfort of these singing hours,
    Full of thy perfectness, enough for me?
    They are not evil, then, those hidden powers:
    One love sufficeth an eternity.



    What chilly cloister or what lattice dim
    Cast painted light upon this careful page?
    What thought compulsive held the patient sage
    Till sound of matin bell or evening hymn?
    Did visions of the Heavenly Lover swim
    Before his eyes in youth, or did stern rage
    Against rash heresy keep green his age?
    Had he seen God, to write so much of Him?
    Gone is that irrecoverable mind
    With all its phantoms, senseless to mankind
    As a dream's trouble or the speech of birds.
    The breath that stirred his lips he soon resigned
    To windy chaos, and we only find
    The garnered husks of his disused words.


    Unhappy dreamer, who outwinged in flight
    The pleasant region of the things I love,
    And soared beyond the sunshine, and above
    The golden cornfields and the dear and bright
    Warmth of the hearth,--blasphemer of delight,
    Was your proud bosom not at peace with Jove,
    That you sought, thankless for his guarded grove,
    The empty horror of abysmal night?
    Ah, the thin air is cold above the moon!
    I stood and saw you fall, befooled in death,
    As, in your numbed spirit's fatal swoon,
    You cried you were a god, or were to be;
    I heard with feeble moan your boastful breath
    Bubble from depths of the Icarian sea.


    Hold high the woof, dear friends, that we may see
    The cunning mixture of its colours rare.
    Nothing in nature purposely is fair,--
    Her beauties in their freedom disagree;
    But here all vivid dyes that garish be,
    To that tint mellowed which the sense will bear,
    Glow, and not wound the eye that, resting there,
    Lingers to feed its gentle ecstasy.
    Crimson and purple and all hues of wine,
    Saffron and russet, brown and sober green
    Are rich the shadowy depths of blue between;
    While silver threads with golden intertwine,
    To catch the glimmer of a fickle sheen,--
    All the long labour of some captive queen.

    TO W. P.


    Calm was the sea to which your course you kept,
    Oh, how much calmer than all southern seas!
    Many your nameless mates, whom the keen breeze
    Wafted from mothers that of old have wept.
    All souls of children taken as they slept
    Are your companions, partners of your ease,
    And the green souls of all these autumn trees
    Are with you through the silent spaces swept.
    Your virgin body gave its gentle breath
    Untainted to the gods. Why should we grieve,
    But that we merit not your holy death?
    We shall not loiter long, your friends and I;
    Living you made it goodlier to live,
    Dead you will make it easier to die.


    With you a part of me hath passed away;
    For in the peopled forest of my mind
    A tree made leafless by this wintry wind
    Shall never don again its green array.
    Chapel and fireside, country road and bay,
    Have something of their friendliness resigned;
    Another, if I would, I could not find,
    And I am grown much older in a day.
    But yet I treasure in my memory
    Your gift of charity, and young heart's ease,
    And the dear honour of your amity;
    For these once mine, my life is rich with these.
    And I scarce know which part may greater be,--
    What I keep of you, or you rob from me.


    Your ship lies anchored in the peaceful bight
    Until a kinder wind unfurl her sail;
    Your docile spirit, winged by this gale,
    Hath at the dawning fled into the light.
    And I half know why heaven deemed it right
    Your youth, and this my joy in youth, should fail
    God hath them still, for ever they avail,
    Eternity hath borrowed that delight.
    For long ago I taught my thoughts to run
    Where all the great things live that lived of yore,
    And in eternal quiet float and soar;
    There all my loves are gathered into one,
    Where change is not, nor parting any more,
    Nor revolution of the moon and sun.


    In my deep heart these chimes would still have rung
    To toll your passing, had you not been dead;
    For time a sadder mask than death may spread
    Over the face that ever should be young.
    The bough that falls with all its trophies hung
    Falls not too soon, but lays its flower-crowned head
    Most royal in the dust, with no leaf shed
    Unhallowed or unchiselled or unsung.
    And though the after world will never hear
    The happy name of one so gently true,
    Nor chronicles write large this fatal year,
    Yet we who loved you, though we be but few,
    Keep you in whatsoe'er is good, and rear
    In our weak virtues monuments to you.



    Behold Pelides with his yellow hair,
    Proud child of Thetis, hero loved of Jove;
    Above the frowning of his brows it wove
    A crown of gold, well combed, with Spartan care.
    Who might have seen him, sullen, great, and fair,
    As with the wrongful world he proudly strove,
    And by high deeds his wilder passion shrove,
    Mastering love, resentment, and despair.
    He knew his end, and Phoebus' arrow sure
    He braved for fame immortal and a friend,
    Despising life; and we, who know our end,
    Know that in our decay he shall endure
    And all our children's hearts to grief inure,
    With whose first bitter battles his shall blend.


    Who brought thee forth, immortal vision, who
    In Phthia or in Tempe brought thee forth?
    Out of the sunlight and the sapful earth
    What god the simples of thy spirit drew?
    A goddess rose from the green waves, and threw
    Her arms about a king, to give thee birth;
    A centaur, patron of thy boyish mirth,
    Over the meadows in thy footsteps flew.
    Now Thessaly forgets thee, and the deep
    Thy keeled bark furrowed answers not thy prayer;
    But far away new generations keep
    Thy laurels fresh, where branching Isis hems
    The lawns of Oxford round about, or where
    Enchanted Eton sits by pleasant Thames.


    I gaze on thee as Phidias of old
    Or Polyclitus gazed, when first he saw
    These hard and shining limbs, without a flaw,
    And cast his wonder in heroic mould.
    Unhappy me who only may behold,
    Nor make immutable and fix in awe
    A fair immortal form no worm shall gnaw,
    A tempered mind whose faith was never told!
    The godlike mien, the lion's lock and eye,
    The well-knit sinew, utter a brave heart
    Better than many words that part by part
    Spell in strange symbols what serene and whole
    In nature lives, nor can in marble die.
    The perfect body is itself the soul.


    Our youth is like a rustic at the play
    That cries aloud in simple-hearted fear,
    Curses the villain, shudders at the fray,
    And weeps before the maiden's wreathed bier.
    Yet once familiar with the changeful show,
    He starts no longer at a brandished knife,
    But, his heart chastened at the sight of woe,
    Ponders the mirrored sorrows of his life.
    So tutored too, I watch the moving art
    Of all this magic and impassioned pain
    That tells the story of the human heart
    In a false instance, such as poets feign;
    I smile, and keep within the parchment furled
    That prompts the passions of this strutting world.



    What god will choose me from this labouring nation
    To worship him afar, with inward gladness,
    At sunset and at sunrise, in some Persian
                 Garden of roses;

    Or under the full moon, in rapturous silence,
    Charmed by the trickling fountain, and the moaning
    Of the death-hallowed cypress, and the myrtle
                 Hallowed by Venus?

    O for a chamber in an eastern tower,
    Spacious and empty, roofed in odorous cedar,
    A silken soft divan, a woven carpet
                 Rich, many-coloured;

    A jug that, poised on her firm head, a negress
    Fetched from the well; a window to the ocean,
    Lest of the stormy world too deep seclusion
                 Make me forgetful!

    Thence I might watch the vessel-bearing waters
    Beat the slow pulses of the life eternal,
    Bringing of nature's universal travail
                 Infinite echoes;

    And there at even I might stand and listen
    To thrum of distant lutes and dying voices
    Chanting the ditty an Arabian captive
                 Sang to Darius.

    So would I dream awhile, and ease a little
    The soul long stifled and the straitened spirit,
    Tasting new pleasures in a far-off country
                 Sacred to beauty.


    My heart rebels against my generation,
    That talks of freedom and is slave to riches,
    And, toiling 'neath each day's ignoble burden,
                 Boasts of the morrow.

    No space for noonday rest or midnight watches,
    No purest joy of breathing under heaven!
    Wretched themselves, they heap, to make them happy,
                 Many possessions.

    But thou, O silent Mother, wise, immortal,
    To whom our toil is laughter,--take, divine one,
    This vanity away, and to thy lover
                 Give what is needful:--

    A staunch heart, nobly calm, averse to evil,
    The windy sky for breath, the sea, the mountain,
    A well-born, gentle friend, his spirit's brother,
                 Ever beside him.

    What would you gain, ye seekers, with your striving,
    Or what vast Babel raise you on your shoulders?
    You multiply distresses, and your children
                 Surely will curse you.

    O leave them rather friendlier gods, and fairer
    Orchards and temples, and a freer bosom!
    What better comfort have we, or what other
                 Profit in living,

    Than to feed, sobered by the truth of Nature,
    Awhile upon her bounty and her beauty,
    And hand her torch of gladness to the ages
                 Following after?

    She hath not made us, like her other children,
    Merely for peopling of her spacious kingdoms,
    Beasts of the wild, or insects of the summer,
                 Breeding and dying,

    But also that we might, half knowing, worship
    The deathless beauty of her guiding vision,
    And learn to love, in all things mortal, only
                 What is eternal.


    Gathering the echoes of forgotten wisdom,
    And mastered by a proud, adventurous purpose,
    Columbus sought the golden shores of India
                 Opposite Europe.

    He gave the world another world, and ruin
    Brought upon blameless, river-loving nations,
    Cursed Spain with barren gold, and made the Andes
                 Fiefs of Saint Peter;

    While in the cheerless North the thrifty Saxon
    Planted his corn, and, narrowing his bosom,
    Made covenant with God, and by keen virtue
                 Trebled his riches.

    What venture hast thou left us, bold Columbus?
    What honour left thy brothers, brave Magellan?
    Daily the children of the rich for pastime
                 Circle the planet.

    And what good comes to us of all your dangers?
    A smaller earth and smaller hope of heaven.
    Ye have but cheapened gold, and, measuring ocean,
                 Counted the islands.

    No Ponce de Leon shall drink in fountains,
    On any flowering Easter, youth eternal;
    No Cortes look upon another ocean;
                 No Alexander

    Found in the Orient dim a boundless kingdom,
    And, clothing his Greek strength in barbarous splendour,
    Build by the sea his throne, while sacred Egypt
                 Honours his godhead.

    The earth, the mother once of godlike Theseus
    And mighty Heracles, at length is weary,
    And now brings forth a spawn of antlike creatures,
                 Blackening her valleys,

    Inglorious in their birth and in their living,
    Curious and querulous, afraid of battle,
    Rummaging earth for coals, in camps of hovels
                 Crouching from winter,

    As if grim fate, amid our boastful prating,
    Made us the image of our brutish fathers,
    When from their caves they issued, crazed with terror,
                 Howling and hungry.

    For all things come about in sacred cycles,
    And life brings death, and light eternal darkness,
    And now the world grows old apace; its glory
                 Passes for ever.

    Perchance the earth will yet for many ages
    Bear her dead child, her moon, around her orbit;
    Strange craft may tempt the ocean streams, new forests
                 Cover the mountains.

    If in those latter days men still remember
    Our wisdom and our travail and our sorrow,
    They never can be happy, with that burden
                 Heavy upon them,

    Knowing the hideous past, the blood, the famine,
    The ancestral hate, the eager faith's disaster,
    All ending in their little lives, and vulgar
                 Circle of troubles.

    But if they have forgot us, and the shifting
    Of sands has buried deep our thousand cities,
    Fell superstition then will seize upon them;
                 Protean error,

    Will fill their panting heart with sickly phantoms
    Of sudden blinding good and monstrous evil;
    There will be miracles again, and torment,
                 Dungeon, and fagot,--

    Until the patient earth, made dry and barren,
    Sheds all her herbage in a final winter,
    And the gods turn their eyes to some far distant
                 Bright constellation.


    Slowly the black earth gains upon the yellow,
    And the caked hill-side is ribbed soft with furrows.
    Turn now again, with voice and staff, my ploughman,
                 Guiding thy oxen.

    Lift the great ploughshare, clear the stones and brambles,
    Plant it the deeper, with thy foot upon it,
    Uprooting all the flowering weeds that bring not
                 Food to thy children.

    Patience is good for man and beast, and labour
    Hardens to sorrow and the frost of winter.
    Turn then again, in the brave hope of harvest,
                 Singing to heaven.


    Of thee the Northman by his beached galley
    Dreamt, as he watched the never-setting Ursa
    And longed for summer and thy light, O sacred

    Unseen he loved thee; for the heart within him
    Knew earth had gardens where he might be blessed,
    Putting away long dreams and aimless, barbarous
                 Hunger for battle.

    The foretaste of thy languors thawed his bosom;
    A great need drove him to thy caverned islands
    From the gray, endless reaches of the outer
                 Desert of ocean.

    He saw thy pillars, saw thy sudden mountains
    Wrinkled and stark, and in their crooked gorges,
    'Neath peeping pine and cypress, guessed the torrent
                 Smothered in flowers.

    Thine incense to the sun, thy gathered vapours,
    He saw suspended on the flanks of Taurus,
    Or veiling the snowed bosom of the virgin
                 Sister of Atlas.

    He saw the luminous top of wide Olympus,
    Fit for the happy gods; he saw the pilgrim
    River, with rains of Ethiopia flooding
                 Populous Egypt.

    And having seen, he loved thee. His racked spirit,
    By thy breath tempered and the light that clothes thee,
    Forgot the monstrous gods, and made of Nature
                 Mistress and mother.

    The more should I, O fatal sea, before thee
    Of alien words make echoes to thy music;
    For I was born where first the rills of Tagus
                 Turn to the westward,

    And wandering long, alas! have need of drinking
    Deep of the patience of thy perfect sadness,
    O thou that constant through the change of ages,
                 Beautiful ever,

    Never wast wholly young and void of sorrows,
    Nor ever canst be old, while yet the morning
    Kindles thy ripples, or the golden evening
                 Dyes thee in purple.

    Thee, willing to be tamed but still untamable,
    The Roman called his own until he perished,
    As now the busy English hover o'er thee,
                 Stalwart and noble;

    But all is naught to thee, while no harsh winter
    Congeals thy fountains, and the blown Sahara
    Chokes not with dreadful sand thy deep and placid
                 Rock-guarded havens.

    Thou carest not what men may tread thy margin;
    Nor I, while from some heather-scented headland
    I may behold thy beauty, the eternal
                 Solace of mortals.


        I hear a rumour and a shout,
    A louder heart-throb pulses in the air.
    Fling, Muse, thy lattice open, and beware
          To keep the morning out.
    Beckon into the chamber of thy care
          The bird of healing wing
          That trilleth there,
    Blithe happy passion of the strong and fair.
    Their wild heart singeth. Do thou also sing.
            How vain, how vain
    The feeble croaking of a reasoning tongue
            That heals no pain
    And prompts no bright deed worthy to be sung
            Too soon cold earth
    Refuses flowers. Oh, greet their lovely birth!
            Too soon dull death
    Quiets the heaving of our doubtful breath.
            Deem not its worth
          Too high for honouring mirth;
          Sing while the lyre is strung,
    And let the heart beat, while the heart is young.
    When the dank earth begins to thaw and yield
    The early clover, didst thou never pass
    Some balmy noon from field to sunny field
    And press thy feet against the tufted grass?
            So hadst thou seen
    A spring palaestra on the tender green.
    Here a tall stripling, with a woman's face,
    Draws the spiked sandal on his upturned heel,
          Sure-footed for the race;
    Another hurls the quoit of heavy steel
          And glories to be strong;
    While yet another, lightest of the throng,
    Crouching on tiptoe for the sudden bound,
    Flies o'er the level race-course, like the hound,
          And soon is lost afar;
          Another jumps the bar,
    For some god taught him easily to spring,
    The legs drawn under, as a bird takes wing,
    Till, tempting fortune farther than is meet,
    At last he fails, and fails, and vainly tries,
    And blushing, and ashamed to lift his eyes,
          Shakes the light earth from his feet.
          Him friendly plaudits greet
    And pleasing to the unaccustomed ear.
    Come then afield, come with the sporting year
          And watch the youth at play,
    For gentle is the strengthening sun, and sweet
    The soul of boyhood and the breath of May.

          And with the milder ray
    Of the declining sun, when sky and shore,
    In purple drest and misty silver-grey,
          Hang curtains round the day,
    Come list the beating of the plashing oar,
    For grief in rhythmic labour glides away.
    The glancing blades make circles where they dip,--
          Now flash and drip
    Cool wind-blown drops into the glassy river,
          Now sink and cleave,
          While the lithe rowers heave
    And feel the boat beneath them leap and quiver.
          The supple oars in time,
    Shattering the mirror of the rippled water,
          Fly, fly as poets climb,
    Borne by the pliant promise of their rhyme,
    Or as bewitched by Nereus' loveliest daughter
    The painted dolphins, following along,
    Leap to the measure of her liquid song.

          But the blasts of late October,
          Tempering summer's paling grief
          With a russet glow and sober,
    Bring of these sports the latest and the chief.
    Then bursts the flame from many a smouldering ember,
          And many an ardent boy
    Woos harsher pleasures sweeter to remember,
    Hugged with a sterner and a tenser joy.
          Look where the rivals come:
    Each little phalanx on its chosen ground
    Strains for the sudden shock, and all around
          The multitude is dumb.
          Come, watch the stubborn fight
          And doubtful, in the sight
    Of wide-eyed beauty and unstinted love,
          Ay, the wise gods above,
    Attentive to this hot and generous fray,
    Smile on its fortunes and its end prepare,
    For play is also life, and far from care
          Their own glad life is play.

    Ye nymphs and fauns, to Bacchus dear,
    That woke Cithaeron with your midnight rout,
          Arise, arise and shout!
    Your day returns, your haunt is here.
    Shake off dull sleep and long despair;
    There is intoxication in this air,
    And frenzy in this yelping cheer.
    How oft of old the enraptured Muses sung
          Olympian victors' praise.
          Lo! even in these days
            The world is young.
          Life like a torrent flung
            For ever down
    For ever wears a rainbow for a crown.
    O idle sigh for loveliness outworn,
    When the red flush of each unfailing morn
          Floods every field and grove,
    And no moon wanes but some one is in love.
            O wasted tear,
    A new soul wakes with each awakened year.
    Beneath these rags, these blood-clots on the face,
    The valiant soul is still the same, the same
    The strength, the art, the inevitable grace,
          The thirst unquenched for fame
    Quenching base passion, the high will severe,
    The long obedience, and the knightly flame
    Of loyalty to honour and a name.
    Give o'er, ye chords, your music ere ye tire,
          Be sweetly mute, O lyre.
    Words soon are cold, and life is warm for ever.
    One half of honour is the strong endeavour,
    Success the other, but when both conspire
    Youth has her perfect crown, and age her old desire.



    The low sandy beach and the thin scrub pine,
    The wide reach of bay and the long sky line,--
            O, I am far from home!

    The salt, salt smell of the thick sea air,
    And the smooth round stones that the ebbtides wear,--
            When will the good ship come?

    The wretched stumps all charred and burned,
    And the deep soft rut where the cartwheel turned,--
            Why is the world so old?

    The lapping wave, and the broad gray sky
    Where the cawing crows and the slow gulls fly,--
            Where are the dead untold?

    The thin, slant willows by the flooded bog,
    The huge stranded hulk and the floating log,--
            Sorrow with life began!

    And among the dark pines, and along the flat shore,
    O the wind, and the wind, for evermore!
            What will become of man?


    See this bowl of purple wine,
    Life-blood of the lusty vine!
    All the warmth of summer suns
    In the vintage liquid runs,
    All the glow of winter nights
    Plays about its jewel lights,
    Thoughts of time when love was young
    Lurk its ruby drops among,
    And its deepest depths are dyed
    With delight of friendship tried.
    Worthy offering, I ween,
    For a god or for a queen,
    Is the draught I pour to thee,--
    Comfort of all misery,
    Single friend of the forlorn,
    Haven of all beings born,
    Hope when trouble wakes at night,
    And when naught delights, delight.
    Holy Death, I drink to thee;
    Do not part my friends and me.
    Take this gift, which for a night
    Puts dull leaden care to flight,
    Thou who takest grief away
    For a night and for a day.


    The muffled syllables that Nature speaks
      Fill us with deeper longing for her word;
    She hides a meaning that the spirit seeks,
      She makes a sweeter music than is heard.

    A hidden light illumines all our seeing,
      An unknown love enchants our solitude.
    We feel and know that from the depths of being
      Exhales an infinite, a perfect good.

    Though the heart wear the garment of its sorrow
      And be not happy like a naked star,
    Yet from the thought of peace some peace we borrow,
      Some rapture from the rapture felt afar.

    Our heart strings are too coarse for Nature's fingers
      Deftly to quicken as she pulses on,
    And the harsh tremor that among them lingers
      Will into sweeter silence die anon.

    We catch the broken prelude and suggestion
      Of things unuttered, needing to be sung;
    We know the burden of them, and their question
      Lies heavy on the heart, nor finds a tongue.

    Till haply, lightning through the storm of ages,
      Our sullen secret flash from sky to sky,
    Glowing in some diviner poet's pages
      And swelling into rapture from this sigh.


    I could believe that I am here alone,
      And all the world my dream;
    The passion of the scene is all my own,
      And things that seem but seem.

    Perchance an exhalation of my sorrow
      Hath raised this vaporous show,
    For whence but from my soul should all things borrow
      So deep a tinge of woe?

    I keep the secret doubt within my breast
      To be the gods' defence,
    To ease the heart by too much ruth oppressed
      And drive the horror hence.

    O sorrow that the patient brute should cower
      And die, not having sinned!
    O pity that the wild and fragile flower
      Should shiver in the wind!

    Then were I dreaming dreams I know not of,
      For that is part of me
    That feels the piercing pang of grief and love
      And doubts eternally.

    But whether all to me the vision come
      Or break in many beams,
    The pageant ever shifts, and being's sum
      Is but the sum of dreams.


    Lap, ripple, lap, Icarian wave, the sand
    Along the ruins of this piteous land;
    Murmur the praises of a lost delight,
    And soothe the aching of my starved sight
    With sheen of mirrored beauties, caught aright.

    Here stood enchanted palaces of old,
    All veined porphyry and burnished gold;
    Here matrons and slight maidens sat aloof
    Beneath cool porches, rich with Tyrian woof
    Hung from the carven rafters of the roof.

    Here in a mart a swarthy turbaned brave
    Showed the wrought blade or praised the naked slave.
    "Touch with your finger-tips this edge of steel,"
    Quoth he, "and see this lad, from head to heel
    Like a bronze Cupid. Feel, my masters, feel."

    Here Aphrodite filled with frenzied love
    The dark recesses of her murmurous grove.
    The doves that haunted it, the winds that sighed,
    Were souls of youths that in her coverts died,
    And hopes of heroes strewed her garden wide.

    Under her shades a narrow brazen gate
    Led to the courts of Ares and of Fate.
    Who entered breathed the unutterable prayer
    Of cruel hearts, and death was worshipped there,
    And men went thence enfranchised by despair.

    Here the proud athlete in the baths delayed,
    While a cool fountain on his shoulders played,
    Then in fine linen swathed his breast and thighs,
    And silent, myrtle crowned, with serious eyes,
    Stepped forth to list the wranglings of the wise.

    A sage stalked by, his ragged mantle bound
    About his brows; his eyes perused the ground;
    He conned the number of the cube and square
    Of the moon's orb; his horny feet and bare
    Trampled the lilies carpeting the stair.

    A jasper terrace hung above the sea
    Where the King supped with his beloved three:
    The Libyan chanted of her native land
    In raucous melody, the Indian fanned,
    And the huge mastiff licked his master's hand.

    Below, alone, despairing of the gale,
    A crouching sailor furled the saffron sail;
    Then rose, breathed deep, and plunged in the lagoon.
    A mermaid spied his glistening limbs: her croon
    Enticed him down; her cold arms choked him soon.

    And the King laughed, filled full his jewelled bowl,
    And drinking mused: "What know we of the soul?
    What magic, perfecting her harmony,
    Have these red drops that so attune her key,
    Or those of brine that set the wretched free?

    "If death should change me, as old fables feign,
    Into some slave or beast, to purge with pain
    My lordly pleasures, let my torment be
    Still to behold thee, Sybaris, and see
    The sacred horror of thy loves and thee.

    "Be thou my hell, my dumb eternal grief,
    But spare thy King the madness of belief,
    The brutish faith of ignorant desire
    That strives and wanders. Let the visible fire
    Of beauty torture me. That doom is higher.

    "I wear the crown of life. The rose and gem
    Twine with the pale gold of my diadem.
    Nature, long secret, hath unveiled to me
    And proved her vile. Her wanton bosoms be
    My pillow now. I know her, I am free."

    He spoke, and smiling stretched a languid hand,
    And music burst in mighty chords and bland
    Of harp and flute and cymbal.--When between
    Two cypresses the large moon rose, her sheen
    Silvered the nymphs' feet, tripping o'er the green.


    Again my feet are on the fragrant moor
      Amid the purple uplands of Castile,
    Realm proudly desolate and nobly poor,
      Scorched by the sky's inexorable zeal.

    Wide desert where a diadem of towers
      Above Adaja hems a silent town,
    And locks, unmindful of the mocking hours,
      Her twenty temples in a granite crown.

    The shafts of fervid light are in the sky,
      And in my heart the mysteries of yore.
    Here the sad trophies of my spirit lie:
      These dead fulfilled my destiny before.

    Like huge primeval stones that strew this plain,
      Their nameless sorrows sink upon my breast,
    And like this ardent sky their cancelled pain
      Smiles at my grief and quiets my unrest.

    For here hath mortal life from age to age
      Endured the silent hand that makes and mars,
    And, sighing, taken up its heritage
      Beneath the smiling and inhuman stars.

    Still o'er this town the crested castle stands,
      A nest for storks, as once for haughty souls,
    Still from the abbey, where the vale expands,
      The curfew for the long departed tolls,

    Wafting some ghostly blessing to the heart
      From prayer of nun or silent Capuchin,
    To heal with balm of Golgotha the smart
      Of weary labour and distracted sin.

    What fate has cast me on a tide of time
      Careless of joy and covetous of gold,
    What force compelled to weave the pensive rhyme
      When loves are mean, and faith and honour old,

    When riches crown in vain men's sordid lives,
      And learning chokes a mind of base degree?
    What winged spirit rises from their hives?
      What heart, revolting, ventures to be free?

    Their pride will sink and more ignobly fade
      Without memorial of its hectic fire.
    What altars shall survive them, where they prayed?
      What lovely deities? What riven lyre?

    Tarry not, pilgrim, but with inward gaze
      Pass daily, musing, where their prisons are,
    And o'er the ocean of their babble raise
      Thy voice in greeting to thy changeless star.

    Abroad a tumult, and a ruin here;
      Nor world nor desert hath a home for thee.
    Out of the sorrows of the barren year
      Build thou thy dwelling in eternity.

    Let patience, faith's wise sister, be thy heaven,
      And with high thoughts necessity alloy.
    Love is enough, and love is ever given,
      While fleeting days bring gift of fleeting joy.

    The little pleasures that to catch the sun
      Bubble a moment up from being's deep,
    The glittering sands of passion as they run,
      The merry laughter and the happy sleep,--

    These are the gems that, like the stars on fire,
      Encrust with glory all our heaven's zones;
    Each shining atom, in itself entire,
      Brightens the galaxy of sister stones,

    Dust of a world that crumbled when God's dream
      To throbbing pulses broke the life of things,
    And mingled with the void the scattered gleam
      Of many orbs that move in many rings,

    Perchance at last into the parent sun
      To fall again and reunite their rays,
    When God awakes and gathers into one
      The light of all his loves and all his days.


    The buttress frowns, the gorgeous windows blaze,
      The vaults hang wonderful with woven fans,
    The four stone sentinels to heaven raise
      Their heads, in a more constant faith than man's.

    The College gathers, and the courtly prayer
      Is answered still by hymn and organ-groan;
    The beauty and the mystery are there,
      The Virgin and Saint Nicholas are gone.

    Not one _Ora pro nobis_ bids them pause
      In their far flight, to hear this anthem roll;
    No heart, of all that the King's relic awes,
      Sings _Requiescat_ to his mournful soul.

    No grain of incense thrown upon the embers
      Of their cold hearth, no lamp in witness hung
    Before their image. One alone remembers;
      Only the stranger knows their mother tongue.

    Long rows of tapers light the people's places;
      The little choristers may read, and mark
    The rhythmic fall; I see their wondering faces;
      Only the altar--like the soul--is dark.

    Ye floating voices through these arches ringing
      With measured music, subtle, sweet, and strong,
    Feel ye the inmost reason of your singing?
      Know ye the ancient burden of your song?

    The twilight deepens, and the blood-dyed glories
      Of all these fiery blazonings are dim.
    Oh, they are jumbled, sad, forgotten stories!
      Why should ye read them, children? Chant your hymn.

    But I must con them while the rays of even
      Kindle aloft some fading jewel-gleam
    And the vast windows glow a peopled heaven,
      Rich with the gathering pageant of my dream.

    Eden I see, where from the leafy cover
      The green-eyed snake begins to uncoil his length
    And whispers to the woman and her lover,
      As they lie musing, large, in peaceful strength.

    I see their children, bent with toil and terror,
      Lurking in caves, or heaping madly on
    The stones of Babel, or the endless error
      Of Sodom, Nineveh, and Babylon.

    Here the Egyptian, wedding life with death,
      Flies from the sun into his painted tomb,
    And winds the secret of his antique faith
      Tight in his shroud, and seals in sterile gloom.

    There the bold prophets of the heart's desire
      Hail the new Zion God shall build for them,
    And rapt Isaiah strikes the heavenly lyre,
      And Jeremiah mourns Jerusalem.

    Here David's daughter, full of grace and truth,
      Kneels in the temple, waiting for the Lord;
    With the first _Ave_ comes the winged youth,
      Bringing the lily ere he bring the sword.

    There, to behold the Mother and the Child,
      The sturdy shepherds down the mountain plod,
    And angels sing, with voices sweet and wild
      And wide lips parted: "Glory be to God."

    Here, mounted on an ass, the twain depart
      To hallowed Egypt, safe from Herod's wrong;
    And Mary ponders all things in her heart,
      And pensive Joseph sadly walks along.

    There with the Twelve, before his blood is shed,
      Christ blesses bread and breaks it with his hands,
    "This is my body." Thomas shakes his head,
      They marvel all, and no one understands,

    Save John, whom Jesus loved above the rest.
      He marvels too, but, seeking naught beside,
    Leans, as his wont is, on his Master's breast.
      Ah! the Lord's body also should abide.

    There Golgotha is dark against the blue
      In the broad east, above the painted crowd,
    And many look upon the sign, but few
      Read the hard lesson of the cross aloud.

    And from this altar, now an empty tomb,
      The Lord is risen. Lo! he is not here.
    No shining angel sitteth in the gloom,
      No Magdalen in anguish draweth near.

    All pure in heart, or all in aspect pure,
      The seemly Christians, kneeling, line the choir,
    And drop their eyelids, tender and demure,
      As the low lingering harmonies expire.

    In that _Amen_ are the last echoes blended
      Of all the ghostly world. The shades depart
    Into the sacred night. In peace is ended
      The long delirious fever of the heart.

    Then I go forth into the open wold
      And breathe the vigour of the freshening wind,
    And with the piling drift of cloud I hold
      A worship sweeter to the homeless mind,

    Where the squat willows with their osiers crowned
      Border the humble reaches of the Cam,
    And the deep meadows stretching far around
      Make me forget the exile that I am,--

    Exile not only from the wind-swept moor
      Where Guadarrama lifts his purple crest,
    But from the spirit's realm, celestial, sure
      Goal of all hope and vision of the best.

    They also will go forth, these gentle youths,
      Strong in the virtues of their manful isle,
    Till one the pathway of the forest smooths,
      And one the Ganges rules, and one the Nile;

    And to whatever wilderness they choose
      Their hearts will bear the sanctities of home,
    The perfect ardours of the Grecian Muse,
      The mighty labour of the arms of Rome;

    But, ah! how little of these storied walls
      Beneath whose shadow all their nurture was!
    No, not one passing memory recalls
      The Blessed Mary and Saint Nicholas.

    Unhappy King, look not upon these towers,
      Remember not thine only work that grew.
    The moving world that feeds thy gift devours,
      And the same hand that finished overthrew.



    What beauteous form beneath a marble veil
      Awaited in this block the Master's hand?
    Could not the magic of his art avail
      To unseal that beauty's tomb and bid it stand?

    Alas! the torpid and unwilling mass
      Misknew the sweetness of the mind's control,
    And the quick shifting of the winds, alas!
      Denied a body to that flickering soul.

    Fair homeless spirit, harbinger of bliss,
      It wooed dead matter that they both might live,
    But dreamful earth still slumbered through the kiss
      And missed the blessing heaven stooped to give,

    As when Endymion, locked in dullard sleep,
      Endured the gaze of Dian, till she turned
    Stung with immortal wrath and doomed to weep
      Her maiden passion ignorantly spurned.

    How should the vision stay to guide the hand,
      How should the holy thought and ardour stay,
    When the false deeps of all the soul are sand
      And the loose rivets of the spirit clay?

    What chisel shaking in the pulse of lust
      Shall find the perfect line, immortal, pure?
    What fancy blown by every random gust
      Shall mount the breathless heavens and endure?

    Vain was the trance through which a thrill of joy
      Passed for the nonce, when a vague hand, unled,
    Half shaped the image of this lovely boy
      And caught the angel's garment as he fled.

    Leave, leave, distracted hand, the baffling stone,
      And on that clay, thy fickle heart, begin.
    Mould first some steadfast virtue of thine own
      Out of the sodden substance of thy sin.

    They who wrought wonders by the Nile of old,
      Bequeathing their immortal part to us,
    Cast their own spirit first into the mould
      And were themselves the rock they fashioned thus.

    Ever their docile and unwearied eye
      Traced the same ancient pageant to the grave,
    And awe made rich their spirit's husbandry
      With the perpetual refluence of its wave,

    Till 'twixt the desert and the constant Nile
      Sphinx, pyramid, and awful temple grew,
    And the vast gods, self-knowing, learned to smile
      Beneath the sky's unalterable blue.

    Long, long ere first the rapt Arcadian swain
      Heard Pan's wild music pulsing through the grove,
    His people's shepherds held paternal reign
      Beneath the large benignity of Jove.

    Long mused the Delphic sibyl in her cave
      Ere mid his laurels she beheld the god,
    And Beauty rose a virgin from the wave
      In lands the foot of Heracles had trod.

    Athena reared her consecrated wall,
      Poseidon laid its rocky basement sure,
    When Theseus had the monstrous race in thrall
      And made the worship of his people pure.

    Long had the stripling stood in silence, veiled,
      Hearing the heroes' legend o'er and o'er,
    Long in the keen palaestra striven, nor quailed
      To tame the body to the task it bore,

    Ere soul and body, shaped by patient art,
      Walked linked with the gods, like friend with friend,
    And reason, mirrored in the sage's heart,
      Beheld her purpose and confessed her end.

    Mould, then, thyself and let the marble be.
      Look not to frailty for immortal themes,
    Nor mock the travail of mortality
      With barren husks and harvesting of dreams.


    The dank earth reeks with three days' rain,
    The phantom trees are dark and still,
    Above the darkness and the hill
    The tardy moon shines out again.
    O heavy lethargy of pain!
    O shadows of forgotten ill!

    My parrot lips, when I was young,
    To prove and to disprove were bold.
    The mighty world has tied my tongue,
    And in dull custom growing old
    I leave the burning truth untold
    And the heart's anguish all unsung.

    Youth dies in man's benumbed soul,
    Maid bows to woman's broken life,
    A thousand leagues of silence roll
    Between the husband and the wife.
    The spirit faints with inward strife
    And lonely gazing at the pole.

    But how should reptiles pine for wings
    Or a parched desert know its dearth?
    Immortal is the soul that sings
    The sorrow of her mortal birth.
    O cruel beauty of the earth!
    O love's unutterable stings!



    Too late, thou tender songster of the sky
    Trilling unseen, by things unseen inspired,
              I list thy far-heard cry
    That poets oft to kindred song hath fired,
    As floating through the purple veils of air
              Thy soul is poured on high,
    A little joy in an immense despair.

    Too late thou biddest me escape the earth,
              In ignorance of wrong
    To spin a little slender thread of song;
              On yet unwearied wing
              To rise and soar and sing,
              Not knowing death or birth
    Or any true unhappy human thing.

              To dwell 'twixt field and cloud,
    By river-willow and the murmurous sedge,
              Be thy sweet privilege,
    To thee and to thy happy lords allowed.
    My native valley higher mountains hedge
              'Neath starlit skies and proud,
    And sadder music in my soul is loud.

              Yet have I loved thy voice,
    Frail echo of some ancient sacred joy.
              Ah, who might not rejoice
    Here to have wandered, a fair English boy,
    And breathed with life thy rapture and thy rest
    Where woven meadow-grasses fold thy nest?
              But whose life is his choice?
    And he who chooseth not hath chosen best.




      When scarce the echoes of Manila Bay,
      Circling each slumbering billowy hemisphere,
      Had met where Spain's forlorn Armada lay
      Locked amid hostile hills, and whispered near
      The double omen of that groan and cheer--
      Haste to do now what must be done anon
      Or some mad hope of selling triumph dear
      Drove the ships forth: soon was _Teresa_ gone,
    _Furor, Pluton, Vizcaya, Oquendo_, and _Colon._

      And when the second morning dawned serene
      O'er vivid waves and foam-fringed mountains, dressed
      Like Nessus in their robe's envenomed sheen,
      Scarce by some fiery fleck the place was guessed
      Where each hulk smouldered; while from crest to crest
      Leapt through the North the news of victory,
      Victory tarnished by a boorish jest[1]
      Yet touched with pity, lest the unkindly sea
    Should too much aid the strong and leave no enemy.

      As the anguished soul, that gasped for difficult breath,
      Passes to silence from its house of pain,
      So from those wrecks, in fumes of lurid death,
      Passed into peace the heavy pride of Spain,
      Passed from that aching tenement, half fain,
      Back to her castled hills and windy moors,
      No longer tossed upon the treacherous main
      Once boasted hers, which with its watery lures
    Too long enticed her sons to unhallowed sepultures.


      Why went Columbus to that highland race,
      Frugal and pensive, prone to love and ire,
      Despising kingdoms for a woman's face,
      For honour riches, and for faith desire?
      On Spain's own breast was snow, within it fire;
      In her own eyes and subtle tongue was mirth;
      The eternal brooded in her skies, whence nigher
      The trebled starry host admonished earth
    To shame away her grief and mock her baubles' worth.

      Ah! when the crafty Tyrian came to Spain
      To barter for her gold his motley wares,
      Treading her beaches he forgot his gain.
      The Semite became noble unawares.
      Her passion breathed Hamilcar's cruel prayers;
      Her fiery winds taught Hannibal his vows;
      Out of her tribulations and despairs
      They wove a sterile garland for their brows.
    To her sad ports they fled before the Roman prows.

      And the Greek coming too forgot his art,
      And that large temperance which made him wise.
      The wonder of her mountains choked his heart,
      The languor of her gardens veiled his eyes;
      He dreamed, he doubted; in her deeper skies
      He read unfathomed oracles of woe,
      And stubborn to the onward destinies,
      Like some dumb brute before a human foe,
    Sank in Saguntum's flames and deemed them brighter so.

      The mighty Roman also when he came,
      Bringing his gods, his justice, and his tongue,
      Put off his greatness for a sadder fame,
      And what a Caesar wrought a Lucan sung.
      Nor was the pomp of his proud music, wrung
      From Latin numbers, half so stern and dire,
      Nor the sad majesties he moved among
      Half so divine, as her unbreathed desire.
    Shall longing break the heart and not untune the lyre?

      When after many conquerors came Christ,
      The only conqueror of Spain indeed,
      Not Bethlehem nor Golgotha sufficed
      To show him forth, but every shrine must bleed
      And every shepherd in his watches heed
      The angels' matins sung at heaven's gate.
      Nor seemed the Virgin Mother wholly freed
      From taint of ill if born in frail estate,
    But shone the seraphs' queen and soared immaculate.

      And when the Arab from his burning sands
      Swept o'er the waters like a heavenly flail,
      He took her lute into his conquering hands,
      And in her midnight turned to nightingale.
      With woven lattices and pillars frail
      He screened the pleasant secrets of his bower,
      Yet little could his subtler arts avail
      Against the brutal onset of the Giaour.
    The rose passed from his courts, the muezzin from his tower.

      Only one image of his wisdom stayed,
      One only relic of his magic lore,--
      Allah the Great, whom silent fate obeyed,
      More than Jehovah calm and hidden more,
      Allah remained in her heart's kindred core
      High witness of these terrene shifts of wrong.
      Into his ancient silence she could pour
      Her passions' frailty--He alone is strong--
    And chant with lingering wail the burden of her song.

      Seizing at Covadonga the rude cross
      Pelayo raised amid his mountaineers,
      She bore it to Granada, one day's loss
      Ransomed with battles of a thousand years.
      A nation born in harness, fed on tears,
      Christened in blood, and schooled in sacrifice,
      All for a sweeter music in the spheres,
      All for a painted heaven--at a price
    Should she forsake her loves and sail to Ind for spice?

      Had Genoa in her merchant palaces
      No welcome for a heaven-guided son?
      Had Venice, mistress of the inland seas,
      No ships for bolder venture? Pisa none?
      Was sated Rome content? Her mission done?
      Saw Lusitania in her seaward dreams
      No floating premonition, beckoning on
      To vast horizons, gilded yet with gleams
    Of old Atlantis, whelmed beneath the bubbling streams?

      Or if some torpor lay upon the South,
      Tranced by the might of memories divine,
      Dwelt no shrewd princeling by the marshy mouth
      Of Scheldt, or by the many mouths of Rhine?
      Rode Albion not at anchor in the brine
      Whose throne but now the thrifty Tudor stole
      Changing a noble for a crafty line?
      Swarmed not the Norsemen yet about the pole,
    Seeking through endless mists new havens for the soul?

      These should have been thy mates, Columbus, these
      Patrons and partners of thy enterprise,
      Sad lovers of immeasurable seas,
      Bound to no hallowed earth, no peopled skies.
      No ray should reach them of their ladies' eyes
      In western deserts: no pure minstrel's rhyme,
      Echoing in forest solitudes, surprise
      Their heart with longing for a sweeter clime.
    These, these should found a world who drag no chains of time.

      In sooth it had seemed folly, to reveal
      To stubborn Aragon and evil-eyed
      These perilous hopes, folly to dull Castile
      Moated in jealous faith and walled in pride,
      Save that those thoughts, to Spain's fresh deeds allied,
      Painted new Christian conquests, and her hand
      Itched for that sword, now dangling at her side,
      Which drove the Moslem forth and purged the land.
    And then she dreamed a dream her heart could understand.

    [Footnote 1: Admiral Sampson said he made a Fourth of July present of
    the Spanish fleet to the American people, although all the ships
    had been sunk and none captured.]


      Three caravels, a cross upon the prow,
      A broad cross on the banner and the sail,
      The liquid fields of Hesperus should plough
      Borne by the leaping waters and the gale.
      Before that sign all hellish powers should quail
      Troubling the deep: no dragon's obscene crest,
      No serpent's slimy coils should aught avail,
      Till ivory cities looming in the west
    Should gleam from high Cathay or Araby the Blest.

      Then, as with noble mien and debonair
      The captains from the galleys leapt to land,
      Or down the temple's alabaster stair
      Or by the river's marge of silvery sand,
      Proud Sultans should descend with outstretched hand
      Greeting the strangers, and by them apprised
      Of Christ's redemption and the Queen's command,
      Being with joy and gratitude baptized,
    Should lavish gifts of price by rarest art devised.

      Or if (since churls there be) they should demur
      To some least point of fealty or faith,
      A champion, clad in arms from crest to spur,
      Should challenge the proud caitiffs to their death
      And, singly felling them, from their last breath
      Extort confession that the Lord is lord,
      And India's Catholic queen, Elizabeth.
      Whereat yon turbaned tribes, with one accord,
    Should beat their heathen breasts and ope their treasures' hoard.

      Or, if the worst should chance and high debates
      Should end in insult and outrageous deed,
      And, many Christians rudely slain, their mates
      Should summon heaven to their direful need,
      Suddenly from the clouds a snow-white steed
      Bearing a dazzling rider clad in flames
      Should plunge into the fray: with instant speed
      Rout all the foe at once, while mid acclaims
    The slaughtered braves should rise, crying, _Saint James! Saint James!_

      Then, the day won, and its bright arbiter
      Vanished, save for peace he left behind,
      Each in his private bosom should bestir
      His dearest dream: as that perchance there pined
      Some lovely maiden of angelic mind
      In those dark towers, awaiting out of Spain
      Two Saviours that her horoscope divined
      Should thence arrive. She (womanlike) were fain
    Not to be wholly free, but wear a chosen chain.

      That should be youth's adventure. Riper days
      Would crave the guerdon of a prouder power
      And pluck their nuggets from an earthly maze
      For rule and dignity and children's dower.
      And age that thought to near the fatal hour
      Should to a magic fount descend instead,
      Whose waters with the fruit revive the flower
      And deck in all its bloom the ashen head,
    Where a green heaven spreads, not peopled of the dead.


      By such false meteors did those helmsmen steer,
      Such phantoms filled their vain and vaulting souls
      With divers ardours, while this brooding sphere
      Swung yet ungirdled on her silent poles.
      All journeys took them farther from their goals,
      All battles won defeated their desire,
      Barred from one India by the other's shoals,
      Each sighted star extinguishing its fire,
    Cape doubled after cape, and never haven nigher.

      How many galleons sailed to sail no more,
      How many battles and how many slain,
      Since first Columbus touched the Cuban shore,
      Till Araucania felt the yoke of Spain!
      What mounting miseries! What dwindling gain!
      To till those solitudes, soon swept of gold,
      And bear that ardent sun, across the main
      Slaves must come writhing in the festering hold
    Of galleys.--Poison works, though men be brave and bold.

      That slothful planter, once the buccaneer,
      Lord of his bastards and his mongrel clan,
      Ignorant, harsh, what could he list or hear
      Of Europe and the heritage of man?
      No petty schemer sees the larger plan,
      No privy tyrant brooks the mightier law,
      But lash in hand rides forth a partisan
      Of freedom: base, without the touch of awe,
    He poisoned first the blood his poniard was to draw.

      By sloth and lust and mindlessness and pelf
      Spain sank in sadness and dishonour down,
      Each in his service serving but himself,
      Each in his passion striking at her crown.
      Not that these treasons blotted her renown
      Emblazoned higher than such hands can reach:
      There where she reaped but sorrow she has sown
      The balm of sorrow; all she had to teach
    She taught the younger world--her faith and heart and speech.

      And now within her sea-girt walls withdrawn
      She waits in silence for the healing years,
      While where her sun has set a second dawn
      Comes from the north, with other hopes and fears.
      Spain's daughters stand, half ceasing from their tears,
      And watch the skies from Cuba to the Horn.
      "What is this dove or eagle that appears,"
      They seem to cry, "what herald of what morn
    Hovers o'er Andes' peaks in love or guile or scorn?"

      "O brooding Spirit, fledgling of the North,
      Winged for the levels of its shifting light,
      Child of a labouring ocean and an earth
      Shrouded in vapours, fear the southward flight,
      Dread waveless waters and their warm delight,
      Beware of peaks that cleave the cloudless blue
      And hold communion with the naked night.
      The souls went never back that hither flew,
    But sighing fell to earth or broke the heavens through.

      "Haunt still thy storm-swept islands, and endure
      The shimmering forest where thy visions live.
      Then if we love thee--for thy heart is pure--
      Thou shalt have something worthy love to give.
      Thrust not thy prophets on us, nor believe
      Thy sorry riches in our eyes are fair.
      Thy unctuous sophists never will deceive
      A mortal pang, or charm away despair.
    Not for the stranger's fee we plait our lustrous hair.

      "But of thy lingering twilight bring some gleam,
      Memorial of the immaterial fire
      Lighting thy heart, and to a wider dream
      Waken the music of our plaintive lyre.
      Check our rash word, hush, hush our base desire.
      Hang paler clouds of reverence about
      Our garish skies: laborious hope inspire
      That uncomplaining walks the paths of doubt,
    A wistful heart within, a mailed breast without.

      "Gold found is dross, but long Promethean art
      Transmutes to gold the unprofitable ore.
      Bring labour's joy, yet spare that better part
      Our mother, Spain, bequeathed to all she bore,
      For who shall covet if he once adore?
      Leave in our skies, strange Spirit passing there,
      No less of vision but of courage more,
      And of our worship take thy equal share,
    Thou who would'st teach us hope, with her who taught us prayer."




    Old Age, on tiptoe, lays her jewelled hand
    Lightly in mine.--Come, tread a stately measure,
    Most gracious partner, nobly poised and bland.
          Ours be no boisterous pleasure,
    But smiling conversation, with quick glance
    And memories dancing lightlier than we dance,
          Friends who a thousand joys
    Divide and double, save one joy supreme
          Which many a pang alloys.
          Let wanton girls and boys
    Cry over lovers' woes and broken toys.
    Our waking life is sweeter than their dream.


    Dame Nature, with unwitting hand,
    Has sparsely strewn the black abyss with lights
    Minute, remote, and numberless. We stand
          Measuring far depths and heights,
          Arched over by a laughing heaven,
    Intangible and never to be scaled.
    If we confess our sins, they are forgiven.
          We triumph, if we know we failed.


          Tears that in youth you shed,
    Congealed to pearls, now deck your silvery hair;
          Sighs breathed for loves long dead
    Frosted the glittering atoms of the air
          Into the veils you wear
    Round your soft bosom and most queenly head;
          The shimmer of your gown
    Catches all tints of autumn, and the dew
    Of gardens where the damask roses blew;
    The myriad tapers from these arches hung
          Play on your diamonded crown;
    And stars, whose light angelical caressed
          Your virgin days,
    Give back in your calm eyes their holier rays.
          The deep past living in your breast
          Heaves these half-merry sighs;
          And the soft accents of your tongue
          Breathe unrecorded charities.

          Hasten not; the feast will wait.
    This is a master-night without a morrow.
    No chill and haggard dawn, with after-sorrow,
          Will snuff the spluttering candle out,
    Or blanch the revellers homeward straggling late.
          Before the rout
    Wearies or wanes, will come a calmer trance.
    Lulled by the poppied fragrance of this bower,
          We'll cheat the lapsing hour,
    And close our eyes, still smiling, on the dance.

    _December_ 1913.




    "_Non so se s'è la desiata luce"_

    I know not if from uncreated spheres
    Some longed-for ray it be that warms my breast,
    Or lesser light, in memory expressed,
    Of some once lovely face, that reappears,
    Or passing rumour ringing in my ears,
    Or dreamy vision, once my bosom's guest,
    That left behind I know not what unrest,
    Haply the reason of these wayward tears.
    But what I feel and seek, what leads me on,
    Comes not of me; nor can I tell aright
    Where shines the hidden star that sheds this light.
    Since I beheld thee, sweet and bitter fight
    Within me. Resolution have I none.
    Can this be, Master, what thine eyes have done?


    "_Il mio refugio_"

    The haven and last refuge of my pain
    (A safe and strong defence)
    Are tears and supplications, but in vain.
    Love sets upon me banded with Disdain,
    One armed with pity and one armed with death,
    And as death smites me, pity lends me breath.
    Else had my soul long since departed thence.
    She pineth to remove
    Whither her hopes of endless peace abide
    And beauty dwelleth without beauty's pride,
    There her last bliss to prove.
    But still the living fountain of her tears
    Wells in the heart when all thy truth appears,
    Lest death should vanquish love.


    "_Gli occhi miei vaghi delle cose belle_"

    Ravished by all that to the eyes is fair,
    Yet hungry for the joys that truly bless,
    My soul can find no stair
    To mount to heaven, save earth's loveliness.
    For from the stars above
    Descends a glorious light
    That lifts our longing to their highest height
    And bears the name of love.
    Nor is there aught can move
    A gentle heart, or purge or make it wise,
    But beauty and the starlight of her eyes.



    All things are doubly fair
    If patience fashion them
            And care--
    Verse, enamel, marble, gem.

    No idle chains endure:
    Yet, Muse, to walk aright,
            Lace tight
    Thy buskin proud and sure.

    Fie on a facile measure,
    A shoe where every lout
            At pleasure
    Slips his foot in and out!

    Sculptor, lay by the clay
    On which thy nerveless finger
            May linger,
    Thy thoughts flown far away.

    Keep to Carrara rare,
    Struggle with Paros cold,
            That hold
    The subtle line and fair.

    Lest haply nature lose
    That proud, that perfect line,
            Make thine
    The bronze of Syracuse.

    And with a tender dread
    Upon an agate's face
    Apollo's golden head.

    Despise a watery hue
    And tints that soon expire.
            With fire
    Burn thine enamel true.

    Twine, twine in artful wise
    The blue-green mermaid's arms,
            Mid charms
    Of thousand heraldries.

    Show in their triple lobe
    Virgin and Child, that hold
            Their globe,
    Cross-crowned and aureoled.

    --All things return to dust
    Save beauties fashioned well.
            The bust
    Outlasts the citadel.

    Oft doth the ploughman's heel,
    Breaking an ancient clod,
    A Caesar or a god.

    The gods, too, die, alas!
    But deathless and more strong
            Than brass
    Remains the sovereign song.

    Chisel and carve and file,
    Till thy vague dream imprint
            Its smile
    On the unyielding flint.

      An Essay on the work of GEORGE SANTAYANA, written by
     EDMUND GOSSE, is, with the kind permission of the author
     and the proprietors of the _Sunday Times_, reprinted



_(Reprinted by kind permission of the author and of the proprietors of
the_ "_Sunday Times.")_

Only in solitude can soliloquies be appreciated, and Mr. Santayana
is not an author for loud streets or for them who tear round the
country in a blatant char-à-banc. He avoids even the high roads, and
we shall come upon him, if we are lucky, in a grassy hollow of the
bank of some dark river, and hear him talking to himself in a voice
which disturbs neither the dragon-flies nor the thrushes. He meditates
by the hour together on the sunlight in the buttercups, which gives
him the illusion of life, or on the hurrying flood of liquid agate,
which reminds him of the illusion of death. Everything is a symbol to
him, and if he has a volume of poetry open at his side he does not
distinguish its verse from the puzzling confidences of the blackbirds,
and the insects are dreams which mingle with his own. The activity of
existence is arrested for him, and time has become a vain expression.

This is his dominant mood, but sometimes he rouses himself and walks
to the wayside inn, where he watches the farmers and the travellers,
unobserved by them. He notes their ways and their talk with a shrewd
and sometimes humorous pertinacity, but they hardly exist for him more
vividly than did the thrushes and the dragon-flies. All are dreams, all
are in a condition of _maia,_ and the more he tries to distinguish them
the more they melt into one. He exists, and he soliloquises, in a mood
of perpetual reverie.

This is an allegory, and in plain terms Mr. Santayana is a cosmopolitan
philosopher of wide reputation. He is the son of a gentleman of Spain,
who emigrated to New York. He tells us that his father learned to read
English, which implies that he never learned to speak it. The son not
only speaks, but writes, our language with an exquisite exactitude and
grace, so that he is one of those rare figures, like Mr. Conrad and
Mme. Mary Duclaux, who, having adopted in mature years a tongue not
theirs by birth, contrive not merely to master but to excel in it.
Mr. Santayana was for many years a professor of philosophy in Harvard
University, where he showed no mercy to Hegel and was a thorn in the
side of the Pragmatists. He is the author of a _Life of Reason,_ in
five volumes, which I know that I shall never read, but which I am sure
it is safe to recommend to persons younger and more thoughtful than
myself. Since he ceased to be a professor, Mr. Santayana has wandered
much in Europe, which, distracted as it is, he prefers to America,
as quieter. The Great War found him at Oxford, waiting for the spark
from heaven and meditating on the importunities of the hour. He stayed
there, listening to the whirr of the aeroplanes over Port Meadow, and
admiring, perhaps not without envy, the gallant ardour of the youths
who started forth so bravely to arrest "the demons of the whirlwind"
in France and Gallipoli. He stayed in England, because, glancing over
the world, he found England pre-eminently the home of decent happiness,
even at that desolating hour.

It is amusing to pick out here and there, and put together in a bunch,
some of this Hispano-American philosopher's impressions of our race,
but we make a mistake if we suppose him largely or generally interested
in any particular nation. What makes him attractive, but also a little
alarming, is his excessive detachment from the modern life in which
he moves so silently and observantly. He is not a social essayist,
like Montaigne or Charles Lamb or Stevenson. He is almost obtrusively
indifferent to whether he has an audience or not. This makes him, in
spite of his extreme attention to moral action, a little inhuman. I do
not think that he mentions the Scholar Gipsy, but he has a great deal
of the spirit which made that hero of Matthew Arnold's beautiful poem
fly the haunts of men. Mr. Santayana will not fly too far; he will see
"the line of festal light in Christ Church Hall," before he turns to the
woods and the wilds. But the essence of him is solitary, and he escapes
from society not that he may forget it, but that, removed from that
element in it which seems to kill the mind, he may reflect upon it with
the minimum of disturbance.

He is anxious to disown the name of metaphysician, but he is a
psychologist to the tips of his fingers, and he is still in hopes
of discovering a scientific philosophy which may explain to him the
apparent discord between man and nature over which he is always
brooding. His temper, excessively disturbed by recent events in the
political and moral history of the world, may be clearly studied in the
very remarkable essay called "War Shrines," and again in "Tipperary,"
one of the most whimsical and most individual. He started life with
a premonition of things noble and tender, and his dreams have often
seemed to betray him. But when he has escaped from the fatiguing
conventions of life, when he can forget the ugly side of society, his
old visions come back to him with smiling eyes, and he can admit that
they have kept half their promise.

We are so well accustomed to attacks, often very petulant and silly,
made against England by Englishmen, that it is quite refreshing to
read the impressions of a Spanish philosopher trained in America, who
has a much higher opinion of us than we are apt to have of ourselves.
Mr. Santayana is prompt to protest that nothing would make him wish to
become an Englishman. His birthright was settled at his birth, and we
feel that there is that kind of patriotism about him which if he had
been born a Mongolian would not allow him to waver in his loyalty to

But he has been a sort of Ulysses, and the result of his wanderings
is to make him prefer the Englishman to any other human variety. This
is decidedly gratifying, and it will amuse the desultory reader
to skim Mr. Santayana's pages in search of his impressions of our
race. They are not given in dogmatic form, but they are found to be
consistent, and, as I say, they are gratifying in the mouth of so
shrewd and so disinterested an observer. After traversing many lands he
concludes that the English character is the best; it is as strong as
the American, and softer, and less obstreperous. He finds the nearest
parallel to that old Greek temperament, which he adores, in the English
modesty in determination. It seems to rest his spirit to see that we
are self-sufficing. Not that he is blind to our national defects, for
he thinks that an exquisite or subtle Englishman, although such exist,
is a _lusus natures._ It is not our business to be subtle, and when we
are, there is always a tendency in us to become wrong-headed. We turn
affected or else puritanical, and these extremes are highly distasteful
to Mr. Santayana.

     "The Englishman travels and conquers without a settled
     design, because he has the instinct of exploration. His
     adventures are all external; they change him so little that
     he is not afraid of them. He carries his English weather
     in his heart wherever he goes, and it becomes a cool spot
     in the desert, and a steady and sane oracle amongst all
     the deliriums of mankind. Never since the heroic days of
     Greece has the world had such a sweet, just, boyish master.
     It will be a black day for the human race when scientific
     blackguards, conspirators, churls, and fanatics manage to
     supplant him."

To give a general idea of Mr. Santayana's essays, I find a difficult
task, because of a certain density and uniformity in his expression.
He avoids the positive in all its forms. Not merely is he careful
not to be dogmatic, but, speaking as he does to and as it were for
himself alone, he is apt to combine an exactitude of language with a
considerable dilution of thought. He is not averse from the pleasant
foible of repeating himself, and as he does this in fresh language
the reader, if he is at all censorious, is apt to resent a little
the revolving flight of the ideas. Mr. Santayana soliloquises like
an aeroplane making graceful curves and daring drops in one section
of the ether. His profound scepticism forbids him to alight, for he
has no faith in the current assumptions of daily life, and but a very
faint interest in facts. He swoops in the light like a swallow, and we
must be content to follow his turns and returns, with sympathy for his
candour and freshness, and gratitude for his gracious skill. But to
define what his object is, though he makes a hundred affirmations of
it, is not altogether easy.

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