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Title: Among the Trees Again
Author: Stein, Evaleen
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among the Trees Again" ***


                        _Among the Trees Again_



                         Among the Trees Again
                            By Evaleen Stein

                       The Bowen-Merrill Company


                             COPYRIGHT 1902
                       THE BOWEN-MERRILL COMPANY


                  _To the memory of my beloved brother



               AMONG THE TREES AGAIN                    3

               APRIL CONTRADICTIONS                    21

               APRIL MORNING                            8

               AS TO THE SUMMER AIR THE ROSE           34

               AT NIGHT                                50

               BETWEEN SEASONS                         40

               BINDWEED                                46

               BY THE KANKAKEE                         64

               CACTUS LAND, THE                        67

               CASCADE RAVINE, THE                     71

               DREAM ECHOES                            20

               EARLY NOVEMBER                          79

               FISHER FOLK, THE                        66

               FOREBODING                              74

               GOLDEN WEDDING, THE                     78

               HOME FIELDS, THE                        52

               IDEALS                                  30

               IMPATIENT                               58

               IN LATE SEPTEMBER                       75

               IN SUMMER DEEPS                         54

               IN THE MISSION GARDEN, SAN GABRIEL      16

               IN THE MOONLIGHT                        45

               JANUARY THAW                            84

               JUNE                                    42


               LITTLE LOVE SONG, A                     41

               LITTLE SISTER, THE                      88

               MONTEZUMA                               38

               MORNING ON THE MOUNTAINS                85

               MY LITTLE MASTER                        12

               NORTHMEN’S SONG OF THE POLE, THE        14

               ON HEARING THE BALLAD “ALLEN PERCY”     11

               ON THE PRAIRIE                          62

               OVER THE SIERRA                         61

               PERFECT FRIENDSHIP, THE                 83

               PLEA, A                                 22

               RAIN ON THE RIVER                       59

               REDBIRD, THE                             6

               SEA-DREAMS                              28

               SEA-GARDENS OF SANTA CATALINA, THE      89

               SONG                                    55

               SONG OF THOUGHT, A                      44

               SUMMER SHOWER, THE                      49

               SUNNY NOON                              77

               SYMPATHY                                53


               THRUSH, THE                             36

               WHEREFORE WINGS?                        81

               WINTRY TINTS                            82

               WISHING-SPRING, THE                      7

               WOOD FANCY, A                           35

                        _Among the Trees Again_

                _I saw a meadow-land, one day;
                  The grass stood green and high,
                But naught appealed in any way
                  To stay the passer-by._

                _Till suddenly the sunlight strayed
                  Those leafy tangles through,
                And touched to fire, on every blade
                  A golden network grew!_

                _A million airy cobwebs gleamed
                  So silken-soft and bright,
                That all the level lowland seemed
                  A tracery of light._

                _And as I watched the webs, I thought
                  The field of life along,
                As slight as these, so I have wrought
                  With slender threads of song._

                _They bind the grass, and blossoms, too,
                  The bee and butterfly,
                And some go faintly wavering through
                  The tender azure sky._

                _Yet still I wait that golden glow
                  Whose fine transmuting art
                Must smite my web of song, and so
                  Reveal it to the heart._

                _Ah therefore, thou, I pray thee, touch
                  These frail threads I have spun,
                With grace of sympathy, for such
                  Might light them like the sun!_

                        _AMONG THE TREES AGAIN_

        Aye, throb, my heart! is it not sweet to be,
          To breathe, to bide, by growing things once more!
                  We did not guess before
        How close our life was locked in greenery.
        Hark! how the sparrows in the apple tree
          Are chattering, chirping, till their tiny throats
        Are fairly brimmed and quivering through and through
                  With rollick notes!
              Good morrow, little birds!
        Good morrow! morrow!—O, I would I knew
              Some light-winged language, kindred singing words
                  Wherein to say
            This day, this day, at last this happy day
        I come to be a neighbor unto you!

        Too long, too long, we heard strange footsteps pass,
          Harsh, strident echoes stricken out of stone;
        But never softened by green, growing grass,
          Or mellowed to faint, earthy undertone.
                  And then, O heart,
        Did we not ofttimes feel ourselves apart,
          Wrought to vague discord by some touch unknown?
        Did we not weary with a nameless grief,
          In dreaming of tall clover, daisy sown,
                    Or music blown
        From the wind-harping of some little leaf?

        It was not that within the city’s core
          There dwelt no sympathies, nor interests keen,
              No human ties to temper its fatigues.
        —’Twas only that we needed something more;
                      Some note rang wrong;
        A foolish fancy, may be, but still strong,
          That life sang sweeter snatched between the green
              Close-lapping verdure of a fret of twigs.

        Where all the ground was paven out of sight,
            And only from a far-off strip of sky
              My mother Nature strove to speak to me,
        I could not harken to her voice aright;
                      I knew not why,
              But ever to mine ears some whispering tree
        Seemed of the inmost golden soul of her,
                      The best interpreter.
            And so what wonder, Life, that you and I,
        Shut out from such glad confidence, should miss
                      And grieve for this.

        —But all this yearning we’ll forget; for now
                        Within my window,
                          By finger-tips,
        I’ll draw into mine arms this dancing bough,
            And stroke its silky buds across my lips.
        O generous-natured, friendly, neighbor tree!
          Weave gentle blessings in the shade and shine;
        And granting gracious patience to my plea,
          Some simple lesson of your lore make mine,
                      Make mine, I pray!
        O, be a kindly teacher unto me,
          And I’ll pour out such worshipful heart-wine,
        Not any bird that sings to you all day,
              Or nestles to low, leafy lullaby,
        Shall hold you in such dear observance, nay,
              Nor love you half so tenderly as I.

                             _THE REDBIRD_

                  Swept lightly by the south wind
                    The elm leaves softly stirred,
                  And in their pale green clusters
                    There straightway bloomed a bird!

                  His glossy feathers glistened
                    With dyes as richly red
                  As any tulip flaming
                    From out the garden bed.

                  But ah, unlike the tulips,
                    In joyous strain, ere long,
                  This redbird flower unfolded
                    A heart of golden song!

                          _THE WISHING-SPRING_

                I knelt beside the fairy spring,
                  Among the tasseled weeds;
                Far off, with dreamy murmuring,
                  The wind piped through the reeds.

                Once, twice, the brimming cup I raised
                  With trembling finger-tips,
                And in its limpid crystal gazed,
                  Nor laid it to my lips.

                Ah me! the eager heart-desires,
                  So thronging swift they came,
                My spirit surged like wind-swept fires,
                  I knew not which to name.

                —Then all at once, I quickly quaffed
                  The shining drops; but lo,
                The wish with that enchanted draught
                  No man must ever know!

                            _APRIL MORNING_

             I lean upon the bridge’s rail,
               In idle joy, and gazing down,
             So watch the frothy bubbles sail,
             And bits of tangled grasses trail
               Along the current’s tawny brown.

             The river flows at full to-day;
               And though within the tide it pours
               There grow no mocking sycamores,
             Nor any crystal hints betray
               The spicewood thickets, nor the pale
             Soft willow wands of pearly gray,
               Whose interwoven mazes veil
                 The fretted banks, yet here and there,
                 Adown some swirling eddy, where
                   A delving sunbeam shines,
                       What mines
               Of gleaming, streaming, liquid gold
                         The waters hold!

             And so, by rapid currents rolled
               In billowy swells that break and chime
             In riotous tumult uncontrolled,
             The March flood plashes past the pier;
             But through its sweeping tones, I hear
               The sweet, receding murmurs rhyme
               The burden of the April time;
                 And throbbing like a glad refrain,
                 Now far, now full, now far again,
                     The freshened breeze
             Blows gaily, bringing pure and clear
                   The fitful, tinkling cadences.

             But listen! faint, from out the sheer
                 Deep borders of the morning sky,
                 Slips down the distance-softened cry
                 Of shy wild geese that northward fly;
             It vibrates nearer, and more near,
                             —And see!
               There! wheeling into sight,
                 Far as the vision may descry.
                     A level-winged advancing “V,”
               They keep their swift, unswerving flight.
                 North, north, beyond that scudding fleece
                 Of tiny clouds, like wilder geese,
                   That join their ranks, and journey, too,
                   On,—on,—into the farthest blue.

             Then, from the boundless space above,
               I drop my dazzled eyes to view
               The soft field-grass and meadow-rue,
             The restful, brown earth, that I love.
                 A trick of blinding sun, maybe,
             That halo on the hills may prove—
                 And yet, they are so dear to me,
                   The golden glory that they wear
                   Is like none other anywhere,
               And, in my heart, I hold it true.

             Though, surely, what least loving eye
               Could wander up the river there,
             And see aught otherwise than I?
                       Or could deny
               That yonder little glimpse is fair?
             The slender point of jutting land
               Where, faintly burgeoning anew
             With rounds of downy buds, there stand
                 A score of water-willow trees
               In clustered tufts, and twinkling through,
                 Across the stream, beside of these,
             A line of shining yellow light;
                   And half in sight,
             And hidden half, upon the right,
                 By wild red-sumac shrubberies,
             A windmill, rising tall and white,
                 Slow turning in the breeze.

             And then beyond—but how express,
               What word in any tongue conveys
             The depth of dreamy tenderness
               That laps, and wraps, and overlays
                 The far blue hills,
                 And spills and fills
               The valleys with pale purple haze?
             O, what sweet syllables confess
               The glad heart-happiness that plays
               Through all my pulses as I gaze,
               And drink the beauty, past all praise—
             The old, immortal blessedness
                     Of April days!


         A plaintive song, so strangely sweet and old,
         That all my soul within itself would fold
           And gently keep so quaint a melody,
         That like a bird’s its notes of liquid gold
           Might oft repeat their sweetness unto me.

         A tale of joyless splendor long ago,
         Of wedded lady and of loveless woe,
           How she to soothe her sick heart’s misery
         Cradled in vines her little child, and so
           Sang of dear love beneath a greenwood tree.

         And through it all there runs such saddest plaint,
         As sweet as lutes, now murmurous, now faint,
           Till, like the far-heard sighing of the sea,
         It sweeps in gathering passion past restraint,
           Then breaks, and croons in mournful minor key.

         Ah, well-a-day! I listen breathless till
         I half believe that sorrowing singer still
           Dreams on divinely by the whispering tree;
         For in your voice all tenderest heart-strings thrill,
           And all the woodland’s marvelous minstrelsy!

                           _MY LITTLE MASTER_

               O little poet, winging through
               The sheer, clear blue,
               Is it the sky you’re singing to?
                   Or is it that afar you see
                   Some leafy, laden apple-tree,
                 And half concealed and half confessed,
                         A nest?
               Ah, truly now, I would I knew
                   The happy secret of your glee,
                 That joy wherewith you birds are blest,

               So airy and so light of wing,
               You soar and sing,
               I pray, could you not softly fling,
                   My merry minstrel, down to me
                   Some echo of that melody
                 That spills from out your tiny bill?
                         Some trill
               Of all those liquid tones that ring
                   So full of purest poetry,
                 That rhyme, and chime, and thrill, until
                         They fill
               These vibrant seas of azure air,
               Whose blue tides bear
               Their witching sweetness everywhere?
                   O little master, heed to me!
                   And ah, so true, so tenderly,
                 I’ll learn to sing how lovely grows
                         This rose,
               Till, by and by, dear heart, I’ll dare
                   To touch some bolder note, maybe,
                 Some chord whence deeper music flows;
                         Who knows?

                   _THE NORTHMEN’S SONG OF THE POLE_

       The roar of the seas where the freezing clouds lower,
         The shriek of the storm-wind, the turbulent tide,
       The conquering currents, all vaunt of their power,
         And taunt with the centuries’ secret they hide.

       Of towering icebergs and glittering floes,
         The sun of the midnight in luminous rings,
       Of hopes held at bay by beleaguering snows,
         Of man in his weakness the fierce ocean sings.

       Bright over the sky the aurora is red,
         And crimson as life-blood the snowflakes below;
       Swift updarting streamers of fire overspread
         All heaven and earth with a roseate glow.

       Hark! Hark! to the rumble, the thunderous roar
         Of the ancient ice-mountains that shatter and rend
       And crash with the tide dashing up on the shore,
         In turmoil titanic and toil without end.

       O, woe to the ship that the pitiless clutch
         Of those crushing ice-demons drags down to her doom!
       The path to the pole is o’er-scattered with such,
         And deep sleep the heroes the tempests entomb.

       Beneath the wan moon of the long arctic night
         The frost-smitten sea stretches boundless and lone;
       The Shores of the Dead Men loom spectral and white,
         In Helheim, the death-goddess waits for her own.

       But ho, to her hatred! the soul of the brave
         He bears not who dares not her fury defy!
       And ho, to her giants of wind and of wave!
         We crave but to meet and defeat them, or die!

       Farewell, and farewell!—the anchor rope strains,
         Loose cable and canvas, and hasten we forth!
       The fire of desire quivers hot in our veins,
         We must sail with the gale, to the north! to the north!

       Must speed with the blast to its ultimate goal,
         The path of its pinions must follow and find
       The lure of the ages, the boreal pole,
         And the measureless halls of the house of the wind!


              O golden day, wherein at last,
              Long leagues and wintry overpast,
                I stand beneath a sky as blue
                As April violets drenched in dew,
                And live within a dream come true!

              From rosy-berried pepper-trees
              The winds blow spicy fragrances;
                The palms sway softly to and fro,
                    And down below,
              Between the glossy leaves of these,
                The sparkling, yellow sunbeams steep
              The mission garden, where the bees
                    Are hoarding deep
              Of heliotrope that hangs the wall
              As for some princely festival,
                    While white and tall
              Bright lilies bloom in grace untold,
                And those rare roses, passing all
              In splendor, called “The Cloth of Gold!”

              O heart, my heart, throb high and fast
                With rapture! for how couldst thou know
                Amid the far-off frost and snow
              Where all the skies are overcast
                And shrill and chill the north-winds blow,
                    How couldst thou know
              December heavens anywhere
                    Could show such rare
              Such tender and divinest guise,
                    That earth and air
                Could weave such strange, resistless spell
              As this that folds us flower-wise
                    At sweet San Gabriel!

              San Gabriel! the holy words
                Fall soft as music on the ear;
                I think they are as sweet to hear
              As any song of summer birds;
                And harkening them, the while in clear,
                    Pure, quivering notes,
                The ancient bells begin to chime,
              In shadowy-wise before me floats
                A vision of the vanished time.
                    I see again
                The little band from sunny Spain,
              Those godly ones, and full of grace,
                    And without stain,
                Who, heeding neither toil nor pain,
              Desiring men of every race,
              That such might see sweet Jesus’ face,
                And that at length the Lord might reign
                  Among all peoples, even so,
              Sought in the wilderness this place,
                  And consecrated, long ago.

              And gazing on the sacred pile
                Their hands upreared in loving zeal,
              My heart goes forth to them the while,
                Those faithful fathers, true and leal!
              How oft along each cloistered aisle
                They counted o’er and o’er their beads,
              While in this garden, unawares,
                The fragrant flowers sowed their seeds.
              —And richly as the flowers, the prayers
                Bore fruit in gentle deeds!

              In arched embrasures, lifted high
                    Against the sky,
              The bells in clear-cut beauty show;
                And loftier still, surmounting all,
                And blessing thus the ancient wall,
              A cross,—and on its summit, lo!
                A slender bird with pearly breast
                    Sits peacefully at rest!

              Ah me! Ah me! I know not why
                This little bird with folded wings,
              The cross, the tender azure sky,
                Their pure, exceeding beauty brings
              Swift tears, and smites my heart, till I
                    Am almost fain
                To hide mine eyes for very pain!

              Yet though thus for a little space
                    I bow my face,
                    Nor any grace
              Of rose or lily can I see,
              I know the while that memory,
                    Clear-eyed and free,
              Upon my heart is graving deep
              Each least, sweet loveliness, to keep
                Through all the coming years for me.
                    And it shall be,
              In afterwhiles, when far away,
              When wintry skies are bleak and gray
                    And no birds sing,
                I shall grow glad remembering
              The sweetness of this scarlet day.

                             _DREAM ECHOES_

                  A little while ago I caught,
                    In cadence pure and clear,
                  A waft of faintest music, wrought
                    Upon my inner ear.

                  A part of some elusive theme
                    Whose sweetly solemn air
                  My soul had harkened in a dream,
                    I know not when nor where.

                  I only know my heart-strings stirred
                    With strange, forgotten pain,
                  That crept upon me as I heard
                    That unremembered strain.

                  A sense of loneliness untold,
                    So boundless, deep, unknown,
                  I blindly reached my hands to hold
                    Your palms within my own!

                         _APRIL CONTRADICTIONS_

               I watch the little pear buds break
                 And slip their silky sheaths,
               And flowers on the maples make
                 A thousand russet wreaths,
                   —Then something blinds my sight, and I
                   Am full of grief, yet know not why!

               A rosy purple half betrays
                 The wealth the lilacs fold;
               The torches of the tulips blaze
                 In flames of red and gold;
                   Peach boughs are blossoming above,
                   —But oh, the vague heartache thereof!

               The blue sky wears in gentle wise
                 Its loveliness again;
               All April sunshine,—yet mine eyes
                 Are brimmed with April rain!
                   The presage of sweet days to be,
                   So strange a sadness stirs in me!

                                _A PLEA_

         Two years ago, it is two years to-day,—
         It seems a score!—since that sweet, bloomy May
         When on the barren sea you sailed away.
           The peach-trees then were in a rosy glow,
                 And down below,
           The tulip buds had just begun to show.
                 —And yet, dear heart, I know
         Though all the heaven smiled in tender blue,
                 It shone not so to you.
         Sorrow had hooded all your skies in gray,
         And when these dancing boughs put on their gay,
           Bright May-time bravery, they only grieved
                 A heart bereaved.
         And though glad robins sang to you to stay,
           And by the stream the first sweet-flags unfurled
         Seemed nature’s truce to sorrow,—every way
         Held warring memories wherewith to gainsay
           And send you wandering over half the world.

         Ah, well do I remember how my prayers
         Went with you, dear, and followed unawares;
           So speeding ever, winging far and wide
           About the path wherein your ship should ride,
         And pleading Heaven that most gentle airs
                 And tempered tide
         Might bear you safely to the farther side.

         Then, when I knew your voyage over,—then,
           —For surely now, at last, I may confess,
           Now that I have outgrown its bitterness,
         Though, sometimes, I can almost feel again,
           Remembering those days, that keen distress,
           Yes, jealousy it was! not any less,
                 That constantly
         Wrapped all my thoughts of you beyond the sea!—
           I feared lest other lives, more large and wide
           Than mine has been, might, day by day, divide
         And win your life and love away from me.
           And I was fearful for dear nature, too;
                 I could not bear
         To think that heaven anywhere should wear
           A hue more deeply, more divinely blue
           Than this home sky that we together knew;
                 Or that there grew
         Strange bud or bloom to make the earth more fair.
           —A most unworthy fancy, it is true;
         Since nature is but nature everywhere,
           The same kind mother, in whatever land;
           So too, maybe, could we but understand,
         All hearts and loves are only as a part
                 Of one great Heart
           Whose universal pulses so expand
         That any lesser life that therein beats
           Should no more dream of this word “jealousy”
           Than yonder shining flakes of bloom should be
           Jealous, forsooth, of the whole hawthorn tree
         That is but one with their own mass of sweets.
         And so, at last, through blind, unreasoning grief
                 Beyond belief,
           Brightly within my heart there did uprise
           Love’s loyalty, rebuking in this wise:
         “Has she not spoken, oft and oft again,
         These three plain words ‘I love you’? Wherefore, then,
                 What right have you
           To deem mere distance could her love undo?
         To fancy aught exists that could estrange
         Her heart from yours, wherein there is no change,
           Or judge her own to be less simply true?”

         And then, in shame, I swiftly put aside
         All faintest questioning; thenceforth to abide
         In trust as pure, as boundless, and as wide
         As still sea-deeps, unvexed of any tide.
           Nay, I have learned to cherish rightly, too,
           All light and life that minister to you.
                 I hold most dear
           Whatever least thing brings you smallest cheer;
         And, day by day, my ceaseless prayer is this,
           That from the changeful, many-colored grace
                 Of time and place,
         Your grief may come to weave a chrysalis
           Round its dead hopes, till waking, by and by,
           It shall find wings to bear it to the sky.
         —But, dear,—God knows I would not do you wrong,
         Nor touch one heart-string if it be not strong,—
                 But O, so long,
         So long it seems! You have been gone so long!
           The feather-grass is growing green and high,
         And, piping gaily in an azure throng,
         The bluebirds spangle all the air with song;
           Again aflame the rosy peach boughs burn;
           —Can not you, too, return?

         On slender stems the nodding wind-flowers blow,
                 And bloodroots grow
           Where high the hedges fling their lacing frets
         Along the lanes; while, softly sifting through
           Tall plumy weeds and silver spider-nets,
         The yellow sunbeams filter down below
                 Until I know
         Not any fair Italian sky is blue
           As is our earth to-day with violets!
         Nor do I think that even that Syrian sun
           You watched ride high above Damascus’ towers,
         In purer light or richer splendor glowed
                 Than any one
           Of these most lovely golden dawns of ours
         That wake the birds along the river road.
         The green ravines are newly fringed with fern;
           From out the brake a robin red-breast calls;
           The stream repeats, at rippling intervals,
                 “Can you not now return?”

         But what avail in striving to compare
           Earth’s endless beauties, whether east or west!
         All lands are lovely, and I am aware
         That unto me this little spot seems fair,
                 More rare
           Than all the gathered glories of the rest,
                 Because I love it best.
         And so, in truth, I feel that chief I plead
                 A selfish need;
         I too, like nature, long to greet the spring!
           Indeed I think I never have confessed,
                 Nor have you guessed
         How much of May it is your gift to bring.
           You never knew how wintry was the cloud
           Of haunting sadness, that would ofttimes shroud
         My inmost being, and creep up to chill
         The warmer currents of my life,—until,
                 In knowing you,
         I felt a pulse like that sweet, joyous thrill
         That breaks the buds when all the skies are blue!
         The bitter storms of grief I did not fear
                 When you were near.
         But sometimes now I have grown half afraid
           That unforgotten frost of pain that used
         To wrap my nature will again invade
           The singing streams your April touch had loosed.
         Spring’s subtler spells alone I can not learn,
                 —Ah, will you not return?

         Yet if it chance that prayed-for peace you sought
         Be not at length to full perfection wrought,
                 If still in vain
           Time strives with memory,—then, dear, I would fain
                 Let be as naught
           All I have uttered; and I will refrain
         From any whispered wish, or word, or thought,
           That might to you in anywise complain.
         However much my eager heart may miss,
           How much for you my very soul may yearn,
         I will seek patience, confident in this,
           That some time, surely, Love shall conquer pain,
           And then, dear heart, I know you will return.


              I sat upon the mossy rocks
                Beside the southern sea,
              While overhead the summer clouds
                Were drifting lazily.

              I watched their purple shadows trail
                Across the sea and hide
              Within the hollows of the waves
                That rode the rising tide.

              Sometimes the little flakes of foam
                Dashed up in twinkling spray;
              And out along their silver paths
                The ships sailed far away.

              As through the sun I followed them
                With straining, eager eyes,
              From out the sparkling waves I saw
                A shining vision rise.

              It seemed a ghostly castle white,
                With battlement and tower,
              That hung on the horizon’s verge
                By some unearthly power.

              I saw its spectral turrets gleam
                As white as ivory,
              And wondered who the wizard king
                That reigned upon the sea.

              —But while, with breathless gaze, I watched
                This castle, by and by
              It vanished in the underworld
                Beyond the sea and sky!


               I would that I could weave a song
                 As airy and as light,
               As are the roundelays that throng
                 Within my heart to-night.

               I would that I might set to tune
                 The beauty of this hour,
               When, like a primrose bud, the moon
                 Breaks into golden flower.

               And all the happy, lilting notes,
                 Beyond divinest words,
               That nestle in the downy throats
                 Of little sleeping birds,

               The breeze-borne scent of mignonette,
                 That in the garden grows,
               Where, strung like pearls, the dew is wet
                 Upon the briar-rose,

               These things it is, whose voices I
                 Have sought for overlong;
               Yet still their cunning tones defy
                 The artifice of song.

                       _TO THE “WINGED VICTORY OF

             Thou wonder of the warrior prow,
               Supreme, immortal Victory!
             Before thy majesty I bow
               And all my soul flames forth to thee!

             Within the shadow of thy wings
               A thousand voices sound for me;
             In far, tumultuous murmurings,
               I catch the echo of the sea;
             The salty surge that rolls more near,
                     Till loud and clear
             In mighty thunder tones I hear
                     The rush of old Ægean tides,
               The bright, white waves that from the shore
               Sweep seaward with unceasing roar;
                     In dawning skies the day-star guides,
             Across the surf the seabirds call,
                     Whilst white and tall
             With swift sails swelling over all,
                     The shield-hung warship rides.

             And like the heaven-born dreams that soar
               From hero spirits, eagle-wise,
               And urge to deeds of great emprise
                     And fly before
               The eager, throbbing hearts that know
               No goal but victory, even so,
             Above the restless breakers’ roar,
             Upon the high cliff evermore
               Thou standest with bright wings outspread,
               In all thy fresh-wrought godlihead,
                     Beloved of the conqueror!

             And as I gaze I seem to trace
             The features of thy fearless face,
             The matchless marvel of its grace
                     That like a star
             Across the seas of Samothrace
                     Shone forth afar;
             I hear the southern winds intone
                     Whilst backward blown
               Thy trailing garments, fluttering
               From out the slender girdle, cling
             About thy limbs and so confess
             Their lines of perfect loveliness;
               Then suddenly o’er everything
               Great shouts and martial echoes ring!
             I see thee, storm-like, rushing past
             Thy hand upon the carven mast,
               And harken whilst thy proud lips fling
             The loud, triumphal trumpet blast!

             O glorious image! what if time
               Hath smitten with ungentle touch
             Thy perfect beauty? Still sublime
               Thou art a conqueror, and still
             All men unite to name thee such!
               Before thee all my pulses thrill,
             Old hopes and dreams awake in me;
                     O Victory,
               Lead, lead but thou mine eager will,
               I follow fast and far until
             Some day my ship shall harbor thee!

                    _AS TO THE SUMMER AIR THE ROSE_

               As to the summer air the rose
                 Pours forth her perfume all the day,
               For every careless wind that blows
                 To scatter far away,

               So gives my heart to thee the rare
                 Fine fragrance of its sweetest thought,
               And thou art heedless as the air
                 Whereto the rose is naught!

                             _A WOOD FANCY_

                The mandrakes lift, like little mosques,
                  Their domes between the vines,
                And butterflies for worshipers
                  Are flocking to their shrines.

                And from tall, tapering mullein towers
                  And minarets of green,
                The honey-bee muezzins drone
                  To bloodroot buds between,

                That pilgrim-wise along the road
                  Come trooping to the light,
                In pale green caftans closely wound
                  And turbans spotless white.

                While all the way with budding things
                  Is tufted thicker than
                The praying mats the Persian weaves
                  In streets of Ispahan.

                And listen! with a lordly note
                  Like joyous burst of drums,
                In gorgeous gown of gold and black
                  The oriole sultan comes!

                              _THE THRUSH_

                 The creamy dogwood branches,
                   The rosy redbud trees,
                 The drifts of sweet wild-plum bloom
                   O’erhung by honey bees,
                 The gleaming buckeye blossoms
                   The south wind blew apart,
                 Oh, all the woods awaking,
                   They overfilled my heart!

                 Then clear, from out a thicket,
                   There rang that golden note
                 That flutes from none but only
                   The tawny thrush’s throat;
                 So charged with all sweet secrets
                   The April has to tell,
                 I bowed my head and harkened,
                   Enchanted by its spell.

                 Till presently that magic
                   Heart-melting melody
                 Drew all my soul to meet it
                   In sudden ecstasy.
                 My spirit found its pinions
                   In blessed bird-like birth,
                 And knew the joyous passion
                   That thrilled through all the earth.

                 The while the thrush was singing,
                   I heard the violets stir,
                 And through the dreamy woodlands
                   The breaking buds confer;
                 I half divined the glories
                   Of all the springs to be,
                 —When, O, the song was silent!
                   The thrush had flown, ah me!


                On a lofty mountain summit
                  In a tawny, desert land,
                Lo, a mighty human profile,
                  But not hewn by human hand;
                In the living rock forever
                  Looming dark, majestic, grand.

                O’er its outline, heaven fronting,
                  When the dawn’s first radiance streams
                With its rosy touch, and tender,
                  Then this face of granite seems
                As a sleeper’s unawakened
                  From the thrall of peaceful dreams.

                But when down the western heavens
                  Sinks the setting sun, blood-red,
                Then the mountain mists that mantle
                  Cover close that quiet head,
                As men draw a pall of purple
                  Round about their kingly dead.

                And the stars, like lighted tapers,
                  Flicker forth in golden rows
                From the heaven’s holy altar,
                  Whilst the night-wind as it blows
                Seems to chant a solemn requiem
                  For the passing soul’s repose.

                Head of royal Montezuma,
                  So the ancient legends tell;
                Montezuma, granite shrouded
                  By some great enchanter’s spell,
                Lying lordly by the borders
                  Of the land he loved so well.

                But in silence unrevealing
                  Still that calm face fronts the sky;
                Heeding neither tears nor laughter,
                  Nor if sun or storm go by;
                Keeping still its primal counsel,
                  In repose, serene and high.

                           _BETWEEN SEASONS_

                     The cherry trees are haunted
                       By hordes of robber jays,
                     And warmer winds are fanning
                       The poppies to a blaze.

                     And loosed in fitful flurries,
                       The sweet syringas fall,
                     To lie like little snow-drifts
                       Against the garden wall.

                     Upon the laden lattice,
                       In softly rounding shapes,
                     A wealth of tiny clusters
                       Are growing into grapes.

                     Heigho! a drowsy shimmer
                       Enfolds the sunny hours;
                     And humming-birds are hidden
                       In scarlet trumpet-flowers.

                     The tenderness of springtime
                       Is almost overpast;
                     But O, the gracious summer,
                       It comes, it comes at last!

                          _A LITTLE LOVE SONG_

                My heart was like a sunless, cold,
                  Unlovely land of ice and snow,
                Wherein no blessed buds unfold,
                  Nor singing waters flow.

                Then all at once the April skies
                  Laughed in your look, and at that hour
                My spirit melted, torrent-wise,
                  My life broke into flower!

                O dearest heart, I had not guessed
                  What marvel of immortal seeds
                Lay hidden deep within my breast,
                    Beneath its barren weeds!

                But now I know, but now I know
                  The glory of the flower of love,
                The joyous splendor of its glow,
                  The subtile pain thereof!


                         High overhead,
                         By summer breezes sped,
                   From every latest burgeoned bough
                     The last, spring petals fall;
                         And red, red, red,
                         Along the garden bed,
                   The poppy plants are holding now
                     Their crimson carnival.

                         Clear, sweet, and strong,
                         I hear the robin’s song,
                   And catch the merry caroling
                     Of some bold bobolink;
                         And phlox flowers throng
                         The garden ways along,
                   While peonies and roses bring
                     Their pageantries of pink.

                         White, gold, and green,
                         The lily spires are seen,
                   And hollyhocks, in stately rows,
                     With tufted buds are set;
                         Tall, in between,
                         The growing sunflowers lean,
                   And thick the sweet alyssum shows
                     Among the mignonette.

                         Ho! truant May!
                         Have you, then, gone astray,
                   Unwitting that in realms of June
                     Return were no avail?
                         Ah, well-a-day!
                         So wings the spring away;
                   The summer’s ever oversoon,
                     But June, sweet June, all hail!

                          _A SONG OF THOUGHT_

            O, the ships have sails for the swelling gales,
              The falcon flies in the wake of the wind,
            In the speed of the steed of the Bedouin breed
            The blood leaps high to the hoof-beats’ lead,
              As the leagues are left behind.
                        But what care I
                        For the birds that fly,
                Or all the vessels that sail the sea;
                        The blasts that blow
                        Till the trees bend low,
                Or the barbs of Araby!

            I spring to birth with the dust of earth,
              Yet span the heaven from pole to pole;
            Or flashing far as the farthermost star,
            I know no barrier, bound nor bar
              To hold from my boldest goal.
                        The storm’s red spark
                        As it cleaves the dark,
                With my viewless wings it can not keep pace;
                        More fleet than light
                        My measureless flight
                To the starless ends of space!

                           _IN THE MOONLIGHT_

               The moonbeams filter softly through
                 The leaves upon the linden tree;
               And as I sit alone, dear heart,
                 My spirit yearns for thee!

               Yet in some gracious-wise to-night
                 We do not seem far worlds apart;
               I reach my empty arms and dream
                 I fold thee to my heart.

               I close my brimming eyes, and see
                 The strange, sweet beauty of thy smile,
               And fancy that our palms are met
                 In loving clasp the while.

               In soft, clear tones, I seem to hear
                 The long-hushed voice I loved so well;
               —I tremble, lest a breath should break
                 This moment’s happy spell!

               O brother mine, could it be true
                 Thine own dear presence hovers near
               To comfort with this heavenly peace
                 Thy little sister here?


            Along the lane I idly pass
              Unheeding where the footpath goes,
            And loiter through the ripe wild-grass
              That down the open roadway grows
                In feathery, tall tufts that rise
                In filmy tangles, misty-wise;
              The grass that when the south wind blows,
                    Shines out and shows
              Shot through with silver lights and rose,
            And tiny gold and violet seeds
              That quiver off each gleaming stem
            And powder all the wayside weeds,
              And like a glory cover them.

            With eager palms I gently press
              Soft sheaves of it against my lips
            In sheer delight; and so caress
              And fondle with light finger-tips,
                And watch its beauty when the bright,
                    Clear spears of light
                Pierce through its slender leaves and smite
                Their rose and purple, till my sight
            Is dazzled with its loveliness!

            In verdant nets along the way
              The tendrils of a wild-grape vine
              Through elder thickets intertwine;
            And poising lightly on a spray
              Of fruited bramble stems where shine
              Close clustering berries, red as wine,
            A little thistle-bird, still gay
              In April’s yellow plumage, clings
              With airy grace, and slowly swings,
                    And lifts his wings
              In dainty, drowsy flutterings;
            They flicker like bright flakes of gold,
              And fan his body, small and slim,
            While lovingly the winds enfold
              And summer’s heart broods over him.

            The sky is softer than the blue
            Of cornflower buds beneath the dew;
                    And down below
              Upon the marshy meadow swales
              The bindweed weaves its rosy veils
            Where thick the blowing rushes grow
            Among the tasseled reeds and rue;
              And up between the mossy rails
            It lightly climbs, and clambers through
            The growing corn, and barley, too,
              And winds the fallow weeds and trails
            Along the creek where cowslips grew.

            O lavish stems, that fondly fling
            Close clasp about the earth, and cling
            In wreaths of fragrant flowering,
                    Ev’n as ye do
            To that dear soil wherefrom ye spring,
              So does my love cleave thereunto!
              And so my full heart-blossoms bind
              The bright midsummer fields, and find
            Sweet fellowships with everything!

                          _THE SUMMER SHOWER_

               The air is shot with spangling drops,
                 But heedless of the rain
               The sun laughs, through a silver veil,
                 Upon the golden grain.

               And lightly arching up the east
                 In faintly penciled lines,
               That throb and flush to tinted bars,
                 A double rainbow shines.

               It seems to touch the fragrant earth,
                 Till, tangled in the breeze,
               It winds a film of irised light
                 About the distant trees.

               In frothy clusters down the road
                 The blooming elders lean,
               With dripping buds that shine like pearls
                 Within a sea of green.

               And heaped around them, pink as shells,
                 The roses are in flower,
               While earth and sky are freshly keyed
                 To sweetness by the shower.

                               _AT NIGHT_

              Come, draw more near! Clasp hands with me!
                Ah close, and closer still!
              The night spreads to infinity!
                And through my heart a sudden chill,
                  —I pray loose not your loving hold!—
                  A fear, a loneliness untold
                Smites sharply, till mine eyes o’erfill!
                Nor have I strength nor stress of will
              To set my spirit free.

              The cold, the darkness, and the dread
                Immensity of space,
                The great, wan moon, whose ghostly face
              For ages has been dead,
              The weird lights wheeling overhead,
                The unknown worlds that onward roll,
              In endless wanderings ever led,
                That find no goal,
              The spectral mists that overspread
                With pallid light the lesser stars,
              The lurid glow that glimmers red
                Across the front of Mars,
              —O dearest heart, when all is said,
              I am afraid! and from the whole
                Wide waste of worlds I hide my sight,
                And from the boundless night!

              The ancient mystery of the skies,
                Their silent depths from pole to pole,
              The void, the vastness terrifies!
              —O, let me rather search your eyes,
                  And with your sweet, warm touch disperse
                  This terror of the universe
                That strikes into my soul!

                           _THE HOME FIELDS_

                    The fields are full of sunlight,
                      And leafy golden-green,
                    And misty purple shadows
                      Are flitting in between;
                    The flaky elder flowers
                      Are drenched with honey-dew,
                    And all the distant woodlands
                      Stand veiled in tender blue.

                    Half seen between green thickets
                      Of grape-vine and wild rose,
                    In twinkling swirls of silver
                      The lazy river flows;
                    While down the grassy roadside
                      The milkweed balls are bright,
                    And waving prince’s-feather
                      Is tipped with snowy white.

                    Ah, ever-dearest home-land,
                      ’Tis here my spirit sings!
                    And as my heart caresses
                      The sweet, familiar things,
                    Such rare midsummer magic
                      Distills through all the air,
                    I think these fields are fairer
                      Than any anywhere!


              To-night a little child lies dead;
                I never saw its face;
              I try to fancy now instead
                Its lines of baby grace.

              And for the sake of her who weeps
                These lonely watches through
              So wakefully my spirit keeps
                A weary vigil, too.

              A thousand thoughts appeal to me
                In close-besieging crowd;
              But through them all I only see
                A little, snow-white shroud.

              Nor may I set dull grief at naught,
                However I am fain;
              Since when the heart-strings are distraught,
                The will must strive in vain.

              Ah me! there breaks the dawning sun,
                In golden light serene;
              Yet still I mourn this little one,
                Whom I have never seen!

                           _IN SUMMER DEEPS_

                 Through sunny spaces overhead
                 A gray hawk’s lazy pinions spread,
                 And poppies open wide and red
                     Where golden harvests grew.

                 In rosy wreaths upon the swales
                 And fallow fields the bindweed trails,
                 And late-sown buckwheat swiftly pales
                     To blossoming anew.

                 The pond within the pasture land
                 Reflects the cattle as they stand
                 In depths of dipping sedges and
                     Of tangled meadow-rue.

                 In silver splashes through the green,
                 Fine, filmy spider-webs are seen,
                 And crumpled cockle-flowers between
                     Are rifts of tender blue.

                 On stately stalks of standing corn
                 A wealth of cresting plumes are borne,
                 And tawny tasseled tufts adorn
                     The ripened barley, too.

                 So, steeping nature far and wide,
                 Deep sweeps the flood of summer-tide,
                 Till all things that therein abide
                     Are richly tinctured through.


                O, fresh from off the ocean
                  The salt wind riots through
                The fragrant fern and bay-leaves
                  And dripping honey-dew.

                The morning’s on the moorland,
                  And flashing, far away,
                I glimpse the foam-white seagulls
                  And feathers of the spray.

                O hasten! let us hasten!
                  The tide sings up the sand
                The song my heart has harkened
                  Across long leagues of land.

                So far, far have I journeyed,
                  Such weary ways, O sea!
                Breathe, breathe me breath of life now,
                  And steep the soul of me!


              Some day, when summer’s overpast,
                And loosed by frost, in gold and brown
                These greenly clinging leaves drift down,
                      When shrill winds hush
                  The robin red-breast and the thrush,
              When all the skies are overcast
                With racks of rain, so chill and gray
                  Not any burgeoning may be,—
                      Some day,
              Across far foreign lands and vast
                  Unbounded spaces of the sea,
              So homeward, homeward, journeying fast,
                      At last
                  She will come back to me!

              I reckon up, in daily sum,
                The time until that scarlet date;
              I think the fall will never come,
                    So wearily I wait!
                The hours seem leaguing to belate
              The days, that never crept so slow;
                      And yet,
              I used to love the summer so!
                But now my heart may only fret
                  And pray for it to go.
                And yearning so, with lashes wet,
                      I half forget
                  The greenery on every bough,
                  How red the poppies are, and how
                Amid the tufted mignonette
              The scented south-winds gently blow;
              I heed them not,—I only know
                  Time never seemed so long as now!

              I search the azure skies in vain,
                  No hint of autumn rain!
                No hint of fall from bluebirds, nor
              Green fields of growing grain.
                Then idly reckoning, as before,
                  I strive anew to make less far
                  That glad date on the calendar;
                  To number less the days that are,
                  The changes fixed for sun and star,
              The moons that yet must wax and wane;
                      Thus evermore
                With fresh impatience, o’er and o’er,
              I count the hours;—yet still am fain
              To tell them over once again.

              O hasten, hasten, autumn days!
                Sear swift this dewy, summer green!
              I am grown weary with delays;
                      Speed! Speed!
                Bring bitter winds and chill, nor heed
              The mellow sweets between!
              What if the dead leaves strew the ways,
                And southward all the songs take wing?
                  Despite all cheerless frosts that be,
                My eager heart awaits the spring,
                So knowing she will surely bring
                  The birds and May to me.

                          _RAIN ON THE RIVER_

                The skies are gray, where far and wide,
                  Beyond the water-willows,
                The marshes spread their emerald tide
                  Of blossom-crested billows.

                And on the vague horizon’s rim,
                  In vaporous purple masses,
                The distant woods show soft and dim
                  Across the lush, green grasses.

                An east wind stirs the ivory balls
                  Upon the button-bushes;
                And hark! a hidden rain-bird calls
                  From out the blowing rushes.

                Within the water, yonder spray
                  Of rosy mallow flowers
                Turns faint and pale, till not more gray
                  The cloudy heaven lowers.

                And all the birches’ tender green
                  An ashen hue is growing;
                While mottled with a silver sheen
                  The ruffled waves are flowing.

                Then softly through the forest leaves,
                  That turn, and toss, and quiver,
                The rain, with murmurous cadence, weaves
                  A roundel in the river.

                It dots the waves with dancing pearls,
                  It gleams, and streams, and twinkles;
                It sweeps and sinks in silvery swirls,
                  And rings, and sings, and tinkles.

                The clustering sedges dip and sway,
                  Till, after fitful failing,
                The sun bursts gaily through the gray,
                  And craggy clouds are sailing

                Where, southward, in a brilliant sky,
                  As light as any feather,
                The little moon curves white and high,
                  In token of fair weather.

                           _OVER THE SIERRA_

                From out the depths of the abyss,
                  Faint echoes of a torrent’s roar
                  O’er crags whence lordly eagles soar
                To poise above the precipice.

                A dizzy pathway, sheer and steep;
                  A startled catching of the breath;
                  And, bearing menaces of death,
                A loosened snow-drift’s sudden sweep!

                Then, blown from out the upper sky,
                  Keen, fitful gusts of icy air,
                  So light, so tenuous and rare,
                The heart leaps strangely swift thereby.

                The white moon floating in the calm
                  Still ether space, so near, it seems,
                  To grasp his eager childhood dreams,
                One need but thither reach his palm.

                A sense of majesties and mights,
                  An exaltation born of these;
                  —The summit’s awful silences;
                A glimpse of Godhead from the heights!

                            _ON THE PRAIRIE_

                    Across the dewy prairie
                      The morning wind is borne,
                    Beyond the new-mown hayfields,
                      And through the tasseled corn.

                    Upon the silver-maples
                      It lifts the swinging leaves,
                    And steals a subtile sweetness
                      From rows of golden sheaves.

                    Within the sunny orchard
                      The harvest apples fall,
                    While from the tossing branches
                      The saucy jay-birds call.

                    In crinkled, fringy clusters
                      The scarlet poppies burn,
                    Where, softly opening, eastward
                      The yellow sunflowers turn.

                    And nibbling in the garden,
                      Between the cherry trees,
                    I see a robber rabbit
                      Among the pink sweet-peas.

                    While with a fitful fanning,
                      The lazy wind-mill swings,
                    About the bloomy peaches
                      A robin redbreast sings.

                    And in the far horizon
                      There dwells such tender hue,
                    These azure cornflower blossoms
                      Are not so sweet and blue.

                           _BY THE KANKAKEE_

              Beneath the forest trees I lie,
              And watch the deep blue summer sky,
              And count the white cranes floating by
                        On level wings;
              And in the undergrowth I hear
              A bittern softly treading near,
              While through the willows, sweet and clear,
                        A wood-thrush sings.

              And flashing, plashing, close to me,
              With murmurous, melting melody,
              The swirling, crystal Kankakee
                        Flows deep and swift
              Through liquid tints and tones untold
              Of topaz, turquoise, bronze and gold,
              That in its lucent depths unfold
                        And drift, and sift,

              Till down among the pearly shells
              A wealth of changeful color dwells;
              And like a string of silver bells
                        The ripples ring
              Through trailing water-weeds that raise
              Their tangled, yellow blossom-sprays
              Where in a green and golden maze
                        Tall rushes swing.

              And far across the glassy tide,
              The marshes shimmer, low and wide,
              Where birds and bees and wild things hide
                        In reedy grass
              Whose wavering, evanescent hues
              Pale, darken, change, and interfuse,
              Till my enchanted senses lose
                        All things that pass,

              And only feel an exquisite
              Glad throb of light and life complete;
              While like some subtile essence sweet,
                        The wilderness,
              The perfumes warm of wave and wood
              The silence of the solitude,
              All merge and mingle in my mood,
                        Till half I guess

              The secrets that the winds impart,
              And draw so near to nature’s heart
              I feel her inmost pulses start;
                        While happily
              I sink upon her fragrant breast,
              Like yonder thrush within its nest,
              And deep, entrancing sense of rest
                        Steals over me.

                           _THE FISHER FOLK_

                   I know a little village
                     Where fisher folk abide;
                   The dark pine woods behind it,
                     The southern sea beside.

                   There rosy pink crape-myrtles
                     In every dooryard grow,
                   And through the glossy live-oaks
                     The salt sea breezes blow.

                   At break of day the fishers
                     Sail out to sea to reap
                   The harvest that they sowed not,
                     The harvest of the deep.

                   Then, when their nets are emptied,
                     They set their sails for land,
                   To heap the shining fishes
                     Upon the shining sand.

                   Where little barefoot children
                     Await them, eager-eyed,
                   And play the while with sea-shells
                     Cast upward by the tide.

                   And all seem so content there,
                     From worldly care so free,
                   I would that I could find it,
                     This secret of the sea!

                           _THE CACTUS LAND_

               Land of strange, unearthly beauty,
                 Tawny Desert, over me
               Thou hast cast the deep enchantment
                 Of some subtile sorcery!

               These thine endless barren reaches
                 Where no fruitful harvests grow,
               Unto some bring nameless heartache;
                 But to me thou dost not so!

               Here, where all the air seems newly
                 From the springs of life distilled,
               Every breath is like a beaker
                 With rare, sparkling rapture filled!

               And my heart exults and glories
                 In the strange, compelling power
               Of enchanting, changeful color,
                 That is thy supremest dower.

               Joy to me thine ever cloudless
                 Sky of purest turquoise hue,
               And thy rosy mountain ranges
                 Wrapped in pale, translucent blue.

               Beautiful the rainbow ether
                 Shifting, shimmering evermore,
               In diaphanous, dazzling splendors
                 Over all thy boundless floor,

               Where the low-boughed silver sage-bush
                 Softly tufts the tawny land,
               And the tropic Spanish bayonet
                 Clusters tall on every hand.

               While for leagues and leagues the cactus,
                 Child of sun and sand and bare
               Rainless regions, lifts its columns
                 Through the rare, transparent air.

               Wild and splendid in thy freedom,
                 Unsubdued as is the sea,
               From the first, O lordly Desert,
                 Thou hast drawn my heart to thee!

               Desolate thou art, and silent,
                 Barren both of fruit and flower;
               Yet I love thine arid grandeur
                 That defies man’s utmost power!

                      _THE LAST SURVIVOR FROM THE

                Beneath his pillow, hid away
                From careless sight, the nurses say,
                  And safe from any stranger’s view,
                As miser might some treasure rare,
                So does he guard, with jealous care,
                      A baby’s shoe.

                And evermore by day and night,
                With burning eyeballs fever-bright,
                  This wan survivor of the sea
                Scans each blank, closing wall in turn,
                In dim endeavor to discern
                      If sail there be.

                And then the weary sigh that slips
                Suspiring from those parching lips
                  No heart may hear nor bleed therefor!
                As, with hot tears that fall like rain,
                He soothes a dying baby’s pain
                      And o’er and o’er

                Croons snatches of soft lullabies
                To empty arms held cradle-wise.
                  —O human heart-break, love and grief!
                God pity him in his distress,
                Ev’n as the sea was pitiless
                      Beyond belief!

                God comfort, as with straining breath,
                Unheeding either life or death,
                  Yet still with faint unwitting smile,
                His fingers fondly seek and fold
                The little sea-stained shoe, and hold
                      And stroke the while.

                          _THE CASCADE RAVINE_

            From off the traveled road that lay
              Between wide fields of wheat and corn,
              An old gate, gray and weather-worn,
            Led down a shady woodland way.

            One scarce might trace the narrow path,
              So green it was and overgrown
            With springtime’s seeded aftermath;
              Tall grasses that had never known
            The mower’s scythe or sickle’s scath,
              And rosy mayweed lightly sown
              Where’er the summer winds had blown;
            And all their tangled stems the red
            Sweet clover blossoms overspread.

            Near by, through scented, leafy veils
              Of wreathing vines, and dewy, dense
            Green underwood, a brood of quails
            Sped swiftly past the ragged rails
              That tilted off a mossy fence;
            And over it, on airy wing,
              A robin paused in glad content
              Where budding elder-bushes leant
            And brambles clambered flowering.

            Then, suddenly, a low, sweet sound
              Rose, faintly quivering on the breeze,
            And all that blossom-studded ground
              Seemed charged with murmurous mysteries!
              As if all rarest forest keys
            In dreamful chords divinely blent,
            Sang forth from some sweet instrument;
              While pulsing through, with rhythmic beat,
            In slumberous melodies there went
            The soft susurrus of the trees,
              The wind that wandered through the wheat,
            And all the changeful strains of these.

            And as I listened, marveling
              Where those light, liquid tones might be,
            Forgetting all and everything
              Save that enchanting minstrelsy,
            I wandered slowly through the wood,
              Till all at once the parted green
            Revealed its secret, for I stood
              Upon the verge of a ravine
              Wherein the sunbeams broke between
            Tall rustling hemlock boughs, and bright
            As burnished silver in the light,
              A tiny stream ran tinkling through,
            While hidden somewhere out of sight,
              A little spring made music, too.

            The shining water slipped and slipped
            Adown the mossy rocks, and dripped
              From off fine fringing ferns, in drops
            Of endless threaded pearls that tipped
              The tasseled sedge and alder tops
            With flickering light,—and then it sipped
            A drowsy draught of sun, and dipped
              Beneath small clustering buds, and hid
              Among lush marigolds, and slid
                Between tall serried ranks of reeds,
            And stroked their little leaves and lipped
                The flower-spangled jewel-weeds;
              Then, speeding suddenly amid
            Faint shimmering spray, it lightly tripped
            Across white pebbly sand, and stripped
              The marsh flowers’ gold, and fled, half seen,
              A splash of silver through the green.

            And all the while that music sweet
            Kept softly murmuring at my feet,
              As down the rocks in ceaseless streams
                The limpid cascades poured, and still
              The slumberous light in yellow beams
                Bathed the green hemlock boughs,—until
                I seemed to lose all waking will,
              And all my soul was lulled to dreams;
            Wherethrough there floated, drowsy-wise,
              Bright glints of bird-wings, gracious gleams
            Of tender, sunlit summer skies,
                And fleet, sweet visions of the rare
                Deep, shadowy hearts the forests bear.


               The scarlet briars trailed across
                 The grave I journeyed far to see;
               Upon the stone, half hid in moss,
                 “Prepare for death, and follow me.”

               The birds flew southward down the sky;
                 Upon a golden linden tree
               The leaves that fluttered seemed to sigh,
                 “Prepare for death, and follow me.”

               My father’s father slept below
                 So dreamless deep and silently,
               I spelled the message soft and slow,
                 “Prepare for death, and follow me.”

               —Ah me! ’twas years ago the birds
                 Fled swift o’er that far golden tree;
               And wherefore now come back these words,
                 “Prepare for death, and follow me”?

                          _IN LATE SEPTEMBER_

               Among the hardy marigolds
               The spicy gillyflower unfolds,
               And in the elm a catbird scolds
                   With saucy, outspread wings;
               To mellow sweets the pippins speed,
               The sunflower disks are brown with seed,
               And round about them finches feed
                   In clinging, yellow rings.

               The latest poppy fires are dead,
               But bright as blossoms overhead
               In shining sheaves of bronze and red,
                   The frost-tipped pear leaves show;
               While from their branches blackbirds sing
               Or break to noisy chattering;
               And slender silken cobwebs string
                   The tall grass down below.

               Along the uplands, faintly seen
               Across the fallow fields between,
               The winter wheat grows bravely green
                   Despite the coming cold;
               And studding all the stubbled ground
               In tasseled shocks the corn is bound,
               The ripened ears heaped close around
                   In piles of purest gold.

               To smoky wreaths along the ways
               The newly kindled brush-heaps blaze,
               And filmy veils of purple haze
                   Mesh all the amber air;
               Among the fleeces of the sheep
               The yellow sunbeams softly creep,
               And sweet contentment, wide and deep,
                   Rests gently everywhere.

                              _SUNNY NOON_

                 The rose-trees and the barberries
                   Are strung with coral beads;
                 And fitful breezes lightly sift
                   The ripened poppy-seeds.

                 Still, heedless of the nipping frost,
                   Along the garden bed
                 The white and purple gillyflowers
                   Their spicy fragrance shed.

                 And weaving richest tapestries
                   Upon the lattice frame,
                 The woodbine laces in and out
                   In gold, and rose, and flame.

                 Along the wall the grapevines trace
                   Their brown and twisted frets,
                 And all the trailing clematis
                   Is hung with soft aigrettes.

                 Through fringes that the larches wave
                   The sky shows fair and blue,
                 And somewhere, from beneath the eaves,
                   I hear the pigeons coo.

                 The glory of the noonday sun
                   Pervades the dreamy air,
                 And the sweet heart of beauty throbs
                   In music everywhere.

                          _THE GOLDEN WEDDING_

                More sweet than all the buds that blow
                Where summer’s rarest roses grow,
                  More splendid than white lily spires,
                  Or shining, scarlet poppy fires,
                Love’s fragrant flower,—even so,
                  The blossom of the heart’s desires.

                And richer than all fields enfold
                Or all earth’s burdened branches hold,
                  Than any autumn vintage red,
                  Or yellow sheaves new harvested,
                Love’s ripened fruit of mellow gold,
                  The sum of life, when all is said.

                            _EARLY NOVEMBER_

         O the sweetness of the jangle
         Of the sheep-bells, in the tangle
 Of the wild witch-hazel bushes and the spreading red-bud trees!
         —Ah, the silence when it ceases!
         But the beauty of the fleeces,
 And the soft eyes peering at me through the woodbine lattices!

         And beyond them, and the network
         Of the dogwood, and the fretwork
 Of the interlacing grapevines, and across the meadow land,
         I can see the color showing
         Where the winter-wheat is growing,
 With the corn encamped about it like a plumed protecting band.

         While among the many-seeded
         Tufts of russet weeds, unheeded,
 Truant ducks go idly twinkling through the yellow stubble-field;
         Their white feathers like the glosses
         Of the shining silver bosses
 That adorn the tawny luster of an olden golden shield.

         In long loops from off the hedges,
         Trailing downward to the edges
 Of the wayside grass and clover-leaves, fine cobweb threads are wound;
         Fairy clues that lead my eager
         Errant fancy to beleaguer
 Some concealed, enchanted chamber in the richly covered ground.

         Till the sun begins the lighting
         Of his western fires, that smiting
 Through the orchard boughs are splintered into spears of ruddy flame;
         An irradiating splendor
         That transfigures all the slender
 Little leafless twigs and branches with a glory without name!

         O, I know the year is going!
         Neither reaping-time nor sowing
 Will restore the tender beauty of its blossoms that are dead:
         Yet I cherish all their sweetness
         In the ripeness and completeness
 Of the gold and crimson fruitage that my heart has harvested.

                           _WHEREFORE WINGS?_

                Heigho, sparrow! Reckless of the rain;
                  When chill the cheerless wind grows,
                Chirping might and main!
                  Is it naught, then, when the rose
                          Blows again?

                Beating, sleeting on your draggled coat!
                  Surely, ’tis enough to drown
                Any happy note
                  Nestling in that downy brown
                          Little throat.

                Ah me, sparrow! Had I but your power,
                  Think you in the freezing sleet
                I would waste an hour?
                  —I’d sing my sweetest to a sweet
                          Orange flower!

                             _WINTRY TINTS_

                The sky is like an opal,
                  And the horizon’s ring
                Is yellow, like a band of gold,
                  To hold so rich a thing.

                The wheat-fields are as fleecy
                  As any cloud that blows,
                But tawny tufts of standing corn
                  Prick lightly through the snows.

                Beside the drift-bound wind-mill
                  A pearly shadow plays
                In tones of tender violet,
                  And vague, elusive grays.

                And tinged with quiet olive
                  The hedges fine and bare,
                Whose thorny masses down the road
                  An alien softness wear.

                O, subtile chords of color
                  Are fingered by the frost!
                Though touched and tuned to colder key,
                  No grace of earth is lost.

                For see! a deep red ruby
                  The opal heaven grows,
                And yonder pool of ice is one
                  Great golden-hearted rose!

                        _THE PERFECT FRIENDSHIP_

          There is a garden so divinely fair
            That in its magic bound, surpassing sweet,
            The golden buds, so Persian songs repeat,
          Spring forth immortal in enchanted air;
          But, ah, a close there is, more heavenly rare,
            Where, cherished warm within the heart’s retreat,
            Love’s whitest lilies burgeon to complete
          And fragrant flowering lovely past compare.

          O dearest friend, such lilies have I found
            Within my heart, undreamed-of but for thee!
          Nor any fabled buds of genie’s ground
            Are sweeter in their immortality;
          When thou art near, like notes of happy birds,
          My thoughts uprise in songs that need no words.

                             _JANUARY THAW_

               The brook has broken through its glass,
                 And where the snows were drifted
               Round tangled blades of last year’s grass,
                 The yellow sun is sifted.

               Uncovered by the melting night
                 And warm, deceiving day-time,
               The myrtle bed is green and bright
                 As in the midst of Maytime!

               I almost fancy that I hear
                 The hum of bees in clover,
               And from the maples, glad and clear,
                 The first red-robin lover.

               A mock spring laughs in mocking skies,
                 (O little buds, be wary!)
               And masking in sweet April’s guise
                 The youthful year makes merry.

                       _MORNING ON THE MOUNTAIN_

              Upon the gray crags, steep and sheer,
                The columbines’ gold tassels swing,
                    And wind-flowers cling,
              Where, lightly poised, the mountain deer
              Drink in the dewy atmosphere
                In long, deep draughts of sun and spring;
              From haunts that know no hunter’s snare
                The hermit-thrush and wood-dove wing,
              Whilst through green openings squirrels fare
                    And here and there
                Great, silvery moths go fluttering.

              Along the valley, in a trail
              Of purple light, the mist clouds sail,
                    And, soft and pale
                As wreaths of newly risen smoke,
              They wrap the red-wood trees and veil
                The topmost crests of pine and oak,
              And balsam boughs and juniper
              Wherethrough the west winds faintly stir
                The underwood, and gently stroke
              The tall young ferns, and smooth the fur
                Of countless happy forest-folk.

              Wild little hearts, that throb unknown
              Save to the fondling winds alone,
                Bright eyes, that sparkle free of fear,
                O earth is sweet, and life is dear!
              Here in these forests, still your own,
                In primal peace, this many a year
                    God keep you here!
              Here where across the waking lands
              Young willows wave their bloomy wands,
                Whilst up the heights and far away
              The pine trees climb in singing bands
                And feathery spruces surge and sway
              And clap their cones, like little hands,
                    For gladness of the day!

              Up, up, they clamber on until
              The tenuous air smites keen and chill,
                    And far winds blow
              From leagues of everlasting snow;
                And then the mountain buds, more bold,
                    Their sheaths unfold
              And light their golden fires and glow
                With flame unquenched by frost or cold.

              Whilst ever o’er them, shimmering high
                    Against the sky,
              A glittering, crystal radiance streams,
              Wherein the mountain floats and gleams
              Through frosty fleeces, till it seems
                That some great morning star, instead
                Of earth, hangs trembling overhead,
              A dream of all most lovely dreams!
                An airy miracle, overspread
              With veils of silvery tissue spun
              Of ice and mist and snow and sun.
              A dazzle of all lights in one!

              I watch it till, tall towering there
                    Through brightening air,
              Such special splendor does it wear
                It seems the sun’s own citadel,
                  At sight whereof my lips grow dumb
                With joy I find no voice to tell;
                  So stricken silent, as with some
                Deep gladness of o’ermastering spell;
                Nor any song of mine may dare
                    To follow where
              The summit’s utmost radiant peak,
                Bright as God’s chosen cherubim,
              Soars through the smiling sky to seek
                And fearless front the face of Him.

                          _THE LITTLE SISTER_

              Along the street a tiny pair
                Of childish figures lately went;
              The boy’s face wore a fearless air,
                The little sister’s sweet content.

              He closely clasped her chubby hand,
                And led her through the throng, while she
              Seemed perfectly to understand
                He would protect her loyally.

              And as I watched them pass from sight,
                My heart began to ache, for so
              I held my brother’s fingers tight
                And toddled down the long ago.

              Then all at once, beyond control,
                The tears uprose in blinding rain,
              Such hopeless yearning stirred my soul
                To lay my hand in his again!


       Lightly let the boat go drifting,
       Neither hand nor oar uplifting,
 Let no motion fret the ocean, and no sail be now unfurled;
       Stranger than Aladdin’s story,
       Lo, the dream-surpassing glory
 And the marvel unimagined of the limpid underworld!

       Gaze within the magic mirror
       Of the water, crystal clearer
 Than the gleaming glass enchanted, made by Merlin’s sorcery
       And behold the secrets hidden
       Through the ages, till unbidden
 Sons of men came sailing, sailing down the blue Pacific sea.

       See the pearl-encrusted portals
       Of the caverns, wherein mortals
 Dare not pierce with earthly vision, dare not fare with feet profane;
       Coral-columned halls with golden
       Thrones in emerald deeps withholden,
 Lit with sparkling amber splendor, where the merry mermen reign.

       See the long kelp banners flying
       From their gardens underlying
 All the rare, transparent surface of this sunny, southern sea;
       Grasses, shot with silver spangles,
       Wreathed and caught in starry tangles
 Of the purple ocean-pansy and the fringed anemone.

       And the brilliant sea-weeds scattered
       Like a gay mosaic shattered
 In a million shining fragments over all the ocean floor;
       While the bright-hued fish go darting
       In swift journeys, meeting, parting,
 Weaving gold and scarlet patterns through the water evermore.

       Through the light that throbs and quivers
       Down the depths, and breaks and shivers
 Into splintered flakes of brightness, that so melt and interfuse
       Into all such strangest ranges
       Of translucent color changes,
 That the eye is thrilled, bewildered, with their rare enchanting hues.

       —Ah, would thus upon the gleaming
       Southern sea, in happy dreaming,
 We might drift and drift forever! never shoreward guide the keel!
       Azure skies, forever smiling,
       Into visions sweet beguiling,
 And beneath our boat the splendor of those rosy dreams made real!


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE:

  Original spelling, hyphenation and punctuation have been kept

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Among the Trees Again" ***

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