Echoes from Vagabondia
- SPRING'S SARABAND1
- THE FLUTE OF SPRING2
- DAFFODIL'S RETURN3
- THE URBAN PAN3
- THE SAILING OF FLEETS4
- THE LAST DAY AT STORMFIELD6
- THE SHIPS OF YULE8
- IN ST. GERMAIN STREET10
- IN ST. CECILIA STREET10
- THE PATH TO SANKOTY11
- THE CRY OF THE HILLBORN13
- MORNING IN THE HILLS14
- PAN IN THE CATSKILLS15
- THE DREAMERS16
- THE COUNCILLORS18
- THE CONUNDRUM21
- A COLOPHON23
- ON THE PLAZA24
- DUST OF THE STREET26
- BRONSON HOWARD28
- TO A FRIEND29
- TO A YOUNG LADY IN HER BIRTHDAY30
- THE ANGEL OF JOY31
- A LYRIC32
- A WOOD-PATH33
- BY STILL WATERS35
- TE DEUM38
- ON BURIAL HILL41
- THE WISE MEN FROM THE EAST43
- A WATER COLOR46 Page viii
- EL DORADO48
- A PAINTER'S HOLIDAY54
- THE WINGED VICTORY62
- THE ENCHANTED TRAVELLER65
OVER the hills of April
With soft winds hand in hand,
Impassionate and dreamy-eyed,
Spring leads her saraband.
Her garments float and gather
And swirl along the plain,
Her headgear is the golden sun,
Her cloak the silver rain.
With color and with music,
With perfumes and with pomp,
By meadowland and upland,
Through pasture, wood, and swamp,
With promise and enchantment
Leading her mystic mime,
She comes to lure the world anew
With joy as old as time.
Quick lifts the marshy chorus
To transport, trill on trill;
There 's not a rod of stony ground
Unanswering on the hill.
The brooks and little rivers
Dance down their wild ravines,
And children in the city squares
Keep time, to tambourines.
The bluebird in the orchard
Is lyrical for her,
The starling with his meadow pipe
Sets all the wood astir,
The hooded white spring-beauties
Are curtsying in the breeze,
The blue hepaticas are out
Under the chestnut trees.
The maple buds make glamor,
Viburnum waves its bloom,
The daffodils and tulips
Are risen from the tomb.
The lances of Narcissus
Have pierced the wintry mold;
The commonplace seems paradise
Through veils of greening gold.
O heart, hear thou the summons,
Put every grief away,
When all the motley masques of earth
Are glad upon a day.
Alack, that any mortal
Should less than gladness bring
Into the choral joy that sounds
The saraband of spring!
THE FLUTE OF SPRING.
I KNOW a shining meadow stream
That winds beneath an Eastern hill,
And all year long in sun or gloom
Its murmuring voice is never still.
The summer dies more gently there,
The April flowers are earlier, —
The first warm rain-wind from the Sound
Sets all their eager hearts astir.
And there when lengthening twilights fall
As softly as a wild bird's wing,
Across the valley in the dusk
I hear the silver flute of spring.
WHAT matter if the sun be lost?
What matter though the sky be gray?
There 's joy enough about the house,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.
There 's news of swallows on the air,
There 's word of April on the way,
They 're calling flowers within the street,
And Daffodil comes home to-day.
O who would care what fate may bring,
Or what the years may take away!
There 's life enough within the hour,
For Daffodil comes home to-day.
THE URBAN PAN.
ONCE more the magic days are come
With stronger sun and milder air;
The shops are full of daffodils;
There 's golden leisure everywhere.
I heard my Lou this morning shout:
"Here comes the hurdy-gurdy man!"
And through the open window caught
The piping of the urban Pan.
I laid my wintry task aside,
And took a day to follow joy:
The trail of beauty and the call
That lured me when I was a boy.
I looked, and there looked up at me
A smiling, swarthy, hairy man
With kindling eye — and well I knew
The piping of the urban Pan.
He caught my mood; his hat was off;
I tossed the ungrudged silver down.
The cunning vagrant, every year
He casts his spell upon the town!
And we must fling him, old and young,
Our dimes or coppers, as we can;
And every heart must leap to hear
The piping of the urban Pan.
The music swells and fades again,
And I in dreams am far away,
Where a bright river sparkles down
To meet a blue Aegean bay.
There, in the springtime of the world,
Are dancing fauns, and in their van,
Is one who pipes a deathless tone —
The earth-born and the urban Pan.
And so he follows down the block,
A troop of children in his train,
The light-foot dancers of the street
Enamored of the reedy strain.
I hear their laughter rise and ring
Above the noise of truck and van,
As down the mellow wind fades out
The piping of the urban Pan.
THE SAILING OF THE FLEETS.
NOW the spring is in the town,
Now the wind is in the tree,
And the wintered keels go down
To the calling of the sea.
Out from mooring, dock, and slip,
Through the harbor buoys they glide,
Drawing seaward till they dip
To the swirling of the tide.
One by one and two by two,
Down the channel turns they go,
Steering for the open blue
Where the salty great airs blow;
Craft of many a build and trim,
Every stitch of sail unfurled,
Till they hang upon the rim
Of the azure ocean world.
Who has ever, man or boy,
Seen the sea all flecked with gold,
And not longed to go with joy
Forth upon adventures bold?
Who could bear to stay indoor,
Now the wind is in the street,
For the creaking of the oar
And the tugging of the sheet!
Now the spring is in the town,
Who would not a rover be,
When the wintered keels go down
To the calling of the sea?
THE LAST DAY AT STORMFIELD.
AT Redding, Connecticut,
The April sunrise pours
Over the hardwood ridges
Softening and greening now
In the first magic of spring.
The wild cherry trees are in bloom,
The bloodroot is white underfoot,
The serene early light flows on,
Touching with glory the world,
And flooding the large upper room
Where a sick man sleeps.
Slowly he opens his eyes,
After long weariness, smiles,
And stretches his arms overhead,
While those about him take heart.
With his awakening strength
(Morning and spring in the air,
The strong clean scents of earth,
The call of the golden-shaft
Ringing across the hills),
He takes up his heartening book,
Opens the volume and reads, —
A page of old rugged Carlyle,
The dour philosopher
Who looked askance upon life,
Lurid, ironical, grim,
Yet sound at the core.
But weariness returns;
He lays the book aside
With his glasses upon the bed,Page 7
And gladly sleeps. Sleep,
Blessed abundant sleep,
Is all that he needs.
And when the close of day
Reddens upon the hills
And washes the room with rose,
In the twilight hush
The Summoner comes to him
Ever so gently, unseen,
Touches him on the shoulder;
And with the departing sun
Our great funning friend is gone.
How he has made us laugh!
A whole generation of men
Smiled in the joy of his wit.
But who knows whether he was not
Like those deep jesters of old
Who dwelt at the courts of kings,
Arthur's, Pendragon's, Lear's,
Plying the wise fool's trade,
Making men merry at will,
Hiding their deeper thoughts
Under a motley array, —
Keen-eyed, serious men,
Watching the sorry world,
The gaudy pageant of life,
With pity and wisdom and love
Fearless, extravagant, wild,
His caustic merciless mirth
Was leveled at pompous shams.
Doubt not behind that mask
There dwelt the soul of a man,Page 8
Resolute, sorrowing, sage,
As sure a champion of good
As ever rode forth to fray.
Haply — who knows? — somewhere
In Avalon, Isle of Dreams,
In vast contentment at last,
With every grief done away,
While Chaucer and Shakespeare wait,
And Molière hangs on his words,
And Cervantes not far off
Listens and smiles apart,
With that incomparable drawl
He is jesting with Dagonet now.
THE SHIPS OF YULE.
WHEN I was just a little boy,
Before I went to school,
I had a fleet of forty sail
I called the Ships of Yule;
Of every rig, from rakish brig
And gallant barkentine,
To little Fundy fishing boats
With gunwales painted green.
They used to go on trading trips
Around the world for me,
For though I had to stay on shore
My heart was on the sea.
They stopped at every port of call
From Babylon to Rome,
To load with all the lovely things
We never had at home;
With elephants and ivory
Bought from the King of Tyre,
And shells and silk and sandal-wood
That sailor men admire;
With figs and dates from Samarcand,
And squatty ginger-jars,
And scented silver amulets
From Indian bazaars;
With sugar-cane from Port of Spain,
And monkeys from Ceylon,
And paper lanterns from Pekin
With painted dragons on;
With cocoanuts from Zanzibar,
And pines from Singapore;
And when they had unloaded these
They could go back for more.
And even after I was big
And had to go to school,
My mind was often far away
Aboard the Ships of Yule.
IN ST. GERMAIN STREET.
IN ST. CECILIA STREET.
EACH morning when I hear the chimes
Of heavenly St. Cecilia's ringing,
I think if I get up betimes
I, too, might hear the angels singing.
Then up I jump, with such a start
That I am dressed before I know it,
And such a gladness in my heart,
I 'm sure all day my face must show it.
DID you ever hear of 'Sconset, where there 's nothing much but moors,
And beach and sea and silence and eternal out-of-doors —
Where the azure round of ocean meets the paler dome of day,
Where the sailing clouds of summer on the sea-line melt away,
And there 's not an ounce of trouble
Where the field-larks in the morning will be crying at the door,
With the whisper of the moor-wind and the surf along the shore;
Where the little shingled houses down the little grassy street
Are gray with salt of sea-winds, and the strong sea-air is sweet
With the flowers in their door-yards;
Me for there!
THE PATH TO SANKOTY.
IT winds along the headlands
Above the open sea —
The lonely moorland footpath
That leads to Sankoty.
The crooning sea spreads sailless
And gray to the world's rim,
Where hang the reeking fog-banks
Primordial and dim.
There fret the ceaseless currents,
And the eternal tide
Chafes over hidden shallows
Where the white horses ride.
The wistful fragrant moorlands
Whose smile bids panic cease,
Lie treeless and cloud-shadowed
In grave and lonely peace.
Across their flowering bosom,
From the far end of day
Blow clean the great soft moor-winds
All sweet with rose and bay.
A world as large and simple
As first emerged for man,
Cleared for the human drama,
Before the play began.
O well the soul must treasure
The calm that sets it free —
The vast and tender skyline,
The sea-turn's wizardry,
Solace of swaying grasses,
The friendship of sweet-fern —
And in the world's confusion
Remembering, must yearn
To tread the moorland footpath
That leads to Sankoty,
Hearing the field-larks shrilling
Beside the sailless sea.
THE CRY OF THE HILLBORN.
I AM homesick for the mountains —
My heroic mother hills —
And the longing that is on me
No solace ever stills.
I would climb to brooding summits
With their old untarnished dreams,
Cool my heart in forest shadows
To the lull of falling streams;
Hear the innocence of aspens
That babble in the breeze,
And the fragrant sudden showers
That patter on the trees.
I am lonely for my thrushes
In their hermitage withdrawn,
Toning the quiet transports
Of twilight and of dawn.
I need the pure, strong mornings,
When the soul of day is still,
With the touch of frost that kindles
The scarlet on the hill;
Lone trails and winding woodroads
To outlooks wild and high,
And the pale moon waiting sundown
Where ledges cut the sky.
I dream of upland clearings
Where cones of sumac burn,
And gaunt and gray-mossed boulders
Lie deep in beds of fern;
The gray and mottled beeches,
The birches' satin sheen,
The majesty of hemlocks
Crowning the blue ravine.
My eyes dim for the skyline
Where purple peaks aspire,
And the forges of the sunset
Flare up in golden fire.
There crests look down unheeding
And see the great winds blow,
Tossing the huddled tree-tops
In gorges far below;
Where cloud-mists from the warm earth
Roll up about their knees,
And hang their filmy tatters
Like prayers upon the trees.
I cry for night-blue shadows
On plain and hill and dome, —
The spell of old enchantments,
The sorcery of home.
MORNING IN THE HILLS.
HOW quiet is the morning in the hills!
The stealthy shadows of the summer clouds
Trail through the cañon, and the mountain stream
Sounds his sonorous music far below
In the deep-wooded wind-enchanted clove.
Hemlock and aspen, chestnut, beech, and fir
Go tiering down from storm-worn crest and ledge,
While in the hollows of the dark ravine
See the red road emerge, then disappear
Towards the wide plain and fertile valley lands.
My forest cabin half-way up the glen
Is solitary, save for one wise thrush,
The sound of falling water, and the wind
Mysteriously conversing with the leaves.
Here I abide unvisited by doubt,
Dreaming of far-off turmoil and despair,
The race of men and love and fleeting time,
What life may be, or beauty, caught and held
For a brief moment at eternal poise.
What impulse now shall quicken and make live
This outward semblance and this inward self?
One breath of being fills the bubble world,
Colored and frail, with fleeting change on change.
Surely some God contrived so fair a thing
In the vast leisure of uncounted days,
And touched it with the breath of living joy,
Wondrous and fair and wise! It must be so.
PAN IN THE CATSKILLS.
THEY say that he is dead, and now no more
The reedy syrinx sounds among the hills,
When the long summer heat is on the land.
But I have heard the Catskill thrushes sing,
And therefore am incredulous of death,
Of pain and sorrow and mortality.
In those blue cañons, deep with hemlock shade,
In solitudes of twilight or of dawn,
I have been rapt away from time and care
By the enchantment of a golden strain
As pure as ever pierced the Thracian wild,
Filling the listener with a mute surmise.
At evening and at morning I have gone
Down the cool trail between the beech-tree boles,
And heard the haunting music of the wood
Ring through the silence of the dark ravine,
Flooding the earth with beauty and with joy
And all the ardors of creation old.
And then within my pagan heart awoke
Remembrance of far-off and fabled years
In the untarnished sunrise of the world,
When clear-eyed Hellas in her rapture heard
A slow mysterious piping wild and keen
Thrill through her vales, and whispered, "It is Pan!"
CHARLEMAGNE with knight and lord,
In the hill at Ingelheim,
Slumbers at the council board,
Seated waiting for the time.
With their swords across their knees
In that chamber dimly lit,
Chin on breast like effigies
Of the dreaming gods, they sit.
Long ago they went to sleep,
While great wars above them hurled,
Taking counsel how to keep
Giant evil from the world.
There in silence they await
The last war, — in war renowned,
Done with doubting and debate.
What is all our clamor for?
Petty virtue, puny crime,
Beat in vain against the door
Of the hill at Ingelheim.
When at last shall dawn the day
For the saving of the world,
They will forth in war array,
In the hill at Ingelheim,
Still, they say, the Emperor,
Like a warrior in his prime,
Waits the message at the door.
Shall the long enduring fight
Break above our heads in vain,
Plunged in lethargy and night,
Like the men of Charlemagne?
Comrades, through the Council Hall
Of the heart, inert and dumb,
Hear ye not the summoning call,
"Up, my lords, the hour is come!"
IN the purple heat haze
Of long midsummer days
Lay the range, peak on peak,
Till one thought, "Could they speak,
Those old ones who heard
The first life-bringing word!"
With the primal unrest
Locked away in their breast,
Unperturbed they await
The fulfilment of fate,
Seated there on the plain,
Like King Charlemagne
And his heroes who keep
The long council of sleep,
Until need and the hour
Shall recall them to power.
Once an age the King wakes.
"Is it time?" his voice breaks
The silence. "Nay, Sire."
Then the echoes retire,
And sleep falls again
Gray and softer than rain.
Toby speaking to Tom,
"Thy distance of blue
I can hardly see through,
Proclaims the old storyPage 19
Of possible glory,
The entrancement of rapture
Our utmost may capture,
Led by vision and will, —
Thou truth's Chrysostom!
Thy beauty and glamor
Above the world's clamor
Are aglow with a thought
Urgent, mystic, untaught,
Neither Christian nor Rom,
Of escape and of flight
To the spirit's lone height,
Beyond the last verge
Of soul's strife and surge,
The dominion past dream,
Where accord is supreme.
Undespairing and bold,
Through what cycles untold
Of calm, storm, sun and rain,
Soared thy life to attain
Its transcendence serene, —
That victorious mien
Over travail's maelstrom!"
Then Tom said to Toby,
"In the farness divine
Each hue, every line,
Must inblend and suspire
With the tone of desire,
Till all flaws be recast
To perfection at last.
Whether lofty or low be
Thy measure, what matters?
When blinding noon scatters,Page 20
And soul grows aware
Of a soul through the glare,
Convinced there must so be
A reach and a lift
Through the dusk's purple rift,
To the large, fair, and new
Where ideals come true,
With no doubt of the end,
Let heart hold its trend.
Shall Potumcook disdain
The deep corn-bearing plain,
Through the slow-plowing years?
Thou art crowned with thy peers,
When over thy crest
The great sun from the West
Bids the glory and glow be."
Then said Holyoke,
"It is well that you spoke.
Low and High are as one,
When soul's service is done!"
Peak on peak lay the range,
With no word to exchange,
Not a hint to break through
That soft stillness of blue, —
All as silent as when
God first whispered to men.
There like the great king
With his captains a-ring,
These councillors sleep.
Untroubled and deep
Is their rest. They abide
Heat and cold, time and tide;Page 20
Their supreme heritage,
To grow lovely with age.
How could they but dream true,
With their heads in the blue,
And their feet in the flow
Of the river where go
Mirrored stories of time?
While the world, out of chime
And unheeding, goes by,
They translate earth and sky,
These old mystics. Ah, theirs
Are eternal affairs!
A CONUNDRUM.Page 22
CALL him a son of fantastical fortune,
With songs of elation and sighs of despair;
Say he was careless, impatient, and moody,
Fickle as water and wilful as air;
Say he would idle, procrastinate, dally,
Spend golden days without doing a thing,
Plan while his fellows made much of the present,
Smile as the opportune hour took wing;
Aware of ambition, perfection, and power,
Yet willing to loiter and let the world be;
Say there was never a reed in the river
More ready to bend to the current than he;
Say he could never refuse a companion
Bidding him in from the street to the bar,
Never resist the enchantment of pleasure —
Joy was his captain and beauty his star;
Call him a ne'er-do-well, harlequin, dreamer,
Flash of the rocket and froth of the sea;
Say his whole life was a waste of endeavor —
Never a moment unloving of thee!
Revel of April, or ravage of winter,
What cares the mountain, broad based as the world?
Are the deeps of the ocean disturbed by the turmoil,
When tempests are loosed and tornadoes unfurled?
Nay, is the mighty sun darkened in heaven
Every time earth must revolve into night?
Do the stars wheel to a faltering measure?
Shall not the morning return to the height?
So, thou dear heart, beyond folly or failure,
Undimmed by distraction, by doubt undismayed,
The soul of a man with the calm of an angel
Abides in the heaven thy friendship has made.
A COLOPHON.Page 24
ON THE PLAZA.
ONE August day I sat beside
A café window open wide
To let the shower-freshened air
Blow in across the Plaza, where
In golden pomp against the dark
Green leafy background of the Park,
St. Gaudens' hero, gaunt and grim,
Rides on with Victory leading him.
The wet, black asphalt seemed to hold
In every hollow pools of gold,
And clouds of gold and pink and gray
Were piled up at the end of day,Page 25
Far down the cross street, where one tower
Still glistened from the drenching shower.
A weary white-haired man went by,
Cooling his forehead gratefully
After the day's great heat. A girl,
Her thin white garments in a swirl
Blown back against her breasts and knees,
Like a Winged Victory in the breeze,
Alive and modern and superb,
Crossed from the circle to the curb.
We sat there watching people pass,
Clinking the ice against the glass
And talking idly — books or art,
Or something equally apart
From the essential stress and strife
That rudely form and further life,
Glad of a respite from the heat,
When down the middle of the street,
Trundling a hurdy-gurdy, gay
In spite of the dull-stifling day,
Three street-musicians came. The man,
With hair and beard as black as Pan,
Strolled on one side with lordly grace,
While a young girl tugged at a trace
Upon the other. And between
The shafts there walked a laughing queen,
Bright as a poppy, strong and free.
What likelier land than Italy
Breeds such abandon? Confident
And rapturous in mere living spent
Each moment to the utmost, there
With broad, deep chest and kerchiefed hair,Page 26
With head thrown back, bare throat, and waist
Supple, heroic and free-laced,
Between her two companions walked
This splendid woman, chaffed and talked,
Did half the work, made all the cheer
Of that small company.
Of failure in a soul like hers
That every moment throbs and stirs
With merry ardor, virile hope,
Brave effort, nor in all its scope
Has room for thought or discontent,
Each day its own sufficient vent
And source of happiness.
A trace of bitterness or doubt
Of life's true worth, she strode at ease
Before those empty palaces,
A simple heiress of the earth
And all its joys by happy birth,
Beneficent as breeze or dew,
And fresh as though the world were new
And toil and grief were not. How rare
A personality was there!
DUST OF THE STREET.Page 27 Page 28
OTHERS must praise him for the plays he wrote,
Or criticise him in perfunctory mode.
I only know our peerless friend is gone,
Leaving for us an emptier world where once
This gentlest of all gentle men abode.
Let us not wrong so genuine a soul —
So modest after all his honored years —
With high-flown eulogy and sounding phrase.
It is enough that loss of him must reach
To the profound sincerity of tears.
Many will see him still with dog and pipe
Strolling through little 'Sconset by the sea,
Among the happy bathers on the beach,
Watching the sunset on the purple moors,
Or on the way to lonely Sankoty.
The courtly welcome from his cabin door,
Far from the mainland on his isle of dreams,
Must hold its spell forever in our hearts,
To shame ungenerous credence or offense
With faith in simple kindness and high themes.
When last I saw him it was at his ease
On the wide lounge before the blazing fire —
The hospitable hearthstone of The Players.
So free of spirit, so fine, and so humane,
Kindly to judge and kindling to inspire!
Dear Bronson Howard! Could mortal ever live
More loyally for loveliness and right?
We shall not find him now by hearth nor shore,
But all life long love must recall his smile —
Immortal friend of sweetness and of light.
TO A FRIEND.
WITH A COPY OF THE LAST SONGS FROM VAGABONDIA.
DEAR friend, our comrade who left here
His beautiful unfinished songs,
With Shelley and the sons of light
To the majestic past belongs.
By winter fire, by summer sun,
We shall not have him any more.
That courtly leisure, that slow smile,
Have found new countries to explore.
He cannot lift you hand nor voice,
In the old way to let you know
He loves you and would have you glad
He uses mine to tell you so.
TO A YOUNG LADY ON HER BIRTHDAY.
THE marching years go by,
And brush your garment's hem.
The bandits by and by
Will bid you go with them.
Trust not that caravan!
Old vagabonds are they;
They 'll rob you if they can,
And make believe it 's play.
Make the old robbers give
Of all the spoils they bear, —
Their truth, to help you live, —
Their joy, to keep you fair.
Ask not for gauds nor gold,
Nor fame that falsely rings;
The foolish world grows old
Caring for all these things.
Make all your sweet demands
For happiness alone,
And the years will fill your hands
With treasures rarely known.
THE ANGEL OF JOY.
THERE is no grief for me
Nor sadness any more;
For since I first knew thee
Great Joy has kept my door.
Grim fear, unmanly doubt,
And impotent despair
Went at his bidding forth
Among the things that were, —
Leaving a place all clean,
Resounding of the sea
And decked with forest green,
To be a home for thee.
OH, once I could not understand
The sob within the throat of spring, —
The shrilling of the frogs, nor why
The birds so passionately sing.
That was before your beauty came
And stooped to teach my soul desire,
When on these mortal lips you laid
The magic and immortal fire.
I wondered why the sea should seem
So gray, so lonely, and so old;
The sigh of level-driving snows
In winter so forlornly cold.
I wondered what it was could give
The scarlet autumn pomps their pride,
And paint with colors not of earth
The glory of the mountainside.
I could not tell why youth should dream
And worship at the evening star,
And yet must go with eager feet
Where danger and where splendor are.
I could not guess why men at times,
Beholding beauty, should go mad
With joy or sorrow or despair
Or some unknown delight they had.
I wondered what they would receive
From Time's inexorable hand
So full of loveliness and doom.
But now, ah, now I understand!
It is the path we traversed
One twilight, thou and I;
Thy beauty all a rapture,
My spirit all a cry.
The red leaves fall upon it,
The moon and mist and rain,
But not the magic footfall
That made its meaning plain.
Such a head the victors
Must have praised and known,
With that breast and bearing,
Nike's very own —
As superb, untrammeled,
Rhythmed and poised and free
As the strong pure sea-wind
Walking on the sea;
Wise with all the silence
Of the waiting hills,
When the gracious twilight
Wakes in them and thrills;
BY STILL WATERS.
"HE LEADETH ME BESIDE THE STILL WATERS; HE RESTORETH MY SOUL."
MY tent stands in a garden
Of aster and goldenrod,
Tilled by the rain and the sunshine,
And sown by the hand of God, —
An old New England pasture
Abandoned to peace and time,
And by the magic of beauty
Reclaimed to the sublime.
About it are golden woodlands
Of tulip and hickory;
On the open ridge behind it
You may mount to a glimpse of sea, —
The far-off, blue, Homeric
Rim of the world's great shield,
A border of boundless glamor
For the soul's familiar field.
In purple and gray-wrought lichen
The boulders lie in the sun;
Along its grassy footpath
The white-tailed rabbits run.
The crickets work and chirrup
Through the still afternoon;
And the owl calls from the hillside
Under the frosty moon.
The odorous wild grape clambers
Over the tumbling wall,
And through the autumnal quiet
The chestnuts open and fall.
Sharing time's freshness and fragrance,Page 36
Part of the earth's great soul,
Here man's spirit may ripen
To wisdom serene and whole.
Shall we not grow with the asters —
Never reluctant nor sad,
Not counting the cost of being,
Living to dare and be glad?
Shall we not lift with the crickets
A chorus of ready cheer,
Braving the frost of oblivion,
Quick to be happy here?
Is my will as sweet as the wild grape,
Spreading delight on the air
For the passer-by's enchantment,
Subtle and unaware?
Have I as brave a spirit,
Sprung from the self-same mould,
As this weed from its own contentment
Lifting its shaft of gold?
The deep red cones of the sumach
And the woodbine's crimson's sprays
Have bannered the common roadside
For the pageant of passing days.
These are the oracles Nature
Fills with her holy breath,
Giving them glory of color,
Transcending the shadow of death.
Here in the sifted sunlight
A spirit seems to brood
On the beauty and worth of being,
In tranquil, instinctive mood;Page 37
And the heart, filled full of gladness
Such as the wise earth knows,
Wells with a full thanksgiving
For the gifts that life bestows:
For the ancient and virile nurture
Of the teeming primordial ground,
For the splendid gospel of color,
The rapt revelations of sound;
For the morning-blue above us
And the rusted gold of the fern,
For the chickadee's call to valor
Bidding the faint-heart turn;
For fire and running water,
Snowfall and summer rain;
For sunsets and quiet meadows,
The fruit and the standing grain;
For the solemn hour of moonrise
Over the crest of trees,
When the mellow lights are kindled
In the lamps of the centuries;
For those who wrought aforetime,
Led by the mystic strain
To strive for the larger freedom,
And live for the greater gain;
For plenty and peace and playtime,
The homely goods of earth,
And for rare immaterial treasures
Accounted of little worth;
For art and learning and friendship,
Where beneficent truth is supreme, —
Those everlasting cities
Built on the hills of dream;Page 38
For all things growing and goodly
That foster this life, and breed
The immortal flower of wisdom
Out of the mortal seed.
But most of all for the spirit
That cannot rest nor bide
In stale and sterile convenience,
Nor safely proven and tried,
But still inspired and driven,
Must seek what better may be,
And up from the loveliest garden
Must climb for a glimpse of sea.
IF I could paint you the autumn color, the melting glow upon all things laid,
The violet haze of Indian summer, before its splendor begins to fade,
When scarlet has reached its breathless moment, and gold the hush of its glory now,
That were a mightier craft than Titian's, the heart to lift and the head to bow.
I should be lord of a world of rapture, master of magic and gladness, too, —
The touch of wonder transcending science, the solace escaping from line and hue;
I would reveal through tint and texture the very soul of this earth of ours,
Forever yearning through boundless beauty to exalt the spirit with all her powers.
See where it lies by the lake this morning, our autumn hillside of hardwood trees,
A masterpiece of the mighty painter who works in the primal mysteries.
A living tapestry, rich and glowing with blended marvels, vermilion and dun,
Hung out for the pageant of time that passes along an avenue of the sun!
The crown of the ash is tinged with purple, the hickory leaves are Etruscan gold,
And the tulip-tree lifts yellow banners against the blue for a signal bold;
The oaks in crimson cohorts stand, a myriad sumack torches mass
In festal pomp and victorious pride, when the vision of spring is brought to pass.
Down from the line of the shore's deep shadows another and softer picture lies,
As if the soul of the lake in slumber should harbor a dream of paradise, —
Passive and blurred and unsubstantial, lulling the sense and luring the mind
With the spell of an empty fairy world, where sinew and sap are left behind.
So men dream of a far-off heaven of power and knowledge and endless joy,
Asleep to the moment's fine elation, dull to the day's divine employ,
Musing over a phantom image, born of fantastic hope and fear,
Of the very happiness life engenders and earth provides — our privilege here.
Dare we dispel a single transport, neglect the worth that is here and now,
Yet dream of enjoying its shadowy semblance in the by-and-by somewhere, somehow?
I heard the wind on the hillside whisper, "They ill prepare for a journey hence
Who waste the senses and starve the spirit in a world all made for spirit and sense.
"Is the full stream fed from a stifled source, or the ripe fruit filled from a blighted flower?
Are not the brook and the blossom greatened through many a busy beatified hour?
Not in the shadow but in the substance, plastic and potent at our command,
Are all the wisdom and gladness of heart; this is the kingdom of heaven at hand."
So I will pass through the lovely world, and partake of beauty to feed my soul.
With earth my domain and growth my portion, how should I sue for a further dole?
In the lift I feel of immortal rapture, in the flying glimpse I gain of truth,
Released is the passion that sought perfection, assauged the ardor of dreamful youth.
The patience of time shall teach me courage, the strength of the sun shall lend me poise.
I would give thanks for the autumn glory, for the teaching of earth and all her joys.
Her fine fruition shall well suffice me; the air shall stir in my veins like wine;
While the moment waits and the wonder deepens, my life shall merge with the life divine.
ON BURIAL HILL.
WHILE the slow-filtered sorcery
Of Indian summer lay
Upon the golden-shadowed streets
Of Concord yesterday,
We climbed the rocky path that led
Through hallowed air all still,
Where Concord men first laid their dead
To rest on Burial Hill.
Her sages and her poets lie
In Sleepy Hollow ground;
But here, unvisited, apart,
Her good men unrenowned, —
Those vanished folk who greatly did,
Because they greatly planned.
Here in the slanting mellow sun
Their sinking headstones stand.
Close to the stone-walled village street
It rises in deep shade, —
This cherished place about whose base
Their first homesteads were made.
Here the first smoke rose from the hearth
To cheer them, great of soul;
And here for all the world to see
They set their Liberty Pole.
O little, blessed, lonely plot
Of our ancestral earth,
What dreams are here as we draw near
The dust that gave us birth!
Out of the ancient mighty dark
These Pilgrims not in vain
Proclaimed the good they saw, then turned
To dust and dreams again.
O never say their dreams are dead
Since West and South and North
They sent their breed to prove their creed
In verity and worth.
Across the conquered leagues that lie
Beneath their dauntless will,
From tent and shack the trails run back
To the foot of Burial Hill.
Slowly we mount the wooded crest,
And there in golden gloom
Stands simple, square, and unadorned,
Our grandsire's altar tomb.
Upon its dark gray slated top
The long inscription reads,
In stately phrase his townsmen's praise
Of his deserts and deeds.
Their "pastor of the Church of Christ,"
They wish the world to feel
The "luster" of his ministry,
His "meekness" and his "zeal."
I doubt not he deserved it all,
And not a word of ill;
For they were just, these men whose dust
Lies here on Burial Hill.
Perhaps we wear the very guise
And features that he wore,
And with the look of his own eyes
Behold his world once more.
Would that his spirit too might live,
While lives his goodly name,
To move among the sons of men,
"A minister of flame."
So might his magic gift of words,
Not wholly passed away,
Survive to be a sorcery
In all men's hearts to-day,
To plead no less for loveliness
Than truth and goodness still.
God rest you, sir, his minister,
Asleep on Burial Hill!
THE WISE MEN FROM THE EAST.
(A LITTLE BOY'S CHRISTMAS LESSON)
"WHY were the Wise Men three,
Instead of five or seven?"
They had to match, you see,
The archangels in Heaven.
God sent them, sure and swift,
By his mysterious presage,
To bear the threefold gift
And take the threefold message.
Thus in their hands were seen
The gold of purest Beauty,
The myrrh of Truth all-clean,
The frankincense of Duty.
And thus they bore away
The loving heart's great treasure,
And knowledge clear as day,
To be our life's new measure.
They went back to the East
To spread the news of gladness.
There one became a priest
Of the new word to sadness;
And one a workman, skilled
Beyond the old earth's fashion;
And one a scholar, filled
With learning's endless passion.
God sent them for a sign
He would not change nor alter
His good and fair design,
However man may falter.
He meant that, as He chose
His perfect plan and willed it,
They stood in place of those
Who elsewhere had fulfilled it;
Whoso would mark and reach
The height of man's election,
Must still achieve and teach
The triplicate perfection.
For since the world was made,
One thing was needed ever,
To keep man undismayed
Through failure and endeavor —
A faultless trinity
Of body, mind, and spirit,
And each with its own three
Strong angels to be near it;
Strength to arise and go
Wherever dawn is breaking,
Poise like the tides that flow,
Instinct for beauty-making;
Joy that makes all things well,
Faith that is all-availing
Each terror to dispel,
And Love, ah, Love unfailing.
These are the flaming Nine
Who walk the world unsleeping,
Sent forth by the Divine
With manhood in their keeping.
These are the seraphs strong
His mighty soul had need of,
When He would right the wrong
And sorrow He took heed of.
And that, I think, is why
The Wise Men knelt before Him,
And put their kingdoms by
To serve Him and adore Him;
So that our Lord, unknown,
Should not be unattended,
When He was here alone
And poor and unbefriended;
That still He might have three
(Rather than five or seven)
To stand in their degree,
Like archangels in Heaven.
A WATER COLOR.Page 47 Page 48
EL DORADO.Page 49
A Spanish sailor
In the fleet of Columbus,
Fought with a captain,
Wounded him, then in fear
Fled from his punishment.
Ranging the wilds, he came
On a secluded
Of the peace-loving
There he found shelter,
Food, fire, and hiding, —
Over this tribe ruled —
No cunning chieftain
Grown gray in world-craft,
But a young soft-eyed
Loving, and regal
Only in beauty,
With no suspicion
Of the perfidious
Of the white sea-wolves, —
Strongly the stranger
Wooed with his foreign
Manners, his Latin
Fervor and graces;
Beat down her gentle
Unreserved strangeness;Page 50
Made himself consort
Of a young queen, all
And generous devotion.
Her world she gave him,
Nothing denied him,
All, all for love's sake
Poured out before him, —
Lived but to pleasure
And worship her lover.
Such is the way
Of free-hearted women,
Who carry God's secret;
All their seraphic
Spent without fearing
For the enrichment
Of — whom, what, and wherefore?
Ask why the sun shines
And is not measured,
Ask why the rain falls
Aeon by aeon,
Ask why the wind comes
Making the strong trees
Blossom in springtime,
Whoever earned these gifts,
Air, sun, and water?
Whoever earned his share
In that unfathomed
Passing the old earth's
Greater than all
The ambition of ages,
Light as a thistle-seed,
Strong as a tide-run,
Vast and mysterious
As the night sky, —
The love of woman?
Not long did Miguel
Dias abide content
With his good fortune.
Back to his voyaging
Turned his desire,
Restless once more to rove
With boon companions,
Filled with the covetous
Thirst for adventure, —
The white man's folly.
Then poor Zamcaca,
Lest she lack merit
Worthy to tether
His wayward fancy,
Knowing no way but love,
Guileless, and sedulous
Only to gladden,
Quick and sweet-souled
As another madonna,
Gave him the secret
Of her realm's treasure, —
Raw gold unweighed,
Stored wealth unimagined;Page 52
Decked him with trappings
Of that yellow peril;
And bade him go
Bring his comrades to settle
In her dominion.
Not long the Spaniards
Stood on that bidding.
Gold was their madness,
Their Siren and Pandar.
Trooping they followed
Their friend the explorer,
Of all things goodly,
Hot-foot to plunder
The land of his love-dream.
They swooped on that country,
Founded their city,
Made Miguel Dias
Its first Alcalde, —
Flattered and fooled him,
Loud in false praises
For the great wealth he had
By his love's bounty.
Then the old story,
Older than Adam, —
Wrought by the strong man
And gentler brothers.
The rabid Spaniard,
Christian and ruthless
(Like any modernPage 53
Magnate of Mammon),
Harried that fearless,
Light-hearted, trustful folk
Under his booted heel.
Tears (ah, a woman's tears, —
The grief of angels, —)
Fell from Zamcaca,
Alone, for her people.
Sick from injustice,
Distraught, and disheartened,
Tortured by sight and sound
Of wrong and ruin,
When the kind, silent,
Lay on the city,
In the dead hour
When the soul trembles
Within the portals
Of its own province,
While far away seem
All deeds of daytime,
She rose and wondered;
Gazed on the sleeping
Face of her loved one,
Alien and cruel;
Kissed her strange children,
Longingly laying a hand
In farewell on each,
Crept to the door, and fled
Back to the forest.
Only the deep heart
Of the World-mother,Page 54
Brooding below the storms
Of human madness,
Can know what desolate
Anguish possessed her.
Only the far mind
Of the World-father,
Seeing the mystic
End and beginning,
Knows why the pageant
Is so betattered
With mortal sorrow.
A PAINTER'S HOLIDAY.
WE painters sometimes strangely keep
These holidays. When life runs deep
And broad and strong, it comes to make
Its own bright-colored almanack.
Impulse and incident divine
Must find their way through tone and line;
The throb of color and the dream
Of beauty, giving art its theme
From dear life's daily miracle,
Illume the artist's life as well.
A bird-note, or a turning leaf,
The first white fall of snow, a brief
Wild song from the Anthology,
A smile, or a girl's kindling eye, —
And there is worth enough for him
To make the page of history dim.
Who knows upon what day may come
The touch of that deliriumPage 55
Which lifts plain life to the divine,
And teaches hand the magic line
No cunning rule could ever reach,
Where Soul's necessities find speech?
None knows how rapture may arrive
To be our helper, and survive
Through our essay to help in turn
All starving eager souls who yearn
Lightward discouraged and distraught.
Ah, once art's gleam of glory caught
And treasured in the heart, how then
We walk enchanted among men,
And with the elder gods confer!
So art is hope's interpreter,
And with devotion must conspire
To fan the eternal altar fire.
Wherefore you find me here to-day,
Not idling the good hours away,
But picturing a magic hour
With its replenishment of power.
Conceive a bleak December day,
The streets all mire, the sky all gray,
And a poor painter trudging home
Disconsolate, when what should come
Across his vision, but a line
On a bold-lettered play-house sign,
A Persian Sun Dance.
In he turns.
A step, and there the desert burns
Purple and splendid; molten gold
The streamers of the dawn unfold,
Amber and amethyst uphurled
Above the far rim of the world;
The long-held sound of temple bells
Over the hot sand steals and swells;Page 56
A lazy tom-tom throbs and drones
In barbarous maddening monotones;
While sandal incense blue and keen
Hangs in the air. And then the scene
Wakes, and out steps, by rhythm released,
The sorcery of all the East,
In rose and saffron gossamer, —
A young light-hearted worshipper
Who dances up the sun. She moves
Like waking woodland flower that loves
To greet the day. Her lithe brown curve
Is like a sapling's sway and swerve
Before the spring wind. Her dark hair
Framing a face vivid and rare,
Curled to her throat and then flew wild,
Like shadows round a radiant child.
The sunlight from her cymbals played
About her dancing knees, and made
A world of rose-lit ecstasy,
Prophetic of the day to be.
Such mystic beauty might have shone
In Sardis or in Babylon,
To bring a Satrap to his doom
Or touch some lad with glory's bloom.
And now it wrought for me, with sheer
Enchantment of the dying year,
Its irresistible reprieve
From joylessness on New Year's Eve.
HERE hangs at last, you see, my row
Of sketches, — all I have to show
Of one enchanted summer spent
In sweet laborious content,
At little 'Sconset by the moors,
With the sea thundering by its doors,
Its grassy streets, and gardens gay
With hollyhocks and salvia.
And here upon the easel yet,
With the last brush of paint still wet,
(Showing how inspiration toils),
Is one where the white surf-line boils
Along the sand, and the whole sea
Lifts to the skyline, just to be
The wondrous background from whose verge
Of blue on blue there should emerge
One day of days
I strolled the silent path that strays
Between the moorlands and the beach
From Siasconset, till you reach
Tom Nevers Head, the lone last land
That fronts the ocean, lone and grand
As when the Lord first bade it be
For a surprise and mystery.
A sailless sea, a cloudless sky,
The level lonely moors, and I
The only soul in all that vast
Of color made intense to last!
The small white sea-birds piping near;
The great soft moor-winds; and the dear
Bright sun that pales each crest to jade,
Where gulls glint fishing unafraid.
Here man the godlike might have gone
With his deep thought, on that wild dawn
When the first sun came from the sea,
Glowing and kindling the world to be,
While time began and joy had birth, —
No wilder sweeter spot on earth!
As I sat there and mused (the way
We painters waste our time, you say!)
On the sheer loneliness and strength
Whence life must spring, there came at length
Conviction of the helplessness
Of earth alone to ban or bless.
I saw the huge unhuman sea;
I heard the drear monotony
Of the waves beating on the shore
With heedless, futile strife and roar,
Without a meaning or an aim.
And then a revelation came,
In subtle, sudden, lovely guise,
Like one of those soft mysteries
Of Indian jugglers, who evoke
A flower for you out of smoke.
I knew sheer beauty without soul
Could never be perfection's goal,
Nor satisfy the seeking mind
With all it longs for and must find
One day. The lovely things that haunt
Our senses with an aching want,
And move our souls, are like the fair
Lost garments of a soul somewhere.
Nature is naught, if not the veil
Of some great good that must prevail
And break in joy, as woods of spring
Break into song and blossoming.
But what makes that great goodness start
Within ourselves? When leaps the heart
With gladness, only then we know
Why lovely Nature travails so, —
Why art must persevere and pray
In her incomparable way.
In all the world the only worth
Is human happiness; its dearth
The darkest ill. Let joyance be,
And there is God's sufficiency, —
Such joy as only can abound
Where the heart's comrade has been found.
That was my thought. And then the sea
Broke in upon my revery
With clamorous beauty, — the superb
Eternal noun that takes no verb
But love. The heaven of dove-like blue
Bent o'er the azure, round and true
As magic sphere of crystal glass,
Where faith sees plain the pageant pass
Of things unseen. So I beheld
The sheer sky-arches domed and belled,
As if the sea were the very floor
Of heaven where walked the gods of yore
In Plato's imagery, and I
Uplifted saw their pomps go by.
The House of space and time grew tense
As if with rapture's imminence,
When truth should be at last made clear,
And the great worth of life appear;
While I, a worshipper at the shrine,
For very longing grew divine,
Borne upward on earth's ecstasy,
And welcomed by the boundless sky.
A mighty prescience seemed to brood
Over that tenuous solitude
Yearning for form, till it became
Vivid as dream and live as flame,
Through magic art could never match,
The vision I have tried to catch, —
All earth's delight and meaning grown
A lyric presence loved and known.
How otherwise could time evolve
Young courage, or the high resolve,
Or gladness to assuage and bless
The soul's austere great loneliness,
Than by providing her somehow
With sympathy of hand and brow,
And bidding her at last go free,
Companioned through eternity?
So there appeared before my eyes,
In a beloved familiar guise,
A vivid questing human face
In profile, scanning heaven for grace,
Up-gazing there against the blue
With eyes that heaven itself shone through;
The lips soft-parted, half in prayer,
Half confident of kindness there;
A brow like Plato's made for dream
In some immortal Academe,
And tender as a happy girl's;
A full dark head of clustered curls
Round as an emperor's, where meet
Repose and ardor, strong and sweet,
Distilling from a mind unmarred
The glory of her rapt regard.
So eager Mary might have stood,
In love's adoring attitude,
And looked into the angel's eyes
With faith and fearlessness, all wise
In soul's unfaltering innocence,
Sure in her woman's supersense
Of things only the humble know.
My vision looks forever so.
In other years when men shall say,
"What was the painter's meaning, pray?
Why all this vast of sea and space,
Just to enframe a woman's face?"
Here is the pertinent reply,
"What better use for earth and sky?"
The great archangel passed that way
Illuming life with mystic ray.
Not Lippo's self nor Raphael
Had lovelier realer things to tell
Than I, beholding far away
How all the melting rose and gray
Upon the purple sea-line leaned
About that head that intervened.
How real was she? Ah, my friend,
In art the fact and fancy blend
Past telling. All the painter's task
Is with the glory. Need we ask
The tulips breaking through the mould
To their untarnished age of gold,
Whence their ideals were derived
That have so gloriously survived?
Flowers and painters both must give
The hint they have received, to live, —Page 61
Spend without stint the joy and power
That lurk in each propitious hour, —
Yet leave the why untold — God's way.
THE WINGED VICTORY.
THOU dear and most high Victory,
Whose home is the unvanquished sea,
Whose fluttering wind-blown garments keep.
The very freshness, fold, and sweep
They wore upon the galley's prow,
By what unwonted favor now
Hast thou alighted in this place,
Thou Victory of Samothrace?
O thou to whom in countless lands
With eager hearts and striving hands
Strong men in their last need have prayed,
Greatly desiring, undismayed,
And thou hast been across the fight
Their consolation and their might,
Withhold not now one dearer grace,
Thou Victory of Samothrace!
Behold, we too must cry to thee,
Who wage our strife with Destiny,
And give for Beauty and for Truth
Our love, our valor and our youth.
Are there no honors for these things
To match the pageantries of kings?
Are we more laggard in the race
Than those who fell at Samothrace?
Not only for the bow and sword,
O Victory, be thy reward!
The hands that work with paint and clay
In Beauty's service, shall not they
Also with mighty faith prevail?
Let hope not die, nor courage fail,
But joy come with thee pace for pace,
As once long since in Samothrace.
Grant us the skill to shape the form
And spread the color living-warm,
(As they who wrought aforetime did),
Where love and wisdom shall lie hid,
In fair impassioned types, to sway
The cohorts of the world to-day,
In Truth's eternal cause, and trace
Thy glory down from Samothrace.
With all the ease and splendid poise
Of one who triumphs without noise,
Wilt thou not teach us to attain
Thy sense of power without strain,
That we a little may possess
Our souls with thy sure loveliness, —
That calm the years cannot deface,
Thou Victory of Samothrace?
Then in the ancient ceaseless war
With infamy, go thou before!
Amid the shoutings and the drums
Let it be learned that Beauty comes,
Man's matchless Paladin to be,
Whose rule shall make his spirit free
As thine from all things mean or base,
Thou Victory of Samothrace.
SOUL, art thou sad again
With the old sadness?
Thou shalt be glad again
With a new gladness,
When April sun and rain
Mount to the teeming brain
With the earth madness.
When from the mould again,
Spring shoots unfold again,
Follow thou faster
Out of the drear domain
Of dark, defeat, and pain,
Praising the Master.
Light for thy guide again,
Ample and splendid;
Love at thy side again,
All doubting ended;
(Ah, by the dragon slain,
For nothing small or vain
Thou shalt take heart again,
No more despairing;
Play thy great part again,
Loving and caring.
Hark how the gold refrain
Runs through the iron strain,
Thou shalt grow strong again,
Confident, tender, —
Battle with wrong again,Page 65
Be truth's defender, —
Of the immortal train,
Born to attempt, attain,
THE ENCHANTED TRAVELLER.
WE travelled empty-handed
With hearts all fear above,
For we ate the bread of friendship,
We drank the wine of love.
Through many a wondrous autumn,
Through many a magic spring,
We hailed the scarlet banners,
We heard the blue-bird sing.
We looked on life and nature
With the eager eyes of youth,
And all we asked or cared for
Was beauty, joy, and truth.
We found no other wisdom,
We learned no other way,
Than the gladness of the morning,
The glory of the day.
So all our earthly treasure
Shall go with us, my dears,
Aboard the Shadow Liner,
Across the sea of years.