Author:

A Dedication

They are rhymes rudely strung with intent less
Of sound than of words,
In lands where bright blossoms are scentless,
And songless bright birds;
Where, with fire and fierce drought on her tresses,
Insatiable Summer oppresses
Sere woodlands and sad wildernesses,
And faint flocks and herds.
Where in drieariest days, when all dews end,
And all winds are warm,
Wild Winter’s large floodgates are loosen’d,
And floods, freed by storm;
From broken-up fountain heads, dash on
Dry deserts with long pent up passion–
Here rhyme was first framed without fashion,
Song shaped without form.
Whence gather’d?–The locust’s glad chirrup
May furnish a stave;
The ring os rowel and stirrup,
The wash of a wave.
The chauntof a marsh frog in rushes
That chimes through the pauses and hushes
Of nightfall, the torrent that gushes,
The tempests that rave.
In the deep’ning of dawn, when it dapples
The dusk of the sky,
With streaks like the redd’ning of apples,
The ripening of rye.
To eastward, when cluster by cluster,
Dim stars and dull planets, that muster,
Wax wan in a world of white lustre
That spreads far and high.
In the gathering of night gloom o’er head, in
The still silent change,
All fire-flush’d when forest trees redden
On slopes of the range.
When the gnarl’d knotted trunks Eucalyptian
Seemed carved like weird columns Egyptian
With curious device–quaint inscription,
And heiroglyph strange.
In the Spring, when the wattle gold trembles
‘Twixt shadow and shine,
When each dew-laden air draught resembles
A long draught of wine;
When the skyline’s blue burnished resistance
Makes deeper the dreamiest distance,
Some song in all hearts hath existence,–
Such songs have been mine.

Love Not

LOVE not, love not! ye hapless sons of clay!
Hope’s gayest wreaths are made of earthly flowers—
Things that are made to fade and fall away
Ere they have blossom’d for a few short hours.
Love not!

Love not! the thing ye love may change:
The rosy lip may cease to smile on you,
The kindly-beaming eye grow cold and strange,
The heart still warmly beat, yet not be true.
Love not!

Love not! the thing you love may die,
May perish from the gay and gladsome earth;
The silent stars, the blue and smiling sky,
Beam o’er its grave, as once upon its birth.
Love not!

Love not! oh warning vainly said
In present hours as in the years gone by;
Love flings a halo round the dear ones’ head,
Faultless, immortal, till they change or die,
Love not!

An Elective Course

LINES FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS OF A HARVARD UNDERGRADUATE

The bloom that lies on Fanny’s cheek
Is all my Latin, all my Greek;
The only sciences I know
Are frowns that gloom and smiles that glow;
Siberia and Italy
Lie in her sweet geography;
No scolarship have I but such
As teaches me to love her much.

Why should I strive to read the skies,
Who know the midnight of her eyes?
Why should I go so very far
To learn what heavenly bodies are!
Not Berenice’s starry hair
With Fanny’s tresses can compare;
Not Venus on a cloudless night,
Enslaving Science with her light,
Ever reveals so much as when
She stares and droops her lids again.

If Nature’s secrets are forbidden
To mortals, she may keep them hidden.
Æons and æons we progressed
And did not let that break our rest;
Little we cared if Mars o’erhead
Were or were not inhabited;
Without the aid of Saturn’s rings
Fair girls were wived in those fair springs;
Warm lips met ours, and conquered us
Or ere thou wert, Copernicus!

Graybeards, who wish to bridge the chasm
‘Twixt man to-day and protoplasm,
Who theorize and probe and gape,
And finally evolve an ape–
Yours is a harmless sort of cult,
If you are pleased with the result.
Some folks admit, with cynic grace,
That you have rather proved your case.
Those dogmatists are so severe!
Enough for me that Fanny’s here,
Enough that, having survived
Pre-Eveic forms, she has arrived–
An illustration the completest
Of the survival of the sweetest.

Linnæus aveunt! I only care
To know what flower she wants to wear.
I leave it to the addle-pated
To guess how pinks originated,
As if it mattered! The chief thing
Is that we have them in the Spring,
And Fanny likes them. When they come,
I straightaway send and purchase some.
The Origin of Plants–go to!
Their proper end I have in view.

O loveliest book that ever man
Looked into since the world began
Is Woman! As I turn those pages,
As fresh as in the primal ages,
As day by day I scan, perplext,
The ever subtly changing text,
I feel that I am slowly growing
To think no other work worth knowing.
And in my copy–there is none
So perfect as the one I own–
I find no thing set down as such
As teaches me to love it much.

The Last Caesar

I

Now there was one who came in later days
To play at Emperor: in the dead of night
Stole crown and sceptre, and stood forth to light
In sudden purple. The dawn’s straggling rays
Showed Paris fettered, murmuring in amaze,
With red hands at her throat–a piteous sight.
Then the new Cæsar, stricken with affright
At his own daring, shrunk from public gaze

In the Elysée, and had lost the day
But that around him flocked his birds of prey,
Sharp-beaked, voracious, hungry for the deed.
‘Twixt hope and fear beheld great Cæsar hang!
Meanwhile, methinks, a ghostly laughter rang
Through the rotunda of the Invalides.

II

What if the boulevards, at set of sun,
Reddened, but not with the sunset’s kindly glow?
What if from quai and square the murmured woe
Swept heavenward, pleadingly? The prize was won,
A kingling made and Liberty undone.
No Emperor, this, like him awhile ago,
But his Name’s shadow; that one struck the blow
Himself, the street-sweeping gun!

This was a man of tortuous heart and brain,
So warped he knew not his own point of view–
The master of a dark, mysterious smile.

And there he plotted, by the storied Seine
And in the fairy gardens of St. Cloud,
The Sphinx that puzzled Europe, for awhile.

III

I see him as men saw him once–a face
Of true Napoleon pallor; round the eyes
The wrinkled care; mustache spread pinion-wise,
Pointing his smile with odd sardonic grace
As wearily he turns him in his place,
And bends before the hoarse Parisian cries–
Then vanishes, with glitter of gold-lace
And trumpets blaring to the patient skies.

Not thus he vanished later! On his path
The Furies waited for the hour and man,
Foreknowing that they waited not in vain.

Then fell the day, o day of dreadful wrath!
Bow-down in shame, O crimson-girt Sedan!
Weep fair Alsace! weep, loveliest Lorainne!

So mused I, sitting underneath the trees
In that old garden of the Tuileries,
Watching the dust of twilight sifting down
Through chestnut boughs just touched with autumn’s brown–

Not twilight yet, but that illusive bloom
Which holds before the deep-edged shadows come;
For still the garden stood in golden mist,
Still, like a river of golden amethyst,
The Seine slipt through its pans of fretted stone,
And, near the grille that once fenced in a throne,
The fountains still unbraided to the day
The unsubstantial silver of their spray.

A spot to dream in, love in, waste one’s hours!
Temples and palaces, and gilded towers,
And fairy terraces!–and yet, and yet
Here in her woe came Marie Antoinette,
Came sweet Corday, Du Barry with shrill cry,
Not learning from her betters how to die!
Here, while the nations watched with bated breath,
Was held the saturnalia of Red Death!

For where that slim Egyptian shaft uplifts
Its point to catch the dawn’s and sunset’s drifts
Of various gold, the busy Headsman stood. . . .
Place de la Concorde–no, the Place of Blood!

And all so peaceful now, one cannot bring
Imagination to accept the thing.
Lies, all of it! some dreamer’s wild romance–
High-hearted, witty, laughter-loving France!
In whose brain was it that the legend grew
Of Mænads shrieking in this avenue,
Of watch-fires burning, Famine standing guard,
Of long-speared Uhlans in that palace-yard!
What ruder sound this soft air ever smote
Than a bird’s twitter, or a bugle’s note?
What darker crimson ever splashed these walks
Than that of rose-leaves dropping from the stalks?
And yet–what means that charred and broken wall,
That sculptured marble, splintered, like to fall,
Looming among the trees there? . . . And you say
This happened, as it were, but yesterday?
And here the commune stretched a barricade,
And there the final desperate stand was made?
Such things have been? How all things change and fade!
How little lasts in this brave world below!
Love dies; hate cools; the Cæsars come and go;
Gaunt Hunger fattens, and the weak grow strong.
Even Republics are not here for long!

Ah, who can tell what hour may bring the doom,
The lighted torch, the tocsin’s heavy boom!

Miracles

Sick of myself and all that keeps the light
Of the wide heavens away from me and mine,
I climb this ledge, and by this wind-swept pine
Lingering, watch the coming of the night:
‘Tis ever a new wonder to my sight.
Men look to God for some mysterious sign,
For other stars than such as nightly shine,
For some unwonted symbol of His might.
Wouldst see a miracle not less than those
The Master wrought of old in Galilee?
Come watch with me the azure turn to rose
In yonder West, the changing pageantry,
The fading alps and archipelagoes,
And spectral cities of the sunset-sea.

Corydon

A PASTORAL

SCENE: A roadside in Arcady

SHEPHERD.

Good sir, have you seen pass this way
A mischief straight from market-day?
You’d know her at a glance, I think;
Her eyes are blue, her lips are pink;
She has a way of looking back
Over her shoulder, and, alack!
Who gets that look one time, good sir,
Has naught to do but follow her.

PILGRIM.

I have not seen this maid, methinks,
Though she that passed had lips like pinks.

SHEPHERD.

Or like two strawberries made one
By some sly trick of dew and sun.

PILGRIM.

A poet!

SHEPHERD.

Nay, a simple swain
That tends his flock on yonder plain,
Naught else, I swear by book and bell.
But she that passed, you marked her well.
Was she not smooth as any be
That dwell herein in Arcady?

PILGRIM.

Her skin was as the satin bark
Of birches

SHEPHERD.

Light or dark?

PILGRIM.

Quite dark.

SHEPHERD.

Then ’twas not she.

PILGRIM.

The peach’s side
That’s next the sun is not so dyed
As was her cheek. Her hair hung down
Like summer twilight falling brown;
And when the breeze swept by, I wist
Her face was in a sombre mist.

SHEPHERD.

No, that is not the maid I seek.
Her hair lies gold against the cheek;
Her yellow tresses take the morn
Like silken tassles of the corn.
And yet–brown locks are far from bad.

PILGRIM.

Now I bethinks me, this one had
A figure like the willow-tree
Which, slight and supple, wondrously
Inclines to droop with pensive grace,
And still retains its proper place;
A foot so arched and very small
The marvel was she walked at all;
Her hand–in sooth I lack for words–
her hand, five slender snow-white birds.
Her voice–though she but said "God-speed"–
Was melody blown through a reed;
The girl Pan changed into a pipe
Had not a note so full and ripe.
And then her eye–my lad her eye!
Discreet, inviting, candid, shy,
An outward ice, an inward fire,
And lashes to the heart’s desire–
Soft fringes blacker than the sloe.

SHEPHERD.

Good sir, which way did this one go?

PILGRIM, solus.

So, he is off! The silly youth
Knoweth not love in sober sooth.
He loves, thus lads at first are blind–
No woman, only Womankind.
I needs must laugh, for, by the Mass,
No maid at all did this way pass!

Compact Dusk

Here at the height of the day night change
The color of the sky is uncertain,
The sky depending in which direction
One’s eye strains, each of its swatches a strange

Hue which dies too soon and which makes this hour
Linger in the mind transient as a life,
Whose names once known remain another
Posied-up portrait on our palette knife.

Until even I wonder if one tint
Ever survives the harm of seeming unique
(Evening’s intrigue, time’s singularity.)

Study for its trace, its placemap, I see
— Redundant as a stopsign in italic—
The face on which my profile leaves no print.

If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Then let my right be forgotten.
Let my right be forgotten, and my left remember.
Let my left remember, and your right close
And your mouth open near the gate.

I shall remember Jerusalem
And forget the forest — my love will remember,
Will open her hair, will close my window,
will forget my right,
Will forget my left.

If the west wind does not come
I’ll never forgive the walls,
Or the sea, or myself.
Should my right forget
My left shall forgive,
I shall forget all water,
I shall forget my mother.

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Let my blood be forgotten.
I shall touch your forehead,
Forget my own,
My voice change
For the second and last time
To the most terrible of voices —
Or silence.

Of Three Or Four In The Room

Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Forced to see the injustice amongst the thorns,
The fires on the hills.

And people who left whole
Are brought home in the evening, like small change.

Out of three or four in the room
One is always standing at the window.
Hair dark above his thoughts.
Behind him, the words, wandering, without luggage,
Hearts without provision, prophecies without water
Big stones put there
Standing, closed like letters
With no addresses; and no one to receive them.

Wedding-Ring

My wedding-ring lies in a basket
as if at the bottom of a well.
Nothing will come to fish it back up
and onto my finger again.
&nb sp;&nbs p;It lies
among keys to abandoned houses,
nails waiting to be needed and hammered
into some wall,
telephone numbers with no names attached,
idle paperclips.
&nb sp;It can’t be given away
for fear of bringing ill-luck.
&nb sp;It can’t be sold
for the marriage was good in its own
time, though that time is gone.
&nb sp;Could some artificer
beat into it bright stones, transform it
into a dazzling circlet no one could take
for solemn betrothal or to make promises
living will not let them keep? Change it
into a simple gift I could give in friendship?

Everything That Acts Is Actual

From the tawny light
from the rainy nights
from the imagination finding
itself and more than itself
alone and more than alone
at the bottom of the well where the moon lives,
can you pull me

into December? a lowland
of space, perception of space
towering of shadows of clouds blown upon
clouds over
          new ground, new made
under heavy December footsteps? the only
way to live?

The flawed moon
acts on the truth, and makes
an autumn of tentative
silences.
You lived, but somewhere else,
your presence touched others, ring upon ring,
and changed. Did you think
I would not change?

          The black moon
turns away, its work done. A tenderness,
unspoken autumn.
We are faithful
only to the imagination. What the
imagination
          seizes
as beauty must be truth. What holds you
to what you see of me is
that grasp alone.