From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman


 

THE HERETIC


 

One day as I sat and suffered
A long discourse upon sin,
At the door of my heart I listened,
And heard this speech within.

One whisper of the Holy Ghost

5

Outweighs for me a thousand tomes;
And I must heed that private word,
Not Plato's, Swedenborg's, nor Rome's.

The voice of beauty and of power
Which came to the beloved John,

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In age upon his lonely isle,
That voice I will obey, or none.

Let not tradition fill my ears
With prate of evil and of good,
Nor superstition cloak my sight

15

Of beauty with a bigot's hood.

Give me the freedom of the earth,
The leisure of the light and air,
That this enduring soul some part
Of their serenity may share!

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The word that lifts the purple shaft
Of crocus and of hyacinth
Is more to me than platitudes
Rethundering from groin and plinth.

And at the first clear, careless strain

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Poured from a woodbird's silver throat,
I have forgotten all the lore
The preacher bade me get by rote.

Beyond the shadow of the porch 
I hear the wind among the trees,

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The river babbling in the clove,
And that great sound that is the sea's.

Let me have brook and flower and bird
For counsellors, that I may learn
The very accent of their tongue,

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And its least syllable discern.

For I, my brother, so would live
That I may keep the elder law
Of beauty and of certitude,
Of daring love and blameless awe.

40


Be others worthy to receive
The naked messages of God;
I am content to find their trace
Among the people of the sod.

The gold-voiced dwellers of the wood

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Flute up the morning as I pass;
And in the dusk I lay me down
With star-eyed children of the grass.

I harken for the winds of spring,
And haunt the merge of swamp and stream,

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Till in the April night I hear
The revelation of the dream.

I listen when the orioles
Come up the earth with early June,
And the old apple-orchards spread

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Their odorous glories to the moon.

So I would keep my natural days,
By sunlit sea, by moonlit hill,
With the dark beauty of the earth
Enchanted and enraptured still.

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