From the Green Book of the Bards

by Bliss Carman




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


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,


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


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!


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


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,


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,


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.


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


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,


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


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.