From the Book of Valentines

by Bliss Carman


 

SONG OF THE FOUR WORLDS


 

I

 

Is it northward, little friend?
And she whispered, "What is there?"

There are people who are loyal to the glory of their past,
Who held by heart's tradition, and will hold it to the last;
Who would not sell in shame

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The honour of their name,
Though the world were in the balance and a sword thereon were cast.
Oh, there the ice is breaking, the brooks are running free, 
A robin calls at twilight from a tall spruce-tree, 
And the light canoes go down 
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Past portage, camp and town, 
By the rivers that make murmur in the lands along the sea.

And she said, "It is not there, 
Though I love you, love you dear; 
I cannot bind my little heart with loves of yester year."

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II

 

Is it southward, little friend?
"Lover, what is there?"

There are men of many nations who were sick of strife and gain,
And only ask forgetfulness of all the old world's pain.
There Life sets down her measure

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For Time to fill at leisure
With loveliness and plenty in the islands of the main.

Oh, there the palms are rustling, the oranges are bright;
In all the little harbour towns the coral streets are white;
The scarlet flowers fall

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By the creamy convent wall,
And the Southern Cross gets up from sea to steer the purple night.

And she said, "It is not there,
Though I love you, love you dear;
I should weary of the beauty that is changeless all the year."

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III

 

Is it eastward, little friend?
And she whispered, "What is there?"

There are rivers good for healing, there are temples in the hills,
There men forsake desire and put by their earthly wills;
And there the old earth breeds

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Her mystic mighty creeds
For the lifting of all burdens and the loosing of all ills.

Oh, the tents are in the valley where the shadows sleep at noon,
Where the pack-train halts at twilight and the spicy bales are strewn,
Where the long brown road goes by

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To the cut against the sky,
And is lost within the circle of the silent, rosy moon.

And she said, "It is not there,
Though I love you, love you dear;
For my faith is warm and living, not unearthly, old and sere."

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IV

 

Is it westward, little friend?
"Lover, what is there?"

There are men and women who are sovereigns of their fate,
Who look Despair between the eyes and know that they are great;
Who will not halt nor quail

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On the eager endless trail,
Till Destiny makes way for them and Love unbars the gate.

Oh, there the purple lilies are blowing in the sun,
And the meadow larks are singing—a thousand, if there's one!
And the long blue hills arise

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To the wondrous dreamy skies,
For the twisted azure columns of the rain to rest upon.

And she said, "It is not there,
For I love you, love you dear.
Oh, shut the door on Sorrow, for the Four Great Worlds are here!"

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