Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


St. Michael's Star


IN the pure solitude of dusk
One star is set to shine
Above the sundown’s dying rose,
A lamp before a shrine.
It is the star of Michael lit
In the minster of the sun,
That every toiling hand may give
Thanks for the day’s work done.

For when the almighty word went forth
To bid creation be,—

The glimmering star-tracks on the blue,
The tide-belts on the sea,—
Perfect as planned, from Michael’s hand
The lasting hills arose,
Their bases on the poppied plain,
Their peaks in bannered snows.

Cedar and thorn and oak were born;
Green fiddleheads uncurled
In the spring woods; gold adder-tongues
Came forth to glad the world;—

The magic of the punctual seeds,
Each with its pregnant powers,
As the lord Michael fashioned them
To keep their days and hours.

Frail fins to ride the monstrous tide,

Soft wings to poise and gleam,
He formed the pageant tribe by tribe
As vivid as a dream.
And still must his beneficence
Renew, create, sustain,
Sorcery of the wind and sun,
Alchemy of the rain.

Teeming with God, the kindly sod
Yearns through the summer days
With the mute eloquence of flowers,

Its only means of praise.
At dusk and dawn the tranquil hills
Throb to the song of birds,
And all the dim blue silence thrills
To transport not of words.

For earth must breed to spirit’s need,
Clay to the finer clay,
That soul through sense find recompense
And rapture on her way.
And man, from dust and dreaming wrought,
To all things must impart
The trend and likeness of his thought,
The passion of his heart.

The love and lore he shall acquire
To word and deed must dare;

Resemblances of God his sire
His voice and mien must bear.
His children’s children shall portray
The skill which he bestows
On living; and what life must mean
His craftsman’s instinct knows.

Line upon line and tone by tone,
The visioned form he gives
To sound and color, wood and stone,
Takes loveliness and lives.

He sees his project’s soaring hope
Grow substance, and expand
To measure a diviner scope
Beneath his patient hand.

To pencil, brush, and burnisher

His wizardry he lends,
And to the care of lathe and loom
His secret he commends.
In hues and forms and cadences
New beauty he instills,
A brother by the right of craft
To Michael of the hills.