Later Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

Te Deum


 

IF I could paint you the autumn color, the melting glow upon all

things laid,
The violet haze of Indian summer, before its splendor begins to

fade,
When scarlet has reached its breathless moment, and gold the  
  hush of its glory now,  
That were a mightier craft than Titian’s, the heart to lift and the  
. head to bow  


I should be lord of a world of rapture, master of magic and

 
  gladness, too,—
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The touch of wonder transcending science, the solace escaping  
  from line and hue;  
I would reveal through tint and texture the very soul of this earth of  
  ours,  
Forever yearning through boundless beauty to exalt the spirit with  
  all her powers.  

See where it lies by the lake this morning, our autumn hillside of
 
  hardwood trees,  
A masterpiece of the mighty painter who works in the primal
 
  mysteries.
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A living tapestry, rich and glowing with blended marvels, vermilion  
  and dun,  
Hung out for the pageant of time that passes along an avenue of  
  the sun!  

The crown of the ash is tinged with purple, the hickory leaves are
 
  Etruscan gold,  
And the tulip-tree lifts yellow banners against the blue for a signal  
  bold;  
The oaks in crimson cohorts stand, and myriad sumack torches  

mass
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In festal pomp and victorious pride, when the vision of spring is  
  brought to pass.  

Down from the line of the shore’s deep shadows another and
 
  softer picture lies,  
As if the soul of the lake in slumber should harbor a dream of  
  paradise,—  
Passive and blurred and unsubstantial, lulling the sense and luring  
  the mind  
With the spell of an empty fairy world, where sinew and sap are left  

 

behind.
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So men dream of a far-off heaven of power and knowledge and
 
  endless joy,  
Asleep to the moment’s fine elation, dull to the day’s divine  
  employ,  
Musing over a phantom image, born of fantastic hope and fear,
Of the very happiness life engenders and earth provides—our
 
  privilege here.  

Dare we dispel a single transport, neglect the worth that is here
 
  and now,
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Yet dream of enjoying its shadowy semblance in the by-and-by  
  somewhere, somehow?  
I heard the wind on the hillside whisper, “They ill prepare for a  
  journey hence  
Who waste the senses and starve the spirit in a world all made for  
  spirit and sense.  

“Is the full stream fed from a stifled source, or the ripe fruit filled
 
  from a blighted flower?  
Are not the brook and the blossom greatened through many a  
  busy beatified hour?
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Not in the shadow but in the substance, plastic and potent at our  
  command,  
Are all the wisdom and gladness of heart; this is the kingdom of  
  heaven at hand.”  

So I will pass through the lovely world, and partake of beauty to
 
  feed my soul.  
With earth my domain and growth my portion, how should I sue for  
  a further dole?  
In the lift I feel of immortal rapture, in the flying glimpse I gain of  
  truth,
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Released is the passion that sought perfection, assauged the  
  ardor of dreamful youth.  

The patience of time shall teach me courage, the strength of the
 
  sun shall lend me poise.  
I would give thanks for the autumn glory, for the teaching of earth  
  and all her joys.  
Her fine fruition shall well suffice me; the air shall stir in my veins  
  like wine;  
While the moment waits and the wonder deepens, my life shall  
  merge with the life divine.
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