More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

IN A COPY OF BROWNING


 

BROWNING, old fellow,
Your leaves grow yellow,
Beginning to mellow
As seasons pass.
Your cover is wrinkled,
5
And stained and sprinkled,
And warped and crinkled
From sleep on the grass.

Is it a wine stain,
Or only a pine stain,

10
That makes such a fine stain
On your dull blue,—
Got as we numbered
The clouds that lumbered
Southward and slumbered
15
When day was through?

What is the dear mark
There like an earmark,
Only a tear mark
A woman let fall?—

20
As bending over
She bade me discover,
"Who plays the lover,
He loses all!"

With you for teacher

25
We learned love’s feature
In every creature
That roves or grieves;
When winds were brawling,
Or bird-folk calling,
30
Or leaf-folk falling,
About our eaves.

No law must straiten
The ways they wait in,
Whose spirits greaten

35
And hearts aspire.
The world may dwindle,
And summer brindle,
So love but kindle
The soul to fire.
40

Here many a red line,
Or pencilled headline,
Shows love could wed line
To golden sense;
And something better
45
Than wisdom’s fetter
Has made your letter
Dense to the dense.

No April robin,
Nor clacking bobbin,

50
Can make of Dobbin
A Pegasus;
But Nature’s pleading
To man’s unheeding,
Your subtile reading
55
Made clear to us.

You made us farers
And equal sharers
With homespun wearers
In home-made joys;

60
You made us princes
No plea convinces
That spirit winces
At dust and noise.

When Fate was nagging,

65
And days were dragging,
And fancy lagging,
You gave it scope,—
When eaves were drippy,
And pavements slippy,—
70
From Lippo Lippi
To Evelyn Hope.

When winter’s arrow
Pierced to the marrow,
And thought was narrow,

75
You gave it room;
We guessed the warder
On Roland’s border,
And helped to order
The Bishop’s Tomb.
80

When winds were harshish,
And ways were marshish,
We found with Karshish
Escape at need;
Were bold with Waring
85
In far seafaring,
And strong in sharing
Ben Ezra’s creed.

We felt the menace
Of lovers pen us,

90
Afloat in Venice
Devising fibs;
And little mattered
The rain that pattered,
While Blougram chattered
95
To Gigadibs.

And we too waited
With heart elated
And breathing bated,
For Pippa’s song;

100
Saw Satan hover,
With wings to cover
Porphyria’s lover,
Pompilia’s wrong.

Long thoughts were started,

105
When youth departed
From the half-hearted
Riccardi’s bride;
For, saith your fable,
Great Love is able
110
To slip the cable
And take the tide.

Or truth compels us
With Paracelsus,
Till nothing else is

115
Of worth at all.
Del Sarto’s vision
Is our own mission,
And art’s ambition
Is God’s own call.
120

Through all the seasons,
You gave us reasons
For splendid treasons
To doubt and fear;
Bade no foot falter,
125
Though weaklings palter,
And friendships alter
From year to year.

Since first I sought you,
Found you and bought you,

130
Hugged and brought you
Home from Cornhill,
While some upbraid you,
And some parade you,
Nine years have made you
135
My master still.