The Rough Rider and Other Poems

by Bliss Carman


 

AT THE MAKING OF MAN


 

FIRST all the host of Raphael
In liveries of gold,
Lifted the chorus on whose rhythm
The spinning spheres are rolled,—
The Seraphs of the morning clam

5
Whose hearts are never cold.

He shall be born a spirit,
Part of the soul that yearns,
The core of vital gladness
That suffers and discerns,

10
The stir that breaks the budding sheath
When the green spring returns,—

The gist of power and patience
Hid in the plasmic clay,
The calm behind the senses,

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The passionate essay
To make his wise and lovely dream
Immortal on a day.

The soft Aprilian ardors
That warm the waiting loam

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Shall whisper in his pulses
To bid him overcome,
And he shall learn the wonder-cry
Beneath the azure dome.

And though all-dying nature

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Should teach him to deplore,
The ruddy fires of autumn
Shall lure him but the more
To pass from joy to stronger joy,
As through an open door.
30

He shall have hope and honor,
Proud trust and courage stark,
To hold him to his purpose
Through the unlighted dark,
And love that sees the moon’s full orb
35
In the first silver arc.

And he shall live by kindness
And the heart’s certitude,
Which moves without misgiving
In ways not understood,

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Sure only of the vast event,—
The large and simple good.

Then Gabriel’s host in silver gear
And vesture twilight blue,
The spirits of immortal mind,

45
The warders of the true,
Took up the theme that gives the world
Significance anew.

He shall be born to reason,
And have the primal need

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To understand and follow
Wherever truth may lead,—
To grow in wisdom like a tree
Unfolding from a seed.

A watcher by the sheepfolds,

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With wonder in his eyes,
He shall behold the seasons,
And mark the planets rise,
Till all the marching firmament
Shall rouse his vast surmise.
60

Beyond the sweep of vision,
Or utmost reach of sound,
This cunning fire-maker,
This tiller of the ground,
Shall learn the secrets of the suns
65
And fathom the profound.

For he must prove all being
Sane, beauteous, benign,
And at the heart of nature
Discover the divine,—

70
Himself the type and symbol
Of the eternal trine.

He shall perceive the kindling
Of knowledge, far and dim,
As of the fire that brightens

75
Below the dark sea-rim,
When ray by ray the splendid sun
Floats to the world’s wide brim.

And out of primal instinct,
The lore of lair and den,

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He shall emerge to question
How, wherefore, whence, and when,
Till the last frontier of the truth
Shall lie within his ken.

Then Michael’s scarlet-suited host

85
Took up the word and sang;
As though a trumpet had been loosed
In heaven, the arches rang;
For these were they who feel the thrill
Of beauty like a pang.

90

He shall be framed and balanced
For loveliness and power,
Lithe as the supple creatures,
And colored as a flower,
Sustained by the all-feeding earth,
95
Nurtured by wind and shower,

To stand within the vortex
Where surging forces play,
A poised and pliant figure
Immutable as they,

100
Till time and space and energy
Surrender to his sway.

He shall be free to journey
Over the teeming earth,
An insatiable seeker,

105
A wanderer from his birth,
Clothed in the fragile veil of sense,
With fortitude for girth.

His hands shall have dominion
Of all created things,

110
To fashion in the likeness
Of his imaginings,
To make his will and thought survive
Unto a thousand springs.

The world shall be his province,

115
The princedom of his skill;
The tides shall wear his harness,
The winds obey his will;
Till neither flood, nor fire, nor frost,
Shall work to do him ill.
120

A creature fit to carry
The pure creative fire,
Whatever truth inform him,
Whatever good inspire,
He shall make lovely in all things
125
To the end of his desire.