Sanctuary Sunshine House Sonnets

by Bliss Carman

Illustrations by Whitman Bailey


 

BUDDHA


 

I

 

In Burmese alabaster white and smooth,
Two thousand years ago the workman cut,
And pricked with gold, fine scarlet and dull blue,
This seated image of the Lord of Life.
The face still wears its infinite regard;
5
The mouth still curves with its ineffable smile;
The hand lies open in the folded lap;
And still the generations do not know.
Here for remembrance reverently we place,
With thoughts made gentler by his gentleness,
10
The yellow daffodils in early spring;
The blue flag from the meadows in high June;
And the red lilies of the August moors;
Praying for love, for wisdom and for peace.

 

II

 

Immortal brother of the tranquil soul,
15
On the first day when winter is gone by
And the soft twilight has a tender hue,
In sign of love we bring the yellow flowers,—
These chalices of sunlight cooled in earth,—
As symbols of the never-wearying life
20
Which takes new form yet keeps its fervor pure,
And out of darkness into light returns.
Where may the seed of love within the heart
Prosper and grow and fill all time with joy,
As the green blade comes up through garden mould,
25
Breaking to bud and blossoming in the sun,
Till all the world is a victorious host
With golden banners floating on the breeze?

 

III

 

And now, in summer when the arch of sky
Bends o’er us its far illimitable blue,
30
To meet the azure of the ocean floor
Upon the threshold of infinity,
By many a far-run stream in alien ground,
And where our garden takes the warming sun,
Blows the blue meadow-flag, to carpet earth
35
With tints of sky and shadows of the sea.
As in our minds from seeds of knowledge bloom
The flowers of wisdom, colored with the light
Of dreams and shadowings of eager life,
For Buddha in her season Iris blooms,—
40
A symbol of creation’s loveliness
In her pure color of eternal truth.