Sanctuary Sunshine House Sonnets

by Bliss Carman

Illustrations by Whitman Bailey






When the May eve is soft with misty rain
and all the world is hushed as in a trance,
Save for a white-throat singing far away,
The woods are tinged with purple in the dusk,
Where Spring’s green fire is smouldering into life.
It surges to tree-tops like a tide,
Touches the peach trees at the garden’s end,
And burns among the tulips in cool flame.
Ah, then we listen for the magic note
We know must come with soul enchantment soon—
Clear as the mythic pipes men used to hear
In wild Arcadian valleys long ago
Haunting the woodlands with supernal cry—
The clear impassioned ecstasy of life.




Hark, from the twilit wood beyond the road,
Those leisurely enraptured cadences
Borne on the deliberate and pure,
As if the player in long ages past
Knowing all grief had learned to put it by,
In a calm melody where no fear is.
That is our wood-thrush who each year returns
To be the heart’s interpreter of Spring.
Minstrel of solitude and poet’s lore,
His is the music of unspoken things.
Hark how the minor tenderness of time,
Old wistful longings and the storied years,
Blend in untarnished gladness, melt and sing
The unembittered rapture of the hour.




O music maker of the pagan Spring,
Untrammeled seraph of the wilderness!
How should he know the truth at beauty’s core,
Or solve the strange enigma of desire?
For through those wild melodious cadences
The tender phrase of earthly sorrow blends
With the pure theme of spirit’s certitude
Grown rapturous above all taking thought,
In that serene victorious artistry.
For all the labored questiong of our art,
Who finds the sorcery of Nature’s way,
And how her free born wisdom works its will?
Before this woodland canticle we bow,
Knowing perfection . . . immortality!