Lyrics on Love.

Since Sappho,—She above
     All poetesses
Who ever sang of love
     Or love’s caresses:

Since Sappho,—She who leapt,


     Compelled by love, not duty,
Into the wave that wept
     For joy to fold her beauty:

Since Sappho—I am next;
     And, being as human,


I preach, and take for text
     The love of woman. [Page 61]




Thou goest thy way, and I
     Another path pursue—
Beneath a drearier sky:—
’Tis well! and yet, I know not why,
     I weep to say adieu.


Yet shalt thou go thy way;
     For, though I love thee well
And fain would have thee stay,
I can in nothing say thee nay!—
     In nothing thou canst tell.


So little, loved one, go!
          A little longer here,—
     A day or two below,—
And I shall meet thee, where they know
     No more the parting tear:


     Where skies are ever fair;
          Where hearts are ever true;
     Where pain alone is rare;
     Where Fate cannot divorce us, where
          We shall not say—adieu! [Page 62]




Love died when we expected least
     That he would die; but, being dead,
Or tranced for burial, call the priest
     To read the rite that should be read
                             Above his head!


Now scatter flowers upon his breast—
     The rarest, fairest flowers that grow,—
And take the heart that cannot rest
     Divorced from his, and let it go
                             Still with him,—so!


And dig a grave in some dark dell,
     Remote, and lone, and hidden deep,
That no one passing by may tell
     Another—“There lies Love asleep!”
                             Then none will weep. [Page 63]





Full oft my thought, of late, Idelle,
     When bright the night-star burneth,
Unto the spot we loved so well
     In happier moments turneth:—
And to the time when there we sat


     By clambering roses shaded,
When still we talked of this, or that,
     Until the evening faded:

When still our laughter was not loud;
     When sadness was not sorrow;


When all our sky had not a cloud,
     Our day had not a morrow:
When love had never time for tears,
     Nay, knew not what their flow meant;
But ever drew the bliss of years


     From each succeeding moment. [Page 64]

Ay, oft remembrance of those days
     O’er sense and feeling flashes:
And though our vows have gone their ways,
    Though love be dust and ashes:


And though we woke from peace to pain—
     ’Tis ever so, or mostly!—
I still would live life o’er again,
     Though it were twice as costly,

Could I but have thee by my side


     When night about me closes,
And clasp thee in my arms, my bride,
     For aye beneath the roses! [Page 65]




Forgive thee? Though the years be long
     Since last I touched thy brow,
Men shall not say I wrought thee wrong
     Or broke my early vow
Won from me by one simple song,—


     I must forgive thee now.

I do forgive thee, and I bless
     Thee as dear regret,—
A golden, olden happiness
     That should be with me yet.


Forgive thee! I forgive thee, yes:
     Ask not that I forget! [Page 66]




Remember thee! When I forget
      Myself, and all that has been mine,—
The moments more than precious yet,
     The nights you wont to call divine,—
When all that is hath ceased to be,


I then will cease to think of thee.

Still think of thee! When summer’s sun
     Is wrapped in deep autumnal haze;
When every sphere its course hath run,
     And numbered its allotted days;


When sun and stars have ceased to be,
I then will cease to think of thee.

Remember thee! When love is nought;
     When truth is but an empty name:
When sorrow is the child of Thought,


     And sorrow’s only offspring—shame:
When Love, Truth, Thought have ceased to be,
I then will cease—to think of thee! [Page 67]




“I go”, said Love to his friends one day,
     “To a balmy island known to me,
To a happy island leagues away
     Set star-fair far in a Southern sea.

For there the mate that affection means


      To give my heart has waited long:
She calls—I go to those sweeter scenes
     Of life and love and summer and song.

Those sweeter scenes where the wild grape grows
     To thrill the throat of the land with wine:


Where all is sweet as is the rose
     To the bee that hangs to its heart divine!”

He built a boat of deep-sea-shell,
     Or meet for calm, or common gale;
He bade us all a kind farewell,


     Then took the tiller and spread the sail. [Page 68]

We watched him off—the wind blew free,
     Like electric spark he sped from the shore;
He crossed the bar; he won the sea;
     Then night came down and closed him o’er.


*          *          *          *          *          *

Well, days and weeks and months grew old,
     A year grew perfect and complete,
Ere to our ears the tidings rolled
     Of Love and Love’s too dark defeat.

The maiden wearied of his delay,—


     For adverse grew both wind and tide,—
And said, “I will meet him on the way
     And guide him here!” She smiled in pride;

For she was royal, and had ships
     And men to mark her least command;


And ere the word had left her lips,
     Her barge was ready to leave the land. [Page 69]

*          *          *          *          *          *

And she sailed Northward far and fast,
     And he sailed Southward steady and true:
They came together at length, but passed


      Each other one night, and neither knew.

So he sailed Southward o’er the main,
      And she sailed towards the Pole-star fair,
Till storms arose and wrecked them twain,
      And no one knows the when or where!


Ah, me! How often, or first or last,
      The lover and loved—the fitting two—
Have met on Life’s large sea, and passed
      Each other forever, while neither knew! [Page 70]




Though the hopes I have left be not many,
     I have one which is second to none,
A hope that is dearer than any,
     And it is—tho’ this all may be ill or be well—
That perhaps, in the fairer Hereafter, Adelle,


     You and I will be one.

The streams which so tenderly blended
     To their ocean divided may run;
But perhaps, when their course is all ended,
     Perhaps—tho’ this all may be ill or be well—


Perhaps, in the vaster Hereafter, Adelle,
     The two may be one.

The days of affection have faded,
     The nights of our visions are gone;
And we—we shall pass e’en as they did;


     But perhaps—tho’ this all may be ill or be well—
Perhaps, in the mighty Hereafter, Adelle,
     You and I shall be one! [Page 71]




The months fly by! November
     Is present with us now;
And why should I remember
     That early April vow?
Why longer should I long for,


     With tears and vain regret,
Or why still sigh in song for
     The days thou dost forget?

The season wanes; the flowers
     I placed upon thy head


Are withered with the hours,
     Are with them, ever dead.
And how should tender blossom
     Upon thee fresh remain,
When winter in thy bosom


     Doth hold eternal reign? [Page 72]

Or, now the year is dying,
     Why not, ere it be done,
Let all old love go flying
     After the old year’s sun?


Why not give laugh for laughter,
     Shake hands and part with thought;
And love being asked for, after,
     Make answer—Love was not?

I will! no more I sorrow


     For that bright, brief, dear dream,
I launch my boat to-morrow
     Anew upon life’s stream:
And let the breeze blow kindly,
     And let the tide run true,


Or let them both work blindly
     Their work, as weavers do: [Page 73]

And let my bark move quickly,
     Or be it slowly sped;
And let the stars gleam thickly,


     Or be they hid o’erhead—
I shall no more abandon
      My chart, but onward move,
No more to strike or strand on
     The rock of April love.


No, No! My soul’s November
     Is here and with me now,
And I must not remember
     Again that sweet Spring-vow;
I must no longer long for,


     With tears and vain regret,
Nor sigh again in song for
     The days thou dost forget. [Page 74]



Thou hast done it, not I, yet I will not endeavor
     To dig the dear dead from the depths of the past;
Let it slumber oblivion’s slumber forever,—
     The book has been sealed—thou hast writ in it last!

Let it be as it is! What is spoken is spoken—


     Entreaties are fruitless, apologies vain;
For a thread in the web of Affection once broken,
     No art upon earth can unite it again. [Page 75]



I thought that Time would teach me to forget;
     Yet years have passed since last I left thy side,
And thou art more than well remembered yet—
     My beautiful one—my bride!

I probe my thought and find the mystery lies


      In deeming love a merely temporal thing:
Whilst like a beam of light it floats and flies
      Upon a weariless wing. [Page 76]




O crimson-hearted, flower-producing June—
      Dear month of love, and laughter, and light song!
Wherein our mother brings her choral throng
     To hymn the hymns that sweetest are in tune:
Wherein all gaily goes save soul of wrong


     That takes to bed quite blinded by the light
     Of that sweet, sober, gentle queen of night
That rules the tides of earth and men—the moon;
     I love you! for it was beneath your skies
     I first looked love into her starry eyes:


I love you! for beneath your dome of blue
     I heard her answer—“And I love you too!”
I hate you!—mid your flowers it was my lot
To hear those same lips say—“I love you not!” [Page 77]




Put them aside—I hate the sight of them!—
     That golden wonder from her golden hair—
     That faded lily which she once did wear
Upon her bosom—and that cold hard gem
     Which glittered on her taper finger fair.


They are of her, and, being so, they must
     Be like to her, and she is all a lie
     That seems a truth when truth is not a-nigh,—
A thing whose love is light as balance dust.
     I loved her once, I love—nay, put them by!


Conceal them like the dead from sight away!
     I must forget her and she was so dear
     In former times! I could not bear them near:
Let them be sealed forever from the day—
     Be wrapt in darkness, shrouded—buried here


Where never more my eye may rest on them!
     This golden wonder from her golden hair—
     This faded lily that she once did wear
Upon her bosom—and this joyless gem
     That glittered on her taper finger fair. [Page 78]





And now I go with the departing sun:
     My day is dead and all my work is done.
No more for me the pleasant moon shall rise
     To show the splendor in my dear one’s eyes;
No more the stars shall see us meet; we part


     Without a hope, or hope of hope, at heart;
For Love lies dead, and at his altar, lo,
Stands in his room, self-crowned and crested,—Woe! [Page 79]




Forgetting! Were forgetting
     Done easily as said,
I should not be regretting
     The days forever dead.

Forgetting! Were it only


     Exertion of the will,
I should not be so lonely
     And sad so long, and still.

But who, in arms that folded
     The star-eyed, radiant Past,—


But who is he so moulded
     Can hold the present fast;

And in this rapturous present
     Enwound, give never thought
To moments just as pleasant


     That were when these were not? [Page 80]




Farewell!— a little word and light,
     Yet pregnant with regret to me;
It seems a Saint Helena’s height—
A mockery—to souls whose flight
     Hath been unto—what could not be!


Farewell!—I rest upon the word.
     It seems a solemn, saddening bell
At midnight in the tempest heard,
     A death-bed sigh—a funeral knell
That speaks of life and love interred,—


     It soundeth now—ah, sad!—Farewell! [Page 81]




When disobedient Adam spurned
     An exile from his Eden came,
No doubt he sadly, daily turned
     And cursed the circling sword of flame:
And yet, perchance, when evening fell


     And stars came forth with pitying beams,
He slept and dreamed that all was well,—
     And walked his garden in his dreams.

So I, expelled from balmy bowers
     Through which ’twas once my joy to roam,


Awaking, curse the envious hours
    That hold me from my former home;
And yet, sometimes, as night comes down,
     In dreams afar my spirit flies,—
I reassume my old renown,


     And lord again my Paradise! [Page 82]




Beloved! though the plume of wealth
     Cleaves to thee, clings,—even as a flower
Clings to its stem, until by stealth
     Of ill-bred breeze or sudden shower
Its hold and hope and heart and health


     Are broken in unhappy hour,—
I would resign Earth’s proudest throne
     To call thee, having right, “mine own!”

Mine own!—to keep and have and hold,
      Mine own—my beauty—mine to bless;


To love, till love itself grow old,
     And the dark scythe-fiend’s ruthlessness
Have put the gray above the gold;
Nay, even in death my love alone,—
Still loved, still lovely, still “mine own!” [Page 83]


Mine! though Apollo’s crimson car
      Wheels westward o’er the world, as well
As mine when night’s sad, setting star
      Resigns his post of sentinel;
Mine own in time of peace—in war


     The hope on which my eye may dwell;—
My sun in shade, my shade in shine,
Forever and forever—mine!

Mine? Ah, alas! the barricade
     That Mammon rears between us twain


May not be overleaped, dear maid,
      Though high hearts break with parting pain.
The phantom passion must be laid;
     The harper taught another strain;
The knee must seek another shrine,


     For thou art not—thou art not mine! [Page 84]

Boston, 1880.



A pleasant journey o’er the rough
      Atlantic wave, with happy noons,
Auspicious evenings, and enough
     Of cloudless nights and milk-white moons!

A pleasant journey through the climes


     Of lore and love and sun and snow;
May all your times be summer times,
     And joy go with you as you go!

And when familiar to your ken
     Are Goth, and Greek, and Turk, and Russ,


And all the rest of them, why, then—
     A pleasant journey back to us!

A pleasant journey o’er the tide
     Of Time, where tempests oft prevail;
May friends be with you and abide


     And trade-winds take you as you sail!

And, lastly, I would wish you, Sweet!
     Beyond earth’s utmost bounds and bars,—
Along that undiscovered street,—
     A pleasant journey to the stars!


January 2, 1884.
  [Page 85]




“I am the truest marksman, I’m
     The surest shot beneath the sun!”
Said Love one day to Father Time,
     Whom he had chanced to hit upon.

“You are? Then,” said the Reaper hoary,


     “Pick out your surest, subtlest dart,
And with its point prove me your story
     Upon that woman’s heart!”

Love took the gauntlet up with glee,—
     For with the bow the boy was clever,—


And saying,—“Now, Sir, we shall see
     If I have idly boasted ever;

You know I made Olympian Jove
     Come down to earth to carry on his
Suit with Europa; then I drove


     My mother Venus to Adonis: [Page 86]

I set the chaste Moon, when the sun
     Was sleeping, all ablaze with passion,
So that she wooed Endymion,
     And won him, in right royal fashion:


I made Marc Antony let slip
     A world, power, glory, just to batter a
Swift moment at the dainty lip
     Of that dusk beauty Cleopatra:

I sent old Orpheus down to Hell


      To sing his spouse from o’er the river;
And if I do not do as well
     To-day, my friend, I break my quiver!”

So saying, he took good aim and flung:
      The arrow shot the sunshine gaily,—


It missed; the target turned unstung
     And questioned—if he practised daily? [Page 87]

Love flung his slender bow away,
     And catching Time, who had not waited,
Laid hold upon him, crying—“Pray,


      When was that wondrous one created?

I have been lounging late in climes
     Where maids are soulful, songful, sunny;
Where hearts are musical as rhymes
     Anacreon-lipt, and sweet as honey;


Is she of some new order plann’d
     While I have carelessly been straying?
Or is she of some loveless land
     Where never went a sunbeam playing?

“Poor Cupid!” answered Father T—,


      “I will enlighten you; but yet
It is a sacred secret,—she
     Is but a Beacon-hill coquette!” [Page 88]




I saw your beauty ripe and rare,
     Your Attic face and sensuous form,
But found them framed for seasons fair—
     Not winter days, or nights of storm.

I might have loved, did I not know


     That breast, though all devoid of sin,
Though pure without as polar snow,
     Was cold as polar snow within.

I could have loved you, but a face
     Came evermore betwixt us twain


To win me from your art and grace
     Back to my better self again,

I would have loved you, could the bliss
     Her presence gave me be forgot;
But, as it was, remember this:


     I loved you not—I loved you not! [Page 89]




Ah, me! my Southern nights! my nights beside
     The sighing, sobbing, soulful, sunny sea
With my dear love!—my love magnificent-eyed
     As she who trod on power for Antony,—
     As that great queen all queen and more to me,


In that she bartered stroke for stroke with Fate,
     And dared to die—ere bend a plaintive knee;
Or as that other who did one time wait
The whole night through beside the Trojan gate.

Memorial moments—all too swiftly sped!


     Memorial nights—departed all too soon!
When delicate fires were fainting overhead
     In the voluptuous presence of the moon;
     And breezes, laden with the scent of June,
Unto love’s whisper answered with a sigh;—


     Prophetic prelude of the saddest tune
That ever broke a heart, or dimmed an eye!—
And Araby’s perfumes on drowsy wing went by. [Page 90]




I cannot kiss this stranger yet,
     Nor yet espouse it in the stead
     Of one—the lovely one and dead—
Whom I may nevermore forget:—

Of one who gave me second birth,


     And reconciled me to my clay;
     I cannot kiss it yet—to-day!
And keep it at its vaunted worth.

’Twould seem like sacrilege to fold
     My heart about another form,


     While even a memory is warm
Of that—which but so late grew cold. [Page 91]




I may love thee forever, but nevermore—never
     Can love make us one as it once made us one;
Whate’er the Fates find us, the Past is behind us,
     And naught can undo now the thing that is done.

Though Time treat us kindly, or buffet us blindly,


     Though stars shine above us or blessings no more,
We cannot forget them, we still must regret them—
     The dreams that have faded—the days that are o’er!
[Page 92]




Yes, love of mine, and fair as any fair—
     Song of my soul, and soul of all this song!
I will forgive thee, though thou makest bare
     And bleak my life:— yea, by thy glorious hair
And violet eyes, I will forgive the wrong.


I will forgive thee, even as I expect
     To be forgiven of all my own ill deeds
By Him who holds all people His elect,—
     Who judges kindly, caring not for creeds.

I do forgive! Albeit it hurts the heart


     To say—It might have been!—still o’er and o’er;
To ask, yet find no aid in any art,
To know that we must walk life’s ways apart—
     O lovelessness of love!—for evermore. [Page 93]




It may be true—it may be true!
     But is it not a weary thing
To wave alone a joyless wing?
     To have no love to glad us through
Our long and lonely journey, round


     The many spheres that we must greet,
Ere yet, with hallowed hands and feet,
     We touch upon celestial ground.

Ah, yes! It may be best to be
     Without a taint of love or touch


In all your blood; but I am such
     That loveless life were death to me:
And death—so it had love to fill
     The pauses in the music—were
Not half so bad, not half so bare,


     Since, loving,—I am living still, [Page 94]




My sweet fastidious Isabel,
     Thy silence hath been read!
I shall not sigh to say farewell,—
     ’Tis sometimes lightly said;
Albeit it soundeth like a knell


     O’er days forever dead.

Amid the beautiful and bright
     Somewhere upon this earth
Affection may sometime alight
     On one of equal birth,


With face more fair than thine to-night
    And heart of higher worth.

And I may cleave to her, and she
    May cast her lot with mine:
No shadow on our hearth shall be,—


    There may be none on thine:
And I shall never weep for thee,
     Nor pale for thee, nor pine. [Page 95]




We know the thing you were, Lurline!
     As cold as care; but you were fair,
And being worshipped as a Queen,
     Young Harold fell into your snare,
     Although we warned him to beware


Your Arctic smile and marble mien!

We know the river, too, Lurline!
     Its wave was cold, but he was bold,
And little paused to think, I ween,
     How bitter, black and fierce it rolled—


     So he should never more behold
Your Arctic smile and marble mien! [Page 96]




Thou art like Earth who saw the sun, and said:
     Behold the faithless thing I deemed so true!
It lately warmed me, now its warmth is fled,—
     It scarcely viewed me till it passed from view!

To which the Sun replied: Here am I still


     Where thou hast left me; here will I remain;
And here, forsooth, my stay shall be, until
     The law of Nature turns thee back again!

And when the law compelled her, and She came,
     She found him older, in all else—the same. [Page 97]




I know not if it be her eyes,
     Outshining all the stars that rise
With their deep splendor calm and true,
     That makes me love her as I do:
The only thing that I can tell


Is that I love her —wondrous well!

I cannot name the separate charm
     Of ankle, eye, or lip, or arm,
That charms me; I can only say
     My love increases day by day;


That, more than tongue of mine can tell,
I love her, love her—wondrous well! [Page 98]





Love much resembles daybreak; none can say
     When it begins, or when it terminates;
It comes and passes like a dream away:
Perhaps the common friendships of to-day
     May form to-morrow’s loves, or next day’s hates.


     Who waits for love, is loving while he waits;
Who sneers at love, is loving while he sneers;
     Who fears to love, is loving while he fears.
All men, all women love: even I, who speak,
     I find I am a swimmer far from shore;


My soul is dizzy and my limbs are weak:
     Say, shall I sink, or strive a little more?
Why should I strive, when love will have its will?
I hate to love, and yet—I love thee still. [Page 99]




I welcome thee, dear one, with kisses
     From harvest fields,—
I welcome thee back from the blisses
      The country yields.

I welcome thee back from the flowers


     Dew-fed and fair,
Where the moments are mirth, and the hours
     Are woven of air.

Where sweetest of singers are singing
     Fresh songs and sweet:


Where all things seem banded in bringing
     One joy complete.

I welcome thee, now that the summer
     Departing smiles:
I welcome thee back as a comer


     From balmy isles:— [Page 100]

From isles that are history-haunted
     In vale and hill;
Whose atmospheres are enchanted
     And holy still.


I welcome thee, holding it duty
     To prove my own
Soul-summer as full of all beauty
     As thine—just flown;

My summer, that follows in wake of


     Thy summer sere:
I welcome thee! come and partake of
     It all the year! [Page 101]




Not even a glance to say that I am seen!
     Not even a glance from that soft starry eye—
     Not even a glance! God knows the reason why!
I surely cannot be what I have been,
     Or, sweet, you would not pass unheeding by,


Even were I vassal and yourself my queen;
     Nor would you hold your sunny head so high.
For I would bend it with the weight of love
     That I should shower upon it: I would bring
Your heart to read in every star above


     Your name with mine entwined as queen and king,—
Lords of the earth, of love, of time, of fate—
Supreme of all things being or small or great—
     Yea, lords of love—so lords of everything!

New York, Oct., 1879.  [Page 102]





We met—we parted: common ties
     No longer link us each to each:
The future all before us lies,
     The past is all beyond our reach.

We met—we parted: ’tis an old


     And time-worn tale: and yet to me
It seemeth wonderful to hold
     A path that is unknown to thee.

Could I but be the thing thou art,
     Or rather that thou seem’st to be—


A thing of dull or deadened heart—
     I deem it might be well for me. [Page 103]

Could I, as thou hast done, forget
     The pleasure and the promise flown,
I should not be as I am yet—


     A creature desolate and lone.

But, ivy-like, I ever climb
     The closer to the shattered wall:
Thus sadness mars my every rhyme,—
     My chaplet dark is cypress all.


And as I strive to break the spell
     That links to sadness song and soul,
I ever hear the “passing-bell,”—
     My chime is but—a funeral toll! [Page 104]





Is it my fate,—a trifle worse,
     Perhaps, than fates of most men are,—
Some mystic and peculiar curse
     Inseparable from my star?

Or is it, for I have been wild


     In youth, although I wished none ill,
That Love, at which I one time smiled,
     Must prove herself revengeful still?

Or is it,—but thy lips are dumb,
     Thy lips hot with my kisses yet,


That love became too burdensome
     For thee to bear as amulet?

Or art thou false? If this be so,
     Then I, until these pulses cease
To answer to the red blood’s flow


     Will never take the hand of peace.

For if it be that in the deep
     Of thy clear eye such thing is found
As falsehood,—then let Virtue weep,—
     For truth is not where earth is round!


January, 1883.
  [Page 105]




True love and tried that never sleeps,
     Though all the world may sleep beside:
But still perpetual vigil keeps—
     True love and tried!

Whatever comes with time or tide,—


     Whoever sows—whoever reaps,—
Still faithful will this love abide.

Yea, more! Beyond the purple steeps,
     Beyond the river’s margin wide,
We yet shall know thine utmost deeps,


     True love and tried! [Page 106]




By the margin of the fountain in the soulful summer season,
     While the song of silver-throated singers smote and shook the           air,
While the life seemed sweet enough to live without a ray of                     reason
     Save that it was, and that the world was lovely everywhere.

By the fountain,—where the Oreads, through the moonlit nights


     Of the summer, may have sported and have laved their shining           limbs:
By the fountain,—which in elder days the Mœnads may have                haunted,
     Giving all the praise to Bacchus, twining wreaths and singing           hymns: [Page 107]

By the fountain whose pellucid waves within the delicate basin
     Daintily tinkling, dropping dreamily, made a music in the ears


Like the echo of some high, some arch-angelic diapason
     Drifting downward from the ever swinging never silent spheres:

By the fountain fringed with laurel, whose green branches,                     intertwining,
     Let but few swift shafts of sunshine in to paint the odorous                space,
Lo! a maiden fairer far than any future lay reclining


     On an arm whose white, warm beauty shot a splendor through           the place.

Oh, her eyes were like to Leda’s lights divine to him who misses
     In a desert land his pathway when the moon is on the wane;
And her tress was dark as Vashti’s, and her lips were ripe for                kisses,
     Though on them had fallen no kiss as yet of passion or of pain.

[Page 108] 

And her smile was bright and splendid as the east when morn is           breaking,
     Only softer far and sweeter, far diviner and more calm,
And her voice was like the song of birds the sylvan echoes                     waking
     In the gardens of a king where gleam the myrtle and the palm.

Then the blood that fed my pulses leaped to life as if Apollo


     Had recrossed the March meridian, bringing winter in his                     track,
And my heart made merry music, while the streamlet in the hollow
     Did its very best to answer with a hopeful echo back.

Then the poet and the lover leaped to life and wrought within me,
     Who ’neath many a constellation had been but a man to          


Who had knelt before the altars and the fanes that failed to win                me
     From reproachings and repinings to my better self again.  [Page 109]




Shall this, too, fail me? Shall
     This swift-grown love, and sweet,
Be doomed to fade and fall
     In ruins at my feet?

Shall evermore eclipse


     Succeed to dim my star?
Shall all fruit of my lips
     Prove fruit of Istakhar?

Is love a trifle, then?
     Is woman’s truth and trust


Become a thing that men
     May trample in the dust?

And have we merely met
     To dream, and wake, and part—
With an immortalized regret


     Inhabiting each heart? [Page 110]





In the orient of our love, when all was bright,
     Ere youth’s sweet sunshine faded from the heart
As from the cheek,—ere ever came the night
     That comes to all, when men dispel in part
The darkness gathering over them with light


     That is not light, or is the light of art,—
Ere love is drowned in wine, thou bad’st me swear
      That I would never love save thee alone:
      I swore, but made (of course in undertone)
A saving clause, to love none else—less fair.


But now when we are old—for time has flown—
      I may as well confess how then I lied.
      But think not thou, though distance may divide,
My love hath changed!—I love thee, and—alone! [Page 111]





All for a luckless love—
      A boyish blunder—
The heaven keeps black above,
      As Earth is under!

Tost like a leaf by the wind


      In the winter weather;
Tost by a Power unkind
      Hither and thither!

Tost as a weed on the tide
      Of a shoreless ocean!


No haven wherein to hide—
      Eternal motion!

No knowledge of whither bound—
      My courage failing:
Darkness and mist around—


      Eternal sailing!

New York, Oct., 1879.

      It must have been a strange spectacle to see the “in futuro” author of the Vicar of Wakefield and Citizen of the World strolling through Europe scraping an existence out of a diseased and dilapidated violin. But this is a world of anomalies. Strange things have grown familiar.—G.F.C.  [Page 112]




What new found pain is this—
      So cutting, keen of edge?
It seems there was a Judas-kiss
      And is a broken pledge.

What pain? ’Tis like all pain


      On earth of woman born,
It soon will go; and I again
      Laugh love and it to scorn.

It soon will die, and yet
     I would it were not she


Who gave it birth!—but I forget,
     She is nothing now to me.

She won my heart, and wore—
     To please her woman wit—
It for a day, or something more,


     And then discarded it.

And can I pardon this,
     Nor from my manhood fall,—
The broken vow, the love, the kiss?—
     I will forget them all. [Page 113]





Cursed be the bigotry which thus can tear
     Asunder those who love! And doubly cursed
Be they who Nature’s order have reversed
     And made life’s burden hard indeed to bear!
     Why must I wear the gyves these choose to wear?


Why must I kiss the rod these choose to kiss?
Why must I call that bliss which is no bliss?
     Why in an unrewarded labor share?
I loathe the Egyptian flesh-pots; I defy
     The purpled Pharaohs, and their vaunted power—


Their chariots and their horsemen; yea, and I
     Will still defy them to my latest hour!
Believing in the end ’twill all be well,—
For Nature knows and guides her chosen Israel. [Page 114]




Would I drink it—the cup of the beautiful Eld?
     Tho’ it saddened my heart, tho’ it maddened my brain,
I would hold it on high as I formerly held,
     And drink it, and drink it again and again.

I would live yet awhile in the days which are dreams,—


     I would look on the star that illumined my path,—
I would quaff from the bowl which was bright as its beams,—
     Though to-morrow I knew it the Marah of wrath. [Page 115]




I need not ask the reason why
     Thy love is given and loveliness
To one who loves thee less than I,—
     Yea, less than I—far less!

Nor need I argue that it is


     Of human wisdom or divine,
That thou art given to him for his,
      And not to me for mine.

Nor will I envious rail at him
     Who broke my dream half-dreamed, and stole—


To wear until its beauties dim—
     The bright crown-jewel of my soul.

Nor can I blame thee: hardly thou
     Could’st ever guess the love I bore:
For scarce I knew thee, ere a vow


     Had made thee his forevermore.

Oh, ’tis of life the common law—
     It is in love the common fate—
That man at length should say—“I saw!”
     Then sigh—“but saw too late!”  [Page 116]





My love-compelling Love, my more than friend,
     My dream by night, my thought the whole day long!—
     If there be aught of beauty in my song,
It is because my soul to thine doth tend:
That thine from out its fullness still doth lend


     To mine a part of its particular grace
As mystic as the motions of the spheres,
     Which keep their course in yonder azure space
And fling on earth the measure of the years.
All things are lovely ever in the light


     Of lovely eyes. Perchance ’tis thus thou see’st
     From thine own crimson chamber of the east
Down in my vale, where all to me is night,
Shoot through the shadows thick one shaft with radiance bright.
[Page 117]




Thou art my friend? ’tis well—my star ascends!
     Few had I since the moment of my birth;
Nor thought I e’er to say—“We two are friends!”
     To aught that wears the livery of earth.

I have had idols,—friends I called them then,—


     But Dagon-like they sought their native dust:
I deemed them gods, and found them only men:
     I deemed them kind,—they were not even just!

Friendship depends upon a brittle thread,
     Whose strands wear bravely in the summer days;


But when the winter comes, and cold and dread,
     When Fortune sheds no more his genial rays,—
When cloud and storm appear, the fabric soon decays.
[Page 118]

And need I say I loved?—Thou know’st it well:
     How well I loved thou dost not need to know.


And need I say my castle faery fell,
     Or speak of those who joyed to see it low?—
I might have turned and answered blow for blow.

I left them to themselves, nor chose to fan
     The flame of anger into further glow:


I think, although that was no portion of their plan,
     They made the poet—when they marred the man! [Page 119]




The beach sighed for the sea when it had lost it,—
     Sighed for the sea it deemed too rude a sea,—
When from its breathing bosom forth it tost it,
     Proud crying—“Away from me!”

“So be it, dear beach!” the sad wave said, receding:


     “The time shall come when it shall come to pass
That you shall cry, and I shall hear, unheeding,
      ‘Away from me, alas!’”

And here, dear maiden, may you find a moral:
     Think—ere you spurn true men for butterflies;


Think—ere you slaughter in a needless quarrel
     Life’s opportunities!

Judge not by looks, but by immortal merit:
     Worth dwells forever in the hidden parts;
And oft the roughest-seeming ones inherit


     The very noblest hearts.

Pause—ere you turn to dearth and dust and ashes
      A love divine, by bidding it go free
So that you cry not, late, with wet eyelashes,
     “Alas!—away from me!”


Tybee Island, Georgia.  [Page 120]




Is there a God, then, above us?
     I ask it again and again:
Is there a good God to love us—
      A God who is mindful of men?

Is there a God who remembers


     That we have our nights as our noons?
Our dark and our dismal Decembers
     As well as our garden-gay Junes?

New York, Oct., 1879.  [Page 121]




Is the God, then, deaf, that man
     Cries ever from depths of pain
Till his soul is sick, and his heart is wan,
     And ever cries in vain?

Is the God, too, dumb, that He


     Deigns signal nor reply
To any supplication we
     Address to Him on high?

New York, Oct., 1879.  [Page 122]




What though your lips be ripe and rare,
     And royal in their curve for kisses?
What though your eyes, too, do their share,
     And shoot a shaft that seldom misses?

What though your cheeks be ruby-red,


     And draw our sense like rich June-roses;
When, for a maiden’s heart, ’tis said,
     Within your breast a flirt’s reposes?

Reposes? Yea, the very word!
      For, from its silences and slumbers


Nor song of bard, nor voice of bird,
     Nor Love, nor music’s noblest numbers, [Page 123]

Nor anything that ever was
     Of good, or glad, or high, or holy,
Hath warmed or waked it to applause,


     Nor anything I know but Folly.

Yet, mark me! it will sometime wake,—
     How strong soe’er you wish to numb it,
And, rousing to its new self, shake
     The ashes of its old self from it:—


Will sometime wake, will sometime speak,
     Unheeding all your sensual hushes,
And prophesy that even your cheek
     Shall part with all its blooms, and blushes;

And tell you that your eye shall lose


     Its lightning and your lip its beauty:
And make you weep you did not choose
     To find your friends in Truth and Duty. [Page 124]




As when the wildfire sweeps o’er prairie wide,
     Devours the nettle choking up the way,
Breathes on the lily nodding there in pride
     And turns its plume to darkness and decay:

So o’er the soul the flame of passion goes,


     Destroys the hideous and alike the fair,—
Alike the rankest weed, the rarest rose,—
     And leaves alone a waste of ashes there. [Page 125]




Why fruitlessly mourn we—why chafe with our chain?
     Know we not link by link every chain will decay?
Why weep we in sorrow, why shrink we in pain?
     These things pass away.

Why thus do the noblest created despair?


     The ill as the good hath its “go” as its “stay;”
For the good and the ill and the foul and the fair
     Shall all pass away.

And the hope and the fear and the care and the toil
     Are but threads woven into the mantle of clay,


And alike being Time and Oblivion’s spoil
     Shall all pass away. [Page 126]




Bring a fitting shroud for the moments fled—
     The moments of music and mirth which were mine:
Ah, what shall cover my beautiful dead
     But a fabric of moments as fair and as fine.

Bring a fitting shroud for the love now fled,


     The love ever faithless, yet wondrously fair:
Ah, what can cover my treacherous dead
     Save the heart which was warm and is cold with it there!
[Page 127]




’Tis strange, you think, that I remember yet
     The word, the kiss, the parting place, the date,
When Love fell dead before the feet of Fate?
     Strange? It were strange indeed, did I forget.

The moon was westward, and her upper rim


     Was barely visible o’er the mountain head;
Hand locked in hand we stood, and then you said—
     Even as she set and all the land grew dim:—

“I wonder will this love of ours set so,
     And all our lives grow dark, and cold, and drear,


With but a star-beam floating there and here?”
      And then you shuddered, and I answered—“No.”

And yet I know not how it came to be—
     Half fault perhaps of yours, half fault of mine,
We parted there amid the laurestine;


     And with you anger went, regret with me.

You cherished anger—I espoused regret:
     And as the moon now sets behind the hills,
Through every vein the ancient memory thrills.
     That was the time—ah, how could I forget! [Page 128]





Nay, I may never love again!—
     Love is for children, not for men:
It is a measureless abyss,
      O’er arched with many a faithless kiss:
It is a rainbow based on gloom,


     A lily waving o’er a tomb;—
The Muse might almost take her oath
     ’Tis Scylla and Charybdis both. [Page 129]




Like that wild gladness warriors feel
      In warriors who have carven a name,
With their own hands and subtle steel,
     Upon the rock of Fame.

Or nobler joy that poets know


     When from the brain where seemed a dearth
     Of thoughts, of things, of wit and worth,
Spring thoughts that glint and gleam and glow
     And gladden all the earth:—

Like that—all earthly joys above,


     This sweetest pain beneath the skies
Which comes with the first kiss of love,
     And with it lives and dies. [Page 130]

          *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *    

The clouds go by, and the new morrow breaks
     In beauty bright above the happy hills;


The throstle warbles and the west-wind shakes
     The shining daffodils.

And all the flowers—the fair ones and the rare—
     Dance now that all the dusk and dark is done;
Drink in the dew, scent the delicious air,


      And mock the morning sun.

And, oh! my heart,—that also knew the night,
     With cold moons gleaming and few stars above,—
Wakes from its dreaming to the day’s delight,
     Kist into life by love!


Yea, all my soul, impatient of the dusk,
     Forsakes despair—its former chrysalis,—
And, taking new wings, leaves its ancient husk
     To crumble at a kiss!

Millhaven, Ont., August 22nd, 1883.  [Page 131]




They say that disembodied friends
     Do sometimes hover round us here,
And smooth our ways, and form our ends
     To suit the ever circling year
That with their coming ever blends.


If so, the friend I loved hath now
     Improved the motion of my days
And scattered round my burdened brow
     A few celestial-seeming rays;—
Relit my lamp—I know not how—


From his own sphere of happiness,
     From his own orb of dear delight,
And swept a moment my distress
     Into its native realm of night,—
Into its native nothingness.


But shall my sorrow come no more?
      And shall I find an endless rest
When my sad star hath vanished o’er
      The mist-girt mountains of the west
To shine upon another shore? [Page 132]





True love can never alter,—
     True love can never die:
False love alone can falter,—
      False love alone can fly.

Love, darling, needs to borrow


      No beauty of the morn
Through day to the to-morrow
     It smiles with scorn on scorn:

On hate—but devils only
     Can hate—it ever glows:


True love leaves no heart lonely
     It glads where’er it goes.

Even through the dust and ashes
      Of hope wet by sad tears
It flings a flame which flashes


      Athwart the coming years.

Aye, as the wild years flying
     For swiftness lose their breath,
It goes with them, in dying
     It takes the hand of death.


* Written September, 1885—a few days before his death. So also the following pieces, the last of which was found in his pocket after death.—C.J.C.
  [Page 133] [back]




Ah, love is deathless! we do cheat
     Ourselves who say that we forget
Old fancies: last love may be sweet,
     First love is sweeter yet.

And day by day more sweet it grows


     Forevermore, like precious wine,
As Time’s thick cobwebs o’er it close,
     Until it is divine.

Grows dearer every day and year,
     Let other loves come, go at will:


Although the last love may be dear,
      First love is dearer still.

Sept. 1885.  [Page 134]




Wherefore should I play the lover?
     What care I for blushing bride?
All I ask when all is over
      Is to sleep by mother’s side.

Sept. 1885.  [Page 135]




Standing on tiptoe ever since my youth
     Striving to grasp the future just above,
I hold at length the only future—Truth,
     And Truth is Love.

I feel as one who being awhile confined


      Sees drop to dust about him all his bars:—
The clay grows less, and, leaving it, the mind
      Dwells with the stars.

Sept. 1885.  [Page 136]




Fraternal love and truth and honor gone?
All faith divorced from life? If this be so
Man’s star sinks westering, and the world he walks—
Untouched of any ray of future hope,
Past all redemption, dead indeed in sin,


Bearing the burden of the primal curse,
Reels on to ruin, and her ancient dusk—
Wheels through the darkness to her final time!
But is this so? I think it were in me
The veriest heresy to hold it so,


When I, not seeking, stumble once, ev’n once
In a whole lifetime, on a love like that
Of Edgar, and of Albert Henderson—
A love beyond the love of woman’s love,
A love beyond the love of woman far. [Page 137] 


Two brothers, one is living still—from him
I heard the story,—Edgar Henderson,
And Albert, older by a year or two,
Loved one, and the same maiden, Minna Vane,
The toast, and boast of all the country round,


As fair as starlight, sweet as summer morn
In tropic isles, and pure and good withal.
She was their cousin, and from infancy
Had dwelt beside them, mingled in their sport
Whilst they were children, and when they had grown


To manhood, in their sober studies joined,
Till she became (and not unconsciously)
A part and portion of the life of each,
While they in turn became as dear to her.

To neither brother gave she preference;


Or, if she preference gave, it was not marked;
And if she preference had, she told it not.
When Edgar saw that Albert loved the girl
He would not speak to hurt his brother’s hope;
When Albert saw that Edgar also loved


He would not throw a pebble in his way;
When Minna saw that she was loved by both,
Not dreaming wrong she fed them both on love. [Page 138]

Yet envy never crept between them; they
Were formed of proud material in the which


No dross was mixed. They only wrangled thus,
(In hall or hunt, an ever ready theme,
Which made all others servant to itself):
“Now Edgar go to Minna, make her yours,
She loves you vastly; you have but to call


And down the bird will flutter to your hand.”
And thus: “Nay, Albert, you who love her most,
And are the elder, as the better man,
You shall go to her; you shall make her yours.”
Each chided each so twenty times a day,


And were it forty times ’twere all the same,
Each loved his brother more than his desire.

Once Albert sought and asked her secretly,
“Do you love Edgar, cousin—yea or nay?”
But she made answer with a rose-red blush,


(Which Albert might interpret as he would),
“I love you both!” And Edgar also went,
Unknown to Albert, and desired to know
Whether she loved his brother; but the maid
Replied as ever, “I do love you both!” [Page 139]


And when he fain would press her harder still
For certain knowledge, in her woman-way
She led him on to talk of other things,
Till he forgot his mission, and went home
Wise as he was the day before he asked.


So many suns set circling, many moons
Increased and waned, three summers came and went,
And still the matter doubtful hung in court.

But when the fourth year opened Edgar said,
“See, brother! full three years are dead and gone,


And Minna sends all others from her side,
Awaiting one of us; you will not go
To speak her, nor will I alone, now let
Us go together, hand in hand, and say,
‘We love you, cousin, each of us, so choose


Which one of us will add you to his joys.
By your decision, be it what it may,
We pledge our honor we shall rest content.’”
And Albert rose and cried, “So be it then!”
And forth they went and bade her take her choice.


Then she, sweet Minna, of the golden hair
And perfect form and face and starry eyes, [Page 140]
Said only ever when they came to her,
Being weak, desiring but not knowing right,
“Agree between yourselves,—I love you twain;


By your decision, be it this or that,
I pledge my maiden faith I will abide.”
Now had she spake in other wise, and said,
When Albert came—“I love your brother!”—then
Edgar had won her; or when Edgar asked


Had she, “I love your brother Albert!” said,
Albert had had her: but “I love you twain:
Go, settle the affair between yourselves,
And I by your decision will abide.”
Perplexed them much, and they could not agree.


And so another year was born of Time,
Was stricken with extreme old age and died,
And slumbered with his parents of the past,
While Minna knew not who should be her lord.
But when the second summer closed its buds
And on each calyx prest a parting kiss;
When Autumn came with cooler winds and showers,
And lowering clouds foreboding Winter’s reign;
When late green leaves were tinting to their fall, [Page 141]
And Northern birds were looking towards the South

And sighing for its suns and genial fruits,
Breaking the seal of silence from his lip,
“For the last time, my brother, she is yours,
So answer, will you wed her—yes or no?”
Said Albert. “She is yours,” was the reply,


“For you her heart hath waited many days;
For you she puts all other suitors by;
For you she hoards the honey of her lip,
Wooed, as you know, by many a vagrant bee;
For you she hopes to wear her orange wreath;


Now, this being so (and well I know it is),
I pray you, by the love you have for her,
And by the love I have for her, make not
A winter of her life, as you will do
Not taking her unto your heart, for see!


Being fixt, beyond all change, or chance of change,
I swear I will not wed her whilst you live;
And, swearing, wish you three score years and ten;
Nay, more, so that they be not burdensome,
A golden age with golden joys annexed:


Nor think that I will envy you your bliss,—
That she will be my sister is enough.” [Page 142]

Then Albert leaned his head upon his hands,
And knit his brow, and bit his nether lip,
As if he rolled the matter to and fro,


Which Edgar marking, thought “He yields at length,
And he will wed her;” but he knew him not,
Albeit he was the brother of his soul.
At length, “Well, leave me for an hour alone;
An hour ere this hath settled weightier things;


An hour shall loose, or cut, this Gordian knot.
Come at its close, your answer will be here.”

Then Edgar, with a laugh upon his lip,
And yet another rippling round his heart,
Rejoicing in the sacrifice he made,


And quaffing in anticipation from
A cup of joy he thought should soon be full,
To Minna went and told her all was well,
They having settled it in quiet wise.
But scarcely had the word fall’n from his tongue,


When one came to him running. Calling him
Aside with trembling speed he told his tale: [Page 143]

“You had but left the Park when Albert came
Into the armory, biting at his beard,
And muttering ever strangely through its maze,


Not dreaming I was watching him the while—
’It is the only way, the only way,
And being the only way it is the best.’
Plucked from its rest a rapier, and ere I
Divined his purpose sheathed it—in himself.


I ran, and caught, and laid him down, when he
With gentlest smile said, ‘Maurice, you are late.
It was the only way, the only way;
Tell Edgar ’twas the only way, and best,
And tell him that I loved him to the last,


Far more than life, and more than my desire;
And tell him farther, ’twas my will and wish,
And he will work it seeing it is my last,
That he should wed his cousin.’  Here the blood,
Which left his wound, as water leaves its fount,


Choked other utterance, and he drooped his head,
And with your name half-spoken, gasped and died.”

Then Edgar, groping as a blind man might,
And bending ’neath the burden of the blow, [Page 144]
The bitter burden of a new found pain,


Walked through the stillness of the starry night,
And through the giant shadows of the elms,
Unto his home and knew it all too true.
With funeral rite, but naught of pageantry,
Albert was laid to slumber with his sires,


And Edgar sorrowed for him many days,
And Minna sorrowed with him for her friend:
And when the accustomed time of mourning passed—
(Albeit he mourned him ever in his heart,)
Holding his dying wish in due respect,


He went to Minna, none his rival now,
And took her to his heart and hearth and home,
To love and cherish her forevermore
As one who had been purchased with a price.

Such is the story as it came to me,


Nor wrapt, nor woven in cunning word or phrase,
But unadorned, unvarnished, simply clad.
It may not cap your confidence in man,
Nor rivet fast your mind to that I hold,
But yet I hold, above the voice of all, [Page 145]


Though thrice a thousand rise denying it,
That noble faith is not divorced from life,
That love fraternal still abides on earth,
And I do hope to hold it—to the end!

He told his story, and a pause ensued;


Such a pause as comes between the levin’s light
And the rough-throated thunder crash; such pause
As waters seem to make, the rapid reached,
Before they take the leap and jar the air
And fling the spray of their wild agony


Full in his face who ventures near to them:—
Such pause befel. Then burst a babble forth
Of many voices, as at Babel’s tower,
And every listener stood a critic crowned,
Self-crowned as any critic, and self-made,


And ready each at his own altar base
To slay the poet who had dared to slay
Their hate of love and the high heart of man. [Page 146]